The bare (baby) essentials

Babies come with the possibility of a lot of stuff. Stuff that usually ends up either collecting dust in a corner after being used once. So, when we found out we were expecting, I thought long and hard about what I “needed.” I’m sure this list will be added to as time goes on, but here’s what we found were our “bare necessities.” 1505242_10153822071115230_1687070409_n

A place to sleep: The Bug slept in a soft-sided cradle for the first few months by our bed. I loved that it was the same height as the bed and she was within arms reach at all times and it could be moved around the house. She loved it because it was cozy and still sleeps in it on occasion.


A carrier: I only was able to do half the things I did around the house and out and about the first few months because of our carrier. We have a few – the Ergo (and now I want the new Ergo 360!), Moby and Bjorn, and they’re all awesome for different reasons. Babies love and need that skin to skin time and it’s so much more convenient to throw a carrier in your purse as opposed to lugging around a giant stroller and carseat combo. We used the Moby when she was really little, my husband prefers the Bjorn and I like the structure and hips straps on the Ergo.

A car seat: They don’t let you leave the hospital without one. Lots of people suggested getting one bucket seat and two bases – one for each parent’s car. We ended up with two car seats, otherwise we would definitely have done that.


Diapers: So many diapers to change. Stock up whether you’re using cloth or disposables.

Clean and clear laundry detergent: Baby detergent is a rip off. Buy the generic brand of any detergent that is “free and clear” or “clean and clear.” Basically, you want it free of dyes and perfumes.


Clothes: Baby must wear something. In Maine, that usually means you’ll need a snowsuit for winter and a sun hat for the summer. Everything else is up to you. I found that pants and onsie-style shirts worked best for us. Other moms I’ve talked to like one pieces like the Gerber Sleep and Play outfits.

First Aid/Hygiene kit: I received a kit that included grip water, a schnozz squeezer, nail clippers, baby Tylenol and a few other things. I’ve already dipped into it but have found that I probably would’ve been better off creating my own kit because we prefer using homeopathic options like Hylands teething tablets vs. Orajel.

Other items that aren’t necessary, but are nice to have: 

Both a manual (you can pump in the car, or a plane, or in the woods – yes, all of which I’ve done) and a double electric breast pump. Remember, your insurance is now required to cover or reimburse you for a double electric, so call them and ask!

Stroller: I like having a stroller so I can go for a run when no one is home to watch the baby. But if you’re not into that? You could probably get away with just a carrier.


Play mat: Even before she would interact with the toys, I’d put The Bug on her mat. She seemed to love staring up at the brightly colored sea creatures.

Baby bath: For the love of Pete, please don’t buy a $30 plastic tub. Check Craigslist, used baby stores and friends. A relative picked up ours for $5 at a used sale. Put baby in the sink. If we’re talking about essentials, these are pretty low on the “necessary” list really.

Baby monitors: Unless you live in a mansion, you will probably hear your baby crying. Think you’ll want the security? Maybe wait until you have the baby and see if you think you need one at all, just audio, or a high tech video camera with night vision.

Bottles: Keep in mind baby may not like the type of bottle you choose. I’d recommend buying a two or four pack of two different styles (narrow-based nipples or wide-based). Then you can always buy more once you figure out what she likes.


Soft toys: Babies don’t do much the first few months, but it is nice to have a few little toys to place in front of them during tummy time. If you’re making a registry, ask for Sophie. Seriously. Your baby (and all the babies at play group) will thank you.

Bumbo: We started putting The Bug in her Bumbo around three months. It was nice to have a place for her to sit up.

Things you don’t need:

A baby wipes warmer

White noise machine

Bottle warmer

Baby shoes

Fancy bedding

Traditional high chair (Consider a space saver that either hangs from the table or sits on a chair)

Diaper Genie (just throw the diapers out)

A bouncy seat, swing, vibrator or any other type of contraption used to soothe, hold or entertain a fussy baby. There’s no toy or thing that will make baby happier than being fed, having a clean diaper and being held close to a warm chest.

Babies are easy really. They need love, attention and a happy home. Other than that, everything else is just really effective marketing.


Natalie Feulner

About Natalie Feulner

Natalie Feulner is a journalist and “semi-crunchy” cloth diapering momma to a rambunctious toddler named after a county in California. She drinks too much tea and loves to climb rocks but not at the same time.