Last Updated: December 28, 2023
Oh baby! After the excitement of first finding out you’re having a baby, you start thinking about all the stuff you’re going to need. And the things you have to do to prepare your life and home for another person. If you’re hoping to get by as a minimalist, spoiler alert: you wont! Any way you do it, adding another human to your household is going to add more stuff. But the good news is, you can create a minimalist baby registry and checklist for things you need. And be more mindful about the non-essential “wants” that you bring into your home.
So here’s my list of what you really need for a baby, what you might need, and what you might want to consider skipping. Plus, the spreadsheet I made when we had our first baby. To track what things we already had, what we still needed, what we registered for, and how much it all cost!
As a first-time parent it can be hard to know where to start. When I was pregnant and making my baby registry list, I kept finding lists online that bloggers had made before they had their baby. Or lists that recommended things like a crib, but skipped over the details, like mattress pads and crib sheets. So this list is all about essential baby stuff – that actually gets used! And of course everyone’s experience, preferences, and babies are different. So I’ve included a couple options for most of the baby items. The most budget-friendly option and also the upgrade or more future-proof item that I considered, found used, or splurged on.
Jump ahead to:
- Baby Sleep Essentials
- Feeding Essentials – Breastfeeding and bottle feeding
- Baby Hygiene Essentials – diapers, bathing, health/safety
- On-the-Go Essentials – Transportation & Baby wearing
- Baby Clothing – The First 0-9 months
- Daytime: Happy Baby Essentials – naps, toys etc.
- Postpartum and misc
Download the Minimalist Baby Registry Checklist Spreadsheet
Why a spreadsheet? I think of a baby registry as an outward-facing shared list for friends and family to know what to gift. And the checklist spreadsheet & baby budget is a private list for just you, making sure you have everything you need. The second trimester is a great time to work on your baby checklist and budget. Before you start buying baby stuff. Giving you a more realistic look at how much all this baby stuff is potentially going to cost, where you want to splurge or save, and how gifts and buying used can really help with the first few months of baby expenses. You can download the spreadsheet for a “Pay what you want” price.
The Best Minimalist Registry
There are a lot of options for baby registries! The best is still Amazon’s Universal registry option. You can add a product link from any other website as well. Plus, so many people use Amazon that it’s easy for people to use to send you gifts. Which, btw, is why you’re creating a registry. Plus, you get a sign up kit with some baby freebies and samples. And a 10% “completion” discount (15% off for Prime members) promo code to finish buying the rest of the items on your registry, closer to baby’s due date.
My second recommendation would be to also register at Target. The Target baby registry also gets you a nice sign up freebie kit, and a coupon code for later. So it’s worth it for that. And you don’t have to make both registries public. I used my Amazon registry as the one we shared with friends and family. And I kept the Target one private, with just a few items!
What’s in the Baby Registry Welcome Boxes?
While the welcome box items are always changing slightly, you can expect about $20-35 worth of baby products, samples, and coupons. Great for taking care of those small products on your list! For example: baby diaper rash cream, wipes samples (great for diaper bags!) and diaper samples, baby soap, onesies, socks, bottles, boob pads, milk storage bags etc.
Minimalist Design vs Lifestyle
One of the interesting thing about a minimalist baby registry is that there are kind of two interpretations of what minimalist means. There’s the design aesthetic of minimalism which is more a Danish design, light wood and white colors and modern look and feel. And then there’s a minimalist lifestyle – living with less, a “practical” minimalism. Buying less, reusing and having baby stuff serve more than one purpose. Sharing, buying used, or using something you already have, even if it’s not the latest and greatest.
So this Minimalist Baby registry checklist is kind of a merging of the two ideas. Trying to weed out the things you don’t need, so you’re left with the essentials for the first few months of baby’s life. But with budget in mind and reducing waste. Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are your best bets for buying second hand and local “Buy Nothing” groups.
Minimalist Newborn Essentials Checklist
Think of this post as a newborn baby shopping list with pictures! There are four main priorities a new baby needs: to be rested, fed, clean, and happy. That’s what a new parent needs too, but you’re going to have to skip the first one for a bit!
All you really need when you come home from the hospital is a bed a boob or a bottle and some diapers – that pretty much sums it up from a minimalist perspective. Of course, as you know, you will need more than just that to keep yourself and your baby comfortable and happy as you start your new life as a little family.
The first few weeks are the newest and biggest adjustment. And while you do want to start out prepared with some supplies you really don’t need as many supplies as some people or stores will have you believe. You are usually a 2-day shipping away from anything on Amazon and with most Targets and big-box stores – a quick drive away from anything you could ever possibly need for your baby. That said, you also want to be comfortable and then there’s a certain security of knowing you have things lined up and ready in anticipation of your new baby.
Any way you go about it, you’re still going to be up at 3am at some point googling: “why does my baby…”, “ok for a 3 month old to…”, “rash 2 month old belly…” etc.
Baby Sleep Essentials
The first thing you need to think about is where the baby’s going to sleep! Here are all our favorite baby sleep essentials for those newborn days and beyond! First up, deciding on a crib vs bassinet.
1. Bassinet (Optional)
A bassinet is optional, but great for the first few months of newborn life. But by about 4 months, many babies are starting to roll over. Then it’s time to make the switch to a crib! So some families skip a bassinet. The most basic version of a bassinet is a pack n play. This serves a dual purpose of having a more portable travel crib or living room playard later.
Most modern cribs are convertible from 2+ mattress positions and with a rail off for a toddler bed later.
3. Crib mattress
Cribs don’t come with mattresses. So this is an extra thing you’ll need. You can generally find a mattress in the $80-100 range. And this one really depends on your priorities of budget, organic etc.
4. Crib mattress pad protector: Buy 2
You’ll want at least two mattress pads for if you have to change the sheets in the night!
5. Crib sheets: Buy 2-3
Get at least 2-3 fitted crib sheets. You don’t want to be doing laundry at night if you need to change sheets. Same with bassinet if you go that route, get 2 bassinet sheets.
6. White noise device or app
You probably have an old iPhone or iPad laying around that you can use with a White Noise app. Another option is the Hatch Rest which is a night light and white noise in one.
7. Swaddling blankets & sleep sacks
Did you know babies startle themselves awake? Enter, swaddles and sleep sack! At the hospital they will show you have to swaddle your baby with a swaddle blanket. Don’t worry, you’ll have to look it up on youtube later anyway. The aden + anais muslin swaddle blankets are amazing and popular for a reason. Then, as they get too big for swaddle blankets and start to wriggle out, the fleece swaddle sleep sacks and wearable blankets are great.
8. Black out shades or curtains
Just like white noise, having a dark place to sleep is one of the ingredients for happy baby sleep. You can use cellular blinds or blackout curtains, or both!
9. Baby monitor – audio or video
While not essential, baby monitors are reassuring as a first time parent! A security camera works great for this. Or you can go the more old school route of an audio monitor. Or the most old school route of listening.
Sleep Items: Nice to Haves
Sleep Items You Don’t Need
Baby Feeding Essentials
Here are some breastfeeding essentials that you may or may not need. Don’t spend too much time planning or pre-buying this stuff!
Before you have a baby, you might have some ideas of what you want. But the truth is, you don’t know how it’s going to go until your baby arrives. Fed is best! So when it comes to feeding essentials, it can be hard to know what you’ll need. You may just need your boobs and that’s it. You might be trying to pump more to stock up freezer milk for returning to work and childcare. You might be pumping to exclusively bottle feed breastmilk. You might be formula feeding with bottles. Or some combination.
1. Breast pump
Insurance companies are now required to provide breast pumps after birth. So contact your insurance to find out when and where you will pick it up, and also what kind. You might also want a manual hand pump.
2. Breastfeeding pillow
A breastfeeding pillow helps take the pressure off your shoulders and back while baby nurses. You could of course use any pillow, but the shape is great for baby to lay on.
3. Boob pads and nipple cream
After your milk supply comes in, your boobs will be leaking milk! And you’ll need to wear boob pads in your bra. And wear a bra to bed! I recommend starting with disposable ones and then moving to washable. The material is soft which felt better than the crinkle of disposable ones. By a few months in I was able to switch to the washable ones.
Some babies like pacifiers (dummies, paci, whatever you want to call it), some don’t. But almost all parents are desperate enough at some point in the first year to give it a try! So it’s worth having one on hand (and you might get one in your baby registry welcome box!).
Breastfeeding Items: Nice to Haves That You May or May Not Need
Here are the items you may or may not need depending on your situation. So unless someone has gifted you one of these, I would recommend waiting to see if you need it and then go get exactly what you need as the problem or need arises.
Baby Feeding Items You Don’t Need Right Away (but are nice to register – for gifting!)
You won’t need this items right away, but if you need more items on your registry for gifting, these are great feeding items you’ll need later as they start solids and eating with the family. Things like highchairs, spoons, sippy cups, bibs etc.
Baby Feeding Items You Don’t Need
Your mileage may vary, but we found you don’t need the following: nursing coverups (some women prefer to be more covered while baby nurses, some don’t), nursing shirts (I just wore regular or maternity clothes!), pumping bra (cut holes in an old tight tank top, this holds it tightly against your body and is nice and comfy and easy to wash), $500 wearable breast pump (until you do need it!) If you’re planning to exclusively breast feed and aren’t returning to work immediately, you’re not going to need this. Yes, it’s super cool, but most can do with the insurance provided pump. $400 Norwegian highchair that turns into a chair your kid can take to college.
Baby Hygiene Essentials – Diapers, Bathing, Health & Safety
Starting with diapering essentials, it can be hard to calculate how many diapers you will need. First, you won’t know how big your baby is until they’re born. Second, you don’t know how fast they’ll grow, after that. So have your bases covered with some diapers but don’t go overboard. Target is a quick trip and Amazon is 2 day shipping away.
How many diapers do you need? Plan for about 10 diapers per day for the first few months of newborn life.* So if your baby is doing a week of newborn diapers, and then switching to size 1. That would be 70 Size N and 210 Size 1 diapers, and 9 packs of wipes for the first month!
Most people recommend to just start out with disposable even if you plan to do cloth diapers later. The first couple weeks of newborn life are pretty messy and continual diapers.
You’ll go through a lot of wipes in the first three months! Plan that a newborn uses about 10 diapers a day, thats 300 diapers per month. And if you’re using an average of 3 wipes per diaper, that’s 900 wipes per month! Thankfully, babies start to slow down on the diaper train after a few months and then you’ll just be using about a pack per week!
3. Changing Pad & Covers
4. Diaper Pail or Trash Can
The main difference between a diaper pail and a regular garbage can, is that the diaper pail has a layer that locks away the odor, or tries to anyway. Or you can buy a modern looking simplehuman 1.5 gallon step trash can with lid and liner bin to use as your diaper pail! You’re going to be emptying your smelly diaper garbage frequently anyway in the first year. So you may as well have a small and usable can!
5. Diaper Caddy Essentials
We used a dresser drawer organizer, filled with diaper changing essentials. Then restock as needed! It perfectly fit diapers, wipes, rash cream, and hand sanitizer and any other little things.
Diapering Items You Don’t Need
Things you don’t need: a diaper cream application tool (use your fingers, then wash your hands), diaper pail (use a small garbage can w/lid), changing table (use a dresser that will be usable for years to come!) or a changing pad right on the floor, wipe warmer (depends where you live & if you have a winter baby. You can also just warm a wipe with your hands or chest first), diaper caddy cart (use a small organization bin).
6. Baby Bathing Essentials – Tub vs sink
Depending on your home, a baby tub might be optional or an essential baby bath item for you. We had a very deep claw foot tub in our bathroom. So we got a little whale tub and just set it in the bathtub for bath time. It was much easier to reach baby and keep him stable and also nice to not have to clean the tub out every time he needed a bath. And trust me when you’re a tired parent, you’ll be glad you have a baby tub and aren’t cleaning out the tub or sink, yep leave it full of dirty dishes – thats what baby tubs are for. You can still do a sink bath and take adorable pictures a few times, but it just wasn’t an easy option for us!
7. Baby Towels and washcloths
8. Soap & Lotion
Bath Items You may or May Not Need:
9. Baby Healthy & Safety Essentials
Baby Health & Safety You May or May Not Need:
You may or may not need these items in the first three months: comb, humidifier (you don’t need it until/if you do. We used one a few times when it was dry and winter and our baby had a cough), baby Tylenol (get a small infant one in case you need it or if you live in a big city, you can just buy if you need it), Nose Frida or Frida anything (some people love this product line. I never had the need of the extra expense, but you do you!), Boogy Wipes (tissues, washcloths, and lotion worked as needed). So many baby items in the health area fall under the category of “if you need it, then go do a Target drive up order and give them a try”.
Things you don’t need: Gripe water and cough syrup. Pediatricians don’t recommend using these. And they’re not proven to help, so typically I think parents just feel like they need to be doing something. It’s hard to feel helpless when your baby is upset.
Baby Transportation Essentials: On-the-Go!
Most families, with a newborn, stick close to home for the first couple of months! But that doesn’t mean you’re not on the go! Here’s everything you need and some optional things that might be useful, depending on your situation. For more on traveling with baby, check out my post on the best baby travel gear.
1. Infant Car Seat vs Convertible Car Seat
Your baby will use an infant car seat for about one year (give or take depending on their size). Yes, many all-in-one type convertible car seats come with infant inserts, but there really is a huge convenience factor of being able to take the car seat on the go, with baby still asleep! Don’t wake that baby!
The best infant car seat is the Chicco Keyfit 30 and the very similar Graco SnugRide 35. Both are priced around $150-180. These are popular for a reason, they’re budget-friendly, safe, and you can get additional carseat bases, if you regularly use more than one car. They are also pretty heavy, almost 10 pounds (without the base), add in a 10 pound baby and that’s 20 pounds to lug around. But most parents will agree it’s worth the convenience vs a convertible car seat. To price it out, buy a $180 infant seat that you use over 12 months, is $15/mo. And if you’re planning to have more than one child, you’ll get more use out of it. Most car seats don’t expire or at least 6 years, so some families also pass on to friends or family while they’re waiting.
You could instead get a Nuna brand carseat for a few pounds lighter, but at $400, it just doesn’t seem worth the 4 fewer pounds! You can also get a carseat caddy “stroller” that makes transporting your carseat a bit easier. Great for if you’ve had a c-section and can’t lift much for awhile.
You can then expect to spend about $200 on a toddler carseat later, that will last them the rest of their carseat and booster seat years, like the Radian RXT All-in-One Convertible Car Seat.
You likely don’t need a stroller immediately. For the first few months baby can’t go in the stroller unsupported anyway, unless you’re hooking the carseat into an adapter. But it’s still a great item to register for. Especially for the few people who want to buy you a big significant gift. If you’re going for a jogger, they’re usually in the $300-500 range, so keep an eye on price changes and sales!
The best stroller for your family really depends on your lifestyle. So consider your use-cases before assuming you need a BOB jogger or a swankier “city” stroller. We did babywearing until 3 months and then switched to the BOB stroller. We live in a pretty rainy city, so for us the BOB was great for uneven sidewalks and slick leaves. A city stroller like the City Select or UPPA wouldn’t have worked well in our neighborhood. But was great for a friend in sunny weather.
If you have a C-Section and/or will be solo for first few weeks, a popup stroller caddy is great just to get to your car when you’re not supposed to be lifting things!
3. Baby carrier / baby wearing
Babywearing was a sanity-saver for me in the first year of being a new mom! I could get things done hands-free while baby napped. It was an easier way for me to soothe the baby when he was crabby, he could snuggle in close without my arms killing me from pacing a baby around the living room. And it let me get out on neighborhood walks or even in the grocery store, without pushing a giant stroller around. We 100% recommend getting a carrier!
There are a ton of options for babywearing. You can get a baby carrier, sling, wrap and more. We received quite a few hand-me-downs in this category, and felt like we tried them all. We used the Baby K’tan wrap and Baby Bjorn for a few weeks, but they grow so fast, that he quickly outgrew them. By about 3 months all we used was the Lillebaby Complete. Lillebaby are great for infants and babies. Getting a carrier with a newborn insert is great so you’re not using 3 different baby wearing devices.
4. Newborn Diaper Bag Essentials
You don’t actually need a baby brand “diaper bag”. I found them to be enormous. So I used a comfy and lightweight backpack that fit all the essentials with room to spare!
On-the-Go Items You May or May Not Need
The following are nice to have, depending on your needs. Car seat mirror: I loved the peace of mind as a first-time parent to be able to see my baby in the rear view mirror! Things You Don’t Need: Baby hiking carrier (most families can manage fine with a regular babywearing carrier. Wait til you actually think you’d use one, to get one!), stretchy carseat cover (use a muslin blanket draped over instead!).
Newborn Essential Clothing: The First 3-9 Months
Newborn and infant clothes is another category that can be hard to plan ahead for. You will also likely receive gifts of baby clothes. So for baby clothes try to wait until the last couple months before baby’s arrival to fill in the gaps.
Another tricky thing about planning baby clothes is that for those of us that live somewhere with seasons, it’s hard to know what season they’ll be in what size – beyond a rough guess. So don’t plan too far in advance! So here’s a newborn essential clothing checklist of the basics.
Note on Newborn sizes: Most babies can fit into newborn clothes for what feels like 3 days. Limit your newborn size purchases, and make sure most of your items are size 3+ month.
1. Sleepers or one-piece jammies
Sleepers or onesie jammies are great for nighttime (and day, depending on your baby). And kiddos wear one-piece PJs for the first 2 years. Tip: buy ZIP-UP sleepers, not snaps!
2. Bodysuits – long sleeve, short sleeve, and side-snap
Bodysuits or onesies (same thing when it comes to babies) are items you’ll likely get gifted! If you can, hold off toward the end of your pregnancy for most of your baby clothes purchases! Bodysuit sets are great ways to save money, and also get colors in a similar color pattern. Live in a hot climate? Sleeveless onesies are the cutest thing ever!
Yes, even if you have a summer baby, you’ll need baby pants and long sleeve items (even if just at night or taking into an air conditioned space). Remember: baby’s usually need one more layer than us!
4. Hoodies or Jackets
We only needed a couple baby hoodies. Baby was mainly wearing these out and not around the house.
5. Hats, Socks, and Booties
Baby accessories are pretty darn cute. What you’ll need depends on the weather where you live.
Baby Clothes You May or May Not Need:
We needed early walkers baby shoes for 9-12 months, since our little one was doing cold weather crawling and cruising. We didn’t need “baby legs” leg warmers for easier diaper changes, baby hangers (cute, but not really used beyond showcasing your adorable nursery).
Day Time Distraction Essentials
When you have a newborn, it often is hard to distinguish day from night. You’re still doing feeding, diaper changes, and soothing your baby. But I guess during the real life daytime you also drink coffee and it’s light outside. There’s your clue. So this category is things to make that part of life easier. Day time play time, happy baby entertainment, hands-free distraction and more.
1. Hands-Free Baby Devices
You’ve probably heard it, baby’s should spend most of their time not in baby holding devices. And yes, they should be free to move. But baby devices are a tool to use, so don’t make yourself feel guilty for needing a shower. Recent guidance has changed to recommend babies not nap in devices like a swing or bouncer, but instead a flat safe surface like their crib or bassinet. However, most babies have spent some day time sleep in a bouncer, lounger, mamaroo, rocker, swing etc.
These items are popular because it gives you a short break and gives your baby a safe[r] place to lounge and you some rest in that they’re sleeping! In my opinion, a sleep deprived parent is more danger to a child than a baby bouncer. Provided you aren’t using it for super long stretches of time or putting them in and just leaving the room. Here are some great bouncers in different price ranges. The hard part is you don’t know what your baby is going to like or not. If you can borrow from someone who’s child has outgrown it, that is ideal.
2. Tummy Time & Play Center Activity Mat
After the first couple months of newborn grub behavior, they start to wake up and be more exciting during the daytime. Which is fun, but also will leave you wondering how to entertain a baby all day! And a tummy time mat, activity center, or baby gym is a great distraction and learning tool for your baby.
Something to consider about baby play mats is that they have terrible design sense. Baby’s like high contrast and wild colors. Yeah they might pretend to be interested in your wooden and white baby gym and play mat, but that’s because they haven’t seen the baby next door’s horrifically ugly play mat. Well, we went the garish route and had the most hilarious time watching our baby entertain himself. It also made tummy time so much easier! At about 4 months babies love to kick, so piano gyms are pretty hilarious.
Aden + Anais Dream Blanket – these blankets are great for as baby starts to roll and crawl – to give them a space to do that, depending on your house. It also makes a great crib blanket after the first 18 months.
3. Teething Toys
At a certain age, every toy and object your baby gets its hands on is a teething toy. So make sure you do have something safe for them to chew on for 10 hours straight.
4. Baby Toys & Books
You’ll likely be gifted a ridiculous amount of toys. Some more useful than others. We mostly waited to see what things baby would be interested in next versus buying toys way ahead of time. In the first few months they love: high contrast cards, books, and rattles. If you purchase an activity mat, like the one above, the individual pieces that are removable will likely be some of your baby’s favorite toys. Another option is to go the route of a baby subscription box. Check out my comparison of Lovevery vs Kiwico Panda Crate here.
Every couple weeks or months, your baby will enter a new stage of development – mentally and physically. It’s really fun to experience, and you’ll have very clear ideas for toys that your baby will love, based on what they’re currently interested in doing. Like a Jumperoo around 6 months, or a push cart walker wagon around 10 months.
Postpartum Essentials & Misc:
The last piece of your baby checklist? A few postpartum essentials for the parents.
New Parent Support Group, breastfeeding support group, social check-ins etc. Having a baby is super isolating! And wonderful. Both can be true! Even if you have supportive friends. Sometimes it’s just important to have someone going through the same experience as you. So if you don’t know anyone who is also a new parent, there are parent support groups that you can join!
And there you have it, the most comprehensive, yet minimalist baby registry checklist and spreadsheet! Good luck and happy baby planning!
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