What Do You Need for a Baby? A Realistic Look at Must Have Baby Items

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Take a look at any infant themed commercial or internet ad and you’ll find that every single one of them has something in common. “What,” you ask? They’re all trying to sell you something and 90% of them are trying to sell you something that you won’t necessarily need. Knowing the difference between a need and a want is incredibly important to any budget, but for new parents? It’s even more so. When you’re trying to answer the question, “what do you need for a baby,” being constantly bombarded by people and companies tell you a hundred-fifty different things at once only adds to the confusion and overwhelmed feeling that most new parents feel. Having a realistic list of the only must have baby items that a new mom needs can help with those feelings.

New Mom? You might be wondering just what DO you need for a baby? This realistic look will show you the only must have baby items you'll need! You'll save money, save time, be less overwhelmed and above all? Enjoy the birth of your baby!

Knowing what the must have baby items are and what items you simply want are is more important than just helping to keep things organized. It’s also about saving money on a new baby. Preparing for a baby frugally can be intimidating, but giving yourself a few months to prepare will help. I know I sound like a broken record, but I really want you to understand that when you’re pregnant with a new baby, you have to prepare for the birth in more ways than simply having a birthing plan and knowing which hospital you’ll give birth in. You have to prepare financially too. You can start an emergency fund, learn how to start a stockpile, learn how to make your own baby food and do everything in between as often as you’d like, but if you’re not prepared fully financially, you’re going to be in big trouble.

What Do You Need for a Baby? A Realistic Look at Must Have Baby Items

When it comes down to looking at the must have baby supplies you’ll need, keep your list really simple. The rest of it will come. Do what you can to only buy the must have baby items that you’ll need and avoid the baby items that you don’t need. Take my advice and grab the $1100 in free baby samples that I have posted for you and make what you can homemade instead of buying. It may seem overwhelming when you’re a new parent and that’s because it is. Babies are simple creatures though and don’t need a lot to survive. Besides the above list? They do need your love and affection though and that? Comes totally free.

When I was pregnant with my Emma, I was terrified. I made very little money at the time and honestly had no clue how I was going to support an infant. I could barely support myself at the time. I made the mistake of not even attempting to prepare financially and as a result, I’ve got very vivid memories of counting pennies in the Walmart checkout lane for diapers. One of the other mistakes that I made was thinking that I needed every little baby item that was available. Don’t be like me. Learn what the must have baby supplies that you’ll need are and go from there.

A baby swing or infant bouncy seat – 

The reason this is an “or” item is this. Some babies will love their swing but hate a bouncy seat and some will hate their swing but love their bouncy seat. You will absolutely not need to pick up both. If you’re worried that you’ll buy the wrong one and your new baby will hate it, add a combination bouncy seat and swing to your list of must have baby supplies. Yes, you’ll pay more for it than you would if you simply bought one of the other, but you’ll still save money over picking up both items.

Feeding accessories – 

Whether you’re nursing or formula feeding (btw, right now you can pick up a free sample of Enfamil formula if you want), you’re still going to need certain accessories. If you’re breastfeeding, you’ll likely need a good quality breast pump, milk storage bags and nipple pads. If you’re formula feeding, you’re going to need a few bottles in both the small and large sizes, nipples, a drying rack and bottle brush at the very least. The catch is this. You won’t need 50 bottles or 600 milk storage bag. Stock up only on what you’ll need without going overboard.

7-10 outfits in each size – 

Baby clothes are so easy to buy and adorable that most people default to them when buying a gift. This means that chances are good you’ll receive a closet full at your baby shower. With Emma, I remember having 2 small dressers full of clothes plus her closet full. Know what? She didn’t wear 90% of them and they went to Goodwill with the tags still on. If you don’t want to wait until you have your baby shower to buy clothing that is perfectly fine. Buy what you need and request no clothing as gifts for the shower. Your baby will grow so incredibly fast that you won’t want 100 different outfits in one size. Instead, buy 7-10 in each size and make about 75% of those used. Your baby will survive just fine in hand me down’s and your budget will be much happier. One other quick tips is this: You may want to completely skip newborn sizes on anything. Chances are really good that your baby will barely fit them when they’re born or won’t fit at all. Jump right to 3 month clothing to get the most use out of them.

If you’re really looking to save on baby clothes, buy what you can from an online consignment site like Schoola and then shop through Ebates for the rest. Schoola has great prices and Ebates will pay you cash back on what you buy (plus give new members a free $10 gift card on their first $25+ purchase)

Diapering supplies –

Diapers are a lot like feeding supplies. Whether you’re thinking about using cloth diapers or you’re dead set on disposables, you’re going to want to make sure you have a steady supply. If you’re using disposable diapers, you should know that babies typically stay in size 3 (for disposables) the longest so after you’ve got a few packages of each size on hand. Pay more attention to the size 3’s than the 1’s. Buy a few of each and call it good. For those who are going to be using cloth diapers, you’ll want to make sure you stock up too. Don’t forget to pick up a diaper pail as well. Baby wipes will be something you will use an insane amount of. You can either make your own homemade baby wipes or you can buy in bulk to save. Amazon typically has amazing deals on bulk baby wipes so if you watch them, you can usually find them for well under $0.005 per wipe.

Car seat – 

Your baby MUST have a car seat before you leave the hospital. This means you can not get by without having one. To help save yourself money later on, be sure that you pick up a convertible car seat that will grow as your baby does. You’ll want one that will remain rear facing for years but can also be used as a booster seat later on. Be sure that you check ratings on them too and never, ever consider buying a used car seat. That is one of those items that you should never buy used.

A Small Number of Bath Supplies –

When you first bring your new baby home, he or she won’t need a bath as often as you might think. Even when they do start needing to be bathed, you don’t need a lot of fancy supplies. A simple, scent free baby wash and lotion will work. You can even make homemade baby shampoo if you want. Baby skin gets dried out easier than adults though so make sure you don’t skip that lotion step.

A handful of receiving blankets – 

Skip the thick quilt even if your baby is born in the winter. They’re not safe for a baby to have since he can pull it up over his face and not be able to get it off. Instead, buy a handful (10 or so) receiving blankets and use those instead. If you’re truly worried about keeping your baby warm, dress him in a gown with socks, mittens and a hat. He will stay warm enough with a receiving blanket and you won’t be taking a risk.

A playpen or crib – 

While your baby won’t need a place to sit and play for a while, they will need a place to sleep. If you can’t afford (or don’t have room) for a crib, grab a pack and play instead. They’re fairly reasonable priced and you can buy them that will allow your baby to sleep in it as he or she grows. If, though, you can buy a crib now, do so. Try to get a convertible crib that will grow with your child as she does. It may be tempting to buy a bassinet, but your baby really and truly does not need one.

Grooming tools – 

Your baby might not have a lot of hair that needs brushed, but it’s a guarantee that you will likely have to suction his or her nose and clip tiny little fingernails and toe nails. Having an infant grooming set on hand will make that so much easier. Just be careful that you don’t do what I accidentally did; slice a finger open the first time you attempt it. My poor baby made a sound that to this day still breaks my heart when I think about it.

Infant first aid kit – 

Your baby will need some help sometimes to do simple things like burp or break a fever. This makes having an infant first aid kit so important. You’ll want it to have an infant thermometer, a bottle of Mylicon (gas) drops, Infant Motrin, Infant Tylenol, Infant Saline drops and other medications. You’ll also want it to have things like diaper rash cream and a fingertip toothbrush to clean their gums. Don’t forget that you can make certain things for your first aid or grooming kit too. Homemade diaper rash cream is easy to make as is homemade antibacterial ointment (for cords and other things).

Diaper Bag – 

Finally, make sure that you have an actual diaper bag. Yes, you can use a tote but trust me on this. Life is much easier when you have a dedicated bag that is waterproof and made for baby messes. Diaper bags are fairly cheap to pick up and you won’t need more than one. I seriously ended up with four somehow and never used the other three.






  1. A good alternative to the swing or bouncy is a rock n play sleeper. They make a great place for a small baby to play safely during the during the day. Rocks and vibrates. Is reclined at an angle that helps with gas and reflux. Helps curb the urge to get a bassinet because baby can sleep in it securely for some months. Also it is a good height and narrow enough to fit next to moms bed even in a small room and it folds easily for transport.

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