The 11 things I needed for a newborn that I didn’t expect

Looking back on the nine months I was pregnant, I wish I spent half as much time reading about being pregnant and twice as much time reading about caring for a newborn.

The things on this list were things that we sort of had, or only got last minute that ended up being essential after we came home from the hospital. Especially number two.

1. Swaddling blankets

I had a few on hand, but realized quickly that we’d need to stock up on these, stat. Newborns are very … leaky … and these are so useful for the constant little messes and keeping whatever she’s lying on clean (including guests). We can easily go through three or four a day, plus the other little burp cloths, too.

Pretty in pink in her first walk on the Bangor waterfront.

Pretty in pink in her first walk on the Bangor waterfront.

Get ’em cheap: Used is the way to go — I picked up a few for a quarter a piece at yard sales. They also sell these at most big box and baby stores, so keep an eye out for sales.

2. Clothes (and bras) for nursing

If you plan on breastfeeding, much of your pre-pregnancy wardrobe may be rendered useless in the first few months.

I bought two tanks, a bra and a cotton robe for the hospital. This was sufficient for our hospital visit, but all needed to be washed when we came home. Did I mention that newborns are very leaky?

Remember that hideous robe I mentioned in her birth post? Yeah.

Remember that hideous green cotton robe from Wal-Mart I mentioned in her birth post? Function over fashion, baby.

When going through my closet to put away maternity clothes I didn’t need any more and restore some of my old clothes,  if it wasn’t low cut or button-up, it didn’t stay. I had to say goodbye to a lot of clothes, and didn’t have much lined up to replace them right away.

Get ’em cheap: The best place I’ve found nursing tanks and bras is Target, but at $20 a shirt, they are still a little pricey for my standards. If you know of anything better, do share in the comments.

3. Diapers

At our baby shower, our host did a game where she asked my husband and I questions ahead of time and our friends guessed who said what. One of the questions was “how many diapers do you think you need in the first month?” I said 200 and I am sure we have passed that mark in the first two weeks. There have been 10-minute periods where I have changed a diaper three times.

Yeah, I know exactly why you're smiling.

Yeah, I know exactly why you’re smiling.

That being said, we received hundreds of diapers at our shower, they are just all a larger size than she’s wearing right now.

I don’t necessarily mean to say I wish we had bought more tiny diapers before the little frog came home, because I don’t think you can really plan on what size your newborn will need.

What I do mean to say is that I sincerely wished we researched diaper prices.

When we ran out of what we got from the hospital, my husband ran to the drug store and bought a small package of Pampers. That cost almost $.50 per diaper! When I realized the volume of diapers we were using, dollar signs flashed before my eyes.

Get ’em cheap: There is an argument to be made for cloth diapering being cheaper. Natalie broke it down in a recent article on the Bangor Daily News. However, we had already committed to going the disposable route. We bought a large box of Target diapers to hold us over until she’s ready for size ones, and I think that came to about $.25/diaper. I quickly saw the value of an Amazon mom account, where we can subscribe to their diaper service at $.16/diaper.

4. The smart phone

I joked that I didn’t know how moms had babies before smartphones. My friends and co-workers know that I love working in my laptop but that was just not practical while nursing. Or at least learning to nurse.

Heck, most of this post was written on my phone.

Besides the entertainment value, I also used my phone to time baby feedings and diapers (using the Baby Feeding Log app) and contractions when I was in labor (using the Baby Time app).

5. Finger food

We our friends and family bring us food in the first two weeks and I am so grateful. It really was an ordeal to cook anything — feeding a baby is a 24-hour job in the first few days — and ordering food would have been unhealthy, expensive, and inconvenient.

So sweet and juicy!

I say finger food because seriously, feeding a baby is a full-time job. I started out not wanting to eat while I was holding her, but I got over that pretty fast as it looked like I might starve otherwise.

Stock up on: Trail mix, dried fruit, popcorn and other (healthy) non-perishables that won’t leave your fingers sticky.  I have trail mix bags strategically stashed near our favorite nursing spots around the house.

6. A wrist watch

The smartphone is essential, but sometimes I’m caught in a moment without it and then I’m shouting to Tony “what time is it?!” so I can keep track of how often she eats.


I have a love-hate relationship with my Timex heart rate monitor watch. It’s a great little watch when it works, but this is the second one that broke. The band randomly cracked apart a few months ago, and I had to send $10 to Timex for a replacement band.

Seriously: The alternative is to make sure you install a clock in every room. Or tether your phone to your body.


7. Dropbox

My husband and I have Carousel in our phones so all our pictures of the little frog get auto-synced to our computers, making it much more convenient for ordering photo prints, working on her baby book and organizing my photo albums. And writing this blog. We can easily share these photos with our far away family, too.

Carousel screen shot

Before the frog was born, Tony had over 1,000 photos of the pugs on his phone from the past year.

Relegated to second place.

Relegated to second place.

8. A baby carrier

2014-07-28 09.28.32

I got a Boba Wrap as a gift and it has been wonderful. The times that she is awake but not eating I can slip her in the wrap and use my hands to do things like write this blog post.

Get ’em cheap: This is an item you can make or buy used if you don’t get one as a gift. I’ve seen dozens of pins on how to make them on Pinterest. I can’t tell you if they are any good, but I can tell you that I’m getting my (lovely brother who gifted this to me’s) money’s worth out of this wrap.

9. Nipple cream and gel pads


I don’t care what you say. Something can suck on a very sensitive part of you that isn’t used to being sucked on for 10 hours a day without it being uncomfortable.Thank god for this stuff. I bought a tube for upstairs and one for downstairs and I’m half-way through both of them.

Get ’em cheap: Oh, so that’s what those coupons were for in those goodie bags from the maternity store and the doctor and the hospital birth night …

10. That breastfeeding pillow

Moms might have been breastfeeding before Boppy was a thing, but oh man, I could not figure out how to hold her without one in the first few days.

2014-08-07 14.36.22

Other pillows just aren’t the same.

Get ’em cheap: These retail for $40 with a cover — ouch! It’s a pillow, c’mon! A friend lent me the one, and I was able to score a second one for $10 on the Facebook kids swap group for the area. Also … if you get anything used, make sure you ask if it’s from a smoke-free home (advice given from experience).

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11 things i needed

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Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

I'm a new mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, our daughter Felicity, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.