As a mom expecting baby number 5, these are my simple, minimal, and affordable newborn baby essentials. Perfect for the mom who doesn’t want to fill her house with baby gear and add clutter. Be sure to grab your free printable checklist at the end!
Simple Living Baby Essentials
Why the essentials?
Simply put, embracing simplicity during the newborn phase of parenting offers many advantages. We live in a busy, digital age, where you can see what everyone and their grandma buys for baby. All this consumerism promoted online can add stress, clutter, financial burden and guilt to the beginning of your parenting journey.
Embracing simple living in this season may:
- reduce stress
- eliminate clutter
- save time, money, and energy
- shift the focus to meaningful experiences and connections
I don’t claim to be a minimalist, but I love keeping things simple, practical, and for the most part, budget-friendly. As a mom of four boys, my house has enough rocks, LEGO, and dirty socks to not need any excessive baby items cluttering it up!
I’m also a doula and childbirth educator, and I have been through this whole baby thing enough times to know what I really love, need, and use.
I am due in a few weeks with baby number 5, so I am starting to gather supplies for my 5th home birth and all the basics for baby for the first few months.
At baby showers, people act like you need to have clothing and toys for the first year or more! For me, keeping all that extra stuff around that my baby might not even use is not practical or helpful. It’s nearly impossible to guess what size a baby is going to be at 6 or 9 months of age, so if you live somewhere that experiences all four seasons, it is really tricky to shop in advance.
Framework for What Newborn Babies Need:
Here is the basic framework for my Simple Living Baby Essentials Checklist. If you agree with these things or have a similar lifestyle, you’ll probably like my list.
- Babies need skin-to-skin, eye contact, and touch. Plenty of being held, lots of lying flat to explore and opportunities for tummy time. Less “baby container” time.
- Babies need a safe place to sleep and to be put down sometimes in a busy household
- Non-toxic is essential
- I exclusively breastfeed and don’t care for pumping so that also informs my list.
- I do work from home now but I don’t generally leave my babies so we haven’t needed to be prepared for going back to work early. Every family and life situation is different. You can feel free to think about what you will need and plan accordingly.
Things My Babies Don’t Need:
I’m on baby #5 and there are sooo many baby items and gadgets we have never used! This is my disclaimer of things I personally haven’t used. Some of them are still on my lists below (like a crib) but everything about parenting is so individual to your family. You’ll honestly just have to play some of this by ear!
Things my 4 babies haven’t used (a non-exhaustive list)
- Crib – I think we may try a mini crib this time but so far cribs have been a colossal waste of space for my babies! We have done bed sharing, cot, and floor bed but even when we tried the sidecar crib it became a giant laundry hamper.
- Store-bought soaps and creams
- Nursing Pillow – I just use regular pillows if I need extra support in the early days, but some people find the Boppy pillows to be really helpful.
- Breast pump – I don’t understand why it is so commonly recommended to get one of these for postpartum engorgement. It is an expensive piece of equipment and might not be something you use often. Instead, I always recommend that moms learn how to hand express effectively. You might want to get a hand pump, an electric pump, or a haaka silicone pump for catching letdowns, but it doesn’t make the cut for my “essentials” list.
- Infant bath tub – I just bathe with baby or use the sink lined with a towel. This seems like unnecessary clutter to me.
- Sleep Sacks or Velcro Swaddles – I’ll swaddle in a muslin for naps, but since we cosleep, it wouldn’t be safe for baby to be tangled up in all that fabric at night. Your family should make your own informed choice!
- Sterilizer – I can see this being handy if you are doing a lot of bottle feeding, but good old fashioned boiling water on the stove has always worked fine for me if I needed something really clean. I am pretty sure our dishwasher would also serve the same purpose.
- Change Table – Never had one! We just change baby on the big bed or wherever, and we use a cloth change pad or a receiving blanket that can easily be thrown in the wash.
- Wipes Warmer and all those other things they market at parents. Fine if you are a gadget person I guess, but to me it’s just clutter!
Simple Living Baby Essentials
I’ve broken these down into the following categories for approximately 0-6 months of age.
- bits and bobs
Clothes: A Simple Baby Layette
Baby clothes are sooooo cute!
But there’s a lot more to think about then that: how quickly they grow, for one. Seasons, storage, practicality, and being able to pass items down, too!
Here are my top tips for planning your baby’s layette.
- First of all, look natural fibers for anything that will be by the skin. Cotton, linen, wool, silk. These are made out of natural materials (versus polyester which is wearing plastic!).
- Next, chemicals: a lot of clothes are treated with nasty chemicals that we don’t want on our babies. I like to use organic GOTS or OEKO-TEX certified baby clothes as much as possible, especially for anything that goes right next to the skin.
- Also, consider your wash routine and if it is adding toxins to your household. Your baby will be snuggled up on your shirts as well as sheets, etc. so don’t just switch laundry soap for the baby clothes.
- Be sure to keep it simple! Less is more in baby wardrobe and they sometimes grow ridiculously quickly. Additionally, sometimes you’re surprised with a preemie and nothing fits correctly anyway!
If the sex of your baby is a surprise:
If you are not “finding out” if its a boy or a girl, don’t worry too much about clothing. It is so simple and easy to just get a handful of plain onesies and a couple nightgowns and sleepers in white or neutral colours and get the rest after the birth.
Basic Baby Clothing or Layette for 0-6 Months
- Onesies – This is the basis of the baby outfit, especially in summer! For the absolute newborn phase, it is super handy to have the kimono-style diaper shirts that don’t need to go over the head because babies are squishy and floppy.
- Sleepers – Get the ones that zip from the bottom or have a two-way zipper. Avoid snaps, they are a pain at night and squirmy phases.
- Leggings or pants – I love having some soft baby pants to throw over a onesie. My summer babies wear this more than a sleeper for daily wear. These knit overalls are super versatile and cute for cooler weather.
- Nightgowns – These are actually so handy for the middle-of-the-night diaper changes and I just think they are super cute, too. I always have a few of these in newborn or 0-3 month size.
- Cardigan – I like a nice versatile heirloom-quality wool cardigan to layer over whatever baby is wearing if there is a chill in the air. Also a long sleeve jersey shirt that is easy to layer over short sleeve onesies but is not too warm.
- Fall/Winter suit – A car seat safe fleece suit is super handy for a winter baby. If your baby will be very young during winter, a real winter snowsuit may not be needed. We have one but usually use base layers, the MEC fleece winter suit and then carry baby under my winter coat. I have a Kokoala coat insert so baby stays nice and cozy but there are plenty of coat options that do this nowadays.
- Hats – In general, it is no longer recommended to put hats on newborns because it interrupts bonding and isn’t necessary for ambient indoor temperatures. I always have one or two for cooler weather, though! Wool is amazing for winter.
- Socks/Footwear – Socks don’t stay on, neither do those little baby mittens. If they need to have feet and hands covered, get footie pants or sleepers and fold over sleeved gowns or onesies. In cooler weather, I have not found anything better than these wool booties. They stay on so well and they are made of upcycled wool sweaters which is awesome! Before we found those we used leather slippers.
- Outfits: Bloomers, tights, little dresses, rompers, cute bow ties and all the cute baby things are wonderful to have as well if you want! They definitely aren’t necessary and you can skip them but I love having a couple cute outfits in each size as well for church and outings.
Simple Living Baby Sleep Needs 0-6 Months
You can have the absolute best-laid plans and most expensive crib set up and your baby may just not sleep in it. Sleep is an exercise in releasing control as a parent.
- Bed rail – We bed share with our babies and I like to be able to switch breastfeeding sides at night without worrying about the baby so a bed rail is really helpful.
- Moses Basket – I like to be able to bring this around the house so baby can lie flat but be safe from being stepped on. I got ours secondhand from a neighbour and replaced the handles with some leather.
- Crib – I like to hold my babies and we bedshare but I can see wanting to get a crib right away, too.
- Travel crib or playpen – This totally depends on your lifestyle but we got a Phil & Teds Travel cot with baby #3 when I was heading out east to visit family and we love it! It sits directly on the ground and has a zip-down side so it is easy to put a sleeping baby in and they can crawl in and out themselves. It is very compact when taken down which was a must for us with camping gear but it doesn’t go up and down super quick like other playpens so do your own research.
- Organic bedding – Whether you go with a bassinet, mini crib, crib, or just straight up cosleep, you’ll need a couple of sheets and maybe a mattress protector too. Check Winners/TJ Maxx clearance shelves for budget-friendly cute options. If you can’t afford organic then don’t sweat it but reach for cotton first!
- Sound machine – Have you ever heard of brown noise? Gosh I love our sound machine for naptime! With a big dog that could bark at the delivery man, as well as 4 older siblings, I am sure this baby will be using it lots. You can grab portable ones, too so be sure to think about your preference.
- Thin baby blankets – The ever-popular “muslin” baby blankets are larger than typical receiving blankets and work amazingly well for a variety of baby and toddler uses. They are also incredibly cheap and easy to DIY but if you do want to grab some fabric and sew up your own, don’t buy muslin! Muslin fabric is actually totally different. For these super buttery soft and crinkly baby blankets, you’ll want to buy double gauze fabric. They work great for swaddling but if you’d rather not mess around with that and your little one loves to be swaddled, get the velcro ones.
- Warmer blankets – Of course baby will need warmer blankets too! I think knitted baby blankets, waffle weave, jersey and quilts are so adorable. I am not a fan of synthetic fabrics but fleece ones are handy for leaving in the car in winter. Sleep sacks are a safe option for if your baby sleeps alone and needs to be warm.
- Swaddles/Sleep Sack – This is definitely a play-it-by-ear category, but some people just swear by those velcro swaddles or zip-up sleep sacks so I put it here as an extra.
Simple Living Diapering
I like to keep diapering pretty straightforward. We used to exclusively cloth diaper, but now as a busy homeschooling household I have decided to keep things simple by mostly using disposable diapers.
This saves me a lot of time and keeps our laundry routine running.
- Diapers – Cloth or disposable, you’ll need these unless you go full EC (Elimination Communication, basically just means no diapers and you try to catch baby’s cues to take them to the toilet). I usually get 1 small pack of newborn for the first wee while, then one big box of size 1s. Just don’t get a million diapers in the small sizes, sometimes babies grow way too darn fast and also, you never know if your baby’s skin will be super sensitive to certain diapers (ask me how I know).
- Wipes – You can use cloth wipes, make your own wipes out of paper towel, or grab wipes from the store! Our favourite store bought used to be WaterWipes, but they seem to have changed lately so we go with Kirkland brand from Costco now.
- Change pad – Technically we have one of these from IKEA kicking around still that hasn’t met my decluttering frenzy yet! Usually we just use a receiving blanket or towel, anything that can be thrown in the was easily. Turkish towels work amazingly well for this!
- Cream – everyone feels differently about what creams are best but I use a homemade calendula beeswax cream I make about once a year and use on everything.
- Garbage – we just use a regular garbage can. TIP: Sometimes when I have my act together, I put some doggy bags in the diaper bag for yucky diapers when we are out and about.
- If you are cloth diapering, you’ll want some waterproof bags for on the go. Bonus is these are great for wet swimsuits later on! And a large wetbag or a pail of some sort for your laundry situation.
- Added bonus for cloth diapering – diaper sprayer! These are 100% worth it after your baby isn’t exclusively breastfed anymore.
Simple Living Feeding Essentials
I can really only speak to breastfeeding, so if you are going to be formula feeding or pumping and bottle feeding, this list doesn’t include all the gear that goes with that!
I didn’t make a graphic for this one, because you could easily need a million things if you have a complicated feeding situation… or nothing but your own body. Personally, I like to have:
- A good chair! – I think a rocking swivel recliner is one of the best investments you can make into parenthood. In the breastfeeding section of the prenatal class I teach, I always recommend learning the Laid Back Breastfeeding position. It promotes a good latch and helps with strong letdowns.
- Pillows – I don’t care for fancy breastfeeding pillows myself, but having some extra regular pillows on hand makes a big difference in terms of comfort.
- Nursing Basket for Mom – You’ll want to have a station set up so that you can easily have things on hand like water, snacks, something to read, and burp cloths or muslin blankets.
- Calendula Cream – I use my DIY calendula cream as a nipple butter if needed. Motherlove makes a calendula cream like this.
- Disposable or cloth nursing pads, nursing bra or tanks.
- The La Leche League book The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is a great resource if you want to learn. They have volunteers and groups and can help you with latch if needed. Just call! You can dial 1-800-665-4324 for a list of helplines all across Canada.
People might need:
- Pump/Bottles/Milk storage bags – I can’t recommend bottles and such because we have never had a baby take a bottle so its just not my specialty obviously.
- Nipple shields
- Lactation herbs
- Breastfeeding cover (I just use the two-shirt method or a muslin blanket!)
- Formula, etc.
Solid food feeding
I could do a whole post on my thoughts on this! This is something that is so overcomplicated these days. But anyway, for the first 6 months not much is needed at all!
- High chair – I like having baby join us at the dinner table even before they are ready to eat. Usually in my arms, but it is nice to have a high chair handy for dinner prep and mealtimes if they are willing to sit. It also helps them understand the routine and be included in the important family time. We’ve tried lots of high chair styles but honestly the super minimal and cheap white IKEA one is my overall favourite.
- Bowls and spoons – Some people do start solids before 6 months so I thought I would include this here. We avoid plastic in our kitchen but I find it really handy to prep baby food in the smallest glass mason jars and feed with these little adorable wooden spoons from Etsy. We also have stainless steel plates and cups but be aware that they are noisy and there will be a phase with a lot of banging!
We don’t do the baby bathtub thing as we prefer to bathe baby in the sink or with one of us for the first several months.
This is kind of a postpartum thing, but I always make a herbal bath preparation for postpartum.
- 100% cotton towels – I actually have been really loving turkish towels because they are so versatile! You could totally use it as a baby wrap, swaddle, beach blanket, and so on.
- Muslin facecloths – I love these layered muslin cloths for all my kids and myself, too!
- Homemade baby wash – I choose to use just water for the first weeks or even months, but if baby is getting a bit dirty its nice to have a totally safe and gentle soap on hand.
- Baby oil – I use a little plain unscented bottle of jojoba oil or another natural option like coconut or olive oil works well too. Typical baby oil from the store is mineral oil with fragrance and its really not something I would ever allow on my children.
- Homemade moisturizer – This tallow balm is amazing if your baby gets dry skin in winter. You can also use any plain oil or make a shea butter type lotion too. I usually make a big batch of whipped unscented body butter once a year and use it for everything.
Here’s that one time a friend loaned us a bath chair. It was fine but took up too much space to feel necessary.
Simple Living Baby Gear
- Wrap or Carrier – This right here is why I can’t claim to be a minimalist! I definitely have a few carriers. We have always had a few different options and right now what I love is my woven ring sling, my old Beco and my Lillebaby, both of which have the option for a narrow seat and wide seat and can be used from newborn on up. I grabbed a Solly to try on good old Marketplace because I decluttered my other wraps before the move last year.
- Swing or chair – honestly if you can, borrow these or grab them used before investing. They are used for such a short amount of time and some babies love a swing but others like a bouncer.
- Car Seat – Don’t underestimate how helpful it is to have one that is easy to install and easy to adjust for growth. It winds up being really time consuming to take these things apart and rethread the straps. I love this carrier-style car seat with the easy to adjust straps but we also have gone with the convertible Clek because its not actually good for baby to be in a car seat all the time.
- Car seat cover – If you are having a winter baby, these are very helpful. Otherwise I wouldn’t bother personally. Throw a muslin over them with some large size laundry clips!
- Stroller – I actually really like to have a bassinet attachment for my stroller because then baby can lie flat (healthier for their spine!) and it can double as a place for a quick diaper change, too. I didn’t use a stroller much with my firstborn until he was a bit older, but it is pretty helpful when you’re juggling multiple children alone. Our current stroller is a double: Baby Jogger City Select with a second seat or bassinet but the double stroller I have always wanted is this guy right here.
- Play mat or baby gym – One of the most important things for your baby after plenty of uppies is plenty of exploration time on the floor! I love having a large sheepskin for little babies to play and roll around on. There are many baby play mats which aren’t necessary but can be nice to have (remember to get natural materials if you can!) and also a huge array of wooden baby “gyms” which can be fun for a certain age but again, aren’t strictly necessary at all.
Here is the sheepskin we use from a small Canadian producer.
Baby’s Bits and Bobs
- Soother – Technically, I still haven’t had a baby take one of these, but not for lack of trying. My 4th baby sort of did, sometimes! So my official Childbirth Educator breastfeeding advice is to wait on the soother till latch is established, but my mom advice is do what you will.
- Nasal aspirator – Not the bulb style which can cause nosebleeds! I like this one. I mean, you would never think you’d want to use it but when your baby can’t sleep ’cause they can’t breathe it looks appealing really fast.
- Nail clippers – For newborn nails, you can actually gently tear them off a lot easier than using nail clippers. However, if that icks you out be sure to grab some of these with a bigger handle so they aren’t impossible to use.
- Thermometer – I always know when my kids have a fever, but it’s nice to have the actual number available to monitor especially for newborns.
- Baby monitor – I don’t need it often in the early days because I keep my baby with me all the time. However, it is handy for later on if I am busy with the other kids while baby is napping longer stretches. I just like this basic one. You might want a video monitor if you have a lot of anxiety or ninja baby who climbs out of bed.
- A bag – I have a black backpack style diaper bag that works just fine. It is not something I am picky about. A feature that is nice is if it easily clips onto your stroller.
- Storage baskets or totes – You totally could, but I don’t bother with a proper dresser at first because baby clothes are so tiny! Some coordinated baskets can be easily moved around and repurposed for toys, diaper caddy etc.
- Memory bin – After Dawn from The Mimimal Mom and a lot of my friends talked about this, I eventually got each family member a clear tote to use as a memory bin. Even if you have a fancy baby book to fill out, this will be a space to collect special items, cards, and memorabilia in the meantime. We have these 14 L latch boxes by Sterilite and they are working well.
Classic Baby Books and Toys
Less is more!
Especially in the first 6 months, babies really do not need a lot of entertainment other than being held, rocked, the all-important eye-contact, or allowed to explore a little of their world. They will play with blankets, spoons, your face, a bit of fluff off the ground. However, its really fun and great bonding to have a few select toys and books to explore together.
- Classic Baby Rattle – a soft one is great for tiny babies and a wooden one is good for after they know how to not hit themselves in the face. Some stuffies come with a jingle ball rattle in the belly and that’s really nice, too.
- Mirror – Babies love mirrors! Stick a dollar store one to the wall where your baby can see it. This is almost as entertaining as a ceiling fan.
- Skwish – The brand Manhattan Toy makes this cool wooden ball rattle thing that has a gentle sound and is even nice to chew/drool on.
- A ball – the Oball is fun and easy to grip. If you’d like an easy DIY baby ball with natural fibres, simply make a tightly wound woolen yarn ball and felt it in the washing machine just the same way as making a wool dryer ball. Wool is naturally antibacterial, and when your little one outgrows it, you can add it to your dryer ball collection.
- Blocks – These start to be fun after baby can sit up and not whack themselves in the face with them. But then they last till … well my 11 year old still uses plain wooden blocks! If you want something for the younger age that is a little less hazardous they do make silicone blocks now, too.
- Crinkly Books – Because they will want to crinkle all your books.
- Nesting Cups – fun for babies, bath time, and can be used for years to come.
- Teethers – I mean, they teethe on anything but you know. Sometimes it is nice to have a real intended teether.
- Stuffy/Soft toy – just classic baby cuteness.
Here is the Skwish in action:
The Master List: Simple Baby Essentials Free Printable Checklist
How to Access the Free Printable
- Drop your email in the box below.
- Check your inbox and click through to the PDF.
- Save it to your computer or phone.
- Print it off at home or at your local printer.
- For personal use only, thanks! Email me if you’d like added permissions.
- Watermark free version may be available on my Etsy shop.
I hope you enjoyed my somewhat lengthy list of things you may need during the first 6 months of your baby’s life. Remember that you are the parent, and your family needs to figure out what works best for you!
In any case, adopting a mindset of simplicity when it comes to baby essentials should help you create a nurturing and stress-free environment for your sweet baby.
Regardless of whether you leave something important off your registry list and need to run out to the store at midnight, we know you are trying to focus on what truly matters: the love, care, and connection shared between you and their precious little ones.
I pray you embark on this journey of early parenthood with a sense of peace, joy, and contentment.
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