10 Newborn Must-Haves that I Actually Used

baby in the UPPAbaby Mesa car seat

This photo of my daughter in her UPPAbaby car seat brings back an awesome memory of our first road trip as a family. I’m half-way through my second pregnancy, and I am experiencing an odd mental quietness regarding baby #2! Unlike the first pregnancy, my daytime is not filled with the anxieties of what I need to do and buy to prepare for this baby. Reflecting back I remember how scared I was! I was a ‘career woman’ and I lived on the opposite side of the country from my family. I knew little about newborns and even less about what I needed to take care of them.

After being overwhelmed by long lists of must-have baby products, I accepted that I’m a simple person. I don’t like to make a big to-do about every detail.  For the first 9-months of my daughter’s life we lived in a tiny apartment with no garage storage so we didn’t have room to keep the gazillion baby gadgets that we supposedly needed.  This turned out to be a major plus because it kept me from buying unnecessary things.

Here is a list of the newborn items I actually used on a daily or weekly basis that I highly recommend. You (or your baby shower invites) can purchase all of them on Amazon and I’ve included the links. Amazon Prime is pretty handy for new parents, by the way. It includes a same-day grocery feature that is great for emergencies.   But regardless, my biggest advice to new moms is ‘don’t sweat it’.  If you don’t have everything you need in week one, I’m sure there will be a lurking friend or family member who you can send to the store.

At the end of the post you can see what items I waited to purchase and a few items I wish I had.

1. Swaddles 

I remember very well, the panic I had when watching the nurse swaddle my first daughter in the hospital. How am I ever going to do that properly?? The trick is to make it very tight, maybe a little tighter than you are comfortable with. Although there are more than one options on how to swaddle, I personally found the burrito style swaddle the easiest to do. Here are a couple of good video examples.



I was gifted the Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets and I liked these, soft and thin, they were much easier to use, and longer than the ones provided by the hospital. Make sure to check out all the different color/print options (there are currently 17 on Amazon). I recommend having at least 8 swaddles if you are like me and don’t prefer doing laundry. Your cute little monster will spit up all over these things.

Aden + Anais classic muslin swaddle blanket
Aden + Anais classic muslin swaddle blankets

2.  Baby Bath Tub

We were  gifted a high-end baby bath but it was too large for our small one-bathroom apartment so we returned it and instead bought a compact foldable net bath – the Summer Infant Deluxe Baby Bather. Best part, it’s only $16.99. Not the cutest looking thing  (multiple color options) but the utility of it was perfect for us. We could fold it up and store it easily.  Keep in mind, it’s not really a ‘tub’ but  a seat. If you have more than one bathroom and no storage issue you may opt to get an actual baby tub that holds water.

baby bath - the summer deluxe baby bather for only $16.99
Summer Deluxe Baby Bather for only $16.99

Also, for the first couple of months we bathed our daughter in the kitchen sink. My husband and I did it by holding and washing her together, we didn’t use a sink tub. However, if you want one for more ease, a good product for that is the Puj Tub – a soft, foldable baby bath tub.

The Puj Tub easily fits in sinks.
The Puj Tub easily fits in sinks.

3. The Ergobaby Four Position 360 Baby Carrier

I chose a more expensive baby carrier based on several recommendations from friends. The Ergobaby Four Positition 360 is very comfortable and allows multiple carrying positions. During the first month of my daughter’s life, she cried a lot.  I would put her in the Ergobaby (you have to purchase the infant insert to go inside the Ergo for newborns) and walk around the house or down to the beach. It helped her fall asleep. Even though it’s a bit bulky for house use, I would put it on while doing chores to keep her from crying. You can use it for babies up to 2-years-old. And when the baby is large enough to switch to the back position, the support is much better.  I got the black one so that my husband would feel inclined to wear it too. And he did! He claims he is going to put her in it today while he mows the lawn. We’ll see about that…

One caveat – if you use the infant insert, the baby will get very warm so I don’t recommend using it on a hot day.

The Ergobaby Four Position 360 baby carrier with infant insert
The Ergobaby Four Position 360 baby carrier with infant insert

4. The UPPAbaby Vista Stroller & Mesa Infant Car Seat with Base

This was our big splurge. Most of our friends had two strollers, a small one for convenience and a jogger. Because we had no storage space, we were adamant about having only one multi-purpose stroller. There were several things that made us select the Uppababy Vista Stroller. For one, we planned on having a second child so we wanted a stroller that could convert into a 2-seater. The Vista comes with two seats but you do need to purchase the upper adapter separately if you want to use two seats at the same time. You don’t need the adapter if you want to use the car seat and an extra seat at the same time.  The seats can be set up in multiple positions, one in-front of each other so its not as intrusive as the popular wide Bob double stroller.

I  saw a woman on the beach path jogging very fast with it.  That was a plus in my mind – good for jogs, walks and even some hikes. The Bob is the best running stroller I have tried so if you are an avid runner you may want that instead, but the Vista worked great for me. You can lock the front wheels which makes for a smoother ride if you are primarily running straight.

Tons of storage

It has a huge storage area under the stroller that I can fit a diaper bag, my sweater and purse, blanket, and more if I wanted to. I even grocery shopped with it when my daughter was too small to fit in a shopping cart.

The Vista folds up pretty easily and can rest free-standing. It is bulky though and takes up most of the trunk space in our Prius.

The bassinet included is an extra bonus

The stroller comes with a portable bassinet. Not only was this great for walks when she was a newborn and couldn’t sit up on her own, we actually had her sleep in it at night until she was six months old.  If we traveled, it was great in hotel rooms too.  You can buy a stand for it for home-use but we just rested it on the bed (and on the floor, gasp). We couldn’t be bothered with another $150 cost.

Overall this stroller has so much functionality that it paid for itself.  However, it is a bulkier stroller so it can be awkward wheeling into restaurants or retail shops. If you don’t need a two-seater and are not looking for a jogging stroller, I actually love the UPPAbaby Cruz Stroller more for everyday use, the next size smaller. I bought it for my sister  so I was able to test it out. It has an awesome turning radius and is more compact so easier on crowded streets or in restaurants.

More about the UPPAbaby Mesa Car Seat

You don’t technically have to buy the UPPAbaby Mesa Infant Car Seat to go with the Vista but then you have to buy an adapter for the stroller. We wanted to keep things simple and we used the car seat with the stroller so much for the first 6 months that it was totally worth it. The Mesa is pricey but it’s a very safe car seat. It comes with one base that you mount in the car so you can easily click the car seat in and out with the pull and push of a handle. Great for when the baby is sleeping. We purchased a second base for my husband’s car.  My only complaint about the seat is how heavy it is (my daughter grew to be a big ‘ol baby).


Uppababy Vista Stroller comes with a bassinet. The car seat and car seat base are sold separately or can be bundled.
Uppababy Vista Stroller comes with a bassinet. The car seat and car seat base are sold separately or can be bundled. There are several color options.  We purchased navy.

5. My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow

No joke, this was a Godsend. Without the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow I struggled to feed my daughter, she was so helpless and limp in the beginning. She seemed to get lost in regular pillows but the Brest Friend is flat and firm. I preferred it over the other popular Boppy pillow because the Brest Friend has a belt that secures the pillow around your waste so your baby doesn’t slip into the crack between your body and the pillow.

My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow
My Brest Friend Deluxe Nursing Pillow

6.  Fisher Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper

The Fisher Price Rock n’ Play Sleeper worked great for helping to calm my baby and also kept her comforted when I had to put her down.  She slept great in it too and the vibration option kept her calm while swaddled up. Sometimes when she was fussy I would let her sleep in this next to our bed at night and after she was diagnosed with reflux it was her full-time sleep option for a while because it kept her at an incline.

Fisher-Price Deluxe Rock n play sleeper
Fisher-Price Deluxe Rock n’ Play Sleeper

7. Pampers Swaddlers

Several friends recommended the Pampers Swaddlers.  For my baby shower my friends set up a baby diaper raffle. Anyone who brought a package of baby diapers was entered into a raffle to win a gift. By the way, this was an awesome idea – my husband and I didn’t have to order any diapers for at least 3 months.  And people were good about getting them in different sizes. It also allowed me a chance to try several different brands. Swaddlers were my favorite. They are very strong, where as other brands would break or come off from the heavy overnight load. I also love the blue indicator line to show when the baby has gone to the bathroom.

8. These Two Books: The Happiest Baby on the Block and Babywise

I read (and reread) The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp, MD. and Babywise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam MD  before and through the early stages of motherhood.  The Happiest Baby on the Block includes the 5 S’s technique to help quiet a crying baby. Babywise shares a devised, specific schedule for feeding, playing, and sleeping your baby so that they learn the rhythm of sleep. The guidelines help prepare the baby for sleeping through most of the night by about three months. The two books do have some conflicting “cry it out” philosophies so I chose what made me feel the most comfortable (I won’t tell you which philosophy I chose because that’s to your discretion). I did follow the Babywise sleep schedule strictly and during the day my daughter was on a firm 3-hour sleeping/eating schedule which made it easier to plan around. And the 5 S’s worked wonders on helping me to get my daughter to stop crying.  The book recommends swaddling (one of the 5 s’s) which I did until she was about 6 months and could break out of them.

9. Extra-Large Burp Cloths

My daughter had reflux so she spit-up a lot. As cute as most of the gifted burp cloths were, I really needed larger ones. I recommend having at least one set of large ones that drape over your entire shoulder and back. This way you don’t have to keep changing your dang clothes. Before I ordered them I ended up using bathroom hand towels. I still don’t understand why they make most burp cloths so narrow.

Here’s a set of extra-large burp cloths from My Brest Friend>

My Brest Friend XL Burp Cloths
My Brest Friend XL Burp Cloths

10. A Nursing Cover

I must have been the most awkward breast feeder in history. For a while I couldn’t even do it in public because getting the babe to latch while wearing a cover caused sweat-induced anxiety.  It did eventually get easier and the cover worked great until the next phase – when the baby is older and no longer wants the cover to, well, cover her. She kicked and grabbed it and then BOOBIES galore.  But still, it was an every-day item for me, especially when people came over to visit in the first months. Here’s one for $10>

Udder Covers Breast Feeding Nursing Cover
Udder Covers Breast Feeding Nursing Cover

Ok and that’s my list! Hope it helped (and didn’t cause more confusion or anxiety).

Things you may want that I didn’t list:

Newborn Baby Hats – honestly, the ones that they used at the hospital fit our baby’s head better than the gifted ones we had until she grew into them. Not bad to have some extra handy though.

Baby mat gym with hanging toys– This is great to have after a few weeks to a month or so when the baby can start to see objects further away.  But you can live without it for a while so I didn’t include it.

Onsies and blankets – well that’s obvious. But you’ll get gifted so many of these that you may not even need to purchase any.

A changing table – at the time we only had 2 bedrooms and we decided to keep our guest bed in the baby room so we didn’t have the extra space for a changing table. We just converted the top of our dresser into a station.

A rocking chair – we really didn’t have room for this addition although I do recall cursing myself for not getting one in the middle of the night when my baby wouldn’t go back to sleep.

Things I waited on or never got:

A baby swing. I’ve heard pro’s and cons for both. I just didn’t want to get myself into the habit of preoccupying my newborn too much. I wanted to hold her and hang out with her as much as possible.

A diaper genie. These little garbage guys are handy but expensive.  Baby poops don’t really stink until they start eating solid food (around six months) so we didn’t bother and honestly still haven’t bought one. We have a heavy duty kitchen garbage can that keeps out the smell. But that requires a walk from the bedroom to the garbage which can be totally exhausting (I’m kidding by the way).

A baby monitor. Again, we had a small place. But even in our new and larger home I do not intend on getting one for baby #2.  For me it would just cause more anxiety checking the dang thing every couple of minutes.  If you have an upstairs and downstairs and it’s harder to hear a crying baby that’s a different story but we don’t so I preferred not to drive myself crazy.

Anyway, after all this typing I realize that I’m probably causing just as much anxiety for new moms as I experienced.  But like I said earlier, you truly don’t need that much to start and whatever you are missing will become obvious in the first couple of weeks. Besides, your family and friends will share so much unsolicited advice on what you need that they may actually give you some good ideas.  So enjoy those last couple weeks of pregnancy and don’t even worry about it (yeah right. ha).




Beth Pitts

Co-Founder & Global Editor-in-Chief

Beth Pitts co-founded Whentwo Media with Kim Lafleur in order to share thought-provoking news and information. Prior to Whentwo, Beth Pitts had a career in eCommerce, launching and managing sites for several large tech, beauty, and fashion retailers. Also a retired rugby player, she is in search of a replacement hobby that could create as much thrill without the tendency for injury. The search is ongoing...

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