Things You Need When You Have A Baby: Keeping Baby Clean And Fed

When prepping for baby to arrive, you want to make sure that you are well equipped to tackle any poo, pee, spit up and everything else that comes along with caring for baby. Because now, you have this little tiny human who can’t look after themselves, and need our help to do all the things that we as adults often take for granted. The challenge though is figuring out what you actually need, and what my wife and I found through this journey is that you don’t need a lot! We thought that this was the most important aspect of caring for baby, and that we would need a lot of things, but after a few weeks in, we realised that there were only a few real necessities.

For the soon to be dad’s out there, even if your partner is making the decisions on what to purchase, she will want your input, so it’s worth doing some research into what she wants to purchase and what she needs. This is a good first step to helping out your partner and staying in the good books!

Want to check out my essential list of sleep and bedroom items you need when you have a baby? Click here.

Or for the list of items I recommend for transporting baby, click here.

The Quick List Of Feeding And Washing Essentials

  • Change Mat
  • Nappy Bin (and Nappies of course)
  • Spare Towels/Burp Cloths
  • Bibs
  • Baby Wipes
  • Baby Bath
  • Bottles

Feeding and Washing Essentials – The Detailed Version

The following items are what my wife and I found as essential items to keep our baby fed and clean in the first year. Now you may notice some things aren’t on this list, and that may be for two reasons. The first, it wasn’t an essential item, in which case see if it is on my list of ‘Unnecessary Items’. If it isn’t on that list, then we either didn’t purchase or use it, or I didn’t think of it! In which case leave any ideas you have in the comments below.

Change Mat

My wife and I bought a change mat and table combo, sold on the idea of additional storage space for baby’s cleaning items and other stuff. But what we found was that all we needed was the change mat itself. The table ended up filling up with junk, it just took up space, and we only used it for about 1-2 months.

When baby was born and we first took her home, we mostly used our dining room table with the change mat to clean up our daughter. With our daughter sleeping in our room, and her change table being in her room (our room was too small for a change table to fit in), when she woke at night and needed a nappy change, it was easier and faster to change her in the dining area rather than her room. Once she shifted to her room, we changed her on the change table for a while, but once she began sleeping through the night (from between 4-6 months), there was less need to change her at night time, and now that she could roll, sit up and move it was safer to change her on the mat on the floor.

So, why pay for a table that you don’t really need, when you can get a soft, foam, curved edge change mat, that you can use on any table or floor. Instead, invest your money in some more nappies (or a drink or two before your Mrs gives birth).

Nappy Bin (And Nappies)

Nappies is self explanatory – you want to have some on hand but don’t go too crazy. You don’t know if your baby will have skin allergies or issues with the nappies, so best to buy one bag of nappies, see how they go, and if all good then get more from there.

Now my biggest regret is not getting a nappy bin that seals in the smell. Those nappy bins are expensive, but trust me, baby poo stinks, and unless you’re willing to deal with the stench or section off a room of the house, it’s worth the investment. In saying that though, we just used a regular bin, so you probably don’t need a fancy one. But you won’t want to be putting these stinky bad boys in the kitchen bin, thats for sure.

So to combat the smell, we placed the bin in the spare bathroom, and keep the door closed until it is bath time or time to change the bin liner. It works, and the smell is contained, but come summer that bathroom gets warm so the smell goes up a notch or two. My wife and I are just glad our daughter also likes the shower!

Spare Towels/Burp Cloths

We didn’t think of this one ourselves, it was actually a work colleague who got us reusable nappy’s as a gift. She recommended the nappy towels as being really useful to keep handy to clean up any mess baby may leave behind. And honestly, they were the most useful gift we got behind the white noise maker (also a gift given by this work colleague – she’s a mum, makes sense). The burp cloths, we found, were just too small and not as versatile with all different types of mess, and so the towels could do what the burp cloths could not.

We used the towels to keep the couch protected during tummy time, her play mat protected during tummy time, our bed protected when she was in bed with us, our shoulder protected when burping, as an extra layer of protection on the change mat (so we didn’t need to change the cover often). We literally used it everywhere, brought them with us on car rides or out walking. And because baby makes so much mess (wait until they start eating solids!), we went through them like crazy.

Now I recommend the nappy towels because they clean really easily (I mean, they’re designed for poo), but if you have a whole bunch of hand towels laying around then they will do the trick too. Also, make sure you keep a towel on hand to be able to dry baby after a wash.


Invest in quite a few bibs, because these will go like hotcakes. My personal preference, get the cloth bibs because they will soak up mess. You will need to change them more frequently because you don’t want the wet bib soaking onto the clothes and then give baby a rash. The plastic bibs obviously don’t soak up the mess, but then the drool/milk/food etc just slides off the bib onto baby’s tummy or legs anyway.

If you do get the plastic bibs, then invest in the ones with the pocket at the bottom that catches the mess. These are really good for mealtimes, but make sure you clean them straightaway because that pocket can get pretty funky!

Baby Wipes

Even if you are deciding to go down the route of using a towel and warm water to wipe up baby’s bum, it won’t hurt to have these on hand for those emergencies where you don’t have the time or additional support to get the water (I’m talking poo explosion with a wriggly baby).

Environmentally, we don’t want to use too many, but in the moment they are amazing and will help in literally every messy situation. So if you are looking out for the environment and want to do things the more conscientious way, then go for it, but there are environmentally friendly wipes you can keep an eye out for to keep on hand.

Baby Bath

I was reluctant to put the baby bath on this list, because we rarely used it during the newborn phase (only in the first few weeks), and then we mostly showered with our daughter until she was able to sit, and then we did bath times in the main bath tub.

But, in our circumstance, because we live in a smaller place, the baby bath would only fit on the dining table or on the floor of the living area or her bedroom, so it was a hassle to fill the tub and then bring it out to one of these areas. However, it made the list because if not for the inconvenience of our house, we probably would have used it more, plus it cost us AU$10 and wasn’t an expensive item.


My wife gave breastfeeding a shot, and decided it wasn’t for her. Thankfully, we had bottles on hand to be able to make the switch to formula without needing to rush out and find some bottles. I recommend having at least 1-2 bottles on hand simply for this reason – even if you or your partner are deciding to breastfeed, sometimes, for whatever reason, this may not work out or be something that you want to keep doing. And that’s ok. Having the bottles available will ease the extra stress of needing to find some. And if you don’t need them? Then keep them on hand for if you decide to pump, or have transition bottles that have changeable heads so now you have a transition sippy cup. In our circumstance, with all the stress and worry about how to feed baby, it helped having bottles available to make the switch.

What Was On Your List?

Did you have any other items that were essential in your first year of having baby? Anything you would add or change to the above list?

Put your comments below and let others know what was essential to you!

about author


I've now got 1 year experience as a father and I'm still finding my way through fatherhood. I'm a registered Psychologist, and you would think this would help me in my fatherhood journey. But realistically nothing can prepare you completely so I'm just trying to figure it all out as I go.
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