Essential Items a Baby Actually Needs

Baby needs—there are so many things, but what do you really need? Do you need a bassinet? Do you need a diaper pail? Two? When you are about ready to have a baby, everyone has advice for things you have to have. As a mother of eight, here is my list of important baby items for new babies.


One Piece Outfits

Baby wearing onesie sleeping on bed with teddy bear

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You can live for a long while with only one-piece outfits. These one-piece, snap crotch articles of clothes are amazing. They come in colors, prints, and stripes. You can get long sleeve or short. You can also buy them just about anywhere. They fit nicely under other clothes for a warmer layering effect or you can wear them alone during warmer times. You can also add a pair of cute pants for another outfit selection. Can you tell I'm sold on these?



Dad changes diapers

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Okay, so you might believe that diapers are more important than the onesies, but I'm not sure about that. You do need diapers, whether cloth or disposables. Be sure to have at least a size of a newborn and the next size up, some newborns just aren't newborn sized!


Sling or Baby Carrier

Sleeping baby in a sling

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Personally, I think that slings are awesome. I like them much better than other types of carriers. Slings are good for discreet breastfeeding and just carrying a baby around. You can also use one sling to carry newborn twins or as they get older double sling using two slings. Some people like the padding, I have both varieties and it doesn't really matter to me. Get whatever appeals to you. My husband also enjoys wearing the sling.


First Aid Kit

Safety 1st Stock Up for Baby Kit

It is important to have some basics on hand for when baby arrives. Some infant acetaminophen or ibuprofen, rectal thermometer (and lubricant!), first aid cards with tips for what to do in emergencies, numbers of the pediatrician and local poison control and anything else your pediatrician recommends. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend Syrup of Ipecac. I usually add these to the health and grooming kits.


Place for Baby to Sleep

Couple assembling baby's crib in nursery

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You may ask yourself: do you need a bassinet? a crib? This is actually a personal opinion place. Notice it says a place for baby to sleep. You may have a crib if that is the right place for your family, but other families may choose co-sleeping or a cradle or any of a number of other variations. Preplanning and designing that space always makes it safer for baby. Be sure to follow ​all safety rules for your preferred method of sleep.


Car Seat

Mother putting baby in car in car seat

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Most people will require a car seat when leaving the hospital. Some families have two bases, which attach to the car seat to easily move the seat from car to car, others have a whole system for each car. Do what works for you. Local AAA, fire stations, and the others can help you install it safely.



Baby on Board Stroller
Photo © Adrianna Williams/Getty Images

A stroller is a must for me, but not everyone. I have other children, so the stroller is helpful for corralling someone, even if it isn't the baby (who is usually in a sling). This just makes trips out a bit easier for me and allows me to walk around the park and get some much-needed exercise. (They also sell double strollers.) You will want to know if it's a system, meaning it includes the car seat or a plain stroller. There is also stroller that is meant specifically for running or jogging.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.