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What a newborn baby needs

If babies could talk, they would probably tell us that they have very simple needs. They need to be loved, to be fed, and kept warm and safe.

There are a lot of items you can buy for a new baby. This can be overwhelming for new parents. When you come home with your newborn, you will not need too much. Plan in advance to have some essential items ready.

Something to wear

Babies grow very quickly. In the first few weeks, you only need a small amount of clothes. Go for comfortable, soft, easy to wash clothes.


Never put jewellery, ribbon or clothes with strings attached on your baby. Your baby is at risk of strangulation from anything placed on or caught around their neck.

You'll need:

  • baby grows (all-in-ones)
  • vests
  • cardigans
  • a warm hat, coat or all in one suit
  • socks
  • mittens for colder weather
  • a sunhat in summer

Somewhere to sleep

You'll need:

  • a Moses basket or cot
  • a mattress
  • sheets
  • cellular blankets - blankets with lots of small holes that air flows through so your baby won't get too hot

Your baby should sleep in a Moses basket or cot with a mattress that meets safety standards.

If you are borrowing or buying a second-hand cot or Moses basket, buy a new mattress. The mattress should be firm and flat. It should fit the cot correctly and have a removable, washable cover.


Pillows, cushion, sleep positioners and other similar products are not recommended. They are a suffocation risk.

Reducing the risk of cot death (sudden infant death syndrome)

Something to take them out and about

Only use car seats and sitting devices with a 5-way safety harness to prevent your baby falling out. Car seats must be safe and suitable for your baby’s height and weight.

Do not buy or use second-hand car seats unless you are completely sure of its safety history.

Pushchairs and strollers are only suitable for newborns if they recline fully.

Most carriers or slings are attached by straps and you carry your baby in front of you. Many babies like this because of the sensation of being close to you and warm. Make sure you use them correctly for your baby’s safety.

To take your baby out and about, you'll need:

  • a car seat
  • a pram or pushchair/stroller
  • sling or baby carrier

Things for nappy changes

A changing bag is useful for holding the nappies, wipes and anything else you need when leaving the house. Changing bags generally come with small reusable changing mats.

For trips outside the house, you'll need:

  • nappies
  • cotton wool or wipes - do not use wipes until your baby is 4 weeks old
  • nappy bin or paper nappy bags - plastic nappy sacks and bags are a suffocation risk to babies
  • lotions - read the label to make sure it is hypoallergenic, dye-free and fragrance-free
  • a towel or changing mat

Always wash your hands before and after changing a nappy. Bring antibacterial hand wash with you if you're out and about with your baby.

How to change a nappy

Feeding equipment

If you are breastfeeding, you will need very little equipment.

But may want to make sure you have:

  • nursing bras
  • breast pads

As your baby grows, you may want to express milk when you are going to be away. It may be worthwhile investing in a breast pump.

Breastfeeding: getting started

If you are formula feeding, you will need:

  • bottles
  • sterilised water
  • teats
  • formula
  • sterilising equipment
  • a bottle and teat brush
  • a powder dispenser

You'll also need plenty of:

  • muslin cloths
  • bibs

Preparing formula feed

Something to keep them clean

Baby bath towels are useful but not essential, small bath towels are just as good.

You'll need:

  • a baby bath or basin
  • towels

Equipment safety

If you use second-hand equipment or equipment that you used with an older child, it must meet current safety standards. Make sure it is undamaged and is in perfect working order.

When buying and using equipment, make sure:

  • it meets current EU safety standards
  • it is in perfect condition
  • you assemble, install and use it correctly, as per manufacturer’s instructions

Child safety equipment

Page last reviewed: 29 June 2022
Next review due: 29 June 2025

This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.