What should you really get for a newborn? While stores and media try to convince us that there are hundreds of things you just gotta have, the truth is that a baby’s needs are quite simple, and easily met.
Here’s an AP mom’s perspective on the only items you truly should have, either for your own baby or as a gift for new parents.
I do have affiliate links in this article – if you’re not sure what that means and would like to learn more, here’s my explanation.
Attachment parenting (AP) is pretty remarkable, and pretty simple. It essentially means that you just follow your baby’s cues, listening to them with your heart, and give them what they need when they need it. I know it sounds basic but that’s the beauty of it. This is my detailed breakdown of how I explain AP to new parents.
With that in mind, think about what a newborn really needs. They need sustenance in the form of breastmilk and/or formula; they need to be clothed and clean, including cloth or disposable diapers; they need to rest in a safe environment; and they need to be loved. That’s it. Infants are truly “need-based:” they really only have needs, not frivolous wants.
Babies don’t have selfish wants; they’re need-driven.
Their demands are simple, and necessary for survival.
So be encouraged! And by all means, if you want to get 78 different baby bath toys and a full collection of children’s books, go right ahead. But if you’re on a budget, or living in a tight space, please don’t be intimidated by all of the “junk” out there. There’s a huge market for things you just don’t need. (If you’re shopping for a gift for someone else’s baby, trust me when I say that you don’t want to waste your money on something which won’t be used, or would be returned.)
As you read through these items and shop on your own, remember to think about answering this question:
Does this item present a solution to one of my baby’s needs? Does it help feed, clothe, or protect?
Feeding your baby: If you’re breastfeeding, tah-dah! You need boobs, and that’s pretty much it. There are some things which are nice to have, but I won’t tell you about them here. You can get a pump through your insurance, and look into bottles if you need to. Otherwise, you’re good to go.
Protecting your baby: we’re talking safety gear, first aid, a car seat, etc. But I also mean for safe sleep. There are many ways to go about doing this.
Now that you understand my perspective, let’s get to it!
Honorable Mention: Muslin Blankets
I think that these muslin blankets are beautiful, and serve many purposes. They’re quite large (the ones I linked to are 44″ squared!) and can be used to swaddle, lay Baby down for tummy time, folded for a burp cloth, etc. I’ve packed these in the car for photo shoots outside, as the fabric is soft and looks great in pictures. We also used blankets with our first born when someone else was holding him: draping a blanket over the caregiver’s chest and shoulder helped to keep our baby safe from germs.
The muslin is essentially a lightweight cotton which helps Baby’s skin breathe and not overheat. It’s sheer and super soft.
I made these blankets an “honorable mention” because you can use a blanket or cloth that you already own. There’s no need to have muslin specifically; I just think it feels fantastic, and is lightweight enough that you can confidently swaddle your precious little one.
The Nose Frida
This gadget is incredible! I absolutely love it, and own about 5 of these. I’m a sucker for devices which are simple and effective (no pun intended).
The Nose Frida is essentially a “snot sucker”, used to clean out your baby’s nose when they’re congested. It sounds disgusting, but here’s the reason you want one. You have control over how you clear their nasal passages, and it’s much more sanitary than using a bulb syringe.
You have a one-way straw to gently suck air through while the other piece, complete with a spongy filter, goes just inside your baby’s nose. The pieces easily pop apart to be sanitized.
Please don’t get a bulb syringe! They can’t be cleaned out, and you’d be horrified if you cut one open to see the things growing inside. Ew ew ew.
You can read my full review of the Nose Frida, complete with more photos, here.
The Baby K’Tan
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of babywearing, and the benefits to both Mom and Baby are undeniable. But a lot of the carriers just aren’t really comfortable or as practical for newborns.
You want something which is really user-friendly, really comfortable for both the wearer and the wearee, and easy to breastfeed in.
I adore my Baby K’Tan. Well I should say K’Tans because I have two – that’s how much I love this thing. It’s so much easier to put on than something like the Moby wrap. The K’Tan is also machine washable, and made out of cotton which will stretch and soften with time. You can “wear” your baby different ways, keeping them close and warm while freeing your hands to do something productive (or nothing at all).
I did a full review with more photos of my beloved K’Tan here.
Feel free to check out your local babywearing/AP store to try on a K’Tan, or see if you have a Babywearing International chapter nearby (they usually have Facebook group pages). And YouTube is invaluable for learning how to wear your newborn. But truly, out of all baby carriers I’ve ever used, the K’Tan is still what I reach for with newborns – and my little girl is over a year old now!
The Snuggle Nest
I know that a lot of people don’t plan on cosleeping or bedsharing, but let’s be real: you need to do what you need to do so that you all sleep safely and soundly. And if you’re breastfeeding, you’re only torturing yourself by NOT cosleeping.
We got the Snuggle Nest when pregnant the first time, thinking “oh this will be so handy when we go to Grandma’s house!” It’s lightweight and folds up, making it fantastic for naps out of the house. But it ended up between my husband’s and my pillows, sheltering our newborn while keeping him close.
I adore the simplicity of this thing. (Are you noticing a trend yet?) It makes a breathable barrier for Baby to sleep on a flat firm surface. No worrying about rolling over onto your baby, or them getting stuck between the mattress and the wall. But they are literally inches away from you, so you can quickly check on every sniffle and watch those sleepy baby smiles.
The Snuggle Nest comes with a cotton mattress cover for the plastic pad, making it easy to clean. It also has a dim light and some sound/music options at the head of it. Please don’t buy a huge expensive crib, or a pack-and-play. You don’t need them! This is sufficient, trust me. (And realize that your baby can sleep while you’re babywearing, too.)
We’ve had our Snuggle Nest for four years, and I know we’ll hold onto it (dearly) until we are done having babies. My full detailed review can be found here.
A Baby Monitor
Last but not least, I do want to admit that I’m a bit dependent on my baby monitor. I still cosleep with both of my kids – the 3.5 year old is in his own bed, but in our room; and the 1 year old is in our bed. But we put our son to bed at 8:30pm, and don’t want to sit in there with him all night. How can my husband and I get some time alone, and know that our kid is safely asleep?
Our baby monitor gives us peace of mind. I can check on them and know that they are just fine, asleep in bed like they’re supposed to be. I would be a nervous wreck without my trusty monitor – no, actually I would just stay in our room after they went to sleep.
There are all different kinds of monitors with varying levels of sophistication, features, and price. You can get audio monitors, video monitors, even wearable monitors which tell you Baby’s heart rate! We have a video monitor which we view on all of our devices (smartphones and tablets). We can listen in, talk to our kids, play music, and move the camera from the app! It sits on the kiddo’s dresser and is password-protected on our wifi.
I wrote a whole article here about the benefits of having a baby monitor, even as a cosleeping attachment parent. This is the video monitor we have, and aside from some app update requests we haven’t had any issues.
There you have it! This is a great starting point for building your registry, or getting gift ideas for a new baby. Remember to think about a newborn’s basic needs, and go from there.
Additionally, I do recommend BabyList if you are making a baby registry. You can essentially add items from any website or store (including Amazon and Etsy), as well as make up original entries for people to “purchase,” like a home-cooked meal or some cuddle time with the new baby.
Finally, I hope you check out all of my eBooks for newborns, called Real Simple Motherhood: The Fourth Trimester. You can get individual topic-based books on everything from sleep to feeding to diapering, or get the book which has it all! They’re well-researched, easy to read, and extremely thorough.
What would you add to this list for newborns? What baby items do you love?