Baby Checklist: Shopping Guide for Pregnancy to 12 Months

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Most parents’ new baby checklists include necessities as well as a few purchases that are over-the-top optional. Your baby really needs only enough clothing to keep him or her clean and warm, a comfortable environment, proper nutrition and plenty of love. Here’s a look at the items you may want that are just the start of the cost of raising a child.

But chances are you want more than the bare minimum for your little one, so these lists err on the comprehensive side.

Nerd tip: Friends and family are often more than willing to spoil your bundle of joy. Even if a baby shower isn’t in the works, directing loved ones to a registry can make a big dent in your shopping list — and lessen the chance that you’ll receive unnecessary items.

Baby checklists: Pregnancy through homecoming

Click the tabs to see the lists.

Baby checklist for pregnancy

The shopping began the moment you bought a pregnancy test. Next on the list are items crucial for parents-to-be during this major life transition.

 √ Prenatal vitamins
 √ Bras with added support
 √ Maternity clothes and waistband extenders
 √ Body cream to soothe stretching skin and dryness commonly caused by pregnancy hormones
 √ Belly support band
 √ Additional pillow(s) for support
 √ Pregnancy books: You can’t go wrong with the classic “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”
Budget tip: It’s easy to find pregnancy and infant supplies secondhand, often used for only a handful of months. Check local exchange boards on social media, Craigslist and even yard sales.

Baby checklist for the hospital

Many of the items in the hospital bag will already be part of your layette — a fancy word for baby’s wardrobe — but you might have some purchases to make specifically for the time in labor and delivery.

For Mom
 √ Warm, nonskid socks or slippers for walking the halls
 √ Maternity bra and a few nursing pads
 √ Maxi pads
For the baby
 √ At least one outfit for the trip home: Pack a few different sizes in case junior is swimming in the 0-to-3-month gear or filling out newborn-size onesies.
 √ A few warm blankets: You can skip these if it’s summer or you live in Miami.
 √ Outdoor gear (if needed)
 √ Diaper bag, including a few diapers, wipes and a pacifier
Nerd tip: Be conservative in buying clothing for your little one. Many babies wear “newborn” sizes only for the first few weeks, if at all. As your baby grows, you’ll know better which sizes you’ll need and when.

Baby checklist for the nursery & home

If budget isn’t a concern for your nursery, furnishings such as low-allergen wood or cork flooring, soothing paint colors and custom furniture are nice options. For the majority of expectant parents, however, there’s a happy medium between building your baby a dream palace and ensuring she has a safe and comfortable room. Essential buys:

 √ Crib, cradle or bassinet: Bassinets may be safe only for the first few months.
 √ Portable bed or playpen
 √ Moisture-proof mattress pads (1-3)
 √ Fitted sheets (2-4)
 √ Light receiving blankets (3+)
 √ Heavier blankets (2)
 √ Diaper pail/bin
 √ Changing table and/or changing pad
 √ Dresser/chest
 √ Humidifier/vaporizer
 √ Nightlight or lamp for checking on baby without waking him
 √ Infant bathtub
 √ Car seat
 √ Stroller (see: best strollers)
 √ Laundry detergent for babies or those with sensitive skin
 √ Nasal aspirator, less prettily called a “snot sucker”
 √ Thermometer
 √ Infant pain reliever/fever reducer, such as Tylenol

Baby checklist for breast- vs. bottle-feeding

Breast-feedingBottle-feeding
  • Nipple cream
  • Nursing bras
  • Nursing pads
  • Nursing pillow
  • Breast pump
  • Breast milk storage containers
  • 8+ bottles: Your baby will need 4-ounce bottles for the first several weeks and larger ones later on
  • Newborn-sized nipples
  • Several weeks’ worth of baby formula
  • Bottle cleaning brush and drying rack
  • Bottle sanitizer, if your dishwasher doesn’t have that setting

Breast-feeding moms might also want bottle supplies for times when they can’t feed their babies personally.

Nerd tip: Manufacturers’ websites often offer free samples of diapers, formula and other baby care products, as well as valuable coupons.

Baby checklists: 0-12 months

Click the tabs to see the lists.

Baby checklist for 0 to 3 months old

This is the biggest list, because you’re buying items that will last well into baby’s first year. And you won’t want to run out on emergency shopping trips after bringing baby home from the hospital.

Aim to have the 0-to-3-month items purchased at least a month before the due date. If you’re considering any delivery services, such as Amazon Mom for diaper and formula deliveries, now’s the time to set them up, too.

  √ Burp cloths
  √ Hooded towels (2+)
  √ Soft baby washcloths (4)
  √ Baby wash or gentle soap for sensitive skin
  √ Baby shampoo
  √ Children’s nail clippers: Your own will be too big.
  √ Soft newborn hairbrush
  √ Two packages disposable newborn diapers or 24+ cloth
  √ Diaper covers and fasteners, if you’re using cloth diapers
  √ Wipes
  √ Diaper rash ointment and powder
  √ Newborn pacifiers (2+, because they will get lost)
  √ Onesies (6+)
  √ Several bodysuits/rompers
  √ Several shirt and pants sets
  √ Socks or booties (6+ pairs)
  √ Sweater or jacket
  √ Bunting (infant sleeping bag) or snowsuit, depending on the season and your location
  √ Hats
  √ Infant rocker, bouncing chair or age-appropriate swing
 √ Toys: At this age, baby can’t use his hands for grabbing, but high-contrast colors and patterns get his attention. Visual stimulation, such as a mobile above his crib, and soft music are best.
Budget tip: If you purchase a stroller, crib or high chair secondhand, make sure it’s safe. Examine all buckles, harnesses and moving parts, and perform a quick search on the Consumer Product Safety Commission‘s website to see if the product was involved in a recall. We don’t recommend buying a used car seat because of the possibility that its safety has been compromised as the result of a car crash, but local law enforcement agencies often inspect them for free, so take advantage of this option if you must buy used.

Baby checklist for 4 to 6 months old

Much of what you’ve already bought will suffice as your baby grows. For instance, you won’t have to replace her blankets every few months. But some of her needs will change as she grows into new clothes, cuts her first teeth, begins grabbing objects and starts putting everything into her mouth.

  √ Teething ointment
  √ Teething rings
  √ Spoons and bowls for soft solids, such as cereal
  √ High chair
  √ Stationary activity center for babies 4 months and older
 √ Toys: Tactile stimulation is important at this age, and every touch brings about new sensations. Try toys with different textures, shapes and colors. Rattles are also good at this stage, as baby may begin to associate an action, such as shaking a toy, with instant sound feedback.

Baby checklist for 7 to 12 months old

Your baby is far more interactive now, and might soon be crawling. If you haven’t already, baby-proof the house and provide toys and activities that will nurture her exploratory nature.

  √ Latches for kitchen and bathroom cupboards
  √ Outlet covers
  √ Gates to block stairways and rooms that are off-limits
  √ Plastic guards and/or cushions for furniture corners
  √ Small containers for finger-food snacks, as baby begins to feed himself
  √ Sippy cups
  √ Toys: Board books and busy boards engage her hand-eye coordination. Soft dolls, wooden blocks and squishy balls are also fun. When all else fails, your little mover will love playing with empty cups and containers from the kitchen.

 

Elizabeth Renter is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ElizabethRenter.