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What You Need and Don’t Need For New Baby

If you are planning on having a child, it can be confusing with all the gadgets that are available for newborns. When I was pregnant, we took a trip to Babies R Us, and I literally had to leave the store because it was so overwhelming with all the furniture, clothes, and items the store says you can’t live without. Actually, we found that babies really don’t need that much stuff. Obviously, you need diapers, food,  a carseat, and clothes. In a primitive sense you could get by just fine with those things only, but there are some baby items that make life easier. Here is my top five list of  new baby items you  might need and ones you surely don’t.

Things We Couldn’t Live Without

  1. Pack ‘N’ Play. We used this  every day. These are especially useful after your baby starts moving around. If you need somewhere safe to put them down for a few minutes, the playpen is perfect. These also make great travel beds and changing tables.
  2. Boppy. This is a u-shaped pillow that you can lay a newborn on for feeding or naps. It supports their head. When they take forever to eat and it’s two in the morning, your arm gets really tired. I actually didn’t know about these and found a used one in a bag of stuff my sister-in-law gave me. It was a lifesaver.
  3. Zip up Footie Pajamas. I’m not sure why, but most of the little one piece baby outfits have a million snaps that you have to open and close to change a diaper. We found some with zippers, and that’s all we used at night. Again, at two A.M after that long feeding, when you’re trying to unsnap all these snaps in the dark, you get some funny results. Zipper jammies were way easier.
  4. Shopping Cart Cover. This is a piece of material with elastic and leg holes that goes over the shopping cart seat. Yes, I guess germs build an immune system, but babies get enough on their own without licking the shopping cart.
  5. Fold up Changing Table Cover. If you’ve ever looked at a changing table in a public restroom, they are pretty nasty. I would not let my child’s bare butt touch one. We had a small fold up cover that was made of plastic. You could clean it easily, and it fit in the diaper bag. It also worked great to lay in the floor or seat of the car.  You will have a major diaper blow out at the most inconvenient time in a public place. Might as well be prepared.

Things You Should Skip

  1. Bottle or Wipe Warmers. I think these were invented to get stressed parents to spend more money. “Oh, if you touch the baby’s bottom with a cold cloth, he will surely drop out of school to join a band.” If you choose to use formula, serve it at room temperature. That way, if you aren’t at home, you won’t have to ask to use the microwave at the gas station to heat up a bottle.
  2. Designer Clothes. This is a no brainer, but I have actually been in a store that sells designer baby and kid’s clothes. $115 for a pair of True Religion kiddie jeans. You’ve got to have more money that sense to buy these. Babies wear clothes for about three months before they outgrow them, and they don’t argue with you about what to wear. Take advantage!
  3. Diaper Genie. Some may disagree, but these disgust me to no end. For those who may not know, a Diaper Genie is kind of like a trash compactor for dirty diapers. We just took the smelly ones outside to the trash. Cloth diapers might be another good option, like the ones used Michelle and Jake at I Heart Budgets. If we had it to do over, I would consider those. Even if you use disposables, I don’t think you need a genie. Something about squishing poopie diapers just doesn’t seem right.
  4. Baby Bathtub. Again, you might disagree. We had one of these, but our tub is pretty deep and I couldn’t bend over that far without throwing out my back. We used the sink, or I got in the tub with our daughter. It actually was one of my favorite parts of the day. We got clean, read bath books, and had a great time.
  5. Shoes. Until your child is walking, shoes are for decoration only. Little baby Nikes are insanely cute, but have absolutely no purpose. Just get lots of socks. If you think the dryer is good at eating grown up socks, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

There you have my top five list of things you need and don’t need for a new baby. Of course you will probably get all kinds of gifts. Some will be more useful that others. If you get a Diaper Genie or baby Kobe Bryant shoes, just say thanks and enjoy. Honestly, you can get by with very little in the early months.  You will have plenty of time to fill up the house with bicycles, Disney Princesses, and Thomas the Trains later on.

What were your most used baby items? What was the most outrageous baby gift you received?

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. I agree with everything but the bathtub, I only got a cheap $20.00 one but I need it! I find bathing her in the sink or main bathtub without her little tub way too challenging, shes too slippery and moving all over the place! her tub has a little bum ledge so she sits properly in it. I also couldn’t live without my ring sling (love it) or her swing (LIFE saver!).

    • Our daughter never really liked a swing, but we wore the wheels off the baby jogger. Funny how different kids take to different things.

  2. Well, I’m hoping to not have kids for about seven years so I can’t really answer your question 😛 My wife nannies for a 3-month old and we have a couple of friends with babies, and it’s insane how big the market is! There is literally a ton of products for anything you can possibly imagine.

  3. Haha, this list sounds about right. When my wife and I had our first daughter, we had so little money that we just couldn’t get all the stuff we thougth we needed. BUt then when she was born, we realized that we actually didn’t need any of that stuff anyways! Babies require so little. Clothes, a place to poop, milk to drink….that’s about it. Anything else if for the parent’s own enjoyment or ease, and so that means that most things are not necessary. GREAT post! And thanks for bringing back the memories. 🙂

    • My maternal grandparents were tobacco farmers and had six kids. You needed that many to work the farm. My Grandma never even had a crib, but put the babies in dresser drawers until they were big enough to sleep in a bed. If she needed to get something done in the house, she stuck their shirt or dress hem under the leg of the bed. She said “Y’all cried, but it didn’t hurt you none, and I had to get my work done.” You’d probably get called in by social service today for that, but all of her children grew up to be well adjusted, productive members of society. Hard to believe I am only a generation removed from that with all the things available today.

  4. You’re right on with your list. I have similar memories about our first trip to Babies R Us. I remember thinking, what on earth could a little baby use all this stuff on? I know we use our pack and play ALL the time. The only thing I’d take off the things to skip list is a Diaper Genie. With three little ones, it makes life easier to throw the diapers in there and then just empty it every couple of days. But, if you just have one child I can see how it would be easier to just take them out right away.

  5. We won’t be having kids for at least another few years (in all likelihood), but it will be interesting to see what we find we can’t live without and what kinds of things are just unnecessary. The trash compactor thing just sounds disgusting. What’s wrong with simply taking it outside to the garbage?

  6. Thanks for such a great list. Two people close to me are expecting so this list will definitely come in handy.

  7. I read your top five things to skip not expecting to agree with every one of them…shame on me for doubting! We had three of your five with our kids and I wish we’d have skipped all of them.

  8. Thank you for telling EVERYONE how ridiculous wipe warmers are. Seriously, my wife had a lady get all huffy in Babies ‘R us about it, and even said “would you want a cold wipe on your bottom?!” Some people. It’s funny because our kid just laughs with the wipes, not a care in the world.

    • They get used to whatever you have. Why make it harder on yourself?

      • We got a wipe warmer, it intimidates me. It’s still in the box and I think it’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, I didn’t know they existed until I received one as a gift. I’m much to practical to use it (her wipes usually end up in a ziploc bag and get dragged around in the diaper bag with me wherever we go). If it wasn’t from hubby’s aunt I would exchange it in a heartbeat but she’s the type of woman who would be hurt I’m sure.

  9. I agree with all of these…especially the Diaper Genie. Who wants to keep a snake of dirty diapers in the bedroom for months? No, thank you! Just put them in the trash. Gross

  10. Mrs PoP @ Planting our Pennies

    Mr PoP and I stopped in Babies R Us for a shower gift once and got so overwhelmed that we could barely pick up the one registry item and leave. Never again. I don’t even think I could handle it if I were pregnant. =).

  11. My daughters are in college, so it’s been a long while since I’ve had any thoughts on baby products. Nonetheless, you’ve made a great list, Kim!

  12. This is such a helpful post! My wife and I are planning on going baby shopping on the weekend for our first bub and these type of articles are a god send.

    Thank you!

  13. We are planning on going the plain trash can route for diapers. Stick a little baking soda in there and take it out each night and we will have a lot of money on the diaper genie refills

  14. The first time I went into a Babies R Us to buy a baby shower gift off a registry I nearly had a panic attack. There are just SO MANY PRODUCTS in those stores! Something similar happened to me the first time I went into a Costco as an adult, but that was volume- and not number-induced.

    Great post!

  15. Too funny how everyone’s preferences vary. I would put “baby bathtub” on the must-have list and “fold up changing table cover” on the not needed list! My main bathtub is deep as well, and when my husband travels, I don’t have the luxury of getting in the tub with the baby because my other two (under 5) would have their run of the house in the meantime. So I quickly wash the baby in his tub on the counter or one of those mesh seats that sits down in our shallow guest tub. I also don’t have the patience to carry around and keep one of those folding covers clean – I get disposable ones or just change the baby on the back of my SUV’s fold-down rear door before going into the store/after coming out. 🙂

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