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As a new mom, I spent hours searching and researching the perfect newborn baby gear from the ideal bottle to the best rug for a baby nursery. Rather than focus on minimalist newborn essentials, I spent ages hunched over my laptop spending way too much money on things that would ultimately sit and collect dust in my house throughout my baby’s first year.
Parents of the world, put down your phones! There is a better way! A minimalist newborn essentials checklist saves time, money, and brain space. It helps simplify your life so you can focus on what’s important – getting to know your new baby.
In this article, I’m giving you a complete rundown of ONLY the items you absolutely need for the newborn phase without the fluff. As a soon-to-be second-time mom and minimalist, most of these products are sitting on baby number two’s registry right now! Let’s get started.
What Is Minimalism?
Minimalism is the practice of slowly cultivating a life filled with only what is essential to your health, happiness, and personal or professional goals. It’s a way of living that values simplicity and living with less material possessions.
I discovered my love for minimalism when we massively decluttered our home in 2020 shortly after the birth of my first child. We sold, gifted, and trashed 80% of our material possessions, found a home 50% smaller than our previous one, and budgeted our way down to a single full-time income.
In the process, we gained so much clarity around the activities that were truly meaningful to us. I can confidently say time together as a family is now our #1 priority.
While we were quite dramatic about our minimalist transformation, you don’t need to be “all in” on minimalism to see these benefits. Merely taking a minimalist approach to your baby gear will create calm and simplicity in your home.
How Can I Be A Minimalist With A Family?
Being a minimalist with children brings unique challenges. How do I manage the constant stream of toys from family members? What baby gear do I really need? Should we sign up for swim classes and ballet and summer camp?
Despite these difficulties, minimalism is possible at all stages of life, and the benefits are significant, especially for children. More about that later!
Family minimalism with young children looks a lot different than the pristine homes and flawless routines depicted by minimalist influencers online. It’s hard to optimize anything when you’re sleep deprived and simply trying to survive another day on the parenting treadmill.
Even the famous minimalist Maria Kondo admitted to The Washington Post after having her third child: “My house is messy, but the way I am spending my time is the right way for me … at this stage of my life.”
If you’re pursuing a life of minimalism with young kids, give yourself grace. Use your children as motivation to keep chipping away at those non-essential things. Your time and presence are as precious as oxygen to your little ones.
Meaning hides in repetition: We do this every day or every week because it matters. We are connected by this thing we do together. We matter to one another. In the tapestry of childhood, what stands out is not the splashy, blow-out trip to Disneyland but the common threads that run throughout and repeat: the family dinners, nature walks, reading together at bedtime…– Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less To Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
What Are The Benefits Of Minimalism for a Family?
Minimalism primarily benefits our health and well-being. A visually cluttered environment limits focus and raises stress levels. Cluttered spaces contribute to weight gain and poor mental health outcomes.
Research suggests that offering children fewer toy options improves attention, develops motor coordination, and encourages imaginative play.
The science is compelling, but for me, it’s all about growing meaningful relationships.
In our experience, a minimalist life opens and holds space for the little everyday moments of connection that bind our family together. When our calendar is clear and cleaning the house at night takes less than 30 minutes, we’ve got plenty of time for walking to the library or playing in the garden sprinkler.
Creating A Minimalist Newborn Baby Registry
If you’re looking to transition to a minimalist family lifestyle or simply want to enjoy some of the benefits of minimalism, building a newborn baby registry of minimalist newborn essentials is the perfect launch point.
It’s a fresh start. Consider it a mental warm-up for decluttering your other material possessions down the road. If you could build a list of worldly possessions from scratch, what basics would you add right away? What items would you eliminate?
Minimalist baby preparations also prevent pre-baby expenses from ballooning out of control and reduce the need for constant internet research around the latest baby technology.
Save that space in your brain for something more important like making a coffee date with a friend!
What Are The Necessary Items For A Newborn Baby?
When looking at essentials, consider the unique needs of yourself and your baby. Are you bottle or breastfeeding? How often do you do laundry? Do you plan to travel a lot?
First-time parents benefit from having a few bonus luxuries and comforts around to support them during a time of physical, mental, and emotional change. Parents of multiple children know more about what works and doesn’t work for them in the newborn stage.
A good minimalist rule of thumb is to shop your home first. Or check a local Buy Nothing Facebook Group. Got a small trash can with a tight-fitting lid? You’ve already got a diaper pail!
We live in an age where you can get just about anything delivered to your home within a few days. If you get your baby home and change your mind, a diaper pail is easy to find online and in stores.
How Many Sets Of Clothes Does A Newborn Need? Like Really Need?
The most popular (and hotly debated) question among first-time parents seeking minimalist baby essentials centers around clothing. For something that seems so basic, there’s a surprising amount of guesswork involved!
Clothing companies generally create “newborn” size clothing for babies 4 to 8 lbs. My son, born 7 lbs 11 ounces, grew out of newborn sizes in less than 2 weeks. Larger babies will size out of newborn clothes before they’re even born!
As a minimalist mother expecting her second baby, I have exactly 1 newborn-sized outfit for going home from the birth center or hospital. Everything else I buy starts at size “0-3.” I don’t think my newborn will mind (or remember) wearing baggy clothes for a few weeks.
Going back to the unique needs of each family, there are definitely reasons to have more newborn clothes. If you’ve been told by your care provider you’re at higher risk for premature delivery, add a few more outfits to your baby registry must haves.
Clothing And Accessories
Our minimalist family does laundry once a day or every other day, and my partner and I split the responsibility. The newborn phase is not a time to drastically alter your household habits, so consider what works for your family right now.
Is your laundry room all the way down in the basement? Do you work long hours and have one day a week where you do all the laundry? Are you the sole launderer in your household? Consider doubling the numbers recommended below.
Once you’ve carefully considered the context around your unique laundry situation, keep in mind the following clothing recommendations for your minimalist newborn essentials list:
I’m a huge fan of the high-quality, gender-neutral selection at Primary Clothing, but if you’re looking for automatic free shipping or live outside of the United States, you’re out of luck.
These onesies from Colored Organics are the perfect dupe for quality, comfort, and price with the convenience of Amazon delivery.
Our founder Katy swears by these Kyte Baby sleepers. With their buttery soft texture and vivid prints, I can totally see why! Also, check out her full run-down of the best baby sleepers for 2023.
Always have at least one clean sleeper on hand when the other gets de-commissioned by a massive pee (or poop) leak. We manage well with just two, but if you’re a laundry once-a-week type, go with 3 or more sleepers.
Pro tip: A zipper sleeper is a must-have! Nothing sets me in a rage faster than fumbling with a bunch of tiny buttons at 2 am.
Woolino uses only Australian merino wool to create some of my favorite baby products. Merino wool’s unique properties include breathability, body temperature regulation, incredible durability, and softness. These socks are so warm and moisture-wicking, my preschooler wears them during our Atlanta winters with his summer sandals or Crocs.
While it’s not technically a must-have newborn item, for older babies, I am obsessed with their line of sleep sacks, especially their 4-Season Footed Sleep Sack.
Picking a special “going home” outfit for baby brings out all the feels. I am a huge fan of the wrap tops for the first few weeks. Pop the front open for skin-to-skin while the baby’s back stays nice and warm.
We also practice Montessori for infants at home, and I can put on wrap-style tops more gently and comfortably. You don’t have to pull it down over your baby’s head or maneuver their little limbs.
Straight from the womb, babies are sensitive to new sensations, so I try to be as gentle and slow with handling them as possible.
Most new parents think they’ll be cleaning up poop and pee non-stop once the baby arrives, but in reality, the most common mess is spit up. Bibs are a life and laundry saver, especially for those occasions when you’re out and about without a change of clothes.
Muslin cotton is lightweight, soft, and absorbent. It also lasts forever despite frequent washing.
The bandana-style bibs, while still very practical, add an element of style to any newborn outfit.
Personal Care or “Sundries”
One of the most shocking ways we practice minimalism is in streamlining our personal care routines. I hate to start a scandal at Undefining Motherhood, but I only own 4 make-up items! It comes off as a little weird, especially for a person who identifies as female, but I love the simplicity.
We take the same approach to baby care by sticking to a couple high-quality products and putting those items on a subscription so we don’t have to think about re-ordering them constantly. This includes the wipes, diaper cream, and body wash we recommend below.
Pro Tip: Infant-safe medications are easy to find in stores and since they expire, you’re better off purchasing them when you actually need them. We usually keep a couple of basic first-aid items on hand and follow the advice of our pediatrician if we need anything else down the road.
As a favorite Youtuber, Dad Verb, once said, “Wet wipes are the Swiss army knife of parenting.” Especially in those early days, you want a wipe that handles anything from sticky baby poop to coffee spills on your pajamas.
In terms of versatility and price per wipe, it’s hard to beat WaterWipes. With all-natural ingredients, the wipes work beautifully on sensitive skin.
We still use them with our four-year-old as face wipes!
This work-horse of a thermometer requires a small investment but lasts for years and years with consistent, accurate results. Insert the tip of the thermometer gently into the baby’s ear and get a temperature reading in seconds. Adios slow, unsanitary oral and rectal thermometers!
The small backlit screen makes middle-of-the-night temperature checks super easy and painless.
Don’t forget to replace the disposable covers from time to time; it won’t work without them!
Babies are prone to respiratory infections, and there’s nothing more heartbreaking than a congested newborn struggling to breathe. Nasal aspirators help clear out all that snot and give your baby some relief. We got several years of use out of our Nose Frida.
The Nose Frida’s wide tip keeps you from jabbing your baby in the nose. If you can get past the ick factor of sucking up your baby’s boogers, it’s the most effective way to clear their nasal passages.
(Expect some crying. All babies hate getting their noses cleared no matter what device you use!)
The woman-owned company California Baby produces all-natural baby and toddler personal care products using organic botanicals and non-toxic ingredients.
We’ve used their brand from day one and loved everything from the lather of their shampoo to their many soothing herbal and floral scents.
They even offer bulk sizes for extra money savings and less waste.
The company is generous with samples, often including travel-size products perfect for diaper bags, road trips, and family vacations.
With plenty of great natural diaper creams on the market, what sets this diaper cream apart? First, we love the thick, cake-frosting-like texture of the California Baby diaper cream.
I easily apply a hefty layer of diaper cream in a single finger swipe. No sticky, drippy diaper cream mess!
Second, it actually works! Containing lanolin and zinc oxide, this diaper cream seals in moisture while simultaneously drying the most intense diaper rashes.
Free of common allergens and fragrance-free, this cream is safe for even the most sensitive newborn skin.
Containing The Poop And Pee
With our first baby, we tried almost every disposable diaper brand available, including store brands like Aldi. We finally settled on Pampers Swaddlers as our go-to diaper despite the higher price, but it took many months of trial and error.
Rather than go all-in on one type of disposable diaper, grab a smattering of each kind to start. I wish we’d done a lot more experimenting from the beginning before we established brand loyalty.
With baby number two, we’re taking the plunge and using cloth diapers after the first month or so. If you’re curious, check out our article Cloth Diapering 101.
1. Pampers Swaddlers Size 0 Or Your Diaper Of Choice
Newborns produce around 6-10 wet or dirty diapers per day after the first few days of life. On average, you’re looking at around 240 disposable diapers in 30 days.
Many babies will grow out of the newborn size within the first month, so consider waiting to purchase additional diapers in case you need to size up.
For your minimalist newborn essentials registry, skip requesting newborn-size diapers altogether. You’ll get way more than you need.
As I mentioned, we are opting for cloth diapers this time around, and we purchased 24 Grovia O.N.E cloth diapers. If you’re not picky about prints, they usually have a few on sale!
The Ubbi diaper bin cannot be beaten in terms of durability, function, and odor prevention. My son’s preschool classrooms use them all day long, and they never stink even during our hot Atlanta summers.
Ubbi’s design allows parents to use regular old kitchen trash bags, so you’re not beholden to pricey replacement bags.
This diaper pail lasts through multiple children (and even pets)!
You can get uber fancy with changing pads these days. Some measure your baby’s weight and some offer premium wipeable surfaces. This simple but affordable option from Munchkin works well on all kinds of surfaces and bundles with three pad liners for a fast clean-up.
Where’s the changing table on this list? Believe it or not, a changing table is 100% optional.
With our firstborn, we popped the munchkin changing pad on top of a dresser and it worked perfectly. No changing table required.
Minimalist Newborn Essentials for Meal Time
Feeding your baby is a personal decision shaped by your preferences and beliefs, your baby’s medical needs, and even the season of life you’re navigating. At Undefining Motherhood, we support your choices and celebrate the ways you show up for your baby day after day.
With so many ways to feed your baby, there may be items in this section you don’t consider absolutely essential and that’s perfectly fine. One less thing to put on your list!
Our family loves the Comotomo bottles for easy cleaning. Their wide mouths and flexible sides allow for a complete scrub-down without a special bottle brush. They also hold up to multiple top rack cycles in the dishwasher.
Comotomo bottles mimic the shape of a human breast and work well for breastfeeding infants.
Choosing the right infant formula for your baby requires a little bit of testing and observation in the same way you might try a brand-new food. Your baby’s individual tastes and tolerances ultimately decide what options work for them.
Explore different formulations by gathering free samples of baby formula during pregnancy. When you set up your baby registry at Amazon or Target, you’re given a welcome basket that includes lots of baby product samples including formula. Baby formula companies like Similac or Enfamil also love to send out samples when you register with their websites.
Finally, don’t be shy about taking free formula samples from the hospital after birth!
It’s possible to make it through the first year without using an electric pump if you’re exclusively breastfeeding and working from home, but most families benefit from having one available.
Whether you experience unexpected challenges with nursing, are preparing to return to work, or simply want some time away from baby postpartum, you’ll want a quality personal electric breast pump on hand.
Many insurance companies offer a small selection of breast pumps (including some hospital-grade pumps if necessary) at no cost whatsoever.
I’m working with my provider and Aeroflow Breastpumps to get the Spectra S2 from my insurance company .
Don’t forget to pick up some extra milk storage bags!
If you can’t tell by now, I’m a huge fan of things that last forever and serve multiple purposes. In the category of nursing pillows, the Luna Lullaby offers long-lasting comfort and functionality. As someone who breastfed for over 2.5 years with one child, I’ve thoroughly tested and vetted this pillow.
I’m even using it as a pregnancy pillow while I wait for baby #2 to arrive! Luna’s my trusted companion through all four trimesters.
I also enjoyed the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow for the first 3-4 months with my firstborn before he outgrew it. If you’re planning to nurse for a shorter period of time, My Brest Friend is a budget-friendly and incredibly comfortable alternative.
Regardless of how you feed your baby, a solid rocking chair is a must-have. With all the late-night soothing and feeding in the first year alone, you want something comfortable. This is a minimalist newborn essentials hill I’m willing to die on.
The Babyletto Kiwi tops my list for best baby-related purchase of all time. This sleek but roomy chair offers a smooth and quiet electric recline. The fabric quality is on par with our West Elm furniture, and just inside the arm you’ll find double USB charging ports.
I love it so much I’m actually looking forward to some contact napping with our second baby.
Soft, absorbent muslin cotton burp cloths protect your outfit from even the chunkiest spit-up. I prefer these wider burp cloths for full shoulder coverage. Burping a newborn is messy business, and you gotta be prepared!
Instead of purchasing baby washcloths, use your burp cloths!
They’re often made out of similar material and work just as well.
As a first-time mom, I debated whether a baby bathtub was truly necessary. How often do newborns really need to bathe anyway? (Turns out a couple times a week). A single bath attempt with a slippery newborn more than convinced me that a proper baby bathtub was worth its weight in gold.
The Munchkin Sit & Soak is easy to clean, mold-resistant, and large enough to last your child’s entire first year.
Even our smaller-than-average newborn rested comfortably on the seat in this bath and enjoyed soaking in the warm water.
Chicco Lullago’s versatility, affordability, and functionality beat out even the fanciest bassinets. Light enough to move all around the house and fast to disassemble, I carried this bassinet back and forth to my office every weekday for 3 months for a “babies at work” program. I later gifted it to a coworker who raved about its convenience.
For those seeking a little more elegance, I suggest splurging on the new Newton Baby Bassinet and Bedside Sleeper. Enjoy an ultra-modern design combined with Newton’s famous breathable mattress technology.
Middle of the night leaks are incredibly common, especially during those first few months when you’re still experimenting with diaper fit. Keep a rotation of 2-4 clean bassinet sheets on hand for quick midnight linen changes.
The ultra soft jersey bassinet sheets by Joey and Joan fit many of the most popular bassinet brands, including our #1 travel crib the Guava Lotus.
Unless you’ve been hard at work practicing your blanket swaddling technique, I recommend using a modern swaddle with velcro or zipper closure.
The dual-direction zipper on the HALO makes diaper changes a breeze, and if your baby’s just not into swaddling, it works well as a cozy sleep sack with one or both arms free. The HALO velcro swaddle held up well for the first 3 months before my son regularly busted loose.
And busting loose is totally normal! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies that practice rolling over need to sleep without swaddling for safety.
Transport And Travel
With our first baby, going anywhere besides the mailbox felt like a Herculean task. It took almost 8 months to gain confidence taking our son anywhere. Fortunately, as I grew comfortable with my parenting skills, I also grew comfortable with getting out of the house.
It helped that I had the proper baby gear from the start and took the time to learn how to use every single one before the baby was born.
I see so many people, mothers especially, rely on their partners to know how to operate things like the car seat or stroller. Girl, get those manuals out and practice! You won’t regret it.
Prepare for the perfect combination of style and value! The Mockingbird gets you closer to that luxe UppaBaby experience without the $1000+ investment. This stroller includes a generous storage basket and high-quality foot brake.
I give the Mockingbird top marks for their single stroller one-handed collapse and slimmer-than-average profile. Don’t forget to grab the infant insert accessory for comfortable strolling with your newborn.
My partner demanded we get a Tula after seeing James Bond actor Daniel Craig wearing it around London (#dadfluenced). Fortunately, in addition to being celebrity-endorsed, Tula makes a comfortable and durable structured newborn carrier.
The Free-To-Grow carrier supports babies as small as 7 lbs but maxes out at a hefty 45 lbs. (For reference, our 4-year-old is just shy of 35 lbs.). The carrier reverses easily from front to back carriage without any modifications, and the various adjustment options mean both my partner and I always find our perfect fit.
And don’t even get me started on all the cute prints and patterns!
Sticking to our theme of investing in baby gear with a long life span, we purchased the Britax Emblem convertible car seat for baby #2. It includes many of the features we prize in a car seat: high crash test scores, lightweight, and simple to use.
My favorite part about the Emblem is the incredible price. Get ready! At a mere $200, the Emblem fits into just about every budget. It received my vote for “best all-around” car seat.
Non-Essentials That Might Be Essential To You
While this list of minimalist newborn essentials covers absolute necessities for your baby’s first few months, there are plenty of products to personalize your registry like toys, play mats, mobiles, bouncers, or baby swings.
For outdoorsy types, seasonal items like jackets, snowsuits, hiking carriers, or bathing suits make great registry additions.
Be selective about the bonus items you add to your list, but don’t be afraid to purchase something that brings you a little joy during the postpartum period.
Stick With The Minimalist Newborn Essentials For Less Stress And More Connection
Keeping your baby-related inventory to a minimum requires thought and intention, but the rewards are numerous. From more focused play sessions to improved motor coordination, children thrive with fewer toys in tidier environments.
Not ready to be a full-blown minimalist? We’re certainly not saying you have to become one! Use our minimalist newborn essentials checklist to relieve yourself of the stress of managing way too many clothes, blankets, toys, and random baby gear.
Instead, save your limited postpartum bandwidth for connecting with your baby. Minimize stuff to maximize those precious moments!
Did we miss any newborn items you consider a must-have? Tell us what you’d add to your own minimalist newborn essentials list!
Brittany Cantrell is an Epidemiologist at her local health department who oversees a team of beautiful, talented women. Though she specializes in infectious disease prevention, she is a strong advocate for all public health professionals. She is the owner and author of the mindful travel blog, The World Enough, where readers are empowered to live with presence and without fear. She was born and raised in the rolling foothills of the north Georgia mountains. In her spare time, you can find her helplessly pinned to the couch by one of her two cats, heading to a yoga class, or planning her next adventure.