Newborn Baby Essentials – What You Really Need

Ever notice how many things you “need” for a baby?

Swings and bouncers and rockers and Mamaroos and highchairs and Bumbos and walkers and on and on.  And that is just a list of things for them to sit in!

When I had my first baby, I had it all.

I had the fortune of having wonderful friends and family who bought so many really nice things for me.  It was, and is, such a blessing to be surrounded by such generous and loving people.  If that wasn’t enough, I also lived within 10 minutes of a discount store that sold returned items from Amazon or other large stores.  I mean, this place was magical.  I would walk in and say a wish for a Dutalier glider with matching ottoman, and POOF!  It would be there for 1/8th of the retail price.  I couldn’t afford to NOT get it.

Or so I thought.

Since it was my first baby, and we had just moved from a two bedroom apartment to a three bedroom house, I had plenty of room for all the gear that came with baby.  I was able to put a baby holder (bouncy seat, swing, etc.) in every room of the house – how convenient!  I had not one, but 18 baby towels!  Which is great, if I wanted to wait for 18 days worth of baths before I did laundry.  And this is how it was for everything baby related.

Fast forward 4 years.

I am drowning in stuff.  Baby seats, teethers, rattles, stuffed animals, baby towels, baby washcloths, and baby blankets. you name it, I am stepping on or over it (figuratively speaking… I don’t actually keep my baby’s towels on the floor).  All of this stuff that I was so happy to have is cluttering my home and my mind.  But in these four years, I have had three babies and will possibly have more.  This renders me feeling helpless to get rid of any of these things.  I’m working on it though!

This post is for me, four years ago.

This is the post that I wish I had read and taken to heart.

If you are about to have a baby, are sort of crunchy, have a small home or apartment, strive to be a minimalist, or are on a small budget, then this post is for you too.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you have any questions, please see my disclaimer page.

Here is what you actually need for baby, in my humble, yet experienced, opinion.


You will need clothes for your baby.  I’ll leave the type and amount totally up to your discretion, but remember that they wear them for a VERY short amount of time.  Three fancy outfits per size is probably more than enough.  Ten outfits of comfy clothes for kicking around at home or in daycare in would be great.  One thing that I found to be super helpful for nighttime changing is one of these little numbers.

Yes, I am actually suggesting that you put your baby in a bag.  Just the lower half!  They make all sorts of these.  Some also have arms.  And you can find them much cheaper than this one.  These are super convenient for the night because when you want to change baby, you can just unzip the bottom, change them, and zip them back up.

Let me fill you in on a little (horrible) secret.  When your baby wakes up at night, they will likely have poop in their diaper.  You’ll change them.  Then, to get them back to sleep, you’ll feed them.  They’ll fall asleep, and immediately poop.  NO!  You just got them to sleep!!  Now, you’ll have to wake them up to change them again!  This little zipped bag gives you the best possible chance of keeping them asleep during that diaper change.  Don’t lose hope – this stage only lasts for a little while.  But its during that same little while that they wake up every 2 hours.  So if you have any hopes of getting sleep, buy one of these.

Swaddle Blankets

While we are talking about trying to get or keep baby asleep, purchase a great swaddle blanket!  They will give you little blankets in the hospital, but I have always found them to be too thick, and not easy for the first time parent to use.  These Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets have the perfect weight and the perfect amount of stretch in them so almost any new parent can swaddle their baby like a pro.  All those other blankets?  You don’t need.  Maybe one nice crocheted blanket for throwing over the carseat, but not piles and piles of blankets.

Baby’s Sleeping Arrangements

There are a lot of different opinions on where your baby should sleep.  Do your research into what is going to work best for your family.  Here is what works best for mine.

I purchased a crib set (you bet it had a matching changing table to go with it) for my first.  Every baby needs a crib, right?  Well… I have now had three children, and no baby has ever spent the night in that crib.  My first two may have enjoyed a nap or two in it, but mostly it has been used as a baby containment system for me to run to the bathroom, or as a trampoline.

With my third baby, we haven’t even set up the crib.  I know she isn’t going to sleep in it.  We are now a family of 5 so space is at a premium, so it is just sitting, unassembled, under my son’s bed.

So where does my baby sleep?  In an Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper.  Its fantastic.  It hooks onto the side of my bed and one side drops down so I can easily reach over to put baby in or out of it.  It is just the right size for the baby for many many months (my six month old still fits in it with room to spare), and keeps them close for those numerous nighttime feedings.  They have a little pocket underneath for storage (or, if you ask my older two, for crawling in and out) and two side pockets that I stuff with diapers, wipes, saline drops, snot suckers and binkys (I am NOT getting out of that bed at night if I don’t have to!).

Baby’s Sitting Arrangements

Remember that list of all of the different seats for baby?  Do not buy all of those things.  You will pay so much money for them, and you will get back pennies on the dollar when you go to resell them.  If you really, really want something like a Bumbo, consider looking at used ones on a Facebook swap group somewhere.

Baby’s Travel Arrangements

So in this category, you have a need and a want.  You need a carseat.  You can’t get your baby home without it.  You will probably want a stroller.  These travel systems are great because the carseat snaps right into the stroller, great for trips to the mall or long walks with a friend.  But, some super crunchy moms would NEVER put their baby in a stroller.  Some babies will never want to ride in a stroller.  But they are wonderful for travel or just every day use.  I have always liked the Britax systems.  They are super high rated for safety and my kids all seem to be comfortable in them.  Plus, that little wheel in the front of the stroller makes it really easy to maneuver.  All in all, its a great system.  That being said, there are many great carseat/stroller sets.

Baby Toys

There are a million toys for babies.  I know, because I have most of them.  You don’t need them.  Get a playmat to make playtime fun, if you have the budget and the space.  They come with a few little toys that you can hook onto the mat, or onto the carseat.  A lot of them also have a pillow for the baby to rest on during tummy time.  Mostly though, babies love real things.  Soft rubber spatulas, mascara tubes, keys… anything that they’re not supposed to have.  So you can go ahead and buy all sorts of little toys, but mostly, they’ll just want what you use.  (As a note, I do not let my babies chew on my germy keys… in case you were worried that I do).

One other, sort of big, purchase that I would get if I had the budget would be a exersaucer.  These come with lots of toys on them, and babies love them.  They hold the baby upright (when they’re at least 4 months old), so the baby feels like a big kid.  The baby can spin in it, practice opening and closing little doors, press buttons, or just chew on different things.


There is debate about whether to give a baby a binky.  Again, do your research and figure out what will work for you.  We use, and love, binkies.  Wubbanubs to be exact.  They are made with Soothie pacifiers that the hospital give you, but they have a little stuffed animal attached.  This seems like its just a marketing ploy, but its actually genius.  That little stuffed animal keeps the binky on top of the baby and in their mouth better.  Before babies really learn how to use binkies, they spit them out repeatedly and you have to keep putting them back in their mouths.  The light weight of the stuffed animal resting on their chest keeps the binky right were it is supposed to be.  Once the baby gets a little bigger, its much easier for them to get them back in their mouths themselves with the stuffed animal attached, too. In our house, a Wubbanub is a must have.

In our house, a Wubbanub is a must have.  When our four year old was little, they were only sold at specialty baby boutiques and cost about $24 a piece.  GASP!  After he tried his first one (a gift, because I would have NEVER spend $24 for a pacifier), he was hooked and wouldn’t take any others.  Same with my two year old.  Same with my baby.  Thankfully, they now sell them at Target for about half that price.  On more than one occasion, we have been known to have to stop at Target on a long road trip because we had forgotten a binky in our haphazard packing.

Feeding Baby

I actually do not have terribly strong opinions on this topic, because I always nursed my babies.  My oldest took a bottle some when he was a baby, and this is the one we used.  My next two took them even more infrequently (maybe 3 times in their lives), and these bottles worked great for them too.  I had heard that they were the best (reduce reflux, easy for baby to use, etc,), which is why I registered for them, and I never had a baby have a hard time using them.

But, to each his own.  Here is a recommendation to start with, but all babies are different.

Of course, you’ll also need formula if you are going to formula feed, and maybe a breast pump if you are going to breastfeed and work.  A little note on this though… hand expressing is far easier, requires no clean up, and can often produce more milk than a pump. Just my two cents.

Baby Carriers

There are a ton of great baby carriers out there.  When I had my first, it was the Ergo.  It was great.  I still have it, and still use it when we travel.  Now, the Tula is all the rage.  Its basically the same thing as the Ergo.  They both come in really cute prints and can be used with newborn babies (with an infant insert) or with toddlers.  Baby carriers are really useful when you have a sweet little peanut who just wants to be held all day and you have things to do, or when you’re traveling, shopping, or going for a walk.  I used a carrier a lot with my second when I was food shopping.  My oldest rode in the cart, and the cart was too small to also fit a carseat and my groceries, so I wore the baby.

The Essentials

Here are the other little essentials you’re going to need.

Diapers – Pampers Swaddlers or Baby Dry Diapers are excellent.  But pricey.  Some great alternatives are Luvs and Aldi’s diapers.  They are much cheaper, don’t smell bad when the baby pees in them, and have never caused diaper rash on my little ones.  Just because they work for my kids body shape and skin doesn’t mean that they will for yours, but they are a good starting place.

Wipes – Huggies Natural Care are the gold standard.  Costco wipes are also great.  But Target sensitive skin ones, while a little thinner, are much cheaper and work great.

Bum Cream – Everyone has an opinion on this.  I like Maximum Strength Desitin.  If you’re much more crunchy than I am, you can make a coconut oil and essential oil creation that will not only soothe your baby’s bum, but will also smell great.  One thing that isn’t as common though, is using Vaseline on the baby’s bum when they are first born.  When a baby is born, they typically have their first poops, called meconium.  These are thick, tar like poops that stick to their precious little baby bottoms.  If you put Vaseline on your baby’s bottom every time you change them, it is MUCH easier to get this meconium off of them.

Nose Care – Why is this a category?  Because.  There is nothing scarier, or more sleep disturbing, for a new parent than a baby who is having trouble breathing through their nose.  See, unlike adults, babies can’t breathe through their mouths until they are bigger.  So when a baby has a stuffy nose, it is SUPER disconcerting.  With my third baby, I finally discovered the wonder that is saline nose drops.  They are just salt water, which dissolves mucus.  Put a drop in each nose, and then use a snot sucker or the Nose Frida to suction away the dissolving mucus.  Trust me on this one mamas.  You want to either have these things, or get them as soon as your baby shows signs of a stuffy nose.

Speaking of a Nose Frida, this is what it is.  Its a long tube that you use to literally suck the snot out of your baby’s nose.  Gross, right?  But so effective.  And they have little filters to stop the snot from actually going the whole way up the long tube and into your mouth.  And it is YOUR baby.  So it actually isn’t all that gross.

If you just can’t bring yourself to suck the snot out of your baby’s nose, keep the sucker that they give you in the hospital.  These are the BEST ones.  None of the ones you can buy are going to be as good as the hospital grade one you get.

Thermometer – These temporal artery thermometers are really nice to have for baby.  You don’t have to wake them up to take their temperature (as you can see, I am all about sleep!).  With a new baby, you are always nervous.  Having a good thermometer on hand helps ease some of those nerves.

That’s it!

That is my whole list of what you actually need for a new baby.  Now, once your baby is 6 months old, you may need a few more things.  Some new, developmentally appropriate toys.  A high chair.  And there may be some weather related gear, like a Bundle Me for cold weather.  But this list mostly covers your day to day.

But for now, this is really all you need for your newborn.

If you are like me, you will end up with a lot more things.  But, if I could do it over again, I would stick to these essentials.  As crazy as this short list may sound, you will thank me someday when you are not sorting through PILES and PILES of baby stuff.  You will have everything you need, but nothing you don’t need.  Which is the perfect balance!

Congratulations on your sweet little bundle of joy!

I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Drop me a comment below!

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What You REALLY Need For A Baby

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