Things You Need When You Have A Baby: The First Year Of Sleep Time

When it comes to figuring out the things you need when you have a baby, it’s pretty overwhelming to know what is actually needed versus what is just gimmicky and going to collect dust. And considering the cost of some items, you want to know whether you will get your moneys worth. So in this post I’ve put together a list of items related to sleeping and the bedroom, based on my experience, that were essential to our first year with our daughter. My main criteria for whether something is a necessity is if we got a good amount of use from the item, it made life easier and it was worth the price.

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 items you need when you have to transport baby? Click here.

Or for the list of items I recommend for feeding, cleaning and washing baby, click here.

The Quick List Of Essential Items

  • Bassinet
  • Crib
  • Drawers/Cupboard
  • Mattress Protector, Fitted Sheets and Blankets
  • Sleeping Bags/Swaddles
  • Pacifiers/Dummies
  • White Noise Maker
  • Steamer/Humidifier
  • Baby Monitor

The Essentials – The Detailed Version

When it came to sleep time and the bedroom, there are a lot of options out there for what you can purchase for baby. I haven’t included any decorative items in this list, because they aren’t actually essential (but nevertheless it is probably the fun part for most mums. And dads – make sure you have set up the room in time!). But once again, the items on this list we got significant use out of and have helped us maintain some level of sanity!


Research over the last 20-30 years all recommend that baby sleeps in the parents room for the first 6-12 months to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). With this in mind, when it comes to sleep time it is often recommended that you get a bassinet for your bedroom, and then a crib for when they are older. Now once baby comes along, you will do whatever you need to get baby to sleep (I don’t recommend co-sleeping, but you do what you feel safe and comfortable doing), but if baby is willing to sleep in the bassinet and you are worried about SIDS, then having one is important.

My wife and I ended up purchasing a bassinet that we could move around the house thinking that would help us lay baby down wherever we were in the house. Good thought, but really not needed. After the first 2 months or so we began putting our daughter into her crib for day naps, so the bassinet just stayed in our room anyway. Plus our house is smaller in size, and the way the bassinet was designed meant I had to carry it anyway if we wanted to move it, rather than roll it around!


You can technically wait a few months after baby is here to buy the crib, but being one of those bigger purchases and with how busy life gets once baby arrives, it is wise to make this purchase before baby comes along (plus for dads, major bonus points for putting it together and setting the room up).

Like prams and car seats, there are so many options when it comes to cribs, and different features to look out for. For our crib, it converts into a bed once she is ready, and into a day bed/seat when she grows out of that. We bought this because we thought it would last us a few years so we could save money down the track, but in hindsight we might have looked for a crib that was a bit more ergonomical, as placing baby in and out of the crib is not good on your back. So I would recommend to bring along a watermelon, and practice taking ‘baby’ in and out of the crib to see how it feels.


Pretty standard, but one reason why this is really important – you need somewhere to store all the baby bedding and towels too. In my dad mind, I thought the baby is so tiny, they won’t need much space. But they need a lot, because they have so much extra stuff that comes along with them. So my biggest recommendation here, think about how you can maximise your storage space because baby will take up a lot of room!

Fitted Sheets/Blankets/Mattress Protector

Baby wets and dirties the bed, so you will need some spare sheets in case this happens, and some sets for the bassinet and the crib. The mattress protector is extremely important if you want to save yourself from cleaning the mattress. As for the blankets, our daughter doesn’t sleep with one since she is in a sleeping bag, but they are great for in the pram, car seat and even in her play area. We always keep at least one spare in each car and in the pram!

Hint: if you own a dryer, or it is summer time, you probably don’t need a huge amount of spare blankets and sheets. But if it’s cold and they take a while to dry, you may want to get a few extra.

Sleeping Bags/Swaddles

If you attend a pregnancy class, they will probably teach you how to swaddle a baby. Useful skill, they should really teach you how to do one when you are sleep deprived and it’s 3am in the morning. If you can swaddle under those circumstances, then you are a true master.

We had plenty of swaddles gifted to us which we used in the first month or so, but I was so bad at swaddling that baby would wriggle out and wake herself up. So we eventually moved to sleeping bags and it was amazing. Life was so much easier. We specifically used these transition sleeping bags as our daughter got older and they really seemed to help her adjust to sleeping with her arms free.

So you may be thinking, why get the swaddle then if you used the sleeping bag? Well swaddles are great for covering baby in the pram when you are out and about and they act as blankets too. So give both a try and see which you prefer.


If you are a new parent, you have probably heard all the pros and cons about dummies. Working with kids, I was surrounded by all the information about what dummies can do to a developing baby. And so my wife and I had the best of intentions to try not to use one. But then we had a baby and realised that if it helps baby, and doesn’t put her life at risk, then we will give it to her if it helps her calm or sleep.

So keep one around in the house, so in the event that you’ve tried everything else and it isn’t working, then you can give this a shot. (Honestly, it will be a life saver when you’re sleep deprived and can’t think).

White Noise Maker

Ok this probably won’t be a necessity in every household, and I still question whether it was needed or helped with my daughter falling asleep, but sometimes the placebo effect is just as good as it actually working!

For those who don’t know what a white noise maker is, it essentially makes the sound of static (for those who remember old school analog TV’s, its the sound it makes when you change to a channel that isn’t in use). Research suggests that this noise is similar to that of what baby hears in the womb, and that it helps a newborn feel safe and will help them relax and sleep easier.

In our house, we used this from the very beginning after being gifted with a white noise maker, and because it was a strategy that required little effort, it was something that we just kept doing (check out my earlier post on Getting Sleep With A Newborn). And we did notice a difference in her ability to fall asleep when it wasn’t on, so in our case it was simply a matter of ‘if it’s working, it’s not causing and problems, then let’s not rock the boat!’


I wasn’t going to put a Steamer or Humidifier on this list initially, because we used a humidifier to help with sleep in the beginning, but it didn’t seem to have any big impact on our daughter’s sleep. The sleeping bag and the white noise maker seemed to have the biggest impact on sleep, and it became expensive having to buy the nice smelling oils for the humidifier.

But fast forward to my daughter turning 10months, and she started getting the cold and other child illnesses that are common, and her sleep began being disrupted again. Not being able to sleep, we ended up buying a steamer with eucalyptus based oil that helps clear the nose when unwell. We bought the Vick’s steamer and oil, simply because I have very fond memories of Vick’s as a kid (weird, I know, but I love the smell because I was a sick child and this smell literally allowed me to breath), plus it was on special at the local pharmacy.

My daughter is still sick at the moment (2.5 months later) but her sleep became better after we started using this. So although an item you won’t need to purchase right away, if baby comes down with a cold and gets a blocked nose, you can’t go wrong with some good old Vick’s!

Baby Monitor

Some will say you don’t need a baby monitor, some say you do. From a completely ‘put your mind at ease’ perspective, it is useful to have one. Once we began the transition out of our room, it was an exciting but anxious time for my wife and I, because we weren’t sure if she would be safe, if she would be able to sleep on her own or if we would even be able to wake up to help her if she needed it! But at the same time, we needed her out or we wouldn’t have had much of our sanity left!

There are lots of different types out there – video monitors, sound only monitors, movement monitors in the bed. Whichever your choice, if you are planning on having baby transition out of your room in the first year, and you want something that will put your mind at ease during the transition, then having a monitor does help!

What’s On Your List?

That was our list of essential items for sleep and in the bedroom, what does yours look like? Were there things that were must haves because they made your life easier?

Feel free to share your list in the comments below!

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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