Knowing EXACTLY what your newborn really needs can be incredibly overwhelming. Mind blown, I remember starting my first Amazon Baby Registry and gasping at ALL the categories…and the endless lists. Thinking I needed the best of EVERYTHING, I scoured reviews, price-compared and spent endless hours adding each perfect item.
But, I didn’t need it all. Especially in the beginning.
I was SO concerned about having all-the-things and being 200% prepared, that I didn’t stop to think about what a newborn REALLY needs. Most importantly, I had no idea.
Now, with two kids, I’ve gone through it. Lord Almighty in Heaven Above – I WISH I could go back in time tell myself to breathe, lighten-up and focus on the time I had before bringing baby home. Stop worrying so much about the unknown…the birth (just take a solid prenatal class like this one), caring for a newborn for the first time, if I’ll be a good mom or not…and focus on being happy (I’d do as many of these bucket-list items before baby arrived!).
The most important thing I wished I had realized is that my newborn does not need a ZILLION and a half of the most perfect things the universe can offer them (even though Target, Amazon or BuyBuyBaby told me otherwise).
The reality is, these 12 things are the only baby items your newborn REALLY NEEDS. So, breathe easy and let’s focus on the essentials.
♥ How To Prepare Your Home For A Newborn: The Only Checklist You’ll Need To Prepare For Baby
♥ What I WISH I Had Known Before Bringing Baby Home
♥ Preparing to Bring Home Baby: An 8 Tip Survival Guide
The Only 12 Baby Things Your Newborn REALLY Needs
I love how Amazon Baby Registry categorizes what you’ll need for baby (even though they do try to tell you that all-the-things are needed). So, let’s do this by category. I think that will be the most helpful here.
1. Car Seat
“And nurses won’t even allow you to even take your baby home if your car seat is installed incorrectly! Worse yet, if it’s wrong – they won’t help you!” *Eyeroll*. How many times have you heard this? For our second (12 months ago), we walked out in the dark to the parking garage close to 10 pm (no one around) and realized we had forgotten the car seat. So, yes this is a thing you need! But, don’t feel like you’ll be stranded in a panic if you get it wrong. It will be okay!
The GREAT thing about this car seat is that it “clicks” out of a secure base (that you install easily into the backseat of your car). This way, when your newborn is sleeping you don’t have to wake her up when the car ride is done! I highly recommend the Graco Lightweight Frame Stroller that goes with this Car Seat. You can also get the jogger edition (I did!).
2. Somewhere Safe To Sleep
Besides a car seat, of all the things your baby needs, this one tops the list. We used a Pack N’ Play, bassinets and a crib. Your baby will grow with it and it’s just perfect to sit at your bedside.
The AAP recently changed the recommendation for the length of time your baby should share a room with you to prevent SIDS from 3 months to 6 months (source). Ideally, they now recommend a year (but do what’s best for you and your family). There are also a couple of different safety ratings for bassinets and cribs you should look for when selecting a place for your little to sleep.
Check out Design A Nursery In Your Master Bedroom, A Walkthrough to understand the safest and most efficient way to have your baby sleep in the same room with you (I go over the two safety standards, organization for the shared space etc.)
And while you’re putting your sweet newborn down to sleep in that bedside bassinet for the very first time, keep in mind that the second night of your baby’s life might be the hardest. This will help: How To Survive The Infamous First Night Home
And don’t forget to snag this FREE guide on how to ready your nursery & home and be fully ready for your baby to arrive:
3. Swaddle Blankets
Top Pick: aden + anais Silky Soft Swaddle Blanket
I received a pack of 3 aden + anais swaddle blankets as a baby shower gift before our first. I wouldn’t have known to put them on our list, but the note said, “My sister SWEARS by these, so I thought I would get them for you!” And now, I swear by them too. In fact, for our second I went all out and bought the blush pink ones with beautiful metallic accents. You only need three, but they are the royalty of the swaddle and can be used forever.
4. Burp Cloths
Top Pick: Gerber Birdseye Flatfold Cloth Diapers
A.K.A. something to wipe the TONS of baby spit up with. In the beginning, babies spit-up a ton and some spit up even a larger ton. One of the very best things we purchased were these Gerber “flats” cloth diapers. Don’t use them for cloth diapers. They are too thin (there are much better options out there) but for burp cloths, they are AMAZING. We have purchased these four times over the years because we use them so much. I throw several in the diaper bag because they wipe up all kinds of spills, foodstuffs etc. By far, they are one of the most used items we’ve purchased.
5. Nursing Pillow
I received several nursing pillows and the Boppy was my preference and it is for most mommies, I’d say. When your newborn is very tiny, you may need to add an extra pillow below it so it sits higher but very quickly you wont need it. Your baby grows up so fast! There are a ton of super cute pillow covers, especially on Etsy.
Top Pick: Pampers Swaddlers Newborn + WaterWipes
At the hospital, you will likely receive Pampers Newborn Swaddlers. Our hospital used them for our children and many others do. They are fantastic and have a little blue line to show you the wet diapers because counting those matters that the first week.
Now, have you ever considered modern cloth diapers? Not your grandma’s HUGE white sheet and clothespin but diapers just like disposables (with velcro or snaps) that you wash? There’s even a disposable liner that you flush for hands-off poo. There’s cute colors, you don’t contribute to the GIGANTIC piles of diapers filling up the dumps around the world, you save thousands and they’re easy to use.
Check out my list of Cloth Diapers 101: Everything You Need, For Beginners and get introduced to all the different types of cloth diapers (if you want to dive in deep) here: Cloth Diapers 101, The Complete Guide For Beginners
7. Baby Wash
Babies are born with fresh new cherub-like unblemished sensitive skin. So, you’ll need to be careful about things that come in contact with your newborn’s skin from laundry detergents to sunscreen and body wash. Always get baby specific items that contain no harsh chemicals. Because your little is very tiny and what she absorbs will have a much larger effect on her body than yours.
You could also get one or two hooded towels (though obviously not required!) I’d get a toddler size because the baby sizes are just so small. We weren’t able to use them very long. But our two toddler-sized hooded towels, I’ve used from birth and on for years with both children! These towels have been very loved!
8. ZIP UP Onesies
Top Pick: Simple Joys by Carter’s Sleep and Play (Cotton) OR Simple Joys by Carter’s Sleep and Play (Fleece)
Have you seen moms rave/rant about this yet? Well, buckle up, because you’re about to hear one do just that! If someone buys you newborn or 0-3 month clothing with buttons…throw it back at their face. Now, I’m just kidding but buttons are the devil.
If your little has a summer due date, you can swing it with short sleeve little onesies like these Gerber onesies (they run a little small). Your newborn will likely be swaddled in the amazing aden + anais blanket anyways! But if there’s cool weather, check out Carter’s Simple Joys collection. They have footsies with zips. Zippers are the only way to go. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
If winter is coming, I’d highly recommend the fleece. Our children lived in these (and still do). They are wonderful and amazing and I could sing all the praises in the world about them!
I cried to my husband on the phone while he was taking a break at work (I was on maternity leave) the day we used this glider because I was so relieved. Our newborn wouldn’t stop fussing unless I was holding her! I did all-the-things. Seriously…from adding a heating pad to her bassinet (and then removing it to slowly put her down) to rocking her for hours on end. But then we purchased this glider and I was so happy. I seriously do think these things are a life savor!
I researched many different types of gliders, swings, rockers and bouncers. There were SO many types of moving things for babies it was hard to know where to start! I seriously spent hours reading reviews and calling up friends and family who had some of these to see which one was the best. I was desperate and I landed on the Graco Gliding Baby Swing in Abbington.
The 4moms brand was super duper popular but a close friend of mine had one and she said the motion wasn’t enough and it was just so small – their baby grew out of it quickly. Other reviews said the same thing. This seemed the case with other gliders, swings, rockers and bouncers.
But the Graco Gliding Swing had the best reviews, I knew others that had it, the motion was very customizable, the direction was great, it looked great in our living room (not an eyesore like some) and I could take the bouncer off to carry our little to a different room if I wanted (this proved to be very nice). Sold.
After our teeny baby was just a tad bigger, I did a lot of babywearing (since she loved to be held). So I highly recommend a wrap like this but you can definitely get by without having it at first.
For the first 4 weeks, we’re told not to use a pacifier to avoid nipple confusion (or anything else in the mouth besides the real-deal if you’re breastfeeding). We did this with both babies and then transitioned to the NUK pacifier. I’ve heard of so many moms buying tons of different pacifiers for their little, trying to find one they’ll like. Both our babies loved them.
11. Bottles + Nipples
Even if you’re planning on exclusively breastfeeding, you’ll need some bottles. I’d recommend having at least 4. Introduce the bottle after 4 weeks of breastfeeding (if it’s going well) so that your newborn won’t refuse the bottle later on. You can even have your spouse do one feeding while you pump so that he can have that bond too.
Like NUK, I’ve heard many moms try various bottles, desperately trying to find one their baby would use. AVENT is amazing and we’ve used the bottles for both our babies. I’ve never bought anything but the little ones and they’ve worked out just fine.
12. Gripe Water
Top Pick: Mommy’s Bliss – Gripe Water
Gripe Water actually made it on the 12 baby things your newborn REALLY needs as a serious essential item. Why? Well, those first few months of life, your baby’s tummy is ridiculously sensitive. Gripe Water is the solution and a complete and total lifesaver. Many other moms swear by it as well. We aren’t the only couple to do late-night runs to the drug-store in desperate search of Gripe Water. You’ll likely do it as well! (Unless you stock up. Which is totally smart.)
8 Additional Things You *May* Also Need
These are not bare-basic essentials like a place to sleep or food to consume, but they are very helpful. Those first few months, you can get away with not having them. Like you could just use a regular bag instead of a diaper bag and a blanket instead of a changing pad (and wash it regularly). But your little will likely get a diaper rash sometime and you’ll need diaper cream or a bad cold and your pediatrician will tell you it’s time to get a Nose Frida.
The one thing that you may need the most out of this list is a solid nursing cover, so you can feel comfortable nursing in public wherever you may need to stop, drop and nurse (which is every two hours). A nursing bra is very helpful as well, though not necessary.
- Diaper Bag
Top Pick: HaloVa Diaper Bag. Love this bag! You can check it out, plus all the features here: Best Diaper Bag Essentials Checklist.
- Portable Changing Pad
Top Pick: Skip Hop Portable Changing Pad Clutch. There are a ton of little changing pad clutches out there, but I adore out little Skip Hop one. It’s super easy to use (even one-handed) and I use it always. Those public changing tables are just icky.
- Diaper Cream
Top Pick: Burt’s Bees Baby 100% Natural Multipurpose Ointment. Another one of these is on the way to my house right now from Amazon! No other ointment has proven to cure 100% of diaper rashes (that I’ve used and I’ve used many). Our second is a fair-skinned red-headed child and has only had one diaper rash (shes 12 months old!) and it was when this ointment was not used. I swear by this stuff. Especially because our first was plagued by rashes and that was tough!
- Nose Frida
Top Pick: Baby Nasal Aspirator NoseFrida. I was NOT going to use one of these. I refused. But then our poor little was sick so many times her first winter that our pediatrician looked me straight in the eye and said, “It’s time.” And it wasn’t bad at all. Plus the bulb can rupture parts of a baby’s nose and can mold hardcore (they are hard to clean).
- Baby Sling/Carrier
Top Pick: Boba Wrap Infant Carrier. I used this always for both of our children. At first, it’s a little weird to figure out how it ties, but you catch on pretty quickly.
- Nursing Cover
Top Pick: Udder Covers – Breast Feeding Nursing Cover. The ridged neckline (I feel) is a must. There are others with this neckline on Amazon as well. I liked it a lot and carried it with me everywhere. I pushed myself to be out and about beyond my comfort zone and just do the nursing cover thing. Because it’s so much easier to stay in but bad on postpartum depression. Sunshine, fresh air and a little Target shopping does wonders.
- Baby Monitor
Top Pick: Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor. This thing has over 33,000 reviews on Amazon – holy cow! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many reviews on one thing. Anyway, we have it and it’s awesome + doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Top Pick: Aden + Anais Classic Snap Bib. Oh, bibs – it’s hard to find a good one. Aden + Anais has been the closest. I just hate dealing with all that gooey food. But the best thing is just to rinse them off and then wash them with the next load. Don’t let them sit. And then hang them to dry.
4 Things YOU Will Need To Recover Postpartum
Of all the things I prepped for with our first baby, I WISH I would have prepared more for postpartum recovery. Yes, your newborn really needs about 12 things but most of all, he or she needs you to be functioning. My mother told me something very wise that I needed to hear after I had my first baby (because it can be very hard): “First take care of yourself, then take care of your baby.”
That means remembering to eat regularly (put meal bars by your nursing area), drink at least half your body-weight in water and make absolutely 100% sure you do your self-care routine after every bathroom trip. That will require at least these few postpartum items. I WISH someone had told me that. So there you go – don’t forget it!
I recommend having a few pads on hand before coming home with your baby:
– Heavy-as-Eff Pad: Always Extra Heavy Overnight Maxi Pads OR Natracare Organic Maternity Pads (if you don’t like wings – I don’t). These are sadly just a part of postpartum life, girlfriend. But this too shall pass! (And the diaper feel will end.)
– Medium Pad: StayFree Maxi Regular Pads. I transitioned into these as fast as possible. I hated those giant pads. BUT I tried so many thinner pads. I hated wings (I cut them out – but then some of the sticky was…uncomfortable). These were the best by far!!! No wings and I could wear them with leggings. Yuussss.
– Thinnest Pad: Carefree Original Thin Panty Liners. Score! Almost done with that diaper feel but still making sure there isn’t an accident here or there.
- Disposable Underwear
Top Pick: Seamless Mesh Knit Underwear Postpartum Maternity. The hospital might provide you with enough of these to be fine. But they might not. I’d recommend having some just in case.
- Perineal Spray
Top Pick: Dermoplast OR Herbal Perineal Spray by Earth Mama. I tried both and I’d say the Dermoplast has a ‘cooling’ factor that numbs and is a huge relief for pain. However, you don’t want your baby grabbing it. That’s what is nice about Earth Mama and it does smell nice. Try both (you’ll use them up) and see what you like.
- Tucks Medicated Pads
Top Pick: Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads. A cooling pain relief with witch-hazel that just helps so much. You put it on top of your pad to speed up recovery time and aid with the ouchies. I couldn’t go without these and sent my poor husband on a late-night run in search of these things!
And then some nice-to-haves include an EASY to use peri-bottle called the Fridet (this one actually allows you to use it upside-down unlike that icky hospital bottle), an amazing sitz bath + Epsoak Epsom Salt (to help speed up recovery time) and a pack of SUPER comfortable underwear (that don’t look like granny-panties and you don’t feel bad about throwing away). I also lived in this nursing gown because it was so cute and perfect.
9 Things We *DID NOT* Use
Here are a few things I thought for sure we would use (because I was obsessive about making sure we spent our money wisely) but we didn’t…with either baby.
- Velcro Swaddles. I got rid of these almost instantly. The velcro rubbed our newborn’s face raw (it was bleeding!). Just use aden + anais swaddles.
- Bigger Bottles & Nipples. We just used the small newborn ones till sippy cup time.
- Wipeable Bibs. These were nasty and a pain to clean. They went in the trash.
- Baby Dishware. Hokey. Just an added baby expense!
- Fancy Baby Clothes. We used a frilly dress here and there for a special occasion but all those buttons, pulling them over the head etc.? Zip-up onesies were most grabbed and used. Always.
- Baby Bathtubs. We had one and did use it with our first, but not with our second. You don’t really need one if you want to sponge bath. And then just put swim-suit bottoms on, lay your newborn in your lap while you sit on the tub and there you go! When she’s old enough to sit well, just add an inch or so water to the tub and sit on the tub with her. No baby bathtub necessary.
- Baby No-Scratch Mittens. One of our friends swore by these, so I didn’t rule them out but we got tons of cute ones and never used them. They fall off and I always worried they would end up in the mouth. No need.
- Bottle Warmer. Collected dust. We put milk in little freezer bags and put it in a bowl of warm water. Walla.
- Wipe Warmer. Sat out with nothing in it then was donated. Guess our littles weren’t privileged enough to have warm butt wipes.
Now you know, the only baby things your newborn REALLY needs those first few months are are basic essentials: a safe car seat, somewhere safe to sleep, 3 swaddle blankets, two packs of burp cloths, a nursing pillow, newborn diapers for sensitive skin (like Pampers Swaddlers or cloth), baby wash, onesies (that zip!), a glider (like Graco’s), a solid pacifier, quality bottles, and Gripe Water (which will save your sanity during those fussy upset tummy nights).
Most importantly, breathe easy because while companies everywhere tell you that ALL-THE-THINGS are required and that you need to spend thousands for the perfect baby items…you don’t. Even if you wanted to, you could JUST do the car seat, a safe place to sleep, take a couple swaddle blankets from the hospital, use rags for burp cloths, a few pillows instead of a nursing pillow, purchase diapers, baby wash, onesies, hold and rock your baby manually (instead of the glider), use the pacifier they give you at the hospital, a couple bottles and well…I’d splurge on the Gripe Water. It is just magic for a baby that’s screaming for an hour and you can’t do anything to stop it.
The bottom line is: try not to be overwhelmed, momma. Most of all, your baby just needs your love, snuggles, rest and food. Try not to get caught up in having everything perfect and focus on the survival essentials (which include those snuggles!). You’ve got this.
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