What Do You REALLY Need for Baby? (no fluff – all necessities!)

New Baby Necessities List – What do you REALLY need for a baby?

I hate clutter, we lived in a small house, and I was determined to gather only the new baby necessities when my first was born… and yet I STILL ended up with a bunch of stuff we didn’t use!

I’m going to sort of blame this on the internet. If you google “what do I need for a baby” you’re gonna get ALL KINDS OF LISTS that insist you need changing pads, carriers, bottle warmers, pacifier clips and on and on.

I am here to tell you that a newborn actually needs VERY LITTLE.

This is good news for parents on a budget and also those who just don’t want to fill their homes with stuff they won’t ever use!

I also want to encourage you to WAIT to buy baby stuff until the third trimester, for the most part!

Even though I was 100% committed to not collecting too much stuff, it’s really hard not to – I didn’t honestly know what a new baby really needs until I’d had one.

You feel like you truly need it all for the baby. (I think it’s just the nervousness that did it for me – I felt like somehow having all this stuff would make the whole “becoming parents” thing seem less daunting. You know… it made me feel sort of… prepared.)

Looking back, now that I’ve has a newborn twice, I know with certainty what really needs to be on the list of things you need for a new baby and what doesn’t.

These are things that still make my newborn necessities list – a couple of them might seem frivolous to the most hardcore minimalists, but these are the things I would buy again, or tell my daughter or best friend to buy for her new baby.

(These things are also the absolute best gift ideas for a new baby, in my opinion, because buying mom things she will actually use/need is always a good idea.)


Related: Check out this ultimate pregnancy and baby planner! 

What does a new baby really need?

Like, actually, NEED.

Just so we are clear.

A new baby needs:

1. A couple of really nice swaddle blankets.

But seriously, 3-4 is enough if you own a washing machine.

aden + anais Classic Muslin Swaddling Blankets are my absolute favorite. I love these because they are BIG and breathable, and gorgeous. They are great for swaddling, for covering the car seat or stroller, and also light enough to be used in hotter temperatures – and you can double them up in colder weather.

I’ve found that they wash well, which is pretty important if you only want to have a couple at home.

I also wanted 2 really nice blankets that were heavier (like these). (I mean, if you’re having a new baby in December in Canada, blankets are important.)  I know you’re not supposed to put baby down to sleep with blankets, but they are essential for having in the car seat if it’s cold where you live (and it’s freezing where we live, so we used blankets. One is not quite enough for a new baby, because when the baby pukes on that one then you’re stuck until you wash it.)

My favorites that we received were gifts that friends crocheted and quilted, but if you don’t know anyone crafty, these organic cotton cable knit blankets are gorgeous, and only 30 bucks.

2. 10 or so cozy sleepers

Carter’s Just One You Sleepers are what I LOVED for both my kids. These are the most awesome sleepers I’ve found. They fit the best, they seem to be the best quality… and zippers! (WHAT is with all the snaps?! 3 am and I want to fight with 10 snaps in the dark? No thank you.)

You CAN get adorable outfits of tiny T-shirts and jeans and little dresses… but honestly, for a NEW baby, sleepers are where it’s at.

Do the sweet little outfit for a picture or two, certainly… but let baby be comfy and cozy most of the time.

You definitely don’t NEED piles and piles of newborn clothes. (Here’s more info on what baby clothes you need in each size.)

3. Diapers and wipes

Newborns need diapers – regardless of if you’re going cloth or disposable, these are definitely on the infant necessities list.

Don’t buy TOO many newborn diapers – start with just one box.

Those itty bitty babies do NOT stay itty bitty long, and you may or may not need more than one weeks worth of newborn size.

It’s really easy to order more on Amazon Prime (and you get a 20% discount if you subscribe to diapers there), so it’s more cost effective NOT to stockpile diapers in my opinion. (That said if you are planning a baby shower, you might want to consider including a diaper raffle as a fun shower activity!)

Wipes, however, you can go ahead and stock up on if you see a great deal – you will use wipes for YEARS. lol.

4. Bum cream

New babies ESPECIALLY need a good bum cream – the first few poops are meconium and that stuff is super sticky and hard to get off, so be putting cream on baby’s bum from the time they’re born to make clean up easier and protect that delicate skin from rash as well.

If your baby gets bad diaper rash, we found this cream to be THE MOST healing. It would resolve the worst rashes basically overnight! (It smells a little funky, but our babies didn’t seem to mind!)

5. Food definitely makes the list of things babies need

Your new baby will need feeding, of course. Even if you plan to breastfeed, you should have a couple of bottles of ready to feed formula on hand.

I would not buy a bunch of bottles pre-baby – or a bunch of formula unless you KNOW you don’t want to breastfeed. However, breastfeeding can be hard and it’s good to have a tiny bit of back-up food ready for your 4 am meltdown.

There can be a ton of pressure and guilt around giving a new baby formula if you want to breastfeed, but that’s ridiculous. When your baby is hungry, feed your baby. If the boobs aren’t WORKING, feed your baby formula.

So much less pressure on mom if you just have it in the house!

6. Safe for baby soap (and baby lotion is important too)

Live Clean Baby Wash (+ Lotion too) is what we use.

Baby does need a bath now and then, and I didn’t want to smear my baby in a bunch of crazy chemicals and I also didn’t want to spend a fortune on products…

This brand was the perfect fit for us ‘cus it’s 98% plant-derived and Petroleum, SLS, paraben and phthalate-free… and it’s also like 7 bucks. Soooo… winning.

This Baby body lotion smells awesome and lotion is important when they’re so new because dry skin becomes a problem quickly. They’ve been in liquid their whole lives, so being out in the air is a huge change for them! 

You do not NEED baby towels – your baby can dry off with your towel.

7. A safe place to sleep

But hold on – don’t run out and start buying baby beds!

(Listen to me here… I bought no less than FIVE baby beds, and my babies slept in ZERO baby beds.)

If I was going to do it again, knowing what I know now, I would purchase a playpen only. This is the one we have, and I LOVE it.

The playpen gives the baby a safe place to sleep but does double duty as a safe place to play once their mobile and mom needs to make dinner or just go pee.

We ended up co-sleeping with both our kids and all five baby beds just hang out empty.

8. A car seat – if you own a car

You can’t even leave the hospital in a car without a car seat, so in our present ear, a car seat is a baby necessity – if you own a car.

Make sure you have it properly installed in the weeks leading up to your due date, so trying to figure out how to do that isn’t something you’re working on at the hospital the morning after baby arrives.

Honestly, that’s about it for what a new baby actually needs. I told you it wasn’t very much!

The above list of what you actually need for a newborn is pretty bare bones, and there ARE some other things that I think you should have if your budget allows.

The following things are not baby necessities by any means, but they DO still make my list of “almost essentials” – having these things made my life soooo much easier, and I bet they will make your life easier too!

9. Munchkin Clear Nose Nasal Aspirator

This is just not one of those things you want to be in need of at 3 am and not have on hand. My 2nd baby got her first horrible sad snotty stuffy nose cold at 7 days old, and sucking the snot out of her head helped her stay SO much more peaceful.

So unlike some other “I MIGHT need this someday” sort of things, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this before baby is born because I can almost guarantee that you WILL use it eventually.

The Munchkin Clear Nose Nasal Aspirator works AMAZING, unlike these ones – don’t get that kind.

Put it right in the cabinet next to to the baby Tylenol and the thermometer – which I would also go ahead and buy early because you will also use them eventually. (And, JUST in case you didn’t know – like I didn’t know – go for a dye-free painkiller like this one, to keep chemicals to a minimum.)

10. A baby monitor

OK – this is the first thing on this baby necessities list that you COULD do without – but I needed one for my own peace of mind, and that’s important, so it makes my NEEDS list.

A really good quality baby video monitor made all the difference for me when it came to being able to set the baby down while sleeping and just go to the other room to pee or lay down.

My sister had a ton of trouble finding a monitor she could rely on, and I learned that you might as well just put the money into a good one. I had terrible anxiety after my babies were born, and being able to see them sleeping and clearly breathing on a video monitor REALLY helped.

11. Sound Machine

We have three Marpac Dohm-DS All Natural Sound Machines in our home, and I LOVE these things. Sound machines just help baby sleep so so much better!

Your baby will probably sleep through anything as a newborn, so this is not a NEW baby need, but I think it’s beneficial to start using the sound machine when they are really little so A) they learn to associate it with sleeping and B) you don’t wake them with loud noises by accident.

12. MAM Orthodontic Pacifiers

IF you plan to use pacifiers that is. I am extremely pro-pacifier, and they were the right choice for our family.

We were given a set of these as a gift, and they were the only ones the squishy baby would take after that. But my favorite thing about them? They actually stay in baby’s mouth (hallelujah)- I think this is because of their shape, and they allow airflow so baby doesn’t get a saliva rash around his mouth.

Now, what do you NOT need for a new baby?

Honestly, anything else not on this list. Your baby NEEDS very little for the first few months!

We used a towel on the floor or bed instead of a change table.

I bathed the baby in the sink, or with me in the tub instead of in a baby bath tub.

We fore-went cute play mats and let them play on blankets on the floor, and while we did buy toys, for the most part the babies wanted anythings else to play with.

You can purchase bottles and breast pumps as needed, rather than stockpiling them in advance only to find out you won’t need those things.

MOM probably needs more things than baby actually needs! Here’s a full list of postpartum supplies mom needs to have on hand after baby.

Related: How to Heal Faster Postpartum (+ Pain Relief Tips)

Obviously, there are things you will WANT for your baby that are not truly necessities for baby

But just wait and see if you get those things as gifts before you buy a bunch of them!

And there are SOME things you can get FOR FREE, so be sure not to spend money on stuff you don’t have to spend on! Check out this list of things you can grab for your babe for FREE!

Related: Bringing Baby Home: Enjoying the First Week With a Newborn

Do you think this covers what you really need for a baby? What’s on your baby necessities list?

pregnant mother contemplating new baby necessities list


1 thought on “What Do You REALLY Need for Baby? (no fluff – all necessities!)”

  1. Great list! I don’t have children but if feels like all my friends are popping out babies left and right! This has given me some good ideas for gifts.


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