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Words by Laura Culbert. Photography by Anne Peeters. Published: 18/05/23

Including a checklist of what you actually need in those first few months.

Expecting a baby can be a daunting experience. Your body is changing daily, your hormones are all over the place and, if it’s your first child, you may have an overwhelming feeling that you have absolutely no idea what to expect . How many nappies do babies go through a day – and what else do I need to pack in the nappy bag? Which baby clothes keep a newborn from feeling too hot or too cold? Are baby wraps the same as swaddles? Do I really need that many baby bodysuits? (The answer is yes.) And then there’s the fact that everyone has a different opinion on what you need to buy or should be doing – frankly, it can be very hard to navigate. But don't worry, we've got you. From what to pack in your hospital bag to getting your baby home safe and keeping them happy as you both adjust to your new life together, read on for our ultimate checklist (and baby shower wishlist) of must-have baby items.

Shop newborn essentials for your hospital bag, the journey home and your nursery with Target’s ultimate shopping list of must-have baby items.

In Your Hospital Bag

Whether you spend a night or two in hospital or a whole week, it pays to be prepared with a few hospital bag essentials and must-haves for newborns so both you and your baby are as comfortable as possible.

Overnight bag

Heat gets trapped between the layers of rompers, onesies and baby jackets, effectively creating a form of insulation for your little one (the same theory also applies to adults). Baby outfits comprised of layers also allow you to easily add and remove pieces as the temperature varies throughout the day.

Baby bag

For all of baby’s essentials. Keeping them separate from your own things makes it easier to find exactly what you need (even in the middle of the night).

Maternity bras

Seamfree and wirefree is a must to avoid irritating sensitive breasts that will fluctuate in size with your milk supply.

Black underwear

Comfort is key, especially if you’ve had a caesarean, which generally requires a longer recovery timethan a vaginal delivery (it’ll take around six to ten weeks for your wound to heal). So choose a cotton, full-brief style that doesn’t fit too tight (you may want to consider sizing up). Another option is absorbent period underwear, which are great for postpartum bleeding. Just keep in mind that you may still also need maternity pads in the first few days after giving birth, when bleeding is at its heaviest.

Maternity pads

As a guide, you can expect postpartum bleeding to last four to six weeks for both vaginal births and C-sections.

Loungewear/pyjamas

Go for a set with a button-up top to allow for plenty of skin-to-skin contact with your baby as well as easy access if you choose to breastfeed. Depending on how warm they are, you might also want to pack a cardigan to throw over the top because hospital air-conditioning can verge on freezing!

Slippers

Don't forget to add a pair (non-slip preferred), nobody wants to be walking around a hospital barefoot.

We love:

Cotton T-Shirt Bra. Shop now

Cotton T-Shirt Bra

Period Midi Briefs. Shop now

Period Midi Briefs

Mouv Commuter Wheelie Overnighter Bag. Shop now

Mouv Commuter Wheelie Overnighter Bag

Jogger Track Pants. Shop now

Jogger Track Pants

Water bottle

Particularly while in the throes of labour, you’ll appreciate having your own water bottle instead of the small cups that hospitals provide (extra points if it has a straw). And the thirst is real if you start breastfeeding. Nursing mums require upwards of ten glasses of water per day to replace the water that is lost to make breast milk, so it’s a good idea to always keep a water bottle with you.

Snacks

To keep your energy up during labour and satisfy any late-night hunger pangs when you’re up feeding or settling the baby. Fruit, crackers and nuts are all nutritious options.

Sleeveless bodysuits

As a guide, you’ll need around two sleeveless baby bodysuits per day. They’re better than singlets because the press studs at the bottom mean they won’t ride up, so they can keep your newborn warm.

Coveralls

You’ll need around two baby coveralls per day as well. Soft organic cotton is a good choice for newborns because it’s comfortable and free from chemicals.

We love:

Muslin wraps

Muslin wraps are lightweight, breathable and super versatile, so be sure to pack a couple in your bag. You can use them for swaddling, which can help calm a baby and even increase sleep periods, as well as to protect your clothes when burping your baby or as a light blanket.

Nappies

Hospitals often supply nappies, so check with them in the lead-up. Either way, it’s always a smart idea to have a few spare on hand (this, by the way, will become your new way of thinking as a mum: always pack a spare).

Going-home outfit

By no means an essential, but an outfit for baby to wear home is definitely fun to choose! Clothes like baby knitwear, a baby cardigan and a baby puffer jacket are comfy and photo-ready.

Baby hat, baby socks and baby mittens

To keep your little one warm and cosy (and oh so cute) when it’s not sleeping.

Check our Winter Essential Guide for more tips on how to keep your baby warm (and stylish).

We love:

Newborn Mittens 2 Pack. Shop now

Newborn Mittens 2 Pack

bub. Organic Cotton Muslin Wrap. Shop now

bub. Organic Cotton Muslin Wrap

Bringing Baby Home from Hospital

After nine long months, you finally have your baby in your arms, ready to go home – and you'll do anything in your power to keep them safe and secure. The car seat and pram will be among your most-used purchases, so make sure they – and all of your must-have baby items – are up to standard.

Car seat

Newborns need to travel in a rear-facing baby car seat that meets Australian safety regulations. Convertible car seats are arguably the most versatile choice. They offer a number of adjustment options, including to be made forward-facing, so they will grow with your child. The main downside is that they can be bulky, so always check it will fit in your car first. Baby capsules are also popular because they can be taken out of the car and carried on their own (great for sleeping bubs!). But they lack the longevity of their convertible counterparts – they tend to only accommodate babies up to six months, depending on the model.

Either way, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the seat is installed correctly, or see a professional who can install it for you or check that you’ve done it correctly. While it might not have any influence on safety, it’s a good idea to use a car seat protector, too, so you can clean up any messes easily.

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Pram

A pram is one of the biggest baby investments you’ll make and the options are endless. It’s important to realise that you’ll be using it all the time, so you need to be happy with it. Do your research so you find one that best suits your lifestyle. The vital information to look at? Ease of use, suitability for newborns (possibly with a bassinet attachment), whether it will fit in your car, storage and all-terrain ability (particularly if you tend to exercise while using it).

Safety is another major consideration. It must meet Australian safety standards, have at least one brake and a harness that goes around the baby's waist, over its shoulders and between its legs. Also look for things like whether the frame is strong and sturdy, and if there are any spots where little fingers could get trapped.

We love:

Cleo Escape Premium Compact Pram. Shop now

Cleo Escape Premium Compact Pram

What You'll Need for the Fourth Trimester

With some key basics and nursery must-haves, you’ll survive the first few months of life as a new mum with ease.

Baby bodysuits, baby jumpsuits and baby coveralls

Babies may be small, but they can rival a Hollywood star in the wardrobe change department thanks to spit-ups, dribble and the dreaded poo explosions. Dressing a newborn comes down to layering, so stock up on must-have baby items like sleeveless, short-sleeve and long-sleeve baby bodysuits as well as rompers and baby coveralls so you can dress bub for whatever the weather throws at you. Insider tip: when it comes to coveralls, zips will be your best friend – especially at 2am when you and the baby won’t have the patience to deal with tiny buttons. Same goes for coveralls with built-in baby mittens and baby socks – a godsend.

We love:

Baby Organic Cotton Long Sleeve Bodysuits 3 Pack. Shop now

Baby Organic Cotton Long Sleeve Bodysuits 3 Pack

Baby Organic Cotton Pointelle Bodysuit. Shop now

Baby Organic Cotton Pointelle Bodysuit

bub. Organic Cotton Jersey Bibs 3 Pack . Shop now

bub. Organic Cotton Jersey Bibs 3 Pack

Ergo Pouch Cocoon Swaddle Bag 1.0 TOG - Size 0-3 Months. Shop now

Ergo Pouch Cocoon Swaddle Bag 1.0 TOG - Size 0-3 Months

Bibs

To put it simply, babies are messy. A baby bib or a smock bib will help catch some of that mess, offering an extra layer of protection so you don’t always need to do a full outfit change.

Swaddle bag

If you have a little Houdini who somehow manages to escape your muslin swaddles, or you just don’t have the time or skills to perfect the newborn swaddle yourself, a zip-up swaddle bag is the answer. Be guided by the TOG (Thermal Overall Grade) rating to find the right level of warmth – the lower the rating, the lighter the fabric. Swaddle bags with detachable sleeves are a great idea to get maximum use out of the bag, allowing you to transition to ‘arms out’ once bub starts showing signs of rolling over.

Cot comforter

Not only cute, a cot comforter does exactly what the name implies: providing a source of familiarity to keep babies happy, whether they’re in the pram or enjoying some tummy time. Try sleeping with the comforter before giving it to your newborn so it smells like you – that way they’ll feel like you’re always close by. Just don’t leave the comforter in the cot while your baby is sleeping until bub is around seven months old, otherwise it could pose a safety risk.

We love:

Arlo Washed Fitted Cot Sheets. Shop now

Arlo Washed Fitted Cot Sheets

Organic Cotton Knit Blanket. Shop now

Organic Cotton Knit Blanket

Reusable nappy cloths

Even if you’re not going down the path of reusable terry towelling nappies, keeping a few in a drawer means you can pull them out for anything, from burping your bub to a makeshift change mat. You’ll be surprised by just how handy they are.

Baby bottles and a bottle steriliser

HYou’ll need bottles to use with either formula or expressed breast milk. Choose from silicone (soft and easy to hold), plastic (lightweight and unbreakable) or glass (eco-friendly and simple to clean).

Read our Feeding Essentials article for more tips on baby feeding.

We love:

Organic Hooded Towel Gardena Bunny. Shop now

Organic Hooded Towel Gardena Bunny

Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Bath Tub. Shop now

Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Bath Tub

Baby monitor

For peace of mind while your little one sleeps, a baby monitor with audio and visual features, can be helpful. Other useful features that are worth looking out for is a temperature sensor so you know how warm the nursery is, an intercom so you can soothe your baby back to sleep without needing to enter the room and built-in sounds and songs to lull your baby into a restful slumber.

Baby bathtub

If you don’t have a bathtub in your home, a baby bathtub is another must-have baby item. We love the ones with a built-in baby bath seat because you don’t have to hold the baby as you wash it, which can be tricky. If you do have a tub, a reclining bath support may be all you need. A bathtub thermometer and a few bath toys will also keep your baby comfortable and smiling.

Towels

While bathtime can be fun, the cool change of temperature when bub gets out definitely is not – cue tears and screaming. So look for soft, cosy towels to make your little one feel comfy post-wash. Hooded towels are a great way to keep their head warm and dry – and will make them look super-cute, too.

This exhaustive list is intended to guide you and alleviate some of your worries as you begin your life as a parent. But don’t be afraid to go with your gut feeling, too. You may still be getting to know each other, but no-one knows your baby better than you do.

Shop Newborn Essentials

Not all brands or items are available at all stores or online. Due to unforeseen circumstances, some items in this article may not be available at the time of publication. This article is created for your inspiration and some items shown are for illustration purposes only.

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