|photo from hangahammock collective|
I admit that in the past I’ve been super judgmental about what a baby needs. I always thought most people bought unnecessary things for their babies and too much of everything. What I’ve come to realize is that the essentials are different for every one and every baby. What I find essential may be useless to you and vice versa. So I started saying Our Minimalist Baby Essentials versus The Minimalist Baby Essentials.
Along with that, I also have come to realize that not everything must be super practical. Babies are a joy and only little for a short season! Have fun and purchase the cute outfit or the superfluous bassinet. Maybe you’ll have grandkids that get to use it as well. Basically I try to not take this so seriously anymore and just enjoy the season of life where our family is growing.
All of that said, I have decided to make two lists in this post. The first is the bare minimum essentials or the survival-with-baby list. The second is a longer but still minimal list of our baby essentials. That list has some of our favorites or new items we are getting for baby #6.
What I would love is for you to comment below what you couldn’t live without while you had a young baby in your home! *Note : Our comment section is only working on desktops and laptops, I have tried every ‘remedy’ out there to fix it, but nothing has worked so far to allow commenting from a mobile device. I’m so sorry for that inconvenience.
Bare Minimum Baby Essentials
- Car Seat : We got the Nuna Pipa and I LOVE the dream drape for keeping baby cozy and safe from strangers hands.
- Portable Crib/Bassinet/Diaper Changing Space : I love this one for small spaces and this one for an all-in-one which we did with our second baby.
- 4 Pack Muslin Swaddles : Multi-Use for swaddling, blanket, nursing cover, burp cloth, car seat/stroller cover,
- Diapers/Wipes : Cloth or disposable
- Onesies : We love these long sleeved ones with the built in hand mitts, and these short sleeved ones. We got the short sleeved ones in black and after two babies using them, they look new still for this third baby in 3 years. And they have been heavily washed repeatedly.
- Sleepers : The kind that zip and have hand mitts similar to this one if you find them locally.
- Items from the hospital/birthing center : With every child, they usually gave us these things before leaving the hospital – nasal bulb, newborn diapers, thermometer, etc.
- Use towels & wash rags you already own for bathing.
- Feeding : Bottles if bottle feeding. The one linked is a bottle sampler box of 5 popular brands so you can see what your baby likes without investing in a brand beforehand. For breastfeeding, do the side laying position or use bed pillows to prop up for feeding while sitting. Most insurances provide a breast pump for free or you can rent one if you need to.
- Nail Care : There’s a nail file or nail scissors. I’ve never been good with baby nail clippers.
- Baby Blanket : If you haven’t been gifted a ton of these, a few inexpensive ones will do for when you need something heavier than the lightweight muslin ones.
Our Minimalist Baby Essentials 0-4 Months
the fourth trimester
- Lululemon Leggings : I have done cheap, moderately priced and now Lulu’s. These Lulu Align Leggings are worth every freaking penny. If you saw my minimalist wardrobe post, you know that I love the cheap ones from H&M but they are not for maternity and eventually need replacing within a year or two. They’re the best of the cheap ones BUT, even the Lululemon dupes don’t even come close and I’ve tried them all. I could have had six solid quality Lulus instead. As minimalists we often opt for quality over quantity. It saves more money over time. As for sizing, I got a size 12 and was a 12/14 pre-pregnancy, they reach over my belly and I could have easily worn a size 10. They are forgiving in size and form to your size so you’ll be able to wear them postpartum. I will also get the high rise wunder under leggings to help my stomach feel supported after this sixth c-section.
- Latched Mama Maxi Nursing Dress : These are super comfy, great quality and you don’t have to be a nursing mama to wear them. Maxi dresses are quick to put on, make you look put together with minimal effort and you can wear leggings under them for super comfort.
- Nursing Pads : My favorites are actually the Bamboobies nighttime but they only recently started selling them without the daytime ones included. I went with these last time and will wear them again along with the nighttime Bamboobies pack.
- Nursing Bra : I haven’t found one that I love. I’m going to try these brands Amazon Random, Morrow + Mint and Sweat + Milk this time.
- Earth Mama Nipple Butter : This is my most favorite nipple cream and it’s safe for baby and smells nice.
- Disposable Postpartum Underwear : I have used the Depends hack since our first born in 2005 and it’s a great one!
multiple use items
- Thin Bamboo Muslin Blankets : I use these Bamboo Muslin Cloths for many things : a light blanket in warmer weather, to block the sunlight when in the stroller, for burp cloths, nursing cover and swaddling. I don’t use traditional burp cloths because all of our children have had reflux and can fill a towel after every feeding so we either use these or a towel we already own.
- Thick Muslin Blankets : We use these 6-layer Muslin Blankets for covering, for a bath towel, for a play area, for changing baby, etc. They get softer the more they’re washed!
- Muslin Burp Cloths : I know what I just said about burp cloths but I don’t use these for that. I use them for tucking under baby and/or under my breast while breastfeeding or in the bath to wash and keep baby warm while I wash their scalp/hair. I also use them on the opposite breast to catch leaking. I tried the haaka, but it never worked for me at all.
- Recliner : We have used a nursery glider, a chair with footstool and just propped up on the couch but for me, recovering from c-sections was easier when I could be in a rocker recliner. We were given a hideous one with our firstborn and it was a lifesaver. It rocked, it was plush, it was huge, it was comfy and it was perfect for getting up and down alone with a baby when your abs were recovering. For c-section recovery it needs to have the leaver that can put the legs down and not just up so that you can get up and down unassisted. It helped with postpartum swelling as well with the legs lifted up. I like to get it in a neutral color that doesn’t look like baby furniture.
- White Noise Machine : We are still currently using ours for Ocean, so Capri will likely need one of her own since they won’t be sharing a room. I used my phone for Zephyr, but … I needed my phone for work so… that didn’t work for us.
- Stretchy Blankets : For actual swaddling, hubby and I both prefer a stretchy blanket [or these.] We do not like swaddling in Muslin because they don’t hold very well and we are expert swaddlers lol.
- Sleeping Nest : Somewhere for baby to lay down safely. We have used the Snuggleme Organic and The Moses Pod that came with our Design Dua Bassinet. I haven’t tried the Dock-A-Tot but we love the snuggleme and maybe even more so the Moses Pod.
- Bassinet : I love using bassinets. Our bassinets get heavily used even after baby outgrows them. We use them up to 5 months for baby to sleep in beside our bed and then they are used as play items or to store their stuffed animals in. I love the Design Dua one we have on a rocker base, and I’m using the Macrame Hanging Bassinet this time as well which can be used up to 20 months. We usually take it up and down the stairs multiple times per day, so this time we will have one downstairs and one upstairs because we want to.
hands free moments
- Swing/Bouncer/Rocker : Somewhere for baby to be set down when someone isn’t holding them, but baby doesn’t want to lay down flat. We have used the cradle swings for every baby since Brie [She is the 2nd of 6 babies] and we have used the Charlie Crane Rocker since baby 4. I kind of still want to try a Bjorn Bouncer Seat because unlike the pricey Charlie Crane Rocker, it moves with baby’s movements.
- Lou Lou & Co Sleep Gowns : Our preferred outfits for our newborns are gowns. No zips, no buttons, no velcro, no snaps. All of those options are super annoying in the middle of the night or when I’m running off of coffee only in the middle of the day. Gowns. We have about a weeklong supply of these from Lou Lou and a few from amazon, but hubby and I get bummed out when all the Lou Lou’s are dirty. Those ones are the BEST, but I’m thinking of adding a couple of these inexpensive ones as well.
- Onesies : We love these long sleeved ones with the built in hand mitts, and these short sleeved ones. We got the short sleeved ones in black and after two babies using them, they still look new for this third baby in 3 years. And they have been heavily washed repeatedly.
- Sleep N Play Outfits : Any kind that zip and have hand mitts.
- Tops & Bottoms : Hubby and I actually prefer tops and bottoms after the gowns for changing baby. However convenient one piece sleep n play outfits are, you’re still undressing them to change a diaper. Our youngest two hate that and get cold easily. And protest noisily. Here are footed bottoms with hand mitt tops, love these! We also usually have a set of these kimono tops for the umbilical cord. Our summer babies lived in these and a cloth diaper with a swaddle blanket during the day.
- Sleep Sack : This is the kind that goes over a long sleeved onesie and we use these once baby outgrows the sleep gowns. Our favorite is pricy, the Woolino 4 Seasons, but we have used it for two kids and now three will have used it. We really need a second for when this is dirty and I going with this one since it’s for 2-24 months. If you can only get one, get the 2-24 months one. It’s machine washable wool and it is magic for our babies. They sleep awesome in this.
- Diapers : We cloth diaper from birth to about 6-8 months. No matter what I tried after that, trust me I tried all the things suggested on the entire internet, our cloth diaper set up eventually started leaking with all our boys. Then we switch to either Dyper diapers or Pampers Pure or Parisol. Those are the only ones our babies can wear without getting diaper burns. The Dyper ones are biodegradable and compostable. We still cloth diaper from birth and have saved thousands doing this for three kids in a row now. I’ll do a separate blog post on our favorite cloth diapers, but I have a few videos on my YouTube channel about them.
- Wipes : Our favorite cloth wipes are by GroVia and our favorite disposable wipes are Pampers Pure.
- Diaper Cream : We don’t use any when cloth diapering, when we switch to disposable we use Desitin because it works the fastest.
- Breast Feeding Pillow : I love The Nesting Pillow the best because of it’s multiple usage. We don’t use this only for breastfeeding, also makes a great lap desk and belly support while sleeping before baby arrives! I have also used a Boppy which I didn’t care for over the MyBrestFriend Nursing Pillow.
- Bottles : Our favs are the LifeFactory Glass Bottles, and Kiinde Breast Milk Bottles. It’s a great idea to try this sample pack out of five different popular bottle brands to see what your baby likes or will take.
- Car Seat : We got the Nuna Pipa and I LOVE the dream drape for keeping baby cozy and safe from strangers hands.
- Carrier : I have tried all of the carriers over the years. I’m not going to go into all of them, but here are my favorites : sling carrier and buckle carrier. With so many little ones, I mostly use carriers inside the home when cleaning or cooking or trying to sooth a toddler/baby. No matter how thin, I get too hot wearing baby out running errands or walking in the southern heat. I’d rather push them all in a stroller [see below].
- Stroller : Get whatever stroller or strollers work for you and your family situation. I have gone without a stroller and relied only on carriers and I have had so many brands and types of strollers. For us, this time, having 3 children under 3, we plan on having a two strollers : 1. A single jogging stroller for running. I can’t run with a double and I like to run, so I rotate who goes on runs with me. 2. A lightweight and compact double to triple stroller, The Zoe Luxe Triple. Great for quick trips, errands, traveling, going in stores, fits through standard doors. I will need an infant insert for Capri to be safe and comfortable until 4 months old. I have half a dozen kids. I have come to learn there’s no such thing as a perfect stroller that fits ALL of our needs.
- Kind of a Diaper Bag : I use my own purse and make pouches for the kids that need things. Just some simple zip up pouches for each kid’s essentials tossed into an inexpensive tote or backpack is all you need to do. In the zip pouch you can put diapers, travel wipes, and a one-piece outfit for an emergency change. We also toss in a muslin cloth for any of the multiple uses.
- Now this is personal preference, but I just get in the tub with our babies. When our older kids were little we had baby bathtubs which we found cumbersome and inconvenient. Then we switched to sponges for sink baths [or here] and I love those for when I do sink bathing. I also used this and still have it. You just ring it out and toss in the dryer, easy! But our typical is just to get in the tub and have someone outside the tub to receive baby when they’re clean! So much easier! We usually use the soap we use for everyone since we don’t use anything harsh for any of our sensitive skin and our own towels which is obviously something we have. The thick muslin blankets listed above also work well for towels since they are soft and absorbent.
- Towels : Like I said, we use our own that we use for ourselves but I love this towel since it’s large and SO SOFT.
- Baby Wash : We use Baby Bum or EveryOne Wash which everyone in the house uses.
- Baby Lotion : Baby Bum Lotion
- Nose Care : We use a nasal bulb which our babies pretty much hate, but they work. Plan on trying this nasal aspirator this go around. I will not use a nose frida. Don’t even tell me how much you love it because it’s a hard pass for me, dog.
-emmy V. says
I think a must have is a diaper warmer. Just think, how would it feel to be startled in the middle of the night with something wet and cold on your sensitive areas? Though, I'm not sure how it would work with cloth diapering.
Also, be sure to check out a wonderful catholic company, Be A Heart. My good friend introduced it to me and it has really awesome swaddles!
Jane Manka says
Hey! Only baby number 4 for us needed the wipes warmer haha! That was the first kid we cloth diapered. We used the wipes warmer for our cloth wipes and it worked AWESOME! We always say we will use it again if we have a kid that protested at diaper changing time. So far, it was just our fourth. None of the others cared if the wipe was cold.