What You Need for a Baby

by Lesley on August 1, 2012 · 7 comments

in babies

What do you need for a baby? In my opinion, there are few absolutes. Rather, it totally depends on the parents’ lifestyle and ideas on parenting.

I really debated writing a post on this topic because it feels like such a mom thing to write about. But as more and more friends have babies, they’ve asked about what they should register for as a new mom. Just a year ago, I was asking the same questions! It’s sometimes comforting to know what other real moms are buying and using, rather than trusting a long list supplied by a store.

Even the other day–when I was at Babies ‘R Us looking at umbrella strollers–I ended up chatting with another mom who heard me asking the sales associate about which strollers work well for tall parents. She highly recommended her stroller a Chicco Capri and I was sold! (But, shhhh not really, because I’m looking for it on Craigslist because I’m cheap like that.)

So, here goes my attempt at an overview that should hopefully help you decide what you need for a baby.

First, I’ll get real with you…

I sorta hate when I hear moms use a sentence like: “We absolutely LOVE OUR CAR SEAT. How in the world can you love a car seat? You can love shoes, and ice cream, and vacation…but a car seat? To me, a car seat serves a specific purpose. I like to say: “This car seat/stroller/swing/bouncer/highchair serves our needs well.” Moving on…

Second, my real thoughts on baby crap stuff…

When I started thinking about what we might need for Anna, I got overwhelmed about the idea of our tiny house being filled up with, excuse my language, baby crap. I didn’t like the idea of having friends over for dinner and not having seats for people because there were toys and bouncers and playhouses everywhere. We have a small house- 1,100 square feet-so we need to be very careful about how much we accumulate. Additionally, babies are only babies for less than a year. Lots of the stuff you buy is outgrown within months. Then what? As we made our list of necessities, we really kept space (and budget!) in mind. The couple over at Young House Love created this post, and this post, which I found to be very helpful in deciding what to get.

Here are a few things we did to save money…

We bought a used crib on Craigslist to save some money. In retrospect, I actually regret not buying a new (yet inexpensive) crib simply because the one we purchased was pretty banged up. My friend Anna has the Jenny Lind crib from Babies ‘R Us. It’s super cute- and affordable!

We also bought an Ikea dresser on Craig’s List, and we love it. It was in near perfect condition, and is the perfect height. We’ll be able to use it as a regular dresser when Anna’s done with diapers.

Here are a few items that we’re happy our friends recommended…

Aden and Anais swaddle blankets and baby straight jackets. We used these items interchangeably. Anna spit up so much in the beginning that I wish we’d had a few of each but we made do. I think most babies would be fine with a four pack of the swaddle blankets, and two of the velcro swaddlers. If you have a baby Houdini, you will quickly learn that the blankets don’t work well for swaddling but do work well as a light blanket option/nursing cover/carseat cover for summer months.

Aden and Anais burpy bibs were a lifesaver when handling Anna’s spit-up issues. These things are super thick and can also be used as bibs. They’re on the pricey side. We made do with two but I wish I’d had 18 of them for how much she spit-up. Wait to see your baby’s needs before buying more than a couple.

Razbaby teether. I have to just say, Anna loved this thing more than Sophie the Giraffe, which most babies seem to really like. And it’s cheaper.

The Ergo baby carrier has been a great fit for our needs. It’s super comfy, can be worn a few different ways, and hasn’t hurt our backs. I know lots of people who also like the Baby Bjorn or the Moby. If you are planning to wear your baby a lot, you might want an Ergo plus a Moby but I was happy with just the Ergo. Your little one won’t need the infant insert for very long so if you want to save money, just wait till they’re over 10 pounds to use the Ergo.

An adorably soft baby hat, as seen in the above photo. Seriously- the owl hat is killer. I’m already planning to buy another animal hat for this winter season. I’ve purchased a few hats from this Etsy seller as gifts, and I’ve loved her service.

The BOB stroller is like a Lexus of strollers. It’s smooth and easy to maneuver, and great for running and walking on the park’s dirt paths. It’s pricey though and I can’t compare it to less expensive strollers since I don’t have one. If you’re mostly going to be strolling on pavement, you might want to save your money.

The car seat debate…

You can buy an infant carseat, or a carseat that fits kids until they’re like 100 pounds. We opted to start with the infant carseat because it can be taken out of the car easily, which is awesome when you want to avoid waking a sleeping baby. We just upgraded to a Safety First big kid carseat from Costco. A lot of my trusted mommy friends recommended it so we happily agreed–it’s one of the cheapest on the market.

Here are a few things we didn’t think we’d need, and definitely decided were quite handy once the baby had arrived…

  • A diaper pail. We have the Arm & Hammer version, but we don’t love it because it fills up fast and doesn’t close easily. I’d register for the largest Diaper Genie you can find.
  • A Sleep Sheep or other white noise machine. Originally, I was nervous Anna would become addicted to white noise as the only way should could fall asleep. Eventually we realized that we could only “SHUSH” for so long. Today, she has happily outgrown her sheep but we still use a simple fan in her room to block out house noise. She can sleep just fine with or without it but it’s sure nice to have running when people are over for dinner!

A few things we don’t have, and aren’t necessary, but would have been nice…

  • A cute drying rack for pump equipment and bottles
  • Microwave sterilizer bags for pump and bottle equipment (This was a recommendation from Laura over at Good Spoon. You should definitely check out Laura’s list of baby items.)

For those with a limited budget: We were very lucky to receive several baby showers, and many nice gifts from family and friends. But, now that Anna is a year old, we’re mostly on our own for any needs that arise. I’ve had a lot of great luck at Goodwill and Thriftown. Used toys are as good as new with a little Lysol, and there are plenty of adorable Baby Gap outfits if you’re willing to look.

Here’s the final conclusion we’ve came to: there are very few things a baby NEEDS. Everything else comes down to what items make life a little more convenient for the parents. I still sometimes have to remind myself of this fact.

A few final tidbits…

Sign up for Amazon Prime! Amazon has everything you’d ever need for baby, and without shipping fees, there’s no reason not to buy online. In the early months it can be hard to get out of the house as often as you’d like (or need) to get out.

I also registered on Amazon which was nice because their Universal Registry option allowed me to add Etsy items onto my registry.

phew. I feel like such a mom right now.

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Joanna Hyatt
Joanna Hyatt

Thank you for this! Stumbled upon your website, and having just found out I'm pregnant with our first, this is a huge help. As you said, it's all a bit overwhelming on what exactly we're supposed to get.


I just need a baby!! But the ergo carrier would be nice....I need to try and get one....


I don't have kids, but I do love the BOB stroller for my nephew's. Pushed one around Disney World for a week, other than the rides at Disney World it was a highlight, who knew pushing a stroller could almost be fun?


Ash- Kara used hers without an insert when Stetson was like, 6 weeks old? I felt like Anna needed more time than that, but the insert can get so hot that I'd imagine you'd be more comfy without it in. I liked it for fall months cause it was warmer for her. Totally a great item to borrow! Christina! Thanks for prompting me to write this. Can't wait to see the first pics of your little one. It's so so so much fun. And work. And fun. :)


Funny that you just posted this because I've been working on a post about my 0-3 month favorite baby items. It's nice that you're nine months ahead of me because I can always count on you to tell me what I will or will not need in the coming months. I'm still using the infant adapter for the Ergo (borrowed from a friend), but Everett is around 12 pounds now. I wonder if I can try it without the insert? He's still a bit of a bobble head but maybe I'll try it out and see how he does ;)


I love, love, love this post! Thank you so much for writing it Leslie! As you know (but your readers won't of course) is that I contacted Leslie early in my pregnancy asking for baby shopping tips and ideas for our registries. The lists they give you at the store make the entire task seem very daunting, not to mention when you first walk into a store like Babies 'R Us or Buy Buy Baby it's all you can do not to gasp in shock (at how much baby crap er I mean stuff there is) and then promptly walk back out. Plus, I love hearing what works for other moms, because as a newbie we'll be learning as we go! Thank you again for the post, I'm going to share it with my other preggo friends. :)