After three babies, 7+ years of parenting, and lots of trial and error, I’ve come up with my list of recommended baby products that I’d want to have on hand should a baby show up at my doorstep. Feel free to leave questions in the comments!
Sleep
  • Miracle blanket: These are totally worth the $30 price tag if you have a baby that Houdinis his or her way out of any other swaddle. However, it’s possible to find them at a consignment store, with diligence and patience
  • Crib and mattress: Of course think of aesthetics but also of durability, storage possibilities, and reuse
  • 2 waterproof mattress pads: I love this particular brand because they’re very breathable (no sweaty babies!), don’t make a crinkly plastic noise, and wash up beautifully.
  • 2+ sheets: My favorite have been jersey knit because they’re so soft and easy to get on the mattress.
  • Muslin swaddles: When my first child was born, the only brand out there was Aden and Anais, but now there are many brands with many prints. I’ve used these as a nursing cover, car seat cover, thin blanket for toddlers on vacation, sun shade, makeshift baby sling, and superhero cape, to name a few
  • Wubbanub/Dr Browns lovey pacifier: Yes, these are cute but they’re also incredibly useful. The extra weight of the stuffie prevents the pacifier from rolling away into a distant corner of the crib during the night.
  • Pack n play: These can range from simple to elaborate. If you’re going to use it in your bedroom for a while after the baby is born, perhaps you want one with a bassinet or changing station. We preferred something smaller than the pack n play and went with a simple one with no regrets (we’ve been using the same one for 3 babies over 7+ years)
  • Graco quilted pack n play sheet: The only pack n play sheet worth having! It adds a little padding to an otherwise stiff mattress and has real elastic around the edges for a tight fit. If you’re likely to travel often or for long periods of time, I recommend having 2.
  • Portable bassinet: If you have large pets or older children running around the house, I cannot recommend having a small bassinet to move around the house enough. If I were to buy one today, I’d stalk Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist for a Halo bassinet.
  • Sleep sacks (wearable blankets) in multiple sizes: I’ve purchased (and liked) Yoga Sprout muslin wearable blankets for warmer weather and fleece Halo sleepsacks for winter. My babies have always slept better with multiple layers and I’m happy to do anything to get more sleep!
  • White noise machine: You get a white noise machine! You get a white noise machine! A white noise machine in every bedroom! The Marpac Dohm UNO white noise machine doesn’t loop and provides a constant, steady whirring sound.
  • Video Baby monitor: We received the Infant Optics DXR-8 video monitor as a gift when our second son was a baby. Even with a small house, having a video monitor was especially useful for the toddler years. I don’t use one this one on a daily basis anymore but will not travel to a vacation rental house without it! I’ve heard really good things about V-tech video monitors as well.
Nursing
  • Pump (go through your insurance, most pay for at least 50%)
  • Bottles: No matter what your breastfeeding plans are, it is a very good idea to have a few different bottles on hand. Babies tend to have opinions about bottles so having 1 or 2 of several different brands is a smart way to start out before buying an entire set. Amazon and Target often offer a gift for the registrant once you’ve added a certain number of items to a baby registry and will often include bottles in those packages.
  • Lansinoh milk freezer bags: They lay completely flat in the freezer and take up much less space!
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter: Lanolin was so sticky and hurt to apply. This butter was a lifesaver!
  • Breast pads (disposable or reusable): There was never a point while I breastfed my babies where I didn’t leak milk before or during a feeding. I needed more absorbancy than what reusable pads could give me and settled on Philips Avent breast pads because they were easiest to open one-handed (a necessity)
  • Nursing bras (both for day and sleep): I loved the Kindred Bravely Simply Sublime seamless and Kindred Bravely Marvella Luxe for day and their organic cotton sleep bra for night
  • Nursing tanks: I loved the support and smoothing action of the Bravado Basics slimming cami from Target. They were great immediately postpartum through weaning.
  • Formula (always good to have on hand, regardless of your breastfeeding plans): Enfamil and Similac both have rewards programs that will send you coupons and samples
  • Nursing pillow (perhaps? I never liked mine. I preferred a firm bed pillow)
  • Burp cloths (plain white cloth diapers, 2 dozen)
  • Boon Grass drying rack with stem/twig/poke: We’re beyond the bottle/pumping stage and still use this daily. My parents bought one after seeing ours and use it for water bottles and small parts
Toys
  • Silicone banana toothbrush: This teether reaches spots on the gums that most other toys cannot
  • Silicone teethers: Flexible and chewy
  • Oball toys: From the basic ball to push cars, this line of toys is great for tiny fingers to hold onto. They’ve been a hit with all of our boys.
  • Bright Starts Lots of Links: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! They connect toys together, hang toys from the car seat handle, lock cupboard doors (at home and on vacation), are perfect first bath toys, and more.
  • Board books: We are frequent library visitors and I’m a huge advocate of making books available for children at their level from the moment they’re big enough to turn a page. I wrote about some of our favorite board books in this post.
  • Mirror: Our first baby was 5 weeks old when he started chattering to the picture of a baby on the side of a diaper package. I knew then that we needed a mirror! We kept this mirror through all of our boys’ babyhood and it made tummy time much more pleasant.
  • Play Gym: There are many different kinds of play gyms but my recommendation is one where the baby has room to roll from side to side and can be tempted by a manner of hanging toys. Of all the larger pieces of baby gear, this is one you may need earliest. Most babies are interested in talking to their reflection by one month old.
  • Some sort of containment unit (jumper, walker): Our house is many things but big is not one of them. I preferred to have only 1 larger baby item out at once. We cycled through a Jumperoo (so, so much love for the free-standing jumper), swing, and walker on wheels as baby developed.
  • Hanging toys
Travel
  • Infant car seat (Graco and Chicco are most popular)
  • A stroller (that lays all the way flat for young babies and naps on the go): I fell in love with a rented City Mini Double on a trip to Disney World and have since found the double and a City Mini Single, both gently used, at a deep discount. They fold with one hand and, speaking from experience, are great for air travel.
  • Some sort of baby wearing device: I like a wrap (Baby K’tan over the Moby- Moby was too much thick, heavy fabric) for small infants and a soft structured carrier like the Ergo 360 for bigger babies and toddlers. If you’re serious about babywearing, search Facebook for your local Babywearing International chapter for support and resources (like a lending library!).
  • Rear and forward facing convertible seat (usually go up to 50+ lbs): I preferred the ease of an infant bucket seat for my small ones through their first winter and/or when they could sit unassisted in a shopping cart. We’ve used a Britax Marathon through all 3 of our boys’ toddler hoods and it is still our favorite car seat.
  • Car mirror: Pick one with a swivel base for better adjustability
  • Extra infant seat base for a second car
  • Quilted cover for cold weather: These have such a short lifespan for a child that they’re very easy to find second-hand so if you’re faced with buying one on your own, check your local children’s consignment stores.
Healthcare
  • Nail clippers: The tiny cutting edge and larger plastic handle makes cutting itty bitty nails as easy as it can be
  • Gripe water: Helps gassy babies pass those bubbles. I used Mommy’s Bliss brand due to its short and simple list of ingredients
  • Gas drops: Affectionately referred to in our house as “Baby Beano,” simethicone drops are a lifesaver for a gassy, uncomfortable baby. Target’s house brand is inexpensive yet effective
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Baby ibuprofen
  • Diaper rash ointment: Depending on your choice of diapers, you may want to go with a natural, petroleum-free ointment or something with zinc oxide for stronger and more stubborn rashes.
  • Nose Frida and extra filters: Yes, it sounds gross but is wildly effective and one of the most common “most-have” baby items
  • Cool mist umidifier
  • Boogie wipes: Gentle on the nose that is getting wiped 1000x daily
  • Baby wash
  • Lotion (unscented): In case of fragrance sensitivities, start with unscented products
  • Kneeling Pad: We resisted for so long before buying this kneeling pad while our third son was a baby. No regrets.
  • Bath toys (can easily wait on these for their 1st birthdays)
Diapering
  • Fragrance free wipes (I like Huggies, they’re thicker)
  • Newborn to size 3 diapers (Pampers Swaddlers for little sizes, Huggies Movers/Kirkland Signature for really chunky babies and older babies but your mileage may vary based on the size and shape of your child)
  • Changing pad and 2 covers or the Keekaroo peanut changer if you happen across one second-hand
  • Trash can/diaper genie: Beware of any trash can with plastic internal bits. They will eventually absorb the odor of diaper trash and there’s nothing you can do to get rid of it.
  • If you’re thinking about cloth diapering, I have a separate post of recommendations!
Mom
When you go on your initial hospital tour, find out what your hospital does and doesn’t provide. I didn’t have to bring much to the hospital with me but I know some places have very few resources for new moms.
  • Earth Mama Angel Baby bottom balm: I have never tried anything from this brand that I disliked
  • Tucks wipes: If these are necessary, you can ask for them at the hospital
  • Dermoplast spray (Blue top! Can get at the hospital)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Robe and comfy sweatpants
  • Pads
  • Epsom salt
  • Rice bag/heating pad
Clothes
  • Plain onesies (short and long sleeved in many sizes)
  • Footed sleepers in light weight fabric and fleece
  • Infant mitten
  • Socks of all sizes
  • Towels and washcloths
Toddler Feeding
Large Items (easy and way cheaper to buy these second hand)
  • Diaper bag (one with stroller straps or a XL carabiner to attach to stroller)
  • Comfy nursing chair + table + dimable lamp