Must-Have Baby Items: 0-6 Months
When you’re pregnant with your first child, it’s so hard to figure out what you actually need. Especially if you’re somebody like me who hates unnecessary clutter! I spent so much time researching every single item we bought for our first baby.
Three kids and almost six years later, I have a very good idea what are the must-have baby items, and what you can skip altogether. So to save you time – and money – here’s my take on baby products for the first six months. Find out what you need, what you don’t, and some of our favourite products that have stood the test of time over three kids.
This post is a long one, jam-packed with information. Looking for advice on a particular product? Use the index to skip to the section you’re looking for:
- Gear (includes a basic overview of car seats)
- Toiletries and Miscellaneous Items
1. First things first, you absolutely need a CAR SEAT – in fact, they won’t let you leave the hospital without one! Since this confused me at the beginning, here’s a basic overview of car seats:
STEP 1: Your first car seat will most likely be an infant car seat. These are the car seats that you see parents carrying everywhere. They have a base that remains in the vehicle, and then a “bucket seat” portion that detaches from the base and is used to carry the baby around (very handy when you’re transporting a sleepy newborn with no neck control!).
These car seats are rear-facing only, and will last you until your child is approximately 25 pounds (many have higher weight limits, but once you’ve tried to lift a 30 pound toddler in a bucket seat, you’ll understand why many make the switch earlier!).
It is possible to skip the infant car seat and go straight to the convertible car seat, but unless you drive very infrequently or plan to babywear on all errands I don’t recommend it – the infant car seat is incredibly convenient those first few months.
STEP 2: The next car seat you’ll purchase is a convertible car seat. These convert from rear-facing to forward-facing. These seats do not have a detachable base like the infant car seat – they remain in the vehicle.
If you buy a convertible car seat with a high enough weight limit, this seat can last until your child is ready for a booster.
There are also a few car seat models that convert from rear-facing to forward-facing to booster, and market themselves as the only car seat your child will ever need.
STEP 3: This is where it gets confusing (or at least it did for me!). The next seat people often purchase is a combination car seat. These seats are a combination of forward-facing harnessed car seat (i.e. they have the same five-point harness that convertibles car seats have), and high-back booster (i.e. they position the car’s seat belt to fit the child).
This is a seat you would purchase if your convertible car seat does not fit your child until booster age, or if you had to pass the convertible car seat down to a younger child. Otherwise, it is possible to go straight from convertible car seat to high-back booster.
STEP 4: The last seats you will purchase for your child are a high-back booster and finally, a backless booster (some seats do both). These are belt-positioning seats that position the car’s seat belt to fit your child. The high-back booster offers better positioning of the seat belt, and more protection for the child than a backless booster, so is usually the first step. The backless booster is used for older children as the final step before moving to the seat belt only.
We used a basic Graco SnugRide infant seat for our children. Our exact model is no longer manufactured, but we were very happy with our seat. When shopping for an infant seat, my advice is to choose something that is light, and don’t worry too much about the seat’s weight limits – there’s a good chance you will switch your baby to a convertible seat between 25 – 30 pounds regardless of your seat’s weight limit.
2. CAR SEAT MIRROR (Canadian link). This is a necessity for me when I have a rear-facing child. Without a mirror, it’s impossible to tell if the baby is awake, asleep, breathing, etc. This makes it easy to quickly glance at the baby and make sure they’re ok. You want to make sure that the mirror attaches securely, as it can become a projectile in an accident.
3. STROLLER. We used the Baby Trend Snap-N-Go (Canadian link) as our first stroller, and I highly recommend it. This is a stroller frame that holds your infant bucket seat. It’s lightweight, takes up very little room in the trunk, and has a nice large basket. We used this stroller exclusively for the first 5 months or so, and it gave us a chance to figure out what our stroller needs were actually going to be. Re-sale is great for these too – you can often pick them up used.
Once we graduated from the Snap-N-Go, we used (and still use and love) the Baby Jogger City Select. This is an extremely versatile stroller that converts from a single to a double, and can be arranged in a multitude of seating configurations. As much as we love this stroller, I would strongly recommend using the Snap-N-Go or a similar stroller frame for the first few months, and waiting to take the plunge on a more expensive stroller until you figure out what your stroller needs actually are.
4. BABY CARRIER. There are an incredible variety of baby carriers on the market. I was never a huge baby wearer, but I did find the Baby K’tan (Canadian link) to be invaluable with my second and third children. It’s easy to put on and comfortable, and allowed me to have my hands free, which was crucial when I was chasing a toddler (or two!) at the same time.
We had an earlier version of the Fisher-Price Snugapuppy swing (Canadian link). The key with this swing is that it swings side-to-side OR front-to-back – some babies love one motion but hate the other, so having a swing that can do both is crucial. It can be plugged in or run on batteries, and it has a variety of different speeds and sounds, so you can figure out the magic combo for your little one. It is large, and will become a dominant feature in whatever room it’s in, but it is 100% worth it for its baby-soothing ability!
6. BOUNCER. A bouncer isn’t a must-have, but it is nice to have another place to put the baby (especially if you have older children around who might accidentally stumble on a baby lying on the floor!). For us, the bouncer lived upstairs, and was an easy place to place the baby when we were showering, and the swing lived downstairs in our main living area. We chose the Fisher-Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker (Canadian link), primarily because it has a high weight limit, so when my older child inevitably sat in it they wouldn’t break it.
Another baby containment device worth mentioning is the 4moms mamaRoo (Canadian link). This was newly released when I was shopping for baby gear, and I couldn’t stomach the high price tag. From what I’ve heard from others, this is one of those items that babies either love or hate. Fortunately for you, there are now tons of used ones on the market, so you can easily score one for a great deal.
You do not need all of these devices, but unfortunately it’s impossible to predict what your baby is going to like. I’d suggest choosing either a swing or the mamaRoo, and a bouncer. Buying used or borrowing is a great way to save money and find out which items are going to work for you.
Related: How to Save Money on Baby Gear
7. PLAY MAT. Again, this is not a must-have, but you’d be surprised at how even a young baby can be mesmerized by looking and batting at toys hanging above their head. We had the Fisher-Price Kick and Play Piano Gym (Canadian link), and loved it. This one has the added feature of a piano babies can kick (and later, sit up and play), which some babies love.
8. CLOTHING. Try to avoid going overboard on newborn clothes (I know, it’s tough!). You don’t know how big your baby is going to be – some babies never fit in newborn-sized clothes, while others might wear them for 6 weeks or more. Buy the bare minimum (I’d suggest 5 or less of each item in newborn size), and purchase more if you need it once baby arrives.
Unless your baby is born in the heat of summer or a very hot climate, footed sleepers are going to be your best friend. This is not the time for complicated, multi-piece outfits. Sleepers can be worn day and night, and make things easy – which is what you need when you’re in newborn survival-mode! Buy a couple with zippers and a couple with snaps to see what you prefer.
One of our babies was a summer baby, and ran hot. For him, we loved kimono-style onesies (these have long sleeves, but you can find them with short sleeves as well) and rompers that snap up the front. We avoided onesies that went over the head until we were more comfortable dealing with a newborn with no neck control.
Baby gowns are another popular item for new babies. These are open at the bottom to make middle-of-the-night diaper changes easy. Start with a couple of these to see if they work for you.
Otherwise, buy a few pairs of socks, a couple of pairs of pants (if you think you’ll need them), and possibly a couple of hats, and you’re set. Skip the newborn baby shoes – it’s almost impossible to get shoes on a newborn baby, and they’re going to fall off within five minutes anyway.
**I was on maternity leave for the first year, and had bottle-refusers, so I haven’t included pumping/bottle feeding supplies. I did use and like the Medela Pump in Style breastpump. If you are purchasing a breastpump, check with your insurance provider to see if all or part of it is covered – my insurance covered a portion of the cost (and this was in Canada).
9. NURSING BRA. This (Canadian link) is far and away my favourite nursing bra. I bought a few other styles and never wore them after I found this one. It’s comfortable (no underwire!) and supportive. The sizing for this is S/M/L/XL/XXL, so you have a bit more flexibility with it than you do with other bras, but I would still recommend buying only one or two, and waiting until your size has stabilized and you know if you like it to order more.
I bought a few nursing tanks before I had my first, but they have long since been donated – I didn’t find nursing clothing to be necessary for me. Your experience may vary, but I would suggest buying only a nursing tank (or two) at the beginning.
10. BREAST PADS. You will want to have these as soon as you come home – when your milk comes in it does so with a vengeance, and it’s very likely that you will leak. These (Canadian link) are my favourite.
11. LANOLIN. At the beginning, breastfeeding can hurt. With my first, I had cracked and bleeding nipples as we struggled to figure it out. Lanolin (Canadian link) was a lifesaver. As a bonus, lanolin is also great at moisturizing chapped lips – it’s still my go-to lip balm!
12. BURP CLOTHS. Between the milk that you’re leaking, and any spit up that your baby may produce, you’re going to want to have a burp cloth handy at all times. My favourite burp cloths are flat cloth diapers (Canadian link) – they’re cheap, incredibly absorbent, and have held up great after three kids.
13. NURSING PILLOW. A nursing pillow is another one of those items that isn’t a must-have, but it does make things easier. When everything is new, and you’re trying to figure out breastfeeding, anything that makes it easier is welcome in my book. I had and loved the My Brest Friend nursing pillow (Canadian link). I did a LOT of nursing in my bed and on the couch, and loved the back support for that reason.
15. DIAPERS. Our favourite disposable diaper for little ones is Pampers Swaddlers (Canadian link). The newborn size is for babies under 10 pounds, so buy only one package to start. Once baby’s size is a bit easier to predict, we use Amazon Prime and Subscribe & Save to save 20% on diapers.
16. WIPES. Some babies are sensitive to certain wipes, so I’d suggest buying a smaller package to start. Skip the wipe warmer unless you absolutely need it – my theory was you won’t have it when you’re out of the house, so why get baby used to warm wipes?
17. CHANGE PAD. We skipped the change table and don’t regret it. Purchase a dresser that can double as a change table, or simply change baby on the floor. We have two diaper change stations set up in our house, and do 100% of diaper changes on the floor or a bed. We have a simple contoured change pad (Canadian link) upstairs (with a cover), and a basic foldable change pad (Canadian link) downstairs – this has served us well for five years and counting!
18. DIAPER PAIL. Necessity? No. Nice to have? Definitely – especially if the garbage is not going to be taken out daily. We use the diaper genie (Canadian link). The smell that escapes when the lid is opened is terrible, but that smell is contained most of the time, so it’s doing what it’s supposed to.
19. SOMEWHERE FOR BABY TO SLEEP. Although you may not use it for the first six months, you will need a crib, crib mattress and crib bedding. Let’s talk about crib bedding for a minute. Crib bedding sets are often bundled with plush bumpers and a comforter. Skip these sets – bumpers and comforters are not recommended, as they increase the risk of suffocation or SIDS. I would recommend buying 3 crib sheets (you’ll rarely need the third, but on the nights you do, you’ll be glad you have it!), and if you want one, a crib skirt.
Many parents choose to have baby in their room with them for the first six months or so. If you do so, there are a number of options for where baby sleeps. Some people bring the crib right into their bedroom. Others use a bassinet, and there are some that have some pretty incredible features. Others bed share – if you go this route there are a number of co-sleepers that are placed right in your bed, but ensure baby has space to themselves.
We elected to use a basic Graco Pack ‘n Play with the bassinet attachment. In case you’re as confused by this as I was, the bassinet attachment is the one that essentially raises the floor of the Pack ‘n Play (not to be confused with the bouncer or napper that comes with many models and attaches to the top). We chose this because we knew we’d want a Pack ‘n Play for travel later, so figured it was dual-purpose. If you choose to go with a Pack ‘n Play, you will want 2-3 Pack ‘n Play sheets, and also a waterproof mattress cover like this one.
20. SWADDLE or SLEEPSACK. This (Canadian link) is hands-down my favourite swaddle/sleepsack. We just discovered it with baby #3, and I wish I had it with all of my children. The design of the swaddle allows baby to have their hands up closer to their face, which many babies seem to prefer. It has snaps at the arm holes to convert to a sleepsack, once baby is ready. It could be a coincidence, but our third baby was by far the easiest to transition to a sleepsack, and I’m convinced it’s because she had more room to move her arms around with this swaddle.
21. WHITE NOISE. All of our kids fall asleep with white noise. It soothes them when they’re teeny tiny, and even now it muffles other sounds in the house (like their brother or sister crying next door!). This one (Canadian link) has held up wonderfully for us – when we travel we just use a white noise app on our phones.
22. With my first I used and loved a BABY MOVEMENT MONITOR. We used this one, which clips on to the diaper and sounds an audible alarm if it senses no movement after a period of time. SIDS was a huge fear of mine, and this device gave me peace of mind so I could actually sleep. This is obviously not a necessity item, but if you have the same anxieties I did, it may be worth looking into.
23. BABY MONITOR. You will likely want a baby monitor of some sort – either audio or video. If you’re shopping for a video monitor, consider whether or not you want the ability to add a second camera. If you’re planning on a second child, you may want to consider a model with a second camera right off the bat, as they can be more expensive to buy separately, and difficult to find if your model is subsequently discontinued.
25. GLIDER. In our family, a glider is a must-have item to soothe babies to sleep. Our glider dates back to when I was a baby, so I have no specific recommendations to give you. Make sure you try your glider before you buy it – there is a good chance you will log a lot of hours in your glider, so you want to make sure it’s comfortable!
Toiletries and Miscellaneous Items
26. BLANKETS. Chances are you’re going to receive a lot of blankets as gifts, so don’t rush out and buy too many. We LOVED muslin swaddle blankets, and I would wholeheartedly recommend the aden + anais bamboo muslin swaddle blankets, which are beautiful and incredibly soft. We used these as blankets, swaddles, nursing covers, car seat covers, you name it.
You will also want a plush baby blanket to throw over baby in the stroller or car seat on cooler days.
28. SOOTHERS. For newborns, we loved Soothie pacifiers (Canadian link), and Wubbanubs (Canadian link). Wubbanubs are great in the car, because you can prop them up on your baby’s chest which means they’re less likely to fall in the depths of the car seat right away – and if they do, they’re easier to find.
29. BATHING. I took a very simplistic approach to bathing baby. We borrowed a baby bathtub with our first and used it only a handful of times. I found it MUCH easier to jump in the tub with them. Buy one bottle of baby wash to start – you never know what will irritate baby’s sensitive skin. I’d also suggest a package of baby washcloths and a hooded towel, because they are easier to use when baby is teeny tiny (plus the hooded towels are just adorable!).
30. BABY CARE KIT. A baby care kit (Canadian link) will get you the basic first aid and grooming tools that you need. You can also buy the items individually – we could have gotten away with nail clippers, a hairbrush, and a thermometer. Make sure you have nail clippers from the beginning – babies are born with surprisingly long fingernails! You may want to upgrade your thermometer, but it’s nice to have a smaller one for travel.
31. NOSE FRIDA. The idea behind this may make you squeamish, but I promise you it will only take one experience with a congested, unhappy baby to get over the gross-factor. This is vastly superior to the bulb syringe at clearing baby’s stuffed nose – and no, you will not actually suck boogers into your mouth. If yours does not come with saline solution, make sure you pick some up – the saline helps to loosen everything so it can be removed.
32. INFANT TYLENOL. You won’t need this for a while, but you can’t predict when you will, so it’s nice to have on hand.
Whew! I hope that was helpful. If you have any specific questions I haven’t covered, let me know in the comments – I’m happy to help when I can!