Layette Basics

Your baby's first duds

8 t-shirts

  • •kimono styles are best in the beginning: easier to put on, less likely to rub against healing belly buttons

4 one-piece outfits

  • •called "sleepers", they are "stretchy"with feet

2-3 top and bottom sets

  • •for going out and about

6 pairs of socks

8 nightgowns

2 sleep sacks

  • •you'll use these instead of blankets and other loose bedding

1 sweater

2 hats

  • •warm and close-fitting for cold weather; wide-brimmed for sunny days

1 jacket or snowsuit

  • •if you have a winter baby

Essentials for Newborns
Essentials for Newborns You may have heard that for the first several weeks, babies do nothing but sleep, eat, pee, poop, and cry--24/7. It's true: That about covers it. You can get through this exhausting phase by stocking up on some very basic essentials. Your reward? Around the end of the infant-blob period, your baby's first real smile, just for you.

For sleeping

For eating

For bathtime

BASSINET, CO-SLEEPER, OR CRIB
If you plan to breastfeed, setting up a bassinet or co-sleeper in your bedroom will make wee-hour feedings infinitely more manageable; and the smaller space is cozier for newborns, who are used to being curled up in the womb. But if you just know that you'll jump every time your baby so much as sighs in her sleep, consider putting her down in a crib in her bedroom (and set up a monitor so you'll hear her when she really does need you).
BOTTLES
For the first three months, infants take only 2 to 3 ounces of formula (or pumped breast milk) at each feeding, so you'll only need about six of the 4 or 5 ounce bottles until your baby is read to super-size her meals. You'll find more information about bottle feeding here.
NIPPLES
Use slow-flow nipples for this period (they'll be labeled as such, or they'll say "newborn").
FORMULA
Unless your pediatrician says otherwise, choose a cow's milk formula for your baby. You don't have to worry about ingredients: Baby formula is regulated by the FDA. But to get the most nutritional bang for your buck, buy a brand that's fortified with iron and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA)--both believed to help brain and eye development.
BREAST PUMP
It's not a bad idea to start pumping as soon as your milk comes in: That way you can start freezing it if, say, you plan to go back to work; at the very least, if you manage to pump a bottle or two during the day, your partner can take on one of the night feedings so you can get a little sleep. Find out how to pick out a breast pump here.
BURP CLOTHS
Take our advice and pick up a pack of a dozen plain cloth diapers for the messy job of sopping spit-up.
PACIFIERS
Not all babies love them (and some can't even handle them at first). But they're worth a try for satisfying your infant's innate need to suck; research has also found that pacifier use reduces the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Offer your baby a pacifier that's labeled "0 - 6 months", make sure it doesn't have any parts that might break off, and never attach it to a string, cord, or ribbon (a potential choking hazard).
SWADDLING BLANKETS
Having spent nine months curled up in the womb, babies feel most at home when they're tucked tightly in a blanket. Swaddling blankets are the perfect size for this. You'll find that slightly nubby cotton flannel ones stay in place better than smooth ones; and if you have trouble getting the hang of swaddling, consider a swaddling blanket that comes with flaps and fasteners and other features that make for no-brainer baby wrapping.
SLING OR FRONT CARRIER
Either of these essentials will serve two purposes: As an easy way to transport your baby (especially when a stroller isn't practical), and as an effective way to help calm a bereft baby: She'll be lulled by the sway of your body as you move around.
GLIDER (OR ROCKING CHAIR)
The back-and-forth motion of a glider or rocker can be soothing for a newborn, who's used to being in motion much of the time (unless, of course, you sat out your entire pregnancy!). Plus, it'll be a relaxing haven for you.
DIAPERS
Whether you decide to use cloth or disposables (go to "Essentials for Diapering" for how to choose both types), don't go too crazy stocking up on newborn sizes: Your baby will outgrow them before you know it.
WIPES
Choose unscented wipes; those that are labeled "for sensitive skin" are ideal for fresh-out-of-the-womb newborns.
DIAPER CREAM
A brand with zinc oxide is the most effective for keeping rash-causing moisture away from a baby's sensitive bum.
CHANGING PAD
Besides the one on your changing table (if you're using one), have a couple more on hand for quick changes on the bed or even the floor. Make sure pads are washable or wipeable, and large enough for your baby's entire body. At "Essentials for Diapering" you'll find...
BODY WASH/SHAMPOO
For at least the first couple of weeks, until her umbilical cord falls off, you'll be giving your baby sponge baths (most likely on a layer of towels on your bed). Use a tiny amount of a very mild baby body wash or shampoo (or combo)--make sure it's unscented and formulated for sensitive skin--and rinse with warm, clean water.
LAYETTE BASICS
See "Top Tips" for what well-dressed babes will need in the beginning, plus loose guidelines for how many of each item to buy. Don't purchase anything smaller than a 3-month size. (And while it's not strictly necessary, consider using a mild detergent, formulated for babies, for the first few weeks or months, and skip the fabric softener: Perfumes and other additives can cling to clothing, and irritate sensitive skin.