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What you need and what you don’t need for your new baby

In the misguided effort to be a good parent it’s easy to buy half the baby department. Forget the wipes warmer and the multiple drawers of cute baby clothes. Here’s everything you really need to survive those first few months.

When I had my first baby in 2010, I already had a 3-year-old child from my husband’s previous relationship. He still had bottles and other abandoned baby things hiding in cabinets and corners. By the time I had my second one earlier this year, we’d acquired a whole lot of kid stuff. In order to have enough space for our family of five, we needed to shed some of our own belongings while keeping our newest member’s stuff to a minimum. The following is my personal and comprehensive list of must-haves for newborns.

Infant car seat

Infant cart seat |

I have used the Chicco Keyfit 30 (, $190) for both of my infants. But we also love this convertible Safety First seat (, $156) that can be used both rear-facing (5 to 40 pounds) and forward-facing (22 to 65 pounds). If you buy the latter, you only need to buy one car seat, ever! Just keep in mind they don’t transfer easily to strollers should baby fall asleep in the car seat, which mine rarely do.

Baby carrier

Baby carrier |

Find a convertible baby carrier that does a back carry as well as front and side carries. The popular Ergo (, $115) grows well with the child, and the Beco Gemini (, $117) is the most versatile as babies can face both in and out from the front carry.

The options are vast. To find the absolute best baby carrier for you, check out a local Babywearing Meetup group. They happen around the globe.


Blankets |

I use swaddle blankets to keep baby tightly cocooned for the first few weeks. Aden + anais blankets are functional, pretty and they become softer over time so don’t forget to wash them before baby arrives (, $49).

Any receiving blanket will do. You need these close at hand for changing diapers, cleaning up spit up and keeping baby warm.


Baby clothes |

Photo credit: iulianvalentin/iStock/360/Getty Images

I know, I know. Baby clothes are cute. Especially the tiniest ones. But my babies barely wore clothes in the beginning — they were always naked or swaddled, unless we were in the car on our way to well baby check-ups. Any parent will tell you that putting a newborn in clothes is not easy. I challenge you to keep your baby’s wardrobe limited to five to seven outfits and pairs of socks, as well as two to three seasonally appropriate hats.

Diapers and wipes

Diapers |

I love diapers from The Honest Company (, $14) and Seventh Generation (, $15). They both make great wipes as well.

Safe place for baby to sleep

Baby crib |

If you plan on co-sleeping, I recommend using the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper or a guard rail on your bed (, $124).

If you want baby to have her own place for sleeping, try a hammock, a Moses basket or a rocking bassinet. I personally loved the Arm’s Reach Hammock (, $122).

Baby monitor

Baby Monitor |

Photo credit: mathieukor/iStock/360/Getty Images

This is a personal choice but I love having a video monitor. I didn’t use one with my first child and I constantly woke her up by checking on her. A video monitor brings me peace of mind.


Nipple cream |

If you’re breastfeeding, you will need a good nursing bra so go to Motherhood Maternity or a similar store and get fit for one. You will also want this natural vegan nipple cream to soothe your hardworking nipples (, $9).

If you’re working outside of the home or planning on leaving your baby for more than an hour at a time, you will need a breast pump. I love my Medela pump which was paid for by my insurance (, $238).

Whether you’re pumping or using formula, you only need three bottles. Wash with soap and hot water after every use and you will always have at least one clean bottle ready to go.

Toys and pacifiers

Lay & Play |

I’ve never had luck with pacifiers so I can’t recommend a certain brand, just be sure you buy BPA-free.

For baby toys, I love the Haba brand as their toys are eco-conscious and many are made with beech wood and colored with non-toxic stain (, $10).

This lay and play is very popular with babies (, $37).

Fisher-Price makes great swings and vibrating chairs (, $45).


California baby cream |

Your first aid kit should include at the very minimum a thermometer, nail clippers and a nasal aspirator.

You will also want baby wash and lotion. I love products by California Baby (, $24).

For diaper rashes, I use coconut oil.

What you don’t need

You don’t need a changing table or a wipes warmer. You don’t need a crib in the beginning. You don’t need many clothes, socks, hats, bibs or a special diaper bag. A large purse will do. You don’t need a sound machine because a well-placed fan or air filter does the same job. You don’t need more than a few toys. You don’t need 10 pacifiers and 20 bottles and you don’t need every type of baby carrier on the market. You don’t even need a special waste basket for foul-smelling diapers. Any trash can with a lid, or any trash contained in a cupboard, will keep the stink contained.

My best piece of advice? If in doubt about what you need, wait until baby arrives. Those diaper creams aren’t going anywhere.

More on products for babies

Eco-minded parents love Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company
Top 10 baby items
10 items you need on your registry

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