Your pre-birth shopping list : The essentials to buy before baby’s born

For the expectant parent, the pre-birth shopping list feels like the first test of your parenting ability. Will you forget something important? If you do, are you destined to be an absentminded parent, doing things like leaving your baby behind at a restaurant? (The answer: Of course not, although you wouldn’t be the first sleep-deprived parent to momentarily leave a snoozing newborn behind!)

Your pre-birth shopping list : The essentials to buy before baby's born

Here’s the good news: If you forget extra newborn diapers, a family member or friend will be happy to bring some to you. However, if you’re well stocked for the hospital and for bringing baby home, you’ll be able to put your busy mind at ease.

At the hospital

For a hospital birth, some of the items that parents invariably find helpful are cellphones to share the news with family members once baby is born, a camera, and slippers and extra socks. ‘Comfortable footwear is important as you’ll be walking around a lot during labour,’ says Christina Abbadi-MacIntosh, co-owner of infant gear retailer ‘One recommendation we have is to use shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty,’ she adds.

Some of her further shopping tips for moms-to-be include bringing extra clothing that is comfy and loose fitting, and your favourite snacks. ‘Sometimes the food at the hospital is not the greatest,’ she says. Abbadi-MacIntosh also suggests packing bathroom essentials like a toothbrush, deodorant and other toiletries. ‘Don’t forget your glasses if you wear them,’ she adds. A camera is important too, as is a videocamera, if you have one. Don’t rely on your cellphone’s low-resolution built-in camera to get great, keepsake-worthy newborn pictures and video.

Moms who intend to breastfeed, luckily, don’t need any equipment except what they’ve already got, but some items can come in handy. ‘Get a breastfeeding-friendly top and bra. Having something that is easy to use and access is helpful while trying to learn how to feed baby,’ says Abbadi-MacIntosh. Extra hospital-room pillows to prop up a nursing baby aren’t always convenient, so consider bringing a Boppy or My Brest Friend pillow.

Musts for baby include a couple of different-sized baby hats, Abbadi-MacIntosh says. ‘You have no idea what the size of your new child’s head will be’and some hats can be a bit too small or big.’ And don’t count on the hospital providing them. Although they usually provide baby gowns, they don’t have hats. ‘Bring a number of warm sleepers, at least four or more," she adds. "Babies poop and puke, so you could go through a few in the first day or so.’ Easy-to-swaddle blankets are important, too. ‘This would be something that is lightweight but warm and has some stretch to it so you can wrap it around baby easily,’ she says. Baby mitts and extra diapers are must-brings, and you’ll probably find that the nurses will suggest Vaseline or a natural version of petroleum jelly to use as a skin barrier for easy clean-up of baby’s meconium, the first tar-like black bowel movements that are very sticky.

Some other nice-to-haves include hand wipes or hand sanitizers and slippers and pyjamas for Dad or your birth partner. Some moms swear by exercise balls; other moms complain that they are merely one more thing to carry, and are ultimately unneeded. Should you bring a bottle of sparkling wine to the hospital? Perhaps, but consider you might not have time or interest to drink it, and you might not enjoy it at room temperature. For the money, a big tray of coffee-break treats for you and the nurses on duty will likely go down sweeter.

Coming home

Plan for baby’s homecoming. ‘A car seat, and a cute pair of PJs for baby to come home in,’ was on the top of the list belonging to Montreal mom Stephanie Keses, whose son Jake is six months old. Indeed, hospitals won’t allow you to take baby home in a vehicle unless you have a car seat, and they are not usually allowed to show you how to use it, either. So master the ins and outs of yours before baby arrives.

At home, a stash of diapers and wipes is always handy, and don’t assume your baby will need the newborn size, as many big newborns go straight into size one disposable diapers. If you’re planning on using cloth diapers, some can be tricky, so it’s worth practicing how they work before the birth of your child. Baby will go through clothes like a miniature fashionista, so stock up on outfits, which means you’ll have to run the washing machine less frequently.

Finally, while it’s lovely to have a fully loaded nursery, it’s not strictly necessary. Even things that seem utterly basic, like a crib and rocker, can be bought later on if you have a bassinet and comfy upholstered chair. And lastly, you’ll need a stroller. They are wonderful to have in advance as they mean you can take baby out for a walk as soon as your post-natal body is up to it. However, new parents are often unhappy with the very first stroller they buy. Often it comes up short in terms of maneuverability or folded-down size, or baby’s positioning, or myriad other perceived inadequacies. Consider briefly borrowing from a friend who was happy with her stroller or buying an inexpensive infant car seat stroller frame (which your carseat will snap onto, both of which you can sell online or at a consignment store later), and spending your money once by choosing the perfect stroller a little later on.