Frugal Living » The Only 5 things a Newborn Really Needs

The Only 5 things a Newborn Really Needs

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The Only 5 things a Newborn Really Needs


With the excitement of a new baby joining the family, new parents can quickly become overwhelmed with the cost of all the ‘stuff’ that goes with a new baby. Did you know the average cost for a child is around $240,000? With so many unnecessary items on the market today, no wonder the costs of raising children are skyrocketing.


Corporations try to sell you their products, swearing life cannot go on without the latest convenience items. But is this all necessary? The secret is there are only 5 necessary items for a newborn! That’s it. The following will be a list of items a new parent needs…and items that are completely unnecessary.

1. Car seat – As required by law, a baby cannot even leave the hospital unless strapped into a car seat. However, a new seat is not required! Look for a gently used one on craigslist, garage sales, and from friends. Do your research! Manufacturers will sometime recall baby seats or set an expiration date for certain models. This information can be found on their websites.

2. Food– Whether you choose to breastfeed exclusively or use formula, making sure there is enough food for your newborn is the first priority. Along with this can come the costs of bottles depending on how that food is distributed to the child. Before spending large sums of money on the newest model of baby bottles, look into buying second hand. Bottles can last for years and can be reused over and over. Nipples, on the other hand, would be a smart investment and should be purchased new. After a while, the nipple material can break down and the integrity compromised. Just make sure the nipple matches the type of bottle.

3. Diapers – Whether you choose cloth or disposable, diapers are one item a parent does not want to live without! Period.

4. Clothes – There are so many cute, but unnecessary outfits, that are available for babies. Newborns are NOT easy to dress, however, and simpler is better! Depending on your climate, stick to the two basic items, onesies, and footed sleepers. Onesies are simply a long shirt with snaps between the legs. These are fairly easy to slide on and off with minimal trouble. Footed sleepers are great for colder days/nights. If you can, buy the kind with the zipper down the front and avoid the snap ones. Zippers are so quick and convenient with a squirmy baby.

5. Blankets – Blankets can be extremely functional and transitional. A blanket can be a swaddling cloth, a wipe, a burp cloth, a warm layer, a soft bed, and a bib. There are so many uses for blankets, that I find that having one or two fluffy warm blankets and about 8 thin receiving blankets will encompass many needs.

You may be wondering about baby swings, bouncers, cribs, bumbo seats, and many other convenience items. Although nice to have, none are actually necessary for the survival of your baby. If you truly want a baby swing or bouncer, try borrowing from a friend for a while before making the purchase. Many babies will never like a swing or will refuse to sleep in a crib.

With my first child, I purchased a crib, swing, bouncer, johnny jumper, etc and quickly found this baby only liked to play on the floor. What a waste of money! Here are several other items that are extremely unnecessary, but treated as if a parent is not thinking of the child’s safety if not purchased.

1. Fancy bedding sets – You infant will not care if there is an entire matching set surrounding him/her upon arrival in your home. Besides, how many millions of cases are there about child fatalities from bumper pads and big quilts? Avoid the cost and risk, don’t bother!

2. Changing Table – A child’s diaper can be changed ANYWHERE! It does not have to be on a designated table with the ‘proper’ padding and safety restraint. Decades of children have survived diaper changes on a couch, floor, bed, and even the kitchen table (gasp!). Two good rules are to always have one hand (and one eye) on the baby and to put a blanket between the baby and whatever surface you choose.

3. Baby bathtub – Did you know that your house already comes with one? The little babies can go straight into the sink, with a towel or blanket on the bottom, and the older can go straight into the big tub. Amazingly simple. Not as cute, but very functional and every house already has one. Most sinks even have the hand held sprayer which is so nice for rinsing slippery babies.

4. Shoes – Newborns never use their feet for any purpose. As babies start to crawl and walk, it is actually recommended to keep your little one barefoot, to help with grip and balance. Shoes are a cute and extremely unnecessary expense. Save your money and skip this one.

5. Food Safe Pacifier Wipes – Along with pacifier wipes, comes boogie wipes, flushable potty wipes, travel baby wipes, etc. Every one of these items is practically the same item, with a different name. Save some money and use a wet towel, blanket or toilet paper. These are items you already have. No need to follow the latest wipe trend.

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11 thoughts on “The Only 5 things a Newborn Really Needs”

  1. you can make your own cloth wipes, from old t-shirts or other cloth. a small spray bottle with water or homemade wipe solution works just fine.

  2. and dont forget the now popular diaper wipe warmer. so silly and on top of that the warm of the warmer attracts bacterial. please dont waste your money on these products

  3. i am absolutely not ok with the advice telling parents to buy a carseat off of craig’s list etc. car seats do expire, they also must be replaced if in any sort of accident which isn’t something that a seller may disclose. there are inexpensive seats that can be bought but please do not buy a car seat from someone you do not know!

    • I am absolutely not ok with the advice telling parents to buy a carseat off of Craig’s list etc. Car seats do expire, they also must be replaced if in any sort of accident which isn’t something that a seller may disclose.

      There are inexpensive seats that can be bought but please do not buy a car seat from someone you do not know!

      that’s all fine and dandy to take the high road and say you’d never do that, but if comes down to not having a car seat at all and having a gently used carseat than i’ll take the used any day of the week.

      i love how people are so quick to judge others, i was pregnant when my husband broke his back at work and we had no money coming in what-so-ever.

      the labor laws in this state made it perfectly legal for them to “let my husband go” and for months we had zero income and lived off our very modest savings. i purchased a car seat through craigslist with no problems. the lady had bought it for her grandson so her daughter wouldn’t have to switch the seat back and forth when she dropped him off at her mothers. there was nothing wrong with the seat at all.

      it was either buy a used one or ride around with my baby in my lap. it’s great that some people have the means to run out and buy a bunch of new things and even better if their families are around to help, but not everyone has that luxury.

      so unless you plan on donating brand new stuff to a new mom that desperately needs it, don’t wag your finger in her face like you’re something special!!

  4. great post for new parents, 18 years ago when my daughter was born we lived in a 30′ travel trailer on my parents farm, was small but we survived,we then added a 12′ atco trailer as our living/tv wood stove area and our son was born 20 month after our daughter , we lived in the interior of BC Canada with very hot summers and bitter cold winters, it was cozy. Now live in a nice big house and will be empty nesters soon.

  5. the concept of pacifier wipes reminded me of something a friend sent me long ago, if its ok i put a link to something similar i googled.

    Fun Stuff

    I have three children….. how true, how true…

  6. i have a family baby shower coming up and i am very conflicted as to what i want to do. i was told by the mother, my husbands aunt, she will purchase 4-5 big items that I can put whatever amount I would like on and she will put “family gift” on the tag. I don’t feel that is personal nor do I know if that is what is wanted or needed.

    I think I am going to do as I first thought and keep it simple with the the onsies and such that will be needed when she comes home. Thanks for the article.

  7. this article is awesome. so many people wait to “afford kids”. they think they need a bunch of stuff that just takes up space and wastes money that a mommy could use to stay home with that baby and give it the love it needs!

  8. i had four children in five years ( no twins! );1983, 85, 86 and 87- and we had little money so we made do. Both my husband and I were responsible for being caregivers and taking care of the home, as well as what finances we could get to come in.

    He was disabled, and I had a chronic illness as well, so it wasn’t easy. The point being, we couldn’t afford a lot of fancy stuff for the babies, so they got the essentials, as your article states. Now they’re all grown and on their own and when my eldest daughter had my first grandchild two years ago, I was financially able to send her a big care package with a bunch of stuff for the baby: incuding onesies, gas relieving drops (she had colic as a baby and needed them, so I remembered), and lots of other little things that I would’ve liked to have had, like an in-the-ear-thermometer.

    But as we all know, this is the perogative of grandmas, to do as we will.
    Thanks for the excellent article. As you can tell, you stirred my memories!


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