Having a baby but want to keep the baby stuff to a minimum? I got you! After having four babies in 5 years, I have learned that babies don't need much!
With that said, every baby and every family has different needs. If you are interested in what other parents deemed necessary, here is a poll where over 500 parents voted on what they thought were absolute must-haves when it comes to baby.
I also conducted another poll with the same group asking if expensive baby items were really worth the price. Read here to see the results!
Please keep in mind the list below is based on my experience and my experience alone. Just one mama sharing her must-have items to another, hoping that it is helpful in some way!
Okay, without further ado, here are my two cents when it comes to having a baby. The list starts with items I think you truly need, then moves to "really helpful items.”
Everything linked is what I purchase for each of my children or have used for every child. Everything I am suggesting has been tried and used in our house for over 6 years now.
They don't have to be fancy. Honest has worked best for my babies in preventing leakage, but I have also had good luck with Pampers. Diapers are an item that requires trial and error. I did cloth diapers with my first, but it became increasingly difficult to keep up with as I had more babies. I'll write more about that soon!
Cloth Diapers: Alva Cloth Diapers. (Seriously the best and easiest if going that route)
The only times my babies didn't get diaper rash was when I used Water Wipes. My husband hates these wipes though, as they aren't as "smooth" when cleaning up poop as they get older. So we ended up doing a mixture of Water Wipes and Honest wipes.
None of the all-natural stuff worked on my babies, and I ended up having to get the tried and tested stuff that moms have been using for generations. Corn starch does help a lot though!
This can be a blanket or a sleep sack. Either way, it is recommended to swaddle baby within the frist few hours and days of their life. Here is why. (Source: Intermountain Healthcare)
I use __this sleep slack__ at night and get bigger ones as they get older. I use these fleece ones for colder months. I love that these sleep sacks can be arms free or arms strapped in. It is also super easy to use! I always get too nervous about the blanket coming undone and posing a risk to the baby. For the times I am awake and near the baby as they sleep, I use these muslin blankets. I have had all my babies during warm weather, and I loved how thin and light these were!
You do not need a nursery! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "It is recommended that infants sleep in the parents' room, close to the parents' bed, but on a separate surface designed for infants, ideally for the first year of life, but at least for the first 6 months.
And that is all I am going to say when it comes to safe sleep. Every baby has different needs when it comes to sleep, and I encourage you to follow your mama intuition when it comes to that!
If you have the space in your home and want a designated area for the baby to sleep during times you are awake, then by all means create a nursery! But you do not NEED one.
If you are thinking about a bassinet, my two cents is, they aren't worth it. HOWEVER, I have never had a c-section and heard the Halo was a lifesaver for those who have had one. All three of my babies have been pretty big (my youngest clocked in at over 10lbs and 21 inches long!) So they would be out of that bassinet in 2 months, haha! If you can fit the crib in your room next to your bed, save yourself some money and use that. (If you are curious to see what parents thought of The Snoo, head here!)
For both bassinet and crib, make sure you are using a firm crib mattress and the sheets fit tightly. No loose blankets, sheets, bumpers, pillows, or stuffed animals should be near the baby. Always do your research when it comes to infant and baby sleep.
When it comes to baby clothes, unless I am getting professional photos done or have an event, I couldn't care less if the item is trendy or not. I dress all my babies in these zip-up Sleep 'N Play pajamas! I get fleece ones for winter and thin ones for summer. I'm not too fond of onesies or anything I have to put over their heads. Unless we are doing family photos or going to a special event, this is what they are in! It makes doctor's appointments so much easier too! Please keep in mind; I live in San Diego, CA. I know nothing about cold weather or dressing your baby for it, especially a newborn! If you live in colder climates, definitely check in with someone else when it comes to dressing your baby.
I am the mom who packs pacifiers in her hospital bag. Yes, I have done my due diligence when researching pacifiers and nipple confusion, but I would cut off my pinky toe before tossing out pacifiers in that first year! These pacifiers have worked the best, and yes, I have tried them all! My babies like the pacifiers with the big ole nipple! Again, please remember this is an opinion piece, and I am just sharing what I think is best based on my personal experience. :) These pacifiers are AMAZING! They are made from ultra-light silicone and by some magic, stay in babies mouths better than any other pacifier as they sleep!
Pacifiers: Silicone Baby Pacifier
Not much to say here; you can't leave the hospital unless it's installed in your car. So if you want to get home, make sure you have the car seat installed. This hospital regulation may vary from state to state but even if you don't have a car, a car seat should be used when taking public transportation. Head over to TheCarSeatLady.com on all things car seat safety!
Please listen to me when I say, "YOU DO NOT NEED AN EXPENSIVE DIAPER BAG!" In fact, you don't need an actual diaper bag at all. In the past I have used my laptop backpack since it has so many compartments. I also use this super cute mini backpack for shorter trips! It holds so much more than you think! I have found that a backpack is better than a one-strap diaper bag, even if it does have a crossbody feature. If you decide to use an actual backpack, don't forget to purchase an on-the-go changing pad! Diaper bags usually come with this.
I debated putting this on the must-have bare-bones list, but it really is a game-changer!
Given I am not a doctor, I do not feel comfortable telling you what type of medicine to have on hand. BUT I will share what I keep on hand when I have a baby. Please always consult with your pediatrician. I have Gas Drops, Gripe Water, & Infant Tylenol on hand and use it under the advice of my child's pediatrician.
This touch free one is the best and will be a lifesaver when your baby hits the toddler stage! There is a reason why this particular one has 5 stars and over a 100k reviews!
Thermometer: No Touch Infared Thermometer
This can be old towels, t-shirts or whatever you have but, the bigger, the better! That spit-up gets everywhere! Some of my babies would projectile spit up at times, so get a cloth to cover the chair as well ;)
Unless you plan on holding your baby in your arms most of the time, you are going to want a way to hold your baby hands-free. I use this wrap when they are infants and this carrier for when they get bigger. I love this wrap because it is durable, washable, and half the price of those fancy designer ones. If you are interested in the designer ones, though, and want to know if they are worth it, check out my post here.
My babies come out with some long fingernails. I try using baby mittens, but babies may like to suck their hands a lot of the time. To prevent scratching, you will need some baby fingernail clippers. However, clipping their nails can be very intimidating so I __use this electric nail file__. The file gets the job done but won't harm or cut baby's skin! After a few months I finally get the courage to clip them the old fashion way and will rotate between the electric file and these baby nail clippers.
You will want something that will cradle your newborn safely. I love this bath since they can use it through their toddler years. This flower bath is adorable and great if you will be giving your baby a bath in the sink. NEVER leave your baby unattended in the tub, even for a second. Please do your research when it comes to baby bath safety.
I debated putting this on the "needs" list but man has this been a game changer for me for all those middle of the night feedings and diaper changes. It is small, portable, rechargeablee, and dims with a tap. See it in action here!
The Best Nightlight: Dimmable Nightlight
Again, I debated putting this on the "needs" list but I think they are extremely helpful in today's world. Babies are used to sounds from being in their mother's womb, so this can help soothe them while drowning out any outside noises. This white noise machine is THE BEST! I have tried so many, and this one is worth every penny because it has an actual fan inside! There is a reason why it has so many positive reviews, and people swear by it. We have one in every bedroom of our house! Please be mindful of the volume of your sound machine and how close it is to your baby.
Unless you are near your baby every time they sleep, you will want a baby monitor. I went old school for my first baby and just used an audio one. I couldn't take not seeing him, so I caved and got one with a camera. It's expensive, but I love that it has an encrypted wireless signal instead of wifi. Why do I not like wifi, you may ask? Well, I saw one too many news stories reporting on wifi baby monitors getting hacked and strangers talking to the baby! Now, of course, I don't know if these people had secure wifi, but either way, it scared me enough not to want to risk it!
Your baby will want something to gnaw on when they hit their teething stage. Something to rub their gums on is an absolute must! I will not be giving my opinion about the Amber Teething necklaces. But I will say after researching them; there have been cases linked to baby deaths due to these necklaces. Please further research this topic if you are thinking about using these.
I didn't list this as a must-have because the amount of use a stroller gets depends on where one lives, how many kids one has, and their day-to-day activities. I have bought a new stroller with each kid because I have had new needs as our family grew. I have heard so many parents rave about the UPPAbaby and the Nuna, but I could not wrap my head around the price! Again, different families have different needs. My Gracos have been great, are priced right, and are just as safe. The higher-end ones look nice and have some great features, but given that my kids aren't huge stroller fans, I am glad I ended up going with a more practical solution.
The first requirement for all my strollers is the infant seat click-in feature. If my baby falls asleep, I want to be able to transfer them from the car to the stroller without disrupting them.
Strollers that I love and use for all my kids that are priced right
You can use your travel pad while at home or get a more permanent changing pad like this one.
Changing Pads: Easy Wipe Down Changing Pad
My favorite swing is this one! Similar to the mamaRoo but more affordable. BUT THIS ONE IS BETTER BECAUSE...the seat can detach and be used as a rocker! Okay, so I can't testify if this is better than the mamaROO because I have never tried the mamaRoo, but I love this swing and how compact it is!
Baby Swing: Swing & Rocker
You don't need to buy a changing table for this; your dresser, desk, or cube storage shelf (this is what I did in our playroom) can work just fine. Just throw a changing pad on there and call it a day. But if none of those furniture options are available to you, then yes, invest in something that makes it easy for you to change your baby cause chances are they won't be potty trained till they are two or three.
Changing Table: Mobile Changing Station
Get one that is washable & easy to wipe down cause your baby will be spitting up on this thing A LOT! Also, I love a big one with some padding that I can just grab and take outside! There are a lot of cute options you can do for this but for me, I like a practical one I can throw in the washing machine and fold away when no longer in use.
Playmat: Large Plush Play Mat
It is excellent for their senses and will entertain them for a few minutes!
This depends on where you live. It can be very dry where we are, so this has come in handy. Be sure to clean it regularly and adequately! I forgot to clean mine and got sick due to what it began to vaporize and emit in the air. It is debatable if essential oils should be used on or diffused near babies, so please research this and ask your pediatrician.
Great for when you're watching TV and want to put the baby down or any other activity where you want/need to put them down but will still be able to watch them. Again, I will not give my opinions about safe sleep and whether or not you should let your baby sleep in these if you are not watching them. Do your research and ask your pediatrician :) I know people swear by the DocATot, but it's crazy expensive! Here is a more affordable option!
Get one that is comfortable to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby in! I listed two options. The first one is a more affordable option that works and looks good. With that said, I just got this glider, and I am in shock at what a difference it has made! One, it is more sturdy, higher off the ground (making it easier for me to get up and down with baby), has a power recline with footrest, built-in charging station, adjustable headrest, and is made of stain-resistant material! I can't believe how comfortable it is, and I wish I had it sooner. The arm supports are much more conducive for feeding as well. The only thing is, it's expensive. However, if you are on your first and know you will have more, I think it would be a wise investment. You will spend A LOT of time in this chair so make sure you are getting something that hits all the marks if possible.
Many mamas use a boppy for this, which is fabulous since a boppy has several other uses. I used this for my first but then this for my second, and it was a game-changer! I could get everything all ready to feed the baby and then just pick them up and feed. With my first, I had to adjust the pillows and boppy every time, all while they got fussy. This one you can wear, making it easy to walk around and breastfeed if need be. Or go to another room in the middle of breastfeeding. The positioning of it made it so much easier to breastfeed as well. I give this to all my mama to be friends!
This is for when they are older and can sit up. Of course, you do not NEED this, but it honestly just gave me peace of mind, especially since they are at the age of putting everything in their mouth!
Also, I want to add that the Diaper Genie isn't worth it! It doesn't work. The smell WILL get out. We bought this trash can that seals, and it works just as well. Plus, it's bigger, and we can use it even when the baby is out of diapers.
Again, this list is based on my experience and my experience alone. Just one mama sharing her must-have items to another, hoping that it is helpful in some way!