newborn baby

The Ultimate Guide to What Newborn Babies Actually Need

June 11, 2019

Minimalist Baby List: What You Really Need for a Newborn

Getting prepped for a newborn can become a bit overwhelming, because of the sheer amount of stuff and options there are out there when it comes to baby gear.

There are so many choices out there for every aspect of your baby’s life, from the nursery, clothes, car seats – the list goes on and on!

But what do you really need to buy for a newborn? What are the best and most useful products to purchase first?

I struggled with sifting through all of the products to find what was really necessary, and spent a crazy amount of time researching the different products (all claiming to be miraculous and must-haves), buying all the things, and building a registry.

As a mom of a two year old and a ten month old, I have learned so much about what newborn babies need, and what you should purchase and register for in those first few months.

This is just a list to get you started – we’ll cover more useful gear in later posts. So let’s get to it!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.  As an affiliate, I earn a commission on qualifying purchases. 


Related Reading: The Items You Actually Need for Your Hospital Bag


What Newborn Babies Need: The Nursery

minimalist-baby-registry-must-haves

Let’s do the fun part first! Building a sweet space for your little one is exciting. The reality though, is that you don’t immediately need a nursery or a separate room for baby, so don’t feel pressured to set up a pinterest worthy nursery right away – or at all!

It’s easiest in those first few months to set baby up in your room. You’ll be feeding the baby every 2-3 hours for at least the first two weeks, and stumbling down the hall in the middle of the night is not fun. Set up a little corner in your room if there is space. Here are the must-haves:


Related Reading: The Complete Breastfeeding Guide: The Best Tips to Help You and Your Baby


1. A SAFE SLEEP SPACE

Bassinets are wonderful, as are pack ‘n plays. Best option? One that combines both! My favorite is the Graco Pack ‘n Play.

There are several different models, ranging in price. I also recommend these covers for the mattresses. (Buy two so you don’t have to worry about washing it in the middle of the night after baby has a blowout.)

newborn-essentials

ONE // Graco Pack ‘n Play with Portable Napper & Changer LX, Merrick

We used this Pack ‘n Play for both of our babies. It’s very affordable, and has a great bassinet that is removable and is slightly angled. The incline helps baby sleep better, but is still safe. The bassinet also flips over to a changing table, and there is storage space for diapers and wipes, making middle of the night changes much easier.

TWO // Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn to Toddler Playard

This is a great option if you have a toddler and a newborn, or plan on having two close in age. It has a ton of features, including a bassinet that is removable and vibrates, an extra long changing pad, and a toddler cot that can also be used as a raised bassinet for baby.

The downsides are that you need two mattresses if you are planning to use the toddler cot and the pack ‘n play at the same time for two kids. It can also be difficult to travel with on a plane, as there’s no carrying case for the toddler cot. Overall though, the features are great, and we have gotten a ton of use out of this.


Related Reading: How to Get Your Newborn to Sleep


THREE // Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn Napper DLX Playard, Manor

This version has a vibrating napper and storage space underneath the mattress, which is so useful!

FOUR // Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper Bassinet

The Halo bassinet has been popular for ages. It’s very convenient because it can be pulled up right next to your bed, but baby is in their own safe sleep space.

The downside is it’s a relatively short-term need, but this may be worth a purchase if you do not want and/or need a pack ‘n play, and if you’re planning on using it for more than one child.

FIVE // Arm’s Reach Concepts Mini Ezee 2-in-1 Bedside Bassinet

The Arm’s Reach Bassinets are another solid choice. Similar to the Halo, this can be pulled up to the side of your bed, making nighttime feedings much easier.

I also love that you can use it as a place for baby to play after they are out of the fresh newborn stage. We used this for several months.


Related Reading: 8 Must-Haves and Tips for Coping with a Toddler and Newborn


2. CHANGING AREA

If you have more space or opt for a bassinet or simpler Pack ‘n Play that does not have a changing pad, a separate changing table is nice to have, and can provide more storage space. I recommend this one:

baby-shopping-list-changing-area

This Delta changing table is a great affordable, quality option. It comes in several neutral colors to match whatever theme you have for your nursery, comes with a pad, and has two shelves for storage.

Mom Tip: Another great option is to just use a dresser! Place a changing pad on top, and – voila – you have extra storage for clothes, and a changing table, all in one.

3. GLIDER OR ROCKING CHAIR

A comfortable rocking chair or glider for feedings – whether baby will be breast or bottle fed – is a must-have. You will love it, your partner will love it, and baby will also (hopefully) love it! Here are some great options.

newborn-baby-checklist-best-gliders

ONE // Windsor Glider and Ottoman

The Windsor Glider and is a great choice if you are on a budget. It is not as luxuriously comfortable as some of the bigger, upholstered chairs, but the price is great, and it fits well in smaller spaces.

It also has pockets, which are so convenient for stashing all of your nursing gear.

TWO // DaVinci Olive Upholstered Swivel Glider

This DaVinci Glider gets great reviews for being incredibly comfortable, well-made, AND nice to look at it. It’s also good for taller folks.

THREE // Bilana Recliner

Buy Buy Baby has a ton of great options for gliders, with the Bilana Recliner by Best Chairs being one of my favorites.

It is large, so incredibly comfortable, and you can choose from dozens of custom fabrics.

The downsides are that it is on the higher side price-wise, and it is rather wide, so it may not be the best choice if you are short on space (though we have made it work in our small space).


What Newborn Babies Need: Clothing & Diapers

newborn-baby-needs-checklist

Ah, baby clothes! It is so tempting to go on a full-on shopping spree for tiny newborn clothes, but remember that in those initial few weeks, baby can easily live in onesies and pajamas, and will most likely poop through most of them! It is 100% ok to just buy a few sets of those and put them in rotation.

My favorite stores for baby clothing are Baby Gap, Carters, Hannah Anderson, and Janie & Jack.

Mom Tip: Keep in mind that depending on the size of your baby, they may not fit into newborn size clothing for more than a few days, if at all.

So to start, here are the key items your newborn will need:

1. PAJAMAS

I love love love the footie pajamas from Carters. They’re soft, great quality, and they range from a warmer fleece to a cooler, thinner cotton. The patterns are also adorable. Carters almost always has sales, so try not to pay full price!

2. ONESIES

Baby Gap has some great starter packs. They are constantly having sales, so definitely nab some during one. Carters also has bundles for an amazing price and has great doorbuster deals.


Related Reading: Last Minute Things To Do Before Baby Arrives


3. SWADDLES

Swaddles are an absolute must have! They are designed to snuggle baby as though they are still in the womb, which helps keep the startle reflex at bay and helps them sleep longer.

After trying almost every brand out there in hopes of getting our baby to sleep better, the Halo Swaddles came out on top, no question.

With the Halo swaddles, you can easily swaddle baby with both arms in, one or both arms out, or with both arms swaddled and hands accessible and near their face.

We love their versatility and that they can adapt to the preferences of basically any baby. They also come in a ton of cute patterns for boys and girls, and a variety of fabrics to fit your climate.

4. DIAPERS

It goes without saying that some form of diapers are a necessity. My favorites are Pampers Swaddlers. They fit both of my kids the best, and resulted in the least amount of leaks. As with clothing, little ones can grow out of the newborn size quickly, so be careful of how many you purchase!


What Newborn Babies Need: Carseats

Carseats can be a daunting purchase, but are a must-have, since you will need one to bring baby home from the hospital or birthing center. (Your local fire station can usually show you how to properly install it in your vehicle, which is key.)

You can purchase either an infant carseat, which is smaller, more portable and can usually be easily attached to a stroller, or a convertible carseat (with an infant insert). Convertible seats will fit your baby as they grow into a toddler, but tend to be much larger, heavier, and bulkier.

Infant Seat Recommendation: Uppababy Mesa

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I highly recommend the Uppababy Mesa Infant Carseat, especially if you live in a city and use public transportation frequently. It is lightweight and very easy to install, as it can be used with or without a base. We traveled with this in taxis and multiple other forms of public transportation, and it was a breeze.

The seat also attaches to Uppababy strollers, allowing you to move baby from the car to the stroller easily.

It is on the more expensive side, but the quality is excellent, and we have used it for over two years without issue.

Convertible Seat Recommendation: Nuna Rava

baby-things-to-buy-before-birth-convertible-carseat

We splurged on the Nuna Rava once our son outgrew the Mesa. It is pricey, but has a ton of great features, including very easy installation, cupholders, a footrest, easily adjustable straps as your little one grows, and numerous recline levels for both forward and backward-facing.

It has been a great seat for us. However, the seat is very heavy, so I would not recommend it for airline travel.

*Note: We purchased this seat during Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale, which is a huge sale that happens every July in Nordstrom stores and online. We saved over $100 on the seat during the sale, so if you are considering the Rava, I would recommend waiting until then to purchase if you can! There’s no guarantee that it’ll be included in the sale, but it’s worth it if you are able to wait.

Other Highly Rated Carseat Options:


What Newborn Babies Need: Toys/Activities

In the first few weeks, your newborn will not do much more than sleep and eat. However, it is nice to have a few toys for them to play (or stare) at.

You will also want to start doing tummy time early on, so having an area or toy to encourage that is helpful.

Here are a few of my favorites for the 0-3 month range.


Common Questions About the Most Essential Things a Newborn Needs

1. When should I start buying stuff?

Start purchasing whenever you’re comfortable! Now in the days of online shopping and super fast shipping, it’s easy to get things at the last minute. My main advice, is, don’t stress! Unless it’s a big ticket item, like a crib or custom furniture, most items can be purchased and delivered quickly.

2. What are the things you don’t need for a baby?

There are a ton of nice to have products that are non-necessities. My top items I would not purchase again are:

  • A wipe warmer – The wipes felt more comfortable to me, but I’m not sure my daughter ever noticed a difference!
  • Crib bumpers – These are no longer recommended due to suffocation risks. You can read more about it on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ site.
  • Infant/crib shoes – You may be unable to talk the grandparents out of buying these (because who can really say no to those adorable tiny baby shoes?), but shoes are definitely not necessary until baby is walking many months down the road.

3. Where should I register?

So many options! Number one – register at your favorite stores! It shouldn’t cost anything to create a registry, so why not?

As far as the best registries though, Amazon is an obvious choice because of the huge range of inventory. You’ll also receive a free box of baby products once you have completed adding items to your registry, and they have a generous 20% completion discount.

The Last Thing You Need to Know About What to Buy for Your Newborn

Shopping for your new baby should be fun! Try to resist all of the flashy new products that promise your baby will sleep through the night at two weeks (read more here about real strategies to help your baby sleep better).

Try to focus only on the things that you need, and remember that especially in the first few months, baby needs very little besides you! Everything else can be purchased in time.


What are you favorite products that you’ve purchased so far? What is something you wish you hadn’t bought?

Related New Mom Articles You May Like:

What You Really Need for Your Newborn

Baby Essentials for the First 3 Months

4 Comments

  • Mama Bear Finance February 7, 2020 at 6:48 am

    I was bombarded with all the “baby must-haves” as a new mom. But what I found out now that my baby is older is that we really don’t need many newborn things. They only last 3 months or less! I’m glad that we bought stuff that have longer lifespan. After all, what babies really need are our care, love and time 🙂

    • Lisa February 13, 2020 at 3:13 pm

      Agreed – there’s really very minimal that newborns actually need. A lot of things can make life easier, but in the end they need us the most.

  • ASM February 11, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Thanks for sharing the candid advice and recommendations.

    • Lisa February 13, 2020 at 3:12 pm

      Thanks for reading!

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    Meet Lisa

    Welcome! I’m Lisa – a mom of two, figuring out this mom thing and sharing what I learn along the way. I love affordable, easy fashion, traveling, finding new ways to organize, and sharing all things motherhood. I’m so glad you’re here!

    xo Lisa

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