Preparing for Baby: The Ultimate Checklist for Adoptive Parents

preparing for baby ultimate checklist adoptive parents

As any adoptive parent knows, the adoption process can be time-consuming and emotional, but also deeply rewarding. After spending months—maybe even years—dreaming about getting matched with a baby, the moment it finally happens can feel overwhelming. It’s finally happening!

Once you get the call that you’ve been matched, there is a lot that needs to happen before you can welcome your new bundle of joy into your home. From gathering the basic essentials to babyproofing your home, a little planning can pave the way for a smoother transition when your baby arrives. 

Preparing for a newborn can be overwhelming for adoptive and non-adoptive parents alike. To help you succeed in your new role, we’ve created a comprehensive checklist for adoptive parents to ensure that your home is prepped and ready for your newest addition. Remember: You don’t need to knock out these items all in one day!

Babyproofing Your Home

If you haven’t been matched yet or simply want to take things slow, babyproofing your home is a great way to start preparing for your new bundle of joy. Babyproofing your home is an essential task for all parents and should be done for babies of all ages. It’s also a great way to prepare for an adoption home study, which is required for all prospective parents who wish to adopt a baby. 

Here are a few ways to reduce the potential threats around your home to make it a safer place for your little one:

  • Stock a first-aid kit with baby-safe items.
  • Cover electrical outlets.
  • Use baby gates to block off stairs and doorways.
  • Keep medications, cleaning products and other toxic substances out of reach.
  • Keep firearms locked away.
  • Pad the corners of sharp furniture.
  • Make sure windows have secure locks.
  • Have emergency telephone numbers available.
  • Install fences around pools, hot tubs, ponds, etc.

mom holding baby's hand


When it comes to shopping for baby clothes, the experience isn’t that much different between adoptive and non-adoptive parents. Oftentimes, adoptive parents choose to stock up on unisex bodysuits and other gender-neutral baby items because they may not yet know the gender of their baby. Of course, many non-adoptive parents do the same thing when they decide to keep the baby’s gender a surprise. 

Shop Our Selection of Adorable Bodysuits

five pack baby onesies

5-Pack Onesies® Brand Bodysuits

The main thing you’ll want to consider is the quantity of baby clothes you buy prior to your little one’s arrival. Many adoptive parents try to refrain from buying too many adorable baby outfits just in case their match is disrupted. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much and when you start buying baby clothes. Once you’re ready to take that step, here are the clothing items you’ll need to have on hand for your newborn:

  • Onesies® Brand Bodysuits. Bodysuits will inevitably make up the majority of your newborn’s wardrobe due to their sheer practicality. These feature a bottom snap closure that makes changing your little one’s diaper easy and sanitary.
  • Side Snap Shirts. Short- and long-sleeve side snap shirts are another must-have for your baby. These shirts have snaps on the side that allow you to undress your fussy baby without pulling the garment over their head.
  • Pants. Play-friendly leggings and stretchy pants are great options for baby girls. For a baby boy, look for cozy sweats and pull-on pants designed to look like denim. 
  • Socks. Every newborn needs a few pairs of infant socks to keep their tiny feet warm! For a secure yet comfortable fit, we recommend our wiggle-proof socks with STAY-ON technology.
  • Sleepers. Sleepers are essentially one-piece outfits that keep your little one warm while they sleep. Please follow CPSC guidelines for crib safety which recommends using a sleeper vs. blanket 
  • Rompers. Rompers are another one-piece outfit that fuse a shirt and shorts together. Although you might not think they’re practical for newborns, infant rompers are designed with handy closures on the legs that make diaper changing quick and easy.
  • Sweaters. If your baby is due in the winter, a cozy knit sweater is a nice addition to your little one’s wardrobe. You can layer it over their bodysuit or side snap shirt for added warmth on a cold day.
  • Newborn Caps. If you plan to take your baby outside, it’s important to have one or two infant caps on hand to keep your baby’s noggin nice and warm. 

clothing checklist graphic


As an adoptive parent, you might think that the choice between breast or bottle is already made up for you. However, it is possible for adoptive parents who have never been pregnant to breastfeed their little one. If you feel strongly about the benefits of breastfeeding, consider talking with your doctor about the possibility of inducing lactation. 

Otherwise, you can simply use infant formula to feed your little one. Baby formula is a nutritious alternative to breast milk and offers more freedom and flexibility. 

Depending on the feeding method you choose, here are a few essential items you’ll need to feed your baby:

  • Baby Bottles and Nipples. Pick up a variety of baby bottles and nipples. Your baby will likely show a preference for a specific type of nipple. Starter baby bottles usually come with a low flow rate, which is ideal for newborns.
  • Formula. Plan to purchase one or two weeks of baby formula for your little one. This will give you just enough to see how well your baby likes it. If your baby is a fan, you can commit to buying a long-term supply. 
  • Burp Cloths. You can’t have enough burp cloths! We recommend having at least 10-12 burp cloths for your baby so you aren’t constantly doing laundry.
  • Bibs. Baby spit-up, drool and teething are inevitable. To keep your baby clean and cute, keep a variety of bib types on hand to prevent unnecessary outfit changes.

Additional Items for Nursing Mothers:

  • Breast Pump. If you’re inducing lactation, you can begin pumping before your baby arrives (per instructions from your doctor).  Keep in mind that it may take a long time to build up an adequate milk supply. Even with induced lactation, you’ll likely need to supplement with formula or donated breast milk.
  • Milk Storage Bags. Don’t waste a drop of your precious breast milk! With milk storage bags, you can safely store your breast milk in the refrigerator or the freezer.
  • Nursing Pads. Also known as breast pads, nursing pads absorb excess breast milk that may leak in between feedings and stain your clothes. These are inserted into your nursing bra to prevent wet blotches on your clothes.
  • Nipple Cream. Your nipples may get sore and tender from all the pumping and breastfeeding. A decent nipple cream can do wonders for relieving discomfort caused by dry, itchy and sensitive skin.
  • Nursing Pillow. A nursing pillow is a firm, flat pillow that helps support your baby when he or she is on your lap. They prop your baby up just enough so they can reach your nipple, allowing your baby to feed more comfortably.
  • Nursing Bras. If you’re breastfeeding your little one, nursing bras are a must. These bras usually feature panels or flaps that allow easy access to your nipple for breastfeeding. 

mother changing baby diaper on table


Another important parenting decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to use cloth diapers or disposable diapers. There are pros and cons to each. Cloth diapers can help you save money and are better for the environment, whereas disposable diapers are usually more convenient.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which diapering solution makes the most sense for your baby. Here are the diapering essentials you’ll need, regardless of your decision:

  • Changing Table and Pad. The best way to handle the onslaught of dirty diapers is by setting up a well-stocked changing table. The surface should be at least 36 inches tall and sturdy. You can also add a changing pad to make the surface more comfortable for your baby.
  • Wipes. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you go through these. Buy them in bulk and always keep them within arm’s reach of your changing table.
  • Diaper Rash Cream. If your baby gets a mean case of diaper rash (most of them do eventually), a basic diaper rash cream or ointment will provide much-needed relief. Be sure to choose a product that is free of fragrances and other harsh ingredients!
  • Diaper Disposal System. You need to put those stinky diapers somewhere, right? A diaper pail that keeps odors contained is your best bet. Simply toss your baby’s dirty diapers (cloth or disposable) into the pail, get your baby changed and take care of the growing pile of diapers when it’s convenient to do so.

For Disposable Diapering:

  • Disposable Diapers. Start with 150 diapers for your little one. If that seems like a lot to you, consider this: Newborns typically go through 700 diapers in the first three months of their life! 

For Cloth Diapering:

  • Cloth Diapers. If you’re going the cloth diapering route, consider pre-folded cloth diapers. These are the most popular cloth diapering option because they make cloth diapering a lot easier. For additional leak protection, you can also get waterproof covers for your cloth diapers.

diapering checklist graphic

Nursery Essentials

For some adoptive parents, the nursery can be a particularly sensitive subject. While some find it therapeutic and productive to decorate their baby’s nursery, others find it uncomfortable because things are still uncertain. Therefore, we encourage you to do what feels best for you.

It’s also a good idea to stick with neutral hues until you know the baby’s gender. When you’re ready, here is a list of essential baby items you’ll need for your nursery: 

  • Crib and Mattress. Baby cribs can be costly, but you don’t need to splurge on a high-end model. The most important thing is to pick a safe crib with the right spacing between bars. Another critical feature: a firm mattress. The crib mattress shouldn’t sag underneath your baby’s weight.  
  • Crib Sheets. To ensure the safety of your baby, use crib sheets that feature elasticized corners to stay firmly in place.
  • Baby Monitor. A baby monitor is a must if your baby won’t be close while he or she sleeps. It’s also helpful for keeping tabs on the baby while you tidy up the house or relax in the backyard.
  • Nightlight. When your baby needs a late-night feeding, the last thing you want is to turn on bright lights that make them fussier. A nightlight will provide dimmer lighting that is more soothing for both of you. 
  • Nursing Chair.  Go ahead and splurge on a comfortable nursing chair for the nursery. Between all the feedings, cuddling and book reading, you and your baby will get tons of use out of it.

Necessities for the Big Day

When you finally get the call that the baby’s birth mom has gone into labor, your heart will practically burst with joy! You’ve waited so long for this moment. Here’s what you’ll need to bring your little one home from the hospital:

mom burping baby

  • Safety-Approved Car Seat. You won’t be allowed to leave the hospital without one. Make sure that your car seat isn’t expired or on a recall list.
  • Diaper Bag. Pack a few newborn diapers and wipes in your diaper bag. You may want to pack a few size-one diapers as well in case your baby is on the bigger side.
  • Take-Me-Home Outfit. Take-me-home sets are perfect for the car ride home from the hospital. When choosing an outfit for the baby, don’t forget to consider the temperature.
  • Blankets and Swaddles. Although the hospital will likely have blankets for your little one, they may not be particularly soft. Pack your own blankets and swaddles for the baby to keep them cozy on the car ride home.

the big day checklist graphic

Stock up on Blankets and Swaddles

Additional Ways to Prepare

The process of adopting a baby is a lot of “hurry up and wait.” If you’re getting antsy about your baby’s arrival, here’s a few additional tasks you can knock out prior to adopting:

  • Find a Pediatrician. If you don’t have a pediatrician picked out for your baby, the hospital may choose one for you. 
  • Figure Out Your Health Insurance. Be prepared to update your health insurance policy so you can add your adoptive child to your health insurance plan. 
  • Consider Childcare Options. Are you going back to work shortly after the baby arrives? Now is a good time to consider childcare options and start crunching the numbers. 

Let the Journey Begin

Nothing beats the feeling of finally getting to bring your baby home. Although preparing for your baby is exciting and overwhelming, this checklist for adoptive parents will ensure that you have all the essentials you need to be ready for the call. 

happy mom playing with baby

Once your beautiful baby is officially part of the family, you can begin to buy all the items that baby will need for its first year of life: a highchair, a stroller, a baby bathtub, etc. Congrats on your new bundle of joy!

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