The Only 12 Things You Really Need to Care for a Newborn

Updated 12/03/18
newborn essentials—Alyssa Rosenheck
Alyssa Rosenheck ; DESIGN: Style Me Pretty

Hooray! You’re pregnant. Congratulations mama-to-be. I was in your situation just one year ago, so I know first-hand all of the feels you’re currently experiencing. You're likely overwhelmed—not just with the changes happening to your body, but the sheer thought of everything you’ll need to buy as well.

I’ll let you in on a little secret—you really don’t need that much. Your brand-new baby won’t be able to focus their little eyes on play gyms, mobiles, rattles, or the like for the first couple of months, nor will they be able to sit up, grasp toys, or crawl for even longer than that. So don’t stress over stocking up on the latest Etsy finds or the newest toys on the block.

Babies also don’t get properly dirty until they’re on solids (we’re three months in, and my washing pile isn’t much bigger than it was when it was just the two of us), so you don’t need 200 pairs of tights or 200 tops just in case. Also, when it comes to clothes, you don’t know how big or small your baby will be until they’re here. And they grow really fast, so my advice is not to spend hundreds of dollars stocking up on newborn clothes—it’s easier to roll up the sleeves if something’s too big than it is to squeeze a floppy baby into something that’s too small.

Also, it’s good to remember that stores will still be selling baby things after your new arrival makes his or her entrance, so send your mother, in-laws, aunt, uncle, or friend to pick up that soother or nail clippers or hairbrush that you absolutely need to have, right now. Or jump online—genius.

My fiancé and I made no secret of wanting to parent our daughter by instinct, so we bought the bare minimum. We chose to add to our baby booty if and when we need to. You don’t have to take my advice, as it’s your journey after all. Read on to find out how we did it and what things we considered essentials when it came to our baby.

CAR SEAT

A pretty obvious purchase really, the problem being, there are just so many on the market. Also, capsule or car seat? There are benefits to both, but we chose to go with a car seat that would see Sunny from birth through to four years. We went in-store, asked for assistance, narrowed it down to two, went online, read reviews, and then purchased.
You could spend hours going back and forth, but my mom reminded me she only had two choices when I was born, and I turned out just fine. Also, we acknowledged the fact that if it weren’t safe, it wouldn’t be available to buy, so we bought a middle of the road car seat that also happened to be on sale. Trust me, you need one, but you don’t need to stress over which one.

Britax Boulevard G4.1 Convertible Car Seat, Choose Your Color $270 $246
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SOMEWHERE FOR THE BABY TO SLEEP

We always planned to have our baby girl, Sunny, in our room, but given she was used to being in small and confined spaces, we felt a cot was too big to start. We bought a Moses basket and had her sleep right up next to our bed. At just three months, she’s outgrown it and is in her own cot so don’t stress too much about the brand, look, or style of your bassinet, because babies really don’t use it for that long.

Swankie Blankie Moses Basket $215
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BABY WRAP

In my opinion, this is hands down the best purchase a new parent can make. No one told me that babies like to be held in the first couple of months—pretty much all of the time. Of course, in hindsight it makes sense, they have been nestled up in your belly for 10 months, close to your heartbeat and they want to feel that safety for as long as possible. A wrap lets your baby get what they need, while you get what you need—namely, food. Have you ever tried to butter a piece of toast one handed? We love the Chekoh and Yoli and Otis baby carriers.

Yoli and Otis Baby Carrier in Tick $116 $80
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A RELIABLE WASHING MACHINE AND DRYER

LG 5.5 Total Capacity LG TWINWash Bundle with LG SideKick and Electric Dryer $4009
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You’ve already bought the extra-sensitive detergent; now you have to put it to use. Turn to the LG TWINWash Bundle with LG SideKick and Electric Dryer for the steam technology built into each machine. This way you can sanitize your baby’s onesies to get rid of unwanted dirt.

A SELECTION OF ONESIES

Forget stocking up on stylish clothes for the first three months. Onesies are seriously your BFF. Newborns are flimsy, so dressing them is often quite the task! I found having to get just one item on and off for the first few weeks was key—also, it meant I didn’t have to think about matching X with Y, which came in handy given I had a little bit of baby brain (#thestrugglewasreal). Stock up on singlets, short sleeves, and long-sleeve styles as well as onesies.

Target Baby Where the Wild Things Are Max Long Sleeve Hooded Bodysuit $18
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STROLLER

We started with a list—we wanted all black, we wanted it to be light, we wanted to spend under $1000, and I wanted to be able to get it up and down and into the boot of the car quickly and without it weighing a tonne. It was initially down to the Bugaboo or Baby Jogger before I came across a little gem from my motherland—enter, Edwards and Co Baby. It is sleek, light, and robust.

Edwards & Co. 3 Wheel Buggy $663
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BEACH UMBRELLA

This may not be an essential for everyone, but it was most definitely an essential for us. The ocean is our home outside of the home we sleep and eat in, and both my fiancé and I swim most days. We took Sunny to the beach at just two weeks old. We set up our umbrella, nestled her underneath, and she slept peacefully while we took turns dipping in the ocean and breathing in that sweet, salty air. 

Basil Bangs Tan Lines Beach Umbrella $225
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MUSLIN WRAPS

You can never have too many muslin wraps. These little gems come in handy for sun protection, swaddling, blankets, wiping up puke, change mats on the go, playmats, and a whole host of other things. You can buy them in sets from just about anywhere, but we paid a little more for organic cotton wraps by Modern Burlap and bamboo wraps by Aden + Anais. They are thicker, softer, and wash so well—and when you use them day in and day out, they’re worth the extra investment.

Aden + Anais Safari Swaddle Blankets, Set of 4 $49
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BABY BAG

Without a doubt, you need something to hold all of your baby bits—nappies, wipes, cloth, hand sanitizer, and sadly, your beloved designer bag will no longer fit the bill (tear). I’ve found the best in the biz is Claudine and Ash. Stylish yet functional, these pebbled leather baby bags have individualized compartments that make finding what you need a breeze plus; extra points for the rose gold detailing. I also bought a Herschel Supply Backpack for days when I needed to be hands-free.

Claudine & Ash The Kalani Bag $495 $396
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SLEEPING BAG

Not every baby likes to be swaddled. Despite what your midwife, mother, parents group, or internet tells you. Yes, it re-creates the feeling of being in the womb, but some babies just want a little space. Sunny started wriggling and grunting her way out of a swaddle at just 10 days old. When we finally realized she wanted to sleep with her hands up above her head, the battle of the nightly grunts stopped. At around three months, she started to kick her blankets off altogether so we bought a couple of sleeveless sleeping bags. It gives her enough room to kick her legs if she wants to but ensures she’s always warm.

Woolino Sleeping Bag $85
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BABY CARRIER

Sunny isn’t the biggest fan of the stroller, but loves being in a wrap or the front pack—plus, it means you’re hands-free so is perfect for those morning walks to scoop up a coffee. There are several on the market and you can spend hours researching which is best and why, but we based this purchase on comfort. Which felt the lightest? Which fit my waist the best? Which worked for my fiancé as well? We chose the Baby Bjorn One Carrier and have loved it.

Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One $190
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PACIFIER

Babies like to suck. Sometimes because they’re legitimately hungry, sometimes because your body needs to produce milk, and sometimes just because. This is where a pacifier comes in handy. Sunny wasn’t a fan until recently, and we chose a natural rubber soother. All parents have their own reasons for using pacifiers, but we simply use it when she wants a little comfort without needing to be fed. 

Natursutten BPA-Free Natural Rubber Pacifier $12
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BOUNCER

This was a godsend when Sunny hit around 12 weeks. After being flat on her back for weeks on end or being held, we popped her into the BabyBjörn Balance Soft Mesh Bouncer, and she loved it. It also meant we could eat dinner together at the same time (hooray!) instead of taking turns holding her!

BabyBjörn Balance Soft Mesh Bouncer $26
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YOU

The number one essential, I believe, is you. Your newborn has just spent the better part of the year nestled in next to you. They are used to hearing lots of noises, mostly your voice, and of course, your heartbeat. They want to know that they’re safe, that they’re not alone, and that you’re there. They are learning every single day. They’re seeing things for the first time. Everything is new to them. You are all they know. The washing can wait. The dishes can wait. The most important thing your baby needs is you. And you’ve got this. You’re going to be amazing.

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