a minimalist guide to baby essentials

mmguidetoessentials

From reader, Katie:

We’re expecting our first baby this June and really struggling to find advice and guidance as to how to prepare for baby in a way that is minimalist and practical.  We are lucky to have generous and excited family and friends!  They are already asking regularly about what we need and where we’re registered.  We know they would love to purchase items for us, and would honestly appreciate their generosity from a financial standpoint.  However, we’re at a loss for how to proceed.

We’ve considered registering for the bare minimum – i.e. a crib, some clothes, a carrier or stroller of some sort and then just waiting to see what we actually need as time goes on.  However, I’m concerned that if we don’t register, or register for very little, we’ll receive tons of extra items we don’t need or want and still be left to purchase the “essentials” out of pocket.  On the other hand, I worry that if I try to anticipate our needs, and register for more, we’ll still end up with lots of extras to store, return or resell.

In short, we’d like to really think ahead and register for those things we’re likely to need over the next year.  However, we don’t want a house-full of Stuff to store unused either.  Any advice on how to approach preparing for baby with a minimalist mindset?  What are the true “must have” items and how soon is each needed?

First, thanks for emailing, Katie. And props to you for having a good mindset about baby items now. I spent a lot of $ on things we didn’t need or never used.

I also spent a lot of time looking for lists of what you really need. And they were all different. Each one espoused a different number of sleepers, what must have baby amusing toy the author’s child loved and promises that a stuffed seahorse that glowed and played tinny music would soothe any baby to sleep.

Lies, I tell you! All lies!

The bad news: there’s no one list. Every baby is different and will like different things.

The good news: you don’t have to buy it all.

I’m going to tell you what my must-haves were, what I wasted $ on and how to find out what your baby likes without cluttering your home or breaking the bank. I’m also revealing a baby shower/registry strategy that some may find tacky or rude.

Rachel and Henry’s must-haves for the first six months:

  • Baby Carrier: my baby cried. A lot. Unless he was in a carrier. We used a Moby type wrap for the first three months and have been using an Ergo carrier since. Both can be purchases second hand.
  • Dozen sleepers or onesies: don’t bother with outfits in the early months. I just frustrated myself trying to put tiny jeans on a seven week old baby. Full footed sleepers for winter babies, mostly onesies for hot summer newborns. Buy second hand or take hand-me-downs – they’ll get ruined anyways!
  • Dozen burp cloths: great clothing shields and in a pinch you can use a few as a blanket.
  • High backed chair: We breastfed and my back was a wreak after eight weeks of hunched over nursing in our soft living room chair. I caved and got a glider second hand on Craigslist but if you have the right kind of chair at home already don’t bother. High backed, firm with arm rests. And make sure you have a table next to it for your big glasses of water, book and snacks. *Nursing pillow: we had one, I used it a lot, but you could get away with a firm pillow instead.
  • The rest: yes, we had a lot of other things: breast pumps, a fancy stroller, bassinet stand for the stroller bassinet, swaddlers, four different types of pacifiers and bottles, the sleep sheep that promised to make my child sleep through the night, changing pads, cool modern crib, cute baby bath towels and wash cloths. But we could’ve done without all of it.

Our boy wouldn’t sleep in a bassinet or crib and mostly slept in his carrier during the day and our bed at night. Suggestion: research safe cosleeping before baby arrives, even if you think you won’t have your baby in your bed. Most moms I know said, just like me, that they would never bedshare but then ended up bedsharing during the early months.

Toys and soothing items were no match for being fed, having a dry diaper and being held.

I know, I know, you just want to get a list and get everything on it and be done. I wanted that too. But the lists and suggestions are never ending. Babies are needy, the first few months are stressful and beautiful and very tiring and you’re susceptible to any suggestion of a toy, swing or gadget that will bring peace.

Instead of what to buy, I have some strategies for you.

Slow down: try to slow life down a bit before baby arrives. Take the yoga class, get to your happy place and rip up long to-do lists. If you are taking maternity leave do not plan anything for that time. No home projects. Relax your cleaning standards. Accept any advance offers of food or help. If someone wants to clean your kitchen floors let them.

There will be a new rhythm to your home once this little person arrives. Fighting it will bring frustration and the clutter and wasted dollars of baby soothing paraphernalia. Accepting it will allow you to take that much needed afternoon nap, forget about vacuuming and find some patience when your three week old will only sleep on your chest.

Evaluate your lifestyle and home: what will your days look like in the first year? Will you need a stroller that can easily collapse into your car? Do you need a stroller you can grocery shop with? Is your home large and not baby friendly with lots of stairs? You might need a safe place to put your crawling/walking baby and a pack ‘n’ play might be the answer. Or baby gates.

Make friends: want to know what your baby likes before you buy it? Make friends with other pregnant ladies at a birthing class or prenatal fitness class. You’ll not only enjoy meeting up with your new mom friends once baby arrives, you’ll be able to – FOR FREE – find out what your baby likes. We had playdates at each others homes and let the babies try each others toys, exersaucers, bouncy chairs, etc. If your baby is loving the Jolly Jumper at a friend’s house you can easily pick one up from the buy and sell, a swap meet or Craigslist.

Borrow and Buy Second Hand: there are very few things I wouldn’t buy second hand for a baby. The exception is probably a car seat because you want to be sure it hasn’t been in an accident (I would buy or borrow second hand from people I know that could verify it was accident free).

Take a gander at your local buy and sell, Craigslist or Kijiiji, before you buy anything from a retailer. Most large plastic baby items go for pennies on the retail dollar second hand. One of my friends purchased an Exersaucer for her child for $25 on Craigslist, cleaned it up, and when they were done with it she sold it for $45.

Also note what brands have good resale value. Ergo baby carriers hold their value and will sell for 75% of retail second hand. Baby Bjorn carriers sell for 50% or less of retail. If you’re thinking about registering considering what will hold its value.

Register: go ahead and register for baby gifts. Make sure it is somewhere with a good return policy. Keep the things you know will be used – car seat, stroller – and return the rest for store credit. Hold onto your registry list and if you find you really need some of those things go back and buy them.

Some people may think returning gifts for store credit is rude or tacky. I don’t. Gifts are given with the intention of helping you and the baby. If the $60 swing is returned and you end of using the proceeds for diapers, the generosity of the gift is still felt. If you end up never needing to use your store credit, consider donating it to a charity. There are lots of parents out there that are having trouble paying for formula, baby food and diapers.

Tip: suggest experience gifts. If someone wants to pay for baby and me yoga, or infant massage classes, or a cleaner, let them. The money we spent on three visits from a cleaner and my twice a week Fit4Two classes were some of the good purchases we made.

Remember: our parents and grandparents grew up without all the toys, baby soothing devices and amusement centres we have today. They all eventually walked and talked and grew up to be fine adults. For all the fun battery operated toys my son receives as gifts, he is still quite content to play with plastic cups and bang the lids of pots and pans for amusement.

That’s my list and tactics. Anyone have suggestions for Katie? What made your life easier and what was a waste of space and dollars?

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Comments

  1. Jackie s says

    our minimalist list would include:

    a dozen footed sleepers.. the snaps are better than zippers
    boppy pillow for breastfeeding
    infant carseat (duh)

    thats it really.
    baby slept in bed with us (and still is at 17 months)
    you can add a bouncer seat thing for baby to be put in if you have to run to the bathroom quick.. but otherwise you dont need much!

    we tried cloth diapering at first, but it was so time consuming and messy cause baby pooped constantly. we waited till he was about 6 months old to start.
    and lastly, breastfeeding saves so much time and money, and is so amazingly healthy for you and baby.

    • Ainsley says

      I vote for zippers too because snaps became pretty difficult with an active baby. I preferred to dress my summer baby in a cloth diaper & a t-shirt with socks or the sleep sacs/dresses that made night time changes easiest. We used something similar to the Moby, a Baby Buddha wrap & the ergo carrier & a good stroller later on.
      My list…
      Wrap carrier
      Ergo
      Cotton sleep dresses
      Undershirts
      Never used a pacifier & only a bottle a couple of times.
      Pump depending in your plans. Rent a hospital grade pump if you’re having trouble with supply so don’t need ahead of time.
      We ended up co-sleeping but did use a crib before 1 year
      Sound machine (I don’t reccomend the sleep sheep. My son had a sleep cycle of 45 minutes & the sleep sheep runs for that time as well so right when he was drifting up to the surface of sleep the thing would turn off & he would wake up.) we use the onus forme one.
      Swing was a waste for our son. I just carried him.
      Cloth diapers (1 size fits most)
      Disposable diapers my son was allergic to & newborn size was too small. Organic & unbleached worked for us when needed.
      We practiced Elimination communication so a potty was handy.
      Receiving blankets several
      Cozy blankets 2
      Bouncy chair

  2. Jackie s says

    forgot to add:
    we didnt even use a stroller till he was about 8 months old. we didnt want one of those huge strollers, and just carried him in his infant carrier. we could have gotten the snap n’ go stroller that the infant seat goes into, but it wasnt a problem for us, then we transitioned to a combi cosmo EX stroller.

  3. marti hopson says

    Every experience will be different of course.

    I love the idea of asking for:
    -cleaning
    -cooked meal
    -time (babysitting, or just holding baby while mom has nap), walking the dog!
    -presents for the _parents_
    like gift certificate to take out restaurant, massage, something consumable (i.e. not another ‘item’) to pamper mom

    - or gift certificates to stores that sell kids things but other stuff too. Maybe they need a new kettle or vacuum.

    Must haves:
    -second hand or free baby clothes
    - my best tip is check out when Value Village (if you have one in your area) has their 50% off sale. They happen about 4 times a year. Baby clothes go down to 99 cents. Check out freecycle for people unloading crates of kids clothing.
    -carrier – I loved the Baby Bjorn ACTIVE carrier. Has to be the active model, the regular one is too flimsy. It had great lumbar support and I _hiked_ with my 9 month old through Long Beach/Tofino with this. I borrowed this.
    - Skip the high chair and go for a booster seat. (unless you can get a high chair for free). Booster seat takes up less room, you can take it off the chair if you have company and still feed your baby on the floor. Reclining sort are good for little babies even before they are eating- in lieu of a bouncy chair. You can take a booster seat travelling or to some one’s house easily.
    - I never thought in a million years that I would need/use a swing. But this (we borrowed one, so free) was the most valuable ‘thing’ we had. Used on 2 kids every. single. day. My kids loved to be rocked and would take all their naps in a swing.
    - we didn’t use the pack and play, the stroller or many other things. Always look for second hand.
    -

    • Katie says

      Thanks for the comments! I love the idea of presents for mom and dad… we’ll be celebrating our 1 year anniversary right around my due date so should probably find some “us” time too!

      I’ll definitely have to look up Value Village – I’ve never seen one but perhaps they’re around??

  4. veejaybee says

    I had a baby 2 weeks ago. Before she arrived I collected everything from anyone who would offer and as a c onsequence had too much stuff. I realised in time ( and as we were moving around our due date) and purged big time.

    If people want to give you things I would say FOOD….meals, soup, muffins, special tea.
    We get by with onesies, receiving blankets and have not used a carrier yet, however have a snuggly and a sling. A decent but not large stoller/car seat.

    I also realised people with offer swings, strollers,breast feeding pillows etc and if they are not being used immediately give them back as quick as they arrived. I held onto things thinking “we may need that”, yet if they came around once they can come around again.

    Also prepare for and make room for the sentimental items you cannot give back. Quilts from 2 grandmas, home made items for the baby. Make room for these as they are forever keepers.

    Babies require less, not more. I purchased too many cloth diapers and now want to get rid of them as I can wash the ones I have every day. Do not buy into the hype of the big baby market where we are conditioned to think babies need fancy things and 10 of everything.

    Being minimalist with a baby is not difficult. What babies need in abundance is unlimited time and love .

    • Katie says

      Thanks for the reminder that the sentimental items will come! My husband and I don’t hold on to many of these, but there are certainly some that we’ll likely receive and want to keep!

  5. tara says

    Things I loved:
    1. baby carrier
    2. pack & play with bassinet combo (this was used in our room, and then when he got older, because both work outside the home, this became a safe area to keep him while we showered and got ready). Also great to visit friends with no kids and have baby play/sleep safely
    3. Aden & Anais muslin baby blankets. These are larger (47″ x 47″) than the tiny receiving blankets that will be of no use. Multi-purpose too: GREAT for swaddling, as a blanket, burp cloth, breastfeeding cover. My son is hot natured and these are great for regulating temperature. I get asked all the time about them.
    4. Quality breastpump since I wanted to pump when I went back to work

    Things to skip:
    1. High chair. Still don’t have one. Don’t plan to get one.
    2. Wipes warmer, bottle warmer, special baby towels/washcloths, fancy clothes

    I’m on the fence about a stroller. Depending on your type of lifestyle, it might be very helpful. We also had a vibrating chair thingy that he loved and slept in a lot early on. I was surprised at how important this item was to us in the first year.
    I got many items off of Craigslist. I loved hand-me-downs and love going to consignment shops. The best gift (we bought for ourselves) was for someone to come in every 2 weeks for awhile after the baby was born to help with the house cleaning.

    • Katie says

      Thanks for the tips tara! I’m also planning to return to work so I’ll certainly need a breastpump…. and I hadn’t even considered how I my husband and I might get ready for work with a baby in the house… clearly our morning routine will be changing!

  6. Momma Jorje says

    I would suggest cloth diapers AS burp cloths. They double as diapers (obviously) if you get into a real pinch. I liked having 2-3 dozen of them because I didn’t have to launder too often and they’re great for any mess.

    As for registering, some people may not be able to get the high dollar items, so it is nice to have some smaller dollar items on your list. I suggest DIAPERS! You probably won’t know which brand you like best until you’ve tried them, but try to pick one out and even those can be returned if you decide you don’t like them. You can even register for different sizes. I don’t recommend getting more than 1-2 bags of Newborn size because your baby may not be that small (mine weren’t or outgrew that size FAST).

    If you’ll be returning to work, you’ll want a breast pump (I hope). Research the brands available and register for the one you want. There are a lot of different features out there.

  7. Julia says

    Going to have to disagree with you on the “you can do without a nursing pillow” aspect, and that is mainly because I DIDN’T have a nursing pillow, and was always left awkwardly creating a cresent shape with 3 (!) of our regular pillows. I would have much rathered the convenience of 1. Whenever I nursed at a friends house and they had one I felt sheer envy. Its on my list of a FOR SURE thing to get if I have another baby. That and a rocking chair.

    Toys are the number one unnecessary thing for a newborn. Olive didn’t even glance at a toy until she was 5 or 6 months old.

    • Kate says

      Yes! The nursing pillow is NOT optional if you’re planning to breastfeed. I was lucky enough to borrow a “breast friend”pillow and it saved my back during the early months of nursing.

      (I would recommend the breast friend over other nursing pillows because it wraps all the way around and supporting your lower back.)

    • ITa says

      Glider and nursing pillow a must.
      Also, great to register for diapers, cloth or disposables, whatever you plan on using.
      Cleaning help.

      I found that I used different items as essentials with different babies. It really depends a lot on you and your baby and what else is going on in your life!

  8. Jacquie says

    We’ve used cloth diapers from the beginning, and we also use reusable wipes. We received a TON of baby was cloths at a shower, so we use them, but you could just as easily cut up old t-shirts and use them. We’ve also found Purple Urchin’s Baby Butt Balm helpful as our little one has been having diaper rash with her teething (available on Etsy). A hat is also important – sun hat to start for you June baby (get a toque or make one later on). If you’re breastfeeding, I recommend having some lanolin on hand while you and baby figure out a good latch, and you’ll need vitamin D drops (baby needs 400 IU per day if breastfed). We’ve also found a good bar of fragrance & junk-free soap helpful for bathing baby (we use goat’s milk soap from a local soap-maker).

  9. Vanessa says

    For us, one of the absolute must haves were cloth diapers – if you’re going minimalist this will be one of your best decisions – ever. The cost of disposables, to your pocket book, the environment, and your baby’s health, are made up a million times over using cloth. If you’re going to go this route, be cautious about the AIO’s (all in one’s), they cost more, and tout being easier for mom’s, but really the PUL (water resistant liners) tend to go in them early on, which makes for leaks, and what not. For the newborn stage, if you’re open to suggestions on this and are considering cloth diapers, I would go with prefolds, and a PUL cover – this is the cheapest route, and will more likely fit your baby better than any of the pre-fit cloth diapers out there in the early days (depending on the size of your little one). Then as they get bigger you can transition to a good cloth diaper, we love Motherease diapers, they are the most affordable compared to other “well known” brands, and they will last you through 3-4 kids with their durability, and are much easier to clean. Cost wise, I think we spent $12 each, but they have packages, if you are buying more at once. I would recommend depending on how often you are comfortable doing laundry (and of course this is the biggest argument of why people don’t want to cloth diaper is that they don’t want to have to worry about doing extra laundry – but lets face it, you’re going to be doing a lot of extra laundry anyways with a baby, they spit up, poop and pee on everything, and for you with breastfeeding, you will likely have leaks too, and will require more clothing changes during the day), getting at least 24 diapers to start, my newborn was using 10-12 a day, and so that meant doing laundry every other day, this slows down as they get bigger, but it would have freed up some time to not be worry about if we had fresh diapers. If I were to say a perfect number I would say 36 diapers, would be a great start. With prefolds, for the early newborn stage you can likely purchase these for $3.50 each (if they are used, this could likely be cheaper, the same with the motherease diapers, which btw have a great resale value). And of course the benefit of using prefolds in the beginning means as your baby gets bigger and pees more, you can use those prefolds as additional liners to make for less diaper changes during the day.

    The second must have for us was a carrier, as our son like Rachel’s cried. Alot. And it was our sanity saver, I didn’t know any better when I got a carrier, and was afraid to spend the money on it in case he didn’t like it, so we went with a snugli – which for cost is decent, but is not a great carrier for posture for you or baby. I’ve never used a moby wrap, but I really wanted one, and plan to get one if we have any other children. But I do second the Ergo carrier, compared to other carriers I tried, it made me feel like I was still pregnant (in a good way), due to the weight displacement, and my son slept in it, comfortably, it’s also good for their posture and hip and spine development. And of course, they do hold their resale value as well.

    As for everything else, lots of baby blankets/burp cloths, they helped save my bed from poo explosions, barf and breastmilk, and of course they too can later be used as an additional liner in a cloth diaper, or if you happen to run out of diapers when out and about they can be used as a makeshift diaper till you get home!

    If you’re nursing, a nursing cover in the beginning can be a lifesaver, for a beginner who hasn’t nursed in public before. I’m not a supporter of “covering up” as I believe nursing needs to be seen by the general public so that younger generations can begin seeing it as natural again – but in the beginning, when you are feeling self conscious about nursing, it can help to calm you down, and give you a chance to get positioned without worrying that people are staring strangely at you :)

    For clothing, I honestly recommend checking out local children’s consignment stores, the clothing will likely be in great shape (because children grow out of it too quickly to really “use” it), and the cost will be huge savings to you. Also if you have an option to request things of family for your shower, I’d request clothing for later stages like 6months and up, everyone seems to buy clothing for the newborn stage, which for us meant that he never wore most of it – but when he hit 6months, 9 months, 12 months, it meant going out and getting him more clothing.

    Okay! I think that’s enough rambling for me – good luck on your mommy adventure, and I second taking as much help as you can get, no matter who offers it, or what they’re offering, put any pride aside, of being able to do it all, and soak in as much help as you can. A well rested mommy makes for a happier baby. And keep in mind this is an entire life change for you, of figuring everything out, going through that on top of trying to maintain a clean house, or cooking, is a recipe for stress. Pre-making meals and freezing them for the postpartum stage was a lifesaver for us.

  10. Vanessa says

    On a side note, if you plan to breastfeed, requesting a few nursing tops, would be a huge help cost wise for you, you’ll definitely use them (I really only wear 3 shirts, nursing tanks, and just put another shirt over it), when nursing it meant a big change in what I could wear comfortably to nurse in. So if you can get these from someone at your shower, it will save your pocket book (as they can get expensive).

    Co-sleeping can also save you the cost of a crib that your baby may not sleep in (like ours), and worrying about if your crib is safe (with all the recalls), and means just transitioning them to a toddler bed as they get bigger :)

      • Yuliya says

        I agree with everything Vanessa said about diapering, we used 24 pre-folds to start (but 36 would have been fantastic) and would add that for co-sleeping spend the money on a king size bed instead of a crib! I knew people are anti wipe warmer but with cloth wipes I felt it was an absolute necessity, but only for the first three months, after which you’re not dealing with a constant poop-explosion.
        I second the Breast Friend is a necessity! You’ll need it for the first few months til you get comfortable. And I can’t say enough good things about the Ergo- amazing!
        Something I wish we hadn’t bothered with? A stroller, so far practically useless.

  11. Courtney Baker says

    I made a pact that I wouldn’t buy any baby girl clothes before Milli arrived. I knew she’d get some from family. I wanted to wait until I knew her and her personality before I purchased clothing. Not to mention, her age never matched the clothing sizes. Pretty sure I prevented some outrageous shopping trips.

    You are right that every baby is different. We had a swing, bouncer, and floor gym! And Milli liked NONE of them.

    Our must haves became:
    *Breast pump
    *Boppy pillow
    *Baby Carrier
    *Glider chair
    *Car seat/stroller in one

    I didn’t really know at the time that these were our essentials. But as I started to pare down, these were the only things that made the cut for “next time”.

    • Katie says

      Courtney, I’ve also decided not to buy any clothes before our little girl arrives… her grandma, on the other hand, may have purchased all I’ll need already!
      Thanks for your advice!

    • theminimalistmom says

      Hi Vanessa!! Miss you and S. Going to send you a long email when I get a chance. Glad to hear you arrived safe and sound, even if it was a long long day.

      Photo: a coworker commented that this was the best hospital photo he had ever seen. I still laugh thinking about that. Chris took it on his phone and, as you know, we were at home.

  12. Erin says

    Katie – Congratulations!

    Here’s what we found we got great use out of:

    A bed for baby – we had a wooden crib, but if we were to have another baby, I would go for a pack and play (because they are smaller and you can use them as a travel bed too).

    An infant car seat – this was pretty essential to get our babies home from the hospital, and good to have on hand in the event we had to go somewhere in the car (which was pretty infrequent).

    A stroller – we’ve bought and sold quite a few through craigslist, and have finally settled on our BOB Revolution. We live in the city and I use our stroller daily (usually for 3-4 trips), so a durable stroller with a comfy ride is essential for us, but you have to determine what will work best for your lifestyle.

    A baby carrier – we used a Sleepy Wrap (exactly like a Moby, but cheaper!) for the first few months and my super colicy second child would go from screaming to sleeping in seconds in that thing. We did eventually transition to an Ergo when he was a bit older, which was great for carrying him on my back for when he was too big to carry on my front.

    Sleepers – I would totally recommend dressing baby in sleepers as opposed to real clothes, they are so much easier to change. I would get a dozen and forget about all other clothes for baby for the first few months.

    Breast pump – I never did end up leaving my babies with anyone but their grandma and never for more than an hour or so, but it was nice to know that if I wanted to go out for a few hours without my baby that a breast pump could make it possible. I owned an Avent manual pump (which was a piece of junk) and a Medela manual pump (if you’re looking for something inexpensive, but effective, go with Medela!)

    Cloth diapers – we used them too, from when our youngest was 2 months old until he potty trained at two and a half. Even if you’re not using them as diapers, prefolds as awesome as burp cloths or to lay under baby as a change pad. I really liked cloth diapering, it was easy as there were always diapers on hand at home.

    With our first baby we accumulated what felt like every piece of baby equipment known to man. A baby gate (in a condo?!), an exersaucer, a swing, nursing pillow, you name it, we had it. We got rid of all of it when our youngest was a few months old – we just had no room for all that stuff that we weren’t using. The thing I did appreciate most after having my babies wasn’t a thing at all – it was people coming to visit me and our little ones, giving me some much needed adult company. :)

    • Katie says

      Thanks for all the tips Erin! We’ve looked at the BOB revolution as well, it’s seems like a popular choice in our city… my only concern is that it seems like a lot of stroller for a tiny baby! Do you think it would work from the beginning?

      • Erin says

        Having had my babies in strollers from week 1, I can tell you most strollers are a lot for such tiny babies. :) I know that BOB does not recommend using their strollers for newborns as they don’t have a full recline, and I didn’t have my BOB when my little guy was small – that being said, I know they do sell an infant car seat adaptor if you wanted to use the stoller from birth, and I think it would be okay without the carseat option for a baby that was at least a few months old. For what it’s worth, I’ve tried quite a few strollers (Bugaboo and Mountain Buggy to name a couple – yes, I’m a bit stroller crazy :) ) and BOB takes the cake in terms of quality and ease of use. Good luck with your decision!

      • abracadabra says

        I had a couple of cheap-o strollers, mostly hand-me-downs, and was so fed up with them by the time we got to baby #2 (20 months later) that I insisted that we by a Phil&Ted’s E3 despite my husband’s protests. I loved it and he agreed it was one of the best purchases we made.

        It is a stroller than can grow with you. It was fully functional without being excessive for 1 newborn through toddler and it handled a toddler+baby and 2 toddlers quite well all with the footprint of a smallish jogging stroller (it isn’t the “best” jogging stroller but the front wheel does lock). There was nothing more frustrating that trying to maneuverer a front/back double stroller through doors except maybe finding that the side-by-side double stroller didn’t fit through the doors period. It was indispensable for taking public transit.

        We used it from when my son was a newborn until he was about 3.5 but my daughter rode in it up until we kicked her out and made her start walking at 5. We passed it on mainly because my sil has a newborn and 20 mo old and has much greater need than we did… though I would still use it for my now 4 yo if it was handy.

  13. Jennifer says

    My son could have qualified for olympic long distance spitting up. So we used receiving blankets instead of burp rags or cloth diapers. And bibs. Bibs were a necessity because of the spitting up. They saved us from having to change outfits every time he spit up, when it was a small incident. (obviously for safety, no bibs for naps or sleeping, we put a receiving blanket or 2 under him to save having to change sheets if he spit in his sleep)

    I totally agree with everyone who says ask for FOOD. And if you can and have space, do some freezer meals, like pre-made casseroles and such so dinner time is a ‘no-brainer.’ You will totally appreciate not having to come up with meal ideas when you are sleep deprived :)

  14. sarah says

    a good carrier (ergo/moby) + $15 exercise ball (you know, the blue ones that you bounce on) = better than any bouncy chair. Ball is also good during labour, and for post partum workouts, or can be deflated and kept till the next babe comes along.

    Do register, as people will want to buy you stuff no matter what, but I agree that you should ensure your store has a good return policy. That way, you can get what you need when you need it.

    • The Saved Quarter says

      Absolutely! We use the ball still to bounce our two year old when she needs a little extra soothing. Our five year old even likes it! I used it for labor and instead of a rocking chair in their bedroom.

  15. Jen says

    For me the life savers that I used everyday were a swing, swaddlers at night or if upset, pacifiers, bag style sleepers. Other than those and the obvious diapers that’s about all I used. We were kind of a different case because my son was a preemie. I couldn’t use the swing until he was 2 mos old I wasn’t even allowed to rock him till 2 mos. The rules were completely different for him and because of his 11 day stay in the NICU he got formula and pacifiers. It made breast feeding rocky but we got there and he seemed to really need pacifiers so I got one that were at least breast feeding friendly. He would not sleep anywhere else but in bed with me. I want supposed to do that but after 3 days straight of no sleep and a very upset baby I did what felt right to me as a mother. Is very true every baby is so different with what they like/need. It is super easy to end up with a house full of more then you could possibly need. The big things I didn’t need where a diaper bag, a lot of clothes, alot of bedding, don’t even bother with a bumper for a crib there expensive and you’ll find out later your not supposed to use them, toys they just want your time and attention the media takes advantage of new insecure mothers and makes you feel like a bad person or worse a bad mother for denying your child a toy that they claim gives then some advantage to learning. Listen to your gut and your baby and you can’t go wrong. Good luck mother hood

  16. Mrs Fger says

    We’re in the UK so a lot of the terminology is different! But we have an 18 month old, and we went minimalist right from the start. Breastfeeding really does minimise lots. As do cloth nappies – all ours are borrowed from friends so can be returned. We borrowed pretty much everything we needed from my sister and from a couple of friends, so when we’d finished using it (e.g. first size clothes, baby bath, car seat, sling wrap), we just handed it back again. Brilliant. Although I’ve kept hold of the Ergo sling, love it so much. I now receive bags of hand me downs – so once I’ve finished, I can pass them on. We got a few items from Freecycle – back carrier, high chair, and as we finish with them, again we pass them on. We were very blessed and did receive a lot of presents – my strategy was either to take them back to the shop and ask to swap it (for something else more useful, a bigger size perhaps) or re-gift it to someone else. (is that rude? probably. I never told them). If people are keen to buy you clothes, ask them to buy several sizes bigger and consider the season – no point in buying 0-3 months stufff as you will get so much of it, and it will get so little use. Presents I was very happy to receive included lots of books (for when they are a bit older, the real traditional titles in board) and a hand crocheted blanket (my sister).

  17. Allison says

    Most of my comments have been covered but I would add that I found setting up a changing station was really helpful. A few friends of mine tried the change the baby wherever you are (on the bed/floor/couch etc) and found they just got a bad back and were constantly short handed, without what they needed to change the baby. I don’t think a “change table” is necessary. I just put one of those foam change pads and a basket of supplies on top of an old dresser.

    One total waste of money and space item for us – Baby Baths. The sink was fine to start for the first month or so and then one of us just got in the tub with him. By six months, on nights we don’t want to take a bath with him, a hand towel in the bottom of the tub (decreasing slipping) and a very shallow layer of water and constant parental supervision (one hand on the baby at all times) works fine.

  18. Melissa says

    I would suggest not getting things like a swing, bouncy seat, etc. until AFTER your little one is here. One of my kids hated the swing, the next loved it. Luckily, we borrowed the one we used, so we weren’t out any money regardless. #1 must-have: The Moby Wrap. Used with both of our kids and it is the best thing ever (and still using it – the oldest is only 2 1/2)! It’s my go-to baby gift for new moms.
    -Moby
    -Diapers (cloth or disposable – we did cloth)
    -Nursing pillow (will save your arms even if you’re bottle-feeding)
    -dozen sleepers/onesies (agree completely with you on this one!)
    -something to use as a burp/spit-up rag (anything from a receiving blanket/prefold diaper/old towel) just to protect your clothing
    -Car seat

    Really, that’s about all you need. We also had a bassinet-type thing (not a bassinet, not a bouncy seat, somewhere in between) w/ DD2 and she practically lived in it day and night!

  19. TerriAnn says

    Besides a car seat and diapers (I highly recommend cloth) here is what I consider my baby essentials:

    sling for carrying newborn
    Ergo carrier for 4+ months up to toddler

    something you can put the baby down in for when you have to use the bathroom, shower (when you find the time!), I loved the Boppy newborn lounger, but they do outgrow this by about 5 months old.

    I totally agree with Rachel about the onesies, have a bunch…the baby really does not need to wear anything else in the summer and for fall/winter, a few footie sleepers…no need for outfits, they can wear the sleepers all the time. They really don’t need any other clothing.

    We used a woombie for nighttime sleeping, they are like swaddlers, but are a zipppered sleeper made of stretchy material that the baby can move his/her arms around a little bit, seems much more natural to me than restrictive swaddling. Using receiving blankets for swaddling is dangerous in my opinion, they can get out of the swaddle and the blanket can cover their mouth and nose.

    A few burp cloths, but I really didn’t use many of these.
    We did use a swing, sometimes at night she slept better in it.

    If you go with a stroller, get a good all terrain one that will go anywhere, the park, beach, mall. We have a Bumbleride Indie…it is fabulous.

    as far as toys go, they really don’t need them until later, maybe 6 months old. But a younger baby may like a mirror they can look in while on the floor.

    What you don’t need:

    crib and mobile
    toys
    non-practical clothing
    shoes/socks
    baby blankets (but they are cute!)
    wipes warmer or diaper genie (these are such a waste)

    Hope this helps!

  20. TerriAnn says

    …remember, the less you have, the less you have to get attached to. I wish I had been minimalish when my 3 year old was born…now we have too much stuff and it is hard to get rid of for sentimental reasons.

  21. theminimalistmom says

    Love, love, love all these suggestions and the wise advice. Where were all of you when I was pregnant and shopping up a storm?! (Oh right, I was still in spend mode and nothing could stop me).

    • Jennifer says

      Help with the chores, that is what I intend to ask for; I’m already prepping hubby for my request for a temporary housekeeper…and so far he seems very receptive :)

  22. Katie says

    Thank you Rachel and everyone else for so much wonderful advice! It’s so reassuring to hear that others have managed without too much extra STUFF!

    I love the idea of asking for meals, help cleaning, etc. and would not have thought of that. I’ll definitely bring this up to friends and family who ask. I especially love the idea of a mama and baby yoga class – FUN!

    The Mobywrap and ergo carriers both seem like practical and well-used items that would certainly get a lot of use – we live in a city and walk almost everywhere! The rest, it seems is a matter of reflecting on our lifestyle, considering what we’ll actually need, and waiting to meet our little girl to learn her preferences (I get chills writing that – so excited!!). Rachel, your suggestion to register and return is a great one – and seems like a practical way to approach the necessity of registering, despite uncertainty about our needs.

    Thank you again for addressing this topic!

  23. Amber says

    When in doubt, what new parents need more than anything is food. Seriously. Casseroles you can pop in the oven are a lifesaver. I still feel all warm and fuzzy about the people who brought food. I remember it 6 years after my first child was born.

    As far as the actual baby goes, there are very few needs beyond diapers and washcloths. But there are a lot of things that certainly make life easier. The problem is, as you said in your post, they differ from baby to baby. I have two kids, and my must-haves were different for each of them. Babies are so fun like that, they love to keep you guessing.

  24. Charlotte says

    We loved the Moby, a night light helped me in the early months and my son still needs it in his room. We also used a baby tub from Ikea, this was bigger and was good until he was 9-10 mo old.
    Gifts: massage for mommy and daddy:))

  25. Melissa Williamson says

    I had a glider rocker, but quickly switched to our big, somewhat ugly, leather rocker-recliner. So much more comfortable!

    Nursing pillow–ok, if you are at home or until the baby gets a little older, but not something that you would want to depend on. Who wants to carry around a special pillow?

    I didn’t use a carrier with either of my kids. I actually bought one to use with my second, but he hated it and I hated trying to get it on (awkward).

    You don’t need a bassinet–go straight for the crib. I didn’t do co-sleeping with my kids and I am so glad that I didn’t have that habit to break.

    • theadventuresoflactatinggirl says

      I used the nursing pillow for while I was on the computer. I wouldn’t ever imagine taking it around with me, but it was convenient for using two hands while nursing.

      Also, I wouldn’t say that co-sleeping is a difficult habit to break. For me, it was totally worth it to actually sleep at night for the first 18 months of my daughter’s life until I switched her to her own “bed” (a twin-sized mattress on her floor) and she transitioned very easily.

      • Jennifer says

        We started co-sleeping by accident when my son was 2 yrs. BIG mistake (for us)…he is now almost 5 and I can’t seem to get him to sleep in his own bed. Ok…truth??? I can’t get him to sleep in his own bed without inconveniencing me. I like my sleep too much, so I have been reluctant to spend a few nights training him to stay in his room. But I am now preg with our 2nd, and my son will be starting school shortly before the baby is born, and we don’t want him waking up all night every time the baby cries, so I am going to have to teach him to stay in his own room soon. Those nights in the 3rd trimester when insomnia kicks in should be perfect for that, right?

  26. Sarah says

    My advice is…don’t waste time, $$$, and effort on an extensively decorated nursery! Before our first, I chose neutral bedding, and left the walls beige. It worked fine for our daughter and our son born 21 mos. later. They are babies for such a short time, I don’t see the need for a “Pottery Barn Kids” nursery. Sure…you can make their room more special when they are older and will remember it.

    Also not necessary – a changing table. I always changed mine on a blanket on the floor. We have a 3 story house…I wasn’t going to take them all the way to the top floor multiples times a day to change them on a changing table.

    • Jeanne says

      I agree, I just did a convertible crib, no dressers, changing table or the rest. We are using furniture that we already have. Don’t waste your money on organics either. They can cost 2-3 times more and again they grow so fast. No need to buy crib shoes unless you cannot stand to have the baby pull off their socks. Don’t waste money on a wipe warmer either, the wipe will still get cold before you make it to change baby.

      Also here is a recipe that I found to make your own wipes – http://flutterbyearomatics.com/recipes.htm#NATURAL_HAND_or_BABY_WIPES

  27. Jeanne says

    I am due June 13 2011 and I don’t see the need for a lot of the things they say you “must have.” What I did do though is find as many things that had multiple uses or would convert to a toddler or older child. My crib will convert to a full size bed, the car seat goes from 5 lbs. t0 100 lb booster seat, the space saver chair can be used until he is able to sit in a regular chair. The swing is also a bouncer, the mattress is for an infant on side and a regular mattress on the other until we go up to the full size bed. Last but not least I am going to make my own baby food with the food processor my hubby gave me last Christmas.

    I also found this other blog of stuff not to waste your money on – http://perfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/baby-gear-dont-waste-your-money-on-these-items/?blogsub=confirming#subscribe-blog.

    God Bless you and good luck!

  28. KT says

    Even if you don’t drive – a car seat is a must. You never know when you will need to take a cab somewhere or hop in a friends car (although harder when kids are older).

    If not a fan of cloth diapers, you can always try G diapers (you can flush or compost wet ones).

    Everything else can wait and see!!

  29. theadventuresoflactatinggirl says

    One big item for me that I look back and wonder why the heck I bought it is an infant car seat. No, you don’t need one! Our convertible car seat that we upgraded to fits babies as small as 5 lbs. The only point in the infant ones is that you can carry them around in them, which is so inconvenient and actually bad for baby!

    • Jennifer says

      Our carseat was *supposed to be* convertible (birth to booster), but didn’t recline enough for a newborn, so we ended up having to buy an infant car seat after our son was born anyway. And it has a 40 lb limit on the straps, so can’t truly be used for a booster either, since he is only 4 yrs old and has already outgrown it, but still must be in a booster until he is at least 8 yrs old. So we have also had to buy an additional booster seat, too. For us, the convertible car seat has turned out not to be the the big minimalist money saver it was supposed to be. My SIL, on the other hand INVESTED in a very expensive convertible carseat (after her daughter outgrew her infant car seat) and it should be usable until my niece weighs 100 lbs. So definitely do your research and invest in quality when you buy.

  30. Julia J says

    I didn’t want all the crap either , so for a shower I had a book shower. I also don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it but a huge diaper bag is a waste of money. You only need 2 diapers at most, one extra sleeper ( and I only did this the first few months) and something to wipe with, and I even ditched that at times. What is wrong with toilet paper or tissue? I put it all in a plastic bag in my purse. One thing that I wish people would stop using is plastic kid dishes. Why?? I used vintage diner dishes for my son and they are indestructible, aesthetically pleasing and aren’t non biodegradable petroleum products. When it comes to simplicity just look back to what
    your grandparents used and all is simpler.

  31. magnoliachica says

    We live in a one-bedroom apartment with limited closet space. I’m being pretty strict about how many toys my daughter will have. We have a big basket we keep in the living room with her toys. Once it is full, we’re going to be implementing the one-toy-in-one-toy-out policy.

    Another fantastic option for us is the local parenting center. They have a huge playroom that I can take my daughter to where she can play with all kinds of toys that we won’t have at home. If your town has something like this, it can be a great change of pace for you and your little one.

    Regarding the nursing pillow debate, I’m a bit taller and the nursing pillow I got – which I was very excited about – didn’t work for me. After I wrestled it on while trying to hold a fussing baby, it was more like an armrest. I found a regular pillow with old t-shirts as a case works really well. I also like to sit Indian-style with my legs tucked under me, so I gravitate toward chairs with wide-enough seats! Suffice to say that each person is different.

    My biggest frustration is stuffed animals. I grew up with a lot, and it was hard to get rid of them due to sentimental reasons. Now that we have such a small place, I don’t have room for those my daughter received. I’ve culled a few, but I’ve heard that they are hard to donate to thrift stores, etc. because they’re allergen traps and hard to clean. Sigh.

  32. Yuliya says

    I piggybacked on someone else’s comment already about my “must haves” but I also wanted to say that you can use a site like wishpot.com to register for items from all over in one place, wishpot also lets people search for the best deal/etc, that way you can add things from local stores, etsy, etc.
    Something to keep in mind, these days if you find that you absolutely have to have something (extra burp cloths, onesies, whatever) you can buy it online and have it shipped to you within 24hrs.

  33. lazy mama- mom to 3yo boy and 2yo girl says

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned yet: Get everything in neutral. Especially when you have a girl first, it is super easy to let everything have at least a little pink or purple or a flower or something. If you have a boy next, there’s not a very good chance you’ll want to use any of that with him. Everything comes in pink these days, but think about if you’d want to use it with a boy: diaper pails, car seats, bumbos, boppys, bibs, spoons, bowls, cloth diapers, toys, crib bedding (and on and on). The more neutral everything is, the more likely you’ll use it again.
    Also, I wouldn’t buy anything except for a place for the baby to sleep and a car seat before she is born. I also wouldn’t buy anything new.
    As far as registering goes, see if you can get a group of people to chip in for a bigger item, like the car seat or crib or swing or booster seat so that you can have a few, more substantial items, instead of lots of little things you don’t need.
    Lastly, I totally agree with a)putting nursing tops on your registry b)getting a really good pump if you’ll be pumping at work c)you don’t need a diaper bag (carry the bare essentials in your purse and leave extra stuff in the car)

  34. Cherrill says

    What a great post–and excellent comments from everyone! The truth is, as has been said, there’s no real “answer”–every baby and every mom is different. Some have said don’t waste money on a crib–for me, that was essential; other have said you must have a carrier–my kid hated being in one. It’s really a lot of trial and error, and no matter how little you try to cut down, there will be something you buy/receive that was a waste of money–don’t stress about it, we all do it. And there will likely be some life-saver that you discounted and only find out about after the fact. Well if you made it that far, obviously is wasn’t that life-saving :)

    We got most of the unnecessary baby junk with our first, and now we’re expecting twins. So I’m hanging on to all of it for now, but I’m not buying doubles of anything until I see what these ones will like or hate (I can’t wait to get rid of some of it). Definite musts for me the first time around were: sleepers, car seat, stroller (again, that carrier issue), breast pump, decent nursing bra (those things are expensive!), 2-3 crib sheets, hat, baby wash and a mirror on a stand for tummy time.

    I love the idea of a service or experience–what about housecleaning services once a week/month, or grocery runs, or babysitting? The best gift I got was when my best friend rolled up with a cooler full of frozen homemade meals, pies and muffins.

    • angela says

      I have to agree the most with Cherrill here.

      Everyone is going to have a different list. And for each kid the list will be different.

      I would suggest to borrow as many big items as you can to figure out what your individual child likes.

      And just as getting carried away with having ‘too much’ for the baby (or for ourselves) is not needed-so is getting fixated on ‘not having everything.’

      Do what works for you, your baby and your family.

      I love the idea of classes, meals and time.
      Yes register. Keep what you want to. Return what you dont and can return. Sell whatever else you cant return.

      All the best with the baby.

  35. K La says

    DON’T buy a crib! If you aren’t going to co-sleep, you should go with a pack-N-play. Cute, portable, and a heck of a lot less expensive.

    Also, what do you NEED to buy for a baby? Nothing. Breastfeed so you don’t have bottles or formula. Co-sleep so you don’t need cribs/sheets and all that. EC so you don’t need diapers or wipes. Baby wear (okay, so you’ll need a carrier) so you don’t need strollers, swings, bouncers, bumbies, or anything else lazy people invented to get out of holding their children. No ‘poo so you don’t need baby shampoo or baby wash, bathe with her so you don’t need an infant tub, talk with her, interact with her, and let her play with pots and pans so you don’t need toys.

    So the question is: What do you WANT?

    • Julia J says

      So happy to see someone mention elimination communication (ec). I read about it in the nytimes and decided I would try. Started at 2 months and by 1 year he didn’t poop in diapers. That was slow by most standards, but lots are still potty training at 3. Highly recommend it. Why let your kid poop themselves for 2 years and then tell them they should go in a toilet? Use the toilet from the beginning!

      • Heather says

        It’s true! Worked for my son too! He was using the potty on his own, no more diaper, at 16 months. (Dry through the night too). He started pooing in the toilet (with me holding him in my arms) at 6 months old. This makes diaper changes a whole lot easier!

  36. simplybeingmum says

    Anyone out there looking for the perfect gift for new parents – give your time! Take a sandwich or some soup round so new Mom can grab a bite to eat and a shower whilst you sit with baby for an hour. Take round some freshly made Chilli or Curry for the sleep deprived parents to reheat. Or the ultimate gift – make them some baby sitting vouchers.

  37. Chandra says

    My daughter was a great surprise to us. We didn’t even have a bedroom to spare – her room is a small den with no closet. In her room there is: a small dresser with a changing pad on top, a crib that becomes a day bed and a chair and footstool. The crib mattress is dressed with two sets of mattress covers and sheets; makes middle of the night bed changes a snap and I don’t need a closet to store the extra bedding. I used a Puj tub which was an amazing space saver and then switched to one of those net sling things that you just put in your tub. I use a baby k’tan carrier which is very versatile and can be used from birth on. I accept hand me downs but only keep the things that I would have bought if I saw them in a store and donate the rest. I don’t buy clothing in larger sizes no matter how great a deal they are, and when she’s done with something I get rid of it right away. All the baby really wants is you – the “stuff” is more for you than for her. Best of luck!

  38. Heather says

    We were concerned about the baby shower and all the unnecessary items that people would buy, all the packaging, wrapping etc. We got around this by having an eco shower. We told people that we didn’t need much for the baby (which is true) but that we really wanted to get all of our friends together for one last time before the baby was born. And, if they did want to get us something, we only wanted second hand items. Many people have lots of clothing or second hand items and we appreciated those a lot, but really didn’t want our friends/family to also go to the store to buy something new. Friends that didn’t already have kids went to second hand/consignment stores to look for a used outfit (prewashed, preloved and usually nice and soft because of it!) or made something handmade, bought things that were handmade or fair trade.

    The other benefit of the eco shower is that it let people know that we were open to using second hand items (some people aren’t – I never understand this!) which increased the number of second hand things we were offered as our child got older too, and the practice continued of giving 2nd hand items and not buying new from the store.

    Most people wrapped their presents in newspaper or didn’t wrap at all. At the end of the shower, we were very happy to see how little waste there was.

    Good luck keeping your “stuff” to a minimum!
    Heather

  39. Heather says

    Another thing we were given was a few months of a diaper washing service. We ended up using the service until my baby was 6 months old, then started washing the diapers ourselves. (I used some of the practices from the book “Diaper Free” so my baby went poo right into the toilet after 6 months old! An awesome read, and lots of online resources to help you go this route too if you are interested. We never went “diaper free”, he always wore a diaper but he rarely used it. This saved me AT LEAST $1000 in diaper purchases! My SON was completely using the potty on his own by 16 months, not a typo, no more diapers after this point at all!).

  40. bogart says

    I haven’t read the comments, except the first one, Jackie’s. It so made me laugh because if there was one thing I found irritating as a new mom, it was onesies with snaps rather than zippers.

    The key point being, you’ll likely find you have strong opinions that you won’t be able to discover ’til you’re in the trenches. Get the minimum, the stuff you really need for the baby’s first week or two (diapers (12 or so if cloth), 12 or so onesies, 3-4 blankets, a safe place for baby to sleep and appropriate sheets (3 or 4), a breast pump if you’re planning on breastfeeding (I haven’t met a BFing mom, myself included, who didn’t find this helpful pretty much right away in dealing with either over- or undersupply, and of course a carseat, a pack of wipes), tuck the rest of what you get aside in a safe spot, with tags still on and receipts there too, if possible, and wait and see what you like. Oh, and stash some extra money so that when you’re too tired to go out and shop and need to order some “emergency” item (for me it was a battery-powered mobile, oh yes), you can.

    Congratulations!

  41. abracadabra says

    Check and see if your state or province has something like Parents As Teachers. It is a program – widely adopted usually as part of the public school system but it has different names from place to place – that is focused on getting kids ready to enter kindergarten, heavy emphasis on birth to 3.

    Where I live, PAT has a toy lending library along with books so you could try things out before purchasing them and/or rotate toys in and out. They also have infant massage classes, play groups run by a child development specialist, development, hearing, and sight screenings, and seminars about parenting issues (everything from sleep to discipline to healthy relationship skills for parents) and other fun activities for preschoolers (i.e., vehicle fair with fire trucks, trash trucks, police helicopter, etc.). They emphasized, in my experience, working with what you already have – i.e., gross motor development: jumping over a phone book, toys made out of oatmeal cans, pre-literacy games with cut up shopping fliers. And my parent educator was a great resource. My son was not happy unless upright… and he was enormous (18 mo clothing at 4 mo). I was exhausted carrying him around and dealing with a toddler. So, my parent educator asked around and found an exersaucer someone was all too happy to get out of their storage space – happy baby and mama.

  42. Pippi says

    I haven’t read all the responses so I apologize if this is a repeat, but ask for food! Instead of shower gift asks friends to bring a meal after the baby is born. This was our number one best gift (besides a battery operated candle — great for night-time wakings). It doesn’t need to be gourmet — our friends brought over sandwiches from an Italian deli and cheese shop and it was hands down one of the best meals of my life.

  43. Caroline says

    I agree with all previous posters… babies need very few “things”: they need love, food and warmth. Often all these come together!

    I’m glad a few of the later comments mentioned elimination communication/natural infant hygiene/diaper-free… whatever you want to call it. Even done part-time, it saves time, effort and stuff. You don’t need any special equipment – I found that a deep-ish container with a narrow opening (similar to a yogurt container I guess) fit perfectly between my knees and I could “sit” my little one on it by holding those awesome chubby legs.

    As for a diapering station, I used my grandmother’s old sewing table, which I set up in the living room (where we spent most of our newborn time): perfect height with lots of drawers for diapers and things. I made my own cloth wipes out of thin flannel cut into squares (using a friend’s serger to finish the edges) and picked up one of those coffee dispensers (new, at Winners I think for about $10) with the lever on top that you press down on, which we filled once a day with warm water to wet the wipes.

    Some of our essentials were borrowed: infant car seat, swing (which we loved, but I was glad to give it back!), baby bathtubs. Some were handmade: ring sling, some burp cloths/blankets. Others were purchased by or for us: stroller (including bassinet), nursing pillow.

    I’m in favour of the wait-and-see / try-it-out-elsewhere-first approach. It’s also best to try to avoid being exposed to all the baby-stuff propaganda and advertising in the first place. But it’s hard (those magazines are soooo cute).

    My best essential: (if you have some of these people in your life) spend time with friends/family (a)who have had babies and (b) whose life and parenting style you appreciate. In my experience, these are the people who will bring you food, offer to do a load of laundry or dishes for you, won’t bat an eye as you spend their entire visit struggling with your constantly-feeding nursling (ok, that was my experience), and will know better than to offer random advice without being asked.

    Congratulations, good luck (you’ll be great!) and have fun.

  44. The Prudent Homemaker says

    I have 6 children (ages 1-9).

    I was given a nursing pillow and I hated it. I ended up selling it at a secondhand shop.

    I’ve never had a glider; I nurse the baby in a chair with arms (my computer chair or a chair in the living room) or in bed at night.

    I’ve never had a changing table, and I haven’t needed one.

    A bouncer was a huge waste and so was a swing.

    Neutral bedding has been wonderful. We did everything in white, and it worked easily. We were given a ton of blankets, and you probably will be, too. With every baby someone kept giving us blankets! You can have neutral sheets and the blankets can change for a boy or a girl (or you can have neutral blankets or just use whatever you have).

    I didn’t know what I was having with my first baby, which was a huge blessing, because instead of buying us mostly clothes, I got more needed items, like diapers.

    That said, even the diaper pail doesn’t get much use anymore; we put the diapers just in the trash now and my 6-year-old empties the trash every day :)

  45. Catherine says

    A super sized bottle of hand sanitizer to use after diaper changing and to refill the bottles in your purse, car, backpack, diaper bag, kitchen, etc…(I am still refilling with the same big bottle and Stephen is almost 2), a crib, sleepers/onesies, car seat and running stroller combo (I only needed one instead of trading for a bigger one as Stephen grows up), and lots of love and support from friends and family :)

    Always register for diapers (unless you go cloth, but I suppose you could register for those too)!

    I agree to register for what you think you need and then return what you don’t. I registered for everything and only one person bought anything from the list so I ended up donating 30 blankets and tons of random baby bottles to a battered women’s shelter. At least some good came from getting things I didn’t need.

  46. Catherine says

    Oh, and I had a boppy but Stephen was much happier laying on the floor on a blanket. I donated that before Stephen had even outgrown it! And we had a changing table handed down to us. It has one drawer and then two shelves and it’s now Stephen’s shelving for toys and the drawer for socks and such. If you are buying or being offered furniture, make sure it has more than one purpose. I will be using the sides of Stephen’s crib that he just moved out of as racks in the bathroom instead of boring towel racks. Reuse everything :)

  47. MelD says

    I love this thread – what a great change to see so many sensible young moms more concerned about what you don’t need!
    I am an only child and my mom never had much to do with babies so she followed what was “done” in Germany in the 60s, penniless and totally clueless, but then she didn’t know what I would need for my baby in the 80s, either! We both didn’t have a clue. Luckily my dad brought me a book he picked up cheaply (he had no clue, either!) that had a chapter on what you don’t need, things like using towels for everything – blankets, pillows, whatever; keeping on the floor so no dangerous falls while sleeping or changing etc. etc. This was a godsend, I wish I could remember who the author was, it was German. I was a very young single mom and even then was given a stack of stuff I never used and it took years of hoarding before I got rid of it.
    Now my daughter is expecting her 2nd. She was really sensible about the first and when we went to the baby store I didn’t see a SINGLE thing I thought was a real “need”. Well, car seats I guess, nowadays. (When she was small she had a soft Moses basket on the back seat. I know. And she survived.) People still gave her so much, she was tearing her hair out, it was all over the house! She wages a constant battle against hand-me-downs, toys, etc. and keeping things to a reasonable level. I feel sorry for her that way.
    At our house, we didn’t need much to babysit though I did get a cheap high chair (IKEA) so as soon as grandson could sit he could watch while I cooked or vacced or whatever for a few minutes (or look out the window!) and we have just one small drawer of toys and books for him which he heads straight to when he arrives here. We picked up a cheap travel bed once he could roll over which can double as a play pen (dogs, cat around) but didn’t use it much except for overnight stays, when he was a kid who slept better in a quiet, darkened room. Now he can use a big bed (nearly 3). No doubt we will not be buying any extras for grandchild no. 2!!!

  48. Kari says

    I thought we needed all those things, too. We had a bassinet in our room, because I wanted him to sleep in our room for awhile-I nursed exclusively for 6 months, and then didn’t wean completely until just before my son turned 2 this June. I work, so we did need bottles and a pump. We got all the gear–swing, bouncer, walker, Bumbo chair, stroller…and hardly used the swing and Bumbo. We used the walker so he could get around while he was learning how to walk, but it seems like such a waste when its used for such a short period of time. Luckily, the grandparents paid for that! Everything is shoved into my son’s closet, now, awaiting use by a little brother or sister. LOL Then I can finally get rid of it when we’re done for sure. I LOVE that you mention babywearing! We only used the stroller when my son was very little when my husband and I would take walks together. I make my own carriers-Mei Tai and ring slings. I wouldn’t recommend the Bjorn style carriers at all! They don’t support a baby’s spine and hips at all, and there’s a reason why people only use them “a couple times” and they’re all over Craiglist. The dangle baby by their crotch, and throw the wearer’s balance off because Bjorn says you can wear them facing out. Also a no-no! If you want a structured carrier with buckles, do go with the Ergo, or a Beco. Babyhawk also makes one called Oh Snap. These carriers put baby in proper position, so you can carry for longer periods of time, and into toddler years.

  49. Laura says

    So many great suggestions. I am a big fan of breastfeeding, AND a big fan of having a breast pump. It’s really the only way an exclusively breastfeeding mom can have more than 30 minutes away from her little one without worrying that the poor thing is going to have a sudden, unrequited need to feed (leaving whoever is caring for the little one at that moment up a creek). Also, it enables the other parent to help with feeding and bond more with the baby. I found the Medela Pump In Style to be great. Pump = a must in my book.

  50. Christie says

    I know I’m late to this post. The things I’m listing are the things I’ve liked with each of my 4 children. There are things that some babies liked, but not others (like a swing), but these are our must-haves —
    1. bouncy seat (used daily up to 6 months)
    2. booster/high chair combination (used daily 6-30+ months)
    3. sling or front carrier (used daily up to 6 months, and then weekly after that, even up to age 2-1/2)
    4. stroller (we bought a $100 Combi stroller with baby #1. Its like a nice umbrella stroller size-wise, but with better back support. We’re still using it 11 years later for baby #4)
    5. crib (we do co-sleep part of the night, but naps are in the crib)
    6. Britax carseat (one seat per kid since it works day 1 through age 6!)
    7. Cloth diapers (flats and PUL covers)

  51. Laura says

    I had our 2nd child while living in an RV. I learned quickly how much we could do without, we had very little space. The baby slept in a moses basket on our bed. No crib(till we moved and got one at about 5 months). No high chair. We did have a stroller and carseat set someone gave us. Did have a baby bjorn and bouncy seat. Also had portable swing we barely used. Also had the basic clothes, blankets etc. still had too much. Babies don’t need a lot; food, shelter, clothes and love:-)

  52. 1groovgroves@gmail.com says

    1-4 months
    • Baby Carrier
    • Lightweight stroller
    • Car Seat
    • Vibrating carrier/vibrating snoozer
    • Dozen sleepers and onesies
    • 2 Dozen cloth diapers to use as burp cloths and diapers in a pinch: great clothing shields and in a pinch you can use a few as a blanket.
    • Baby blessing dress (mom!)
    • 1 rubber pants (for the emergency with cloth diaper emergency)
    • High backed chair/rocker with armrests.
    • Small table next to rocker
    • Elbow support firm pillow or nursing pillow.
    • Nursing bib or larger receiving blanket
    • Baby Monitor (with non breathing alert and furthest range possible)
    • Crib
    • Baby swing
    • Utter balm or diperrash stuff
    • No tear gentle shampoo
    • Changing table or day bed to sit and change baby and dress baby on.
    • Breast pump /leak gaurds/pads
    • Receiving blankets LOTS OF THEM
    • Head guard in car seat
    • Diaper bag or larger purse
    • Non roll over roll pad
    • Socks
    • Stocking cap
    • Non Scratch mits
    • Safety
    • Suction bulb
    • Bottles / nipples/ bottle cleaning brush
    • Pacifier
    • Changing pads
    • Sheets
    • Blankets
    • Nail clippers pacifiers and bottles
    • Baby bath tub
    • Disposable Diapers
    • Wipes
    4 months
    • Baby gate/play pen
    • Baby backpack
    • Jonny jump up
    personally i couln’t get along with out my bassinet next to my bed the first 3 months.

  53. Jill says

    With my newborn, we used a bath towel to keep her safe while cosleeping and napping on the couch. Fold the width of the towel the approximate length of your baby.Then tightly roll the ends towards the middle and stop leaving enough room for baby to lie in. Lastly, flip the towel over so the rolls don’t come undone, and nestle newborn on towel with rolls protecting him on either side.

  54. hanna says

    Great idea to register for items and then return what you don’t end up using. If you register at Target you can even use the giftcards for groceries etc. We did not have a baby shower (bad luck in my culture) but did have a registry for my husband’s Americanized relatives. Kind of glad I didn’t have a shower, we went to one recently and the amount of stuff they recieved was amazing. Cloth diapers is a great thing to register for, I used about 20 and had to do laundry every day the first months and every 2-3 days when the baby got older.

    My co-workers had a “kids book drive” instead of a shower for me. Everyone brought a kids or baby book which was really nice because books is the only thing we hoard in my home:) Maybe registering for some classic kids books is an idea.

    Our pre-baby must have list consisted of:
    -crib
    -car seat
    -joggin stroller (I need my exercise)
    -cloth diapers
    -baby bjorn carrier

    In hindsight we have not used the crib at all, ended up getting a changing table ($10 on craigslist) which I liked since I kept all the baby stuff (diapering and bathing supplies) on it and recieved more than enough clothes from relatives. I also got a bunch of baby blankets and a nursing pillow second hand, used the blankets but not the pillow.

    I bought a baby gym when my LO was 2 months. Recieved a high chair as a gift and started using it around 4-5 months. I am not sure how people do without child seat, we have sit down family dinners and my lo sits in the high chair by the table. Before he could sit in it we had to eat in shifts or in the living room which was not that nice. He also sits in it and watches me do dishes and cook in the kitchen.

  55. R. Mansker says

    I accepted any and all gifts of used items but told the giver that if I ended up with a surplus that I would donate the items to a shelter.

    When you register for an item ask yourself: how often per day, per week, will I use this? If the answer is less than once per week then it is probably something you don’t need!

    Also, I put GIFT CARDS on my registry and if someone asked what to get me, I told them the gift cards were good because I could use it for necessities before, during, or after baby’s birth. Example: Oh no, he has almost outgrown the diaper covers he is in, well, I’ll use this nifty gift card and order some of the next size!

    Good luck!

  56. amanda says

    well…we are about to start all over, with baby #4. :) here are our essentials:

    1. carseat – but we use a convertible from birth, will last longer
    2. cloth diapers – prefolds/covers
    3. clothes: onsies, sleepers, a couple of good hats (summer vs winter)
    4. swaddling blankets: love the big 47 ” muslin ones
    5. baby carrier: a woven wrap (love wrapsody) and an ergo for later on
    6. hospital grade breast pump, lanolin, glass bottles (for when I go back to work)
    7. hook on high chair (for after baby can sit up): also good for travel
    8. goats milk soaps, nail clippers, Earth Mama Angel Baby diaper cream

    Other nice-to-have baby items (that i’ve used a lot):
    1. bouncy seat
    2. stroller: BOB for running with and an umbrella type for errands
    3. changing table: used is fine, i keep it in our room to hold babies clothes and diapers (we bed share about 2 yrs)
    4. rocking chair or glider: mine is the one my mom rocked me in :)

    and…some of the non-baby essentials:
    1. king size bed
    2. camera
    3. deep freezer (preferable full of healthy foods)
    4. lots of good books and music

    Things i bought and never used:
    nursing bras and shirts, nursing pillows, infant car seat, big stroller, swing, saucer, mobile, crib, baby furniture, fancy clothes/shoes, wipes warmer, diaper genie, free standing high chair

  57. Liana says

    I am so happy I found these lists/ideas. I’ve been wanting to keep things pretty slimmed down, as a lot of things don’t last very long in baby world. I’m actually re-using things that were MINE when I was born.
    One caveat we’ve encountered; a mother-in-law/grandma who insist on buying EVERYTHING brand new and cutesy. I seriously have a million onsies that say “grandma is the best” that I don’t want or need. She even sent a crib without consulting us!

    • Liana says

      Oh, all the onsies I scrounged out of my old baby box are white cotton, so I bought a couple boxes of RIT dye and a friend and I dyed a bunch of old, white stuff.
      I’d also suggest registering for diaper service. It’s a big gift, but it’s the only thing we want, so we’re hoping people will just give us money to help pay for it.

  58. Gina, book dragon says

    Oh, what a blessing being able to register for baby gifts would have been! I was part of a large and friendly women’s group at church and they ALL wanted to give me something at the baby shower. I received over 15 pink dresses (cute ones) size 0-3 months. sigh Luckily the family baby shower didn’t repeat this.

    My SIL gave me a fantastic gift. Because the baby was born the week before our wedding anniversary, she babysat for us so we could go out.

    • Gina, book dragon says

      forgot another great gift…..the people at work wanted to get me something and practically as soon as they thought of it, my Mom was buying it! They ended up giving me a money tree! Enough to buy a solid wood dresser with a wall around the top to use as a changing table. My mom stained and sanded then sanded again and again. It is beautiful, lasted through two kids and we still have it. The youngest is 24 years.

  59. Dee says

    I think the following list is a good summary of EVERYTHING you will need including Baby and Mom’s needs.
    Baby-gros & Vests (Depending on washing and drying facilities you probably need between 8-12) Also depending on the time of year baby is born,you my not need many gros, just vests. If baby is a winter baby then your baby gros may need to be the soft, warmer type).
    Nappies
    Cotton Wool/ baby wipes
    Vaseline
    Blankets
    Car Seat
    Hat (Wooly/Warm) for Winter Baby
    Pram/ Buggy/Sling
    Moses Basket & Sheets
    Bath/ Tub
    The last three items could be omitted depending on whether you’re going to co-sleep, carry baby a lot or go for long walks or lengthy shopping trips. Also you don’t really need a baby bath, just a sink to pop baby in for a quick wash!
    For Mum!
    Nursing Bras
    Breast Pads
    Sani-Pads

  60. Elisabet says

    My list for my next baby is:
    Moby wrap
    Manduca/Boba/Tula carrier
    High chair, for after 6months of age
    Footed sleepers
    Cloth diapers (AI2) or just normal diapers
    Burp cloths
    Back-facing car seat!
    Many more things that would come in handy but not needed

  61. Erin B says

    Great tips! Another thing to consider is looking for things that can serve multiple purposes over time. For instance, we purchased a Moses basket instead of a bassinet, because we live in a small house and didn’t want a free-standing piece of furniture that would only be used for a few months. We put it beside our bed on top of two bedside tables pushed together, and would move it to the couch during the day. Now that our daughter has outgrown it, we use it to hold the multitude of stuffed animals that have been given to her. It sits on the floor in her nursery and she loves to shuffle over to it and pull the animals out…it’s like a treasure hunt for her! Once she’s older, she can use it as a bed for her baby dolls. Once she’s outgrown that, I can use it to hold blankets, magazines, craft supplies…it’s a basket, and baskets are infinitely useful! And maybe someday, my daughter might like to use it for her own babies. Not to mention the fact that if we have another child, we can use it again!

  62. Hannah says

    I was NOT a minimalist. Not at all ever, never have been. But among all the gadgets and gizmos i purchased for J his first year there were only a few i used in the very beginning.

    I used the side snap t-shirts until his umbilical cord fell off. They were so easy and werent too tight on his little stump. I put socks on him as well. I only had probably 8 little shirts and 8 pairs of socks.

    Receiving blankets. LIFE SAVER. not just as blankets, but as spit up cleaners, burps rags, under him during diaper changes, nursing covers… You get it. I used them for literally everything.

    Obviously, and infant carseat. That’s basically a given.

    My son was given formula in the nursery as i had a medical issue arise shortly after delivery. He was also given a pacifier. After three weeks of struggl to nurse and basically exhausting every effort pump included, we went back to formula, no I’m not proud of it but he had to be fed so i was glad when i had bought i think four or maybe six bottles as a plan Z while pregnant. You can always return them if you never have to use them.

    I think that’s about all i used until J was about 6 months. I did end up using everything i bought, but it was all stored until later on. I still use some of it now on my one year old niece while I’m baby sitting.

    P.S. J didn’t even have a crib until he was over a month old. I got a hand me down bassinet in great shape which i then handed down again for use on my nephew and niece. Buy second hand, or if you must buy new, have a home for that item when you are done with it.

    Things i stored after J: pack and play… Guess what, i now use it for my one year old niece when she stays with me. His highchair. Again i use it now, but buy one with a washable cover! Replacement covers are NOT cheap. And his Johnny Jump Up. The kid loved it and every kid I’ve been around has loved it. I’ve passed it down about 6 different times and ended up with it back just a couple weeks ago. I washed the cover and an going to store it for the next jumper who needs it.

    Good luck on your new adventure. It’ll be different, but so very very worth it.

  63. Vivien says

    I don’t think it’s bad at all to put on your shower invitations that gift cards are appreciated. Sometimes it’s actually a pain for people to look through all the item numbers on a registry list and can be so much easier for them to purchase a gift card and easier for you because you can purchase things as you need it.

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