Baby’s tend to come with lots of stuff which can be a challenge for small spaces and tight budgets. We’ve narrowed it all down to just the absolute bare minimum baby essentials for a minimalist baby registry to help you figure out exactly what you really need.
Making a baby registry can be so much fun, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. Going through the long checklists of “must-have” items can leave you seeing lots of dollar signs or clutter.
Do you really need all the things?
We’ve written several posts about baby registry items, from sleep essentials to breastfeeding supplies, diapering necessities to toys. There are lots of fantastic baby products that definitely help make your new mom life easier. Though these are convenient for sure, they aren’t all completely necessary.
There are many reasons that moms may want to limit the new baby gear, like living in tiny apartments, preparing for an upcoming move, or shopping on a shoestring budget. Whether your minimalism is by choice or circumstance, it’s important to know what items are truly essential so you can prioritize.
We examined our baby registry lists and ruthlessly cut any item that was not totally and completely necessary. We tried to carefully select products that filled a vital need as well as to avoid redundancy and favor items with multiple uses.
These minimalist baby essentials have been handpicked from two perspectives: space saving and money saving.
Make no mistake, you will probably WANT more than just these items either for convenience sake or due to you and your baby’s personal preferences. This list is simply the bare necessities.
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In This Guide:
A Safe Place to Sleep
Newborns spend a lot of time sleeping so it’s essential to have a safe place to snooze.
Lots of moms choose to start out with their baby in a bassinet next to their bed. While a bassinet is great for small spaces, it can be used for a relatively short amount of time before the baby will outgrow it and need another place to sleep.
Since their use is limited and requires purchasing additional stuff, we didn’t include bassinets in our minimalist list, but you do think it is the right choice for you, you can check out our bassinet recommendations here.
Pack n’ Play | Budget Friendly Option
It’s very portable and sturdy so you don’t have to worry about it wearing down. I will say, however, if you are using it for overnight sleep you will want to consider a mattress for when your baby gets a little older. Newborns can (and should!) sleep on firm surfaces. Meanwhile, toddlers often prefer a little extra cushioning and this mattress provides that.
Another bonus is that there are so many cute ideas out there to transform your Pack N’ Play once your little one out grows it. I’ve seen them turned into reading nooks, castles, forts, you name it!
3-in-1 Crib | Long-Term Option
Another great option for your minimalist baby registry is to invest in a nice bed that will last into the teen years.
Yes, believe it or not there are many great options that start out as cribs but later transform into toddler beds and then finally into a headboard for an older child.
Swaddle | Essential Item
For lots of babies swaddling is a necessity for sleep and should absolutely be included in the bare minimum baby essentials.
The most budget friendly approach is probably to simply use a blanket since you have lots of inexpensive options and they can also be used for several other purposes (burp cloth, shade over car seat, clean area for tummy time, etc). I prefer large muslin blankets like this for swaddling and really everything.
On the flip side, unless you have some serious skills, it can be hard to get a blanket into that perfectly tight swaddle burrito that your baby won’t bust out of immediately. Luckily, there are options for babies who like to be swaddled when the blanket doesn’t cut it.
BUT for my third baby I tried the Love to Dream Swaddle and I must admit that I am a convert. It lets the baby have their hands up by their face, where they always seem to want them, and is even easier thanks to a zipper.
A car seat is an absolute must for a baby. In fact, you will most likely need one to leave the hospital.
There are so many options for child safety seats that it can quickly become overwhelming. Basically, most people start with an infant car seat (think of the bucket seat with the handle that you see attached to strollers or in shopping carts). Around a year roughly, you usually have to switch to a convertible seat (which is able to rear face or forward face, but stays installed in the car) that lasts much longer. The infant seat offers some extra convenience since its portable, but some moms opt to skip straight to a convertible car seat.
For an infant seat, we love the Chicco KeyFit 30, but in the interest of minimalism you really only NEED a convertible seat.
It’s important to note that not all convertible seats work well for newborns, so make sure you pay close attention to weight limits.
Cosco Scenera Next | Budget Friendly Option
The best bang for your buck for a car seat is the Cosco Scenera Next.
This is a great, compact seat that is super budget friendly for your minimalist bayb registry. It is slim and fits well even in small cars.
It is also very lightweight making it perfect for traveling.
Diono Radian 3RXT | All-in-One Option
It fits newborns as tiny as 5 lbs and extended rear-facing toddlers up to 45 lbs, converts to forward facing, and later becomes a high back and backless booster.
Additionally, they’re engineered with steel allow so it’s much stronger and long-lasting than traditional plastic. The low sides of the car seat make it easy to gets children of all ages in and out. AND it’s one of the only car seats that fits 3-across in most vehicles.
Strollers vs. Carriers
If you want to ever get out of our house you will most need some way to transport your baby. The most common options would be a stroller or a baby carrier.
Honestly, I prefer to have both, but you could get away with just one if you’re going for a minimalist baby registry.
If you opted to get an infant seat, choose a stroller that is compatible so you can slip the seat in and go.
Summer 3Dlite | Budget Friendly Option
The Summer 3Dlite is a great stroller and at a reasonable price offering awesome value. It works great for young infants, toddlers, and even older children since it has a 50lb weight limit so you will get plenty of use out of it.Light weight with a five point harness, easy recline (including laying flat for napping), and large underneath storage, this stroller meets most parent’s needs.
While you can find umbrella strollers even less than the Summer 3Dlite, they are generally not as sturdy, offer a bumpier ride, and only have a lap harness making them less suitable for infants.
Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Stroller | Best All Around
Although technically labeled as a “jogging stroller”, the City Mini GT2 Stroller is really so much more!
There are many reasons why we recommend this to all moms. For starters, the 5 point harness allows parents to use starting at the newborn stage all the way up to children of 65 pounds. Folding it can be done with one hand and it collapses very thin and compact.
The newest design of the City Mini GT2 Stroller features forever air rubber tiles with all wheel suspension for guaranteed comfort on any terrain. This is a huge deal as you’ll find that cheaper strollers jerk around on the tiniest little bumps in a path.
It lies completely flat so it can be used for naps (or even diaper changes) when you’re out and about. It’s also very easy to push and comes with a great variety of accessories (parents organization station, snack tray, pram, etc.)
Ring Sling | Budget Friendly Option
For one thing, they can be folded up to take up no room at all and fit in your diaper bag.
Also, though they are available at a variety of price points, you can find many fantastic options for much less than most traditional baby carriers.
Finally, you can use the same ring sling for newborns up to toddlers.
Tula | Best All Around
The Tula carrier is a mom favorite for all ages (including newborn!). It allows for all positions of carrying baby: both front carry (facing in and out) and back carry.
For younger babies they have made sure that the design is ergonomic to support healthy hip and spine development as well as offer adjustable head support for napping.
Tula makes some adorable prints and designs, and it will last you forever (up 45 pounds! My 6 year old only just hit 45 pounds!). There are straps to adjust the width and tightness as your child grows.
The 100% cotton material is cooling and lightweight to keep both child and the wearer comfortable. Because of this, it’s also easy to transport and not bulky. Plus it’s machine washable! For us this is an essential item for your minimalist baby registry.
Bottles | The Truth
Babies can be picky little bottle snobs and often prefer one brand over another. Snag some free samples from your doctor and/or place you register to try those out before you invest in more. You can even ask a friend to try a bottle before you buy your own.
Bibs/Burp Cloths | Essential Item
Babies spit up. A lot. And you’ll need something to catch it or expect to be changing your baby’s clothes multiple times per day.
Feeding Seat | Essential Item
Another space conscious option is the Fisher-Price SpaceSaver High Chair that attaches to your existing dining chairs.
You will need diapers, wipes, and a place to change a diaper.
You probably want to have some diapers ready, but if you stock up before the baby arrives keep those receipts. They grow so fast, you’ll want to be able to exchange any extras for larger sizes.
Another option to consider is cloth diapers. Though the upfront costs are higher, you can usually save money over the long term especially if you plan to have more children.
Essential Item | Changing Area
As far as having a place to change your baby’s diaper, most people immediately think of a standard changing table, but that isn’t truly necessary.
To get even more minimal, throwing a waterproof changing pad liner on your bed or the floor keeps the space clean, is easily portable, and takes up virtually no space. To go this route, pick a liner that is a bit bigger and thicker to avoid messes spilling over.
When creating a minimalist baby registry, I wouldn’t even bother requesting clothes. People love to buy baby outfits no matter what so you will likely receive plenty!
If you are buying baby clothes yourself, consider checking out Facebook BST groups for some great deals. And be careful not to overbuy! Think 5-7 outfits and pajamas as babies grow through sizes incredibly fast.
There are many other items that we’d recommend even though they wouldn’t technically qualify as bare minimum baby essentials. Things like swings, playards, and more. Check out our detailed registry guides for all things you need to get ready for baby!