A Shopping List for First-time Moms

baby's bedroom

For those of us that are first-time moms, knowing what to buy in order to be prepared for our bundle of joy can be a tad bit confusing. Baby registries do offer buying guidelines with obvious items such as onesies and pacifiers, but as I found out there are also other items that don’t make the lists — items that come in super handy in those first few, sleep-deprived weeks.

Alcohol wipes

This is for the umbilical cord as it dries up and falls off.

Sanitary pads and witch hazel

No one told me that I could tear really bad during birth, much less told me what might help if I did. I heard about this on a message board, after the harsh reality of third degree tearing. The ice packs the hospital sends home with you get used up quickly. Once those are gone, you will probably still want some cooling relief. Dousing sanitary napkins (thick ones) with witch hazel and freezing them can provide the same relief as those blessed ice packs did.

Nursing camis

These are invaluable if you are planning on nursing. When out in public, a nursing bra doesn’t cover up your tummy as you lift your shirt to nurse the baby. With a cami, that post-pregnancy belly of yours is covered up and all you need to do is unhook a little flap in order to nurse.

Nursing pads

Again, if you are planning on nursing, these are invaluable. I was shocked at how wet I was in the first three months of nursing. The thicker the pad, the better.

Baby Gates

Baby safety gates are a perfect solution to keep your baby away from the more dangerous areas of your home, like staircases or the kitchen. Once a child is mobile things can happen faster than you think. Installing baby gates in your house is an excellent fail-safe feature that makes parenting a little less stressful.

Breast pump

When my sister-in-law offered to let me borrow her breast pump, I took it, but really didn’t feel I was going to use it. As a matter of fact, I rarely did use it, being a nursing-on-demand mother. But there were a couple of long trips where having a bottle handy proved a wise move and I was glad I had the pump. It’s definitely an item on my “must have” list because of this experience.

Travel bottle warmer

This handy little item plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and warms up the bottle on the go.

A large water bottle

If you are nursing, expect to be thirstier than usual. Keeping a water bottle handy at all times was a must, and I usually had one for home and car. Keeping up your water intake (half your body weight in fluid ounces) also will serve to keep up your milk production.


No matter if you are nursing or bottle feeding, a pillow can be a blessing. Especially if you have given birth to a “healthy” sized baby.

Receiving blankets

I had enough of these for every day of the week and found that amount to be more than adequate. Babies love to be swaddled, and receiving blankets are perfect for swaddling.

Sleep sacks

It’s best if babies are not put to bed with blankets, and yet you want them to stay warm. I have found sleep sacks to be the best thing going for night time and can’t recommend them highly enough!

Baby monitor

Nothing can set a new mom’s mind to ease more than having a monitor in with her baby. Monitors range from audio only, to video monitors, to monitors that even sense a baby’s vital signs and alert the parents if anything is wrong.

Car Seat Toys

A brightly colored toy that hangs from a car seat handle can help alleviate some of the crying that putting your baby into the car seat can result in. One that plays a lullaby is a wonderful thing to have, as it can soothe a baby to sleep when you are unable to because you’re tied up with driving.

Car mirror

These neat little things hang on the back seat, allowing you to see your rear-facing baby in your review mirror. For uptight new moms like me that need to be assured baby is breathing, even while in the car, this is an item that can’t be left off the list.


If you are using disposable diapers, two economy size packs worth of diapers is great to have for the first weeks. The last thing you are going to feel like doing is going out and getting diapers, so having plenty on hand is always a bonus.

If you are planning on cloth diapering, build your stash up to three days’ worth — four, if you don’t have a dryer and need to line dry. A newborn will need to be changed every 2-3 hours, so that means you will need at least 36 cloth diapers. Doubling this amount is even better.

Crib CD player

How grateful I am for being told about this one! Music lulled my daughter to sleep when all else failed. Operating on batteries and with a nightlight, this was one of the best items I bought with my gift cards.

Mobile that makes patterns on the wall or ceiling

Patterns that went around and around on the ceiling, combined with the CD player, were nighttime life savers for us. They would often serve to distract my daughter when nothing could get her to settle down. Even when she got a bit older and began teething, the mobile still came in very useful because the colors and patterns would so intrigue her, she would be distracted from the pain in her mouth.

Vibrating bouncy seat

No one told me about this little mother’s friend, but again, my sister-in-law came through for me on this one!  A vibrating bouncy seat snuggles around a baby and keeps him or her in your line of vision since the seat is easily moved and can usually be put right near where you are working. The vibrations often sooth a crying baby, even helping them go to sleep.

Sling or Carrier

Some days nothing is going to calm your baby down — not a CD player on the crib nor a vibrating bouncy seat. On those days, they only want to be held and loved on. Trouble is, you have things to do. “Wearing” your baby can help you accomplish both things at once.

Video camera

These can be expensive, but now-a-days, digital cameras come equipped with the ability to take 2-3 minute video clips. I was so glad we made the $150 purchase that we made, because I have been able to capture some of the sweetest moments you will ever see, just with my little digital camera. The best one I ever caught was at 2 a.m. one morning, as my tiny little daughter clutched her teddy bear tightly and softly cooed at him. However, I will spare you from having to watch it and “oo” and “ah” over it!


You have the baby book and the first year calendar to record all the memories of your baby’s first year, but what about recording your thoughts and feelings during this time? It’s unbelievable to go back and relive those first weeks and months by re-reading through a journal that you kept during those times. It’s something that you may even be able to pass on to your own daughter some day, as she prepares for her own little one.

I’m sure there are things I have left off this list that other moms will be quick to point out, but as I look back over this past year and think over those first few weeks and months, these are the items that stick out the most in my mind as need-to-have items.

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