Every single person who has had a baby (so…billions of people) can create a list of “must have baby items,” and all of those lists will be slightly different. Why? We’re all sharing what worked specifically for ourselves, not necessarily what will work for you! So take everything with a grain of salt, and remember that just because someone swears by a certain wrap/carrier/bassinet, you and your baby might be different. That being said, I’m going to have a candid girlfriend-to-girlfriend chat with you today and share my ideas of minimalist essentials for newborn stage.
A bit about me (so you can decide if this list is even something you want to take into consideration): I’m someone who kind of hates shopping, I don’t enjoy spending money on stuff that I’ll only use for the short term (I love saving and dreaming of long term investment pieces!), and I’m not super into the society of consumers that is the US of A. So my list of baby essentials is short.
If you’re someone who absolutely loves clothes and decor and shopping, and you’ve been dreaming of this motherhood stage forreeeeverrr and you want to buy all the things, that’s great too! But this list probably won’t be helpful for you. (Or it might just be a jumping off point.)
While every influencer and mommy blogger and pregnancy website will share “must have baby items,” they’re all going to be a bit different based on the writer’s experience. (Preemie baby or born on time? Trouble breastfeeding or easy journey? Upper class family with lots of disposable income, or minimum wage mama trying to make ends meet?) So again, please listen to your own inner voice and don’t get overwhelmed by everyone telling you to buy “more more more!” You really don’t need a lot to be safe and comfortable for the first few weeks home from the hospital.
As you and your baby get to know one another, you can gradually invest in more items that you feel might be helpful for you. But here are my minimalist essentials that help me get through those first few (sleepless and snuggly!) weeks:
Minimalist essentials for newborn stage - baby
An infant carrier. This is one of the only 100% necessary, must-have baby items because the hospital won’t let you leave without one. 😉 There are a trillion of them on the market, and you can choose based on what’s most important to you (weight/safety/price, or part of a stroller system you might be buying.) We’re going with the Mesa carseat since it fits with our UppaBaby stroller system.
Diapers and wipes. Disposable or reusable, you get to choose! I decided to get a stash of newborn disposable diapers to get me through the first month before deciding on a diaper brand. I’ve ended up using Rascal and Friends diapers and wipes now for almost two years – softest diapers I’ve found, very affordable, and free 2-day delivery from Walmart. You can compare all the pricing here.
A safe place for baby to sleep. I’ve shared my love for the SNOO smart sleeper before, and it still is my favorite baby item. Like I mentioned before, every mom and baby is different, so what works for me might not work for you. But I can wholeheartedly say that this bassinet helped Milo sleep in longer stretches than before we had it.
I know it’s sooo expensive (nearly $1600 now with tax – ugh!), so if you’re interested in trying it, I recommend renting it for about two months to get through the first stretch of sleepless nights. It’s $149/month to rent, and you can request to have it delivered at your due date so you’re not paying for it before you need it. You can read my real and honest review of the SNOO here.
A few soft newborn clothes. I’ve found that this is the #1 thing that friends and family enjoy gifting, so I only buy a few basic necessities: some Gerber soft white onesies with snaps, and a few soft sleepers with zippers. The 0-3 month size is too big for most babies, and those newborn onesies are great to have on hand. Your little one will grow out of them in about a month, so don’t worry about investing in too many things!
Burp cloths. You’ll use these for the entire first year, and they’re super cheap. I just bought a bunch of these. (But for real…literally any burp cloths will work.)
Toiletries. You don’t need a lot at the beginning! A tube of Budreaux’s butt paste, a gentle cleanser for baby’s first bath, and that’s about it! The hospital provides a thermometer and pacifier (we later switched to this pacifier, but again, it took some time to figure out what Milo did/didn’t like), and then we figured out more toiletries later in the game. But for newborn stage, you don’t need a lot.
A stroller. Ok, I’m putting the UppaBaby Vista stroller in the same category as the SNOO: things I want to hate, but I actually love. The UppaBaby is a super expensive stroller system that was gifted to us, and we have LOVED it. It’s the Cadillac of strollers. I have walked hundreds of miles with Milo in it, and it has transitioned beautifully from newborn stage to toddler years. We took it to the UK with us and it has been all over Austin. It’s incredibly easy to push, fold, store, clean…it’s basically perfect.
That being said…if it’s not in your budget, or you don’t have someone in your life who is likely to gift it to you, any stroller that rolls is good! I just found it to be very helpful at the beginning.
Must Have Postpartum Items For Mama
Some cheap nursing bras. Listen…most mamas are going to leak at the beginning, these bras will get stretched out, and it’s just not worth it to invest in super expensive nursing bras until you figure out what type of breastfeeding journey yours might be. I love this 3-pack for wearing at night ($17.99 for 3 bras) and then this 5-pack of comfy wire-free nursing bras during the day when I want a little more support ($32.99 for 5 bras). There are some beautifully designed (and expensive) nursing bras that you’ll probably want to buy later on if you have a long breastfeeding journey, but you don’t need them at the beginning.
Nursing pads. Another must-have item from my breastfeeding journey. I leaked a bunch at the beginning and so I would sleep with these tucked into one of the nighttime nursing bras. I bought disposable ones at first, then I quickly realized it’s a lot cheaper to get the reusable ones.
A giant soft robe. I know that moms on instagram are rocking dozens of pairs of adorable (and clean! ha!) pajamas, but that was not my reality. While my body was healing and I could hardly walk to the bathroom without help, I loved having this huge (cheap!) fluffy robe to throw on when I needed to move around. I went to Target and got this one two sizes up and basically lived in it for a month. This is not something to splurge on, because it’s going to get covered in all sorts of bodily fluids from both you and your newborn…
Easy snacks. My postpartum body was STARVING all the time! Breastfeeding made me ravenous. I loved having things like lactation cookies, trail mix, pre-cut fruit, and energy bars on hand. There were many times that I’d wake for a 3 am feeding and breastfeed Milo with one arm while stuffing chocolate covered almonds into my mouth with the other.
A large drinking vessel with a straw. This is one of my top suggestions to new mamas! It takes so much hydration to produce breast milk and you might find yourself thirsty 24/7. (I was!) I liked having a large tumbler with a straw so I could drink water without tilting my head back and accidentally spilling on Milo. My Yeti Rambler 30 oz with the additional straw attachment was my favorite thing because it kept water ice cold all night.
This night light. This Vava Night Light is the only sort of “extra” thing I have on this minimalist list, but it was truly so wonderful to have in the hospital! Hospital lights are harsh and the switches are hard to find, and you’ll be awake every 2 hours for meds or feeding or checking vital signs. This light turns on by tapping the top, and it’s dimmable by resting your hand on top. I used it for the first 4 months at home when I was awake for nighttime feedings, and we still use it in Milo’s toddler nursery while reading his bedtime books.
PS: I bought it on Amazon before Milo was born, but it looks like they’re not selling it on Amazon anymore. If you want to use that Prime shipping, this night light is basically the same thing.
(Actually, Nate also used this when he was hospitalized for 3 weeks after his car crash! Hospital lights are just the worst, ha. Could be a very thoughtful gift idea if you want to drop off a care package for someone who is in the hospital for any reason!)
Postpartum healing stuff. Y’all, I’ll just be totally honest: I got everything from the hospital! I just asked my nurse if I could take some of it home, and I didn’t really buy anything! However, a lot of moms swear by the Frida Postpartum Recovery Kit. It’s about $50, but I just decided to save that money and take what I needed from the hospital. 😉 The hospital provided disposable underwear, giant pads, witch hazel pads, peri bottle, sitz bath…all I had to do was ask for it. Ha! I did end up buying more pads later (everyone recovers for a different amount of time, so it’s tough to say what size/quantity you might need), but just rest assured that if you haven’t spent hundreds of dollars on postpartum items, you’ll still be ok. This is a highly personal section depending on your own birth experience (vaginal versus c section) and how your body responds. You can always send your support person to a 24/7 pharmacy if you find that you really need more of one certain item.
Stuff You Don't Need...At Least Not Right Away
You could totally buy/register for this stuff before baby arrives, but these are all the things that I found I either didn’t use at all, or I bought and found out Milo wanted a different brand/style.
Glider/rocker. They look so adorable in staged nursery pictures, but I fed Milo from my bed for the first month! This is a wonderful thing to have in the later months, but I didn’t use it in the very beginning newborn stage. The bed/couch worked fine.
A Snuggle Me or Dock A Tot. Again, this goes under the category of “different for everyone,” so your baby might love it! But we had a $100 Snuggle Me for Milo, and he was just as happy being swaddled and resting on a blanket on the floor. We used it because we had it (he’s resting in it in the photo above), but we would have been totally fine without it.
Tons of swings/bouncers. See paragraph above. You’ll find out what your baby wants eventually, but you don’t have to have these at the beginning.
Bottles. I bought a ton of them that we never used. Every baby is different, so don’t mess with investing in too many at the beginning until you can try them out.
A boppy nursing pillow. There are two main nursing pillows on the market: My Breast Friend, and The Boppy. Both have great reviews, but it’s really a personal preference! I ended up just using a regular bed pillow or couch pillow. You could definitely wait to see what sort of feeder your baby is, and then invest in a breastfeeding pillow later if you feel like you need it.
Tons of toys and books. These will show up by the multitude (I promise!) and your house will be full of toys before you know it. You really don’t need toys for a 4-day-old baby.
A fancy changing station. Again, they look cute in the nursery, but you don’t need to spend a lot on this if you don’t want to. There are so many expensive changing pads out there (cute colors! different shapes! changing pads that weigh your infant!) and I’m here to tell you that the cheapest one will work. They all get covered in poop anyway…
All of the balms/oils/lotions for baby and mama. I know that they’re listed on most hospital bag packing lists, but just remember that every mama is different! I recommend packing the stuff you typically use (do you keep chapstick on your night stand? pack that! do you typically sleep with a sleep mask? then it’s obviously an item you should pack), but don’t worry about buying all of the lip masks and nipple creams and fancy silk sleep masks that say “mama” on them just because someone has it one her hospital packing list. Remember: Target is open every day and carries all this stuff, so if you get to the hospital and wish you had something, text a friend to go buy it for you and they can drop it off at the hospital entrance, and someone will bring it to your room.
The main thing I want to reiterate is that every single mama has an intuition about what is best for her baby, but that intuition might take a little while to grow stronger and louder. So at the beginning, it’s a-ok to only buy a few essentials. You’ll know what to buy later as you get to know your baby, but you don’t need to buy EVERYTHING that everyone tells you to get at the beginning.
No stress, mama. You got this!