When it comes to newborns and babyhood, I am without a doubt in the “less is more” camp. I have been through the newborn stage six times now, and each time the list of what I view as ‘necessities’ gets shorter and shorter! In fact, with our last baby I think I bought a lightweight baby carrier, some stretchy swaddles, pacifiers and ten really nice, soft sleepers. That’s it! Granted, we already had a crib and car seat, but you get the idea.
We all know that the baby industry is booming, and marketing professionals are truly gifted at getting you to throw down some cash in a hurry. Debating between wide mouth bottle nipples vs. classic, orthodontic pacifiers or traditional, a snap n’ go vs a travel system – there are so many options and so many opinions.
The good news? When it comes to need, there aren’t many things that you must have to bring that sweet little bundle home. If curating a bare bones baby registry and passing on extra ‘stuff’ is appealing to you, read on! While there aren’t a ton of needs for a new baby, there are a few. Here are the items I would consider crucial on a bare minimum baby registry.
Safe Sleep. This one is a need, however, what you need doesn’t have to break the bank! There are loads of budget crib and mattress options that function just as well as the pricey brands. I personally found that my kids preferred the inexpensive baby mattresses to the massively expensive one we originally bought for our oldest (that subsequently lived in the basement, much to my husband’s chagrin). Initially, you can even get by with just a bassinet for baby to sleep in. I would also include some type of swaddle for those teeny tiny newborn days! You can save some money by buying just a few and washing them every couple of days. They outgrow them so quickly, there’s no need to stockpile.
- Crib (here’s a list of 25 under $250)
- Mattress (Graco has a wonderful option available on Amazon for a great price)
- 2 Crib Sheets, 2 waterproof mattress pads
- 2-3 Swaddles (We are FIRM believers Halo SleepSacks are a big reason our baby slept to well early on!)
Feeding. If you are planning to breastfeed, the necessities will be for you. You will need nursing bras and pads, and a pump if you plan to being away from baby for much time. If you plan to stay home and nurse on demand, a manual pump will suffice! Nursing pillows and covers are nice, but if money is tight those are the places I would look second hand or skip altogether. Before the baby is here, you won’t know if you want them for sure. I never used a nursing cover, but did love a nursing pillow. My bestie swore by her cover but never liked the nursing pillows. It never hurts to wait and see!
If you plan to bottle feed, you don’t need a ton either! We always got by with just a few bottles and washed them right after we used them. If your daycare has a required minimum, you can assume that that is enough to get by. Some babies are really specific about bottles, but there’s no way to know until babe is here. Get a few basics and you’ll be set!
- Breast Pump (Free through insurance) and milk bags
- Nursing Bra
- Nursing pillow
- 2-4 bottles (skip the small sized ones and go for the 9 ounce bottles)
Carrying. This can vary a lot based on personal preference, but I do recommend a baby carrier of some type. Personally I loved my ring sling as well as a Solly baby wrap for those newborn days. There are so many options! Don’t go wild before your baby arrives, it will be easier to know what you prefer when you’ve gotten to know your likes and dislikes (and baby’s). Many local babywearing groups have lending libraries, which can be a great resource when hoping to try before you buy.
Stroller. A stroller is a must have and if you are looking to save money, it’s smart to invest in one that will last you as baby grows. Aim to find one that is light weight and compact but also comfortable for baby. Keep an eye out for opportunities to purchase one second hand!
Clothing. I’m sure you’re catching on here, but I take a minimalist approach when it comes to just about everything baby related. My newborns live in cozy sleepers in the winter and one piece rompers in the summer, and I try to not have too many pieces of clothing in total. This saves both money and space! Of course, you may need to modify this list based on where you live and the weather you experience.
- 5 short sleeve onesies
- 2-3 pairs of pants
- 1 jacket
- 3-5 pairs of socks
- 5-7 sleepers (I always suggest ZIP UP versus buttons)
Car Seat. This, of course, is a non negotiable. Again though – there are some awesome budget options out there that are just as safe and secure without all of the bells and whistles.
If you are interested in a bare minimum baby registry for minimalist purposes more than for financial savings, my favorite tip is to find products and brands that you really love and buy just a few curated pieces. When we had a surprise sixth baby, as I mentioned, I didn’t buy much. What I did buy, however, I loved and was happy to use each and every time that it was used: the sleepers, the carrier, and the swaddle blankets. There is something to be said for quality over quantity! Minimalist or maximalist, just remember, your baby mostly just needs you. You’ve got this!
Katie is a freelance writer living in the midwest with her husband and six kiddos. She loves writing, of course, and wandering about her city with her family. When she’s not doing either of those things, Katie likes to crochet, watch reruns of the Golden Girls, and pretend she knows how to paint with watercolors.