There’s so much you could buy before your new bundle of joy is born. But you don’t need everything under the sun. Maybe you’re on a tight budget or you don’t have a lot of help, so you’re trying to limit what you buy. Or maybe you simply want to have a minimalist baby nursery. Regardless, there are a few baby items that you’ll need, so we’re breaking down what essential baby items you should buy or add to your baby registry.
Car Seat and Base
This is absolutely essential to getting your newborn baby home. You need a properly installed base in your car and a car seat meant for newborns. The good news is that car seats are so heavily regulated that you can’t really go wrong. Pretty much anything you buy is going to keep your baby safe. But this means your car seat is not one of those items you’ll want to buy used. You want something up-to-date and safe. If you do buy used, make sure it’s less than five years old and has never been in an accident.
Crib or Bassinet and a Mattress
Another crucial baby item is a safe place for your baby to sleep. Safe sleep is so important. You’ll want to give them their own space (though still in your room for at least the first six months) and a firm surface to sleep on. This means a crib or bassinet. I do not recommend any sort of co-sleeping situation or baby lounger. No matter what way you swing, it can be dangerous. This is another item that you won’t want to buy used, but if you do, make sure it’s relatively new. Anything older than ten years should be avoided.
You’ll also need a mattress. If you buy a bassinet or mini crib, it will often come with a mattress, which makes life easier, and you should actually only use the mattress that it comes with. But if you buy a crib (which you’ll have to eventually), you’ll need a mattress that fits properly. There should be less than two fingers of space between the crib and the mattress. Don’t forget fitted sheets for the mattress!
If you’re formula feeding, you’ll need bottles with the right size nipples, formula, and bottle cleaning tools. If you’re pumping, you’ll also need bottles, bottle cleaning tools, and possibly bags for freezing. Bibs and burp cloths are also a good idea. If you’re breastfeeding, definitely invest in some nipple care for yourself.
There are some people who swear by bottle warmers or those incredibly fancy machines that mix and heat the formula for you. You don’t need them. They might make your life a little easier, but you don’t need them. Put your bottle in a cup/bowl of hot water to warm them up.
A bonus tip for formula mamas: There is no medical benefit to heating up a bottle. It’s entirely a preference thing. My son has a sensitive stomach, so he’s on ready-made formula. But after a few days, we started him on cold formula, and now he doesn’t care about temperature. So, we don’t bother heating it up. Get your baby used to room temp and cold formula, and your life will be much easier. The only hiccup might be in those first few days of life when they’re really struggling to regulate their body temp, but after that, you’re good.
Diapers and Wipes
Diapers are definitely one of those essential baby items. You’ll need some sort of diapers, whether they’re cloth or disposable. Disposable diapers are obviously easier, but they can also be more expensive. Cloth diapers require more of a time investment, but they can be cheaper if you’re cleaning them yourself. There might be a larger upfront cost too, but then, they’ll last much longer.
Personally, we use disposable, but I know people who prefer cloth. If you choose disposable, try and invest in a good diaper because you don’t want to be dealing with them constantly blowing out or peeing all over themselves. This might take some experimentation.
You also might want to invest in some sort of changing station. This doesn’t need to be a changing table, but a changing pad is probably a good idea.
You don’t actually need that much clothing, but it’s still an essential baby item. Between dirty bibs and burp cloths, diaper blowouts, and spit-up, you’ll be doing laundry constantly anyway. So, you really only need about five to seven outfits or so. And if you’re really on a budget, you can get really simple clothing for cheap. It’s difficult to know what size your baby is going to be before they’re born too.
So, before they’re born, get a couple of different sizes of clothes, specifically newborn and 0-3 months. They might skip right over the newborn clothing, but at least you’ll have it if you need it. And clothes are absolutely something you can get used too. It’s also the thing people are most likely to get you as gifts, but make sure you have the essentials.
You might also want to invest in hats, mitts, and socks.
Swaddles or sleep sacks
Newborn babies have an intense startle reflex that can wake them up. Swaddles help make them feel safe, help keep them from startling awake, and are nice and warm. You’ll definitely need a few to help promote good sleep. Pro tip: If you send out for a bunch of registry welcome bags, you’ll probably get some different swaddles to try.
That being said, my son moved from swaddles once he was home. We always put him on his back to sleep, but he always rolled to his side. So, swaddling him made me really nervous. So, we used sleep sacks instead. It wasn’t as effective at preventing the startling, but it was comfy for sleep. We still use them now (just bigger ones!).
Baby bath items
You’ll have to be careful bathing your baby early on because of the umbilical cord. But eventually, you’ll be having fun bathtime with your little one. Obviously, you’ll need some sort of bathtub, whether that’s a baby bathtub that can sit on your counter or a bathtub you put in the sink. You’ll also need soft washcloths, hooded towels, and baby shampoo. Again, if you send out for baby registry welcome kits, you’ll get some sample shampoos to try before you buy the big bottles.
A diaper bag is essential for leaving the house, which, at a minimum, you’ll have to do for baby checkups. You don’t need a fancy diaper bag. You can just use a regular backpack or shoulder bag (though, they probably won’t come with insulated pouches for bottles). But you need a bag dedicated to holding those essential baby items you’ll need to go on outings. That way, you can just grab and go. Pack diapers, wipes, and an extra outfit in your diaper bag. I also have grocery bags for easily throwing away diapers and disposable changing pads in mine.
That’s it. Those are the essential baby items that you need to buy. There are a few items, like receiving blankets, diaper cream, and baby nail clippers, that you might want to have on hand too. But pretty much everything else might make your life easier, but you don’t need it. If you’re on a budget, just stick to the essentials for now. You can always add something if you need to.
Think I’m missing something that’s absolutely essential? Comment below and let me know!
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).