Having a new baby is an adventure, and there are a million decisions for new parents to make. It’s almost impossible to know what’s essential. In addition to the basics, there are a million cute and tiny things you’ll convince yourself you need, but the reality is that you don’t. And every baby is different. I had my third baby in my 40s and it’s been a wonderful experience. I really figured out how to weed out the “stuff” – I know what works now. And with 3 kids, you have to go for easy. Here are the baby essentials you actually need (and the ones you don’t) the first year. 


Newborn Baby Essentials: What You Need For Baby’s First Year


When you become a parent, the most important thing to remember is that there’s no perfect product or solution for whatever you’re facing. All experiences are unique, and we are all doing our best. It’s always a good idea to consult friends who have been through it, but what worked for them might not work for you. There are so many baby items to choose from and you don’t need that much, but there are some items that are really nice to have. When you bring baby home, it’s the beginning of a whole new world, and you won’t really know everything you’ll need until you experience life with a baby.  I always loved hearing about other mom’s experiences, so I’d like to share what worked for me. 

baby essentials


Baby Essentials for Sleep

This is about as basic as it gets. You “need” a safe place for baby to sleep, mattress, and bedding. And don’t forget blackout shades and mattress pad.

Pottery Barn Kids


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Crib Mattress

This is soft, breathable, and eco-friendly crib mattress.
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Baby Monitor

You could use any monitor, but this one is amazing. Wave one in my girls' room and another in my son's nursery. It always gave me peace of mind, and was so easy to use with my cell phone.
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Budget Friendly Blackout Shades

I wrote a whole blog post on how amazing these are. They are very affordable, easy to install (just need scissors) and make the girls' rooms pitch black for naps.
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Velcro Baby Swaddle

You'll only use these for the first few months but they are a must-have. I had 2 (one to wash and one to hang dry) and we loved them. Worth every penny.
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Wearable Blanket

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a firm mattress free of and blankets (even a small lovey) or toys. So wearable blankets or sleep sacks are best.
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Baby Sleep (nice to have)


Baby Bjorn


This is great to have but you could survive without one and just use a crib. I rented the SNOO for my first two and really liked that it wasn't another big item we had to store or sell once we were done with it. That said, I did not rent it for our third, and used the Bjorn bassinet. It was wonderful and he's my best sleeper.
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Dimmable Touch Light

I love this because it's just under $17, the charge lasts for months, and it's easy to use. Great for middle-of-the-night feeds and changes.
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Baby Sleep (what you don’t need)

Pillows, bumpers, and a baby quilt. Baby needs a flat place to sleep without anything that might put them at risk.



Baby Essentials: Feeding


Dr. Browns

Anti Colic Bottles

Sure, these have more parts, but they work well and are the number one bottle for a reason. We're really happy with them.
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Electric Kettle

I've tried those formula dispensers and pitchers and this was by far the easiest way to prep bottles. Bottle warmers take 5-6 minutes which is way too long. I'd just boil water and put it in a thermos for the day, or warm it up for a little bit, add formula, and shake. So easy.
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Trigger Thermos

The perfect way to keep water for bottles warm at home and on the go.
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Formula Dispenser

This is cheap, easy to use, and does the trick. We are never out for more than 3 bottles so it's the perfect size for us.
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Comfy Cubs

Burp Cloths

These are simple, affordable, and absorb liquid well.
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The No-Spill Straw Cup

I skipped sippy cups since straw cups are better for baby's muscles. We started practicing with this (with water) when Kate was maybe 6 months old (or so?) and both girls love them.
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Steps High Chair

I had the Stokke Tripp Trapp and switched it for the Steps – it's so much better! This seat is easy to adjust and clean. I love the look, too.
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Reusable Bottle Sterilizer Bags

I did not have great experiences with those large steamers, and they're big and bulky. While I don't love that these are disposable, you get a lot of use out of each one and at the end of the day, it's less trash than a giant steamer/sterilizer that no longer works.
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Space Saving Drying Rack

This thing is awesome. No more bottles piled all over the counter, and no large, wide drying rack. The boon one was very large and got so gross. This takes up so little space and is easy to wipe down too.
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Breast Pump:

If you’re going to breastfeed, you’ll need a breast pump. I used the Elvie for a few months and really liked how convenient it was. You can’t really bend over while wearing it, but are hands-free and don’t have tubes sticking out, so you can actually move around, or even pump while driving. 


Why I Chose to Formula Feed My Third Baby

Why this was the best thing I could have done for my entire family.
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Baby Feeding Essentials (nice to have)



Flannel Wipes

I have two packs of these and use them to wipe baby's face after eating. We rarely use paper towels - maybe one roll every few months? And these are better than using a few baby wipes after each meal.
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Baby Feeder and Tray

You definitely don't have to have this, but I did like using it for my son when he was teething and starting solids.
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baby essentials


Baby Must Haves for Bath Time and Diapering

Bath: When Margot was born, I started with a sink bath, then transitioned to this, and then needed a larger tub once she outgrew that. I would recommend a sling tub since it will last until baby starts to sit up. I love the Eurobath but it’s sold out, so that’s why I’m recommending the sling.

Skip Hop

Baby Bath

You could argue this isn't a must-have but we used a baby bath for the whole first year - it's an essential.
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Tubby Todd

Bath and Skincare Essentials

The best products for bath and skin. The all over ointment is a life-saver and saved my friend's daughter's sensitive skin.
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These diapers aren't cheap but I love them. I've tried every eco-friendly option and they all feel like paper, while these are almost as soft as fabric. Great for sensitive skin, too and worth the splurge. You could also consider cloth diapers for an eco-friendly option.
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Water Wipes

Baby Wipes

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Baby Wipe Dispenser

You could technically get by without this but I wouldn't want to. But just try getting wipes out of anything else while holding a squirmy baby down. So...it's pretty essential.
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Nail Clippers

We have 2 of these – one in the nursery and another in our bathroom. It's the best!
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Nose Sucker

This works! I did find a better option that I like even more, but this one is budget friendly and does the trick.
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Design Dua

Changing Pad

You could get by without these but it wouldn't be pretty. I kept one of these in our diaper caddy and one on top of Kate's changing mat at all times.
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Waterproof Changing Pad

These are great for diaper changes – I always keep one on the changing pad, and when it gets wet or dirty, switch it out for a new one. It makes keeping the changing pad clean much easier.
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Bath and diapering (nice to have)

Dr. Noze Best

Nasal Aspirator

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Diaper Pail

This is nice to have if you want to keep it in the bathroom, but I am not really a diaper pail fan. There's no good way to deal with poop, but I've found it's best to just toss diapers in the sealed kitchen trash since it gets emptied daily.
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Bath and diapering (what you don’t need)

Baby bath robe: Is your baby lounging around in a robe? No.

Baby towels: They’re nice to have but you can definitely use a a normal-sized, soft towel.

Newborn bath: You don’t need a sink bath that you’ll use for just a few months. Invest in one tub that works until baby is sitting up.


baby essentials

Baby Equipment: The Must haves


Fox Single Stroller

I loved our VISTA as a single but not a double, so I sold it. Then I had another baby, and found myself needing a single stroller. The Fox is amazing.
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TRVL Stroller

A compact stroller is a must-have for smaller trunks or travel. The TRVL is incredible - it has a one handed open and close which is essential when you have 3 kids.
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Infant Car Seat

This was recommended by the Car Seat Lady and I have really liked it. And the load leg means it's extra safe in the car.
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Baby Bjorn

Baby Bouncer

The only seat we used longer than 3 months. At almost 10 months, my son still loves it. It's the perfect place to place baby when you need to get things done.
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Toki Mats

Padded Foldable Play Mat

I love this play mat. It's so soft and cushy – great for tummy time, babies who are learning to sit up, but wonderful for toddlers, too. We have both sizes, and I would recommend the large since it's better for multiple kids and for sitting with baby, too.
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Stain Remover

I love all things Puracy – have been using it since before I had kids.
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The Baby Gear that’s nice to have


Diaper Caddy

This was been one of my most-used items the first six months. I use it to store burp cloths, bibs, disposable diapers, an extra change of clothes, changing pad, and pacifiers. We keep it by our bed at night and downstairs during the day. Makes having all the essentials on-hand which is a must when you have two.
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Silicone Sraps

Keep toys and sippy cups attached to baby's car seat, stroller, or high chair with these easy to clean straps.
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Infant Car Seat and Stroller

I have a few things to say about the Doona, so a review is in order. It's great when you have two other kids and want less stuff, so that's a plus. There's no clicking a car seat into a stroller, no adapters, etc.  So I do like it and recommend it, but having a car seat was fine, too. It's just one less thing to deal with, and with 3, that's really nice. I can see how it would be very essential for travel, and it's nice to have, but you will be fine without it.
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Baby Carrier

Given the price, I can't call this an essential but it really was for me. I used it all the time for the first 6 months and still use it when we go out. It's comfortable and so easy to put on and take off.
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Baby Essentials: Gear that you don’t need

Moses basket:

You can definitely get by without a Moses basket.

Multiple seats:

A friend told me I’d want a few baby seats throughout the house but I found that unnecessary. I splurged on a beautiful wooden seat for Kate and it was such a waste. Get the baby bjorn and call it a day. We used it all the time – it works for the first year and folds flat when not in use.

Diaper bag:

You do not need a diaper bag. Sure, they can be nice to have but a backpack or tote will do. I prefer to throw baby’s diapers and essentials in one of these pouches. Pouches are a great option for storing things by type, and work so well in a tote. 


baby essentials


Baby Essentials: Toys and Books

If you hand your baby a cup, they’ll play with it. Crumpled up piece of paper? Yes, they’ll play with that too. I wasn’t the minimalist I thought I’d be when it came to toys, but if you’re looking to keep things simple, here’s what you need.

Montessori Play Kits

These won't last more than a few months each but they're well made, beautiful, and simple.
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Baby Toys (nice to have)

Skip Hop

Explore and More Bee

All 3 of my kids have loved this toy.
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Skip Hop

Activity Center

A safe spot for baby that will keep baby busy and safe is necessary, especially when you have multiple kids and pets, too. I don't use it for long periods of time, but it's great for 5-10 minutes when you need to get something done.
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Manhattan Toy

Double Sided Mat

All of my babies have loved this. It has a velcro strap and magnets that makes it easy to attach to the car, stroller, or anything, really.
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Manhattan Toy


My babies loved this, too. Bonus: it attaches to the silicone straps and is a great stroller toy.
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Baby Essentials: Clothes and Layette

Clothes are so cute, and it took having my third to realize that babies don’t need much. Your baby “needs” a few cute outfits per stage at most. I would invest in maybe 8-10 cozy basics, depending on how often you do laundry. I would get a few hats, some fleece booties, and lots of socks. 

Kissy KIssy

Floral One Piece

These are so sweet but run small, so size up.
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Kissy Kissy

Striped Footie

These footies are a favorite - they are so sweet.
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Lou Lou and Co

Cozy 2 Piece Set

These sets are so stretchy and last for months and months!
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Little Sleepies

Crescent Zip

The fabric is so so soft and stretchy and their pajamas last months longer than any other brand.
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Clothes (what you don’t need)

Babies don’t need shoes (beyond a pair of booties) or dozens of nice outfits. They need cozy layette, socks, and some booties. 


Newborn Sleep 101

I wrote this post with a sleep coach and after following these tips, my third slept through the night at 3.5 months!
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Babyproofing Essentials


Safety 1st

Baby Gate

Install these at the top and bottom of the stairs, and in any hallways or doorways to keep baby safe.
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