Minimalist Baby Items Checklist: 25 Natural Essentials for Newborns

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What does a newborn need? Warmth, mama, nourishment & a toxin-free environment. That’s it! Keep it simple, newborns are very easy to “over-buy” for, but they’re needs are quite simple. I don’t know about you, but we didn’t have a lot of money when we had our first child, so I had to get very creative with used items. Plus I never wanted to spend too much time collecting lots of things that we had no use or room for. We lived in a small apartment (less than 500 sq. ft.) when my son was born and had very limited space for extra, unnecessary baby items. We’re expecting Baby #2 and I thought that First-Time Mamas would like some help choosing from the dizzying array of baby gear out there. So here is my Natural Baby Checklist for a Minimalist:

  1. Bassinet/Cradle or Rocker – we got ours used for $20 on Craigslist.
  2. 6 Receiving Blankets for swaddling. Easy to make out of fabric!
  3. Newborn Organic or natural fiber clothing. If organic-only is important to you, you can find used organic clothes if you’re willing to spend the time. I find mine used at Once Upon a Child (a used clothing store with locations all over North America). You’ll have to start looking early and keep going back to find the organic ones as they are few and far between. Look on Craigslist or kijiji for people selling used newborn-6mos. clothing that’s organic.
  4. Wool or Silk Socks (2 pairs) – Baby’s feet are so tiny that they lose heat very quickly. Even when indoors, keep Baby’s feet covered unless you live in a tropical climate. Taking Baby for a walk with no covering for feet is a recipe for a crying fit!
  5. Changing Pad – Make your own changing pad with organic cotton fabric or use a towel on the floor. Just make sure you have a designated area.
  6. Cloth Diapers  if you choose – About 10 per age, you can do less but will need to launder multiple times in a day. Or hire a cloth diaper service. Also get disposables for the first few weeks. You’ll be too tired to wash cloth diapers!
  7. Homemade Baby Wipes – make these 3 days before your due date (they go bad pretty quick).
  8. Baby Carrier/Sling – There are stores that will rent these to you so that you can try them out. You can buy one used as well. Look on freecycle, Craigslist, and ask Moms that you know. Some Mamas will want to get rid of a carrier because they’re done having children. I chose a Beco because it had really good lower back support (my boy was really heavy – 17 pounds at 6 months!). It was good for the healing of my C-Section scar too. I’m excited to try a sling this time around.
  9. Organic Cotton Fabric to make baby blankets, swaddling blankets, even crib sheets! Ask me where I get this.
  10. Wool Hat (super important to keep Baby’s heat in) – you can knit this! I used this simple pattern: http://mackandmabel.blogspot.ca/2012/05/baby-top-knot-knitting-pattern.html
  11. Sunhat for Summer.
  12. Rocking Chair that is comfy (for nursing) – this is not absolutely necessary, but is very soothing to a baby. Try some out before buying and make sure it supports your back. Nursing and bottle feeding will probably happen everywhere and anywhere that’s convenient.
  13. Lanolin for nipple soreness (unless baby has allergies, then use coconut oil).
  14. Use a large purse or a backpack for a diaper bag. No need to buy a special diaper bag.
  15. Calendula Zinc Diaper Cream.
  16. Some clean old towels cut up for Burp Cloths (these don’t need to be fancy; they will be used for baby to spit up on!).
  17. Rent a hospital grade Breast Pump if you can. Sometimes pharmacies near the hospital will rent them, or you might be able to get it through a midwife or the hospital itself. Medela is definitely the best, and it’s gentle and effective. You won’t need it full time if nursing is going well, and you can rent it for a month at a time if you’re concerned about having access to it. I’m buying my own for Baby #2.
  18. Bottles and Nipples – (be prepared in case breastfeeding doesn’t work out: 4-6). I use Klean Kanteen bottles, but the hospital will give you some disposable ones.
  19. Baby Nail Clippers.
  20. Thermometer.
  21. Car Seat – The one I love that uses no carcinogenic flame retardants: UPPA Baby Mesa Henry model. See a list of car seats and how they rate for toxicity here: http://www.ecocenter.org/healthy-stuff
  22.  Bulb Syringe for those colds/flu and getting mucus out of Baby’s nose.
  23. All-natural Laundry Detergent/Soap. Look at Environmental Working Group’s list: http://www.ewg.org/guides/categories/9-Laundry
  24. Sleep Sack – for safety it is better for a baby to sleep in one of these than with blankets. It should not be loose. Babies love sleep sacks! My son had trouble giving his up at 2 years old. Educate yourself about SIDS and choose sleeping options that work best for your family.
  25. Baby Monitor – I have a video one, it is such a great thing to have. Get it used if possible, but be sure it works. If you are concerned about the wireless signals, an audio monitor is better. An audio monitor works well and we used one with my son until about 1 year old. We tried to check in on him more during naps and nighttime. If you are co-sleeping you will only need this for naps.

Optional Items:

  1. Bathing Tub – you can use the kitchen sink for quite awhile.
  2. Stroller – You would be surprised how long you can use a baby carrier or sling and not need a stroller! But many Mamas like to have the convenience of a stroller from Day 1.
  3. Soft Sheepskin for baby to do floor-time with. These are so lovely and warm, but I understand some people may not want to use animal skins. You can also use a quilt or a yoga mat
  4. Binky/Pacifier (if you chose to): I never used one with my 1st baby but I am trying it with my 2nd, as my previous experience was that I started to feel like a pacifier many, many times. Not every baby is like that, so yours may need all of the nourishment it can get from Mama. Pacifiers can interfere with Baby getting enough milk from you. Never use it for a preemie. Make sure Baby is full of milk before putting one in her mouth. Hold off on using one for the first 2 months, or until your breastfeeding feels really comfortable and natural. Otherwise Baby can have trouble with breastfeeding and might lose too much weight from sucking on the pacifier versus the real thing. Wean Baby off of using it (slowly) at around 6 months, as it might mess with tooth development. Make sure to never use the pacifier at nighttime as babies get 1/3 of their milk intake at nighttime and with the pacifier they will not get that. Please get a natural rubber pacifier not a silicone/plastic/latex one as the plastic & chemicals will get chewed on and go into Baby’s body – unnecessary toxins messing with Baby’s hormones! Even if the package says it’s safe, BPA-free, etc, don’t trust it! Stick with natural rubber, it is sap from the rubber tree.
  5. You won’t need nursing pillows unless all of your pillows are really soft and not firm enough to hold a baby’s head up. Buy some extra bed pillows that are firm. Try to get organic cotton, wool-stuffed pillows or even better is a buckwheat-filled pillow, which is very firm. Foam-filled nursing pillows are highly toxic and put plastic fumes & dust in Baby’s face.
  6. Crib – this is dependent on whether you will be co-sleeping. You might find it easier to co-sleep for the first few months and then switch to separate beds after 6-10 months.

This Baby Checklist is designed for the needs of newborns. Six-months plus will have different needs. Check my blog for my 6 Month+ Natural Baby Checklist!

Rosemary Hansen on Youtube
Rosemary Hansen
Rosemary Hansen is a natural mama committed to healing adults and children with eczema and other gut-related autoimmune disorders. She has written a book about her son's eczema story The Natural Mama's Guide to Eczema on Amazon and has a blog with lots of natural baby tips: www.naturaleczemamama.com.