My Newborn Essential List

what you really need for your newborn - the practical list of essentialsBecause I was a teacher and my baby wasn’t due until August, I had the whoooooole summer off to contemplate all of the many baby things to buy. And guys, there’s so much. So so much. I pretty much oscillated between being a mommy minimalist and a baby item hoarder. Some days I would wake up determined to buy something that for the past few months I had decided I wouldn’t need. It was a weird mix of consumerism and nesting.

Sometimes I would get stressed wanting to have everything we would need the second we came home from the hospital. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: the stores don’t go away after your baby is home. I would often comfort myself with this fact. With Amazon, any baby item you could want is just a few clicks away and can be on your doorsteps in just a few days. And usually there is a friend or relative that would LOVE to help you out and run to the store if you really need it. So if you find yourself stressing about deciding what you really need, just remember you can always wait and see what your baby is like! We didn’t buy a baby swing and I figured ‘Hey, if our baby is really fussy and we feel like a swing can help, we can always get one!’ Turns out, we didn’t need a swing. But for the next baby, who knows, maybe we’ll get one!

{This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend items I use/love.}

Things you actually need for those first few days

  • Diapers and wipes
  • A couple onesies
  • Bottles and formula if you aren’t breastfeeding
  • Somewhere safe for the baby to sleep
  • Car seat

Like I said, everything else can be purchased later. Look how small that list is! That is nothing. Whew. Let the nesting anxieties subside.

Also, if you’re on a tight budget, don’t forget you can buy used. I went on a craigslist rampage the summer before Cadence was born. I found so many good deals and really exercised my negotiating skills. Most things can be washed/scrubbed and are as good as new. Newborns aren’t quite as rough on their play things as big kids are, so often good condition used is just as nice as brand new. We bought our bouncer, nursing pillow (never used), baby monitor, activity gym, Ergo, and changing pad used (just to name a few…)

Not on the registry. But it should be.

Speaking of running to the store, we ended up doing that with these items. We will definitely have all of these things handy the next time we bring a newborn home. Here are a few things I found so helpful during those first few weeks that you don’t find on most registries:

  • Exercise Ball – Okay, so we didn’t actually purchase this with the intention of using it for our baby, but for labor (which I did like using during labor, for the record). But it turned out, bouncing on the ball was one of the few ways to calm fussy newborn Cadence. Maybe it was because I bounced on it so much when I was pregnant with her? I’m not sure. But I have several other friends who also have found the exercise ball helpful in calming their baby. Cadence still likes being bounced to sleep on it today as a one year old.
  • Nightlight – For those middle of the night feedings and diaper changes where you need a little light but don’t want to make your baby think it’s time to be awake. We liked using these push lights because we could just stick them wherever we needed them.
  • Book light – Along a similar vein of thought as the nightlight, you don’t want to give your brain the wrong idea at night with the amount of light you have. It was SO FRUSTRATING to not be able to fall back asleep after nighttime nursings when I knew I was operating on little sleep already. I usually found that when I looked at my phone during middle of the night nursing sessions, I had a harder time falling asleep. Once I switched to using a book light to read instead, I had a much easier time. Although reading did make me 6000x more likely to fall asleep during the nursing session. But hey, at least I was sleeping.
  • Water bottle – There are lots of reasons drinking lots of water is good for your after having a baby. In the few days after delivery you are encouraged to use the bathroom very frequently; obviously you have to be constantly filling your bladder if you’re going to make that happen. Drinking plenty of water is also really important for breastfeeding and your overall health. I’d suggest getting a couple water bottles that you can fill all at once and have ready to go in the fridge. (Anyone else out there a lazy bum like me and sometimes drink less water because it takes too long to fill up your water bottle? #confessions) I find I drink water more often from bottles with a straw. Treat yourself to a cute one that makes you feel like the hydrated queen you are.

Nice-to-have list

Okay, now if you want to go a little bit beyond the basics, here is a list of other non-necessity, but still semi-minimalist baby items for those first few months:

  • A safe place for baby to hang out when you shower/cook/eat/etc. Swings, bouncers, activity gyms, and just plain old blankets on the floor all can meet this need.
  • A carrier. There are so many wraps and slings out there, there are plenty to choose from. We used a Boba wrap and loved it (it’s also mainstream enough that it can be easy to buy used). I found the wrap so helpful to getting tasks done when my baby needed snuggles, both out home and out and about. Plus, there’s lots of research that suggests many benefits of babywearing. I opted to use a wrap instead of a stroller the first few months, but strollers obviously work too.
  • Thermometer – You never know when exactly you’ll need to use this, so it can be reassuring to have one ready to go. It doesn’t hurt to own two, that way one can be used exclusively for rectal temps (oh the joys of parenthood). After you baby is 2 months old it can also be helpful to keep infant Tylenol on hand.
  • Baby bath stuff – Most people use baby baths, so I can say this is a safe one to add to the list. But to tell you the truth, we used our baby bath once and then found it way easier to just lay our little newborn flat in the tub with a tiny bit of water. But hey, baby baths are cool too. You will probably want some baby wash, baby towels (because they’re just too darn cute to pass up), and baby wash cloths.
  • A nice place to feed baby. This will be a primary activity for the next few months, so it can be nice to have a comfy rocker or chair to feed baby. An IKEA rocker did the trick for us, but there are lots of options out there. Also, your bed with lots of fluffy pillows will work too. If you’re breastfeeding I highly recommend a nursing pillow. I loved my My Breast Friend.
  • Somewhere to change baby’s diaper. This could be a changing table, a changing pad on a dresser, or just a towel (or one of these things) on the floor. If you have a two story house you might find it convenient to set up a diaper changing spot on both floors.
  • Baby clothes and blankets are obviously kinda necessary, especially depending on the season. Try not to go overboard in this department, though, because this is a typical category for baby gifts. Buy a few things that bring you joy and then wait to fill in any holes after baby and gifts have arrived and you really know what you need. Plus, maybe your baby will be huge and not wear newborn clothes. Or maybe your baby will surprise you and wear newborn clothes for 4+ months (I’m looking at you, Cadence).
  • Pacifier even if you’re planning on holding out to avoid nipple confusion. Desperate times call for desperate needs, people.

So yes. There are a thousand other things people/the internet/your heart will tell you that you need. Do you really need them? Most likely not. People all over the world raise babies without most of the stuff I just listed. Should you buy them anyways? Sure. There’s no judgement here. If you want to spend thousands of dollars on a stroller, go for it. If you want to own a newborn outfit in every shade of every color of the rainbow, awesome. But if you’re stressing out about money being tight or feeling overwhelmed with a bursting shopping list, my advice is to take a deep breath and relax. But hey, what do you think? Are there any other baby items you would put on your must-have list? Or any things you thought were must-haves, but turned out to never use? I (and probably lots of other mama readers) would love to hear in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “My Newborn Essential List

  1. Shannon says:

    This ended up being my stash of “before you’re born” items:

    Clothing
    Cloth diapers/wipes
    ubbie diaper pail/diaper sprayer (the sprayer I felt was a splurge, but I like putting diapers in the pail without sitting pee or poo. Our pail is next to our toilet so it works for us.)

    My mother gifted us 8 packs of the gerber flat cloth diapers. They are like flour sack towels. They are amazing and I will recommend them to anyone. Versatile. And inexpensive.

    Receiving blankets (great because you can cut them up and use as burp rags and cloths when you don’t want to use them anymore.

    Travel wet bag for diapers

    Travel changing clutch (one you can open with 1 hand for possible public bathrooms)

    Almond oil (instead of baby powder/diaper cream)

    Castile soap (cut with water for bath soap, water and tea tree oil for wipe spray)

    We mix between pumped bottles and Breast feeding…
    Breast pump (you can order through Medela and enter your insurance info, only pay for shipping. Most ins. Companies will cover this.)
    Bottles (4oz evenflow glass bottles from amazon, don’t like plastic)
    Slow flow nipple and travel caps
    Milk storage bags

    Crib
    Dresser
    Glider
    Lounger style boppy
    Pack and play
    Infant car seat
    Stroller (we frequent the park)
    Baby katan wrap (it’s like two infinity scarves so it’s way easier to put on by yourself)

    After the baby came we ended up getting:

    Standard boppy ( had an emergency c section and this was a lifesaver in the first few weeks.)

    A rocker that vibrates (she wouldn’t sleep and my husband rushed out for any solutiom. She loves this )

    Pacifiers (I could have cried from the joy this brought me. She was only a week old, but she will spit it out when she actually wants food instead of comfort suckling.)

    Bottle warmer (Dr browns warmer $30 on amazon, worth it for not having to get out of bed to warm up a bottle in those early weeks.

    That is the jist of it.
    Ask for these things at yout baby shower!!!!!!!!!
    Different things work for every family though, beyond the obvious needs I would totally recommend the pack and play and the boppy especially if you have a c section. Buy as you need it after the baby comes, resist the stressing nesting urge!!!!

    Like

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