Dancing Star Birth's number one question by new parents is 'what do I need to buy to prepare for my new baby?' If you’re feeling overwhelmed by what you need to purchase before your baby’s arrival, you’re not alone. But we promise, you probably don’t need half of it (the stress or the actual items). And there are so many other options apart from spending a stressful afternoon in a big box store or hours on Amazon. We’ve broken the essentials down into simple categories for you. And we’ll give you some great tips for keeping it affordable, earth-friendly, and stress-free.
What time of the year will your baby be born? If it’s warm, you’ll need onesies. These typically snap under the bum and can also be bought in sets with pants. You’ll also need sleepers. These are one-pieces that are usually long-sleeved, cover the legs and feet, and often zipper up the front. Having 10 of these two items in NB or 0-3 month size should do. If you want to feel extra prepared, grab a similar amount in 3-6 month sizes.
A couple of sleep nightgowns, with elastic bottoms, are also handy for middle-of-the-night diaper changes.
You’ll want a handful of socks or booties, be prepared to lose them; they’re notorious for not staying on! Our favourite recommendation for baby feet is Padraigs slippers. They’re a 45-year-old Vancouver company, hand-crocheted, and stay on. We’ve put these on all our babies!
You’ll also need a few beanies to keep your baby’s head warm. If your baby will be born in cooler weather, this list won’t be very different. You can simply layer onesies with sleepers. And you’ll want a bunting suit for outside and car travel.
There are many other cute things you could buy (and will probably be gifted!), but these are what you’ll be using the most.
You have a few options. The most common are disposable, cloth and hybrid. Disposables certainly make those first few months easier. It’s no longer just Pampers and Huggies. There are many brands that offer more natural fibres, no bleaching and other things that may feel important to you. Many of these are available at your bigger box stores now.
Cloth diapers are also a great option. There are local companies who offer pick up and washing services as well. Hybrids are diapers that are usually cloth on the outside with a disposable insert on the inside, that’s often compostable (just pees!) and flushable.
With disposables, you’ll want to start with a large box or a few bags of NB size, as well as one box or bag of size 1. It’s simpler to have someone run out and grab what’s needed versus stockpiling several sizes.
With cloth or hybrids, you’ll probably want 15 of the beginner size. You can always reach out to the company you’re purchasing from and have them advise you on a good starter pack. You may also want a diaper pail and washable/waterproof wet/dry bags for changing on the go.
And wipes! Disposables are simple and can be unscented and gentle. You can also use small washcloths or squares of soft fabric.
For changing at home, you have options. Change tables are handy, as they offer storage for diapering needs and are at the right height to keep your back intact. They’re also a substantial piece of furniture you may not want or have room for. A couple of waterproof change mats/pads will do just fine and can be laid out on your bed, the couch or the floor. These can be flat and foldable or contoured. For changes on the go, you’ll need a travel-sized change pad. They often come in a convenient pack that folds out and can store a few diapers and wipes.
Olive and coconut oil are great to have around for the first week. Meconium, the type of poo your baby will have for the first several days, can be sticky. A little oil applied to a freshly cleaned and dry bum is gentle on your baby and makes the next clean-up a lot easier.
Diaper cream may or may not be needed, as your baby can be rashy or not. There are a bunch of natural and effective brands. We’ve loved Weleda and Burt’s Bees. It doesn’t hurt to have one tin around.
Diaper bags! For the first year or more, your diaper bag and purse will probably be one in the same. This doesn’t need to be an actual diaper bag. It could be a backpack, a camera bag, a roomier purse or anything you like! So long as it’s easy enough on your shoulders to carry and simple to transport in your stroller or car. Pockets are very helpful, so you can locate the things you need quickly.
If you are breast/chestfeeding, there are a few things you’ll benefit from having around. A cream, ideally lanolin, is wonderful on sore or cracked nipples.
Nursing bras are handy and supportive for feeding. The Bravado brand is pretty unmatched for quality and comfort. However, if you have comfortable bras that you can easily pull the cup down and have your breast pop out, that works too! Smaller chested parents may find this is all they need.
Burp cloths or receiving blankets are essential. There is a good chance you’ll encounter a decent amount of spit-up in the first year. You’ll want them at hand when you’re nursing, in your diaper bag and around the house. These can be purchased in multipacks affordably. They can be used for other things like an extra layer for your baby or a sun/windshield when they’re in the carrier. These can also be made or repurposed from towels or bits of absorbent fabric.
Do you need a breast pump? Maybe. If you’re pumping because you’re going back to work, you/your baby have more complex needs, or if you’re wanting to donate your milk, it is absolutely worth it to use a hospital-grade double pump. They can be rented through many local pharmacies, Vancouver Coastal Health, and the manufacturers themselves. If pumping more casually, for some hours or days away, a single pump, electric or manual will do. The Medela Swing or Avent Isis are both great options. There are also some great milk collection products you can tuck in a bra or keep on one breast while you’re nursing on the other. The Hakka is a manual pump wonderful for milk letdown and casual collection. You’ll also want bags/bottles for milk storage and freezing.
If your baby is bottle-feeding, it’s much easier to buy as needed versus stocking up before your baby arrives. Babies can be quite selective with bottles and their nipples, and sometimes it takes a little experimentation to find the right fit. So have 2 or 3 different options, see how they work with your baby, and buy more as needed. Be sure to buy bottles with a newborn/slow drip nipple (it will say on the box). For cleaning, you’ll need a bottle brush.
You can purchase a breastfeeding pillow. You will need some support, as your baby’s mouth needs to come up to your nipple, vs you bending down to them. But for many parents, a bed or couch pillow does the job just fine.
Breastfeeding cover-ups. These are not necessary. Breastfeeding is a human right, protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You can feed your baby anytime, anywhere and are not under obligation to cover up. If covering up feels more natural or comfortable to you, there are a few options. The most popular ones are nursing covers, nursing scarves, nursing shirts or multi-use nursing covers.
Crib, bassinet, co-sleeper or co-sleeping? The likelihood that your baby will spend a lot of time in your bed with you for the first few months is pretty good. This allows more sleep and rest for both of you. So, a simple option is a co-sleeping. This means you can buy… nothing! If you feel more comfortable or sleep better with your baby beside you, but not necessarily in bed with you, co-sleepers in or attached to the bed, as well as bassinets beside the bed are an excellent option. This creates some space for both of you but allows for easy connection in the night for feeds and changes. For these options, you’ll need 2-3 fitted sheets. The same would apply if using a crib.
For all of these sleeping scenarios, you will not need a blanket for your baby. A newborn sleep sack or warm sleeper will be enough.
You’ll also want a couple of blankets for the stroller, for your baby to lay on, or when you want that extra layer of cozy.
A baby monitor can be helpful for when your baby is sleeping out of your sight and you want to keep an eye on them or know you’ll hear them cry. There are models with just sound, video, talkback features, white noise features. There are also apps that work with two devices with cameras ie.. a tablet near your baby and your phone with you.
Mobility... Babywearing, Car Seats and Strollers
Carrier, wrap, sling, structured, stretchy? The coziest option for the first few months is a stretchy or woven wrap or a ring sling. The woven wraps and ring slings have a small learning curve, but provide excellent support and can often be used in toddlerhood. Stretchy wraps are wonderful for the first few months. Many structured carriers offer newborn support too and are really handy when your baby is bigger. We recommend having one cozy baby-wearing option at the ready and doing a few practice runs with it before your baby arrives. Youtube search your carrier and you’ll find a good demonstration.
You will likely need a car seat. You can buy an infant bucket seat that comes in and out of the car, which is ideal if you don't drive and may use it for travel in others’ cars. Brands like Diono, Clek and Britax make excellent convertible car seats that will take you from infancy to childhood, so you only have to buy one ever! It’s advised not to use any car seat accessories such as pillows or neck supports.
You’ll probably need a stroller, and the options here are endless and can get pricey. If you plan on doing most of your travel on foot, investing in a good stroller is worth it. If you think you’ll babywear and/or drive more often, there are much lower/mid-cost stroller options that would be just fine. Ensure you get one that is appropriate for newborn use; some are not suitable until your baby can hold their head up or sit.
You may have no use for these, but they are good to have on hand.
A baby thermometer
Baby Advil/Tylenol (never use cold medication)
2-3 different soothers/pacifiers
Baby nail clippers
Advil/Tylenol for the birthing parent
Your neighbourhood Buy Nothing Group, Swap and Shop groups and Marketplace (Facebook) are excellent places to get what you need. You could buy a sleeper for $25 online or at the mall, but you could also get a single lot of 5-10 sleepers for $10-$20 on your neighbourhood groups. You could head to a baby store and buy a $900 stroller, or you could hop on Marketplace and find the same one for $150.
Babies outgrow things they like and need very quickly. For this reason, it’s not necessary to purchase expensive or space-sucker items like exersaucers, bouncy seats, jolly jumpers etc. Why not try borrowing from a friend or someone in your neighbourhood, or buying one for $10 on Marketplace first? You will likely be gifted many things. And friends and family love to buy precious and adorable things. If you are having a baby shower, or have prepared a registry, it’s best to wait and see what you receive before you start buying all the beautiful things. It’s a very common occurrence for babies to outgrow things before they’ve ever had the chance to wear or use them.
You can find your neighbourhood local Buy Nothing group here.
An invaluable resource for all things babywearing is the Babywearing from the Valley to Vancouver Facebook group. Here, you can ask questions, request links or even hands-on help, post pictures (ie.. does this look right??), find out about local, babywearing meetups and more. You can find the group here.
If you liked these hot tips on what you need to have for your new baby check out our list of things you will need to bring to your birth.