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Expat Maternity Checklist: Essential Items to Prepare Before Baby Arrives Overseas

Expat parents who are preparing for the birth of their baby overseas will want to gather the baby’s sleeping arrangements, nursing or formula supplies, and medicine cabinet items. You may want to consider getting a mosquito net for the crib, a baby tub, and more depending on where you’ll be living.

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Are you or your partner going to be giving birth to a child soon while living abroad? Do you need help figuring out which items you need to buy before your baby arrives?

This Pacific Prime article contains a very long checklist of items expat parents should consider buying as they prepare for their newborn to arrive. You may not need every item on this list. You’ll want to determine for yourself what you need.

Some of these items won’t be available in your local country, and if that’s the case, you may want to purchase those items the next time you return home so you can bring them back in your suitcase. There will also be local remedies for your baby’s needs you’ll want to look into using.

We highly encourage you to talk to the locals around you about the resources they use for their babies. This can give you great insight into the local customs and traditions surrounding baby care.

It will also be beneficial for you to look into what kind of expat maternity insurance you will get to be able to pay for the medical expenses that will come throughout your pregnancy and delivery.

Baby Items Expat Mothers Need While Living Abroad

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Expatriate mothers who are living abroad need baby items for sleep, daytime, nursing, formula, the medicine cabinet, hygiene, traveling, and items for mama’s recovery. This section has a lengthy checklist with items in each of these categories that international citizens should consider getting.

Every single country in this world is unique. The local customs and traditions for baby hygiene and care are also unique. Talk to your fellow expats and the locals to learn from them the resources that are locally available to you as you prepare for your baby’s arrival.

If you are in Singapore, you can check out these excellent Singapore expat forums.

We are so excited for you to meet your little one!

Sleep Items for Expat Babies

Bassinet or Crib

First and foremost, your baby is going to need somewhere to sleep. You’ll want to look into getting them a crib in their own room or a bassinet that can rest right beside your bed. In China and Thailand, bed-sharing is very common between babies and their parents until 2 or 3 years old.

Sleeper or Sleep Sack

Many Western parents like their child to sleep in a sleeper or sleep sack. This is basically a replacement of a blanket or swaddle since the child can be zipped into it and it won’t fall off as they roll around. Sleep sacks have also become quite common across Europe.

Baby Monitor

As a first-time parent, you may be more interested in having a baby monitor so you can listen to your child’s breathing as she or he sleeps. A more seasoned parent may not find this item necessary. What matters is that you are comfortable with your baby’s sleep, otherwise you won’t sleep.

Blackout Curtains or Shades

Getting blackout curtains or shades may have varying importance depending on where you live and what your sleep habits are. If you live in a busy metropolis, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, or Dubai, you may want to black out all of the lights that gleam in the bustling downtown atmosphere.

In addition to this, research has shown that sleeping in a darker room improves sleep and helps people sleep more deeply. This is true for children and babies and worth considering.

White-Noise Machine

Tagging along with the blackout curtains is a white-noise machine. If you live in a busy downtown, you may need to smooth over the honking cars and street sounds to help your baby sleep. This could be true in any environment, however, including loud animal or insect sounds found in rural areas.

 And let’s not forget about the noisy neighbors that you can’t do much about.

Night Light

Regardless of what your baby is being fed, a newborn will be awake multiple times a night to eat. Having a night light will dramatically help you so you can see as you walk through the rooms or reach over to find your baby in his or her bassinet.

Pacifiers

Every country will have its own common preferences about the use of Pacifiers. They are commonly used in Brazil, Mexico, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, and England, to name a few, though they are less common in India, Japan, and New Zealand.

The child’s parents, of course, can decide for themselves if they will use pacifiers, but if they are not commonly sold locally, you may have to import them or bring them in your suitcase.

Mosquito Net that Fits Over the Crib

Expat parents living in more rural areas, or in a home that frequently has bugs inside it, may need to buy a mosquito net that fits over their baby’s crib. Many diseases are transmitted through mosquito and bug bites, and these can be particularly deadly to foreigners.

Daytime Items for Expat Babies

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Swaddle Blankets

Having a number of swaddle blankets to keep your baby warm in those early days is important because you never know when your little one will spit up, throw up, or leak out their diaper onto their blanket. These are specifically designed to snuggly wrap around your baby.

Receiving Blanket

In some cultures, receiving blankets (typically bigger blankets than a swaddle) is common. A receiving blanket is what a baby may be wrapped in when a close friend or loved one “receives” or holds your baby for a time.

Play Floor Mats

If you’re an expat living in an environment that doesn’t have very clean or soft floors (such as carpet), you may want a play floor mat your child can roll around on to play. Some countries make the floor of their homes out of concrete, tile, or wood, which isn’t very comfortable for babies.

Drool Bibs

Babies drool a lot, especially when they are little and growing teeth. A drool bib can be easier to switch out in the middle of the day instead of their clothes.

Baby Safe Mosquito Repellent

If you live in an environment in the world that has a lot of mosquitoes out during the day, you may want to invest in some baby-safe mosquito repellent to protect them from infectious diseases.

High Chair

Around 4 and a half to 6 months old, a baby will start eating solid food. Around then, you may want to find a good high chair for eating.

Nursing Items for Expat Babies

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Nursing Pillow

If you plan on nursing, having a nursing pillow can save your wrists and back from a lot of aches and pains. These are designed to support baby and mama as you breastfeed.

Nursing Cover

If you plan to nurse in public or when company is around, you may want a nursing cover for privacy. It is common, however, to nurse in public without a second thought in Mexico, Hungary, Italy, and Brazil, to name a few.

Formula Items for Expat Babies

Baby Formula

Some countries favor baby formula over nursing. This is the case in China. Many U.S. parents are beginning to favor European formula brands as well, so there will be local supply there. 

Bottles and Nipples

It’s wise to have a variety of bottle types and nipples before the baby is born because you don’t know which shape or size she or he will prefer. After they’ve found what bottle brand they like, you can buy several bottles in that style.

Bottle Warmer

A bottle warmer may or may not be important depending on your country, city, and schedule. If you’ll be away from home a lot in a place without the ability to heat milk, a warmer can be a lifesaver.

Medicine Cabinet Items for Expat Babies

Diaper Rash Cream

Diaper rash cream is a must. Research to see if you’ll be able to purchase a local brand in your country; if not, you may need to bring some over from your country of origin.

Nose Frida Nasal Aspirator

The nose Frida nasal aspirator is a suction tool to help clear the airways when your baby has a stuffy, runny, or mucus-clogged nose. It is becoming more and more popular in the United States.

Saline Nose Drops

Saline nose drops help soften mucus that is clogging up your baby’s nose so that you can clear their airways. This is another huge resource in the middle of the night when your baby can’t sleep!

Baby Tylenol

Having pain relievers on hand at all times is a really big help with newborns. They can get fevers fairly often, so some acetaminophen can help bring that down.

Vitamin D Drops

It is common for newborns to not get enough sunlight in the first few months of their life, so a daily dose of vitamin D can help. If you’ll be in a country that is sunny all year long, you could choose to give your baby 10 minutes in the sun a day instead of using these drops.

Hygiene Items for Expat Babies

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Changing Table or Pad

A changing table may or may not be common in your country, for example, they aren’t in Ethiopia. If those aren’t available where you live, a foldable changing pad can work well so you have a clean surface to lay your baby down as you change their diaper. Plus, you can take it anywhere!

Diapers

Disposable diapers are very common in Europe and other continents, although it has become increasingly common in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to potty train your baby shortly after birth. If that’s the case where you live, you’ll need to make sure you’ll have access to diapers.

You can also consider using cloth diapers.

Wipes

Similar to diapers, wipes may or may not be commonly used in your area. If you don’t have access to wipes, you can use washable clothes, paper towels with water, or some other form of creative wipe.

Baby Bath Seat or Tub

A baby bath may not be available in every country, but they are super handy when trying to bathe a newborn that can’t hold his own head up. If you can import one or bring one when you move to your new country, that will help a lot.

Diaper Bag

Some sort of travel pack where you can carry the baby essentials you need when you’re on the go is essential. You can find whatever type of local bag is commonly used in your country for this.

Baby Nail Clippers

It is nice to have a set of nail clippers that are designed for a baby because they come with a handle that makes it easier for the parent to get the job done!

Essential Travel Items for Expat Babies

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Car Seat

If you live in a country where you’ll be driving a personal car, you’ll want a car seat. However, a car seat will be useless if you’re in a country where you won’t be driving in a car, such as in India, Egypt, Vietnam, China, or Scotland. You can’t strap in a car seat on public transportation.

Stroller

Whether or not you’ll want a stroller will hugely depend on where you live and what you like to do. Be sure to research the local regulations about stroller usage in your country of residence, and talk to expat parents in your area to learn what they’d suggest about stroller use and brands.

Baby Carrier or Wrap

A baby carrier or wrap is highly recommended for expat parents. This is a resource you can use no matter where you are or what type of public transportation you are using, whether you live in rural or urban, in a hot or cold climate.

Items For Expat Mamas: What to Gather Before Baby Comes

Nursing Bras

If you are a mother who would like to nurse your child, you’ll want to get a few nursing bras before your baby is born. These bras are designed to make it easy to unstrap your bra and feed your baby without having to take your bra all the way off.

Breast Pads

In those early days and weeks of nursing, your breasts may leak excess breast milk your baby isn’t drinking. To prevent the milk from leaking through all your clothes, you’ll want either disposable or washable breast pads that you can slip under your bra and soak up the excess.

Nipple Cream

It is highly likely Mama’s nipples will be quite sore as you adjust to nursing. You’ll want to find local nipple cream you can buy or have some transported in from your home country.

Breast Pump and Supplies

If you plan to pump and store your breastmilk, you’ll need these supplies:

  1. Milk storage bags
  2. Bottlebrush
  3. Bottle sterilizer
  4. Bottle drying rack
  5. Breast pump

Disposable Adult Underwear

Mothers bleed on average for four to six weeks after childbirth, sometimes lasting up to twelve weeks. You may want to purchase disposable adult diapers to catch your blood flow for that time. You can’t use tampons for six weeks after childbirth.

Maternity and Newborn Insurance

Having maternity and newborn insurance designed for expatriates is a huge must if you don’t want to pay all your medical expenses out of pocket. There is a wide array of international health insurance plans for international citizens that have maternity benefits.

If you’d like help finding the right insurance plan for your budget and needs, contact one of our insurance experts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an expat mama need before childbirth?

Expat mothers should buy the following items before their baby is born: bassinet or crib, sleep sack, baby monitor, blackout curtains, white noise machine, night light, pacifiers, mosquito net for the crib, swaddle blankets, receiving blankets, play floor mats, drool bibs, high chair, and more!

Is it important for expats to have maternity insurance?

Maternity medical bills can be over USD $15,000, and if you don’t have maternity insurance, you pay for all of it out of pocket. Investing in pregnancy insurance is well worth it. You should compare the top maternity insurance plans to find the best fit for you.

Conclusion

Hopefully, you’ve found this essential baby items checklist helpful! Now you’ve got an idea of what an expat parent should get before their baby is born.

You will also want to read our articles Expat Maternity Insurance Claims: A Guide to Navigating the Claims Process While Living Abroad and Expat Maternity Fitness: Staying Active and Healthy During Pregnancy While Living Abroad.

If you’d like to learn about your maternity insurance options, contact our insurance team today or compare insurance plans yourself online.

Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Serena Fung is a Senior Content Creator at Pacific Prime, a global insurance brokerage and employee specialist serving over 1.5 million clients in 15 offices across the world. With 2+ years of experience writing about the subject, she aims to demystify the world of insurance for readers with the latest updates, guides and articles on the blog.

Serena earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. As such, she is an avid advocate of mental health and is fascinated by all things psychology (especially if it’s cognitive psychology!).

Her previous work experience includes teaching toddlers to read, writing for a travel/wellness online magazine, and then a business news blog. These combined experiences give her the skills and insights she needs to explain complex ideas in a succinct way. Being the daughter of an immigrant and a traveler herself, she is passionate about educating expats and digital nomads on travel and international health insurance.
Serena Fung