Newborn Essentials - What Do You Really Need?

 Oh my the list of things you need for baby can be overwhelming right? Well as a mother expecting my fifth child I felt compelled to share what we've found to really be necessary, and maybe a few non essentials that are just super duper helpful. Our list of "must-haves" definitely shrunk over the years.

Our first three were all very close in age and all girls, and so we re-used many of the same items. The list of what we got for our first though was much longer than what I felt we needed for our third. Then our fourth came along (still close in age to our other three) but was a boy, surprise! So while we kept many of the same items, we did purchase a few gender neutral or boy items. We genuinely thought he was our last, and when we moved from California to Texas, we gifted/donated/sold most of our baby items. And then as the years have gone on and he outgrew the need for different things we continued to let go of baby items. So now, four years later here we are expecting a baby and starting from scratch.

This gave me a unique opportunity to really focus on what I truly wanted and needed and only acquire those things. In this time we've also made a move towards minimalism, so that definitely influenced my decision with this list. 

Ok, so here is a list of the things that I've actually purchased for baby this time around. Any links are purely for convenience and not affiliate. 

A place for baby. I could probably do an entire post on making room for baby. We live in a moderately sized home (+/- 1800sq ft) but with six people, making room for number seven still took some creativity. We like to have our babies in our master bedroom for the first year or so, after that we plan to have our sons share a room. Our home was built in the 30s and the master bedroom is quite small. Smaller than the other bedrooms actually. And don't even get me started on the size of our closet or master bathroom lol. Because of this we opted for a mini crib. The smaller footprint is great for us and unlike a cradle, the mini crib will last our little one the whole year (plus) he will be in our room. We bought this crib. You can see a couple of fabric bins under the crib - these hold other items like swaddles and burp cloths that we'll talk about later!

In the picture above you can see the ever so necessary Boppy! I can't stress enough how essential these are for nursing, snuggling, propping, and so many other uses!

Along with the crib we also bought this incredibly soft sheet set. I love the watercolor theme! The "play yard" size sheets fit the mini crib mattress perfectly. 

We basically dedicated a little L corner of our bedroom to baby. So besides a crib we also needed a changing table. This could technically be the top of a dresser you already have or something like that, but we don't have a dresser in our bedroom. We decided to repurpose an old school desk that used to be in my office for our changing table. That with a changing pad and changing covers completes the setup. 

You'll notice the cube shelf with baskets next to the changing table, this actually holds my clothes - so we still needed a place for baby's clothes. 

I opted for this super cute basket from target because we simply didn't have room for a dresser or cabinet or anything like that. It fit perfectly under the desk and holds quite a bit. I put a smaller fabric bin in the center to hold socks/mittens/hats, and then around that there are stacks of pants, jammies, onesies, sweaters, etc. 

Next on the list are these easy wrap swaddles. They make swaddling fidgety newborns while sleep deprived a breeze. Or as much of a breeze as it can be. They also seem to stay more secure than any other swaddle option I've tried. Maybe my swaddle skills just aren't up to par, but these saved my sanity. 

I still love regular muslin swaddles / receiving blankets. These work as massive burp cloths, swaddles, floor blankets, and I personally use these a nursing covers. My children have all hated thick nursing covers. Resulting in very angry babies yanking off said covers at inopportune times, lol. These light weight blankets offer me the privacy / coverage I like, and don't seem to irritate the baby (thus far anyway! ha).

Burp cloths! So many burp cloths!! But seriously it is nice to have quite the stash because inevitably you need a fresh one, no matter how many loads of laundry you've done. I really like these - super absorbent and a nice size. We keep these in a fabric bin under the crib. 

Since we're talking feeding, if you are nursing I find a manual breast pump to be invaluable. I've used electric pumps, but haven't felt they were necessary for my needs. If you just need to be able to express a surplus, or prep for occasional bottle feedings, a manual pump will see you through! Just be sure to grab storage bags , bottles , and nursing pads too!

A way for baby to ride. Obviously carseats and strollers are very necessary if you want to take baby anywhere. I prefer a travel system - that is a stroller/car seat combo. We chose the Myria by Summer Infant. What I love about this set is the fact that the stroller frame can be used with just the carseat, meaning it folds up small enough for the back of my SUV (which has a surprisingly limited cargo space!) without the bulk of a toddler seat. The car seat can click directly in to the frame and face either forwards or backwards. 

It also comes with the bassinet that can be positioned front or rear facing as well. I plan to use this on walks around our neighborhood, or to transfer baby from car seat to bassinet when longer periods of time will be spent in the stroller. This bassinet portion can also convert to a toddler seat, that accommodates children up to 50 lbs. It can also face either direction. With so many possibilities this stroller should last us until we no longer need a stroller. 

One final thing that was a selling point for us were the hard wheels. We wanted larger sized wheels but not rubber/air tube ones. Where we live (rural) goat heads are a major problem and most of the roads in our neighborhood are dirt ones. We didn't want to have an ongoing issue of picking up thorns / goat heads as we walked around the dirt roads, so hard tires but ones large enough not to get stuck in soft spots were a must. Granted, this is a unique issue for our family, but this stroller fit the bill perfectly!

A portable place for baby. For those first early weeks, I do find a portable bassinet to be essential. I like to have a place to set baby down that can be put in any room that I am in. With other children and pets afoot, I don't like to have floor time unless I can sit right there, and so this offers a place to set the baby down from time to time. 

As far as establishing sleep routines, I don't like to mix play and sleep spaces. So I may lay a wakeful baby down in the crib if it is nap time, but I don't rely on the crib as a place to "contain" a baby that I can't hold currently. That is where something like this bassinet come in handy! I can lay a wakeful baby without worrying that he will associate the crib with play time. 

The last bit of "baby gear" that I use in the early weeks and beyond is a bouncer. I chose this simple bouncer from Summer Infant. I liked that it was similar to much more expensive ones design wise, but was affordable. It can be stationary or it can rock, and it has different modes of vibration to help soothe the baby. (Obviously with a child this will be used on the floor and not our ottoman). I personally don't love having super bright baby items scattered around the house, although we did choose a brighter bassinet because it was on sale, so I appreciate the gray and muted palette of this bouncer.  

And finally I find a special coming home outfit to be essential! Also baby clothes, but not as many as one would think. I like to have enough that I don't HAVE to do baby laundry every day even though I probably will, but I find a couple weeks worth of outfits and jammies to be plenty. As far as styles that I find helpful, I love these gowns for boys and girls. They make middle of the night changes so much easier, and for the first few months those are the only jammies we use, and I often have my children in these any time we are just staying home. They aren't so great for carseat or stroller buckles, but at home they work great!

Add in some socks, pants, hats, mittens, onesies, and cardigans for layering and you're all set!

Of course, as baby grows, some other things become necessary, like a high chair. But I wait to buy things like that until they are needed. You might want to invest in a diaper bag, but personally I just use a large purse. I've had the same bag for years - it looks like the Fawn Design diaper bag but is much cheaper. I guess it technically is a diaper bag, but I've used it as my regular purse in between babies for longer than I've used it as a diaper bag! 

Some might argue that bath time items are essential too - but I just use the same mild soap my other kids use, I don't use a special bathtub and opt to use our farmhouse sink instead, and use the family wash cloths / towels instead of specific ones for baby. I also don't use a special baby laundry detergent - but we do use a free and clear gentle detergent for all of our laundry because of sensitive skin issues. 

So that's my list of essentials as an "experienced mom" whatever that means, ha! What do you find essential for those newborn days?

Until next time!