The Baby Items You Actually Need & 16 Things You Don't

Babies don't need fancy things! Here's what to buy — and what to skip — if you are expecting.

Published August 22, 2023
cute baby

What do I need for a baby? This is a big question that all parents ask themselves soon after they find out that they are pregnant. We all know that diapers and wipes are a must, but what are the necessities and which are the baby items you don't need?

Turns out there are a lot of items that seem important, but will gather a lot of dust once your baby arrives. Here are some suggestions on what to buy — and what to leave on the store shelf — from parents who have been there. 

What Do I Need for Baby?

There are certain things that every new parent will need when their baby arrives. Here are some of the top baby items to add to your registry or shopping basket!

Large Items

All of these big-ticket items are important for baby. They are also the ones that parents-to-be should spend some time researching so that they can get the products that best suit their family's needs.

baby in car seat
Helpful Hack

Don't think someone will buy these items for your baby shower because of the high price tags? List them as a group gift! People can give what they can and you get the items you need.

Bedroom & Changing Table Essentials

Babies don't need fancy things. This means that you can go above and beyond decorating their room or you can keep everything basic. They will not know the difference! No matter which way you sway, these are the must-haves to include on your registry.

baby getting diaper changed
  • 2-3 Fitted Sheets
  • Muslin swaddle blankets
  • Diaper changing pad
  • Trash receptacle
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Aquaphor
  • Diaper cream
  • Diaper cream applicator OR a box of disposable gloves
  • Clothing (Buy a few newborn sized items, but aim to purchase clothing in an array of sizes)
    • Short and long-sleeved onesies
    • Pants
    • Hats
    • Mittens
    • Socks
    • 1-2 Zipper jackets (for fall and winter babies)
Need to Know

New parents quickly learn that zippers are their best friend whereas outfits with buttons and lots of snaps are their enemy. When looking for onesies, I recommend Little Sleepies. They are light and breathable, super soft, free of buttons, and they come with built-in feet and hands cuffs. This eliminates the need to buy infant socks or mittens that will likely fall off seconds after you put them on.

Feeding Supplies

These items will cover you if you plan to breastfeed or bottle feed!

  • 8-10 bottles (We recommend Dr. Brown's Baby Bottles)
  • Bottle brush
  • Drying rack
  • Formula
  • Other items if you're nursing:
    • Breast pump and accessories
    • Breastmilk storage bags
    • Breastfeeding pillow
    • Nursing bras

Bath Time Supplies

Bath time doesn't need to be a big display. These are the essentials that you will need to make sure that your baby is squeaky clean!

baby in tub
  • Baby bath tub
  • Baby shampoo/body wash
  • Baby lotion
  • Towels
  • Wash cloths

Small, But Important Items

These items are a necessity for your child's health and your sanity! Make sure you grab them before your little one arrives.

  • Pacifiers
  • Teething straws
  • Bulb syringe
  • Nail clippers
  • Thermometer (speed thermometers are a good bet for new parents)
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Simethicone drops
  • Diaper bag
  • Infant laundry detergent

16 Baby Items You Don't Need

Some of these items are conveniences that you don't need, but may like to have, while others can be a waste of money for most new parents. Here are some of the top things you don't need for a baby and why!

Wipe Warmer

We all want our babies to have the best. And who wants to feel a chilly wipe slide across their bottom when it could be warm and comforting?

Here is the problem — what happens when you are at the grocery store or visiting relatives and there is no wipe warmer? Wipe warmers are one of the top things you don't need for a baby. They may make your baby's bottom feel extra pampered, but they can also make diaper changes more jarring when you are away from home.

Newborn Shoes

baby shoes

As adorable as they may be, your newborn isn't walking, so shoes are not necessary. Also, after the 15 costume changes that your baby will go through each day, these cute accessories will likely land on the shelf, and stay there for good.

Bottle Sterilizer

A bottle sterilizer seems like an important item until you find out that your dishwasher can do the exact same thing, but on a bigger scale. Not only that, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) actually recommends washing baby bottles by hand or by running the dishwasher "using hot water and a heated drying cycle (or sanitizing setting)."

Need to Know

A bottle sterilizer will not actually clean your bottles. You will have to do that step by hand or in the dishwasher first. This device is just an extra cleaning step. While not necessary every day, it can come in handy after your child has been ill. However, you also have the option to boil your bottle parts in a large pot for five minutes to attain the same result.

Baby Food Processor

Like many new parents, I had great aspirations to make my son food from scratch. Fresh ingredients, no preservatives, and control of all the seasonings and food mixtures. It seemed like a fantastic idea. The only problem was that I worked full time, while caring for my baby at the same time.

Unless you have a couple hours and the energy to dedicate to making all of your own baby food every day, this item is just going to take up space on your countertop, without serving much of a purpose. Also, for many foods, a blender can serve the same purpose. Most notably though, if you want to introduce foods through baby-led weaning, purees are not recommended.


While it is convenient to have you baby right at your bedside, a bassinet is a very temporary baby item that most newborns grow out of quite quickly. Then, you will just have a very large baby item that is taking up soon to be very necessary space in your home (just wait — you will see).

Helpful Hack

A playpen is a fantastic substitute for a bassinet that you can use until your child reaches two to three years of age. After that, it can transition into a convenient toy bin. Oh, and speaking of convenience, it also folds up with ease and can serve as a travel crib when visiting family or friends.

Crib Accessories

The ONLY accessory that should be in your baby's crib is a fitted sheet. Crib bumpers, pillows and blankets, canopies, and nets are all safety risks for infants. This means that you can cut these items from your shopping list.

Changing Table

Obviously, you need a place to change the thousands of diapers that your baby is about to go through, but that doesn't mean you need to buy an entirely new piece of furniture. Both desks and dressers can be great spots to change your baby on, and they have more than one use, saving you money!

Need to Know

The one perk of having a changing table is that it has a guard to keep baby from rolling off. If you go with an alternative, make sure to purchase a contoured changing table pad and never walk away from your baby while they are laying on this surface. You never know when they will start rolling or sitting up!

Changing Table Pad Linens

As a new mom, I purchased multiple of these items thinking that they would spruce up my son's room and make the changing pad more comfy for him. However, after many poopy messes and sprinkler moments where my son would sporadically pee everywhere during the middle of a diaper change, I quickly learned that having these sheets on the changing pad were just giving me more items to wash.

Quick Tip

Puppy pads are my favorite parenting hack! These are perfect for lining the changing table at home and in public spaces. You can use them over and over until a mess occurs, and then you just toss them! This is a fantastic baby essential to buy in bulk at Costco.

Pee-Pee Teepee

Speaking of sprinkler moments, the Pee-Pee TeePee may sound like an ingenious idea, but after actually taking this tent for a test drive, I will tell you that it will not stay on for long. Not only does it easily fall off a squirmy baby, but if your son is anything like mine, he will rip it right off as soon as you pop on this diaper changing accessory.

Diaper Disposal System

Yes, you need a receptacle for dirty diapers, but diaper disposal systems and the many bags that they require are expensive. More importantly, they do not block out the smells the way you would hope. In other words, you are better off buying Costco trash bags in bulk and a regular trash can with a lid that you can then repurpose later.

Baby Robes

baby in robe

Baby robes are absolutely adorable, but the last thing any parent wants is a shivering little baby! The best bath time regimens involve a quick transfer out of the tub and into clothes so that your newborn doesn't get a chill. This makes these cute bath accessories unneccessary.

Baby Hangers

Maybe someday you will have the time to hang up your child's precious ensembles, but when you have a newborn and even a toddler, it is easier to quickly fold their clothes and put them away. If anything, these staple closet accessories will just be regularly strewn across the room every time your toddler finds them.

Four- and Five-Ounce Bottles

These will seem convenient in the first few weeks, but after that, your child will need more to eat. This means that you will have to invest in bigger bottles or make more than one bottle for each feeding. Did you really want more bottles to wash? I certainly didn't.


When your baby begins exploring new foods, a bib is not going to protect their clothes. Food will be in their hair, all over their body, on the floor, and probably on the dog as well. Bibs quickly become another thing you have to wash. Save your money and expect the mess on their regular clothes.


Did you know that pediatric physical therapists do not recommend most floor seats, specifically the Bumbo chair? The scooped seat keeps your child upright, but it also puts their pelvis in a posterior pelvic tilt. This can harm their spinal development and have life long impacts. Not only that, but parents should have their babies on the floor as much as possible! Tummy time has so many benefits!

Need to Know

When shopping for any kind of chair for your infant or toddler, find products that have a flat surface or wedge design (highest point in the back). This will put them at the ideal 90 - 90 degree sitting position. Also, ensure that their knees are positioned at a 90-degree angle as well.

Baby Monitor

If you have a healthy baby and plan to practice safe sleep recommendations by sharing a room with your baby for the first six months to the first year of your child's life, then a baby monitor is a waste of money. We forked out over 200 bucks for a monitor that has been used twice on vacations to visit family.

This piece of technology is great for families who live in big homes and plan to transition their baby to the nursery early. Baby monitors can also come in handy when on vacation. Otherwise, it is a baby item that you do not truly need.

What Your Baby Needs Most

All your baby really needs is to be warm, fed, dry, and loved. Everything else is extra. As you get into a groove after your baby arrives, you will find the need for other items that are specific for your baby's needs. Until then, these items will keep you and your baby happy!

And if you truly feel that you need the items on this list, then go ahead and splurge on your sweet little one! This is just a guide for parents who are hoping to save a bit of money and space in their home, but there's no right or wrong when it comes to what matters to you for your baby. 

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The Baby Items You Actually Need & 16 Things You Don't