How you feed your baby is a very personal choice. That said, breastfeeding is wonderful for your baby and you! So if you are able, give breastfeeding a try. Before you have a baby, you might have some ideas of what you want. But the truth is you don’t know how it’s going to go until your baby arrives. Fed is best! And everyone’s experience is unique. When it comes to breastfeeding essentials, it can be hard to know what you’ll need.
You may just need your boobs and that’s practically it! You might be trying to pump more to stock up freezer milk for returning to work and childcare. You might be pumping to exclusively bottle feed breastmilk. You might be pumping and nursing. You might be formula feeding with bottles. Or some combination. So here are some feeding essentials that you may or may not need on your breastfeeding journey. Plus, jump below to download the spreadsheet for the Minimalist Baby Registry Checklist.
Moral of the story, don’t spend too much time planning or pre-buying this stuff!
Baby Feeding Essentials
Mmost people start by asking friends and family who already have babies what they need and compile a list from there. This list is sourced from family and friends and a collective experience. This isn’t our first rodeo. But we’re all different sizes and shapes, with different babies and situations. So take all this with a grain of salt. And most importantly, know that while breastfeeding is wonderful, it’s also incredibly hard at the beginning! And I think by the time some moms are giving advise to pregnant mamas, they’ve forgotten just how hard of a time those first newborn weeks are. Wonderful AND hard!
So check out this list and then after your baby arrives, and you need help, don’t hesitate to find a lactation consultant. Your hospital should be able to refer you. They are there to help and it can make things feel so much more doable!
1. Breast pump
Insurance companies are now required to provide breast pumps after birth. So contact your insurance to find out when and where you will pick it up, and also what kind. They often come with some basic attachments and bottles so wait to see what you get before buying extra pumping “essentials”.
You might also want a manual hand pump. I didn’t use one of these, but several friends loved theres.
2. Breastfeeding pillow
A breastfeeding pillow helps take the pressure off your shoulders and back while baby nurses. You could of course use any pillow, but the shape is great for baby to lay on. And having a cover or using a muslin blanket over it helps keep your regular pillows clean! The Boppy also became a travel essential for us in the first year, and was a great place for baby to snuggle on me during flights. You can also use the Boppy as a play support as they get older for tummy time, sitting up, and lounging.
I had a boppy with cover on it and then usually always had a muslin blanket over it anyway so I didn’t have to clean the cover so frequently (kind of like a mattress protector!)
Another option is the My Breast Friend pillow. It has more surface area for the baby to lay on and feed in multiple positions. However, as a petite lady it just felt too big for me, like I was pulling up to an office desk, so the Boppy was more comfortable, but some of my friends preferred the Breast Friend. This is a great thing to ask a friend with a similar build.
3. Boob pads and nipple cream
After your milk supply comes in, your boobs will be leaking milk! Especially in the first few months when your milk supply is going wild. You’ll need a pad on the other boob, while baby nurses, while you sleep, leaving the house, when a random baby cries somewhere etc. I recommend starting with disposable ones and then moving to washable. And I still kept a few of the disposable ones around later for going out or traveling. But after a few months, the washable ones were fine for around the house, at night etc. And the material was soft which felt better than the crinkle of disposable ones. By a few months in I was able to switch to the washable ones.
There are a lot of nipple cream options. And at some point on your nursing journey, you will need some! I just used the lanolin nipple cream which is safe and natural for your baby. But there are of course organic options too. But this wasn’t a daily need for me, I went through some phases of needing it more or less, especially in the beginning and during teething.
The Therapearl breast pads (hot and cold) are also great for relieving symptoms with engorged breasts. Wait to see if you need them to buy.
4. Pacifiers – Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Newborns
Some babies like pacifiers (dummies, paci, whatever you want to call it), some don’t. But almost all parents are desperate enough at some point in the first year to give it a try! So it’s worth having one on hand (and you might get one in your baby registry welcome box!). Our little one wasn’t interested in a pacifier. But around 5 or 6 months while teething, he went through a short phase of being interested in it. It was especially great for while we were out and he was getting fussy. We got a WubbaNub one with the little stuffed animal attached and then cut it off after he no longer used it and the animal is still one of his lovies.
The Philips Avent soothies are best for the first few months. These are the ones many hospitals use. Try them out at around 1 month, they say, after breastfeeding is established.
Breastfeeding Items: Nice to Haves That You May or May Not Need
Here are the items you may or may not need depending on your situation. So unless someone has gifted you one of these, I would recommend waiting to see if you need it and then go get exactly what you need as the problem or need arises. For example, you might need a nipple shield, you might not! But you don’t have to worry about it until it happens!
Many baby registry welcome kits come with a bottle sample. And breastpumps also come with the connector bottles. If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you might not need bottles. Plus, your baby might not be into a bottle anyway.
In my experience, our little one refused bottles. So while the idea of my partner taking turns with night waking to bottle feed the baby sounded nice. The shrieking involved made me more awake than just quickly feeding the baby. And with my milk supply, I had to wake up and pump anyway, so I may as well have been feeding the baby directly. In the first few months, I did have to pump to help with milk coming in and supply. And the first couple weeks we tried a little bit of supplemental nursing during the day. This is where you place a tiny tube alongside the breast that is connected to milk (like from a bottle), to try and supplement that back to the baby. See this is the kinda stuff you just can’t plan for!
Feeding Items You Don’t Need in the First 3 Months (but are nice to register for anyway, for gifting!)
You won’t need this items right away, but if you need more items on your registry for gifting, these are great feeding items you’ll need later as they start solids and eating with the family. Things like highchairs, spoons, sippy cups, bibs etc.
Baby Feeding Items You Don’t Need
Your mileage may vary, but we found you don’t need the following: nursing coverups* (some women prefer to be more covered while baby nurses, some don’t), nursing shirts (I just wore regular or maternity clothes!), pumping bra (cut holes in an old tight tank top, this holds it tightly against your body and is nice and comfy and easy to wash), $500 wearable breast pump (until/if you do need it!) If you’re planning to exclusively breast feed and aren’t returning to work immediately, you’re not going to need this. Yes, it’s super cool, but most can do with the insurance provided pump. $400 Norwegian highchair that turns into a chair your kid can take to college.
*Depending on where you live, I found some areas while traveling in the south to be more “covered up” and people were uncomfortable when I started breastfeeding in public. This was very different than my city, and probably also because I am friends with other moms, so it didn’t feel weird to just feed your baby at a restaurant table. But a muslin blanket works great as a makeshift cover if you need it or your baby does (sometimes they are very distracted and need a cover!).
Download the Minimalist Baby Registry Checklist Spreadsheet
This post is part of my Minimalist Baby Registry checklist series. You can download the spreadsheet for a “Pay what you want” price. Consider your checklist spreadsheet a planner for everything you need and a baby budget! While your Amazon registry is your shareable list with friends and family for gifting.
I hope you’ve found this baby feeding essentials checklist helpful! Let me know if you have any questions!