Becoming a mother for the first time can be really overwhelming. You want everything to be perfect, but how are you supposed to know exactly what baby products are necessities?
The market is flooded with all kinds of stuff that advertisers will tell you every new mom needs, but not all of it is life-changing. Check out this list — it will help you separate the "needs" from the "wants" and get down to the essentials.
1. A good stash of diapers
Whether you are planning on using disposable or cloth diapers, you need a good stash tucked away. Running out of diapers can be disastrous, particularly at 3 a.m. Do yourself a favorite and stock up on diapers in various sizes.
2. Baby bodysuits galore
The top clothing item for a newborn is the bodysuit (onesie) — a shirt that snaps together between the legs. It stays in place, it's comfy and it keeps a diaper on. Keep loads of them around. Go for Carter's bodysuits, which are thick and cozy.
3. A swaddle blanket (actually, two)
Swaddling mimics what babies feel like in the womb, so it can be super comforting, especially to newborns. Be sure to have two swaddle blankets, so that when one is in the wash, you have another ready to go. Check out the Aden + Anais swaddle blankets (aden + anais, $55), which are generously sized — perfect for easy swaddling.
Like diapers, you may choose disposable or reusable wipes. Whatever you choose, be sure to have plenty on hand. You will use them dozens of times a day for wiping hands, changing diapers and more.
5. A changing pad for outings
Sure, many public bathrooms have changing stations, but do you really want your baby touching that surface — which could very well be dirty? That's why you need a portable changing pad like the Pronto! Changing Station from Skip Hop (Skip Hop, $30). Wherever you are, you can change Baby without worrying about germs. And the Pronto! has room for extra diapers and wipes.
6. A great diaper bag
Face it, diapers and wipes aren't all you need. You'll have to tote bottles, blankets, outfit changes and toys along too. A fabulous bag, such as this one from the Petunia Pickle Bottom (Petunia Pickle Bottom, $189) line, will keep you organized and ready for anything that being on the go brings.
7. A fabulous (comfy) carrier
Much like swaddling, a good baby carrier keeps Baby tucked in as if in the womb. Furthermore, it keeps your baby close to your heart, which can be so comforting for her. Check out the popular Maya Wrap which you can wear in a variety of ways.
8. A great stroller
All strollers are not created equal. Some have ultra-smooth handling but are large when folded. Some are fabulously compact but sheer drudgery to push. Go to the store and test several to see how they work for you. And be sure to try folding them — both to see if the stroller will fit in your car and to see if it's easy enough to put away.
9. A mobile
When babies are ultra-small, getting away for even a simple bathroom break can be tough. A mobile can help. Not only can it lull Baby to sleep, but it also can buy you a few much needed minutes of quiet so you can use the facilities. The Sweet Island Dreams Mobile (Baby Earth, $50) is a very cute option.
10. Nipple cream
Breastfeeding? You need nipple cream. Should your nipples get sore, cracked, chapped or any of the other possible results of breastfeeding, you will be thankful to have this. Try Lansinoh (Target, $7) brand.
Up next: More baby necessities for new moms
Originally published August 2012. Updated February 2017.
11. Nursing bras (yes, plural)
Do you know what happens if you use a regular bra when breastfeeding and just pop out a boob? It will work — at first — but then it will be uncomfortable. And eventually, you will ruin the bra by ripping it down the center. So, invest in a few nursing bras — more than one so that you can wash one and still have one to wear.
12. A port-a-crib/playpen
Can we be realistic here for a sec? Chances are, you won't be comfortable having your baby sleeping a couple rooms away. You'll very likely want him close. And if you travel, you will need somewhere for him to sleep. So, look for a port-a-crib/playpen with a bassinet attachment. You can use it at home or on the road, and it's more cost-effective than a fixed bassinet or cradle.
13. A swing
Like the mobile, a swing can be fabulous for soothing a baby when you need a second. Choose a swing that goes side-to-side, such as Fisher-Price Cradle swings. That's a more comfortable and natural motion.
14. A bouncy seat
A comfortable — and entertaining — bouncy seat is a must-have for your family. One like this Fisher-Price Animal Party Bouncer (Target, $30) provides visual stimulation and play time for when you need to get dinner on the table or use the restroom in peace. It's portable, so you can take it everywhere.
15. A gift card for coffee — at the drive-thru
It's hardly a secret that new moms don't get much sleep. Getting your coffee fix is essential — and a gift card makes it painless.
Your free time and attention span are severely limited when you have a baby. Reading a book can become a challenge with all the stop-and-go of your new lifestyle — so skip the book and stock up on magazines instead. An assortment (baby mags, gossip rags, etc.) is a good way to go.
17. Baby-friendly detergent
Babies have sensitive skin and need a gentle detergent. Charlie's Soap (Momys, $15) is just that. Keep it handy for washing your baby's clothes, and as a bonus, it's cloth diaper-safe as well.
18. Stain remover
As your baby gets older, the stains get tougher. Be prepared to spritz and spray to keep her clothes from being ruined by a surprise attack of spit-up.
19. Burp cloths
Babies spit (and spit up) often — and when you're burping them, guess where all that stuff goes. Yep, right onto your shoulder and back. The burp cloth gives it a place to land without making a mess.
20. A laptop or smartphone
Motherhood can be isolating, particularly in those long, lingering winter months. That's why having a laptop or smartphone is a must-have for new moms. You can stay connected with the human race on parenting websites, blogs and message boards. And don't forget to connect with your friends via Twitter, Facebook and email.
Before you go, check out our slideshow below: