Being a brand new mum and being an expat at the same time was not the easiest time in my life. Dealing with all the emotions that come with being a new mum coupled with being so far away from family and friends made it really hard at times. I was away from everything that I considered to be normal and had lost the ability to rationalise.

This isn’t a post about how much I struggled, far from it, but having a newborn in 2011 in Chiang Mai meant that it was difficult to get all the newborn essentials that I thought I needed. There was no choice for baby products, nothing organic, nothing natural and everything seemed to be cheap, plastic tat!

I learned to be resourceful and by the time Ariya came along just two years later, things had changed considerably. There was so much more available, virtually every one of the newborn essentials I felt was missing when I had Ella I could now get. However, I learned that much of what was (still is) on the market is really not necessary and more often than not a fad, a waste of money and a way to guilt-trip new parents into spending even more money!

Having a baby is expensive – and that’s before all the gizmos and gadgets that are advertised as being vital to your child’s well-being!

So here it is… a detailed list of newborn essentials – what you actually need and what is really optional.

Clothing – remember babies grow really quickly so don’t overbuy!  If you find you don’t have enough it’s easy enough to pick up some more!

  • 8-10 onesies (mix of short-sleeve and long-sleeve)
  • 8-10 one-piece stretchy sleepers (zips are FAR easier than poppers)
  • Stretchy leggings, joggers, shorts (5 pairs – newborn size – will be more than enough to start with)
  • 2 newborn hats – one for summer, one for winter
  • 8-10 pairs of socks or booties
  • 2 pairs of scratch mittens (only required for the first couple of weeks – if that)
  • 2 cardigans or jackets (if winter)
  • Buggy bag/footmuff (#ad) or snowsuit (if winter)
  • Laundry detergent for infants (non-bio)
  • 4 outfits for dressing up (optional)


If you’re breastfeeding:

  • Lots of bibs
  • Muslin cloths
  • Nursing pillow
  • Breast pump (always go electric over manual!) I found one to be easier than the double pump as it left a hand free for actually doing other stuff
  • Milk storage containers
  • A small selection of 4- and 8-ounce bottles
  • Bottle and nipple brush
  • Steriliser (#ad)
  • Nursing bras (if buying before baby is born, buy one cup size larger than your pregnant bra size)
  • Breast pads (disposable or washable)
  • Lotion for sore nipples

If you’re formula feeding:

  • Bibs
  • Muslin cloths
  • Four-ounce bottles with nipples (6-8 should be fine)
  • Eight-ounce bottles with nipples (6 should be fine as newborn’s generally don’t drink as much in those first few weeks)
  • Bottle and nipple brush
  • Steriliser (see link above)
  • Formula
  • Thermal bottle bag
  • Bottle heater (by the bed) {optional – although they will save a lot of time and hassle late at night}


Of you are using re-usable cloth nappies:

  • Several dozen cloth or re-usable diapers
  • 8 waterproof covers
  • 1 diaper pail (#ad)
  • Changing pad
  • Baby ointment (such as Sudocrem)
  • Velcro or safety pins to secure the nappies
  • Disposable wipes/couple dozen washcloths for cleaning baby’s bottom

If you are using disposable diapers:

  • Two boxes of newborn-size diapers (it’s better not to buy too many in advance in case your baby is large or grows quickly)
  • Changing pad
  • Baby ointment (such as Sudocrem)
  • Disposable wipes/couple dozen washcloths for cleaning baby’s bottom


  • 1 plastic infant bathtub
  • 12 washcloths, not used on baby’s bottom
  • Baby soap
  • Baby soft-bristled hairbrush
  • Soft-hooded towels


If you are using a crib:

If you are co-sleeping:

  • Firm mattress (not a waterbed)
  • Waterproof pads to place under baby
  • Sleepsack

Other newborn essentials:

  • Approved infant car seat (#ad)
  • Pram/buggy – suitable for newborn + (To begin with I also bought a wheelbase that the car seat fitted into as it was compact and so much easier than having to place baby in a pram every time I got out the car)
  • Nail clippers or scissors (I bit the nails off as they got long, easier and far less traumatic – for me)
  • Bulb syringe for suctioning mucous
  • Baby thermometer (#ad) (in-ear one is best)
  • Eyedropper or medicine spoon
  • Nappy bag
  • Baby carrier (#ad) (I used a baby bjorn and an Ergobaby. Both were great. The babies all loved being so close to me and I was left hands free)

Non-essentials, but worth considering:

  • Change table (or just use change pad on top of dresser or bed)
  • Rocking chair for feeding and swaddling
  • Playpen
  • 1 or 2 change pads
  • Plastic hangers for closet
  • Sun shade for car windows
  • 2 or 4 dummies (if you choose to use these)
  • Rattles and other baby toys
  • Mobiles
  • Night light


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