15 Must-Have Baby Items Essential for Life with a Newborn

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The baby registry lists provided to you when creating your baby registry in store are quite extensive – and overwhelming – for first time parents! Are all of these things really must-have baby items? If they aren’t baby essentials, then what are they?

When I was expecting for the first time, I was completely blown away with how expensive baby gear and newborn essentials were! There was no way I could afford every single item listed on my baby registry checklist, at least not in the quantities specified. This was especially true because A) I was having TWINS and B) We were poor college students. Thankfully, I have eight older siblings, most of which have kids, so I definitely polled their parental expertise and knowledge when it came time to pick up some newborn baby essentials.

Like me, many (wise) new moms and dads poll their friends for their list of “Must-Have Baby Items.” Some do so out of financial necessity as they are a mom having a baby on a budget, like myself; others do so because of space issues, and all because they cannot imagine a tiny human being actually needs all of these items!  Baby items cost way more than they need to a vast majority of the time (simply because they are marked “baby”) and no one wants to waste money on things their baby will only end up using for all of about two months.

As a mom of four kids, including a set of twins as my first, and not having a lot of money, at all, when having my twins, or my third baby for that matter, I tried very hard to buy only what was absolutely necessary to our survival. There are lots of things (usually expensive things) that people recommend purchasing, but I’ll testify that you don’t need it, most of the time.

Of course, in the end, it will depend on your home, your baby, your preferences, and your finances, as to what you will consider baby essentials someday, but if you want to know what I, a minimalist and frugal mom of four, including a set of twins, consider the best must-have baby items and products, things that will especially help a lot in at least the first six months (and many beyond) with a new baby, and are totally worth your money, these are it:Must-have baby items, baby registry list, newborn essentials, what you need for baby, baby checklist, 0-6 months essentials.

15 Must-Have Baby Items Essential for Life with a Newborn

1. A Place to Sleep

What type of bed will depend on your personal preference, but your new baby needs a safe place to sleep.

Pick one of the following:

If you will be traveling a lot with baby, a pack n’ play is very helpful to have in addition to a crib, cosleeper or bassinet.

Then make sure to grab appropriate covers for them:

The adorable matching crib sets are NOT necessary. Baby doesn’t care, and crib bumpers won’t prevent your baby from smacking their head into the crib slats or from getting their chubby thigh stuck between them either. Actually, some studies have said that crib bumpers are more dangerous than a blessing. It also makes it harder to see baby in their crib.

We used a crib with all of our kids, as we are not co-sleepers, and prefer baby to sleep in their own room, in their own space. Cribs also have the longest usage timeline, especially if you purchase a convertible crib, when compared to the others. I’ve never heard of a three-year-old still sleeping in a bassinet, but I have still heard of a three-year-old sleeping in a crib.

Poppy Crib MattressCrib Mattress

When it comes to buying a crib mattress, make sure you buy a high quality, firm mattress.

I recently received the Poppy 2-Stage Crib Mattress from Brentwood Home (in exchange for a review) and I like that one side is firm – great for newborns – and the flip side is soft – great for toddlers. It’s also made with CertiPUR-US foam, has a waterproof top panel (so you hopefully won’t need this cleaning tutorial) and doesn’t contain metal coils, unlike other mattresses we’ve owned which led to lots of trampoline-like jumping as our babies grew into toddlers, which damaged the mattress over time.Brentwood Home Crib_Mattress_006_cropped_1024x1024

Right now my three-year-old is sleeping on the Poppy Crib Mattress, and it’s very nice! I especially like that all the kids are no longer jumping on it for fun. He’s sleeping great on it.

2. Clean Clothes

Babies need something to wear. It helps keep them snuggly warm and comfortable. Soft clothing like onesies, sweats, and sleepers are ideal. Cutesy outfits like dresses, vests, and hats and even shoes are not needed other than for some cute pictures, as they all ride up and fit funny because baby doesn’t sit up yet.

If you buy pajamas, go for the ones with zippers over snaps as it’ll save you time in the middle of the night, wrestling a squirmy baby. Actually, always go for clothes with zipper over snaps if you can.

To save money on baby clothes, ask your friends if they have any old baby clothes you can have, check for free listings on craigslist and local Facebook buy/sell groups, and check out the following links:

And remember, if clothes aren’t dirty don’t change them, and clothes are sometimes optional for babies, especially at home.

3. Diapers and Wipes

If there is one thing you can guarantee with a newborn, it’s that they will pee and poop round the clock! Stock up on diapers and wipes. The following links will help you save money on them, and also how to remove any blowouts that may (okay, will) happen:

You also need some good diaper cream ointment. My very favorite one is Balmex diaper rash cream, way more than DesitinButt Paste or Aquaphor diaper rash cream.

Also, don’t forget you’ll need a diaper bag, or at least a really big purse you can shove some diapers, wipes, bottle, change of clothes, and a small snack container into at the very least.

4. Car Seat

This is an essential baby item if you ever want to drive anywhere with your baby. It’s also one of the very few things that is recommended to buy brand new (though it is ultimately up to each family to decide).Car Seats convertible vs infant car seats

Infant Car Seat VS Convertible Car Seat

When buying a car seat for a baby your choices are to buy an infant car seat or a convertible car seat. The difference is that infant car seats are portable and only last most babies around 1 year. Convertible car seats can fit children from birth to four or five-years-old (or beyond depending on your child’s size and the car seat’s weight and height limits) but are not portable.

We use the infant carrier car seat for the first year. We love that it allows us to transport a sleeping baby with ease (and babies sleep a lot the first year)!

If you buy a travel system (a stroller that also comes with an infant car seat) you can transport baby from the car to the stroller without having to unbuckle him, or wake him. You can also put an infant car seat into the basket on a shopping cart instead of having to put baby into a baby carrier (they are too small as newborns to sit up in the designated child seat by themselves).

These car seats also provide a safe place for your baby to be (assuming you keep it on the floor and not on a table top where it can be knocked off) and your baby can be gently rocked in one, or swung in one, should they get fussy.

The downside to an infant car seat is that the heavier your baby gets, the heavier they are to lug around everywhere in their car seats! Many parents stop lugging their kids in them to their full suggested weight limits because they get too heavy, and end up leaving them in the car.

If you want to save money in the long run (by not having to buy two seats), buy a convertible car seat instead. They aren’t as convenient in the first year though.

Top-Rated Infant Car Seats $100 or Less

Top-Rated Convertible Car Seats $200 or Less

Some more articles to checkout:

5. Baby Carrier

A sturdy, supportive baby carrier is a life saver for fussy, want-to-be-held-all-the-time babies! It also makes shopping trips, hiking, traveling via bus, and other adventures out with baby so much more doable!must have baby essentials - baby items - baby carrier - best carrier for baby

There are loads of different carrier options out there. You can pass on a newborn specific carrier if you wish, but they are better in the first three months or so than the more ergo-friendly designs that are great for larger infants and toddlers.

For newborn babies the best baby carriers are:

For older infants and toddlers the best baby carriers are ergonomically designed for good back support even after long hours of carrying a heavy child (aka an older child):

6. Stroller

These are needed and thankfully last well into the toddler and preschool years. If you want to get out and about easier, go for a hike, visit the zoo, walk around the mall, or get a little exercise, strollers are great, especially because they offer storage! You don’t need to keep diaper bags, snacks, and water on your person!

However, what kind of stroller to get is a different problem all its own as there are lots of opinions out there. And, you can also opt for a travel system (a stroller + car seat) to save you some time and money shopping, and then the two match as well. But here are the other stroller options:

Umbrella Strollers and Lightweight Strollers

These are the least expensive strollers you can buy, but most do not fit an infant car seat in them, and do not accommodate small newborns very well. Many also do not have storage baskets underneath or cup holders; if they do, they tend to be smaller. Thankfully, you can always add on a stroller organizer! But, be aware, that these lightweight strollers will tip backward with something heavy attached to the handles!

The umbrella strollers are great for quick trips and errands, especially in tight spaces as they take up far less room than other strollers both while out and in your trunk.

Top Rated Umbrella Strollers or Lightweight Strollers for Under $100

baby essential - baby stroller - baby must-haveStandard Baby Strollers

The more traditional or standard baby strollers are designed more for versatility, storage, and comfort. They often boast cup holders, large sun visors, trays, bigger storage capabilities, better wheels, more stability, and more. The price also starts to go up a little too. These strollers are more often what will be seen in a baby travel system.

Top Rated Standard Baby Strollers under $200

Jogging Strollers

A jogging stroller, or sport stroller, does not require that the owner actually runs with it!

These strollers can, of course, be used easily if you’re a runner, but many parents like these sports strollers because they have larger, better tires and wheels and maneuver on a dime.

Jogging strollers often boast large storage underneath and cup holders and storage on the handles. They are often the most expensive type of stroller though and take up more room when folded and while pushing it around in a store.

Top Rated Jogging Strollers Under $350

7. Changing Pad and Table

Some will say a changing table and changing pad aren’t completely necessary as you can always change your baby on the floor or on a bed.

But, I always used one and very much appreciated having it! It’s easier on your back, it gives you a place to keep your diapers and wipes handy, protects your floor, carpet, and bedsheets/comforter from poop stains (and comforters are WAY bigger and harder to launder than a small changing pad cover).

Brentwood Home also sent me their Sweetpea Changing Pad in exchange for a review. It’s a very nice changing pad.Changing Pad_Square copy

I don’t like that there are zero straps on it to either A) connect it to the top of my “changing table” (okay, it’s actually our old computer desk) and B) click baby into the changing pad so they don’t roll off, for safety. I have used the clip multiple times on my other changing pads when a baby is particularly fussy and not wanting to be changed due to a sore bottom or whatever.

This type of pad really requires a changing table with tall sides on the top, designed to fit changing pads, rather than just a flat surface.

However, the cover is easy to clean in the wash and super soft and textured too for a little extra tactile experience for babies, and became even softer after washing. The under layer is also waterproof which is good and it’s free of harmful chemicals.

And when it comes to changing tables, any high flat surface will suffice to put a changing pad on top of. Desks, dresser tops, or designated changing tables all work.

If you want to pick up a changing table, I liked ones that were dual purpose and had a dresser underneath with real drawers and cabinets, rather than just empty shelves. They add stability to the changing table and toddlers love removing items from shelves, over and over again, so they help save my sanity (especially when I use my favorite magnetic childproof locks).

8. A Place (or Two) to Sit

There are a plethora of infant swings, rockers and bouncers. Have one of them, maybe two.

Baby Swing

I personally prefer the baby swing, though they take up quite a bit more space than a small floor bouncer.

The baby swing does the rocking for you, most feature an adjustable incline, play music, and are easy to clean. Some, which I recommend, also let you plug them in so you don’t have to spend money on batteries (be aware that the vibration feature still often requires batteries, even if it plugs in).

The baby swing helps with fussy babies, babies who are more comfortable due to reflux or gas to be in a more upright position than supine on a crib mattress. It also keeps them off the floor should an older sibling or animal make the floor unsafe. And babies tend to love them! It’s a great place for a fussy baby to lull to sleep and give you some respite.


We didn’t get a Bumbo until our fourth baby and think they are awesome now! A Bumbo seat allows baby to sit up and look around, which babies love, before they are able to do so on their own. After they sit upon their own, they use it to keep them steady, and can be a great place to give them food or get them near “the action” going on in the home. They also take up very little space which makes them great for traveling or going to a friend’s house.

9. Nursing Supplies

Are you planning on breastfeeding? At its base level you don’t “need” anything in order to lactate and feed a baby, the following are extremely helpful for nursing moms:

Breast Pump

A breast pump is needed if you work outside the home and don’t want to supplement with formula. Or if you have multiples. If this is what you plan on doing, splurge on the more expensive ones like a good double electric breast pump. It’ll work better and save you time.

If you don’t plan on working outside the home, you may or may not want one, and then a manual hand pump may suffice for those times you feel ready to explode and need to express some milk for relief. Even then, an electric pump is great.

If you do plan on using a breast pump regularly, you’ll also need milk storage bags. You could also look at getting a hands free breast pump bra.

Nipple Cream

Nipple cream, of the lanolin (an oil from sheep’s wool), or non-lanolin variety, is so very helpful in the first several weeks of nursing. Apply after every feeding to help prevent nipples from being so sore or cracking.

Nursing Bras

To make it easier to nurse on the go, nursing bras are great! A nighttime nursing bra is especially helpful in the first several weeks so you can keep breast pads in place and prevent yourself from leaking all over your bed (and having to do more laundry).

Breast pads

There are two different kinds of breast pads – disposable and reusable.  I like the reusable ones because I am frugal and I hate making more waste than needed. I also felt like several disposable ones did not breathe well and were extra sweaty to wear. Reusable ones are usually made out of 100% cotton, but there are different materials out there as well.

You can get 10 FREE reusable breast pads online with code ENBABY and only need to pay $10.95 S&H fees.

Nursing Covers

While some feel it is unnecessary to cover up when nursing in public, and you don’t legally have to most places, many moms prefer using a cover for a variety of reasons. I am one of these moms. Of course, a simple blanket often works, or a shawl, poncho, or jacket.

Some popular nursing covers:

Questionably NOT Needed Nursing Supplies

Nursing Pillow

Some moms get by using regular pillows around their home, or propping baby fine in their own arms, without the need for a special nursing pillow. However, some moms swear by them too.

Popular breastfeeding pillows are:

Nipple shield

I only ever used a Nipple shield a handful of times. I never needed it, but some moms swear by them for more comfortable nursing and transitioning to the breast.

Nursing Tops

Nursing tops are, in my opinion, not necessary. I have managed nursing four babies, for extended periods of time, without using any designated nursing tops or dresses. It may make things easier, but are not needed. Just lift up your shirt from the bottom, or pull down from the top. Buy regular shirts that make access easier and you won’t mind stretching out. Problem solved. Or check out this list of the best places to buy breastfeeding clothes.

10. Bottle Feeding Supplies

I supplemented with my twins, and needed bottle-feeding supplies. I kept things very simple. At the basics here is what you need:


Generic brands will save you money and are required to meet FDA standards.  The three most popular name brand formulas are Enfamil and Similac and Gerber Good Start. There are also non-dairy formulas and organic formulas for babies too.


There are a 100s of different bottles and brands that boast various benefits. Some of the best baby bottles are:

Nipple Brushes

Dishwashers are great and all that, but it’s hard to clean inside bottles, bottle nipples, and bottle valves on baby bottles effectively and perfectly in the dishwasher, every time, and they tend to get dingier and break down faster when you do try. Nipple and baby bottle brushes and bottle drying racks are very helpful for bottle feeding moms.

11. Health Supplies

There are a few basic health-related baby must-haves:

12. Bathing Supplies

Babies have sensitive skin, so soft, gentle bathing supplies are must-haves if you want a happy, clean baby.

I don’t believe that a bath bathing tub is necessary, and they take up so much space. Baby can lie down in a tub by themselves, or you can join them, or you can sponge bathe them for a while, or bathe them in the sink. If you want a baby bath tub, I prefer this simple bather. It’s small, affordable, and folds down small.

But when it comes to must-have bathing supplies for babies I recommend some small, soft baby washcloths, Johnson’s head-to-toe baby wash, and a hooded baby towel.

13. Baby monitor

Whether you need this or not will depend on a few things. If you have a large home, if your home has two or more floors, if you are a deep sleeper, if you sleep with a fan or other white noise at night, if your baby is not sleeping in your room, or if you are overly worried about your baby, then a baby monitor will likely be a must-have baby item for you. A basic sound baby monitor should suffice and are very inexpensive, but of course, video baby monitors are super popular today. I also have friends who rave about their Owlet Monitors which monitors pulse ox levels.

14. Comfortable Place for Mom to Sit

Babies like to be held and rocked and snuggled a LOT when they are newborns. Moms get tired standing and holding babies, and need a comfortable place to relax and recline with a baby. A rocking chair, glider chair, sofa, couch, ottoman, supportive pillow under the back, whatever, help mom help baby. Something that rocks, sways, or glides is also very helpful in calming fussy babies.

15. Burp Cloths

No matter if you breastfeed or bottle feed, babies spit up!! It is super handy to have multiple burp cloths handy at all times. Near where you feed the baby, in your diaper bag, in your purse, everywhere. Some babies spit up, and a lot and often, for a year or more. Burp cloths are such a must-have baby item!

Must-have baby items, baby registry list, newborn essentials, what you need for baby, baby checklist, 0-6 months essentials. giveaway. Brentwood Home Mattresses. Changing PadBrentwood Home Giveaway!! {Ended}

To help you get started on your baby must-haves for your impending arrival (or that of a friend) I’ve partnered with Brentwood Home to offer  you the chance to win a Baby Bundle that includes the Sweetpea Changing Pad and Poppy 2-Stage Crib Mattress valued at $180! 

The mattress is the perfect bed for your new baby and the mattress pad a great way to keep baby messes to one small location. Both are made with healthy, natural materials that are safe for you, your baby, and your home. Brentwood Home handcrafts their mattresses and bedding products in their Los Angeles factories, which gives them complete control over the production process, from design to development to manufacturing.

Enter for your chance to win in the giveaway widget below! Giveaway ends January 20th at 11:59pm! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  1. Anne Lewis says

    My grandson and his wife are having their first baby and I would like to enter your give away contest but I cannot find a link to follow. Please help. Thanks

  2. Nancy Loring says

    I couldn’t live without my mother. she stayed with me when I had my son. He probably wouldn’t have made it if she wasn’t there. I also liked the diaper genie because those diapers sure can smell.

  3. Chrisitne H says

    Two of the things I loved when my toddler was a newborn were some cute cotton blankets and a Boppy nursing pillow. Gratefully, I was gifted all of them cause they’re not totally necessary. I loved the cotton blankets with cute designs because I’d have her play tummy time on them while I took some cute photos. The blankets made much cuter backgrounds than my carpet, lol. And it was so nice to have a Boppy that took only seconds to wear late at night and that saved my arms and back from straining.

  4. Marissa Cooper says

    This post has been so helpful. I’ll be a first-time mom when our child is born this June and I’m so excited. I would be so blessed to win this giveaway. Thank you for sharing it!

  5. Marissa Cooper says

    I would consider many of these items as a must-have! Definitely some type of bed, swaddling blankets, and diapers!

  6. Tracee says

    I’d say a baby sitter! When we were visiting my brother and my niece would start to cry, I would go and get my dad. Grandpa always seemed to know what to do!

  7. Kristie says

    I think the most essential items are diapers and wipes and clothes! A mom I know uses a backpack instead of a diaper bag. It’s easier to carry. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you. Happy January!

  8. Danielle Porter says

    We just found out we are pregnant! So I guess i will find out. the first thing I thought about needing was a car seat!

  9. wen budro says

    I am trying to win this for my niece who is expecting her first child. I would assume that a few of the must-haves would be a crib, stroller, car seat, diapers, and a baby monitor.

  10. Alissa says

    Do the baby magnetic locks leave a mark on the outside of the cabinet? We are renters, and can put something on the inside just not the outside. We are in this home for 2 more years.

    • says

      NOPE! We are renters too, so I understand the dilemma. We put some on the inside of the cabinets underneath our kitchen sink, where we store cleaning supplies and chemicals, and you can’t tell that they have these things attached at all and they’ve been working great for the past 2.5 years we’ve had it installed.



  12. Alicia Zirjacks says

    With my last baby, I could not have lived without her Rock and Play sleeper or her swing. Most of the time it was the only way I could get her to fall asleep without me holding her.

  13. Wendy Browne says

    A swing really helped give me a few minutes of relief for the first few months until he learned to turn over.

  14. Bobbie Smith says

    I’m getting ready to have a new grandchild, and my step daughter said you definitely need good bottles like Dr. Brown. She said they help with gas and such.

  15. Angie S says

    I had a wrap/swaddle carrier with my 2nd daughter. It really helped with multitasking and kept my girl snug and comfortable.

  16. Elizabeth Garrison says

    Great blog post. I’m out of the having a baby stage but my tween daughter is in the process of planning a baby shower for a charity here in our community. They help displaced moms or teen pregnancies that are in need of help with items. Well for any less than ideal situation for a new mom really. It helps give them the items, training and resources they need. This would be a wonderful item for her to donate. 🙂

  17. Pamela Jones says

    For me Cloth was a must have. Kind of wish I could request fabric store gift cards on the invites because then I could make all babies clothes and diapers 🙂 yup im crazy like that

  18. Annemarie says

    pregnant for the first time, so excited, there are so many things we need…I don’t even know where to start!

  19. Paulet says

    These are the following things I just need to have: diapers, wipes with lotion, vaseline, intensive care and s changing table.

  20. Hellena says

    I bought a Baby swing from amazon and to say it worked really great for my fussy baby. I’d advice moms with fussy babies to try them. You’d be relieved for sure

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