Mama, You Really Don’t Need All That Stuff: What a Newborn Really Needs


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I thought that I required so many things for my daughter before she was born.  I was so excited for the baby to arrive that I got sucked in by all of the super cute baby items out there and all of the neat gadgets and gizmos.  I wanted to be prepared for every scenario that could possibly happen.

Even though I thought that I was ready for anything, things failed to work out as I had planned pretty much immediately.  My daughter arrived three weeks early and she weighed six pounds, yet I had refused to buy her any newborn clothing because I read that newborns wouldn’t get much, if any, use out of them.  So here I was with this teeny peanut and no clothes to put on her, except the hospital provided bodysuit. I thought I was so prepared, but, in reality, I hadn’t even bought adequate clothing for my daughter.  I certainly couldn’t dress her in my new baby monitor, Boppy pillow, or Bumbo seat.

The point here is that I “needed” almost none of the things that I accumulated for the baby (although a lot of the stuff sure was nice to have and made my life a heck of a lot easier).  I convinced myself that I had to have all of this stuff in order to make it through that first month.  I was wrong. I totally overbought and wasted money that could have gone to a better use (like my daughter’s college fund).

In reality, there are only a few things that a newborn really needs:

1.  Lots of love and interaction from her parents:  It has been found that early skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her newborn is healthy for future programming and behavior.  Babies thrive on attention from their parents and they learn through interactions with their parents.  So talk to your newborn, read to your newborn, make eye contact with your newborn, or make faces and smile at your newborn. You are helping their development by doing what comes naturally, so play away!

2.  Diapers/Wipes/Diaper Cream: There are a lot of options out there.  Cloth diapers have come a long way and they are pretty awesome.  You can purchase adorable cloth diapers that are just like disposables and they even have Velcro closures.   Disposable diapers are super convenient and very absorbent.  There are also numerous wipes options: Disposable wipes or paper towels/washcloths in wipes solution.  I combined a little bit of everything.

3.  Baby Bodysuits/Sleep and Play Rompers: This is all my daughter wore for the first four weeks of her life.  I preferred the zip-up sleep and play rompers because they made the continuous nighttime diaper changes easier.  My daughter was born in the summer so she didn’t need to be bundled up.  For cold weather, add a coat, socks, and a couple sweaters to your baby’s wardrobe of body suits and footed sleep and plays.  I had no need for shirts that I had to pull over my daughter’s head and maneuver her delicate little arms through or pants that I constantly had to struggle pulling off and on during diaper changes.  Some people swear by gowns, but I found them to be more cumbersome than the zip-up rompers and they were drafty for baby.

4.  Car Seat:  Obviously necessary.  I loved my bucket.  I highly recommend the Chicco KeyFit 30 Infant Seat.  It is safe, convenient, and stylish.

5.  A Sling/Baby Carrier:  A sling/carrier was essential for me to get anything accomplished around the house.  I put the baby on and off I went, arms free!  There are numerous sling/carrier types.  I ended up trying three different ones before I found one that my daughter tolerated.  There are online sites that let you rent a sling/carrier to try it out first.  You could also buy a used one to save some money or borrow one from another parent to give it a try before committing.

6.  First Aid/Hygiene Items:  Baby soap, nail clippers, a nail file, a nasal aspirator, rubbing alcohol, cotton swabs, cotton squares, a first aid kit, and a thermometer.  That’s the extent of it.

7.  A Place for Baby to Sleep:  Babies sleep a lot, like twelve to sixteen hours a day.  Babies don’t really care where they sleep.  Mama just needs to make it safe place.  I used a Graco Pack N’ Play with Bassinet, which was portable and versatile.

8.  Something for Baby to Eat:  If you plan on breast feeding, you probably want to invest in a small tube of Lansinoh cream because that first few weeks is painful.  Nobody warned me about the cracking, blistering, and bleeding.  If you formula feed, you will need to buy bottles and nipples. You really don’t need fancy bottle racks, brushes, or sterilizers. A rag, some hot, soapy water, and a towel clean bottles just fine.

This is all that a new parent requires.  These things meet all of baby’s basic needs and allow for mama to complete some tasks during the day. I wish I had realized this before blowing a portion of my daughter’s college fund on all of the other unnecessary newborn stuff!