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What Baby Items Do You Actually Need for Baby? | Baby Necessities

October 23, 2020
baby crib in a nursery

“Babies are expensive!”
“We can’t afford to have a baby!”
“Babies need so much stuff!”

Ever thought these things? While all of those things can be true, they don’t have to be! 

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and don’t claim to be one. The statements on this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author does not in any way guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any message and will not be held responsible for the content of any message. Always consult your personal physician for specific medical advice.

What should I budget for when having a baby?

This is totally dependent on your family!

Is having a baby really that expensive? No!

Don’t believe people when they say that having a baby has to be expensive. You can get away with just a few basic items and you can even buy some items secondhand to save some money.

Choose a budget for your baby based on your family’s personal financial situation and don’t let anyone tell you that you need to spend more money or that you are spending too much money!

What should I look for in baby products?

There are a few things you want to look for when choosing products for your baby. All of these things are incredibly personal based on what you and your family value.

  • Quality
    Is this product well made? You want to be spending money on something that is going to last not something that is going to break when baby is 3 months old.
    So while you may want to look into saving money by going with cheaper options it’s also important to look at the quality of items.
    What is it made out of? This is when you really want to pay attention to the reviews on that product.
    Also as a new mom I know it’s easy to get caught up in reviews but be sure to pay attention to how many positive reviews there are versus negative reviews.
    Just because something has one negative review doesn’t mean it isn’t a good quality item.

Here is a review for a baby swing. There are lots of positive reviews and a few negative. Pay attention to the negative reviews but don’t dwell on them if there are lots of positive reviews.

  • Value
    Is this item worth the money that you are going to pay for it?
    I’m all about saving money where I can which translates into baby items. BUT I’m also about looking at the quality and value of items.
    It’s better to pay more money for an item that is going to last a year than to spend less money on something and then have to replace it in a few months because it broke.
    Value and quality kind of run together but just make sure you are looking at the value of the item instead of just focusing on which item is cheapest.
  • Will you actually use it based on your parenting style?
    This is so important! Everyone’s parenting style is different and knowing yours is an important factor in buying baby items.
    Are you planning to have baby sleep in their own room from the start? Then you don’t need to buy a bassinet.
    Are you planning to cosleep? Then you don’t need a crib right now.
    Are you planning to babywear? Then you need a good carrier, sling, or wrap.
    Even if you are a first-time parent, think about what type of parent you want to be and how you want to care for your baby. Then don’t buy products that you probably won’t use.
    It’s so easy to get caught up in the products that every mom blogger or Instagrammer is recommending and think “that’s so cool, I need that!” when in reality you will never use that because it doesn’t fit your lifestyle or parenting style.

What are baby must haves?

I don’t think there is a set baby items list or checklist because every mom and baby are different but I do think there are some baby items that most moms are going to agree that you should have.

I’m not going to list the obvious things like diapers, wipes, bottles, etc. I’m just going to talk about the bigger items.

What big things do I need for a baby?

Car Seat

There are so many options out there. Be sure to check out all the features, the safety testing, and the weight and height limits. I’m not going to write about all the ins and outs of choosing a car seat but you can check out my friend Katie’s post all about choosing your baby’s first car seat. Check it out HERE.

Something for baby to sleep in

This is totally going to depend on your parenting style. You need a crib, bassinet, or something for the baby to sleep in safely.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has strict standards for cribs and how they are made. This means you don’t have to worry about one brand of crib being better than the other. The main thing with cribs is just choosing which style you want.

It is however recommended that you not purchase a crib second hand as you don’t know if parts are missing or if it was assembled properly.

Another feature to look for in cribs is whether or not it is convertible. This means it can turn into a toddler bed and sometimes into a twin size bed. This is a great feature to have in order to save money on future beds but you just have to decide if it’s important to you or not.

Features to look for

  • Is it convertible?
  • How difficult is it to put together?

Good Options:

High Chair

This is one of my biggest baby product regrets. I got the basic Graco high chair and it was a pain. It was big and clunky and hard to clean.

With my next child, I will probably get this one from Ikea because it’s easy to clean and it’s more compact.

There are tons of different types of highchairs out there. There are convertible ones meaning they turn into a booster seat or a table seat. There are also smaller ones you can buy that just strap onto a normal dining room chair, which can help with space-saving if you live in a small house.

This is also an item that can wait as your baby won’t be eating food until they are older.

Features to look for

  • How easy is it to clean? Does it have a lot of nooks and crannies?
  • How much space does it take up?
  • Does it convert to a booster seat?

Good Options:

Baby Bouncer or Baby Swing

A baby bouncer or a baby swing is a must have but most baby’s prefer one or the other. My daughter hated the swing but loved the bouncer but my nephew loved the swing.

When looking for a swing or bouncer you want to look for features like vibration, music and size. I also suggest getting one that is easy to take apart to clean as your baby is probably going to spit up on it at some point.

Features to look for

  • How easy is it to clean?
  • How much space does it take up?
  • Does it vibrate?
  • Does it plug in or is it battery powered?

Good Options:

Play Mat

Some parents are going to say that this isn’t a must have but I beg to differ. A play mat is a great way to keep your baby entertained while also stimulating their brain. They also come in handy for tummy time.

When looking for a play mat you want to look for things that stimulate the senses. Are there parts that make different noises? Are there different textures for baby to feel? Are there stimulating things for them to look at?

Features to look for

  • Is it easy to clean?
  • Does it fold up or is it easy to store?
  • Does it stimulate baby’s senses?

Good Options:


Duh! Obviously your baby needs clothes but what kind of clothes? I’ve learned from experience not to buy a lot of baby clothes until baby is already here.

It’s good practice to buy a few newborn outfits and a few 0-3 month outfits until you know how big or small your baby is going to be. In those first few months baby is mainly going to be in onesies or sleepers so stocking up on those is a good idea.

Features to look for

  • Sleepers that zip instead of snap (no one wants to deal with 50 snaps in the middle of the night)
  • Clothes that are weather appropriate

Baby Bath

Once again this is something that some parents are going to say you don’t need but it definitely makes bath time easier. They make the big plastic baby baths that you see all the time but if you were like us and needed something that took up less space, they also make ones that fold up like the one below. They also make inserts for the sink if you are planning to bathe baby that way.

Features to look for

  • How much space does it take up?
  • Is it easy to keep clean? (you don’t want mold growing in hard to reach places)
  • Does it properly support baby?

Good Options:


Swaddles are a lifesaver when baby is little and still has the moro reflex (where they startle and look like they are falling). Keeping your little one swaddled while they sleep can help them sleep better.

When it comes to swaddles there are several options out there. They make traditional swaddle blankets but most parents find that these don’t keep baby swaddled. Then there are the velcro swaddles like the SwaddleMe which is my personal favorite. These keep baby nice and snug while they are sleeping. They also make sleep sack swaddles where baby’s arms are swaddled tight but their legs are free to move around in the sleep sack.

Features to look for

  • How well is this going to stay on my baby?
  • Is it machine-washable?
  • Pay attention to sizing to get the correct fit

Good Options:


Do not skimp on the stroller! We did and it’s been a pain. There are tons of different options out there for strollers. You could get one that is a travel system where the infant carseat snaps into the stroller. There are also ones that come with a bassinet attachment for baby when they are teeny tiny. 

Features to look for

  • Does the seat recline? (This is great for when baby is a little older and falls asleep in the stroller)
  • Does it have a sunshade?
  • Does it have a basket underneath? Cup holders?
  • Can I easily clean it?
  • How big is it when folded up?

Good Options:

Baby Carrier

Whether you go for a baby carrier, a wrap or a baby sling, these things are lifesavers. There are TONS of different baby wearing options of there and which one you pick really can depend on baby’s preference. Some baby’s like wraps and some don’t. Some like carriers and some don’t. It’s a great idea to see if some of your friends have some of these that you can try out with your baby before you commit to purchasing one. This way you can see what baby does and doesn’t like before you invest in one.

Good Options:

Products that can be helpful but aren’t 100% necessary

  • Snuggle Me Organic
    This is a great way to have baby near you and napping but also keep them comfortable.
  • Bassinet
    If baby is going to sleep in your room it’s a great idea to invest in a bassinet.
  • Breast Pump
    If you are breastfeeding and want to have a stash of milk for when you need to leave baby with someone else for a little bit then you need a breast pump. Most moms love the Spectra pump (me included) but Medela is also a good brand to look into!
  • Nursing Pillow
    Some moms love these and some moms never use them. You can decide if you think you would use it or not.
  • Pack n Play
    This can be used instead of a bassinet to have baby sleep in while they are little. These are also great to keep in common areas as they can double as a changing station and a place for baby to safely play or sleep.
  • A few newborn clothes/preemie clothes
    What clothes do I need for a newborn? Well, most newborns are going to wear newborn clothes at least for a week or so but sometimes baby’s need preemie clothes. My daughter was tiny when she was born and newborn clothes swallowed her up so we needed preemie clothes and of course, we didn’t have any. I suggest having at least 1 preemie outfit just in case you end up needing it.

What should you not buy for a baby?

  • Tons of toys
    Baby’s only need a few toys, they don’t play with much.
  • Baby towels
    They don’t absorb water very well. We just used a regular towel.
  • Wipe warmer
    This makes things difficult when you are on the go and have to use cold wipes. Your baby is used to warm wipes and the cold wipe could upset them.
  • Crib Bumpers
    While these may look cute, they aren’t safe. There shouldnt’ be anything in the crib when baby is sleeping.
  • Baby food maker
    You can use a blender to do this same thing and you probably already have one of those!
  • Too much of anything
    Start small and get more clothes, diapers, wipes, etc. as you need them. You never know when baby is going to grow into the next size and you could be stuck with a bunch of extra stuff and it will be a waste of money.

How to save on baby products

There are few different ways you can save on baby products:

  • Coupons from emailing companies: email some of the companies you are wanting to purchase from and see if they can send you a coupon. Most companies would be more than happy to.
  • Free formula: Most pediatricians keep sample cans of formula in their office. Ask your pediatrician if they do and if you can have some. You can also sign up for coupons from companies like Enfamil or Similac and they will send you coupons but also free samples of formula. Another great way to save on formula is looking at sales. Every now and then Target does a deal where if you buy so much formula you get a $10 gift card and you can use coupons so you can end up saving a good amount of money.

How can I get free baby products?

One of the best ways to get free baby products is through your baby registry. Most places will give you a goody bag/box when you register with them. Also most places will give you a completion coupon at the end of your registry so that you can get a percentage off the remaining items on your registry list. Some places that do this are:

  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Amazon

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