The Minimalist List of Newborn Essentials

12 Minimalist Baby Essentials

During my first pregnancy it’s safe to say I went a bit overboard on all the things I “thought” I needed. After giving birth, living mom life, becoming pregnant again (surprise!) and planning for another baby, my list of “essentials” shrank drastically. Which inspired this minimalist list of newborn essentials.

This is a list of the things I used with my first son and the items that were important enough to make it on the list for my second. During the first pregnancy, everything was “oh so cute” and “I could use this for…” But the truth is that a lot of items ended up being a waste of space.

Oh yeah, and a waste of money, too.

So here’s my minimalist list of newborn essentials to spare you all the nonsense.

Now, if you want all the gadgets and items, knock yourself out! Motherhood is all about enjoying the journey.

But, if you’re like me and get serious relief from simplifying, you’ll appreciate this list of the very few things that are actually newborn essentials.

Like seriously. You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do.

So let’s get to it!

12 Minimalist Baby Essentials

The Minimalist List of Newborn Essentials

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First of all, do you have your baby registry set up yet? You can set up an Amazon Baby Registry and make it easy for your friends and family to ship the items right to you! Keep things simple and convenient.

Be that wise mama and set up your Amazon Registry!

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1. Bassinet

Okay, so seriously obvious. But it’s essential. Even if you co-sleep, having a bassinet is important for those times you need to place Baby somewhere safe while you take care of mommy business.

This is especially important if you’re still in postpartum healing. You’ll need to make several extra trips to the bathroom throughout the day. A bassinet of some kind is super important for keeping Baby safe..

I use the Halo Bassinest and I love it. I’ve heard high recommendations on other bassinets, like the SNOO Smart Sleeper but I have not used them personally. The Halo has been a faithful go-to for both of my babies.

2. Baby Rocker

A lot of minimalists may not put this on their list. However, a baby rocker is the one “big” baby item I wore out.

Literally. I used it until it broke.

And I’m buying another one for my second baby. A baby rocker makes the list so that I can do the dishes while Baby naps, get some laundry done, or just sit and rest.

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3. Burp Cloths

Here’s the deal. Burp cloths are essential. You’ll use them like crazy.

But you don’t need 200. That’s when it becomes a crazy nuisance.

All you need are about 10-12 (and many would argue that’s too many) to get you started. I love the Burt’s Bees burp cloths because they’re so soft and fold beautifully, making them so easy to store.

Because they fold so well they also slip wonderfully into the diaper bag.

You’ll find yourself constantly reaching for a burp cloth, so have them handy, in several places around the house (particularly wherever you feed your baby).

4. Light Blanket

Check out these muslin swaddle blankets

Get them on Amazon too!

If you’ve read any of my other baby posts you know how much I love muslin blankets. I have my reasons and they’re important enough to make the minimalist list of newborn essentials.

Muslin blankets are perfect for:

  • Swaddling Baby
  • Draping over a carrier for shade or shelter
  • Doubling as a nursing cover (tie two corners around your neck and voila!)
  • A backdrop for some seriously cute photos

Yeah, they’re that good!

I love the Aden and Anais muslin swaddles but there are lots of types out there. You only need a few on hand, but beware! They’re so cute and sweet you’ll want to buy 50!

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5. Zip-Up Jammies

A lot of minimalist lists of newborn essentials include onesies, but I actually prefer the zip-up jammies.

Here’s why.

If you have your baby in the winter, a onesie alone probably won’t cut it. If you have your baby in the summer, you’ll be blasting your AC, so again, a onesie alone probably won’t cut it.

Light, cotton zip-up jammies are a major lifesaver! Notice that I say “zip-up”?

There’s a reason!

When you’re changing Baby’s diaper at 3:30 am, the last thing you want to hassle with are 10 buttons. Babies have a natural flailing reflex and they wiggle. A lot. Having jammies that zip will keep you much happier!

My personal favorites are the organic cotton zip jammies by Burt’s Bees. They are wonderfully soft and adorable too! And the price is right!

6. Baby Soap

While towels and wash cloths are not included in the minimalist list of newborn essentials, newborn-safe soap most certainly is!

You can use whatever towels and cloths (lint-free fabrics are important) you have on hand for Baby. But in most cases the soaps we use on our own bodies are simply too harsh for Baby’s skin.

I love 2 brands in particular. Burt’s Bees baby soap is wonderful and so gentle. I also love the smell of Shea Moisture manuka honey and provence lavender baby lotion.

Whatever soaps and lotions you end up using, make sure it’s safe for Baby!

7: Diaper Pail

During my research on things I needed for my baby (first pregnancy), I noticed a lot of minimalists made a point of not using a mainstream diaper pail in favor of other methods of disposing diapers.

I wondered about that, and felt like maybe a brand diaper pail was a nice addition but not an essential.

After about 1 week all of that changed.

A diaper pail–a mainstream, brand diaper pail–became a serious essential in our household.

Sure, we could toss Baby’s diapers in the regular garbage and call it good. But there’s no way I’m okay with that smell wafting through our house.

A diaper pail maintains odor control in your home.

What you don’t need is the fanciest version out there. We found that the Diaper Genie Expressions was the perfect pail to use, low-cost and durable, making it an easy pick for the minimalist list of newborn essentials.

Tip: Based on personal experience, I do not recommend the Diaper Genie pail with the foot pedal. We had two and both malfunctioned and had to be tossed after just a few months’ use. The basic Diaper Genie has worked beautifully (and costs less).

2020 Update: My babies are now 2 and 9-months-old, and I STILL swear by the Diaper Genie Expressions. It has lasted all this time! I do not recommend the Diaper Genie with the foot pedal, as 2 of them broke in a few months. I am still using the very first Diaper Genie Expressions pail that I purchased, and I still love it!

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8: Diapers and Wipes

Okay, this one seems like “duh”, but a lot of mamas may wonder if having such a convenience as diapers and wipes is truly a minimalist’s essential.

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

You may decide to go the route of cloth diapers (hats off to you!) but no matter what kind of diaper you decide to use, you need something to wrap Baby’s bum, and you need something to wipe that little bum, too!

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9: Diaper Cream

There are so many options when it comes to diaper cream, but no matter which kind you choose, having something on hand is definitely essential for Baby.

No two littles are alike and what brand of diapers or wipes works for one may not for the other. There’s just no way to anticipate what may be an irritant to Baby’s skin.

If Baby has a particularly poopy day they may wind up with some irritation, regardless of the type of diaper or wipes you use. That’s why diaper cream, whether organic, non-organic, or completely homemade, makes it on the minimalist list of baby essentials.

10. Diaper Bag

Another “duh” moment it would seem. But you might wonder–especially if you’re going the minimalist route–if a diaper bag is truly essential.

Yes, I suppose you could stuff what you need in your purse, but the truth is that it’s just plain easier to stuff your (downsized) purse in your diaper bag with your few baby essentials and call it a day.

Diaper bags are intentionally made to handle more stuff and are usually more fortified than a purse or bag. The straps are thicker and with extra stitching to keep from ripping or falling apart.

Which is essential.

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11: Bottles (Maybe)

My first baby used a total of–zero–bottles. Ever.

He just wasn’t into them. He went straight from nursing to a sippy cup. It worked for us.

If you choose to nurse your Baby, having one or two on hand for later might be a good idea. It’s not really an essential, though.

However, if you’re bottle-feeding or pumping, a bottle is obviously essential. Again, start with just one or two of different brands. Babies can be surprisingly picky about bottles.

2020 Update: I had to start bottle feeding my second baby around 6 months old. I absolutely LOVE the Phillips Avent Natural Baby Bottle. My son took to it right away, and I love that there aren’t a bunch of troublesome parts. It’s also easy to maintain and clean! They are on the higher end cost-wise, but we bought one pack and that’s all we’ve ever needed! Totally worth it!

12: Pacifier

Again, my son never used a pacifier. Because I nursed, I was his sole source of comfort (talk about exhausting) and he never accepted a pacifier.

Some babies do like pacifiers, even when they nurse. Just start with one or two different types (not all pacifiers are made the same) to give Baby some options.

You don’t need 59 pacifiers, and those things are easy to accumulate! They tend to collect like pennies at the bottom of your purse. Try and keep it down to just a few until you find Baby’s favorite.

The Secret to Minimalism

When it comes to Baby items, we tend to go overboard. Instead of one bottle or burp cloth, we buy 10.

They’re just so cute!

But that’s where the trouble starts.

It’s not just about what’s on your minimalist list, it’s also about how much of what’s on your list that counts.

Keep the number of items low until you know more about your baby’s preferences to minimize the amount of “stuff” that adds up, both in cost and clutter.

More power to you, Minimalist Mama!

Stay Fearless!

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Elizabeth Jimenez

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