Finding it hard to narrow down what baby stuff to get without going overboard? Our baby checklist breaks down the essentials and the nice-to-haves!
As pregnant mamas one and all, we’re sure you’ve received plenty of advice (perhaps mostly unsolicited) over the course of your pregnancy. So please feel free to take this with a grain of salt, but the absolute best piece of wisdom we received during our pregnancy was this: “All your newborn baby really needs is love. If you can feed her, clothe her, cuddle her and give her a place to sleep, she’ll be happy.”
That’s not to say we didn’t continue to comparison shop strollers; obsessively pore over diaper reviews; or impulse buy cute dresses at Baby Gap, but sure enough once the baby came home, we completely forgot about most of the stuff we’d stocked up on beforehand and simply focused on getting to know (and love) our baby. Ultimately half of the stuff went unused, or the baby had no interest in it!
Of course your baby still does need to be clothed, diapered, and safely transported in a car, so we’ve created a super handy list of essentials for Sassy Mamas. We’ve divided each category into must-haves and nice-to-haves, because space and financial constraints differ for everyone. Many of the things you might buy for baby beforehand (like bibs or a sippy cup) won’t come in handy for months; here we’re purely focused on newborn essentials that will get you through those first few bleary months. See the checklist below, followed by more expanded explanations and guidelines. Happy shopping, mamas!
Clothes – must haves
Bodysuits/Onesies: Your baby will live in these so you can’t have enough. Try ordering from Carters in the U.S. for a wide selection of cute designs at great prices.
Snap or Tie-Front Kimono tops: The perfect first clothing item for newborns since you don’t have to pull them over their teeny tiny delicate heads!
Hand mittens: Essential from the get-go to keep baby from scratching itself; particularly since cutting baby fingernails can be pretty terrifying for parents!
Clothes – nice-to-haves
Socks: Depending how cold/hot your bub gets, you may or may not need socks in Hong Kong. Personally we never needed them until baby started visiting indoor play spots around 6 months.
Hats: Chances are your bundle of joy will receive an adorable hat gratis in the hospital; we never needed one again but some bubs might like it in air con-happy Singers!
Dress-up outfits: You’ve gotta have at least one for a special occasion (coming home from the hospital? First family portrait?), plus we challenge you to find anything cuter than a tiny ruffled dress or baby tuxedo.
Cardigan/sweaters: One or two will be plenty for Hong Kong, again this one depends on your baby’s temperature.
Sleepsuits/Pyjamas: Depending on how your bub will sleep, you may want footed or footless pyjamas.
Cleaning – must haves
Baby wipes: Stock up on these, mama, you’re going to be changing a lot of diapers in the early days.
Diapers (cloth or disposable): Ditto.
Changing mat/pad: Maybe not strictly essential, but it’s a lot easier to clean off a waterproof pad than repeatedly clean a rotation of towels (or your bedspread!).
Baby soap/shampoo: The gentler, the better.
Baby nail clippers: We were legitimately terrified of cutting our baby’s nails, but those talons grow super quickly so it’s worth investing in a good, sharp pair to get the job done!
Diaper cream: Not too expensive so probably worth having just in case baby has a sensitive little tushy.
Cleaning – Nice-to-haves
Baby lotion: Great for rubbing baby down after the bath. As an alternative, consider olive or coconut oil.
Changing table: A solid surface with drawers and a dedicated space for diapers and other changing materials is great, but a changing mat on any flat surface should work just as well (so long as baby can’t roll off!).
Hooded towels: We love these impossibly cute accessories, but it’s just as easy wrapping bub up in a regular towel.
Baby bath tub: If you only have a large bathtub or shower, it’s probably worth getting yourself one of these, although it’s easy enough cleaning wee ones in a bucket in the sink in the early days!
Baby washing detergent: Depending on what you use to do your laundry, you may want to have extra-sensitive detergent for all those extra loads you’ll be doing once bubs arrives.
Sleeping – must haves
Cot/bassinet/co-sleeper: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that newborns sleep in the same room with their parents, but not in bed with them (due to suffocation risks), so a small, portable bed like a Moses basket/bassinet or co-sleeper might be best. If baby will sleep in a crib, make sure it’s on a flat surface free of blankets, bumpers or drop-rails.
Swaddle blanket or sleep sack: Many mums swear by swaddle blankets; chances are you’ll receive heaps of them as baby shower gifts. If you’re like us, have the nurses at the hospital teach you their folding techniques because they are true pros! You might also consider more convenient alternatives like the Miracle Blanket or Woombie.
Sleeping – nice-to-haves
Fitted crib sheets: If bubs will be sleeping in a crib, this is of course handy!
Waterproof mattress protectors: Another must if you’re going the crib route straight off the bat.
Crib mobiles: A nice diversion for baby that’s meant to be stimulating, although her eyesight will be so bad in the first few months she probably won’t notice it for a while!
Feeding – must-haves
Nursing bra: This will make breastfeeding in public a lot more comfortable and discreet. While you’re at it, stock up on v-neck tees or button-down shirts/dresses!
Breast pads: Engorgement and leakage are inevitable joys of the first six weeks while your body settles into its breastfeeding rhythm. Best be prepared, mama!
Breast pump: Obviously a must for any breastfeeding mama; if possible, try to purchase abroad to save money (but be mindful of any electrical conversions).
Bottles: Whether drinking formula or breastmilk, baby will definitely need bottles. Mothercare and Motherswork both have a great range to choose from.
Milk storage: If you’ll be storing excess milk in the freezer, make sure to stock up on sturdy, sealable bags.
Cotton bibs: Might not come in handy straight away, but if your bubs struggles with reflux or drools they’ll be useful.
Feeding – nice-to-haves
Nursing pillow: We found this made nursing a lot more comfortable in the first couple months (otherwise your arms and back will get awfully achy from all those feeds), but you could probably find any number of suitable pillows around the house!
Bottle cleaning brush: Not an expensive investment, but also not strictly necessary (though it’s probably best to have a separate cleaning brush of some sort).
Feeding cloth/burp cloth: One or two extra absorbent burp cloths are lovely, but again, any old towel will do the job!
Milk formula: Not necessary if you’re breastfeeding; to each mama her own!
Out and About – must-haves
Stroller: Whether you’re taking a walk in the park or picking up groceries, there’ll be lots of times a stroller is easier than baby carrier. Check out our picks of some of the top options in Hong Kong.
Car seat: An absolute safety requirement.
Sling/Carrier: For those times when you need your hands free (or bubs just wants to snuggle), baby wearing will be invaluable. Make sure you snag yourself an infant insert for the early days, but be mindful of overheating.
Portable changing mat: These make diaper changes on the go a snap; the best ones will have space for a couple diapers and wipes, too. The SkipHop Pronto might be our most-used baby accessory.
Out and About – nice-to-haves
Diaper bag: You can spend hundreds of dollars on designer diaper bags from the likes of Chloe and Prada if you so choose, but really it comes down to whether you’re a streamlined traveler, or someone who wants to be prepared for every eventuality and situation. There’s no wrong answer here, mama, it all comes down to personal preference!
Baby monitor: A must for keeping tabs on bub’s sleeping habits when you’re out of the room. This is another one that’s better to purchase overseas if you can (for whatever reason they’re like 50% more expensive in Hong Kong!).
Baby thermometer: There will come a time when your baby has a fever, so might as well prepare ahead of time!
Around the Home – nice-to-haves
Bouncy chair or swing: We know legions of parents who swear by their Fisher Price swing or Mamaroo (but we happened to purchase one of them only to discover our baby hated it!). We’d suggest holding off to see what your bub likes before making this big-ticket purchase; borrow from a friend or try out in a store if you need to, mama!
Rocking chair/glider: The Pinterest nursery of our dreams of course features coordinated furniture and a sweet glider for those perfect feeding moments, but at the end of the day any chair or couch will probably get the job done!
Entertainment – must haves
Pacifiers: Not every mum chooses to go the binky route, but it doesn’t hurt to have ‘em on hand in case your bub ever cranks inconsolable up to 11.
Activity gym/playmat: A great place to lie bub down and keep them engaged (the good ones will usually have interchangeable parts to keep things interesting); also great for tummy time. We found this indispensable until our baby started crawling.
Around the Home – nice-to-haves
Soft/Crinkle books: Reading is actually a nice way to fill the days when baby can do little more than lie in place. And crinkle books were among the first things to truly delight our baby.
Assorted toys: Rattles, rings, and danglers (great for the stroller and car seat) and anything crinkly are all winners.
The following Baby Proofing items are all fantastic, but if space is at a premium you can probably hold off, mama, since you won’t need them til bubs has gone mobile (6 months at the absolute earliest):
Gates at the top and bottom of all stairs
Corner guards for low tables
Just remember, parenting is a learning process, and just like you or I have our preferences, so will your baby. We wish you lots of happiness figuring out what works, together!
Image #3 via Pinterest.