Newborn Essentials Checklist: Save money with just the baby basics

The pretty pregnant lady zapping a bazilion baby products with her barcode scanner was driving me batty. Four crib bedding sets, three baby monitors (one with video and a Wi-Fi remote), two highchairs, and one hundred too many pieces of newborn clothing all rounded out her insane baby registry at Babies’R’Us. (Don’t ask me to flip that ‘R’ backwards.)

baby sleeper

But backwards was this first time mom-to-be’s gift list. Being a new mom myself, I wanted to shake her silly and tell her what stuff I really used and needed during those first few months. Then I remembered — no new mom wants unsolicited parenting advice, and it’s not nice to shake pretty pregnant ladies.

newborn essentials checklist
Free Download: Newborn Essentials Checklist

I still wanted to yell: “YOU DON’T NEED FOUR DIAPER STACKERS! Where are your dang receiving blankets? Stop scanning $400 crib bedding sets! SAVE YOUR MONEY!”

But I bit my lip, watched in disbelief as she scanned crazy expensive stuff, and swore I’d create a Newborn Essentials Checklist to save my thrifty readers some big money before bringing home baby.

‘Cause despite some first time parents’ beliefs, a newborn baby only needs stuff relating to five basic human needs: sleeping, eating, keeping warm, getting clean, and love.

Your baby doesn’t care about designer brands, matching booties for every outfit, and whether your gear is new or used. Seriously. Your baby just wants to keep you awake all night long, eat on demand, and keep you awake all night long!

With this in mind, you might be surprised by how few baby items you really need during the first three months. So aim your barcode scanners in the right direction with my Baby Essentials Checklist, a guide for thrifty parents just interested in the baby basics.

Baby Clothes — The Layette

New parents tend to go ‘gaga’ over newborn clothing. I’ve seen teenie tiny dresses, brand name jeans, and dozens of designer sleepers in the shopping carts of many expectant parents — “Only the best for my baby,” seems to be the sentiment. The reality is those newborns grow fast, and stocking up on too much tiny newborn gear can spell disaster if your baby is born around the 8lb mark and the newborn clothing does not fit!

baby clothes list

Don’t believe me? I’ve sourced plenty of unused newborn clothing by finding well-intentioned parents who bought too much. Great for me. Bad for those new parents now scrambling to pay for 3-month sleepers after the first month. Here are a few tips on how to save money on newborn clothing:

How to save money on Baby Clothing:

baby boy clothes

1. Buy 20% new, source 80% used. Resist the urge to buy everything new, and stock up on USED baby essentials first. My rule of thumb is to find 80% used for daily use, and buy 20% new for special outings. There’s a huge market for used baby clothing — it’s been used only a few months after all! Join Facebook groups, check out Craigslist, and ask your parenting friends — chances are you’ll score BAGS of used newborn clothing for cheap. Many seasoned parents just want to get rid of their stuff, and might even part with it for free.

used baby clothes

2. Embrace baby clothing stains. Think your baby won’t stain their new sleepers? Think again. I gladly accepted any used sleeper with a spot or two to save serious money. My baby didn’t care. Launder. Barf. Save money. Repeat.

baby clothes used

3. Wait for the birth weight. Sure, go ahead and buy a few new pieces before your baby is born, but knowing your baby’s birth weight before you buy into a big shopping trip can help you choose sizes that will fit longer than a few days.

Baby Clothing Essentials:

Just the essentials, people.

baby girl clothes

  • 6-8 one-piece sleepers (zippers or snaps, your choice!)
  • 2 pairs of scratch mittens
  • 2 newborn hats
  • 6-8 onesies (a mix of short and long sleeves)
  • 2 pairs of stretchy pants
  • 2 hoodie jackets (love these)

baby clothes hoodie

  • 4 pairs of socks (keeps tiny toes warm)
  • 2 special dress-up outfits (for leaving hospital, visiting grandparents)
  • 1 large blanket
  • 8-12 receiving blankets (great for swaddling, and use as bibs or burp cloths)
  • Winter Babies: Snowsuit or bunting bag.
  • Summer Babies: Wide brimmed sun hat.

baby snowsuit

I’d also highly recommend switching to a scent-free, dye-free laundry detergent. I’ve been using (and loving) Nellie’s All Natural Laundry Soda for all my baby clothing and cloth diapers. Pick up a massive tub of the stuff for cheap at Costco.

Bath Time: Getting Baby Clean

Little babies can sure make big messes. Here’s what you need to get every chunky nook and chubby foot clean.

  • 1 plastic infant tub — buy used. (Or stick a large bowl in your sink. Also, you can bathe together with baby)
  • 1 hooded towel
  • 15 washcloths (Great for baths and wiping up spit-up)
  • Baby wash (can be used for hair and body)

Diapering

I crunched the nappy numbers and did the diaper math. Turns out cloth diapers could save your family $1,799 with one child. Check out Price Check: Are cloth diapers worth it? for the science (’cause I like science).

Price Check: Are cloth diapers worth it?

Babies & Kids

Price Check: Are cloth diapers worth it?

Bet your bottom dollar – choosing cloth diapers over disposables could save your family $1,799 with one child.

Read More »

I also shared how you can build a cloth diaper stash on a tight budget with many different cloth diapering systems.

How to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget

Babies & Kids

How to build a cloth diaper stash on any budget

What type of cloth diapers should you buy? I share the winners and losers based on price, convenience, and a little experience.

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Cloth Diapers Checklist

Yep, I’m an advocate of cloth nappies. :) Here’s all you need:

Total cost is around $155 — far less than disposables.

Disposable Diapers Checklist

  • 2 boxes of newborn diapers (Don’t stock up on newborn sizes — your little one might grow fast)
  • 1 diaper pail
  • Baby ointment or diaper rash cream
  • Disposable wipes

Optional Diapering Accessories:

diaper bag

  • Change table (I used my Pack ‘N Play or the top of a dresser)
  • Diaper bag
  • 1 diaper change pad

Feeding

Since we adopted our baby girl, we used bottles and formula. I asked my breastfeeding friends what they needed to feed their babies.

baby bottle

Bottle and formula feeding:

I found the best value by buying a bottle starter kit which included the bottle warmer, bottle sterilizer, and bottle brush in the deal. Buy everything separate and you may pay a lot more.

  • 6-8 four-ounce bottles with nipples
  • 6 eight-ounce bottles with nipples
  • Bottle brush
  • 2-4 bibs

Breastfeeding essentials:

  • Nursing pillow (nice to have)
  • Breast pads (reusable or disposable)
  • A few moms loved their breast pump and milk storage containers.
  • 2-4 bibs

Sleeping

Choosing a sleeping arrangement these days seems akin to prescribing to a parenting style. Attachment parenting types advocate co-sleeping, while others prefer bassinets, cribs, or Pack ‘N Plays. The choices are mind-blogging for something as seemingly simple as putting your baby to bed.

We used this Pack ‘N Play (with bassinet and changer) for the first 4.5 months, and loved it. For under $170 you’ll have several needs (sleep, play, diapering, storage) covered by one piece of gear. Later, just remove the basinet and changer and take the play area to the grandparents. I don’t regret the purchase.

But essentially, you’ll need to choose from the following:

I’ll be writing about my crib-buying experience in an upcoming post.

Health and Safety Essentials

I can’t let you skip out on these heath and safety items.

infant car seat

ear thermometer

  • Infant car seat (buy new)
  • Ear thermometer (check temperature while baby sleeps)
  • Nail emery board (easier than using scissors)

A few final nice-to-haves

Got a friend with this baby gear on hand? Go ahead and ask to borrow these items before committing to buy. All kids are different, and yours may hate the stroller but love the baby carrier.

beco baby carrier

Better to know before plunking down your cash for something your baby won’t use. Since many parents own the gear on this list, it’s pretty darn easy to buy it all used. I did. Well, I bought the pacifers and teething toys new. ;)

binky

  • Sling or baby carrier (buy used)
  • Stroller (buy used)
  • Vibrating chair (buy used)
  • Swing (buy used)
  • Activity center (buy used)
  • Books for baby
  • Teething toy (Sophie the Giraffe is a very popular choice).
  • Stroller or car seat toy
  • 2 Pacifiers

That’s my baby essentials list. What did I miss?

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Robin from Frugal Family Times October 5th, 2012

    Great summary, Kerry! There’s so much that babies don’t need. I often rant about gender specific baby equipment – a girlie pink highchair? Avoid. Gender neutral is definitely the way to go – if you have more children, you don’t need to buy stuff again – because even if you don’t think you care about colour – you will feel silly putting your boy in a bright pink stroller…

  2. Jace October 5th, 2012

    All you missed was an awesome babysitter to give you and the hubby a break!

    Though I”m not sure why you need 2 Grobag Baby Sleeping Bags

  3. Kerry October 5th, 2012

    @Jace So when they barf on one, you have a second one. :| +1 on the babysitter. ;)

  4. Kerry October 5th, 2012

    @Robin Baby neutral for the win! Because I bought most of my gear used, I opted for any color where the gear was in good condition. My daughter wore baby boy clothing for her first months. :) Loved the reaction when I took her out: “Oh, your son is adorable!” Loved it. :)

  5. Tori October 5th, 2012

    Right on! You know, before there were fitted diapers, people just folded squares of thick cotton fabric into diapers and pinned them onto baby? Hard to believe huh? But true – it’s not that big a deal. I remember doing that for my first one, and she’s only 26 now.

  6. Jules October 5th, 2012

    This is so true! The prices of some of the baby things where I live is mind-blowing. 800 euros for a stroller? So not paying for that.

    We did end up with a change-table, even though I didn’t really think we needed one. But my boyfriend insisted that it was necessary, and it is a nice piece of furniture, with plenty of space for our cloth diaper stash and baby clothes.

  7. Marcia October 6th, 2012

    So, our second little one is 3 months. This is a great list! I would add t-shirts for the days before the cord comes off, so it doesn’t get rubbed by the onesie. Our son held on to that for three weeks.

    We had gotten rid of everything between kids cuz we were done. Our son was six. Gave away the crib six weeks before I got pregnant. But my friends who were really done were purging. I got a ton of clothing from my niece but her son was born in October and mine in July, so they were all too hot with long sleeves.

    The swing was a lifesaver one night in week 5 when my hubby was traveling. We haven’t really used it otherwise, but again, it was a hand me down. The vibrating chair from out neighbor…it’s the best. It’s the poop chair. The right angle…

    The breast feeding list was good. I’d add soothies gel pads and lanolin. And a book on breast feeding.

  8. Olivia October 6th, 2012

    Actually we used much less as our finaces were tight. We were given more things, but ended up not using them. More cloth diapers than you list though. 3 dozen. Pins. 5 nylon pants. Diaper pail. Diaper bag. Paper diapers for travel. Baby shampoo. (Used that for bathing too.) Ivory Snow. Baby nail clippers. 7 cute sleepers. No fancy outfits. Snow suit and soft knit caps. Light weight jacket. Burp cloths. Lanolin for breast feeding. Regular, not a nursing, pillow. 3 fitted crib sheets. 3 blankets. 1 bumper pad. 2 hooded towels. 3 washcloths. (I did laundry 2-3 times a week and bathed the kids in the kitchen sink with a towel under them, just like my mom had done.) Pack n play. (For visitng family.) Umbrella stroller. Snugli. Crib. 3 flannel covered rubberized mats. (We changed them on our bed or floor using a changing mat.) Homemade baby wipes. Desitin cream. Or the old fashioned diaper rash remedy, browned flour. Car seat. Head cradle thingy for the car seat. Nuks. A family friend gave us a swing. The first child loved it, the second hated it. The Snugli was a hand me down. Our first born loved being bundled, the second hated it. Stuffed animals with embroidered faces. I’m not sure who made them (Fisher Price?) but they had grabby places, were machine washable and covered in a terry cloth fabric. I got them from a thrift store and both kids loved them. Homemade pop over the head bibs. Tie bibs, (not as effective with our hyper first born.) Books. We read to them from infancy and both became avid readers. Once they started crawling, safety plugs for outlets. With the first born, duct tape would have been a better option. The first born also destroyed the cupboards’ safety latches by pulling on the doors until they broke. We used shoelaces to tie the knobs together. That worked. High chair. Plastic kitchen stuff. Their first “real” toys were duplos at about 2 years old. They loved those. Think that’s it.

  9. Rebecca October 6th, 2012

    I just wanted to say that I’ve been reading your blog for years and Im so happy for you that you are now a mom. I’ve really loved all of your advice and you’ve really helped my family to save money so that we could afford to be a SAHM for my daughter’s first 21 months. You also helPed me find a job with the job hunting advice so that I could return to work.
    I think that you hit all of the important items needed for first 3 months. 2 more things your family and friends will buy or pass down so many cute clothes and toys that you probably won’t need to buy much at all. Also think again about buying a new infant car seat if you live in an area where most people don’t drive. In Brooklyn we didn’t even need one to leave the hospital and there are so many barely used car seats listed on our local email lists. I know it’s not recommended but most were never used in cars let alone in an accident. You need to make sure that it’s less than 3-5 years old because the plastic does weaken over time. But buying barely used and recently bought will save you big money. 3rd thing we take all fancy gently used clothes to a consignment shop and able to buy used winter and rain gear for very cheap or free with the credit.

  10. Emma October 6th, 2012

    Great list! One note about receiving blankets. If you want to use them for swaddling, the vast majority of the ones you see in stores are too small: 30×30 or 30×40 – and unless your baby is teeny tiny, these won’t work for swaddling for long, if they work at all. My advice is to look for ones that are at least 40×40 – usually, these are really nice higher-end ones so they cost a lot more, but they’ll be worth it.

    Or, do what I did and buy a bunch of flannel at the fabric store and just make your own! (Or get a handy-with-a-sewing machine friend or relative to help.) They’re really simple to hem. At that rate you can make large swaddling/receiving blankets at about $5 a piece, plus you get to choose cute patterns and colours you like. Score!

  11. Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple October 6th, 2012

    Emma is totally right on the receiving blankets. One of my friends made me 3 flannel ones that are big enough to swaddle my 3 month old. So I’m making some for friends too.

    But flannel around here is still $11 a yard, so a blanket costs about $16 to make. Cheaper than the higher end blankets though.

  12. Tony @ Intangible Investor October 7th, 2012

    Sounds like someone’s got experience. :) I have to admit, waiting in line for those kinds of people can be pretty annoying (but also, you’d probably feel happy for them).

  13. Sue October 7th, 2012

    Check out freecycle.
    One can clothe their child for nearly free and the only catch is that all stuff gifted must be FREE!

  14. Malcom@baby items October 7th, 2012

    I was stumbled on this site and this article is awesome Kerry! I’m pretty sure my best friend Kyla will definitively love your article and all the moms out there! I think you didn’t miss anything on your list, everything is completely listed with love.

    Thank you so much Kerry!I really enjoyed staying and reading your article.I finally know now what to do with this next ;)

  15. Zhu October 7th, 2012

    Thank you!

    I’m expecting and I’m due soon, and I was clueless where to start just a few weeks ago. I didn’t have a baby shower or a baby registry and we have a limited budget… and no family around (both New Canadians :-)).

    On top of that, we didn’t want to know the gender… yes, we like to make our life complicated :lol:

    People tend to buy way too much and baby stores are quick to guilt-trip you if you don’t order the entire nursery plus whatever accessories they are pushing. It’s hard to know where to draw the line as new parents!

    My motto? The stores will still be there after the baby is born. We can always buy whatever we are missing then.

  16. Kerry October 7th, 2012

    Hi Zhu, Congrats on being new Canadians! And I love your motto. I didn’t have a registry or baby shower either, so buying used was key for us. :)

  17. María October 7th, 2012

    Hi,

    Good list :)

    You have pointed out that there are different baby carriers, I would like to add that there are good baby carriers, thought to be ergonomic for the baby, and bad baby carriers that can cause problems. Please check that out before buying or using one, plus of course check how they are used to used them safely. The ergonomic position is the one in which the baby is sitting like a frog, with her knees higher than her hips, like making a letter M, that way the hip joint develops as it should do.

    Thank you for this list, it is really useful, and congratulations on your baby, enjoy! :)

  18. Daisy@Everything Finance October 8th, 2012

    This is so helpful! Especially for us without children when shopping for baby shower things. I’ve resorted to just getting the expecting parents onsies and diapers, almost every time.

  19. Amanda October 8th, 2012

    Do some research on car seats and figure out how to install yours BEFORE you’re hugely pregnant and hormonal, assuming that’s applicable. car-seat.org has forums that can tell you if a specific model will fit in the model and year of car you have, what name it goes by in various countries, what seats fit your budget; pretty much everything. Not knowing better at the time, I did end up failing at installing our infant seat, and sobbing on the phone with Evenflo. Somehow, I think they must be used to that, as the woman who took my call was pretty calm about it.

    For a nursing mum, I’d make sure to add an easy to use waterbottle to that list, because you’ll always be thirsty, and frequently carrying a baby. The Camelbak ones are expensive but nice. I’d also have either a bouncy seat or a towel-lined laundry basket in the bathroom, so you can set the baby down for a minute and pee.

  20. Lynn October 9th, 2012

    I agree with this list. I only have 1, but we were in a living arrangement with my parents when we had our daughter. We have to move back home ( from out of province) when he economy crashed. I had the swing, playpen and basinette. All used mind you, but because of small living quarters and my mom didnt want to re arrange her living room those things barely got used. She sat in the swing maybe 5 times because it took up too much space. Good thing I got all the big pieces for $200… I was still pretty upset about not using them. We wanted to cloth diaper… but I had to consider where I was living and we bought disposable.

  21. Laura October 9th, 2012

    When our last bambino was born, I had to fork over very little in cold hard cash. I reused the cloth diapers from my last, and serged little flannel washcloths from sewing scraps.
    We gratefully accepted little sleepers, onesies and stretchy pants from my SIL and friends, and gifts of cozy blankets from friends. Baby slept with us until around 1 year, when we moved him to a twin size mattress on the floor of our room. Exclusively breastfed (other than a few weeks of feeding issues, with bottles that came with the pump my midwife lent me!) Changed baby on the bed or floor. Found it easiest to bathe directly with baby. Used a borrowed swing a few times, but not really useful for this particular baby.
    Splurge: a buckle/wrap carrier that is worth its weight in gold (designed by Edmonton mommy – cozybabyhappymama). I did buy some flannel on sale to make my own receiving blankets, just pinking-shear the edges. A friend sold me her deluxe 5-85 pound convertible carseat. Oh, and I bought a tote bag I really liked to use as a purse/diaper bag. Buy a good one and use for years for yourself. Buy a good thermometer for peace of mind (I had one already). And Lansinoh and acidopholus for beginning breastfeeding.

  22. Christa October 9th, 2012

    Great article! This is the type of advice I looked high and low for when expecting my first, who turns one tomorrow. We probably used less than what you listed, certainly fewer clothes, and use squares of fabric for diapers like commentor Tori described. They’ve worked out really well for us. We got almost everything as a present or second hand. And, although we got to try some fancy products, like a swing, my daughter didn’t like any product. My partner found the bouncy chair useful during the newborn stage. I couldn’t have survived without my Beco carrier.

    I learnt that my baby truly didn’t want anything that could be bought. She just wanted my complete undivided attention every minute day and night.

  23. Sunshine October 9th, 2012

    I waited until after my baby shower and some friends gave me hand-me-downs before even thinking about buying clothes for my LO. Then I just had to fill in the gaps. I also had a June baby, so all she wore was diapers a lot of the time for the first few months. For me, the stroller was the big ticket item, and I’m glad I bought new because I don’t have a vehicle, and we have probably put 4,000km on it (baby is 3 now) and it’s still going strong. There are a few things I didn’t bother with (diaper pail, scratch mittens, diaper ointment) and a few things I wouldn’t bother with if I did it again (bathtub), and I would suggest an armpit thermometer to be a better choice as the ear ones are hard to use properly.
    Also, I tell any friend who are going to have their first, research breast pumps before you have your baby (or buy and leave it in the box with the receipt) b/c many women have trouble with milk supply at the beginning and pumping is essential. When you are already stressed and sleep deprived, it’s not the best time to decide what kind you think is best, it’s a bit more ‘that one is the only one they have, I guess it will do’.
    BTW, did you know that you could have chosen to go on medication and pumped to produce breast milk? (not judging, just wondering if it was something you looked at)

  24. Christine Weadick October 9th, 2012

    I had my kids years ago but some things never change. I bought larger sizes in clothes and got stuff at the baby shower my sisters-in-law gave me. I made my own receiving blankets as the store bought jobs are too small. My sisters-in-law both had kids around the same time as me or shortly after so we had quite the hand-me-down train going for a few years there too! When my daughter was due with our grandson I refused to buy anything under 12 month size if I could help it. We didn’t use the change pad with her pack and play as the floor is a safer place to change babies…..they can’t roll off the floor!!!!I used cheap bought by the dozen wash clothes for cleaning little bums as my oldest had a reaction to the wipes… good thing I hadn’t stocked up. I gave the remains of the pack to my cousin for her baby. hand towels make good (cheap and very washable) burp clothes…Regular towels work as change pads. Just a few little bits of advise from an experienced mom and Moomah….that’s what my grandson calls me!!!!Lol!!

  25. Karen October 9th, 2012

    Great list. I did like Tori with the cloth diapers – they line dried really fast – less than an hour in an Okanagan summer. Easy to double up, fold different ways for different sizes, had half a dozen preformed ones for going out, but found they took for. ever. to. dry. I bought very little new for my two, got Please Mum, Oshkosh, Baby Gap, Esprit, etc in new condition, if not still with original store tags, from the VV Boutique for next to nothing. Also, aside from the car seat, stroller and crib, it is sometimes better to wait a bit and spread the cost over a few months. Sometimes you will find you don’t need some of it at all.

  26. Jessica October 9th, 2012

    Love your articles! Went over the nappy/diaper one with a fine tooth comb as we had already decided on mcns but the world of variations there of was quite daunting.
    Our baby is due any minute, and I received quite the ego boost reading this as we’re pretty much by the book. We’ve only bought a couple of cutesie clothes since we knew, no matter what you put on a gift list, it’s pretty much all people will buy for you. (We’re in Australia, hubby is Canadian, we just *had* to have a Habs shirt for bub)

    My two cents, meagre as they may be having not experienced the goods in use yet of course, would be to pay a little more upfront for things that will last longer down the track.
    For eg we researched our car seat through ‘Choice’ which is a survey company here that tests ease of use/costs/benefits etc. the survey cost $12 but you can get an annual subscription if you use it a lot.
    We were able to sort and compare the prices and tested benefits. Of course one of the cheapest seats around was rated quite highly all round because more expensive does not necessarily equal safer/better!
    We specifically chose one that suited newborn to approx 8 years old, because what’s the point of getting a bucket/cradle thing at a high price when it’s useless in under 6months?
    So that’s my advice, spend a little more now to last a long time. (Also our reason for using mcns).
    Kids grow and your available cash decreases :)

  27. Hoh Xiao Mei October 11th, 2012

    Hi, thank you so much for sharing this information. And it is kinda useful to me. I will share about this information to my sister as well, since she is going to marry soon and plan to have baby afterword. This information does solve their problem.

    Thank you =)

  28. KT October 12th, 2012

    I was glad to read about people still making their own receiving blankets. But I have a question about other blankets. I am 70 years old and have been knitting and crocheting since I was a teenager. Baby blankets are my favorite things to crochet.

    My question……
    In a conversation a couple of years ago, I mentioned to a young female friend that I was crocheting a blanket for a mutual friend’s baby shower gift. The young lady’s comment was, “Oh, they don’t use those anymore.” Is that true, and if so, what do people cover their new babies in when they take them out in cool/cold weather? Do I have to stop crocheting them?

    Here is another suggestion for those who like to make their own items. The gift my mother always made for baby showers was a baby quilt. It was nothing fancy but quite useful. It was 36 inches square, made from dark fabric, and was “quilted” by tying with pieces of yarn. The filler of the quilt was always the good parts of used blankets.

    The reason for using dark fabric was that the purpose of the quilt was to toss it on a bed or the floor to change baby (esp. when visiting others), toss it in the car when taking baby out – perhaps to an outdoor gathering where it would be tossed on the ground for baby to use as a play area, then taken home and tossed in the washer for quick clean up. She called it a “Toss It” quilt! ;-)

    The top was made from 4 inch squares, bottom was a solid piece of fabric, and the middle was the old blanket I had mentioned. You could even use a solid piece for the top instead of cutting and sewing squares together.

    I haven’t made one yet, but I bought the perfect fabric when I saw it. One piece is navy blue and has large crayon-colored polka dots on it. The other piece is wide crayon-colored stripes!

    Good article, Kerry. Valuable information.
    KT

  29. Marcia October 12th, 2012

    KT,

    I have a three month old and I use the blankets that my sister crocheted and my MIL knitted. we use them in the house mostly because I treasure them. I think a lot of young people don’t always appreciate handmade things anymore. I’m 42, old enough to know better.

    I like to make baby quilts too. Now that I don’t have a lot of time, I’m doing the simpler two pieces of fabric thing, with some simple stitching to keep together. They are great and only take about an hour to make.

  30. Taya @ Simply Frugal October 12th, 2012

    Great list! (We even own the same two hoodies you have pictured) We really really enjoyed borrowing the newborn clothing and other bigger items (bumbo, play mat, swing…) because we were able to just give it back when we were finished! Nothing taking up precious storage that way :)

  31. Amanda October 12th, 2012

    KT, modern babies have protective force-fields, and don’t need blankets.

    More seriously, my mum made my son some crazy quilts, ranging from cradle sized to twin sized (which wraps nicely under a toddler bed mattress, so he can’t kick it off), and they’ve been getting used since he was tiny. Bonus points for adding interesting fabrics or appliques that the kid will be able to identify later. One of our has a little Leafs emblem, ‘So he can get used to disappointment,’ in my brother’s words.

  32. Jess October 12th, 2012

    KT please keep making baby things! Home made items are my most treasured things, and I love crochet, whether it be traditional like a blanket or booties or something a little different, like the beard hat (trying to wink and nod at my mum a lot to make one of those for our son on the way)(just google baby beard hat-they look awesome!)
    We were gifted a pair of crocheted hockey skates. Baby will be coming home from hospital in them, his father has spoken! :)

  33. Marcy October 14th, 2012

    Great list! I would add that you even have too much on your list..don’t ask me what. My brain is way overtired from four kids. LOL! I am a pastor’s wife and don’t have much money but we overdid it with the first two. We had a lot of hand-me-downs but still, we didn’t use all of it. Storage became an issue when we moved and we lived with less. The last two lived in sleepers (and were huge so newborn size was out) and had fancy outfits leftover from siblings. I would definitely not need as much if I were to do the whole thing over again.

  34. Marcy October 14th, 2012

    Sorry, now that I looked more closely at your list, I can say you are spot on. If you have a barfy baby, like my super-barfer, you will need more of anything they can barf on. Pj’s, onsies, burp clothes…but then, you don’t know that until they are born.

  35. Maggie@SquarePennies October 26th, 2012

    Great list, Kerry! I’m amazed at the cost of new strollers. There is some one-up-manship going on with which stroller you get. Beyond safety and comfort, you don’t need a stroller that costs upwards of $1,000. Unbelievable.

  36. Ashley November 7th, 2012

    If we lived in the same area, I would say you probably saw me scanning everything at Babies R Us lol. The truth was that I had already gotten about 90% of my baby essentials used from some rich lady for practically nothing, yet no one wanted to believe that I, as a first time mom, really didn’t need anything. They even gave me the “look” when I said everything was used – haha. So I went in Babies R Us and Target and just pointed the gun at just about anything.

    Great article and now that my baby is almost 5 months, I can say that I really didn’t need a crib, stroller, or baby bath up until now (She slept in a special mobile bed for her acid reflux, I carried her in a Moby instead of the stroller, and preferred to bathe her in the sink).

    Also, under your nice to haves, a swing and pacifiers are definitely a must for some moms (like I said, acid reflux ;) ). My advice for swings is to buy it nicely used for about 50% off and then sell it as soon as the baby is done with it for what you bought it for.

  37. Ashley November 7th, 2012

    @ KT – My baby is 5 months old, and we use quite a few knitted/crocheted blankets. My only complaint is that I fear they will be ruined if I wash them too much and also one two of the blankets have yarn strings as the border (does that make sense), so my LO was always having yarn fuzz and loose strings in her hands and mouth.

    But…this could just be because of my circumstances. I cloth diaper and am working out the leak situations (in regards to cleaning the blankets often) and also those specific knit blankets that were made were probably just not safely made lol

  38. KT November 8th, 2012

    @ Ashley – Thank you for your comments re: knitted/crocheted blankets. Don’t fear ruining them by frequent washings. Use the gentle or perma-press cycles and when they no longer look brand new, the person who made them for you will be pleased to see how much they are being used. If you have additional babies, they may be quick to make more blankets for you. I’ve had mothers tell me later that they didn’t use the blanket I made for them because “It was too pretty to use.” :-(

  39. TS January 18th, 2013

    Since 1937, here in Finland every mother-to-be has been given this “maternity package” by the state(Hay, that’s what we pay taxes for!!!). http://kela.fi/in/internet/english.nsf/NET/180408150632HS?OpenDocument
    Contents and colors have changed over the years, but it has always given a good idea of the baby necessities.
    Many of Finnish babies sleep their first weeks in the box everything is packed in. For some reason the box on the English page is white, but on the Finnish page you can see the real color with the fill-in-family tree.
    http://kela.fi/in/internet/kuva.nsf/NET/130812094929AS/$File/13877.30_iso.jpg?OpenElement

  40. keitumetse May 9th, 2013

    I fully agree with ur lists of essential must have 4 a new born baby. My sister is 6 months pregnant and I’m ready to start buying her the used baby clothing as I can’t afford new clothes for the baby.thabk u very much for your advice.

  41. Alicia May 16th, 2013

    Great list KT! What did you miss? Seems like you’ve got it all covered! I would put either a stroller or a carrier as a must-have though. We use the Pack N Play as our changing table too. I have to say that it was the best buy in terms of both value and practicality.

  42. Anne July 22nd, 2013

    Great list and thank you for publishing! I do have to add though, as much as we tried to resist it, having a video monitor is soooooooo nice and gives a new mom such peace of mind. We didn’t get one until 10 months, despite a good friend telling me how much she loved hers. But once we had it we could never go back – it is so great to be able to check on our baby any time without disturbing her! I feel more free to get things done – cook, watch TV or take a bath. I know they’re expensive – we got ours at Costco.

  43. allison September 1st, 2013

    You cannot use an ear thermometer on a baby. Their ears are too small and will give an inaccurate reading. Rectal is best, if you want an accurate reading which is important for diagnosing a newborn’s fever.

  44. Dominika October 14th, 2013

    Hi! I just discovered this list. I’m having a baby in a few months and I’m clueless on what the “starter list” is. I’m so happy I’ve found your blog because it’s just the two of us. No family or friends around (new in Berlin), and we’re on a budget as well. Some other lists I found were huge and a little bit scary too :)
    So a huge thank you for writing this post!

  45. Karen October 18th, 2013

    One item I could not do without was a rocking chair. My mother inlaw bought me a used bentwood rocker. I would lay a regular bedroom pillow across the arms while sitting and this was exactly the right height for baby to breast feed. Fussy babies were soon off to sleep if I gently rocked them while humming. Later I gifted the chair to another young mom.

  46. Karen October 18th, 2013

    Scratch mitts are not needed if you use some of the newborn socks on baby’s hands

  47. Melissa December 3rd, 2013

    When I have my next child I plan to sew my baby’s clothing using upcycled items from my own wardrobe. There’s TONS of German blogs with free sewing patterns and tutorials out there. My personal favorite German blog is schnabelina.blogspot.com because she offers all of her patterns for free, including a onesie pattern. You could literally sew your entire little one’s wardrobe with just her patterns alone. Whatever clothing I don’t sew, I’ll shop for at Salvation Army on their 50% off Wednesday sales so that everything will stay under $1.00. I plan to use cloth diapers, and as of now I already collect flannel sheet sets whenever I at tag sales or thrift stores, and I make them in to prefold diapers. For diaper patterns, I plan to use the free patterns offered from WAHM friendly designers (baabaababy.net, rocketbaby.com, mamakatdiapers.blogspot.com, prefold2fitted.blogspot.com) and make my own cloth diapers and covers. I have already purchased the PUL using coupons (including competitor’s coupons) at Joann’s. As for baby equipment, there’s plenty of free resources such as craigslist, freecycle, babkpages, even some facebook groups, and of course family and friends. I’m even willing to stop and grab stuff people leave by the curb, which was how I acquired my daughter’s crib, changing table, stroller, swing and bouncy seat….Yes, Someone left it outside by the sidewalk, and I took all it home and checked the model numbers w/the manufacturers for recalls and when everything checked out, I washed the fabric pieces and wiped the plastic or wood pieces with bleach. It was great, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. The only items I ever purchased new was her crib mattress, and car seat because I wanted to be totally sure that it was safe for her to ride in or God forbid to protect her in an accident and her diapers and wipes. Now that I know better, I would just sew reusable cloth diapers and wipes. The only thing I wish I would have had was a breast pump and a nice rocking chair and ottoman/glider.

  48. Amber Lloyd December 9th, 2013

    Thank you so much! This is exactly what we have been looking for! My husband and I are expecting our first and quite frankly, a diaper warmer seems like a waste of money as do many other things and most of the baby sites advertise, they don’t inform. We would rather spend our extra money on house deposit, not some baby gear we’ll never use.

  49. Carol Johnson December 20th, 2013

    I love this article and I have also seen new moms go crazy at babies’R’Us. I understand that it is exciting and everything look so inviting and too cute but you are right that you only need a few thing the first 3 months. They grow so fast and they will out grow the cloths before they can have a chance to wear them if you but a lot. Great checklist to go buy especially for new moms who don’t have a clue.

  50. Alexis Mascitti February 25th, 2014

    Great advice, but why are you assuming that those of use who are using disposables would necessarily be using disposable wipes as well? We use disposable diapers and washcloths for wiping! (the stuff they put in those wipes is brutal on baby bums, as a pediatrician, I support either cloth or disposable diapers, but I counsel all parents to stay away from pre-wetted disposable wipes)

  51. Karen February 26th, 2014

    Good point. My children are all grown (20′s). I saved a reusable container that had wipes I received at a baby shower and filled it with wet baby facecloths. I would put the dirty ones in plastic bag along with the soiled diapers and washed them together. I had rubber pants for over the cloth diapers (not so many leaks ) Do they still make those?

  52. Cor March 21st, 2014

    I am sooooo envious of the Finns! :-)

    KT – thanks so much for this list. I’m expecting in 3 months and have never been a maternal/baby person so all this is new and slightly surreal to me. Plus my partner & I have just bought a farm in Tasmania, and that is where all our energy and time is going, no time for much research and reading about baby stuff (that said, he’s reading ‘The Dream Baby Guide’ recommended by friends for when the bub is 6months on). And definitely no money to splurge on new stuff. Whatever we can get for free/secondhand, is what the baby will get :-)

    A no nonsense, budget approach to baby essentials is THE ESSENTIAL!

    Your explanation on the different washable nappies is greatly appreciated too! I have a cousin giving me a lot of her washable nappy stuff, of various makes, and it helps to understand what the heck I am looking at.

    Cheers

  53. Amanda March 31st, 2014

    If you want to save on wipes, but don’t want to wash fabric ones, there are several “recipes” online for making your own wipes out of paper towels. They are super easy to make and just as easy to use and traditional disposable wipes.

  54. Jennifer May 2nd, 2014

    Excellent list! Thank you so much for putting this together. I’m pregnant with my third child but it’s been 6 years since my last baby and I pretty much forgot everything there is to know about babies. This list will be a huge help to me.

  55. Sasha May 20th, 2014

    @Alexis: Disposable diapers are filled with carcinogens and other toxins, including those linked with TSS. Disposable wipes are not the only thing you should be warning parents about. How can any person, much less a pediatrician, honestly think these are safe to put on a baby’s bum?

  56. Karen May 31st, 2014

    I have never heard of any child having TSS from diapers in my 30 plus years as a parent, even with tampons you have to use them for extraordinary length of time,using an absorbency that is to high for flow. I would hope no one leaves their child’s diaper on that long. Any substance on earth is toxic if ingested in large amounts including everyday foods. Don’t be scared by everything as a parent. Parenting is hard enough as it is. I read and hear so many alarming facts these days ,I wonder where commonsense has gone. All three of my first children used some disposible diapers and some cloth diapers.My last (a set of twins ,now 16) wore only Pampers. (My oldest is 33 yrs). I also have 3 grandchildren who wore only disposibles. None have cancer or Tss. All my children were potty trained by 2.5 yrs. The youngest at 18 months(her choice) her diapers were dry and she kept removing them and took training pants out of her own dresser and put them on. Smart little bug. There are MUCH bigger things to worry about as you move through your parenting years. Do not feel guilty if you use disposible diapers or cannot breastfeed. A relaxed happy mom is better for baby.

  57. sophie June 12th, 2014

    My girlfriends put in together and brought me a Baby Setup box, it was the ultimate baby checklist in the one box. All the little bits and pieces I needed.

    Best gift ever, saved me time running around and money and I was ready for my baby. I used everything in the box and didn’t need buy anything extra for hospital or the nursery.

    I totally recommend it to all my pregnant girlfriends and always suggest it as a Baby Shower gift because I appreciated it so much.

    The best bit is it’s about a 15kg box delivered to your door and it costs about the same amount as rrp. (it was a life saver for me) The website is http://www.babysetup.com.au

  58. alicia June 16th, 2014

    Thanks so much for the list! We’re on little boo #2, but between a five-year age gap, a different gender baby, a couple of moves, the ceiling falling in (literally), and vandalism while workers fixed the aforementioned ceilings we have lost A LOT of our usable baby stuff from the first time around. So yeah. Definitely needed a good baby basics list. Again, thank you!!!

    I haven’t read all the comments, so someone might have mentioned this already, but you didn’t mention a baby monitor on your list, which, in most average-sized living spaces, is a must-have. Especially, if your place is larger or has two or more levels. We have a long hallway between our living space and little girl’s bedroom. When the TV is on, it can be very difficult to hear her, even with the volume down. Not so big a deal with a 5-yr-old, but you definitely want to KNOW when your newborn is calling, even if your parenting style bids you to pause a moment to see if they will settle.

    Thanks again.

  59. Brailey August 15th, 2014

    I would add Vaseline if you are having a boy and plan to have him circumsized. Also on the receiving blankets, I would start with one or two or just the hospitals ones to see if your baby even likes being swaddled, and if so skip the cheaper ones and buy the more expensive ones bc you will be able to use them for much longer! I bought the $30 pack of 4 and used with my son till he was about 9 months or so, he is almost two now and although I don’t swaddle him anymore he still sleeps with one every night, thy are now a security item. When he was little he had very bad colic so swaddling was a life saver and the small receiving blankets always came undone, and when you have a colicky baby that’s the last thing you want once you get them to sleep!! 35 weeks with my 3rd and I have gotten rid of all the receiving blankets and will only use the swaddling ones, the others just took up space. And I think a changing table is a waste of money, we have a really nice one, had it for almost 5 years now and I think we used it for about 3 diaper changes, it is so much easier to change them on the bed or on a blanket on the floor. And if breast feeding I would wait to buy bottles, neither of my kids ever took a bottle and we wasted a bunch of money on them! Of course if you will not be a SAHM you will need some, but just buy one or two and get different kinds bc you never know what kind they will like. Thankfully my sister in law and I have had all boys and we have passed everything back and forth, the infant carseat was used for 5 kids and had lasted till it expired, and we have only bought one outfit for boy #3 and its his coming home outfit. Do the same if you have family or close friends with kids, so worth it!!

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