The Essential Layette

Liz recently became an Aunt, and I am about to become one. We were both asked by our sisters, to help figure out what a new baby really needs and how to sort through all the options and decide what should go on a registry. We love our lists, so we thought we’d share what we came up with.

Ideally, before the baby arrives,  you will have pulled together some essential items so you’ll have a few less things to think about in those first few days and weeks following the birth. If you are having a baby shower or are making a registry you’ll want to think beyond the first few weeks to items you will need as your baby grows.

The Essential Layette: A List
You can find a printable copy of our checklist here.

A take-me-home outfit:  a good rule of thumb is that babies should be wearing one more layer than their parents. If you’re comfortable in a t-shirt and pants, add a light long-sleeve sweater or shirt to your baby’s ensemble. Chilly in your cardigan? Make sure baby has a hat to keep in body heat. Don’t forget your baby will still have an umbilical cord nub so you wont want an outfit that will catch or push on the would-be belly button. Look for kimono style onsies/bodysuits, and footed one piece sleepers with an asymmetrical opening. A sleeper that also has a fold over “mittens” on the sleeve is ideal. Add a seasonal hat (stocking cap in the summer, something warmer in the cold weather), and you’re done.
A car seat, you can’t go in a car without one, and many hospitals wont let you leave until they’ve checked it.
A pacifier, may only be used on this one trip but worth having.
Diapers, two or three to get you home. If you have to stay in hospital more (see below).

Now lets back up a moment, before you choose your car seat, you may want to pick one that is compatible with your stroller. These tend to be referred to as travel “systems,” and if you have been into a baby store you have probably been overwhelmed by the options. Similarly, its easy to get bogged down by the question of Diapers-cloth vs. disposable, and then depending on your material choice you have several brands from which to choose. We can revisit these “big” choices in our next post, but for now lets just say you’ll need to have a couple of diapers, some seasonally appropriate clothes, and a car seat ready for the baby when it arrives.


Diapering supplies:
Diapers – count on needing about 10/day to start. Your baby will need to be changed at least as frequently as s/he needs to eat. Whether cloth or disposable put diapering supplies on your registry – pre-folds & covers, all-in-ones plus liners, or a few boxes of different sized disposables.
Cloths/ wipes – lots and lots, you cannot have too many baby cloths. At my house we divided ours by colour and used some in the bath and others as just bum cloths. My eldest didn’t use (disposable) baby wipes at all. If you go the disposable route get a non-alcohol, unscented type.
Diaper disposal system – if using cloth follow your diaper suppliers recommendations, if using disposables you’ll need a diaper pail of some kind. People seem to love the Genie.
Changing Table or a designated space set aside for diapering, and diaper storage
Change pad with 2-4 washable covers
Bum treatment  a spray, ointment, or cream. If your little one is inclined toward diaper rash it can be an epic battle. I have a whole post devoted to my battle with diaper rash –anyway I’m partial to  the bum spray I created for my kids in combination with coconut oil, but I’ve also had great luck with Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. Lots of people use non-petrolium jelly or similar.

A note on sizing, chances are your newborn will out grow “NB” sized things within a few weeks (NB size usually means under 7lbs). So buy a combination of 0-3 month and NB items. Having a couple of 3-6 month things on hand is also helpful.
6-10 Long & short sleeve front closure or kimono style onsies/bodysuits (I LOVE the ones from H&M – organic cotton, in 3 packs, easy). Summer babies need mostly short-sleeves, winter babies long-sleeves – but some of each are great. Aim for 6-10 depending on your laundry situation. Just know some days your baby will wear the same onsie for 24 hrs, other days you’ll go through 5 before lunch. Its crap-shoot, literally!
3 shirt/pant combos. Great for layering and sometimes all you’re little one needs is a shirt and a diaper or a onsie and pants.
4 footed one-piece pajamas
4 one-piece (bunting) sleeper type things. I had these amazing sleepers that snapped to create either  legs or a single sack- like a sleepshirt. I believe they call it a “bunting”  sleeper. Bunting sleepers are great, one less thing to fuss with during a diaper change AND baby will keep body heat if their legs are together.
baby socks /scratch mits(use on hands or feet)
baby leg warmers great for adding a layer ontop of leggings or under pants. On their own they make for a fast diaper changes. Great at keeping little legs warm.
Cardigan & hat
Knit boots I liked the leather bottomed crochet Padraigs, they fit right up until those first steps and were perfect for keeping feet warm and covered. I came up with a knit version of my own, look for the pattern on our printables page.
A baby friendly laundry soap (or soap alternative) – everything should be washed before gets put on baby.

2 hooded towels
baby cloths, did i mention you’ll use lots of these?
baby tub, if using. There are all sorts of options to help you bathe baby in the sink or tub. Most are designed to hold the baby while you bathe them and can be used over a double sink, and later in the bathtub.
baby wash (body soap or soap alternative) (like burts bees) and something to use when you do some baby massage – coconut/olive/almond oil –
A place to sleepcrib/bassinet/Moses basket/co-sleeper
Although cute, crib quilts and bumpers are NOT recommended for use with your infant. If you purchase a bassinet with your stroller make sure it allows airflow and has been rated for overnight sleep (you’d be surprised some are not!)
2-3 sleep sacks (instead of blankets)
3 swaddlers, if using. I didn’t know my babies loved to be swaddled until someone else swaddled them. they slept more soundly and for longer unable to swat themselves in the face. In the NICU they often swaddle babies with their hands up so they can suck on their fingers but not flail their arms around. Brilliant.
LOTS of receiving blankets, the simple single layer of flannel kind, I’d say a
minimum of 6 but I think I had a couple dozen. You want them to be absorbent and plentiful.
2-3 double-thick receiving blankets, like they use in the hospital, warm and great for swaddling. I used these as the top layer on our crib – tucked in they were easier to change out in the middle of the night if they got covered in spit-up, just tossed in the laundry and the clean fitted sheet was waiting underneath.
2 mattress liners (for bassinet or crib…and your bed too)
2 fitted sheets (for bassinet or crib) in a natural fiber-cotton

Eating, Soothing:
Breastfeeding pillow go try some out, I liked mine firm and thick but that’s not for everyone.
Lanolin – pure for cracked nipples, found with the bottle supplies.
Breast pads – disposable or cloth
Booby tubes” I loved these, cabbage leaves work too (I know crazy but true) but I liked these better. I made them warm for milk flow and frozen for soreness. <3
White noise machine best invention ever. some double as a night-light. get one that plugs in and has batteries.
A pacifier, if using (we were given a “gumdrop” pacifier at the NICU and found it to be great). Babys need to suck even if not hungry.
3-6 bottles, compatible with a breast pump (I recommend Madela brand, for 2 reasons, if you have to/choose to pump you can rent a high quality pump from your midwife’s/OB’s hospital, and Madela has a special nipple that has been designed to work in tandem with breastfeeding)
3 slow flow nipples baby’s know what they like, have some slow flow nipples on hand (and if you end up using a bottle start by trying Madela’s “calma” nipple). But you may have to try a few different ‘styles’.
Baby carrier – go try some on. Any decent baby store should have styles available for you to try out–with a “fake baby” weight. Most couples I know, have a fabric backpack style carrier (like the ergo or beco) they share with their partner, And a sling or wrap style carrier that just mom wears in the first several weeks to keep baby close. The moby wrap has been highly recommended and lots of moms I know are using the wrap shirts instead of a sling.

Other Stuff
Infant chair these range from a vibrating music playing chair for $30 to a swinging bouncing vibrating white noise emitting piece of engineering for $500. My first baby was colicky and the swinging chair (mid-range price) was the only time he stopped crying. With my number 2 we didn’t have a chair and I never noticed. Every baby is different.
A nursery chair if you have room, a chair that you can glide or rock in while holding the baby is really useful. Make sure there’s a table with in arms teach for your tea or water, you’ll thank me later. Also test out the chair with you breast-feeding pillow to make sure there will be enough room for you the baby and the pillow and that your back will be supported.
Freida nose sucker, look it up, its awesome.
Baby First aid kit: should include a thermometer, nail clippers, emery board, etc.
Feeding Chair: lots of people get a full height high chair, but I like the booster style chairs, InGenuity makes a great one.
An activity/play mat. Colourful with dangley bits for baby to look at while on their back, and a padded mat for tummy time- I didn’t have one of these, instead I had a beautiful quilt,  and a baby zabu by babywagamama, which was one of my favorite, most loved bits of baby ephemera. We took it everywhere, but I don’t think they are made any more.
a Car seat cover. Infants should not be wearing snow suits in their car seats, nothing should be between them and the straps and that includes blankets, snowsuits and covers. This is a brilliant sollution, like a shower cap for the car seat. A cover that will keep your little one warm but goes over, rather then under the straps. Something similar is available for your stroller a “bundle me” is more like a sleeping bag that fits in your stroller with holes for the straps to go through.
chewy infant toys: my favorites are sophie the giraffe, a “winkle” or “OdBall“, chewable linked stroller rings, and vibrating stroller toys, to start.
PlayPen or PlayYard – I don’t have much to say about these, I never used a play pen except while traveling with a toddler, and then I like the ones that were small, compact easy to fold and low to the ground. and most often used only for naps. But if you anticipate needing a travel crib your needs will be different. Think about how easy(or difficult) it will be to get baby out in then middle of the night for a feeding, or back in once (nearly) asleep.
Books just a few, board books because it is never to early to start reading to baby – check out our Book Bundles post for other book ideas!

You can find a printable checklist here.


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1 Response

  1. management says:

    This must have taken a little while to construct online. Thanks for sharing with us.

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