Baby checklist: preparing your home
Getting your home ready can be a good way to prepare yourself, your partner and your other children for your new baby’s arrival.
Where baby sleeps
It’s safest for your baby to share a room with you, sleeping in a cot next to your bed, for the first year of life or at least the first 6 months. These sleeping arrangements can reduce the risk of sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI).
If you need to adjust the temperature of the room where your baby sleeps, use a heater or fan only when your baby isn’t in the room. Turn off the appliance before putting your baby in the room. But it’s best to adjust your baby’s clothing rather than heating or cooling the room.
Where to change nappies
It’s safest to change your baby’s nappy on a mat on the floor so your baby can’t fall. But some parents do find it’s easier on their backs to change baby on a change table or bed.
If you'd prefer to use a change table, you can find out about safe change tables in our article on safe baby furniture. And if you’re changing your baby on a bed or change table, remember to keep one hand on your baby at all times so that your baby can’t roll off.
Where to bath baby
You can bath a newborn in the kitchen sink or laundry tub, so long as it’s safe and clean. And no matter where you bath your baby, always stay within arm’s reach of your baby.
Where to feed baby
You can feed your baby anywhere that you can relax and hold your baby comfortably. Pillows can give you extra support if you need it. A night light might be handy for night feeds.
Most of the things you need to do to make your home safe for your newborn are about knowing what to expect, rather than making major changes.
Essential baby equipment
The things your baby needs will change all the time, so the best approach might be to buy, borrow or hire things as you need them.
Here’s some baby equipment you’ll need to start with.
- An approved rear-facing child car seat that meets the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 1754: you’ll need this if you’re driving home from hospital. It’s a good idea to have the car seat professionally fitted before your baby’s arrival.
- A cot that meets the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 2172 and a firm, well-fitting mattress: these are essential for your baby’s sleep safety. Some parents use a bassinette or crib for their baby in the first few months, but going straight to a full-size cot is a safe and cost-effective option. You’ll also need sheets.
- Nappies: even if you plan to use reusable nappies, it’s a good idea to have a few disposables on hand just in case.
- Bottles, teats and bottle-washing items: you’ll need these if you’re bottle-feeding.
- A breast pump for expressing milk: this might be handy if you’re breastfeeding and you plan to express.
- A pram or stroller that meets either Australian Standard AS/NZS 2088:2013 or AS 2088:2022: this is a safe and convenient way for your baby to travel when you’re out and about.
Things for birthing mothers
- Extra-long and extra-thick maternity or sanitary pads: take plenty to the hospital, and have more ready for when you get home.
- Nursing bras and breast pads: you’ll need these if you’re breastfeeding.
Things for baby
- Baby jumpsuits and a selection of singlets or vests: 3-4 of these are good basics for dressing your newborn.
- Cardigans or jumpers: this will depend on the time of year and where you live.
- A few baby wraps: muslin wraps are lighter and better for summer.
After you have these essentials, you might decide to do without or hold off on buying a lot of extras. Some equipment can be quite expensive, so it makes sense to decide based on what you think you’ll use, rather than on what advertisers or other people tell you.
Extra baby equipment
Here are other items that might be helpful:
- a baby bath and some soft towels for wrapping and drying your baby after each bath
- a nappy bin with a lid
- individual disposable nappy bags (or old plastic bags) – handy for when you’re out with your baby
Talcum powder isn’t recommended because it has fine particles that your baby might breathe in. It can also get into your baby’s genitals and cause harm.
Don’t use baby walkers. There are dangers associated with baby walkers. For example, they can put babies in reach of many safety hazards. It’s safer for babies to play on a playmat or blanket on the floor.
Saving money on baby equipment
You can save money by buying or accepting second-hand or pre-loved toys, clothes and some furniture like dressers.
You can find these items in many places, including:
- websites like eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace
- trading papers
- parents’ groups
- local community advertisements and garage sales
- local markets
- second-hand shops.
Other ways to save include buying only what you really need. It’s a good idea to talk to other parents about what they’ve found useful.
You can look out for sales and special offers on items like nappies and wipes, and stock up when they’re cheap. Just take care to check use-by dates.
Many public libraries lend toys as well as books, but borrowed toys should still comply with Australian Standards. It’s good to check this with the library staff before borrowing any toys.
Safety and second-hand baby equipment
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recommends that you buy, borrow or accept only second-hand products that meet Australian Standards and have safety features. Products that meet the Standards help to protect your baby from serious injury and possibly death.
You can check whether products meet the Standards by looking for the Standards label on products or checking the manufacturer’s website.
When you’re choosing a cot, mattress or child car seat, always look for an item with a good safety history. If an item is damaged or you’re not sure about its safety history, it’s best not to accept or buy it. It’s also a good idea to check the item physically before you buy it. It can be difficult to judge the condition of a second-hand product from a photo on a website.