Of all the exhaustive baby supply lists out there, why might the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist be the way to go?
One of the most surprising things I found when having my first child is just how much STUFF comes along with inviting a tiny human into your home. It can be quite overwhelming!
When we had our first child, we had a tiny starter home and a tiny budget for our family. Adding up all of the items I thought I was supposed to have to prepare for our first child made my head spin.
Where were we going to put all of it? How would we afford everything our baby “needed”?
(Learn how to deal with worry during pregnancy.)
Fast forward to my fourth child over a decade later, and I’ve learned a ton about what is actually needed to care for a baby. I’ve designed the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist to show the new mom what she really needs, without all the excess.
This post contains some affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you use them (at no cost to you). Full disclosure.
Why a Minimalist Baby Registry?
Before we get into the meat of the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist, let’s review why it will benefit you to be so thoughtful about the items you acquire for your baby’s care:
Well-meaning gift givers love to shower parents-to-be with all the cute little clothes and latest handy baby gadgets, but so many end up gathering dust in closets or in a donation pile after a few months. The last thing you want when you’re sleepless and overwhelmed is having to fumble through a bunch of mess, most of which you don’t actually use.
Going minimalist with baby gear will help save you stress by reducing physical clutter. It can hopefully prevent the feeling that you’ve suddenly been crowded out of your home by the smallest family member.
As someone who is trying to live more eco-friendly, I understand the big impact of adding another human to the planet. But I also know I can also make choices to help reduce consumption.
Baby gear is an area ripe for reducing, because there are many (large, plastic) items that get used for only a short amount of time. By only getting what you really need, you’ll be helping the earth.
Going minimalist with baby gear can also potentially save you a lot of cash. Baby gear is expensive!
When adding another family member, who doesn’t want to save money? Even if you expect to receive most of your baby items as gifts through your registry (lucky you!), don’t you want your friends’ and family members’ money to be well spent on the essentials?
If you get everything you need, you can always point people to donate to your child’s college fund instead.
Minimalist Baby Registry Essentials Checklist
Alright, let’s get down to it. I’m going to share what you really need, and why, along with why I’ve skipped other items. I recommend starting with just the essentials.
It’s a lot easier to add something after your baby arrives than to be drowning in clutter like a frog in boiling water.
I’ll include product recommendations in the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist to help save you time. My tips are based on items I have personally used and liked, but please feel free to do your own research.
The versatile Pack ‘n Play: it’s a bassinette and travel crib in one. You’ll get a lot of mileage out of this item, and it stows away for easy storage. My baby spent her first few months in one right next to my bed. It worked out great, and there was no need to purchase a separate item. I’d just reach right over if I needed to feed or soothe her.
In my opinion, all the extra attachments tend to get in the way and become annoying to store over time, so I recommend a basic version.
Unless you’re going full Montessori, you’re going to need a crib. A sturdy model will do just fine. A little warning: my babies have loved to chew their crib railings so keep that in mind before spending a fortune on one (though teething protectors are available).
This is where many experts say you should not skimp, and I agree. It’s an item your child will spend a lot of time on, and it’s necessary for their comfort and safety. I went over the top with research when choosing a crib mattress, and this one repeatedly came out on top.
Of course, feel free to do your own research for peace of mind. Buy the best mattress you can within your budget. It should be very firm for an infant.
Crib mattress protector and sheet
Aside from a mattress protector and fitted sheet, you don’t need any other crib bedding. Please don’t put anything else in your baby’s crib! Keep it simple and safe.
This is another great utilitarian item for your baby’s room. Choose one at the right height where you can use the top as a diaper-changing surface. This will prevent you from needing a specialty piece of furniture that becomes moot once your child is potty trained.
A simple dresser can store your baby’s diapers, clothes, and even toys. It will grow with them over the years.
You’re going to be changing a lot of diapers. I use a padded vinyl changing pad that is comfortable for baby and easy to wipe. Put it right on top of your baby’s dresser, and you’re all set.
I’ve never used a changing pad cover – it’s just another thing that needs washing.
You will also need a travel changing pad that folds up for your diaper bag. You can use this around the house too when you don’t feel like trekking to the baby’s room for another diaper change.
If you’re going to travel anywhere by car with your baby, you’ll need a car seat. There are many factors that go into choosing the right car seat, including safety ratings, features, size for your car, and budget.
Many people choose to get an infant carrier that snaps in and out of an installed base. This prevents you from having to transfer your sleeping baby out of its car seat.
The infant carrier would be followed by a convertible car seat once the baby has outgrown the carrier. You can choose if you want to go this route or just start with a convertible car seat that will last from infancy through your child’s early years.
The stroller is another item you’ll use nearly every day so it’s worth making a good investment. It can sometimes be hard to find a single stroller that fits all your needs.
Do you need one that will hold an infant carrier? Do you need a jogging stroller? Do you plan to be on mostly paved surfaces? Consider factors including weight and ease of folding.
Try to find one or two strollers that will fulfill your needs so you don’t end up with a huge pile of strollers to rotate through. I find the City Mini stroller to be a reliable all-around stroller that’s durable, easy to manage, and works across most terrains.
Whether you choose to go with cloth or disposable diapers, you’re going to need to fill up your stash. Register for the kind you like best or try a variety in the beginning until you get a good feel for your preferences.
If you go with cloth diapers, you may need some additional items like diaper covers, diaper closures, or a wet/dry bag.
Again, you have cloth or disposable options. If you use cloth diapers, you’ll need a wipe warmer or dispenser. Otherwise, this is definitely optional for disposable wipes.
Sensitive options are best for those smooth little tushies.
At one time or another, you’re going to need to treat a diaper rash. It’s good to have some diaper cream on hand. My two favorites are the Quick Stick for prevention and maximum strength Desitin for treatment.
A set of 3 should be plenty so you can have a good laundry rotation. These can be used as nursing covers, car seat covers, loveys, and of course swaddling wraps.
The stretchy muslin kind are great and only get softer with washing.
Even if you’re breastfeeding, if you ever plan to be away from baby for a little break, it’s good to have some bottles on hand. From budget-friendly to glass bottles and modern designs, the choices can be overwhelming!
Whatever you choose will probably be just fine. Keep in mind ease of washing (minimal parts).
Though I’m not a big fan of uni-taskers, a bottle brush is needed for cleaning bottles most effectively.
I love space-saving baby items, so I recommend a high chair that either attaches to an existing dining chair or one that attaches or pulls up to your existing dining table.
Babies love to be part of the family when eating.
Babies don’t need many toys. In the early days, you can get by with a simple teething toy or rattle. They’ll want to study your face and everyday objects the most!
People will probably give you small toys that weren’t on your registry so you’ll end up with plenty. It can also be fun to pick toys out sparingly as your child ages into different periods of development.
“Nice to Have” Baby Items
The items on this list didn’t quite make the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist, but they can still be quite useful. I don’t consider them frivolous by any means, but if you don’t have the space or budget for them, don’t worry—you can certainly go without.
White noise machine
White noise can really help babies sleep better, and sleep is so important for you and baby. I’ve never regretted buying our white noise machine.
A diaper bag didn’t quite make the essentials list, because you can really use any kind of bag—even one you already own. Our family used a school-style backpack as a diaper bag for years! You can use an old larger purse or tote.
But if you’d like, there are plenty of specifically designed diaper bags to choose from. It’s something you’ll use often and will make a good investment.
While you can make do with a folded towel, small washing tub, or extra set of hands for bathing your little one, a bathing seat can make things a little easier. The only thing is these become unnecessary once your little one can sit up.
A dimmable night light can make middle-of-the-night feedings less jarring than a full lamp for you and your little one. I found this touch-activated night light great to have on my nightstand.
A baby carrier frees up your hands for getting something done or even having a snack. Some babies love them, while others aren’t a fan. We didn’t end up using ours as much as we thought, though I know some parents who’d say they couldn’t live without one.
You’ll likely get some baby books as gifts and don’t necessarily have to register for any. You can also check some out from the library, though it is nice for your baby to have their own little home library.
This is another item we just didn’t use as much as we expected. Our baby was near us so much during their early months that we could hear them without a monitor. Your need for a monitor will probably depend on the layout of your home.
Rocking chair or glider
A rocking chair or glider can provide a comfy spot to soothe or nurse your baby. However, if you don’t have space or budget for one, you can certainly do without.
You’ll master the baby bounce from anywhere in no time.
Some baby-sized nail scissors make the early nail trimming sessions a lot less scary. They’re small and only a few bucks.
I’ve found you really don’t need all the other items in the baby hygiene kit that is commonly sold in stores.
Rocker, bouncer, or swing
Chances are, one of these will really come in handy at some point. Because of their limited life span (baby outgrows them in a flash), I again recommend smaller and compact models.
These are a personal choice but can be helpful for babies who enjoy them.
Tummy time mat
This handy little extra folds up small and helps dangle some interesting items for your baby to look at. It encourages rolling, reaching, and makes tummy time easy.
If you don’t want to get specially made burp cloths, you can use regular rags or hand towels. Your need for burp cloths will depend on whether your baby is a big spitter upper or not.
There are a variety of styles that can swaddle your baby with just a zipper or some Velcro. They can be easier to manage in your sleep-deprived state when the swaddling blanket won’t cooperate.
Also known as a “wearable blanket,” these keep your baby cozy after they’ve outgrown their swaddle.
Baby Items Not Listed
You’ll notice there are still plenty of baby items that aren’t on the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist or even the “nice to haves” list. What gives?
Clothes, hats, socks, and bibs
You are going to get these as gifts whether you register for them or not. And I’m here to tell you, you really don’t need that many of them. Babies only wear a given size for such a short time—please keep this in mind when stocking up.
It can be so hard when those little items are so cute!
Towels, washcloths, and other bathing accessories
This is another area where regular household towels and washcloths can serve you just fine. Plus, I almost guarantee you’ll get some as gifts no matter what is on your registry.
Get your baby some sensitive body wash if you don’t receive any, and you’ll be set.
(For sucking the gunk out of your baby’s nose.)
The hospital will give you one or two of these to take home. If you find it doesn’t work well enough later on, you can always get something different. Hopefully your baby won’t be sick very much!
I’ve given birth at four different hospitals, and each one has sent us home with a digital thermometer or two that works just fine.
Exersaucer, baby seat, or other baby holders
Generally these just aren’t needed, and they are big plastic items with a very short life span. Developmental experts including occupational therapists recommend skipping them as they may try to force babies into positions they aren’t ready for too early.
If you are breastfeeding, you’ll also need nursing bras, nursing pads, and some lanolin. Similar to postpartum supplies, I’ve found it’s easiest to pick up breastfeeding items yourself rather than putting them on a registry.
A breast pump is helpful even if you will not be going back to work, but you can get one through insurance for free or little cost (Learn how – it’s easy!).
Many hospitals supply nursing moms with a tube of lanolin; you can ask on your hospital tour. You should only need it for the first couple weeks of cracked nipples.
After trying various different versions, I honestly found it easier and more adjustable to just use regular pillows. It’s one less thing to have to get rid of later.
I bet you’ll find your baby is rarely in their crib anyway, and you end up having to take it down within a few months for safety reasons once baby can move around.
You can use any regular trash can with a lid. No diaper cans are smell-proof anyway. No need for a special item or refills to buy. Just change the bag frequently.
Feeding, babyproofing, and toilet training items
You can figure out what other kind of items you need for feeding your baby solids closer to when that time comes. Same with babyproofing and toilet training items. You don’t have to get everything before the baby comes.
If you don’t see it on the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist, it’s probably because it’s not needed!
Of course every family is different, so feel free to make decisions that are best for you. I’m just trying to help you save some clutter and money.
Hopefully I’ve also saved you some time based on my experience parenting four kids.
Secondhand Baby Gear
Another way to be earth friendly and budget conscious is to consider using secondhand items for some of your baby gear. Given the short time period they are used for, some can be in like-new condition.
You might receive offers of hand-me-downs from friends or family or be able to find items at consignment stores or sites like Facebook Marketplace or OfferUp. I love buying secondhand.
Never go with secondhand items for the things that are essential to your baby’s safety, such as a crib mattress or car seat.
Learn the best place to sell used baby gear.
If you’re worried about being overloaded with things at your shower, or if you have close to everything you need, you can consider a different type of shower, such as:
- Diaper shower
- Stock the baby’s library shower (books only)
- Kindly suggesting a donation to the baby’s college fund instead of gifts
- Stating “no gifts” – just celebrate
Minimalist Baby Registry Essentials Summary
I hope the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist will help reduce overwhelm as you prepare for your new little one. You can also check out my minimalist baby nursery.
If you start to feel overloaded with baby things, it might be time to pause and take a look at whether you are stuck in over-preparing mode.
This special time should be about the new little human arriving and not all the stuff.
Don’t worry, the stores don’t go anywhere once you have your baby. It’s still pretty easy to pick up any necessities you feel you might have missed. People also love to bring you extra gifts (especially clothes) after the baby is born.
By starting out your parenting journey thoughtfully considering the items you bring into your home, you’ll be on a better path to controlling all the clutter that can come along with kids.
I’d love to hear what you think of the minimalist baby registry essentials checklist!