In my opinion part of the fun of a baby is getting to pick out cute baby items. There are so many adorable options, be it clothes, toys, nursery decorations, etc. So naturally once you find out you are pregnant you’re probably going to start surfing the internet to get that baby registry going! In my case, though, especially after working with kids, I wondered why I would need all of the crap baby websites try to push on you. So I decided to make a minimalist baby registry.
I know it can become very overwhelming if you feel like you have to buy everything that the baby registry websites tell you to. Especially if you’re on a tight budget. I’m here to tell you that you don’t need it all.
What exactly do you need, though? Well, everyone will likely have a different opinion on that so do what works for your family. But after working in childcare and now having my own baby, this is a list of the items I consider essential.
Of course, I would say there’s probably always more that you could cut to make things ultra minimalist (after all, people survived having babies before a lot of these products existed, right?). But I feel like if the help that an item provides makes it worth the money and space it takes up and you have the budget for it then why not make life that much easier?
So here is my guide for what to include in a minimalist baby registry.
Ok, so for this category it’s totally up to you how much you want to get, but I will say that if you’re trying to make a minimalist baby registry then hold off on buying clothing. This is the sort of thing you are likely to get at your baby shower (unless like me you do a gender reveal shower).
In all honesty, one part of the reason I did a gender reveal baby shower was actually because I wanted to minimize the amount of clothing I got from people.
Once you are closer to your date and don’t think you’ll be getting many more clothes from other people then if you still need more outfits I would pick some footie pajamas (you won’t really need anything other than that for a while). In my opinion having in the range of 10 outfits is a good amount.
Another way to limit clothing purchases is to go for size 0-3 months rather than newborn because they grow out of that size so so quickly. I actually don’t think my baby boy wore any newborn sized clothes, although we had a few for backup.
These are items that you don’t necessarily need right away, but after a few months there’s a decent chance you will want some.
I say this because my baby boy is super duper drooly and also loves putting things in his mouth (like the part of his outfit closest to his mouth) so he definitely needs them. But he didn’t need any until he was a few months old because in his newborn stage drooling wasn’t much of an issue.
This is kind of a personal preference item, what sort of bathing item you want to go for. I got a sponge because I wanted something cheap and easy to store. I also liked that it keeps his back warm since it soaks up water.
After using ours I wring it out, hang it to let it dry, then fold it in half and stuff it into an out of the way area. Honestly, though, this is also something I don’t feel you technically need. So I’d consider it another thing you could cut out of a minimalist baby registry. It’s helpful, but if you so desire it’s very easy to just hold your baby in the shower and wash that way.
A good way to go about this is if you are planning on taking a shower yourself then take baby in with you. You then lather baby up, rinse, and hand him or her off to daddy. After that proceed to shower yourself!
This is also not necessary, depending on what washcloths you already have. We did buy some soft little baby washcloths because the ones we already had were really cheap dollar priced ones from Target. These worked fine for us, but I didn’t super like the idea of using them on my newborn since they weren’t very soft.
A regular cup can work for this, but I find it helpful to have a bath rinser that has a lip to avoid getting water in baby’s eyes. It’s also not very expensive.
This is a MUST BUY in my opinion. It is seriously so incredibly nice and reassuring to be able to see what your baby is doing. This is nice for whether they are sleeping in their own room or if you’re just leaving them in a room by themselves for a nap.
Babies are very used to the sound of your womb, which is pretty loud. If you keep the room quiet this is likely to wake them up because it is so disconcerting to them.
Because of this you will definitely want a sound machine; just make sure it doesn’t have a timer feature that will shut it off after a certain period of time.
If you’re going ultra minimalist or just have a really small space then a full size crib is not strictly necessary. I originally didn’t even plan to get one because I figured I would just use the travel crib as a full time crib.
We did end up with one because the family I was nannying for gave us their old crib, but I stand by the idea of not needing to buy one for a minimalist baby registry.
Even if you do want to get a full size crib, I love having a travel one because it makes life so much more flexible. If you want to go over somewhere, like a friend or family member’s house, during nap time it’s not a huge deal to just set this up in a back room.
I recommend the Lotus travel crib because it has breathable sides, is easy to set up and tear down, and the mattress lays against the ground rather than being suspended, meaning that it doesn’t have a weight limit.
You’ll also probably want to consider getting a bassinet unless you plan on doing co-sleeping.
Whatever type of crib you choose, you are going to want a couple of extra sheets. This is to make doing laundry easier and in case there is some kind of incident, such as a diaper blowout or throw up, that gets on one.
If you have a travel crib then I absolutely recommend that you get one of these as well. If you think your baby will ever be sleeping in locations besides home then it’s worth it. It’s basically a little blackout sleeping tent (made of breathable material) that goes over the travel crib and makes it super dark. There’s even a spot for a video monitor too.
Because I got this I haven’t had to worry about if baby boy is going to sleep at grandma’s house or when we spend the night out of town and he’s in the same room as us.
If you are not going to be using a SlumberPod + travel crib setup full time then you’ll want to try to make baby’s room as dark as possible. I just got a cheap blackout blind from Amazon, which is definitely not a perfect solution since it doesn’t fit flush against the window, but I lined the perimeter with duct tape to make it work.
These are an absolute must for the newborn days. They will help baby sleep so much better.
Initially I thought that regular blankets would be better for a minimalist baby registry, but we struggled so much to swaddle baby boy in them. And if you get swaddles then you don’t even really need regular blankets, although they can be nice to have around (you’ll likely get some at your baby shower either way).
For more info about great newborn sleep products check out my post 7 Best Baby Sleep Products.
You’ll probably want a place to change baby other than the floor, although I have also known families who have just gone that route. Do what works for you. But it’s really nice to have a changing pad, and what’s even nicer is having one that is wipeable.
You’ll notice that a lot of changing pads on the market use cloth covers, and to me this has never made a lot of sense. If baby makes a big mess on them you have to take off the cover to wash.
That’s why I love the Keekaroo peanut changer. It’s a cushy material so it’s still comfortable for baby, but it’s completely wipeable. I consider it a better minimalist baby registry item than other changing pads because you’re actually buying less things (no covers).
There are a few other non-cloth changing pads available as well that are cheaper than the Keekaroo. I chose the Keekaroo, though, because as a nanny I saw this thing all over the place and knew that it was a good product.
At some point you’re going to want something to protect baby’s little bottom from rashes. My little guy actually didn’t have any rashes until he was around 5 months old, at which point he had a little bit of a pooping problem for a few weeks. Almost every single diaper change was poopy, and he was even waking up in the middle of the night to poop.
Because of this there ended up being a handful of times when I didn’t know he needed to be changed again (breastfed baby poop doesn’t always smell that much so it can be hard to detect if you don’t actually see or hear baby pooping). So baby boy ended up with a pretty red bottom. Definitely good to have some cream on hand for when they’re hurting like that.
Honestly just something that will fit well and be absorbent. It’s also really nice when they have the yellow line down the center that turns blue when the diaper is wet.
We went with Pampers, and they have worked well for us. I liked the idea of cloth diapers, but my husband was not on board with that so we didn’t go that route. It’s a great option, though, if you really want to work to save money, especially if you plan on having more kids.
I’m not personally a big fan of diaper specific pales because I find them to be overly complicated and they end up smelling really badly. I got a simple metal, pedal operated trash can by Simple Human.
I liked getting a smaller size too because I knew that we probably wouldn’t ever get around to changing the bag until the pale was full, and I didn’t want a giant bag full of old diapers sitting around.
I got this idea from a family I nannied for and thought that it was brilliant. Especially if you are going with a trash can that is more prone to smell then these are great.
Just keep these at your diaper changing station, and use one for the poopy diapers to really minimize smell. I keep on in our diaper bag as well for disposing of diapers on the go.
So this is not something that everyone will necessarily need, but I do recommend getting one, even if you plan to exclusively breastfeed. Especially because you should be able to get one for free through your health insurance.
I honestly didn’t plan on using mine all that often, and nowadays I pretty much never do. I did, however, have kind of a rough start to breastfeeding and, long story short, ended up exclusively pumping for the first couple of months of baby boy’s life before I was finally able to get him to latch again. Because of that I was so thankful to have a pump around.
This is something that I think every nursing mother should have. It is seriously a GENIUS product. You literally just attach it to the opposite breast from the one baby is eating from, your body gets signaled that there is a baby feeding on that side as well due to the suction, and you get a letdown on that side that gives you milk you don’t even have to pump.
I don’t use it every feeding because I don’t need that much pumped milk, but I do use it in the morning so that later in the day I can give him a couple of ounces in a bottle with a Ready, Set, Food! packet. You could also just add it to a freezer stash as backup.
If you’re nursing you will probably want these to prevent leaking. You can either get cotton reusable ones to stick in the wash or disposable.
Another nursing must-have because you’re probably going to need to feed baby while out and about at some point unless you want to stay home 24/7. I like this one from Bebe Au Lait because it is made of a breathable material, has a beautiful pattern, and is easy to maneuver.
These are great for cleaning up little baby spills if you keep them nearby. The main purpose I used these for was earlier on in nursing underneath baby’s head.
He was a little bit of a messy eater, and sometimes I would end up with a bunch of milk leaking from his mouth. This happened in particular during the beginning of a feeding when my flow was faster. Using a burp cloth helped keep both of us dry.
Even if you are nursing, you will probably want the option to leave baby with someone else for at least a short period of time.
Now I’m not necessarily one to speak on how to get baby to take a bottle if you’re struggling with that because my little guy never took issue with bottle feedings.
But if you can introduce a bottle early (using a slow flow nipple if breastfeeding) that will likely help, and it will give you more freedom.
It’s true that baby won’t be eating out of a high chair at first, but I still completely recommend getting one early. This is because from the time baby boy was a few months old I started sitting him in it so he could watch me.
I needed to be able to get things like dishes, laundry, eating meals, etc. done and couldn’t always be holding him. I found that as long as he was up high enough to be able to watch what I was doing he was fairly content.
We love our Graco high chair because it is so incredibly versatile. Some of it’s functions include high chair, booster chair, toddler chair, and a little table. Right now I use it as a regular high chair and sometimes take the chair off the legs to put baby boy on the counter so he can see what I’m doing that much better.
Important for once baby starts eating food to keep outfits clean. I recommend the kind you can wipe off so it’s one less laundry item.
Not strictly necessary, but I do believe it is important to give babies good tasting food so that they develop an enjoyment of eating new things.
I find it to be no wonder kids become so picky if they’re being given gross jarred baby foods like pureed beef and peas that’s been sitting on a shelf.
I am psyched to try out my America’s Test Kitchen Baby and Toddler Cookbook because I love America’s Test Kitchen.
Obviously a must have for getting around. We got a Graco 4Ever car seat because they have great reviews, and I wanted one that would be convertible so that we wouldn’t have to replace it as our child grew.
Stroller + accessories
Not everyone would consider this a must-have right off the bat, but you will probably want one at some point, if not right away.
I didn’t start using mine much at all until baby boy was around 5 months old because he just didn’t like it. It was easier to just throw him in a baby wrap or carrier where he was happy.
That said, I do like the stroller that we purchased, which is an Uppababy Vista. These strollers are great, but they are also insanely expensive. Because of that the one we got was a rather old model from Craigslist. Of course it’s nice to get a shiny new one, but in my case I took $400 for one that was still in great condition over $1200 for shiny and new.
So so nice for when baby is little. I know there are some people who even keep their newborn perpetually strapped to them throughout the day to keep them happy and get them to sleep easily. I say if this works for you then go for it.
For me, I did this occasionally, but I found it much harder to get things done with a baby strapped to my front. I also ended up getting really sweaty doing housework while baby wearing. I did, however, use the wrap almost exclusively whenever we went out. Now that baby boy is bigger we have graduated to the carrier.
My advice for a diaper bag (after using many different kinds as a nanny) is to get one that is gender neutral so dad will feel comfortable carrying it and one that is a backpack. Shoulder strap bags get so heavy and are such a pain to lug around.
We got one by the brand Product of the North, and it looks like it is currently sold out. But there are lots of options out there.
Health and baby care
You need to be able to check baby’s temperature so you can know if they have a fever.
Different babies have different preferences when it comes to pacifiers so you might want to buy a few different ones to start with. My baby uses Bibs pacifiers, although while he was a newborn we had a very hard time getting any pacifier to stay in his mouth.
He liked the pacifier and wanted to suck it, but as soon as we gave it to him it would fall out, making him upset. This got better with time, and by 4 or 5 months old he could keep it in his mouth and even put it there himself.
Baby nails get long FAST so you are going to want a good way to trim those suckers.
I think this is especially true if you are breastfeeding because if your baby it like mine they will end up rubbing their hands up and down you while eating which can HURT if their nails are not clipped. Seriously, at times they can feel like little needles.
I do find clipping baby’s nails a bit nerve wracking, but the nail scissors make it way easier. Much better than nail clippers.
Baby strength medicine
If baby gets sick with a fever you will want something to help bring it down. Keep baby Advil and Tylenol in stock in case you need them.
Books and Toys
It is so important to read to babies. Reading to kids helps them learn language skills quicker and is just generally good for their brains. And if you start reading to them early then they will be able to sit and listen to books better at an older age.
These fall under books, but at our house they are used more as toys than for reading. Basically these are books made of material that little kids can pull on, crumple, and put in their mouths, and they do not rip.
I will say they do get wrinkled, but my baby loves crumpling these things and playing with them.
This and the following toys are just some great classic baby toy ideas that you can’t go wrong with. Baby really doesn’t need all that many toys, especially if you’re going for a minimalist baby registry, but here are a few that are nice to have around.
You will probably get some stuffed animals and other toys as gifts, and your baby won’t play with them at first. But it can be fun to pick out a few really cute ones to keep in baby’s room. In my case I got a set of Winnie the Pooh stuffed animals because Pooh is my favorite.
It is so easy to become overwhelmed with all of the baby items. Baby registry websites try to sell you on so much crap. But if you are expecting and are worried about having to buy so much stuff, take a deep breath. You do not need as much stuff as people say you do, and if you know what categories of things you actually need then it is totally possible to make a minimalist baby registry.
What are your must-have minimalist baby registry items?
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.