Real Talk: You Only Need These 12 Things Before Baby Comes

Here's the short list of the only things you really need before you bring your baby home.

Suddenly it hits you: There's going to be a baby living in your home—soon! Before you go into a full panic that you still haven’t figured out what stroller, high chair or swing you want, take a deep breath: You don’t actually need all of these things before you have a baby.

You really don’t.

What’s more, there are advantages to not having every last thing on hand pre-baby. You'll have more space if you're able to phase in the older baby goods as you get rid of the gear you're done with. And odds are you'll save money.

For instance, that doorway jumper on your list? Eight or nine months from now you may never miss it because your little guy is more of an Exersaucer baby. Plus, when you have a new baby, going to the store to pick up things you need counts as an exciting activity for all.

Here are the only 12 things you really need to have on before delivery. Check off what’s here by D-Day and you’re good.

A brand-new car seat

 New Car Seat

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Buying one should be numero uno on your to-do list. By law, the hospital staff can't let you drive off without one. And yes, they check.

A crib

 A Crib

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(With a mattress and two fitted crib sheets.) If you already got a bassinette or a co-sleeper, you can hold off. But if not, go straight to a crib. You're going to need one before you know it anyway.



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No matter what season, no matter where you live, your baby will live in these around the clock for a month at least.

Digital Thermometer

 Digital Thermometer

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A basic model that can be used rectally is fine. Being able to take your newborn's temperature quickly and accurately is crucial, as fevers of 100.4 or more in infants are serious.

Infant ibuprofen drops

 Infant Ibuprofen drops


Your doctor may instruct you to use them if your newborn does run a fever, and you don't want to be running out to CVS.

Bouncy Seat

 Bouncy Seat

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A small, simple model sized for newborns is all you need. You're not going to want to put your baby in her crib every time you want to use the bathroom, start a load of laundry, or eat a sandwich. And a bouncy seat is easy to bring into the bathroom when you (finally) take a shower.



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Even if you’re breastfeeding, it’s important to have two cans of ready-to-serve, milk-based formula in your cabinet in case of emergency. (Say you were delayed getting home and there wasn’t enough pumped milk in the fridge.) If you’re planning to bottle-feed, don't stock up on formula until you're sure that the brand/type you bought agrees with your baby.

Breast Pump

 Breast Pump

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If you're breastfeeding, you'll want one waiting when you get home from the hospital. Pumping lets your partner or Grandma handle some of the feedings.

Bottles and nipples

 Bottles and nipples

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If you plan to formula-feed, you'll use about 10 bottles a day. While you can wash bottles during the day, it’s nice to have extras on hand so you’re not doing dishes all the time. A dozen full-size bottles are a safe bet. (Your baby will quickly grow out of the tiny half-size bottles.) Nursing moms will want bottles on hand, too for expressed breast milk.



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Keep in mind you'll be going through 10 or 12 a day in the early weeks. If you're using cloth, get 24 to start. For disposables, get one pack of newborn size and two packs of size ones. Many moms go straight to the Size Ones, but others love the notch for the umbilical cord on the newborns. (Pampers has that feature in the Size Ones, too.)

Diaper rash cream

 Diaper rash cream


Even young babies get diaper rash. Petroleum jelly works, too.




If you normally use tampons, these are easily forgotten. You'll want two packages of ultra-absorbent maxi-pads. When the locia discharge slows within two or three weeks, you'll also need a box of panty liners.

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