What you do and don't need for a new baby

Enjoy this informative guest post from Jen Taylor with Mom Tricks. She has a ton of great information to help you figure out what you really need for a new baby. 

Congratulations! You’re pregnant!

I bet you’re excited, and rightfully so; this is going to be one of the most exciting (and nerve-wracking) times of your life. And if you’ve ever walked the baby gear items of Target or other similar stores, you’re probably overwhelmed with how many different items there are.

Then you think to yourself: how are we going to afford all of this?

The fact is that many new parents spend an excessive amount of money on things they don’t need! You’d be amazed at how many baby items you might think are essential are actually not even things you’ll end up using.

Here is my list of items you do and don’t need when shopping for your newest addition to the family!


When it comes to diapering, what you need is more or less straight-forward. But there are a couple of things you might think you need to get that really aren’t necessary.

  • Diapers: You definitely need diapers, and lots of them. The more economical and earth-friendly option is cloth diapers, but not everyone is prepared to deal with cleaning dirty diapers up. Don’t go too crazy on newborn-sized diapers, because they’re going to outgrow them quickly.
  • Wipes: You’ll also need wipes, but you could always make your own. I really like WellnessMama’s guide to making your own wipes, which uses paper towel, essential oils and castille soap. It’s way more healthy, too!
  • Changing pad: Instead of getting a full-sized changing table, which I’d never recommend, do get a small, cheap changing pad. Not only are they less expensive, but in practice, they’re much more convenient. Chances are that you’re going to be changing diapers all over the house, not just in the nursery.
  • Baby powder and ointment: You can’t really avoid these two vital parts of any diaper-changing kit. Rashes will happen, and there’s really no way around it.

As for things you might want but aren’t completely necessary, you can probably get away without having a dedicated diaper pail. I think this really depends on your trash situation, however. Diaper pails are meant to hold in the diaper smells, so if you’re going to throw them straight in the trash, be prepared to use smaller bags and take the trash out frequently.

Also, like I mentioned earlier, forget about getting a full-sized changing table. While they seem cute and super convenient for holding all of your diapering gear, in reality it’s not going to get much use. A changing pad works much better here!

In the Nursery

The nursery is a place where you can sink a lot of money, and it’s kind of hard to avoid doing so. Here’s what you really need when setting it up.

  • A place to sleep: While some parents will purchase a bassinet, it’s really not necessary and they’ll quickly outgrow it. Instead, get a good quality crib and mattress, and maybe a waterproof mattress protector. Don’t forget the bedding, too.
  • Storage: There’s really no way around it: you’ll need some storage for all of the diapers, clothes and other baby-related gear you’ll have around. I personally love to re-repurpose old storage furniture into nursery storage! If you don’t have any around, you can scour sites like Craigslist to see what’s available. Throw on a nice coat of paint and you can have something that looks super-cute for your little one’s nursery at a fraction of the price of what you’ll find at a baby store.
  • Baby monitor: Whether you go for a more-expensive video monitor or an audio-only model, you’ll need one of these.
  • A nightlight: This isn’t so much for your little one as it is for you. Trust me: when you have to go for a 4AM diaper change and feeding, you’ll appreciate being able to see what you’re doing!

As for things you don’t need for your nursery, the main thing is decorations. I know some people like to go crazy with putting up wallpaper, but it’s not so cute and fun in a few years when you have to take it down! Also, you don’t really need to get a rocker glider chair. As much as I like them, a regular old chair will do, and those glider chairs can be pretty expensive.

Baby Gear

Gear is where most parents end up spending so much of their baby budget, but there are still a few ways to save some money.

  • Car seat: Your little one has to come home from the hospital in a car seat, so you can’t really avoid it. In order to save some money in the long run, I’d recommend getting a convertible car seat, which saves you from buying a booster seat down the road.
  • Stroller or carrier: You need somewhere to tote your little one when you’re on the go, so a stroller or carrier is a necessity. Some parents might be fine with just a carrier, which would save you a lot of money, but it’s definitely not for everyone.
  • Diaper bag: They say not to put all of your eggs in one basket, but putting all of your baby items in one bag is awesome. However, you don’t need to buy an actual diaper bag! In fact, I totally recommend repurposing an old bag or even a backpack. A bonus of using a backpack is that your husband has no excuse not to carry it if it’s not some flowerly, frilly bag!


Get breastfeeding related items now, but hold off on those relating to solids!

  • Bottles and nipples: You’ll definitely need some of these, but don’t get too many of them at first. Some infants are really picky about the nipples, so there’s a chance you’ll have to try a few before you find one that works.
  • Burp cloths: You put these over your shoulder when you’re burping your little one. This is another good chance to repurpose some old cloths you might have around the house!
  • Nipple cream: If you’re going to breast feed, then trust me, you need some of this stuff.

There are a lot of feeding-related items that you might not want to worry about right now. For example, breast pumps can be very convenient, but they’re expensive and not everyone needs one. Also, when it comes time for solid foods, you’ll need bibs, a high chair, food storage, and maybe even a baby food maker.

I’d recommend waiting to purchase the solid food items, because you won’t need them for a while.

Other items you’ll want

Here are some more miscellaneous items you’ll want to get for sure.

  • Bath items: Baby-friendly soaps and shampoos, wash cloths, and towels. If you ask me, I’d skip getting a baby bath tub, because it’s not really necessary.
  • Care items: A thermometer is a necessity to make sure they’re not sick. Also, you’ll probably want a nasal aspirator to help clean out stuffy noses, and when they start to get their baby teeth, teething toys and baby pain relief are must-haves.
  • Clothes: If you’re setting up a baby registry, chances are that you’ll get a TON of clothes from friends and family.
  • Pacifiers: Another must-have item.
  • Swaddle blanket: Not everyone will want to swaddle, but I’d seriously recommend it!

I hope this helps!

I sincerely hope that this guide helps you with planning for your new baby. It’s so easy to go overboard with buying, but with the right knowledge and a little planning and DIY, you can save so much money! Which is great, because college is expensive, right?

mom tricksJennifer Taylor is the proud mama of two, a full-time puppy wrangler and part-time blogger at Mom Tricks. Follow her on PinterestTwitter and Facebook.