Bringing home a newborn is one of the most chaotic times in a parent's life. Here are some must-haves to stock before the baby arrives, according to Heather Maclean, author of "The Baby Gizmo Buying Guide."
- Car seat: This is the must-have of all must-haves. It's illegal to bring the baby home in a car without one. To save time and aggravation as you are leaving the hospital, make sure it's properly installed before the baby is even born. Call your local police department to see if they have someone on staff certified to install car seats.
- Place for the baby to sleep: Pick at least one spot in your home that is designated for the baby, and have what the baby is going to sleep in assembled. That may be a crib, a wide-based bassinet or Moses basket.
- A couple of bottles: Even those who plan on breast feeding should stock some bottles in their house for those just-in-case moments — maybe mom is too tired to feed or maybe someone else wants to.
- Three kimono-style wrap shirts: Getting a newborn dressed and undressed is no easy task, so for quick changes — especially at 2 a.m. — that don't require pulling anything over the baby's head at first, this is the way to go.
- Five thin, baby-sized blankets: You can use regular towels and washcloths for cleaning and drying your baby, but you cannot use towels or adult-sized sheets to keep them warm. Babies need small, relatively thin blankets for safety, but also for weather protection, a clean spot on the floor and for swaddling — one of the best sleep tricks in the book.
- Two baby sleepsacks: Since babies are not supposed to sleep with loose blankets because of suffocation risks, they need a special sleeping blanket to keep warm at night. Sleepsacks are like little baby sleeping bags with armholes or sleeves that zip on so baby is warm, but safe.
- Swaddling blanket: The nurses in the hospital are pros at swaddling — a method of wrapping babies snugly — but parents rarely can do it as neatly or tightly. There are plenty of swaddling blankets on the market now that make it safe and easy to wrap a child up.
- Diapers and diaper rash cream: Especially during the first few weeks, as baby's digestive system develops and his or her skin is extra sensitive, diaper rash may play a big, painful part of both your lives. Have plenty of diaper cream on hand — and it might take a bunch of tries to figure out the one that best suits your baby.