Everything you need before bringing your baby home

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If you've recently found out you’re pregnant, the thought of nine months sounds like a long time to be waiting in suspense for your new family member. However, one major upside of this waiting period is that, thankfully, you have that time to prepare. Among maternal health appointments, you also need to prepare a room for your bub, plus prepare clothing, sleeping, feeding gear and more. Your parent friends can probably attest to this, that once the baby comes along, there will be little time to be scrambling to find the right product, and at the right price. After all, your hands will literally be full!

So here is our guide to help you to prepare the essentials before your new baby arrives. This will ensure the precious first stage of caring for and enjoying your newborn is uninterrupted and as smooth as possible. It will include any ‘just in case’ items in anticipation of any challenges, which can happen.

Birthing essentials

Starting from the birthing experience and your hospital stay, you will need the following to take care of yourself and your newborn:

  • Long and thick sanitary pads for the hospital and at home
  • Have nursing bras on hand as your newborn will be needing to be fed around the clock and as soon as they arrive into the world
  • A go-bag ready with all the things you'll need to take to the hospital with you, like toiletries, any medication, etc.

Daily baby care essentials

There are a few items you'll need to have on hand every day:

  • At least three different types of baby wraps and carriers, in different materials to suit the changing weather conditions
  • Baby wipes
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Baby nail scissors
  • Dummies

It's also worth having the following ready in your medicine cabinet so that they are there for you in case you need them:

  • Thermometer
  • Baby Panadol

Sleeping essentials

The most ideal sleeping arrangement for the first year of your newborn’s life, or at least the first six months, is for them to be in the same room as you in a cot next to your bed. According to the Red Nose Foundation, this can reduce the risk of sudden expected death in infant syndrome.

Extra measures for your baby’s sleep safety include looking for a cot that meets the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2172 and a firm mattress. You may prefer to start your newborn in a bassinet or crib for the first few months. However, starting off with a full-size cot is a cost-effective (and safe) option. It is really a personal choice, but you will need sheets for both options.

There may be leakages so have at least two sets of baby bedding, consisting of sheets, blankets and mattress protectors.

For newborns, a sleeping bag that enables them to be swaddled will help them feel the same comfort they had when they were in your womb. It may also help them to sleep better. Babies should only sleep on their backs for the first six months of their life. Once your baby starts rolling, you should stop swaddling the arms, advises the team at Happiest Baby, the creators of the Sleepea 5 Second Swaddle. This is so your baby can push up with their arms if they roll onto their tummy with their face on the mattress.

Though not an essential, a rocking chair can be an incredibly beneficial tool for helping get your bub to sleep, so it might be worth adding one to your nursery.

Nappy changing essentials

It’s safer to change your baby on a changing mat on the floor so there’s no risk of them falling off anything. However, consider whether you are prone to back problems, or if you prefer more comfort for your back, and if so, changing on the bed, or buying a nappy change table may suit better.

You will also need:

  • Nappies
  • Disposable nappy bags or old plastic bags (these will be especially handy when you’re out with your baby)
  • Nappy rash cream
  • Nappy bin

Feeding essentials

If you are unsure whether you will be bottle or breastfeeding, it helps to have bottle-feeding options on hand in case this option becomes necessary.

To prepare for feeding time, you'll need the following:

  • Maternity bras
  • Nipple cream (as your nipples may dry and crack from the baby latching on while breastfeeding)
  • Milk formula
  • Bottle-cleaning accessories, such as brushes
  • Bottle drying rack
  • Equipment to sterilise bottles
  • A breast pump for expressing milk will be handy
  • Breastfeeding pillows can relieve the strain on your body from constantly holding your newborn in your arms while you breastfeed
  • A night light for night feeds
  • A high chair for when the baby reaches five months

Clothing essentials

A basic baby wardrobe should include these key items:

  • At least five baby jumpsuits, with the sleeve length depending on the weather

  • At least five singlets or vests

  • Baby hat

  • Two jackets or jumpers

  • A couple of pairs of baby booties

  • Cardigans or jumpers (this will depend on the time of year and where you live)

Bathing essentials

It is totally fine and safe to bathe your newborn in the kitchen sink or laundry tub, as long as it’s clean and safe and you always stay within arm’s length reach of your baby.

With that in mind, you only need a couple of bathing essentials:

  • Baby-friendly soap and shampoo
  • Baby towels and face washers

Travel essentials

The drive home from the hospital will be the first one for your newborn and so you will want to have this arranged in good time before birth.  Choose an approved rear-facing child car seat that meets the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754. Services are available that help you have the car seat professionally fitted before your baby’s arrival.

For those exciting first ventures out with your newborn, you will need to find a pram or stroller that meets either Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088:2013 or AS 2088:2022: A rain cover for the pram is also a must-have for wet weather.

A baby carrier will come in handy for those trips to the supermarket or even to keep your hands free while you need to do the chores at home.

For the car, we also recommend getting a window shade—ideally one with bright colours and pictures, as your baby will love it.

It's also a great idea to prepare a bag or backpack specifically for when travelling out with the newborn. Have this all prepared so that you’re not having to put one together when the baby comes. The bag should contain:

  • Nappies, portable changing mat, disposable nappy bags
  • Lots of tissues and baby wipes
  • Bib
  • Change of clothing for the baby
  • Milk bottle
  • Spare dummy
  • Baby wraps

Play essentials

Your baby will love spending time being bounced on a baby bouncer while you watch them enjoy and giggle with glee.

Rattles, anything bright and colourful. You will discover that many items you already have at home will do.

Just be mindful to choose toys specifically designed for newborns, and be sure to avoid anything with small pieces.

Safety essentials

The most important safety item in a new parent's arsenal, aside from their own eyes and ears, is a baby monitor. Take a look at our guide for what to look for in a baby monitor.

As your baby grows, safety equipment such as baby gates to keep the baby confined and away from high-risk areas in the home and child-resistant locks are a must. Be sure to check out our full guide to baby-proofing your home.

Tracey Cheung
Written by
Tracey Cheung

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