As a Minimalist Mama, one of the questions that I get asked the most comes from expecting parents, “What do I really need for a baby?” Well- nothing teaches you quite so well what you really need for motherhood as the birth of your second child does.Today I want to answer that question by compiling a babylist of the items that I’ve been recommending to my friends for years. Use this as a baby registry checklist for newborn essentials. Whether you are an aspiring Minimalist, or just a parent that is questioning the necessity of all of that stuff, read on. And if you are an aspiring Minimalist, check out my book list for beginners here!
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Baby Registry Checklist
By far, the thing I needed most when I was pregnant with each of our children was Amazon’s Baby Registry. I mean, you can’t compile an amazing babylist without a place to keep it, right? My Mom encouraged me to go the more traditional route of creating my baby registry in a brick and mortar store, but I hesitated to do so because the items I was choosing to put on our baby registry were not traditional items. The number one of which were the cloth diapers my Husband and I both wanted. We live in a very rural area where cloth diapers are almost impossible to find in-store and they were a top priority for us because of our tight budget.
I love to shop on Amazon, and I do very often (maybe a little too often!). They’ve earned my trust and even more so when I went through them to create my baby registry checklist. Amazon’s Baby Registry feature made it so easy to create an all inclusive list of any and every item I thought I might need or use and every person I knew had access to the list from any location. They could buy an item on our babylist from Amazon with one click and I’d receive notification that someone had purchased that item. Amazon would then automatically remove it from the baby registry. If I had registered for 3 bottles, they only removed 1.
Friends and relatives living out of state had the option of having a gift shipped straight to our front door with a personalized note. Individuals who wanted to purchase at a brick and mortar store had the ability to do so and could carry my baby registry checklist with them anywhere they took their mobile device. Which also worked in reverse, any time I saw an item that appealed to me I could easily access my baby registry and add to it.
I could seriously go on and on about this one! If you’d like to try it for yourself, you can access it here- Shop Amazon – Create an Amazon Baby Registry.
Just buy all the books, okay? Moving on…
Invest In An Excellent Swing
A baby swing will save your sanity, lady. That is no exaggeration! I’m well aware that every now and then a baby may come along that despises the swing, but I believe it’s fair to say that swings make the babylist. If you’re smart, you’ll find one that can plug into an outlet instead of using batteries. My youngest child would only nap in his swing. We were gifted a swing from a family member as a hand-me-down and needless to say it went through tons of batteries. You don’t have to splurge on one of these fancy ones, but I do recommend one that comes with some type of speed adjustment setting and a sound maker like this one that is a smaller version of the one we used and loved (except for the battery overuse). Ours had nature sounds, classical music and white noise and that feature was wonderful on the days when I needed background noise to flood out the sounds of a happy toddler running around while baby napped… or a clumsy, sleep-deprived Mama stumbling toward the coffee pot for her fourth cup of the morning. (As an aside, I do not recommend allowing baby to sleep in a swing unattended due to risk for SIDS.)
If you aren’t in a group of Mommy friends already, you probably have no idea what a Nose Frida is… so you just Googled it. Am I right? Okay- don’t stop reading yet! Yes, I get it. It looks grosssss, but the NoseFrida is created with a filter inside so that there is no way anything yucky is going into anyone’s mouth. Before I had children, I had an iron stomach, but put a booger in front of me and I would gag. I saw a NoseFrida advertisement while I was reading a pregnancy magazine when I was expecting LB and I about lost it. Girl- hear me when I say- that changed so much. When your perfect little one is stuffed up and can’t breathe (no breathing = no sleeping), you will love having this in your arsenal of Mommy supplies. If you like sleep, you want this.
Sippy Cups Are So Overrated
Before I had kids, I worked as a Nanny for my cousin. Her baby didn’t use a sippy cup at all, she used a CamelBak Kids Water Bottle. Once I had kids of my own, I added these to my baby registry because they had worked so well for her. The thing I appreciate most about these cups as a Minimalist mama is that you can order replacement accessories meaning that these cups can basically last your baby forever. LB has been using hers for three years and we’ve replaced the spout two times. This cup has been very resilient to toddler mayhem considering we use it every day. I feel it’s worth mentioning that my cousin’s baby was completely bottle fed and my guys have been exclusively breastfed. I think it is safe to say that no matter how baby is fed, they should be able to successfully and comfortably use one of these great cups.
The Medicine Cabinet
It’s unavoidable that at some point your little one will get sick so add a few of these newborn essentials to your babylist. In our home this combo was essential for sleep with newborns: Gripe Water (God’s gift to Mamas. Seriously!!) and Baby Gas X. The gas medicine may sound silly at first, but newborns don’t quite have what it takes to push out difficult gas and that makes their tummies hurt.
I learned quick that any time baby was fussy, reach for the Baby Gas X and then troubleshoot what else may be going on to upset them. When baby is older, Baby Vicks can be great if you put it on the soles of your toddler’s feet before bed and then cover their feet in cotton socks. I’m no doctor, but I always do that for my guys when they’re feeling cruddy. Never substitute regular Vicks Vapor Rub for a child. It is too concentrated and can negatively affect their breathing.
A final recommendation that I’ve found to be very comforting for my kiddos is Hyland’s Baby Calming Tablets. I originally purchased these to use when my oldest started teething, but I soon learned that the chamomile in them can really help baby get some restful sleep in other scenarios as well.
If you think you might ever want to use your hands again for anything besides holding and feeding Baby Bear then you may want to put a soft structured baby carrier on your babylist. As someone who is very Minimalist in her routine, I appreciate soft structured carriers for their ease of use. You can literally grab and go with these. Just snap a buckle, insert baby and off you go with both of your hands free to do what you will.
Another benefit of using a baby carrier that you won’t hear most mom’s mention is that you can breastfeed in them. Talk about minimizing stress! You’ll never have to worry if you’re in the middle of a marathon grocery run and baby decides it’s time for a snack. Just adjust the straps and move baby into position. Yep, that’s all it takes. It may require some practice at home first, but don’t worry about that. Baby is never gonna let you cook dinner without holding her so there will be ample opportunities to practice your technique. 😉
My favorite baby carrier for age newborn to about 9 months is Ergobaby because I prefer the way the infant insert fits. The Ergobaby can continue to be used up to 45 lbs, last I checked. But the soft structured baby carrier that has won my heart is the Tula. You will not find a more comfortable baby carrier. My back has always had issues and for myself, I can wear a Tula all day if I need to and it actually feels more comfortable for me than carrying baby on my hip without a carrier. For newborns, you will need an Ergobabyor Tula infant insert to position baby properly until baby grows to about 10 lbs for the Ergobaby or until about 15 lbs to fit properly in the Tula.
Blankets You’ll Want On Your Babylist
When we had our baby shower for my oldest child, I’m pretty sure we left there with about 40 blankets of one kind and another. At the time, I felt too guilty and sentimental to part with any, but eventually I realized: a) LB hates blankets- still, and b) you only need two. You will need one dense, warm blanket that won’t allow wind to cut through it. A homemade blanket is wonderful for this need, but this one will also do the job. This blanket will get the most use when baby is in the car seat or being toted from car to inside a warm building.
The second blanket that you need is actually a set of blankets- swaddling blankets. Remember all those burritos from college? That was practice building you up for this.
Swaddling can mean the difference between sleeping or not some nights. It can comfort a cranky little one during the witching hours or it can help baby sleep through the night because she feels secure. The reason I recommend a set is because I promise you that your newborn is going to pee on the one they’re using just about every. single. night. My oldest peed on hers every time I changed her diaper in the middle of the night and my youngest’s diapers leaked every night resulting in a soaked blanket. Ugh.
If you already know that baby origami isn’t for you, meet the Sleep Sack. My oldest slept in one of these until she learned to walk. I remember making an emergency run to the store, at bedtime no less, just to buy sleep sacks for my youngest little one. I would’ve done almost anything to help him sleep through the night! . Summary- when you’re in a zombie state unlike any you’ve experienced before and your precious little nugget wakes you up at 3 AM, sleep sacks make it easy to swaddle your little one. Don’t be like me. Just go ahead and put sleep sacks on your babylist.
If you don’t already have children, you will soon learn that you aren’t allowed to do anything anymore without an audience. Yes, it includes that. So unless you enjoy holding a tiny, screaming someone in your lap every time you go potty, you’re gonna want to add a vibrating, noise-making bouncer seat to your babylist. Plus- you’re gonna want to shower… if you ever decide to sit that sweet little squish down long enough 🙂 We loved ours so much that it is one of very very few baby things I’ve decided to store for future.
And speaking of car seats, you’ll want to rear face baby for as long as possible so you’ll love Diono seats. The one we have can rear face up to 55 lbs and forward face as a five point harness and a booster seat up to 120 lbs. It’s unique because Diono makes their seats with a steel frame while almost every other manufacturer creates theirs out of only plastic. Diono seats have a 12 year lifespan making it the only car sear you’ll ever need. Put that at the top of your babylist! I’m confident baby won’t outgrow this seat.
If Diono is out of your price range, Graco makes great seats that also have longevity. I can vouch for this onebecause we are still using it. It can rear face up to 35 lbs and can be used as a forward facing five point harness (say that five times fast!) up to 65 lbs. I can also tell you that Graco’s customer support is excellent. A part on our Graco seat was doing something strange and Graco was happy to send us a brand new seat to replace it. That’s the kind of customer service worth talking about.
Bottles And Binkys
I never could get F to take a bottle, but occasionally LB used Dr. Brown’s Bottles. The reason I love this brand is because of the unique air flow mechanism which reduces the amount of air baby swallows during a feeding making it an excellent choice for babies with reflux, colic or unrevised lip and tongue ties.
The amount of bottles you will need to add to your babylist will depend on how you choose to feed your baby. If you are a stay-at-home Mama who is exclusively breastfeeding you may need as few as four- two to keep at home and one for each of your child’s grandparent’s house just in case they may need it. A working mama will obviously need more than that. Dr. Brown’s Bottles also include a small cleaning brush for the tiny crevices inside the bottle which I thought was a nice addition.
As for binkies, NUK makes theirs with an orthodontic nipple (win!) which perfectly fits the shape of baby’s mouth. I couldn’t get F to take a bottle or a binky, but after five months he finally settled on this one. I later learned that binkies are made of different materials affecting the way they may feel inside baby’s mouth. If you’re having difficulty getting baby to take a binky (and if you want them to), changing materials may help with that.
I should also tell you to ensure that whatever binky you choose is the correct one for your baby’s age. Typically manufacturer’s make a binky for 0-6 months and a slightly different one for 6 months+.
Cloth vs. Disposables. No Mommy Wars here. I use both kinds. I want to create an entire series of posts about cloth diapering for you, dear readers, so I am going to try not to get into every little detail here. I’ll update this post when I do.
The struggle as a Minimalist mama when it comes to cloth diapering is that it is easy to let yourself get out of control. The prints are really cute, y’all! With my oldest child, we asked our gift-giving friends to purchase us one cloth diaper each. We put bumGenius pocket diapers on our babylist and loved them! Even my Husband who was leery about using cloth at first quickly learned to use them and actually preferred them over disposables. They are made exactly like a disposable so they are very user-friendly. Snaps are great for a secure fit, especially with toddlers. In my opinion, aplix closure is great for babies that aren’t yet walking.
Then comes my son, F. That wild little man cub changed everything- including how we cloth diaper. I couldn’t get our bumGenius diapers to stop leaking no matter what I tried. They were exceptional diapers for LB, but just didn’t seem to cut it for F. I relented to the expense of disposables.
Eventually, I couldn’t handle the amount of extra trash we were making and the money we were spending. Long story short, flour sack towels. Say what? I thought we were talking diapers, crazy lady?! We are! Hang in there and keep reading.
Flour sack towels are basically thin, super absorbent, 100% cotton dish towels and can be used with any cloth diapering method that you choose.They are very affordable. You can get a pack of 12 for only $20! That’s less than $1.67 per diaper! You will still need a waterproof diaper shell to go with them and you won’t find a better one than Rumparooz, though I have to admit that our Thirsties covers are a close second.
If you decide to go the flour sack towel route, you’ll also want to have a few doublers on hand to go with them. While a flour sack towel can easily be used once without leaking, the doublers will ensure that you never have leaks. Choose doublers to add to your babylist that are made of natural fibers for better absorbency- either hemp or bamboo. I LOVE Thirsties Doublers. Like love, love, love. They are the real MVP. They take a little while to dry after washing, but that’s the only negative I can say. We also use Alva Baby Bamboo Inserts which are incredibly affordable at about $2 each.
So let’s break that down:
Waterproof one size shell, re-usable all day until baby poops- $15 x 14 (we own 4 which works great for us because I wash every other day, but for argument’s sake we’ll take the middle ground and say you need 14) – $210
Flour sack towels (12)- $20
Thirsties Doublers (3)- $8
Alva Baby Inserts (12)- $25
Total: $263 one time cost. Wash and reuse.
Wow! That’s very economical when you consider you will be able to use them from birth until potty training versus the cost of a box of disposables. A box of size 3 diapers will run you about $33 and will contain around 174 diapers. Depending how often baby needs a change, that will last you 3 weeks or so. 52 weeks in a year divided by 3 weeks = 17.33 boxes x $33 per box = $571.89 each year to exclusively use disposables.
And since this is a Minimalist blog, and a big part of Minimalism to most people is helping the environment, I will include that adds up to 174 diapers per box x 17.33 boxes = 3,016 diapers per year in a landfill for ONE baby.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
….For the next 18 years. I highly highly highly recommend Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade & Organic Castile Liquid Soap. Choose a soap or a shampoo that fits your baby’s needs, obviously, but we have used and loved this stuff since day one! The soap is highly concentrated and needs to be heavily diluted before each use, but that’s the best part, Mama. One bottle of this soap lasts us almost two years. Yep. You read that right. And the beautiful thing is that the uses for this soap stretch far beyond the bathtub. Dr. Bronner advertises 18 different uses for their soap! My favorite way to use it outside the bathtub is to include a tiny drop into our cloth wipe solution to help make cleaning up baby’s bum a breeze. After recently reading many stories like this one from Times Magazine on carcinogens found in baby care products, I’m glad that we’ve chosen a great brand like Dr. Bronner’s. Definitely add this to your babylist!
Other than what I’ve already listed, some items you may need to add to your babylist as your little one grows are:
- A couple of bibs. Baby may or may not need bibs until about 6 months when they begin eating solids. Babies with reflux will need #allthebibs. Some people like these pocket bibs because they catch food that is falling, but I’ve always preferred a bib that is extra absorbent like these towel bibs. They pull over baby’s head so baby can’t take them off and throw them in the floor (repeat 100x per meal). Plus- I know I’ll be sweeping after meals anyway. Making them could be a fun DIY project. With LB, I used a bib at every meal. F, my youngest, wouldn’t even know what a bib was if he saw one. That’s what I like to call Second Child Syndrome. lol
- Pack ‘n Play– ours is in like new condition, BUT the one at Grandma’s house is used regularly for naptime. During the newborn days, we use our Pack ‘n Play with a bassinet accessory to keep baby close to me while we sleep without putting baby in the bed with us. There’s nothing worse that waking up in the dark to a crying baby and having to stumble your way into their bedroom and all the while baby is growing more and more upset. We used ours for this reason until baby gets to be about 4 months old. These are handy to keep in the trunk of your car for naps if you’re away from home for the day visiting a friend. They also come in handy for providing a place for the littlest to play during impromptu stops at the park with big sister.
- Toys. Don’t buy toys for baby until you have a few months to get to know him/her. Babies are human, just like you, and each is very different with his/her own likes and dislikes. Baby toys turn into clutter FAST! (Don’t believe me? Read this post.)
Each kid is very different, I get that. My two kiddos are literally night and day. You may have to pick up a few items along the way to meet the specific needs of your baby, but this babylist is an excellent foundation to get you started without buying more stuff than you’ll ever need or use.
Are you a Minimalist mama already? Share the one baby care item that you have to have in the comments below!
Don’t go Minimal on the love. 😉