The minimalist's list of baby products you actually need (and ones you don't)
It's a minimal-list!
Big box baby stores are basically little Pac-men and the dots are all your cash-monies. They'll gobble all that shit up unless you stop them. Honestly, don't bother going in one before you have your first baby. It will make you think you need a whole bunch of crap that you really don't.
I'm a minimalist when it comes to a lot of things, but especially when it comes to baby items. Not only to save on space and money, but also to spare our planet from excess junk that will eventually end up in a landfill. I also attribute my minimalist mentality to traveling and seeing children being raised healthy and happy without most of the baby products we use here in The States.
Before I get to my list, I encourage everyone to check out used baby stuff, either on Offer Up (my new personal fav), Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or a local mom's group. Since babies use items for such a short period of time because they grow out of them physically or developmentally, you can get most baby products in like-new condition for less than half the price. This is also how I bought clothes for my first. People put up a whole year's worth of clothes for $50 or less (sometimes free which was a huge score), so instead of dropping a bunch of money for clothes, look for those big lots of clothes. Whether it's your wallet or the environment you want to help--this is a good way to do it.
(Also - transaprency alert! I have put affiliate links below to buy these items on Amazon where they'll throw a little money my way if you purchase the item through my link (at no extra cost to you). Per my spiel above, I would definitely encourage you to get this stuff lightly used, but if you do decide to purchase the item new, I might as well make it easy for you and put a few cents in my pocket, right?)
The Minimalist List
So, here's what I think are the necessary items that you need for your newest little one for the first 6 months. I have put an asterisk next to the item if it is an item that is very commonly lightly used and sold for cheap.
*** Don't buy this brand new. Most likely you can buy a barely used one for super cheap
** You'll most likely be able to find one of these likely used
**Muslin blankets - You can't get any better than the OG, Aden + Anais. I literally use these for everything in the first few months. You'll probably need at least 4 and no more than 8. I use them for burping, spit -ups, a bassinet sheet, a play mat, a carseat cover, a shield from the sun, and a million other things.
**A Wrap - I'm a huge fan of wraps for newborns and infants. My kids lived in them for the first few months. They are not only a way for you to be hands-free, but a way for your little one to feel warm, safe, and secure because it helps recreate the feeling they had in the womb. My go-to is the Moby wrap, but some don't like it because they think it's complicated. There seems to be 3 types of parents (moms especially): wrap moms, sling moms, and carrier moms. Choose whatever feels the most comfortable to you.
A breast pump - Check in with your insurance. Many health insurance companies cover a breast pump fully, so don't spend unnecessary money if you don't have to! If you plan on breastfeeding, milk storage bags are key to have..
**Stroller and carseat (asterisk for stroller, not carseat) - We have a jogging stroller because I used to be a jogger. I recommend the BOB Gear Revolution Jogging Stroller if you like to run and plan on doing it with your little one. If you're not a runner, I wouldn't recommend a jogging stroller since they're enormous. The Britax B-Agile Travel System (stroller and carseat) is great, compact, a good price, and highly reviewed.
Changing pad - We've always just used a small portable changing pad (both at home and on the go) and it has worked just find.
***Baby Rocker - I like the Baby Bjorn bouncer but any does the trick. You just need something to put your baby in when you're not able to hold him or her.
Pacifier - We go full hippie on this one and get an all natural 100% rubber pacifier. They are more expensive than other pacifiers, but I feel like if this is something that is in my newborn/infant's mouth throughout the day, I want it to be something natural. A pacifier clip is also helpful so you don't lose the pacifier.
Bottles - I really try to stay away from plastic for my little ones, especially in the first year, so we used these from Lifefactory and love them.
Noise machine - I like the Marpac HUSHH Noise Machine because it's portable so you can use it at home and throw it in your bag when you'll be out and about. This sound machine is with us literally wherever we go, whether it's to another country or to the store. I don't think there is a need to have two sound machines (a larger one that stays in the room where your child sleeps and a portable one). Just this one will do!
**Miracle Blanket Swaddles - This piece of cloth is more than deserving of it's name. The only reason I'm able to write this article right now is because of this magic blanket that soothed my baby to sleep. If you can't find one lightly used, this is more than worth $30.
***Bumbo seat - This is a great seat for when your baby is first sitting up. It's also a great first highchair when your baby is ready to eat solids.
***Highchair - I don't really have a suggestion for a highchair. We have the Skip Hop highchair that I found used and for cheap and I have no complaints, but I think a highchair is a highchair. No point in getting an expensive one.
***Bassinet or co-sleeper - If you're planning on sleeping near your little one for the first few months of life, a co-sleeper or bassinet is perfect. You don't need anything special or fancy. We have an Arm's Reach Co-sleeper which works fine, but I truly think that any sort of bassinet would work the same, I just got this one as a hand-me-down.
Sophie - Damn this expensive chew toy. I want to hate it, but the kids love it, so it has to go on my list.
*** Infant Activity Mat - The play mats are great for infants to develop their motor skills, stimulate them mentally, and for parents to have a 5 minute break.
***Portable crib - My son never had a crib, he just slept in a Pack n' Play for the first year or two of his life, so if you ever want to save on money, just don't buy a crib. Even if you aren't going to use this as a full time crib and you plan on traveling to a grandparents house frequently, these are helpful. However, if the traveling you do is mainly to hotels, they usually provide a crib for you, so this may be unnesesary.
Baby toiletries - a bunch of little things that will eventually be useful including nail clippers, file, soap, comb, and toothbrush.
**Baby Bath - These are pretty crucial because a wet baby is a slippery baby. A baby bath enables you to safely wash your little one until they can sit up on their own.
A Nose Frida - Nose Fridas (baby-booger-sucker-outers) are the gnarliest most disgusting thing on the planet but so necessary. Try to pass off the Nose Frida-ing to your partner if you can.
Lanolin - Sent from the heavens. If you plan on breastfeeding, buy a couple tubes of this and leave it around the house. It helps with sore nipples. Also be sure to put this in your hospital bag.
A robe - Or 2 actually. I would bring one to the hospital to wear while giving birth instead of wearing a hospital gown that sucks all your dignity out of you with your ass hanging out. Robes are nice to wear postpartum around the house too because it's easy access for breastfeeding and if you're anything like me, you're not going to want clothes anywhere near you for about a week.
Breastfeeding bras and shirts - I lived in these tanks for a while. They're comfortable and make breastfeeding easy in public.
Pads, witch hazel, and an infant swim tube - If you have a vaginal delivery, freezing pads soaked with witch hazel is sweet sweet relief (shoutout to my friend Taylor for this advice)). It also may be hard to sit, so a small infant swim float or something along those lines helps a lot.
THINGS I THINK ARE USELESS
Typically any special machine or appliance made specifically for babies that can be done by a regular household appliance, i.e.: bottle warmers and baby food makers
Wipe warmer - I truly feel like this is the most useless thing ever invented
Burp clothes: I have some and have ever used them. I use our Aden + Anais muslin blankets for that
A special cup to pour water over your baby's head to wash their hair. Why do those exist?
Expensive diaper bags - I have never understood them. I use a $3 canvas bag that I throw diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, and a swaddle blanket in and it works fine. Not sure what the extra $347 buys you with the fancy bags, but if it doesn't do my laundry and put it away, then it's not worth it.
A changing table - I think I'm alone on this one, but I find them to be a waste of money and space. Just a changing pad or a portable changing pad works.
Up for debate: a Dockatot. Man, this thing that has taken the Instagram mom blog by storm. It's a pillow that your baby lies in and they charge you $200 for it. Crazy. I bought one used for $80 which is still an insane price. BUT, I love it. I love it for no other reason than the fact that we cosleep and having a barrier between us and the baby is safer and gives us peace of mind. If you're not planning on cosleeping--I think it's completely unnecessary.
So, that's my list! Curious if anyone disagrees or if you would add something to the minima-list. And just remember--the best thing you can give your baby is love and you don't need any sort of product for that.
Loading up on love