The Only 5 Things You Need For A Newborn Baby

Can you really get by with only 5 things for a newborn baby? The article was written by a mom who explains that for her second child she managed to get by with only five things for her newborn...What things do you really need when you have a newborn baby?

I am not a parent and don’t have babies yet, but I am becoming increasingly interested.

So as we are nearing the point of parenthood I am always trying to take a financial tally of what to expect.

I know babies aren’t cheap, but I have always had this suspicion that many parents buy their babies way too much junk – that they don’t really need.

I have pretty much kept my mouth shut about it, because after all, what do I know – I am not a parent!

But I recently found this article (Baby gear: the only 5 items you need) from CBSnews that encouraged me a bit.

The article was written by a mom who explains that for her second child she managed to get by with only five things for her newborn.

Here is her list…

1. Car Seat

There’s no getting around it. You simply can’t get by without a car seat. And unlike other items that you can buy used, safety experts recommend that you purchase a new one for your baby.

2. Crib

Even if you decide to co-sleep with your newborn, you’ll eventually want him to snooze behind bars. Keep in mind that cribs are constantly getting recalled, so you’ll want to stay on top of the latest news and buy one with fixed sides.

3. Stroller

Strollers are a bit like cars. You can’t really survive without one. But the good news is that you can spend as little or as much as you want on a set of wheels. My personal recommendation is to start off with a frame for the infant seat (about $55). Then buy something more substantial once your child reaches six months and you have a better handle on your needs.

4. Bouncie Seat

There’s no doubt a child can survive without a bouncie seat. But it sure is nice to have someplace to put your baby while you’re mixing bottles or want to give your back a break.

5. Baby Bottles

Even if you breast feed, you may decide to give your child expressed milk in a baby bottle. But that doesn’t mean you need to go out and buy ones that hold just two or four ounces. In just a couple of months your infant will start drinking six ounces and those petite bottles will become obsolete.

Really? Is the checklist for a newborn really that simple?

Like I mentioned before, I think many of our babies (just like the rest of us) have too many “things”, but do you think you could get by on just those five?

I have heard rumors that that what goes in a baby comes out the other end, so maybe we should add diapers to the list as well. But who knows, maybe the Baby Einstein folks have figured out a way to potty train in the womb. I can only hope.

Parents, what do you think? What other things do you need for a newborn baby?

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  1. Wojciech Kulicki

    Awesome, awesome list. A lot of the “other” stuff is currently sitting around our apartment or in the garage collecting dust.

    If pushed, I would only add pacifiers and blankets/washcloths. Both are very useful and very multi-purpose (our little one uses his passie as a teether once in a while).

  2. Kate Ashford @ HerTwoCents

    Great list! And maybe this is a given, but of course, you’re going to need some clothes. A little stack of onesies or baby pajamas (depending on the season) is all you’ll need at first. And I second the need for blankets, especially some you can use for swaddling, which is key in the first few months. Also, if your baby likes the swing (and not all babies do), that can be a life saver. Some babies won’t nap anywhere but on you or in a swing, in which case, a swing is essential if you want to get ANYTHING done.

  3. Everyday Tips

    Aaah, what memories this brought back.

    In addition to the standard clothes and diapers, I would add the following:
    1. Pacifier
    2. Desitin
    3. Mylicon drops for that upset stomach babies sometimes get
    4. Besides the big stroller, I would also get an umbrella stroller although they don’t use those till they are a bit older than a newborn
    5. Those cute gowns babies sleep in. So much easier for diaper changing time than pjs with all those darn snaps
    6. Diaper changing mat that you can take with your anywhere

    Babies don’t need expensive stuff, they just need care! 🙂

  4. lencib: falling into favor

    I’m no parent, but I’m going to add diapers to the list…like you mentioned at the end! I’d scratch off bottles before I’d scratch off diapers.

  5. Peter

    We’re currently expecting, so it’s interesting to see what is “required” and what things are extraneous. We just had a baby shower this past weekend so it looks like a Babies ‘R Us exploded in our living room. We’ve got baby clothes, cribs, bouncie thingys everywhere.. I’m thinking a lot of that stuff wasn’t really needed.

  6. Maureen

    We lived without a bouncy or swing with our first baby. Our carseat handle could flip to the back to make the seat into a table-top seat and we used that instead. It was a seat, highchair and carseat all in one. I am very thankful the cover was washable. It also came with a full stoller to which you could snap the carseat when she was an infant and then use as a stoller as she got bigger. I liked that. It was called a travel system. Even when we did get a bouncy seat with our second baby, she did not like the vibration so we didn’t bounce with it anyway!
    I would add diapers too.

  7. Angie

    As a Mom of four, I’d have to add a sling, mei tai, Baby Bjorn, or something similar to the list. There are often times when strollers are just not practical and neither is holding the baby. My kids lived in soft carriers for trips to the park, sporting events, and just at home while I made dinner.

  8. Kelly

    With our first baby, a three-month-old, at home now, this is all very fresh to me!

    I definitely think diapers should take the place of bottles! Bottles are definitely not in the top-five (if you breastfeed!).

    For anyone who’s careful with money, I’d clarify that CLOTH diapers are the way to go! They’ve come a LOOONG way since we were kids – now they look just like disposables, stay on with velcro or snaps, except with fewer chemicals, for less money, with less junk going to our landfills.

    I bought gently-used (they hold their value well, believe it or not!) and spent only $300 on diapers that will last until he’s potty-trained. (Compare that to $80 per month for TWO YEARS!)

    ..and this isn’t technically for a newborn, but I think a good camera is a must-have too. 🙂

  9. Serena

    My list of essentials for a newborn:
    Baby wearing device (a mei tai is good to grow-with-baby)
    Blankets –good-sized swaddling ones
    Nursing pads (sorry, that’s an essential for a newly-nursing mama)
    Spousal support for breastfeeding and the number of a *good* lactation consultant. That’ll beat bottles any day. You’re not going to want to leave your tiny baby that young, anyway. They’re awfully portable when they’re new, especially if you have something to wear them with (sling, etc.).

    A crib is definitely good to have, even if you co-sleep. If nothing else, it’s a safe place to put baby while you shower. And a bouncey seat IS quite useful, especially for keeping them in sight, but out of the way, when you’re cooking dinner or something like that. I don’t think you need a stroller (if you have a sling or something like it) until baby is at least one. I find strollers very inconvenient. I prefer wearing my babes.

  10. Squirrelers

    Nice list.

    Here are my additions:
    sleep sacks.

    With respect to the sleep sacks, these are invaluable in my opinion. Keeps baby warm, and easy manageable.

    Another item, which might be useful depending on the climate of the area is which you live, is a car seat zipped blanket. Wish I could remember the name right now, but its good for covering baby in bad weather. This was a great purchase that helped with my son.

    Anyway, that’s about all this Dad can think of right now!

  11. Bekki

    Sure, those items are great for basic survival, but you definitely do need more than that. Diapers, wipes, Desitin, etc are important. Clothes are a given.

    Oh, and if you’re breastfeeding and plan on using the occassional bottle, you will need a breast pump to express milk to put IN those bottles.

    Some sort of contraption to put the baby in during awake time when you needs your hands free – like a swing, or a bouncer, is also very important.

    When I went to do my baby registry for my first child, the list given to me at Babies R Us was completely ridiculous. I was able to cross about half of that stuff off right away. In my experience as a nanny (and the oldest of 7 kids), everyone got along just fine without some of those things.

    That being said, when you’re a new parent, sleep-deprived, sore from breastfeeding and recovering from childbirth, and hungry because you don’t even have enough time to feed yourself (because you’re feeding the baby all the time), you will wish that you had some of the modern conveniences that your other friends have. It’s hard to put a price on sanity.

    Everyone’s needs are different. It’s a good idea to talk to some friends who have babies NOW (or have had some in the last couple years) and ask them what they really liked, and what was a huge waste of money.

    Two suggestions for keeping the whole baby thing frugal:

    #1 – Breastfeeding. I personally feel that when it comes to accessories and herbs that aid with breastfeeding, ANY expense is justifiable. The cost of formula is staggering, not to mention the medical costs (formula fed babies generally get sick more often and need lots more doctor’s appts and prescriptions). I had very serious problems with breastfeeding my daughter, and it cost me about $200/month to rent a hospital grade pump, and buy the herbs and drugs that I needed to make it work. Still less than the cost of formula alone. My daughter is 14 months old and has never had to go to the doctor for being sick.

    #2 – Cloth diapers! I was vehemently opposed to using cloth diapers because all I had were memories of folding and pinning prefolds and accidentally sticking tiny little legs. A friend of mine who currently uses cloth on her babies told me all about how it has changed a lot – no more need for pins, for one thing!

    For anyone interested, check out and

    There are all sorts of styles to choose from when it comes to using diapers. Some are one-size-fits-all, which saves a TON of money. All diapers can be re-sold, too, for a pretty good return.

    Disposable diapers and baby formula are two of the largest regular expenses when it comes to raising babies. If you can make breastfeeding and cloth diapering work, you can save yourself a LOT of money.

  12. Kacie

    I’m due with baby #2 in dec. With my son we never bought bottles. I just fed him myself. Pumping wasn’t worth it. I had a free sample bottle that we used once but it was a hassle.

    Strollers aren’t a must have. We have an umbrell stroller and have used it just ahandful of times. When he was little I wore him in a hood sling and now he walks or I sling or carry him.

    With this new baby I will get a carseat, a fewextra cloth diapers and some clothes if it’s a girl.

  13. Donna Freedman

    I always tell parents-to-be that baby care is fairly simple: Keep one end full and the other end dry.
    And I agree with the OP and the other commenters: There’s WAY too much junk being sold as “essential.” A few basics will get you through, and certain items will make life easier. Just keep the receipts/gift receipts for all the things you THOUGHT were necessary.
    I’ll add my voice to the chorus for cloth diapers. Serious money-savers. They certainly are a lot easier to use than the kind I used on my daughter back in 1978.
    I’d also caution against “toy creep.” I know families whose kids couldn’t possibly play with all the stuff they have — and as a result, none of it is really special. Hold the line on how many items you’ll allow at a time.
    Good luck to all you new parents and parents-to-be.

  14. Brenda

    curious that you’ve listed 5 things my sister doesn’t have. Her eldest being 3 year old, and her 2nd being due next week.

    She uses public transport, doesn’t drive. no need for a car seat.
    She used a sling/carrier.
    She co-slept, no crib — though i understand she has a moses basket for this.

    as for bottles, i agree you’ll probably need them, but certainly don’t rush out an buy a set. Get one when you need it, see if it’s any good, before spending on a full set.

  15. Pamela Harris

    This is a great list! It made me smile. When I had my first child (1983) I was buying all this stuff thinking I needed it.
    When I had my second child that’s when I realized how little you really need. When I looked down at the HUGE jar of Vaseline that was hardly ever used I laughed at myself and looked around at all the unused stuff I bought the first time. Babies are so little you probably don’t even need a crib for the first few months you could just lay them in a drawer or a laundry basket. (That seems a like wacky, but it just a symbol of how little you really need) I am sure that back in the day (1930’s) when people were very poor and brought babies home
    similar creative ideas were used because that is all they had. When I was little our cat once had a liter of kittens in an open draw of a dresser full of soft wonderful clothes. That is probably why I thought of just laying the baby in a drawer! Smile Pamela

  16. Drew

    Hats off to all of you who use cloth diapers. I have a hard time even with disposables. I can’t imagine having a dirty diaper to rinse off before washing. I love saving money and love my 1 year old son to death, but some things just gross me out to the max.

  17. Philip

    Good post but I would have to disagree, at least in principle. Yes, you can get away with very little for a baby. We have done it. All thing being equal though, you will “want” more then what is on this list for convenience and sanity. This is at least true if you assume newborn is up through 6 months or so.

    By then you will need clothes and somewhere to organize them. They make a mess laying around the bedroom floor. You will need toys and teething rings. Sure you can get a way without them, but at this age they are more for developing motor skills and other brain functions. They are for much more then entertainment and shouldn’t be neglected. Along with diapers, you will also undoubtedly need diaper cream to deal with rashes and other medical supplies such as a thermometer and Tylenol (teething again). You will also most likely want a few good, warm baby blankets and burp cloths. I am sure I am missing other items as well.

    Now, if you take newborn to mean up to only 1 or 2 months then you can get a way with a lot less then is even in this list. The stroller goes away as does the bouncy chair (a blanket on the floor works just as well). I would take the crib out as well. Our third slept on a blanket on the floor for the first 4 months. I wouldn’t suggest this if you have pets though. For the first few months you wouldn’t need bottles either if you were nursing. So, a car seat, diapers, onesies, blanket and Mom is really all they need for the first few months. After that there are a lot of things that yes, you could do without, no I wouldn’t want to.

  18. Gino

    Okay – well I have four wonderful children. My daughter was born in 1981, my sons in 1982, 2003, and 2005. Yeah – that’s correct! :^)

    There are FIVE things ALL babies need…
    1) your arms – babies need to be held and cherished.
    2) your smile – babies need to know your joy.
    3) your brain – babies need your best thoughts, decisions, and actions.
    4) your heart – the 2nd most important thing required by all babies.
    5) your prayers – the Lord provides an avenue to give your child everything else!

    I’ve been blessed to have experienced these things through my Lord’s love for me.

  19. Gholmes

    Our baby is 18 months now, When he was newborn he could only be changed on the changing table using the pre warmed baby wipes. Ah to have this list back then.

    At age 18 months, forget the changing table or blanket on the floor when changing him, keeping a leg over him long enough to get the diaper on is what is needed.

  20. Amy

    I was hoping to see a truly minimalist list, but I have a 6 month old and only have the car seat from this list.

    CRIB: we will be co-sleeping until he’s comfortable in his own bed. he slept in a 2nd hand Snuggie Nest as a newborn to keep him safe, but I don’t think it’s necessary
    STROLLER: I use a 40 dollar Moby Wrap for walks, shopping, housework and cooking
    BOUNCY SEAT: see Moby wrap
    BOTTLES: only breast. new studies are finding bottles can lead to childhood obesity

    my list:
    CAR SEAT: agreed
    CLOTH DIAPERS: since birth we’ve been doing Elimination Communication, he only wets a handful of cloths a day. It’s not cutting edge or weird, just something most of the world practices since disposables or washing machines are not available.
    CLOTHES: hand me downs, gifts and thrift shops are this the cheapest of the list
    WRAP OR CARRIER: (not an unsafe sling) cheaper than a stroller and more mama/baby contact than a swing or bouncy chair
    RED WINE: 1 glass for mama after baby goes to sleep in the evening

  21. Ryan

    Our little girl is 10 months old and her favorite toys are non-traditional toys. She loves things with buttons and lights, so an old remote control and calculator are among her favorites. She also loves kitchen utensils, boxes, and other every day items. You can save a ton of money by avoiding the expensive toys and gadgets that light up and require batteries.

    As for the list above, we needed the crib, car seat, and stroller, though we don’t use the stroller often (we often use a wrap or Ergo baby carrier). She never took to a bottle or a pacifier, and we had a bouncy chair, but could have done without.

    My suggestion would be to start as minimalist as possible and add as needed. You will be surprised at how many “recommended” items you can do without.

  22. t in hd

    The only thing I would agree with on that list is the carseat. As a mom of four, the only things that are truly needs for my newborns are a supply of cloth dipes (I prefer flat folds, since they can be used on newborns right up through toddlers and they line dry quickly), a good baby carrier such as a wrap or sling or any soft carrier that supports the baby in the proper position, burp clothes (cloth dipes work well for this) and some basic baby clothes. We never used bottles or cribs or buggies for our newborns (or even our older babies). Babies are happy with surprisingly little. They just want a full tummy, a dry diaper and loving arms.

    An aside with respect to using a carseat with stroller frame–babies should spend as little time in their carseats as possible. The position in which they sit in the carseat is not good for their development. Strollers that allow the parent to snap the carseat on are a huge convenience for parents but are bad news for babies. 🙁

  23. Melissa

    Hmmmmm….I have 3 children and here is my list for the first 6 months:
    1. A carseat
    2. Mommy’s Breasts (full of milk from eating a healthy diet and lots of H2O)
    3. Diapers (or you could look into EC – “elimination communication”)
    4. Clothing and/or a blanket
    5. A sling for carrying your baby hands free (I prefer a basic ring sling)

    Other advice:
    Get your baby stuff 2nd hand! While you may have the “only the best for my baby” attitude, after your 2nd and 3rd children you’ll say “what was I thinking!?” You’ll obviously need to be informed of safety and recalls when you purchase 2nd hand.

    Hold your baby often. They are only that little once 🙂

  24. Lida

    I would delete bottles, with breast milk, the list gets even smaller. Milk is always ready and no cleaning bottles or buying milk needed. I would add diapers instead.

  25. Tim

    No one put down a daiper Genie to hide the smell of dirty diapers?

  26. Dannielle

    A diaper Genie? Take the diaper out to the trash. Done. Though nice to have around, I would hardly call that a necessity.

  27. Wojo

    @Dannielle: I think I would have to second the diaper Genie, though. True, not a necessity, but very handy. Most of it depends on your housing situation.

    My trash is a good 3-minute walk from my front door, and I would have to tag the baby along. If I threw it in the trash basket, the house would smell like doo-doo (which it already does, unfortunately, when I “drop” diapers into the genie).

    For those of you with homes and a trash bin right outside, the Genie is indeed expendable.

  28. Linda Lee

    Great simple list. How about adding this baby monitor for your safety reasons?

  29. Lisa

    You do not have to have a bouncer or stroller but need clothes, diapers and blankets to keep them warm. Bottles are not needed if you breast feed. Car seat is only needed if you travel in a vehicle. I do think a swing is a great device to have on hand but you can do without. My list:

    a safe place for baby to sleep

  30. Ana Fernandez

    Cloth diapers-put over your shoulder, on lap….to catch spit ups
    Bottles, 2 to start if you’re breast feeding and add as you start storing breast milk.
    You don’t need a swing if you have a rocking chair, but invest in one for the 4th or 5th month….you WILL need one then.
    For grumpy tummies and trapped gas, rub that tummy lightly. If that does not help, boil 1 star anise pod in some water for about a minute. Remove pod and seeds, let cool. Pour into 4 oz bottle. Give a few sips of bottle. This is my grandmother’s herbal remedy and always worked for my oldest’ s colic.

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