If I had to become a first time father again, here are the essentials I’d get for my newborn. I used all the items I list here.
VTech Baby monitor - What sets this apart from a the video monitors is the audio threshold level. It won’t pickup the white noise machine but will pickup your baby’s cries. You can even set it to zero volume and it will beep when the baby cries are above the volume threshold. Once the baby is asleep, you can finally leave the room and eat something or use the bathroom.
Comfy lounger baby travel bassinet - it’s a moveable mini-bassinet. It cradles your newborn. My newborn slept in this for the first two months. You could put this on a bed or on a wide chair if you’re monitoring your newborn.
After about a month, I placed this mini-bassinet with the baby into the normal bassinet for sleeping.
Bassinet - Don’t overspend. I got a fancy one but there’s no reason to do so. It’s just a flat surface.
Humidifier - It’s easier for your baby to breathe with some humidity. I live in Colorado where the air is dry. I noticed my newborn slept better with a humidifier in the room. That meant I slept better.
Nose Frida Snotsucker - Your baby won’t be able to clear their nose by themselves. You’ll have to suck the snot out for using this tool. This tool has saved me many times from a baby that couldn’t breathe well. Make sure you get the accompanying saline to soften the snot before using this tool.
Keep it simple. Forget baby pants. Your baby will be pooping and peeing so often that you want to optimize for changing out their clothes quickly.
Baby Onesies - Get the size zero to 3. You’ll use these for several months. I used these when temperatures were warm as they they are short sleeved.
Prefer clothes that are bigger. We received a bunch of newborn clothes we couldn’t use because our baby grew out of them.
Baby sleep gowns - These are great for night time or when temperatures are cooler. They are one piece and are easy to take on and off.
Diapers - Try out a few brands and see which ones you like. Have one or two boxes on hand as you’ll be going through them a lot — yes, more than you think. It’s not unusual to go through at least 10 diapers daily during the first month.
Ola baby bottle - There are a bunch of bottles out there. We used this silicone bottle for combo-feeding and it worked great.
Baby Formula — I had my newborn during the 2022 US baby formula shortage. Shelves were empty. Luckily, I used samples that we were given.
I’d buy a few cans of baby formula before your child arrives. Kids are different but the Enfamil Gentlease worked well with ours. The liquid ready-made formulas worked poorly. They caused stomach issues and gas.
The formula that worked best for us is Kendamil. It actually smelled like real milk. Our kid had no stomach issues with it. FDA allowed it during the formula shortage. European formulas is better than US based formulas.
Measuring cup — Necessary when you’re measuring water to mix with formula.
Changing Pad - Munchkin Secure Grip - It’s concave and therefore your newborn won’t roll off this changing pad. We put ours on top of a horizontal Kallax shelf and it was easy to change the newborn on it. Pro tip — do not change your baby on the couch. They’ll pee when you least expect it and it’ll soak into your couch.
Changing Pad Cover - This will protect your changing pad from poop and pee.
Swaddle blankets - Get at least 10 total of various kind of material — muslin, cotton, flannel. You don’t want to be doing laundry every day. You’ll use them when the baby throws up milk. You’ll swaddle the baby for sleep, as the nurses showed you in the hospital, except you’ll fail to do it as well as they did.
Happiest Baby Sleep Pea - This swaddle is magic. Buy it. Once you realize you suck at swaddling with regular swaddle blankets, this will save the day. You’ll want to swaddle your newborn when putting them to sleep as it makes them feel secure and helps them sleep better.
Binky - # MAM Night Pacifiers 0-6 Months - This one was specifically recommended to us by a night nurse. It worked great with our newborn. It fell out of his mouth less. You’ll need a pacifier because newborns will cry even if they aren’t hungry. A pacifier gives them something to suck on and will help calm them.
Dirty Diaper Trash — While you could get a fancy baby trash bin, you could alternatively save grocery store plastic bags and fill them up with dirty diapers. Just make sure to tie the trash bags so the smell doesn’t get out.
Stroller Uppababy Minu - It’s pricey but it’s lightweight and maneuverable. We’ll be traveling with our baby and that’s why we got it. The other benefit is that it comes with a bassinet attachment which is great for taking newborns outside. We sometimes let the baby sleep in this stroller bassinet during the day.
Car seat - Grayco Snuglock 35 - You can buy an additional base for another car and easily clip in the baby seat anywhere a base is set up.
Room heater — We had a few chilly nights. You want to control the temperature in the room for the baby. Get one with a remote.
A thick cotton or microfiber blanket - to cover half of the baby while they are asleep and you are present in the room with them. You’re not supposed to cover the baby with anything while they are alone in the bassinet.
Boppy Nursing Pillow - It’s not a necessity. After you feed the baby, you need to keep them upright for about 10 minutes so they don’t throw up the milk. You could keep them upright with your hands. As your baby gets heavier, this pillow does the job of your hands. I found this pillow useful about 2 months into a newborns life.
iPad — It can be any tablet. I spent hours watching movies while my newborn slept right next to me. Give yourself permission to relax and not be productive while you’re going through the first several weeks.
Comfortable Rocking Recliner Chair — I doubted the decision to buy a pricey one at first. Once the newborn came, I was so happy we got the recliner. I could calm the baby and sometimes doze off myself. I suggest getting a chair that can rock because that will help soothe the baby.
Memory foam tips — Replace the default earbud tips with these ones and you’ll enjoy your earbuds for hours and have been sound isolation.
Controlling the environment
Control your baby’s environment as much as you can. They’ll sleep better and you’ll be able to take care of yourself.
White noise machine - It’s a must. It drowns out background noise and lets your baby sleep better. You could use your phone to play white noise but then you can’t use your phone for other things.
Black out curtains - They are critical. You don’t want your kid waking up with the sunrise at 5 am. It’s also easier to put them down for a daytime nap in a dark room.
Dimmable light - I have a dimmable desk lamp with a physical dimmable switch. I recommend a physical switch rather than messing with a phone app to dim the lights.
It’s even better if your bulb can switch to a red color as it’s gentler during the night and will wake your baby less.