Bare Necessities: Basic Baby Needs

What Does a Newborn Really Need?

Parents to Be in Nursery
Your baby doesn't need very much in the first few weeks of life. Food, diapers, and a place to sleep covers most newborn needs!. Justin Paget / Getty Images

What does a baby really need in the first weeks at home? The answer is - not much. This basic baby needs checklist will help you choose those baby essentials, often called the layette, that your little one needs to have in the first precious weeks of life.

Of course, if you consult a baby registry suggestion list, or ask a baby gear store, it probably sounds like your baby needs everything under the sun!

Some parents want all of those cool baby products and gadgets that can make life with the little one more convenient. For minimalists, or new parents who are a bit overwhelmed, it's OK to stick to the basics! Baby won't notice the difference.

You can always add more baby clothes and other products to your registry, or just shop for the bonus items after baby arrives. Being prepared with the following items, though, will get you through the first days and weeks without having to interrupt any of your nap or shower time to head to the store.

Clothing and Layette

  • 5-8 OnesiesĀ®, rompers, or other soft outfits, depending on how often you want to do laundry
  • 3-4 baby sleepers or sleep sacks
  • 5-7 pairs of baby socks
  • 1-2 newborn hats, depending on climate

Diapers and Bath Items

Bedding and Sleep Items

  • Crib, cradle, bassinet, or other safe sleep space for baby (preferably one that can be placed in the parents' room for the first few months, according to safe sleep guidelines). If the crib has been used before, make sure it has all of its pieces and meets current safety standards.
  • Crib mattress, or a mattress that fits properly in the cradle or bassinet
  • 3-4 fitted sheets for crib, cradle, or bassinet
  • 1 waterproof crib mattress cover, unless your crib mattress is already fully sealed, or a waterproof pad to lay under the crib sheet
  • 3-5 lightweight blankets or swaddlers
  • 1-2 heavier blankets, depending on climate

Feeding Supplies

Gear and Furniture

  • Car seat, can be an infant-only or convertible model with lower weight limit appropriate for newborns

That's it! While there are many baby products on the market that make a parent's life easier, most are wants, not needs. While it may be tempting to buy every gadget on the shelf, remember, your baby will be just as happy with the basic items that he or she really needs.

Planning to create a baby gift registry? Learn how to fill your registry list with these baby essentials and anything else you find and love with my quick tips - How to Create the Perfect Baby Gift Registry.

Beyond the Basics

If you're a minimalist or your budget requires baby gear purchases to be spread out a bit, take a look at Baby Products You Don't Need for a Newborn. The items on that list are for older babies and toddlers, so they'd just be taking up storage space or collecting dust for a few months or even years. Some items such as car seats, have an expiration date, and it applies whether you're using the product for that timeframe or not. It's best to wait to buy larger car seats and booster seats until you're ready to use them. Otherwise a big percentage of the item's lifespan could be spent un-used.

Of course, lots of parents enjoy a fully stocked nursery and some extra baby gear beyond the basic baby needs. If that's your style, be sure to check out What to Buy When You're Having a Baby. That list goes beyond the newborn essentials into convenience items and other fun stuff.