Baby Checklist


D-Day is fast approaching, and by nature moms want to be super-organised! To assist first-time moms, we have prepared an easy-to-follow yet comprehensive guide on what a new baby and mom will need.  Included is a list of what moms should pack in their baby’s ‘hospital’ bag.

Find out from the hospital if nappies for newborns are provided, or if you need to supply your own. Depending on the length of your stay in hospital, one pack of nappies will suffice.  Newborns are usually given ‘hospital-issue’ gowns to wear. Find out beforehand however as to what new moms are expected to supply.

Newborn baby (hospital bag)

  • The hospital bag will eventually become the baby’s regular nappy bag. So when buying the bag make sure it is big enough to accommodate your growing infant’s needs.  Look for a bag with a change mat, these mats are very useful when out of the home;
  • Two vests;
  • At least three disposable nappies (if you are going to use towelling or cloth nappies at home) buy one pack of disposable nappies, for emergencies and to bring baby home in; 
  • Toiletries, such as baby powder, Vaseline, etc.
  • Two babygros;
  • A receiving blanket;

Remember to have a car seat ready for installation before baby arrives. When transporting the newly-arrived infant home, make certain that he or she is securely strapped in. Doughnut-shaped cushions are sold commercially and they support the neck of the newborn and can be used as a car seat inner until the baby’s neck is stronger. 

At home, nursery needs

  • A crib. Most moms prefer to have the baby sleeping in their rooms for the first few months and they use a carry-cot for baby. A cot is not an immediate essential item, but most parents (especially moms) like to have the cot ready before baby’s arrival. If you are planning to use the cot from the beginning, look for the cot insert which has been designed for newborns. If you have purchased a second-hand cot, check the quality of the mattress. It may be a good idea to replace the mattress.  Try find a natural cot mattress, such as one made from natural latex. A waterproof protector may prove useful as well.
  • A bassinette is an optional extra and these are lovely basket-styled cribs. The bassinettes are a lot smaller and more compact than the traditional cot and can be used in the nursery or the parent’s room.
  • Crib linen. Linen for a baby is relatively easy to make and if you have a sewing machine, why not put it to good use and sew the cot duvet. Other essential linen includes an aerated pillow, a warm fleecy blanket and at least three or four good-sized receiving blankets. Newborns need to be cocooned and the receiving blanket works well. 
  • Pram: Buy a pram that will last. The pram can be used from birth and then as a stroller. Look for a pram which has easy to manoeuvre wheels, and is also easy to fold.
  • A baby change station or compactum: A compactum or change station is among the most essential of nursery furniture.  This will be used from birth until the age of two (at least).  The compactum will allow for easy nappy changes and will also prove useful during the few first months of baby’s life for bathing. Clothes, nappies and toiletries are stored in easy-to-reach compartments or drawers.
  • A baby bath and a hooded towel.  Many compactums have built-in baby baths, if you are unable to afford a compactum, try finding a nice-sized chest of drawers and using the top surface of the drawers for a bath and changing area. The hooded towel is a nice to have item, as baby’s head will be kept out of drafts. 
  • Baby monitor A monitor is not an essential item on the nursery checklist but many moms enjoy the peace of mind which a monitor offers.  
  • An oil heater: In our South African climate, this may not be a very necessary item, but if your baby is due in the cold winter months (especially in the Johannesburg winter), invest in a small-sized oil heater. Don’t leave the heater on while baby is sleeping as this will dry out the air. Use the heater to take the chill off the morning or evening air before bathing or before feeding. 
  • An armchair or rocking chair in the nursery is a must. Newborn babies will demand a feed every three to four hours. Moms must feel comfortable when feeding, so a comfy chair is needed.
  • A night light is good to have in the nursery. With babies waking up through the night, the last thing parents want to do is startle baby with a bright overhead light. The nightlight can be left on all night and will give enough light to allow parents to see their way around in the dark nursery.
  • A mosquito net may be necessary depending on season and location.
  • Nursery decorations (last but not least). Have fun decorating your baby’s nursery.  If you are limited by a budget, page through home or baby magazines for fun ideas.

Baby’s needs

  • Nappies & Wipes: If you are going to go the disposable route, try to have a good supply of nappies on hand before baby arrives. These are quite expensive. Buy a few packs of each size and pack them away.  Towelling or cloth nappies are now being used by a lot more moms, who not only want to save money but the planet too. If you are planning to use terry-towelling nappies, you will need a soaking bucket and a soaking solution. Nappies will be left to soak overnight and washed out the following day.
  • Cloth nappy users will also need to buy nappy liners, snappies (plastic fastening devices) and waterproofs.  The initial cost outlay of the bucket, liners and waterproofs will be a lot less in the long run than buying packs of disposable nappies. A nappy bucket must be covered at all times.
  • Have at least ten long sleeve babygros and a few short sleeve gros. These are the best choice for infants, as the gros are comfortable and they make nappy changes easy. Don’t spend a fortune on baby’s clothes.  Stock up on a few pairs of socks or booties, as well as soft jerseys (for cold days). 
  • A baby will need at least ten vests (long sleeved for winter babies).
  • A thermometer and a medicine dropper. An electronic thermometer might be a little pricy but the money will be well spent. The medicine dropper will be very useful when trying to administer meds to a fussy infant.  
  • The list of toiletries for baby is quite extensive but as a minimum baby will need baby powder, bum cream such as Fissan paste, shampoo, baby oil, petroleum jelly, and a mild and gentle bar of baby soap. Wet wipes are a must-have and these can be purchased before baby arrives (a mom will never have enough wipes). A pair of baby nails scissors will also be required.
  • Moms who plan to bottle feed will need to invest in a sterilising unit. The microwavable units are time savers and just as effective as the soak-in-solution units.  Along with the sterilising units, bottle-fed babies will need to have a good supply of bottles, start off with at least five bottles. 
  • Dummies – you either love them or hate them, but have one just in case. Again stay away from the cheap dummies and stick to well-known brands.

For mom:

  • If you are breastfeeding, invest in at least two nursing bras and breast pads. The pads will prevent embarrassing leaks.
  • A breast pump.
  • Nipple cream.
  • Breast cold-packs

Other items to consider buying:

  • A highchair will not be an immediate need but look around for a second-hand chair. These chairs are very useful for feeding baby (from the age of six months or when baby is able to sit unsupported).  There are also chairs which attach to the table, which many parents prefer to use.
  • A bath ring is a cheap device that will free up mom’s hands during bathing, but can only be used once baby is able to sit unsupported. Never leave a baby unattended in the bath.
  • A bath seat is also available for younger babies.
  • A humidifier is a good idea for families in particularly dry climates. They will become very useful items when baby develops a cold, and can be used for many years (for the whole family)!