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Baby Must-Haves: our checklist of essentials

ExpertsPost Category - ExpertsExpertsParentingPost Category - ParentingParenting - Post Category - BabyBaby

People often ask me what baby products are essential for the first few months of a baby’s life. The truth is, when you break it all down, your baby’s absolute needs are quite simple. They are:

–        Food
–        Diapers
–        A place to sleep
–        And, of course, your love and care

But when it comes to your newborn, need and want are two words that are easily interchangeable! So here is a list that covers what I feel are the “must-have” items when the time comes to bring home baby.


  • Baby Bathtub

Many are designed to last your child through toddlerhood. Some have a stand that allows you to not bend down and you can insert a seat into the bath. In any case, never leave your baby unattended in the bath.

  • Hooded Towels

Around two or three.

  • Washcloths

You’ll need a few of these – around five or six.

  • Gentle and/or Organic Baby Shampoo & Wash

Your baby’s skin in its largest organ, so choose what you put on it carefully.

  • Brush or Comb

If you little one has any hair! Can also be very useful for cradle cap.

  • Baby Manicure Scissors

A baby’s nails are nice and soft after a bath and therefore easier to cut


  • Nursing Pillow  

Designed to support your baby while you’re nursing or bottle-feeding.

  • Nursing Bra

Plan on having several in case you leak!

  • Breastfeeding Accessories  

Lanolin ointment, hot/cold gel packs, breast pads and silicon nipples call all come in handy.

  • Breast Pump

These can be as simple as a basic hand pump or as efficient as an electric, double-pumping model (some are available for rent: ask your baby planner, hospital or lactation consultant for more details).

  • Pumping Accessories

You may need storage bags for breast milk and extra bottles.

  • Bottles 

Quantities vary depending on whether you plan on breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. In either case, try to get glass or BPA-free plastic bottles and silicone (vs. latex) nipples.

  • Bottle-Drying Rack  

Handy for air-drying all the nipples, bottles (and later even sippy cup parts) after washing them.

  • Formula  

It’s preferable to choose organic formula and to really look into ingredients and companies before buying this.


  • Diapers

Your baby will probably go through 10 to 12 diapers a day. Whether you decide to use cloth or disposable (check out my article on that debate here!) or something in-between (some diapers use a reusable cover with a disposable lining) is entirely up to you!

  • Wipes

You will need to think ahead; this is something you really don’t want to run out of! You can decide to buy wipes, make your own, use cotton and warm water, or find other creative solutions.

  • Diaper Rash Cream  

I recommend getting a natural and/or organic cream to soothe diaper rash. Babies have more or less rashes depending on the type of diapers they are wearing. Some parents apply a little cream before bed as a preventive measure.

  • Diaper Bag  

Diaper bag designs have come a long way in recent years. Many of them are now equal parts fashion accessory and baby gear tote. Since you are going to be carrying it around quite a lot, choose a style you love!

  • Diaper Pail and Liners  

Depending on the type of diapering system you go for, this will or will not be useful. Diaper pails keep diaper smells and mess from lingering.

Baby clothes usually come in the following sizes: preemie, newborn, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and 12 months. Some babies never need newborn sizes (they go straight to 3 months) but since you can’t predict in advance, I recommend you have some on hand. Also, babies grow quickly so make sure you have the next size up! Whatever type of clothing you end up choosing, use a gentle, baby-friendly detergent when washing to avoid skin irritation.

  • 6 + Onesies  

For convenience, choose ones that zip or snap down the front (like kimono onesies) and that open easily at the bottom for diaper changes

  • 4-6 Pairs of Socks
  • 2 Hats

A broad-brimmed sun hat for the summer and a warm hat that covers the ears in the winter.

  • 5-7 footed or footless Pajamas

No matter how cute it looks, avoid sleepwear that requires lots of effort to get on or off!

  • 3-4 Leggings or pull-on Pants

Look for stretchy waistbands that fit easily over your baby’s diaper

  • 3-4 Outer Layers

Light cardigans, sweatshirts that zip, sweaters and fleece jackets depending on the time of year.

  • 4-6 Bibs
  • 2-3 Swaddling Blankets  

Either square shaped pieces of soft fabric or blankets like The Miracle Blanket.

  • 6-8 Burp Cloths/Muslins  

White is often a good choice for getting stains out easily!

  • Gentle baby laundry detergent or soap nuts


  • Bassinet, Cradle or Co-Sleeper  

Unless you are putting your little one right into the crib.

  • Crib  

Make sure you choose a safe and sturdy crib.

  • Crib Mattress

The mattress must fit snugly inside the crib. Try to choose a mattress with little or no toxic flame retardants as your newborn will spend 14 to 18 hours a day in bed the first few months of their life.

  • Changing Table or Pad  

You don’t have to buy an official changing table, but you’ll want to have some designated place for diaper changes that is safe for your baby.

  • Sheets

3 to 5 fitted sheets, avoid any fancy bedding sets, especially quilts, pillows, bumpers and loose blankets since they increase the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

  • Waterproof Mattress Pad  

To protect the crib mattress from diaper leaks and other spills.

  • White-Noise Machine/CD 

Many babies sleep better – or fall asleep more easily – with the drone of soft “white noise” in the background

  • Mobile, Nursery Monitor, Nightlight, Rocker or Glider

All of these are optional but can often be found on baby registries.


  • Baby Carrier

This is an absolute essential, especially in HK where wheeling around town is not always easy. There are many different types of carriers, front, slings, wraps and many more designs that all make it easy for you to carry your baby with you.

  • Stroller

Another must-have for going out and about. You can get them as sophisticated or as simple as you like. You can pick strollers with car seat attachments/adapters, strollers with bassinet options or full recline, and much more!

  • Car Seat

Probably the most important baby product you’ll purchase, even if you’re always going in and out of taxis. Look at what it’s made of (some car seats are more toxic than others), its security level, how easy it is to install, etc.


  • First-Aid Kit

Read up on what you want to keep in your first-aid kit and always re-stock it after use to make sure you’re never caught short.

  • Digital Thermometer

This is an important item to have in your medicine cabinet.

  • Bulb Syringe

Use with saline drops to clear your baby’s stuffy nose.

  • Teething Toys

In anticipation of teething, get some “teethers” to help ease your baby’s discomfort during teething.

So there we have it – my ultimate check-list of must-have baby essentials. As to where to buy them… explore the Sassy Mama archives, as there are simply too many places to list! Happy shopping!

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