One of the most common questions I see new moms asking is what in the world do I need to keep a tiny human happy, healthy, and alive? I know that I, personally, read nearly every single one of these articles that exists on the internet, trying to put together the perfect registry. We don’t want to buy things we don’t need, but it’s hard to know what you’ll actually use and what’s just marketing.
No worries, momma. I got you.
The truth is, you need very little. There are only 25 items on my list, and half of them aren’t technically ESSENTIALS. Really, all your baby needs is somewhere safe to sleep, something to keep her warm, and something to poop in. Everything else is extra. So, for our purposes today, let’s define “essentials” as the things that we used every single day. Yes, we could have made do without many of these things… but I wouldn’t have WANTED to. Everything listed below served us well, and I hope it helps you as you decide what you’d like to purchase and what you’re going to skip.
Our baby slept in this at night near our bed for the first 6 months of her life. I loved having her nearby, and I loved that this bassinet is non-toxic, has legs that can rock the bassinet like a cradle (or not, if you don’t want it to rock), and when you’re done with the bassinet feature, it converts to a regular play pen/travel crib that we’ll be able to use for travel forever (since the mattress sits on the floor, there is no weight limit).
I think letting M nap in the snuggle me helped her to nap longer, since she couldn’t flail around and wake herself up. I liked that I could feel safe about letting her nap on the bed in this during the day, although I never let her sleep in it when I wasn’t nearby. I never let M sleep in the snuggle me overnight because I wanted her on a flat surface from day one, but it was common for her to wake up around 5 or 6 am when she was super little, and she’d usually go back to sleep for another couple of hours if I fed her and put her in this. So that’s a win.
I also used the snuggle me to put her on the kitchen counter or table while I was cooking meals so she could watch and I didn’t have to worry about her going anywhere.
I will say, though, that right around 3 months, M no longer wanted to be contained and would start to cry anytime I put her in this. She also stopped napping in it fairly early on because I didn’t want her to become dependent on it. So, it was a short lived product for us, but I do believe it was essential during those early days and helped us to not need any other rockers/bouncers/baby containers.
We struggled with swaddles until we found this one. I never learned how to wrap a real swaddle blanket in a way that she couldn’t escape, and she seemed to hate having her arms trapped against her body. We went through a phase where she slept best completely un-swaddled, and during that phase, I noticed that she always slept with her hands up by her face. The love to dream swaddle allows a baby to sleep with their arms up, and once we put her in this she started sleeping MUCH better. She seemed much more comfortable, but it contained her little arms so her startle reflex didn’t wake her up. I was SUPER nervous that she’d never sleep again once she started rolling and we had to take her out of this, but we got the transitional version of this and took one arm out at a time and it was truly painless. She actually still sleeps in this at 9 months old, since it’s basically just a sleep sack when you take the arms off.
I don’t remember using a sound machine much for the first month or two because she slept constantly no matter what, but I do believe we used it from the beginning overnight… mostly so her rolling around wouldn’t wake Lucas and I. I liked that it has a light that I could turn on when feeding her in the middle of the night, and now that she’s older, we use this thing all day long. I’m so glad I got it before she was born and was able to use it from the beginning.
(There’s a new version of this out now – the plus. I’d get that one if I were you since it has several new features.)
Because peace of mind. I’m aware that many professionals recommend skipping this because there’s the possibility that a monitor is going to encourage reckless behavior and unsafe habits since the monitor will alert you if there’s a problem. But we didn’t treat it like that at all. We still practiced all of the safe sleep habits (flat surface, empty crib) AND we used a monitor while we were sleeping. It honestly gave us so much more peace of mind; I know for a fact that I would have stared at my baby constantly in the beginning to check if she was still breathing, so it was comforting to be able to look at an app and see that she was without getting out of bed. This was especially helpful when she started sleeping longer stretches and I’d wake up in the middle of the night terrified because it had been 6 hours and she hadn’t woken up. The owlet was like, relax. she’s okay. go back to sleep.
And that was pretty amazing.
(Now that she’s older, I don’t worry as much, but she still wears it because I like that it also tracks her sleep and I know how many times she woke up in the middle of the night. This is not crucial information, but I still like to have it.)
This was the biggest splurge of our baby-buying-spree, and I’m so glad we decided to get it. I really wanted something non-toxic since I was going to be sitting in it so much, and the power reclining feature was so so so nice for all of the hours I spent in this thing with a baby sleeping on my chest. Also, I originally thought that having a USB port for phone charging was kind of frivolous, but I used it way more than I expected. This was/is pretty much the only place in our home that I nurse M, so even 9 months later, I still use it constantly.
Any ‘ol crib will do; now a days everything sold has to meet strict safety regulations. I picked this one because I loved the old fashioned style.
While I wasn’t picky about the crib, I was very particular about the mattress that baby girl would be spending 15 hours a day laying on. It was important to me that it was non-toxic, but what sold me on the Newton was the fact that it’s completely breathable. You can completely bury your face in it and still breathe just fine, and every time I turn on the monitor and see M face planted into the crib, it makes me feel better to know that she’s breathing just fine.
Muslin works best with the Newton because it’s also thin and breathable; it wouldn’t make sense to buy a thick cotton sheet and cancel out the whole reason I bought a breathable mattress to begin with.
This is the only thing that M wore for the first few months of her life. Like pretty sure we only changed her clothes if she got them dirty or I realized Oh hey it’s been three days and you’re still wearing the same thing. Let’s take this gray onesie off of you and change you into another identical gray onesie because hygiene. We bought these from moon and back and they were AMAZING. So soft. And the kimono style was best because I was terrified to pull anything over her tiny little head and hurt her little neck. I didn’t dress her in a real, pull-over style onesie until she was at least 4 months old.
When we left the house, we added pants to said gray onesie. Done and done. These are the ones that I bought, but if I were to do it again, I’d do the essential leggings from Jamie Kay. As M got older, we transitioned and only buy clothing from Jamie Kay because, in my opinion, they’re the best of the best. I just didn’t know that then.
9 months in and she still doesn’t own a single pair of socks. These were perfect to keep her little feet warm and impossible to kick off.
For the newborn stage, I wouldn’t say these were a complete NECESSITY because she mostly slept in the aforementioned gray onesie. I found that her little feet wouldn’t stay in the zip up sleepers until she was a little bit bigger. However, M was born in the winter, so I did like putting a footed sleeper on her when she started being awake a little longer and was playing on the floor/existing places other than her bassinet because it was cold and I felt like these kept her a little warmer. Our house was warm, though, and she didn’t go out into the elements for extended periods of time when she was super little, so for the most part the gray onesie was sufficient.
Before M was born, I was SUPER excited to cloth diaper. We never did it 100% of the time (we still used disposables when we were out and at night time), but it was very easy when she was a newborn to keep up with it while we were home. I was worried it would take too much time or be too difficult, but during the newborn stage, it’s literally just as easy as changing a disposable diaper – you just do an extra load of laundry every couple of days. I bought a bunch of different brands to see what would work best for us, which could honestly be a post in and of itself. But the TL;DR – My favorite for her awake times were the newborn diapers from BumGenius, and my favorite while she napped was these from Blueberry. I questioned whether it would be worth it to buy newborn specific diapers, but she wore most of her stash until she was almost 6 months old. Your mileage may vary, but it worked great for us.
I will say, though – once she started eating real food and the washing process became more difficult, we switched to traditional diapers because we didn’t have time to deal with the extra upkeep. But for those first 6 months, cloth diapers were truly just as easy as disposable.
I wouldn’t say this is a necessity if you’re using disposables, but it’s a crucial part of our cloth routine. I stuck a reusable wet bag in the diaper pail and all of her diapers went straight in here. Once full, the thing (bag and all) went straight in the washer and came out clean a few hours later. Honestly, it was no harder than using disposables and there was very little exposure to the substances contained in said diapers.
Super easy to use when using cloth diapers because you just toss them in the pail with the diapers and wash everything together.
Again, this is 100% not a necessity if you’re using disposables, but it was integral to making cloth diapers easy. I put her wipes in the wipe warmer, dumped some water on top, and boom. Always moist and ready to go wipes when you need them. I know that some people spray each wipe with a solution as they go, but that just seemed like too much work to me. I knew if I was going to stick with using cloth diapers, it had to be easy. And this was a breeze.
For the newborn stage, we just changed M on the bathroom counter on one of these. I liked that I could change her anywhere, and I always had one in her diaper bag for on the go changes as well. Even though we have a real changing pad now, we still use these on top of it because it’s easy to throw it in the washer if it gets dirty, and I think they’re still handy to keep in the diaper bag.
Speaking of, you’ll probably want something to contain baby’s things if you plan to ever leave the house. I debated buying a designer bag, but decided I’d just use a backpack I already owned to start with, and upgrade if I felt I needed to. Turns out, any old bag will do. I’m honestly not sure what people keep in those giant diaper bags, but all that is in mine is a few diapers, wipes, a burp cloth (that’s actually just a cloth wipe – we used those for everything) for messes, an extra onesie, a muslin swaddle blanket to use as a nursing cover, and my solly wrap. Like what else do you need, especially in the newborn stage when they basically do nothing but eat and sleep?
The solly is my favorite favorite favorite baby carrying method, especially for the newborn stage. It was the only way I carried her when she was a newborn. It’s super light, easy to throw into a bag, and having your baby all cuddled up on your chest is the best. The only downside to baby wearing is that having a baby attached to you is a little bit of exercise, but honestly, having 8 extra pounds strapped to me was nothing compared to being pregnant. 🙂
In all seriousness, we held off on buying a stroller, and I’m really glad that we did. We wouldn’t have used it because the solly wrap is just that amazing.
Continuing on with our untraditional and minimalist choices, we decided not to get an infant car seat and I never regretted it. I know it’s convenient to be able to pop that sleeping baby out of the car without disturbing them, but I was adamant that my child would spend as little time in containers as possible, so I didn’t want her sleeping for extended periods of time in the car seat. Plus, she’s always done this crazy thing where the second she senses us arriving at our destination, her eyes fly open. Not sure how she does it, but it’s truly impressive.
Anyway, it was no trouble for me to get her out of the carseat, pop her in the wrap, and be on our way. I loved not being weighed down by lugging around a car seat, and she had no problem sleeping in the wrap instead.
If this is something you’re planning on doing, keep reading. If not, no worries. Just skip it. 🙂
Ya’ll. The first few weeks of M’s life were rough in this area. Like take it one day at a time kind of rough. But I’m 100% convinced that this pillow was the reason we were able to figure things out and be successful. I preferred this pillow over the boppy because it’s flat and stable, so it was easier for me to get her in the right position and not have to worry about holding her in the right place while also trying to get her to latch on correctly. We don’t need this anymore, but I still use it when we’re at home because it just makes everything so much easier and more comfortable.
Essential essential essential for those early days. Just trust me.
The one linked is what I ended up liking, but you’re probably going to try them all and decide for yourself anyway. You do what works best for you, but you’re going to want something with easy access.
Whether or not this is an essential will depend on you, but you probably want to get something just in case. Because this is a better-safe-than-sorry sort of situation. I’m sure disposables work well too, but since I was already cloth diapering, this was just one more thing to throw in the wash with everything else and no big deal to me.
These just made me feel a little more put together when I didn’t change out of them for weeks on end (don’t judge, pants are hard) and were super convenient in the middle of the night. Still wearing them 9 months later…. although I do change into real pants most days now.
Before M arrived, I imagined that breastfeeding would just be staring lovingly in each other’s eyes for hours on end with no distractions. But then she arrived and sleep deprivation is real and I found myself constantly falling asleep while feeding her in the middle of the night. Listening to podcasts was very very helpful to keep me awake and keep my baby from rolling off my lap at 4 am.
You do what you’ve got to do, ya’ll.
That’s all there is to it! Your baby really, truly doesn’t need much – as long as they have your love, patience, and attention, they’ll grow and thrive.
You’ve got this, momma.