My 12 Favorite Newborn Essentials

My 12 Favorite Newborn Essentials

Now that we have a rough and tumble one year old toddler, it is time to finally post all my recommendations for newborns. I think of myself a pragmatic minimalist when it comes to baby gear – we live in an apartment in a city and travel half the year with just carry-on bags – but this list still looks pretty long! Newborns are snuggly little muffins who do need a lot of gear but somehow all of this is still much less equipment than you’re recommended to buy at the start. I loved the essentials we picked out for Lucy – each piece has been battle-tested over months of use. All you need to go along with these basics are cute outfits, burp cloths, blankets and a lot of diapers.

A pragmatic, tested set of newborn essentials

12 must-haves for a pragmatic, minimalist, travel-loving, city-dwelling baby.

Moses Basket – We loved this piece and only resigned to moved Lucy out of it into her crib when she absolutely outgrew it. It is such a cozy and convenient sleeping place for your newborn. The basket can be moved room to room as needed and tucks in nicely next to the bed. At $25, it is an absolute steal. We now use it to hold Lucy’s toys. The optional rocking base is a nice to have but not necessary. There are little sheets and mattresses that go with it. A lot of people like to add a sheepskin rug from Ikea to the basket.

Fairy Lights – We got home with our newborn and immediately realized our pitch black bedroom was too dark for fumbling around with night feedings. These $10 fairy lights from Amazon are the perfect solution. They provide the faintest glow in the low setting – and as LEDs, never need to be turned off. A small remote makes it quick to dial up the light when you need to.

Bottle Brush – I exclusively pumped for Lucy – which meant LOTS of bottle washing. Buying an extra set of pump parts and lots of bottles helped. Having a beautiful German wood and horsehair brush for the washing was also nice. Lucy loves playing with this brush now.

Pacifiers – These Wubbanub pacifiers are connected to small stuffed animals – which makes it easier for the baby to find in the night and easier to stay rested on their chests when sleeping. They come in every animal imaginable – the hospital gave us the giraffe version and we’ve cycled through a zoo’s worth. Which reminds me, don’t forget to get pacifier leashes, too!

Aveeno Excema Lotion – This lotion works miracles on Lucy’s sensitive skin. Highly recommend it for any baby with rashes or dryness issues.

Touchpoints – Just the right amount of parenting advice for the baby’s first three years. Dr. Brazelton focuses on the emotional development of your baby and gives enough reassuring direction to make you feel like you’re on the right path. Recommended by my Mother and loved by me.

Bouncer – We bought one at a yard sale across the street for $1. A nice to have – one of those things that is very handy for a couple months before they outgrow it. Like the Bumbo, too – which we bought at the same garage sale.

Changing Pad – We use this mat on a chaise lounge in the living room as our main changing table now that Lucy is bigger. When she was little, these small washable chucks were great to change her on our bed and around town.

Baby carrier – Rob discovered the Onya carrier a couple months after Lucy was born. It’s lightweight and can carry the baby on your front, side or back. Plus, you can turn it into a serviceable high-chair with a mode that buckles on to any seat. We also have an Ergo carrier that I like, too.

Activity Gym – This teepee from Target was a great buy. As a little baby, Lucy could lay in it and look blurry-eyed at herself the mirror. A bit older and she could swat at the mobile. Now, Lucy uses it as a fun play to play hide and seek. The teepee has a pretty small footprint. We have it set in the hearth and it also keeps Lucy from getting in the fireplace.

Stroller, carseat and pram – The Mountain Buggy Mini stroller system was perfect for us. It is one of the smallest, lightest strollers out there – perfect for carrying up and down stairs and navigating tiny sidewalks while traveling. The carseat is also one of the lightest on the market. Rob made endless fun of me for purchasing the add-on pram before Lucy was born, but it was a lifesaver. Lucy slept in there in the hospital for her first week. It is so, so nice having a way to carry around your newborn where they don’t have to be strapped in. The pram (aka carrycot) is set up so you can load in the baby and cary it out to attach to the stroller, or to bring a sleeping baby back in the house without having to move her. Those first months of walking around the city with the pram were pure heaven.

More importantly, here are so many things I recommend you DON’T need to buy for your newborn baby:

  • Special baby bath tubs, bath mats, bath towels. Either wash the baby in a clean sink or – better! – in a warm bathtub with you. Taking baths with your newborn is so special.
  • Special rocking sleepers. We registered for this rocker and were given another. Lucy spent virtually no time in either. Wait to see if your baby sleeps easily without them. If not, you can always buy it later.
  • Bottle warmers, wipe warmers. Lucy went for both at room temperature with no trouble.
  • A changing table. Too bulky, too expensive.
  • Changing pad liners. 90% of the time, you’ll have to change the changing pad sheet anyway if things get messy.
  • Bibs. We used dishcloths and burp rags when needed. She moved on to finger foods so quickly, we never really needed bibs.
  • Baby wrap or sling. I had both and rarely used them. It’s much easier to get the baby into an Ergo or Onya carrier and use that instead than trying to wrap yourself up like a mummy.
  • Thermometer. Our regular ear thermometer works just fine on the baby. When they really have a fever, you will certainly know it.
  • Sound machine. We have one and started using it when she went through the 9 month sleep regression, but it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.
  • A diaper bag. We toss diapers and bottles in a small hiking backpack we’ve had forever when going out for a long time. Otherwise, it’s easy to tuck enough supplies into your purse.
  • Diaper genie. You will need one of these eventually but not at the start. Save it until your baby is eating solid foods and the diaper situation gets more serious.
  • Baby monitor. The baby will make herself heard.
  • Baby heart and oxygen monitor – I totally get the appeal of devices like Owlet. But, to me, part of becoming a parent is accepting that you can’t monitor/protect your baby every second of the day. It’s a leap of faith.
  • A glider. I splurged on a Dutalier glider and ottoman (pictured here). I love it, but Lucy has wanted to be rocked in it approximately 30 minutes during her entire life.

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Website: EmilyStyle

I'm an adventurer and founder of a brand strategy studio. I'm so lucky to work abroad for a couple months each year. Weekly dinner parties and picking what to wear when I'm at home in San Francisco. I love a tough challenge, email [email protected] to reach me.