The things newborns need are not always obvious!
Are you expecting a new baby and feeling overwhelmed? It’s hard to know for sure what things newborns need when there’s this gigantic baby product industry, all very convincing that you need what they have.
Add a cute nautical print and I’m even more torn! Have you been there?!
Well, take it from this practical momma! I’ve been there, done that, and asked a few friends and family members to chime in as well. Here are the very basic things newborns need, plus what you should skip and why.
A Few General Tips
- Quantities will depend on your laundry situation. If you have a washer and dryer in your home, you can always throw in a quick load. (Whether you want to or not is a different story to consider.) If you use a laundromat, you’ll want to have enough of everything to buy some time.
- Keep everything as compact and portable as possible. We chose a baby swing with an extra-wide base, making it difficult to move around our home and impossible to take with us.
- Don’t start something you don’t want to do forever. If your baby has a heated changing pad and a wipe warmer at home, they may expect the same other places or several years into the future. It’s not that those little comforts are bad things, but that habits are haaaaard to break with babies. Just consider that before you start one.
- Make the most of registry benefits. For example, anything registered for and purchased through a Target baby registry can be returned or exchanged up to one year from your due date. That’s hugely helpful when you’re not quite sure what your baby wants or needs just yet.
- Crib. I guess you could buy a $2000+ mid-century crib if you’d like, but there are a lot of nearly-as-cool cribs out there for a helluva lot less! Keep it simple and clean, traditional, or modern on the cheap.
- Mattress. Your baby doesn’t need a Tempurpedic. Heck, Finnish babies sleep in cardboard boxes! Buy a crib mattress that’s waterproof and you won’t have to buy a waterproof mattress cover.
- Dresser. You’ll want a place to keep clothes, swaddles, sheets, and more. Opt for a dresser that’s changing height, and you can skip the changing table altogether (see below). This one comes with child safety anchors.
- Chair. You’ll want a comfortable place to feed your baby and though not necessary, a seat that rocks or glides is especially helpful for putting them back to sleep. This was our biggest nursery splurge! We wanted something that would grow with our child, and this double-wide rocker is now our 5-year-old’s favorite place to read books with her great-grandmother.
- Hamper. You can throw dirty onesies and burp cloths into a cute nursery hamper or a basic bin. But you’ll be thankful to have somewhere nearby to throw them, instead of walking dirty things to another room.
- Skip the changing table! Instead, use a changing pad on top of the dresser. Then you’re not left with a useless piece of furniture when your baby’s out of diapers. Choose a changing pad that’s waterproof and open on both ends to give your baby plenty of room to grow. Although I’ve changed many a diaper without a changing pad cover, you can pick up a 2-pack of super cute jersey-knit covers on the cheap. If you opt for the dresser/changing pad route, a hanging organizer for diapers and wipes will help to avoid your little one kicking things off of the dresser.
- Skip the bouncer/swing until you know your baby’s preferences. Some babies hate swings or bouncers, or both! Some moms find out they prefer to wear their baby. I know several parents who have spent hundreds on a mamaRoo to only use it once or twice. Take your little one to a baby store to try out a swing or bouncer before investing in one.
- Onesies. The more you have, the less often you’ll have to do laundry. Outfits are cute but a pain when you’re changing their clothes every three minutes. (Hello, spit-up and poop!) Plus, family and friends will likely buy you plenty of outfits. Sleepers are a pain, too, and not necessary for a comfortable night’s rest.
- Skip the no-scratch mittens. The hospital will likely send you home with a pair, and your baby might not even need them (ours didn’t).
- All the burp cloths in all the world. You’ll use them all day to catch milk, drool, spit-up, and more. It’s best to look for those that are large and super absorbent.
- Swaddle blankets. Before you go investing in expensive sleep sacks that your baby may or may not like, give the standard swaddle a go! They’re super versatile, so you can use them all day and not just for sleeping.
- Two to three fitted crib sheets. You’ll understand the value of backup sheets when you’re cleaning up poop at 2 AM.
- Skip the blanket for a while, or tuck it in tightly so that your baby can’t pull it up. Experts recommend no loose blankets in the crib to lower the risk of SIDS.
You may plan to breastfeed exclusively or pump for the first year, but many people find that their babies or bodies have other plans. You might plan on using the latest and greatest bottles but find that your baby refuses them. I personally suggest not stocking up on 10 million of any feeding supplies until you’ve established a regular feeding schedule and know what your baby needs and prefers.
- Back-up formula, even if you plan to breastfeed. You don’t need a lot, but having just one can of backup food that doesn’t require a trip to the store might just be a lifesaver one day when you’re deep in the newborn trenches.
- A two or three-pack of bottles. Do not stock up on 20 of one brand or kind of bottle until you know what works best for your baby.
- Skip a fancy breast pump and nursing pillow until your baby is latched and breastfeeding well. I have lots of friends who invested hundreds in breastfeeding supplies only to find that breastfeeding just didn’t work for them. Opt for what your insurance covers, borrow from a friend, or find a cheap manual pump with killer reviews until you know the situation better.
- Skip the bottle sterilizer and warmer. They’re just not necessary. But if you can’t resist, opt for a fantastic sterilizer under $20 or a warmer that does double duty as a sterilizer.
P.S. Want a printable checklist of everything you’ll need for your baby, with handy notes and room for additions? Click HERE to download our ultimate list of basics for free!
- Diapers and wipes in a few different brands and sizes. Again, you don’t know what works best for your baby until you know. I had lots of friends swear by Honest diapers, but they did nothing but leak for my daughter. I swore that Pampers tripled in size to contain overnight wetting, but my friend didn’t experience the same with that brand. Buy a pack or two in the next size up, too, in case your baby shows up on the scene bigger than expected or grows like a weed.
- Butt paste. Although we never needed it much, it’s wise to have a tube on hand whenever you do.
- Diaper pail. Some may disagree, but I loved having a convenient place to contain the stink until I was ready to walk diapers to the trash outside. This one doesn’t require buying special bags, which will save you hundreds over your first few years.
- Infant hygiene kit. A cheap kit like this one will knock out your need for a hairbrush, thermometer, nail clippers, and more in one fell swoop. Bam!
- Nosefrida for booger duty. Can I be honest with you? I nearly puked at the thought of using this thing for the first time. But it has been 10 million times more effective than a bulb syringe and saved us on many a sleepless night. The filter will keep you from sucking anything but air into your mouth, I promise! Pick up some saline drops to make the whole job easier.
- Baby bathtub. While not necessary, these make it way easier to bathe your baby! If you buy one that fills with water, you can avoid filling an entire adult bathtub to wash a six-pound human. Snag one that converts from a newborn to toddler bath and you’ll be covered for years!
- Soap. Babies don’t usually need a separate shampoo. We liked a soap with a lavender scent to make for a more calming bedtime routine.
- Lotion. Any mild lotion will do, but darn it, we were keeping all things calming—all the time.
- Skip the gripe water and any medications. Most doctors will tell you to avoid giving medication to newborns, and if/when they start suggesting them, they will be very specific about what to get. As for gripe water, you may or may not even need it, or your doctor may not recommend it.
- Skip the pacifiers. Again, some may disagree! But the hospital will send you home with several, and you might not even need them. Our daughter really never took to a pacifier, leaving us with three different varieties of pacifiers that we had already unpackaged and washed for her use.
- Video baby monitor if your baby won’t be sleeping in your room. I know, I know. People lived without baby monitors for 10 million years. But I personally got better sleep being able to view my baby on demand. You can go the traditional route or opt for a Nest Cam like we did, to view your baby on your smartphone.
- Skip the sound machine. This is another thing that you can’t be sure your baby will use. If running water or the bathroom fan seems to calm them, then go out and look into a sound machine.
- Car seat/stroller combo. This is an area people tend to spend lots, all in the name of safety. But believe it or not, we snagged this highly-rated car seat/stroller travel system for $159 at Walmart! We loved that the tires were rubber instead of plastic, making them perfect for every terrain.
- Diaper bag. Whether you go the more stylish route or the bag-daddy-won’t-mind-carrying route, the key here is finding a bag with lots of pockets, easy-access wipes, and an insulated section for bottles. Bonus points if you can wear it like a backpack to free up your hands!
- Pack ’n play if, and only if, you plan on being away from your home relatively often. You’ll want a safe place for your baby to sleep while away from home. We didn’t leave home much or long while our daughter was small. So we got away with borrowing them from hotels (many hotels will leave one in your room at your request) and occasionally from an aunt.
It is easy to spend thousands preparing for a new baby, but newborns actually need very few things. And thanks to the internet, you can find most of those things for a reasonable price!
What newborns need most is a loving parent. You’ve got that part down! The rest is just frosting, momma!
*We promise not to sell your address or spam you with emails. That’s just not cool! Unsubscribe at any time.
P.S. Want to make shopping even easier? Check out our Newborn Essentials ideas list on Amazon here!
*Updated April 21, 2021.
Disclosure: While all opinions are our own, we are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other affiliate advertising programs, designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites, at no additional cost to you.