10 things you should have at home before the baby arrives


by Rachel Lusby, MD

May 8, 2017

When your baby arrives, you may be surprised just how many items come along with someone so small. Bringing home a newborn can lead to registries and buying endless amounts of gear and gadgets. Soon you will find your closets overflowing with toys and diapers, but it is important to keep the essential items your focus.

In order to decide if something is a necessity or just nice-to-have, you may ask someone who is a step ahead of you. It can be helpful to have a friend or relative who has had a baby in the last couple of years to review your registry and make sure that you have the important basics covered and remove unhelpful items.

When it comes to baby items, there are many options out there. Here are the top ten things I believe are helpful to have at home when you welcome your new baby:

Items for Safety

1. Car Seat

The first item on every list should be a quality car seat to transport your baby home from the hospital. Often, a nurse or someone from the hospital will escort you out to your car to make sure you have a car seat that is height and weight appropriate installed within the car. Be sure to put your baby in tight-fitting clothing without any blankets, jackets or outer apparel layered in between the child and the car seat. Shoulder straps should be in the lowest possible position and the chest clip at armpit level.

Make sure that the straps are tight enough and that you cannot pinch up any loop of the harness. If you have questions about your car seat, visit safercar.org or contact a certified car seat installer.

Child passenger safety experts frequently find that up to 95 percent of car seats are improperly used by caregivers.

2. Thermometer

After bringing a baby home, you might be worried that something will go wrong. A suspicious rash, a runny nose, unusual eating habits? Often the first thing to check is to see if your baby is running a fever. That’s why I recommend having a thermometer for your baby that makes it easy to get an accurate temperature reading. This will give you peace of mind, or give you more information before calling your provider.

3. Bath Safety

For my children, I liked having a rubber ducky for bath time that alerts you if the water is too hot. It can also be helpful to have a baby bather or recliner to help support the baby’s head.

Related: How can dad help post-baby?

4. Sleep Sack & Swaddle

Newborn babies often enjoy being wrapped tightly for warmth and security. When you leave the hospital, it is beneficial to have a swaddle or sleep sack. Some hospitals will provide you with your first sleep sack, which can help the babies sleep more comfortably.

When it comes to sleep time, the most important thing to remember is to put your baby to sleep on his back and making sure he has a safe space to sleep in the same room as you. This means, your baby’s sleep area should be free of all blankets, soft bedding and no bumpers along the side of cribs. Nothing should be with your baby in that space. New recommendations are that parents and infant sleep in the same room, but not in the same bed (co-sleep) until at least six months.

5. Books

Babies do not come with an instruction manual, so if you have questions you may not know where to turn for help. I recommend stocking up on baby books and resources to help you gauge the severity of various conditions, or consulting with your provider for answers.

6. Soothing Items

Some items to have on hand for crying may be a pacifier, music or white noise machine.

Bringing home a newborn can bring some new sounds into your home — including crying. The Purple Crying video can really help ease concerns about crying as well. The Period of PURPLE crying is the phrase used to describe the time in a baby’s life when they cry more than any other time, and there are tips or suggestions to help you keep your cool.

Items to Make Your Life Easier

7. Swing or Seat

Swings can help entertain your baby or help them have a more comfortable nap. You may want to try a friend’s swing before you purchase, and sometimes your baby may have very specific preferences.

8. Diapers

Be sure to have plenty of diapers on hand when your new baby arrives. You may opt to have cloth or disposable, and there are a number of different brands. Find one that works for you and your baby.

9. Clothing

Dressing your new baby is fun and exciting, but they grow quickly. Keep in mind your newborn may only need a handful of items in the closet. Many new parents have so many clothes that their child doesn’t even get a chance to wear them all.

10. Feeding Helps

When you bring baby home, there will be a lot of focus on feeding, whether you opt to breastfeed or bottle feed. A nursing pillow or burp cloths can make your life easier, as well as the proper bottles and pumps. A nursing pillow with a strap to attach to you is extremely helpful, so you don’t have to chase after it all the time. Ask a lactation consultant if you are unsure about what will work best for your baby.

Next, find out what to include in your hospital bag for the big day.

About the Author

Dr. Lusby is an OB/GYN on the medical staff at Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center – Fort Worth. She completed her residency at UT Southwestern at Parkland Memorial Hospital and was also recognized for excellence in medical student teaching. Dr. Lusby received her medical degree from UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and her Bachelor of Science degree in biological science from Biola University in LaMirada, Calif. Dr. Lusby is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Lusby is married to an amazing husband and they have a little girl who is their joy and delight. Dr. Lusby enjoys the relationships she has with her patients and is happy when she can put them at ease. She believes in partnering with patients to improve their health and well-being. In her free time, Dr. Lusby enjoys traveling, snorkeling and running.

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