Last week we discussed all those things “they” say you need for a new baby, but that — well, you really don’t. But this doesn’t mean you need nothing. There are a few necessities most families need to care for a newborn.

Throughout history, parents have managed to raise the next generation with very few items. The “must haves” of today’s culture weren’t even invented not that long ago.

Everyone’s list is different. But here are the top eight things I find essential for nurturing a new baby.

8 Essentials for a New born Baby

1. Diapers

This is about as basic as you can get. Yes, there’s elimination communication for the truly frugal, but we do just fine with a basic stash of cloth diapers, wipes, and diaper liners.  You can learn more about cloth diapering from the Cloth Diapering 101 series we did last summer.

2. Pack ‘N Play

For our mobile lifestyle, a pack ‘n play has proven essential both on the road and at home. I know it’s tempting to get a classic crib with the coordinating sheets and bumper, but it’s not a necessity.

We had a crib with our first-born (bought on the cheap at a consignment store), we were given one with our second, and for this upcoming third, we’re sticking with only a pack-n-play. (In case you’re wondering, we’ve lived in different locations for each of these births.)

I do hope to find an attaching bassinet feature for those first early weeks, so that I don’t have to bend all the way down to pick him up.

3. Baby Carrier

There’s no question — babywearing is so healthy for bonding and comfort, and it makes basic chores like folding clothes so much easier.  It’s not hard to be absolutely overwhelmed at the selection of baby carriers. There’s no one perfect carrier, but each parent and baby do tend to have their favorites.


I love the Ergo baby carrier for most of my babies’ early months, but for our next baby’s earliest, teeny-tiny months, I’m going to try a Moby wrap, given to me by sweet Simple Mom columnist Maya.

4. Basic Layette

It’s obvious that your newborn will need clothes. But you don’t need nearly the amount nor the extravagance of a wardrobe that mainstream baby registries will have you believe.

A stash of onesies, pants, socks, little t-shirts, and a lightweight hat are all you need. Of course, colder weather calls for a few more layers.

5. Swaddling Blankets

You won’t know ahead of time whether your newborn will prefer swaddling (my oldest hated it; my second-born loved it). Either way, these stretchable blankets are quite useful for a variety of things — from swaddling, to tummy time, to cuddling with in a stroller.

6. Car Seat

In the United States (and in many other countries), it’s illegal to transport a baby in a car without a car seat. No matter where you are in the world, it’s good sense to use one anyway.

You don’t need anything fancy — it just needs to be safe and up to standards.

7. Basic Grooming Tools

A newborn’s fingernails grow surprisingly fast. The amount of snot from such a tiny thing is downright shocking. Occasionally you’ll need to check your little one’s temperature. And he or she just might find comfort with gas relief drops.

You won’t know for sure when you’ll need these items, but you sure don’t want to be stuck without them at 2 a.m. It’s a good idea to have on hand simple tools like baby fingernails, a bulb syringe, a thermometer, and gas relief drops, just in case.

8. Burp Cloths

Babies are messy. Simple cloth diapers used as burp cloths are absorbent. You can do the math — trust me, these things come in handy for all sorts of reasons. In the early months, we go through several of these babies daily.

There are a few other things our family found helpful, but I wouldn’t exactly call them essential — we used a bouncy seat and a pacifier with both our children, our daughter liked a swing for a few weeks, and our son had fun with a door jumper once he could hold up his head. But none of these things are fundamental, by any means.

Keep in mind this list of mine is items for newborns – the earliest weeks with your little ones. As babies grow, other things become more useful, like a stroller, simple toys, and sometimes an exersaucer.  Here’s my Wishpot list of suggestions for a simple baby registry.

But there’s not much reason to invest in these things until you understand your particular needs and your baby’s preferences. Until then, save your money for the things you truly need.

Now it’s your turn — what’s on your must have list for the newborn months?


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