How much stuff do you really need for a baby?

Updated 4/18/19

I don’t intend this to be the baby blog, but since I put together a list for a friend, I thought I would put some tips accumulated from the last 4 or 5 16 months into one post, as well as things we bought for baby that I found useful. I thought I would put it in one place so I can point to it again if I need to.

What to Buy:


Harvey Karp is a genius and his advice on calming babies is magic.

Here is the shusher – seriously, this thing is magic, and it’s only real failing is that at most it will stay on for a half hour. I thought about recording it and making a longer version of the sound for us to use but never did. A combo of swaddling/hot water bottle to warm the bed/white noise/shusher helped us get her sleeping really well at night. (This is referenced below in the “general advice” too.)

At first we used a little plastic tub in the sink for baths because she was so tiny. But without a month maybe, we started using this tub which will work for baby and toddler, and it has a newborn insert.  We didn’t give her a ton of baths.  She didn’t really like them. They don’t really  need them that often at first. She tends to get formula in her neck folds so once that happens, she needed a bath!

Once she was older, about 6 months old or so and could sit up well, we transitioned her to the bathtub but put her on this bath support. We only used it for a month or two before she didn’t need it at all and could just sit in the bath tub:

This duck is great for telling you the temp of the water and if it’s too hot or cold:

We bought a pack n play with the infant insert. She slept in the infant insert until she could roll and then we started putting her in the bottom.   She slept there til she was ready for her crib.  She still naps in this at daycare and when we travel she uses it for overnight.   It is fairly sizeable (which is good once they start getting bigger but aren’t ready for the crib yet) and won’t fit through the doorway without folding it.  It is really portable for trips though so we are happy with it.

The mattress is super hard, so based on amazon comments and reviews I bought this mattress to go in it. It’s still firm enough that I don’t think it is a sleep hazard, but it’s more comfortable than what comes with it.

These sheets fit that mattress and are nice and soft:

And I also got a waterproof mattress cover.

This is the diaper pail we bought and I’ve been really happy with it so far. I do recommend throwing poopy diapers out in the regular trash because they smell up SO quickly.

We did buy these deodorizers and put a few in the bottom of the diaper pail and I think they helped.

This is the diaper bag we bought and I love it. I highly recommend hands-free because you have enough stuff to carry. This you can put on your back and not have to tie up a hand holding it. It has a ton of pockets too.

You’ll probably want to buy like one of each type of pacifier to see what baby likes. Mine only liked one kind. So I have just bought more of those.  Also, once baby hits about 3-4 months, you’ll want little clips because I cannot tell you how many pacifiers have totally disappeared on us. They are great for keeping small toys attached to baby so they don’t end up on the floor.

These are the pacifiers mine likes. (They come in random colors so I have received pink and blue both.)

These are the best burp clothes, and they double as little security blankets. Once it was safe to have things in the crib with her, we gave her one as a way to soothe herself. She’d kneed it with her hands and put it against her cheek. They are like her security blanket. She loves them still at age 16 months:

On formula:  it’s best to use the pre-mixed stuff if you can afford it (it’s suuuper expensive) while they are a newborn, because there is  less chance for contamination.  After 3 months, you can switch to powdered (much cheaper) and just use filtered tap water with it.

Bottle wise (for formula or pumped milk), we really liked the Dr. Browns bottles because they are supposed to cut down on the amount of air they get and thus cut down on gas. This set has small and larger bottles both.  Initially, for bottle feeding, they’ll only take 2 oz at a time, and then you’ll build up to 4.  By 4 months, they can take 6 or more.   The amount she eats varies a lot even now, so we still use both sizes depending on how much we are giving her.  At first you’ll want the number 1 nipples that come with these. By 3 months, you’ll probably want to buy some number 2 ones and switch them out, like if the baby seems like they aren’t getting enough out of the bottle. We forgot there were multiple sizes.  And you definitely don’t want to give a newborn size 2, the flow will be too much.

For gas, we used mylicon drops – you can get it at a drugstore or amazon. It’s safe and you can use it in every bottle.  We think it helped?? It definitely helps now that we are using powdered formula because shaking it up creates a ton of air bubbles and that stuff dissolves them.

This is the formula we used – the pre-mixed stuff. They come in little 2 oz bottles. They do not need to be refrigerated.  Once the baby’s mouth is on a bottle, you basically have an hour with it. After that you have to get rid of it because of the bacteria in their mouths.

If you do decide to use formula, get on Similac (or Enfamil or whatever brand you use)’s mailing list and they will send you coupons.

Many people recommend gripe water for fussiness or gas.  Test them with it first to make sure they don’t have a reaction to it. It should be safe but if you read amazon reviews, sometimes a baby vomits because of it. But most of them do fine.  My only advice is do NOT use the dropper that comes with it. It’s too much liquid for them.  Put it in their formula or breast milk, or dropper it very very slowly in their mouths.  We didn’t realize and she had a bad coughing episode because we didn’t realize we gave her it too much too fast.  After that I read that their dropper sucks.

Bottle brush: we belatedly discovered this one has a nipple cleaner screwed into the base. It’s much nicer than the little wire brush we were using.

We bought a microwave sterilizer for bottles and bottle accesssories too. We switched to mostly the dishwasher after 3 months when she is less vulnerable. You’ll want a bottle rack for drying stuff too. We got both these things from a brick-and-morter store.

Also, re bottles, I have heard it recommend to NOT get a bottle warmer.  If they get used to bottles being warmed, it’ll be hard to feed them if you are out and about and can’t warm it.   We have not used a warmer.  The only time you need one probably is if you’re using fridged formula (the powdered needs to be fridged) or frozen breast milk that you have thawed.  But maybe hold off til you think you need it.

Should you use powdered formula, this is great for travel:

And for mixing large batches of formula:

Once gas wasn’t an issue anymore, around 7 months old or so, we swapped to easier to clean bottles that didn’t have so many parts. We used these Gerber First Essential bottles.  Be aware that they come with newborn nipples, so you will have to buy higher flow nipples if your baby is older.

These are the fast flow ones:

We didn’t get a wipe warmer on advice from a friend. She said once they get used to warm wipes, you’ll never be able to clean them if you have non-warmed ones!!

Boppy pillows are great for breastfeeding. If you have one and intend to breastfeed, bring it to the hospital with you! We never used ours, so for us the Bobby wasn’t a necessity.

I was recommend the ergo carrier – it’s much better for the baby’s hip joints than other carriers.   If you do get it, you need an infant insert for it (which I did not realize).

Stain sticks are a must. :-)

This diaper changing clutch is great.  You can stick wipes and diapers in the pocket, and if you’re in a restaurant or something, you don’t have to bring the whole diaper bag. Just loop this on your arm and grab the baby and go!  I use this a lot. I usually restock the diapers and wipe it down (since it touches the changing tables in the bathrooms) after I use it. I keep it in the diaper bag. (We still use this at 16 months.)

This is the carrier seat cushion we  bought and used when she was an infant. We used the neck pillow longer than the cushion until she outgrew it.

This is the baby monitor we bought, I’ve been happy with it. It looks out of stock, but maybe there is a newer model?

This stroller was recc’d to me by a friend and it’s the one we bought. The stroller is nice and light and I can lift it by myself. It deploys really easily (once you figure out how) and I can do that one-handed. It comes with the carrier, one car base, and the stroller.  The stroller can be used once they outgrow the carrier too.

Elena used this baby seat at maybe 2 months old and she’s now outgrown it.

We bought this baby seat (it comes in a bunch of color ways) to replace it.  Watch the prices though – it has gone from 28 bucks to 44 bucks every other day. Don’t buy it for 44 bucks.  This chair will be perfect once baby is 3-4 months old – you can use it into the toddler years.   One of the other babies at Elena’s day care has one and she loves it, so that’s why we bought it.  :-)

Once baby is around 3 months old, and starts gripping things, it’s time for toys! Elena loves this ring:

We bought this playmat and we’ve used it with her for months now. She loves it. They have a bunch of different colorways on this too. We bought a second one for her during the day at daycare.  And it has a little pillow that is good for propping them up for tummy time.®Mode=REGST®istryId=d45d19fb85364d67924d5ba3a5d356ad®istryType=baby&itemLineNum=20&backLinkName=my%20registry&backLinkUrl=%2Fgift-registry%2Fmyitems%3FregistryId%3Dd45d19fb85364d67924d5ba3a5d356ad%26type%3DBABY%26lnk%3Dreg_dashboard_manage%26lnk%3Dreg_mode_pdp&pageFrom=myitems

A friend recommended this nasal aspirator to me – it worked really well to suction snot out of her nose during her first cold. She doesn’t know how to blow her nose yet, so it’s the only way to get the stuff out. Also note you’ll want to buy the filters – one comes with it, but you’ll want a pack of them.

This is the white noise machine we bought – it only does white noise, but it seems effective.

I wish I had bought this sooner – Elena loves to play with my necklaces and this one she can put in her mouth and not worry about yanking on too hard.

We bought a mirror for the car that didn’t work and that I hated and then it took me forever to pick something else out. I finally bought this and I love it and wish I’d had it all along.

I also highly recommend a stroller bag clip. You can hook shopping bags to it and it’s totally useful.  I got this one (don’t remember where I bought it from, didn’t see it on Amazon), but Amazon has a ton of different kinds. We still use this ALL the time.

One more thing we bought when I was pregnant that we use a ton now – the Leka playmat from IKEA. It keeps her off the floor and there is lots of room for her to kick it out and now that she is a little more observant she likes playing with the animals on it. We keep it out pretty much all the time now in the family room.

Keep in mind that if you spend a certain amount on your Amazon registry, you get a discount on whatever else is left on it after your due date.  So add tons of stuff to your registry so it’ll count. Also, be sure to check at the top, because they also will give you other discounts. I got 100 bucks towards diapers and wipes.

More stuff 5+ months:

Here are some things we bought a bit later on.

Once baby is ready to start learning to use sippy cups, these transitional ones are good. She won’t spill when she plays with it. After these we moved to straw cups. It’s great to have them learn how to use straws.  And now that she is 16 months old, we are getting very tired of cleaning a million parts to these sippy cups so we moved on to the RE-Play cup, which you can machine wash and only has 2 parts.

Here’s a rec for when baby starts sitting up and using high chairs. We bought this after a friend recommended it and we tried theirs out. It has its own tray which means they are far enough from the table that they can’t grab anything (hot plates/silverwear) and it is light, easy to clean (you an just dump it outside), and it fits nicely in the trunk even with the stroller there. Worth every penny. Makes restaurants easy, we keep ours in the car and use it all the time! We still use this at 17 months. I miss it when we are traveling and don’t have it. It is worth its weight in gold. (This remains one of the best things we purchased. She has finally outgrown it and it makes me sad.)

ciao! Baby Portable High Chair, Black,

We lucked out and got one of these jumparoos, that looked brand new, from a garage sale, for 10 bucks. If you can find one used, it’s worth while. We have used it pretty much every night from around 4 or 5 months (after she could support her head unassisted) until around 9 months. We’ve been using it less lately mostly because she doesn’t need something to tire her out as much now that she can crawl. But the jumparoo was great because it entertained her, let us rest a bit while we watched her, and got that last burst of energy out right before bed. We would put her in it after we got her in her PJs, but before we read her stories and gave her her bottle. It let her expend her last energy. Once she started fussing and acting tired, we’d take her out and proceed with bedtime. I think she is outgrowing it now, which makes me a little sad because she had a fun time playing with it.

Bamba peanut snacks! They dissolve easily in the mouth so babies without teeth can eat them and they aren’t a big choking hazard and you can easily work peanuts into your baby’s diet to help them not develop an allergy.  These were much easier than peanut butter, and if you google, you can find a study that showed Israeli kids had a lower incidence of peanut allergies because kids all eat these there.

Once baby has teeth, you gotta start brushing them!

baby toothpaste:

Bibs. We used cloth bibs for a while, but then she started eating solids and making a mess. We tried some velcro pocket bibs that were cute, but she started pulling those off. I moved to these silicone ones and we love them. They stay on, that pocket catches everything, and they clean pretty easily. We still use these at 16 months.

Once she outgrew the ergo carrier and we wanted to go hiking and have Elena on one of our backs, we switched to this Lillebaby carrier. It can be used front or back.

High chair – we don’t have a ton of space so we wanted something relatively small. We bought this one and have been happy with it:

12+ months:

Linked above, but I will link it here. At 16 months we just started using these sippy cups that are easy to clean.

Child safety locks! It had to happen sometime. We used these and have been happy with them. They are on her dresser drawers, a few in the kitchen… and now on the toilets. They are easy to open and close for adults and have stuck very well.

Our first bath kneeler started smelling terrible, so we replaced it with this, which we like very much. It’s much better than our first one.


Board books are great for babies and Elena loves being read to – but storing them so we can see what we have has been tough. We bought this – we have it in our family room, but it can eventually go in her room. It was easy to put together and lightweight.

Here are some of the ones Elena likes best.
1) Goodnight Moon – a classic.
2) If Animals Kissed Goodnight – the rhymes in this are great and she loves hearing it. And the illustrations are super cute.
2a) If Animals Said I Love You:
3) Never Touch a Monster/Dragon/Dinosaur – these books have rubbed textures that she *loves* and cute rhymes. They have several books and we have them all. She still loves these at 16 months.
4) Giraffes Can’t Dance:
5) The Jellycat “If I were a…” series. They have a ton of these touch and feel books, they are all cute, and they have matching stuffed animals. Elena loves the books, and she has a couple of the stuffed animals. I’m partial to the elephant. ( We have a mini version of the cow that she sleeps with every night. I think the scale is just right for her. (
6) If you ever see a Disco Fish:
7) Do You Believe in Groovicorns:
7) If you ever meet a Groovicorn:
8. Feminist Baby:
9. Feminist Baby Finds Her Voice:


These are the ones she played with most.

Early toys:

Sophie the giraffe: We got this as a gift and Elena LOVED it. She chewed on it for months. It was her fav. So worth the price.

Stacking rings:

This tea set – super cute. It’s pink yes. But the teapot has cute music that isn’t obnoxious and Elena loved it even though she’s too young to pretend to drink tea yet.

We got this egg set as a hand-me-down and Elena LOVES it. Would definitely buy again.

Bath floats. These are cute and have held up well.

Once Elena could stand, this Office Learning Center was very popular. She still plays with it.

Mega Bloks – these giant Lego-like blogs are super fun.

Fisher Price Medical Kit – paging Dr. Baby!

Elena loved this ramp for a period, after she figured out how to use it. Now she ignores the ramp but loves bouncing the balls on our kitchen floor. So I guess we’ve gotten our money’s worth.

This walker was a huge hit with her when she was a sitter and than a crawler and helped her learn to walk. She pushed it around for a while before she learned to walk on her own.  She still will push it around now that she’s firmly a walker.

1+ year toys:

I was looking for more advanced toys for her to play with and found this. You have to decide if the cars will be choking hazards for your kid, but she’s enjoyed playing with it. I keep the cars away from her when she’s not playing with them so she won’t be tempted to eat them.

I wanted more exciting bath toys for her. As the reviews say, it doesn’t stick great (for us, one suction cup has stuck the whole time we’ve had it and one has never stuck) but Elena loves playing with this so it was worth the money.

Nesting boxes and cars. Really cute and she will play with this for a few years to come.

Elena kept wanting to use the big broom, so I bought her this little set. She’s obsessed – but I have hide it from her because she’s a menace with even the short handles. So beware of that.

Elena loves playing with pots and pans so I got her this mini-set I thought would be quieter for her to bang around. And lighter. She likes them though she still plays with the big pots too.

Picnic basket! I love this.

These little friction powered trucks are great:

General (sleep) Advice:

Babies can be intimidating. And I was given lots of negative “advice” – you’ll never sleep again, everything is going to change (like it’s a threat, not a good thing), you’ll never eat out again, etc etc. I was terrified. We like our lives. We wanted to add to it, not take away.

Also, every baby is different and you don’t know what you will get until they’re there. Colic is a crap shoot. We (for once) rolled a good die number; it did not land on colic.

For a non-colic-y baby, here some stuff that worked for us. Your mileage may vary.

One of my friends said the best advice she got was to not tiptoe around the baby while they are sleeping. If they get used to sleeping while people are making noise or the TV or music is on, then you won’t have to worry about them only being able to sleep while it’s totally silent. That has worked well for us in regards to napping – at least until she was 3 or 4 months old and started to have more discrete sleep and awake times. And until we moved her into her own room/she hit the 4 month sleep regression/we had to stop swaddling her.

Young babies are super portable, and we found that Elena napped quite nicely at restaurants. She found the white noise of the background peaceful, and tended to naturally gravitate towards napping around lunch and dinner time. So she was super easy. Around 3 month old, her napping shifted and she started waking around meal times. She still did fine. I would take her out, sit her on my knee and let her

At first, it was scary and she felt like a ticking time bomb that might go off any minute. But she never really did in restaurants.  Her first one was a week after she was born, and she cried in the car but we took her out of her carrier and she was fine. But give them a try.  We started with places where we could pay up front and leave when we needed to.  But we’ve not had a problem.

We had friends and family babysit for us pretty early so we could see Star Wars or go grocery shopping.  We liked the idea too of her being used to other trustworthy adults.

When she was smaller I would shower during her naps, but when she was 3-4 months old, I just put her in the bassinet and give her some toys, and then shower.  Once she got to 6-9 months old, she hated being in the crib by herself when awake so it was very hard to shower.  We had to switch up our morning schedule so we would both be home so we could take turns.

Re: sleeping

When they are newborns really, they are too young for schedules or sleep training.  What you want to do is help them differentiate between day and night.  So during the day, even during naps, leave the lights on, and keep things bright.  At night, turn off lights, keep things dim and cosy.  When the get a little older still, you can start developing a bedtime routine to signal that it’s night and bedtime.  This likely won’t be effective til they are 2-3 months old. We found reading to her didn’t work until she was closer to 4 months old. But the idea of dim lights, maybe a bath (ours hated them and they didn’t relax her, though much later when we moved to the real tub, around 9 months old, she loved them), a story, and then some rocking to sleepiness worked.

We were putting her down pretty late, between 10-11pm at first, because we didn’t want her waking up for the day at like 4am.  But we’ve slowly shifted it a bit earlier. Now it’s between 8:30-9:30.

Getting a baby who doesn’t like the bassinet to sleep in it can be really tricky.

Our best luck came with using the pack and play with bassinet insert, with a better mattress.  We would turn a white noise machine on, warm the mattress with a hot water bottle so the transition from warm arms to cold mattress wasn’t so stark, and kept the lights dim as possible. And we used the shusher.

The shusher comes from Harvey Karp, the Happiest Baby.  The current theory is there are things you can do to sooth the baby that mimic the womb environment.  They are: 1) shushing the baby – a literal SSHHHH SSSHHHHH sound.  It mimics them hearing your heartbeat and digestion and other body sounds and it triggers a relaxation reflex in them.  They actually have a shusher you can buy, and it’s magic.  We use it every night.  2) Swaddling is the other thing – it makes them feel like they are in utero again, and dampens the startle reflex, and helps them sleep. The hospital taught us how to do it.  Some babies like it, some don’t, but it always stopped the crying. There are tutorials on this on Youtube.  And 3) putting them in a football hold, tilt them down slightly (they are used to being upside down) and gently jiggling them.  All three of these things will help with crying – you can find youtube videos that demonstrate and you can find a DVD on Amazon too.