What Do You Need for a New Baby?

What do you NEED for a new baby...besides the ability to survive on 30-second increments of sleep?

We were very blessed (yes, blessed) to be quite poor when expecting our first child. Our necessary frugality prevented the temptation to buy unnecessary or excessive quantities of baby gear. Seven children later, we still have a very basic list of what a parent needs for baby’s first months.

The following list is what we consider essential for small babies. No fluff, no extras, just the basic affordable essentials.

What Do You Need for a New Baby?

what do you need for a new babyCar seat—an infant car seat can serve many uses:

  • safe and legal transport in vehicles…obviously. If you deliver at a hospital, they will not discharge you if you do not have a car seat.
  • safe seat at home or away—far safer than setting baby on a couch.
  • bed. Many people, including us, use car seats as beds for several months. The shaped sides of the car seat make baby feel snug, and the properly slanted seat keeps baby’s chest and head elevated to help combat reflux, congestion, and other baby issues.

Diapers—whether you go with disposable or cloth will determine how many diapers you need.

  • Disposable—don’t buy too many newborn-size packs. Larger babies may not fit in the newborn diapers for more than one pack. Therefore, if you stock up during diaper sales, buy larger sizes.
  • Cloth—figure about 10 per day, so the number you need to buy depends on how often you plan to wash them.

Clothes—you most certainly do not need a closet full of cute little outfits for someone whose main goal in life is to get some form of bodily fluid onto everything within a five-foot radius.

  • what do you need for a new babyOnesies and sleepers (footsie PJs or “baby bags”) are really all you need, although a sleep sack and bunting are helpful if you live in cold climates or have a winter baby. Again, if you do laundry every time Venus aligns with Neptune, you’ll need more than if you do laundry every day or two. We figure 4-ish outfits a day for our leaky babies.
  • Do not stock up on too many size NB (newborn) or size 0, since they only fit for those first few weeks.
  • Buy only the essentials. If you have gift-givers in your family, they will likely show up with the cute extras that baby doesn’t “need,” but that are fun for Mama to put on the little sweetie for three minutes before baby soils them.
  • Garage sales are full of clothes that babies outgrew too quickly and which may have never been worn. All our babies were clothed from garage sales and gifts. Instead of giving baby debt and new clothes, go used!
  • While it may be your ideal to get organic cotton, collarless, side-snapping outfits, your main goal is to keep baby comfortable and safe, so you may have to set your ideals to one side and think “budget.”

Bed—your baby needs a safe place to sleep. That does not mean baby needs the cherry sleigh crib with matching glider, changing table, and dresser…and a new house to put them in.  Here are some options for baby’s sleep needs:

  • car seat (see above). Talk to your pediatrician about this. Our docs have recommended it, but I’ve also read that some discourage it because parents may slant the seat too much, making it harder for the baby to breathe. A baby feels cozier in a fitted carseat than in a big empty crib, you need a carseat anyway, they don’t require sheets, and baby can be right by mama all the time.
  • what do you need for a new babyused crib. Do the safety checks! One little check I rarely see mentioned is not to use a crib held together by duct tape. Yup. Been there.
  • bassinet or carriage.
  • pack and play (formerly known as play pen).
  • co-sleeping crib or bassinet.
  • your bed. Bed-sharing is a hotly debated topic in mama world. If you co-sleep or bed-share, do it safely!

Blankets—thin receiving blankets are ideal for swaddling babies, and soft blankets are nice for holding and comforting baby. Blankets are also an option for nursing discretely.

Nursing support/information or formula and bottles—while breast is best and will save you as much as $2000 the first year alone, not everybody can supply enough milk, despite their best efforts. Do give it your best try and seek lots of support, whether from La Leche League, local support groups, books, websites, or other experienced moms. It may seem difficult at first, but once you both get the hang of it, it’s great! (I’ve nursed 7!) If you absolutely cannot nurse, don’t feel guilty! Discuss formula options with your pediatrician, or make your own.

Those are the essentials. A few additional items are also on my practically essential list:

what do you need for a new babyBurp Cloths—better termed spew catchers. The best are the functional, plain variety, such as cheap, but absorbent cloth diapers or bibs. These are not on the absolutely essential list, because you can just use a small towel. Their purpose is to keep your clothes clean and baby dry from drool, spit-up, and the myriad of other fantastic surprises those little cuties spew at Mama. Plop ‘em on your lap, over your shoulder, in your pocket, anywhere…the burp cloths, not the baby.

Carrier—in my life, a baby carrier should be bumped up to the necessity list, but every mama’s life is different. Regardless, a baby carrier just makes sense, and here’s why:

  • Baby is happiest in Mama’s arms, and this mama is happiest with baby in her arms rather than in a stroller, swing, or crying in a crib.
  • By holding baby in a carrier, Mama still has two free hands to make sandwiches, change laundry, hold toddler hands, help with algebra, braid hair, play matchbox cars—you name it!
  • Keeping baby close to Mama helps babies grow, sleep, find comfort, stay safe, and learn about their world.
  • Wearing baby increases milk production for nursing mamas, and makes it easy to feed baby at any time.
  • Using a baby carrier when out and about keeps baby with Mama at all times, preventing the “I just looked away for two seconds” disasters that may occur with strollers or shopping carts.
  • Wearing baby at grocery stores is far safer than putting the infant seat on the cart, which has resulted in very serious injuries to babies.

Carriers come as back/front packs, slings, or wraps. I have used all three, and each has its perks. The Simple Homemaker will be giving away a $45 Moby Wrap in the next few weeks, so subscribe to get the heads up.

what do you need for a new babywhat do you need for a new babywhat do you need for a new baby

Nursing smock—a blanket can work well for discreet nursing if that’s your preference (and it is mine), so it really doesn’t belong on the essential list, but I have used my nursing smock enough to earn it a place of distinction here. Get one for the cost of shipping at Udder Covers using the code SIMPLE1.

what do you need for a new babywhat do you need for a new babywhat do you need for a new baby

Teen or pre-teen girls–raising a baby is much easier with a handful of trained girls helping out! Baby number seven is loving having four capable (and two entertaining) older siblings who know how to take care of a baby. No, you can’t have mine.  Make your own.

What about the pacifiers, strollers, swing, changing table, baby station, bouncy chair, boppy, breast pump, bathtub, and on and on and on?

I said “essentials.” As you grow with your baby and learn about your particular parenting nuances and where you need additional support (bathtub, for example), you may wish to add an item or three. Also, while some items are fantastic, like a diaper bag, you may well be able to get by perfectly well with a large purse you already have. Proceed with caution as you add to your supply list, as most baby purchases go unused, or are used so seldom that they are not worth the money or clutter.

Dislosure statement: if you make a purchase through one of the above Amazon links, I will earn a small commission, but…don’t do it. Why not? Haven’t you been paying attention? For the price of, say, this cute little pair of Carter’s PJs from Amazon, you could buy between 15 and 80 sleepers at garage sales.  Can you say “Never do laundry again!”?

In your experience, what do you need for a new baby?


16 thoughts on “What Do You Need for a New Baby?”

    1. That is VERY nice! I’m a teeeeensy bit jealous. We do the carseat thing, since we have one anyway. Also, in the trailer, the baby sleeps on the nightstand…which is not as dangerous as it sounds. Ha ha! It actually seems like it’s built to use as a baby bed.

      Uhhhhh, my teens are currently REALLY busy…but I’ll make a note of it. 🙂

  1. Great list! I’m getting ready to have my first and am starting to consider these things. Of course, when my sister had her babies, I would tell her that really, so long as you can breast feed, all you need the first week was a carseat, some diapers and a few clothes! Looking forward to starting my shopping experiences!

  2. This is a great list! So many new baby “checklists” out there are full of unneeded gear. However, I disagree with bottles and formula being on the essentials side of the list. There are risks to formula feeding and I feel that instead of having a supply of bottles and formula for “just in case,” every mother needs to have a support system in place to help her succeed in breastfeeding. It’s actually really rare for a woman to truly be unable to produce enough milk for her baby. If I were making this list, I would replace “formula and bottles” with “breastfeeding books, and contact info for local support groups” (many hospitals have breastfeeding support groups or at least a lactation department that you can call and even make appointments with after leaving the hospital) or a Le Leche League. And I would move “carrier” to the essentials side of the list. They are absolutely a necessity for me. (and wearing your baby increases your chances of being successful with breastfeeding subsequently decreasing your chances of needing formula and bottles) 🙂

  3. So glad you posted something like this 🙂 I just made a small registry at Target for our second child, and it started with only diapers, Desitin and Dreft. I have a few more items, but those are really the only ones we need at this point, since we still have the crib, carseat, clothes and baby sling from the first child. I would also add rocking chair as a necessity! 🙂

    1. I never had a boppy, but would have loved one. I’m tall, and it’s sometimes a back strain to be nursing since I have to either lean forward a bit or hold baby up. I just use pillows to raise baby a bit, but a boppy would have been great.

  4. You pretty much have it covered although I would add some way of soothing the baby for when you need a shower, or your back needs a rest from the carrier. Around our house a bouncy seat or a swing while not exactly a necessity has been a real lifesaver on occasion. You can typically find one still in like new condition at a yardsale or children’s consignment shop. My only splurge with my fifth one has been the Fisher Price Cradle and Swing we bought mostly because it came in a pretty purple instead of pink, and with little miss Emily being the fourth girl I was thoroughly sick of pink. She loves to nap in it and honestly it’s so soothing I kind of wish they made an adult version. I have a few extras like the bouncer I picked up for five dollars at a yardsale. I might also recommend trying out several different carriers,or buying a backup stroller if you’re like me and have a bad back. Of course for the price a Moby Wrap is both comfortable and versatile, although learning how to properly wrap it may take a few tries.

  5. Thanks for the useful list – I googled what do you need for a new baby and you were high up on the list. I feel so clueless with the coming birth of our first little miracle!! 🙂

    1. I remember coming home with our first, looking at my husband, and saying, “Now what?!” Ha ha. Just enjoy your baby. There will be advice on all sides, but ultimately, try not to stress and just savor the blessing. 🙂 Congratulations!

  6. Good list. Tough to find one for “what do you need for twins”… I have a lot of essentials (and non-essentials) from my son, so I don’t need a whole lot for my twins (a second of this, a second of that lol). Thanks for the advice

  7. This list is wonderful! I’m going through a divorce and trying to save up enough money to where I don’t have to put my baby up for adoption. The fact that I won’t have to buy too many things for the first few months really cheers me up.

    1. Some places are willing to give you a car seat and other necessities for as long as you need them. Perhaps your city has a center that offers this sort of assistance. My prayers are with you and your baby.

  8. Thanks for the list and I was actually really happy to see the formula and bottles suggestion…there is so much negativity towards moms that don’t nurse and I have friends who so wanted to and just couldn’t get it figured out and for first time moms nursing can be intimidating if the baby is an eager eater and frustrated. I did nurse my two but my son for only 5 months because the doctors were so concerned about his weight and kept having me supplement with formula. He was my first and what do you do if a dr tells you something…well my son is still small so I wish I would have tried harder to nurse him exclusively. But these are the trials new moms face and thanks for encouraging those moms who just can’t get the nursing thing down. We all love our babies and are doing our best for them!! :)Thanks also for Udder Covers promo code I got one 🙂

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