Newborn Babies: Getting Ready at Home

Newborn Babies: Getting Ready at Home

Preparing for a new baby doesn’t have
to be overwhelming. Experienced parents have learned that newborn babies just need
basic items at first. These include a warm and safe place to sleep, food, clothing,

Many baby products are available, but
listed below are the essential items you’ll want to have ready for your new baby.

Choose carefully

Safety is an important issue when
choosing your baby’s new furniture, especially for the bed. The U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC) offers the following advice:


Baby cribs must meet federal
safety standards. These include:

  • Slats should be spaced no more than 2 3/8 inches (60 mm) apart.

  • All slats should be
    intact, not missing or cracked.

  • Mattress should fit
    snugly. This means less than the width of 2 fingers between the edge of the
    mattress and the side of the crib.

  • Mattress support should be securely attached to the head and footboards.

  • Corner posts should be no
    higher than 1/16 inch (1.5 mm). This is to prevent clothing or other objects
    worn by child getting caught on them.

  • The head and footboards
    should have no cutouts. Cutouts might let the baby’s head become trapped.

  • Drop-side rail cribs are no longer considered safe.

  • All screws or bolts that
    secure parts of the crib should be present and tight.

  • The crib should not be
    placed near drapes or blinds, the CPSC says. This is because a child could
    become entangled and strangle on the cords. When the child reaches 35 inches in
    height, or can climb or fall over the sides, replace the crib with a bed.

Crib mattress and bedding

According to the CPSC, the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the National Institute of Child Health and
Human Development, soft bedding may play a major role in SIDS (sudden infant death
syndrome). These groups offer the following advice for infant bedding:

  • Place your baby on his or
    her back on a firm, tight-fitting mattress in a crib that meets current safety

  • Remove pillows, bumper
    pads, quilts, comforters, sheepskins, stuffed toys, and other soft products
    from the crib.

  • Don’t use blankets for a
    newborn baby. Instead use appropriate-weight sleepwear or a sleep sack.

  • Check that your baby’s
    head stays uncovered during sleep.

  • Don’t place your baby on a
    waterbed, sofa, soft mattress, pillow, or other soft surface to sleep.

Bassinet or cradle

These small beds are helpful and
portable in the first few months. The CPSC recommends following the manufacturer’s
guidelines on weight and size of the baby in determining who can safely use these
products. For safety reasons, look for a bassinet or cradle that has:

  • A sturdy bottom and a wide
    base so it won’t tip over

  • Smooth surfaces. This
    means no staples or other hardware sticking out  that could hurt the baby.

  • Legs with strong locks to
    keep it from folding while in use

  • A firm mattress that fits snugly

Changing table

Changing tables are a convenient
place to change your baby’s diaper. Always use straps to prevent your baby from
falling. But straps are not a substitute for constant supervision.


These provide enclosed areas
where a baby can nap or play safely. The CPSC recommends never leaving a baby in a
mesh playpen or crib with the drop-side down. Even a very young baby can roll into
the space between the mattress and loose mesh side and suffocate. Use only playpens
that meet federal safety standards. These include:

  • Drop-side mesh playpens or cribs with warning labels to never leave the side in the
    down position

  • Mesh with small weave (less than 1/4 inch openings)

  • Mesh with no tears, holes, or loose threads

  • Mesh securely attached to top rail and floor plate

  • Top rail cover has no tears or holes

  • Wooden playpen with slats spaced no more than 2 inches (60 mm) apart

  • If staples are used in
    construction, check that they’re firmly installed and none are missing or

Strollers and carriages

These are helpful in taking
babies on outings. The CPSC recommends always securing the seat belts when using the
stroller or carriage. Never leave a child unattended in a stroller. Keep children’s
hands away from pinching areas when stroller is being folded or unfolded, or the seat
back is being reclined. For safety reasons, look for a stroller or carriage with:

  • A wide base to prevent tipping

  • The seat belt and crotch strap attached securely to the frames

  • A seat belt buckle that is
    easy to use

  • Brakes that securely lock
    the wheels

  • A shopping basket that is
    low on the back and directly over or in front of rear wheels for stability

  • Leg hole openings that can
    be closed when being used in the carriage position

Car seat

All states have laws requiring
babies and children to travel in an approved car safety seat. The National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration offers advice for choosing a car safety seat. These

  • Buy the car seat well before your due date.

  • The simplest and least expensive model usually will work as well as one with fancy

  • Choose a seat that you find easy to use and that fits in your vehicle.

  • If you choose a convertible seat, try it facing both toward the front and rear.

  • Look for a seat you can use as long as possible that faces the rear.

  • Always put your baby in a
    car seat in the back seat. According to the AAP, bab ies and toddlers should
    ride in a rear-facing car safety seat for as long as possible. This is often
    until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat. Check your
    safety seat instructions. Most convertible safety seats have height and weight
    limits that will allow children to ride rear-facing for 2 years or more.

  • If you buy an infant-only seat, you will need a convertible seat later. Most babies
    need to use rear-facing convertible seats as they get larger, because they outgrow
    their infant-only seats before age 2.

  • When you purchase a car
    seat, follow instructions on correct installation.

  • Nearly every car seat and
    most vehicles made since Sept. 1, 2002, are required to have the lower anchors
    and tethers for children (LATCH) system. The LATCH makes it easier to install
    the child seat correctly.

Supplying your home for your newborn’s

The following is a suggested list of items you may want to have on hand before you
bring your newborn home.


  • 3 to 4 fitted crib sheets

  • 2 waterproof crib pads

  • 2 lightweight cotton crib-sized blankets (no fringe)

  • 3 to 6 receiving blankets

  • 4 waterproof lap pads


  • About 10 to 11 disposable diapers per day for the first few weeks, or 48 cloth diapers
    (plus 3 to 5 diaper covers or wraps)

  • Diaper pail at each changing area

  • Diaper wipes

Bath Items

  • Baby bathtub

  • 4 to 6 baby washcloths

  • 2 to 4 hooded towels

  • Mild bath soap

  • No tears baby shampoo


Choose simple
clothing that’s easy to get on and off, without long strings or ties that
might be a choking hazard. Check that sleepwear is flame-retardant. You
may want to buy mainly size 0 to 3 and 3 to 6 months size clothing and a
few newborn items.

  • 4 to 6 receiving gowns

  • 2 to 3 one-piece footed sleepers

  • 4 to 6 undershirts or onesies

  • 2 to 3 pairs of booties or socks

  • 1 to 2 blanket sleepers (depending on the season)

  • Bibs

  • Sweater


  • Pacifier

  • Baby brush and comb

  • Baby nail clippers or scissors

  • Baby acetaminophen drops (given as advised by your baby’s healthcare provider)

  • Bulb syringe for clearing baby’s nose

  • Humidifier

  • Rectal or digital thermometer

  • A front baby carrier or backpack 

As you prepare your home for your
new baby, look for sturdy furnishings and equipment. Check that all products meet
current safety standards. This is especially important if you’re borrowing or buying
items secondhand.

What to know about preventing SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths 

Here is advice from the AAP on how
to reduce the risk for SIDS and sleep-related deaths from birth to age 1:

  • Breastfeed your baby. The AAP recommends breastmilk only for at least the first 6 months.

  • Have your baby vaccinated. A
    baby who is fully immunized can reduce his or her risk for SIDS.

  • Place your baby on his or her
    back for sleep or naps. 
    Place your baby on his or her back for all sleeping
    until he or she is 1 year old. This can decrease the risk for SIDS, aspiration,
    and choking. Never place your baby on his or her side or stomach for sleep or
    naps. If your baby is awake, allow your child time on his or her tummy as long as
    you are supervising. This lowers the chances that your child will develop a flat

  • Always talk with your baby’s healthcare provider before raising the head of the crib if your baby been diagnosed with GERD (gastroesophageal reflux or heartburn).

  • Offer your baby a pacifier for
    sleeping or naps
    , if he or she isn’t breastfed. If breastfeeding, delay
    starting a pacifier until breastfeeding has been firmly established.

  • Use a firm mattress covered by a
    tightly fitted sheet
    to prevent gaps between the mattress and the sides of
    a crib, a play yard, or a bassinet. This can decrease the risk for entrapment,
    suffocation, and SIDS.

  • Share your room instead of your
    bed with your baby.
     Putting your baby in bed with you raises the risk for
    strangulation, suffocation, entrapment, and SIDS. Bed sharing is not recommended
    for twins or other higher multiples. The AAP recommends that babies sleep in the
    same room as their parents, close to their parents’ bed, but in a separate bed or
    crib appropriate for infants. This sleeping arrangement is recommended ideally for
    the baby’s first year. But it should at least be maintained for the first 6

  • Don’t use infant seats, car
    seats, strollers, infant carriers, and infant swings for routine sleep and
    daily naps.
     These may lead to blockage of a baby’s airway or

  • Don’t put your baby
    on a couch or armchair for
    . Sleeping on a couch or armchair puts the baby at a much higher risk
    for death, including SIDS.

  • Don’t use alcohol and street
    drugs, and don’t smoke during pregnancy or after birth.
    Keep your baby away
    from others who are smoking and away from areas where others smoke.

  • Don’t overbundle, overdress, or
    cover your baby’s face or head.
     This will prevent him or her from getting
    overheated, reducing the risk for SIDS.