The first baby is an exciting new adventure and shopping for said child is a daunting task trying to decide which baby gear and what baby tools are actually worth the money and space they take up. I remember that I wanted to be as minimalistic as possible, but that if something was extremely helpful in caring for my baby, then I would seriously consider it.
After 5 children, I have never used a wipe warmer (even though we have cold weather at least 6 months a year) but there are several things that either have stood the test of time or been so good that when lost or broken, they were absolutely, immediately replaced. Those are the things I would truly consider minimalist baby essentials and I just want to encourage every expectant mother that having a baby doesn’t have to come with an overcrowded nursery full of stuff.
A minimalist checklist for baby gear based on utility and longevity
I had very little that we got in terms of baby essentials when I had my first. In fact I didn’t even carry a diaper bag. Over time because of juggling multiple children, I have tried out things like a baby swing or bouncers but I stand behind the fact that most must-haves are just conveniences. Even things like a changing pad are just for ease of use when a diaper change on the floor and a blanket can do just fine. Or while I have used pumps, they were more short-term and not necessary unless you’re truly needing a breast pump or plan to exclusively pump because of work.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the baby items, don’t stress or worry! It doesn’t have to be complicated. I am going to guess that you already know onesies, sleepers, socks, pants, and other outfits are things you need, let’s talk about other stuff
I have tried to include true necessities in this list as well as some splurges, but only the ones we found truly worthwhile and stood the test of time. I have included *affiliate links* and I earn from qualifying purchases.
Even if you’re not having a baby shower, I encourage you to click here and make an Amazon baby registry. Why? Because 60 days prior to your expected due date, you can get a completion discount and get 15% off qualifying items.
Frida Baby Nasal Aspirator
So we have owned many of these in the last 11 years and they have helped SO much. I usually do a little bit of saline in the nose before trying to suck out any boogers, but it’s very effective. There is a small filter in one end but if it still is not something you want to do, they also have an electric version.
Babywearing slings and Soft-Structured Carriers
I have used a lot of baby wearing carriers since my first child was born in 2012. I have used woven wraps, SSCs, ring slings, etc and by many different companies. Back then stretchy wraps like the moby or solly baby wrap and the ERGO were pretty much the only two easily accessible options. I am happy to see more in the mainstream marketplace now!
I think the most versatile is a SSC because it’s a lot safer for moms that don’t have experience wrapping and can be worn at home and out with ease from newborn through toddler stages. Tula is my favorite all around brand because it fits both my husband and myself fairly well though we’re drastically different heights and sizes. We have a standard and a toddler version. I have used far beyond 10 brands and have found there are few I didn’t like, but I really loved Tula.
Because with most of our children we chose to not get an infant car seat (rather a convertible from the beginning) a baby carrier was truly a necessity.
Cool Mist humidifier
It was years before I ever got one and I don’t really know why I didn’t sooner. It has helped through colds and to lessen mucus in small kids that can’t cough it up on their own yet. Before I was a mom I had no idea that a lot of kids just vomit when phlegm goes down the back of their throat… and I learned it the hard way with 3/5 kids. The humidifier helps with some of the discomfort here. (And the previous mention of the nose frida solves the other end of the spectrum).
Muslin Swaddle Blankets
I find having a good collection of muslin blankets is never a bad thing. And I didn’t really do a whole lot of swaddling with my crew. They’re thin enough to be used in the hottest days of summer as just a sun shade or to cover an over-stimulated baby but also can be layered easily. They’re just a really versatile baby gear option.
Cloth Diapers and wipes
While we’ve had times that we use disposables because of laundry needs, we bought a secondhand stash early on that was a huge but worth-it investment and we’ve only periodically replaced them as elastic has gone out on some or they couldn’t be mended.
I personally like fitted and All-in-two diapers the best (Grovia is my favorite!) but I hated pockets! The stuffing them after washing was a deal breaker for me. Then I love Grovia cloth wipes. I always found I just used one, maybe two and the job was done.
Please be aware that if you’re cloth diapering and plan to use a diaper cream, something like coconut oil is best but the commercial types are typically not cloth friendly as they can cause your diapers to stop absorbing.
Related: Cloth Diapering a Newborn
BOB Revolution Jogging stroller and/or UPPAbaby Vista Stroller
We have owned many strollers of different brands and styles and ultimately it came down to two that I always turned to because of the ease of use. The ONLY exception is that I loved the gb pokit stroller when I was traveling a lot because it fit in the overhead compartment on an airplane.
Both the single and double BOB have been easy to use and can take on almost any terrain without issue. Even if you’re not a runner, a good jogging stroller can really be a helpful addition to your baby registry.
The uppababy vista came with a bassinet which I used all the time with my 4th and 5th babies. I had two different vistas (I bought one secondhand and eventually upgraded) and one thing I have loved is that they can turn into a double with a rumble seat and even kind of like a triple with the ride-on board. They basically grow with the family and they maneuver like butter.
When we lived in Boston, the Vista was my most used stroller unless we went on a hike or somewhere needed the robust sports wheels of the BOB. They both have their place. And having lived urban, suburban, and rural with children I would say that the vista is a better choice urban/suburban and the BOB is a better choice suburban/rural if you only choose one.
clek Convertible Car Seat
We have two fllo and one foonf convertible car seats from clek. My 3rd and 4th kiddos used the “infant thingy” to let them use the seat from day one and be the only seat they ever needed. In fact 4 of 5 kids did not have an infant car seat, but started with a convertible seat.
These seats have really high rear facing and front facing limits and are thin (to fit multiple in a row) and very well made. I also like that they have wool options and they’re the only seats 100% recyclable on the market. My children were in a car accident and they barely noticed.
Small Rolling Rattle
We have had one through all of our children. Rattles are such a fun toy as one of the first baby toys they get because not only can they clutch it and play early on, but getting the rolling kind means that it’s a great way to encourage them to crawl once they get to that scooting stage.
A Rectal Thermometer
This is another one I did NOT have early on but highly recommend now. I didn’t see the value in it, but for peace of mind, rectal temperatures are typically the most accurate and having a thermometer made for this means it’s a safe way to do it and not go too far in.
Arnica and Calendula
Arnica is wonderful for bruises, swelling, and general aches. Sometimes a kiddo can fall or have some pain for seemingly no reason at all. That’s when it’s nice to have something to use that’s gentle and helpful.
Calendula is our go-to for bug bites and burns. It is so soothing and the thick burn ointment vs the cream or gel is what we turn to the most for our children.
While I make many of my own salves, I still buy some to have on hand as well because of the convenience of it in our first aid kit.
I remember the first time I saw a veteran mom with an otoscope when I had my oldest. I was both impressed and thought it was slightly unnecessary. However, it has come in so handy time and again as we monitor how an ear is healing or if they wake up with some funny pain we can see if it is warranted or not. Plus, if you get a camera otoscope, it can take pictures so you’re not trying to explain to someone what it looks like whether it’s an adult in your home or the doctor.
I have a set of these that have the fork style tool and the tiny tweezers. I love that set of tweezers not just for ticks but also for splinters and other needs as the kids grow and play. Unfortunately we live in New Hampshire which is heavily populated with deer ticks and using these tools is the easiest, non-invasive way to get the entire tick off including the head.
Soft-sole leather shoes
Babies and toddlers need to feel the ground for proper foot development, plus I have found that soft soled shoes are just easier to get on while not just slipping off as easily as other types of shoes.
Think Baby Sunscreen
This has been a subscribe and save option for me for years as it’s a mineral based sunscreen and free of harmful chemicals. I even found they have sunscreen sticks that look like mini deodorant tubes that we’ve regularly used on our faces.
I purchased breastfeeding compresses with my first (and have replaced them as needed over the years as needed). They come in so handy in those early days of nursing but then double as great hot and cold packs for bumps, bruises, growing pains, etc as the kids grow.
In fact a lot of breastfeeding supplies can be helpful later on like nipple cream can even double as a diaper rash cream if needed. And reusable breast pads can even be soaked and used as thin compresses. And I have used a good nursing pillow in many other capacities and it’s one of my kids’ favorite pillows.
We have one shaped like a frog. Even just saline in a nebulizer is a really valuable way to help children deal with cold and flu season, but if they need something more substantial, instead of getting a single albuterol inhaler, they tend to prescribe 75-100 small tubes of solution for a nebulizer. It just opens more doors it seems like.
Other quick honorable mention items to add to your baby list
- A glider or rocking chair
- Depending on circumstances, a good baby monitor
- A good Sleep sack
- Pacifier and pacifier clip depending on your baby (only 2 of my 5 used one for any length of time)
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What’s on your newborn baby essential list or minimalist baby registry?
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 5 children living on a farm in New England. She believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience and has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development. She is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!