The Big List of Baby Essentials! What do you really need? When it came time to start looking for baby items and create a baby registry for my lovely shower, I felt completely overwhelmed with the choices. Luckily I had the help of a small, independent baby store in town that provided a lot of advice, and also offered many healthy, eco-friendly alternatives that I enjoy. It was still a daunting task trying to figure out exactly what I did and didn’t need, though. Was it really necessary to have 50 facecloths like people kept telling me? I still feel overwhelmed though every time I enter the baby megastore to buy anything, so I put together a baby list of some of the essentials, organized by categories, to get you through those first 3-6 months. These are items we found to be especially helpful, but it is always personal preference for each family. For instance, if you plan to only co-sleep, a crib or sheets might not be necessary for you, and maybe you prefer to go old school and just use a sink or bucket for a tub. I haven’t included any items like bouncy chairs, activity mats, or jolly jumpers as these are also personal preference. I hope you find this list helpful, especially when feeling inundated with the options of what is truly necessary or not. Also, a lot of items, such as furniture, strollers, highchairs, clothing and nursing pillows can easily be purchased second-hand or borrowed from friends and family. You can find great deals at consignment stores and on sites like kijiji. Here is the big baby list of baby essentials.
Bath and Body Care
- Tub – we loved the Prince Lionheart washPOD.
- Soap – We used Calendula baby soap made by Weleda – it’s pure, natural, and so good. It’s a bit more expensive compared to conventional products but it literally lasted us an entire year, so it goes a long way. Plus, no nasty additives!
- Shampoo – Make sure you choose a tear-free, natural one with no chemicals. A few of our favourites are Gaia, Earth Mama Angel Baby, and we now use Liveclean as well.
- Washcloths (10) – Babies R Us sells a 3 pack of organic ones, which are super soft and pretty inexpensive. There are also some great cotton and bamboo ones to choose from elsewhere.
- Cream – Good especially for the dry, winter months (unless you are blessed to live in a warm climate). Choose a natural one with minimal additives since baby skin is so sensitive. Again, I love Weleda Calendula baby body lotion.
- Hooded or Regular Bath Towel
- Newborn diapers –Most midwifes and doctors recommend these for the first week when the poops are meconium (will stain cloth), and to monitor movements since most newborn diapers have a strip that changes colour when the diaper is wet. We used Huggies Naturals, which have no bleach or chemicals as well as Seventh Generation.
- Diapers – If you choose to go the cloth diaper route, I have a introduction to cloth diapering post outlining some great options and information. If you go with disposable, there are some companies such as Seventh Generation or Naty (Nature Babycare) that make some good eco-friendly options free of chlorine and other chemicals.
- Natural Diaper Cream –We swear by Dimpleskins Bum Bum Balm. It goes A LONG WAY. It is completely natural, cures any redness or rash immediately, and is safe for cloth too. Burt’s Bees also makes a great diaper cream that contains zinc oxide, which is a great barrier especially for bad rashes.
- Reusable Wipes – Optional, and you can also use facecloths for reusable wipes. We have about 20 reusable cloth wipes and use these for all pees, although we use disposable wipes for poops (easier cleanup!) Using reusable wipes will save you money in the long run, they have no chemicals, and they’re better for the environment. Check out my natural, homemade baby wipe solution.
- Natural baby wipes – A good, inexpensive option is Aleva bamboo wipes – they are sold on Amazon, or in Canada at Loblaws and in boxes at Babies R Us for reasonable prices. There are many other natural brands as well as at Seventh Generation and Naty.
- Diaper Bag or Tote – You can use whatever bag works for you. Diaper bags specifically have a few compartments for wipes, pacifier, and bottle, as well as a change pad, but any larger bag or tote with a few different compartments would be good. Some people prefer to use a bag they already have, while others like to splurge on a new one – personal preference!
- 2-4 small bottles (4oz), 2-4 larger bottles (8oz) – If you plan to breastfeed and also pump, this would be sufficient. You’ll likely need more bottles if you aren’t breastfeeding. Make sure you have different nipple sizes too. Our favourite bottles are the Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow glass bottles. Obviously if you don’t plan to use formula or pump, you won’t need any bottles.
- Breast Pump – If you plan to breastfeed, having a pump can be super helpful as it allows your partner (or other relative, friend, etc.) to help with feedings if you have to go out or need some rest, etc. I was really happy with the Ameda Purely Yours breast pump.
- Bottlebrush – It is recommended that you use a separate brush to avoid contamination with the milk and bottles.
- Bibs (6) – We only started with bibs once our son began eating solids but they can be helpful if you have a baby who spits up a lot (lesson learned the hard way for us!)
- Onesies/diaper shirts (10-15)– We found this to be a good number depending on how much laundry you want to do.
- Sleepers (5-7) – I swear by the open-ended sleepers/gowns with the drawstring or elastic at the bottom (almost like a nightgown). When you’re changing the baby every hour or two, especially in the middle of the night, the last thing you want to do is fiddle with a whole bunch of buttons. Kushies has a great organic line with my absolute favourite sleepers for those first few months.
- Socks (5 pairs)
- Outfits (1-2) – Seriously, they will live in onesies the first few months.
- Leggings or tights – For colder weather, if desired.
- Sweatshirts, sweaters, etc (2-3)
Bedding and Blankets
- Crib sheets (3) – We had a good mix of a gorgeous breathable muslin sheet, a Kushies organic crib sheet, and a flannel for cold weather. We also had a couple of bassinet sheets for our Moses basket. American Baby also makes some great, reasonably-priced organic crib sheets.
- Changeable Waterproof Crib Pad – For under the sheet, so the mattress isn’t ruined if there’s any diaper leakage. There are a few great options for more natural, PVC and chemical-free ones. Naturpedic makes a great one.
- Receiving Blankets (5-10) – We used these constantly as blankets and burp cloths, and had a mix of cotton and muslin. The muslin are my go-to in the summer as they are perfect for wrapping up the babe in the warm weather when it’s hot out since the material is so light and breathable. I found 10 to be more than sufficient for our needs.
- Change pad and Change Pad Covers (3) – You’ll need a few covers because babies WILL most definitely poop and pee on them constantly for the first while.
- Blankets for crib (2) – My son adored the super soft fuzzy blankets from day 1 and still, to this day, loves that material close to his skin. Our favourite blanket, which is still a go-to, is the Skip Hop Nursery Friends blanket, which has a very soft side as well as a comfortable cotton side. We love this blanket.
- Cool Mist Humidifer – These are wonderful for cold weather and when babies and children have colds. We still use this in our son’s room for any cough and cold and during the cold weather. I love the Crane ultrasonic cool-mist humidifier.
- Nasal Aspirator – We found the bulb syringe didn’t work at all for us, so we invested in the Nosefrida Snot Sucker and it works like a charm. My son had a lot of mucous in that first month and especially his first winter. For us, we found this item essential but you might be lucky and rarely need it.
- Baby Thermometer – Always a good item to have.
Accessories and Furniture
Again, these are all items that we found were very helpful for us, and from talking to many other parents, that I’ve heard are some of their top must-haves. I know items like a crib or bassinet aren’t necessary if you only co-sleep, of course, but every family is different in their sleeping arrangements and what works for one baby or family might not work for another, so here are my top picks of necessities as well as extras we loved.
- Wrap or Carrier – Carriers are one of my top baby items. They are so helpful for you to be close to baby and can help you get things done as well. Both my husband and I wore our son often. We had a ring sling, a versatile cotton sling (made by Blue Celery), and my favourite, the Ergo Baby Carrier. I found once our son hit 6 months, something like the Ergo that distributes the weight is much easier for you and more comfy for the baby. Plus, the Ergo can be used on both front and back as your little one grows.
- Crib – If you plan to use one, I have an eco-friendly crib guide and eco-friendly crib mattress guide.
- Change Table or Dresser, etc. – Don’t stress about getting a separate change table. A regular dresser will work just as well if you don’t have a change table.
- Comfy Chair – You don’t need to invest in an expensive baby rocker, but I found it vital to have a comfortable chair to feed the baby in for those first few months, especially for nursing and in the middle of the night. Just make sure you have a comfortable place for you to sit upright and recline if possible.
- Infant or Convertible Car Seat – An infant carseat isn’t a necessity, as some convertible car seats allow you to use them from birth. The draw of the infant seats is that they offer a convenience factor and allow you to bring the baby straight into and out of the house in cold weather or when they are sleeping. Around 6 months or so, most people move up to a convertible car seat. As long as you have a carseat suitable for a newborn and up and still within the “expiry date” zone of the government, you’re good to go.
- Highchair – This isn’t necessary until about 5-6 months. There are also some great travel chairs that work well for smaller spaces.
- Monitor – This is something we enjoyed having for peace of mind and to hear the babe once he moved into his own room, if he needed us. Some families will find they don’t need one though especially if you share a sleeping space. I found the Angelcare monitor to be great quality.
- Stroller – Great to have for long walks or trips.
- Bassinet or Moses Basket – This isn’t necessary, but it was personally one of my favourite items for the first few months. We used the Jolly Jumper, and the Badger is another recommended one. It allowed us to keep the babe next to us in the same room when needed and we could also move him easily in it if he was napping, etc.