Blog post category: Newborn

Raising a Healthy Eater:
Tips from a Family Nutritionist

For this week’s installment of our Expert series, we’re doing a Q&A with Jennifer Stimson, MS, RD, ICBLC, a Registered Dietitian focused on kid & family nutrition in the SF Bay Area.  We are thrilled to share with you her insights on topics ranging from basic baby and kid nutrition to baby-led weaning to how to deal with picky eaters!

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The Best New Baby Gear for 2017: Round-up from ABC Kids ’16

abc-kids-16

We recently returned from the ABC Kids Expo ’16, the largest annual baby & kids products trade show in North America.  For those of us who work in the industry, wandering the floor is a bit like being a kid in a candy store!

Here’s a sneak peek at all of the latest & greatest products coming out for 2017.  If you like a product, click through to the TotScoop page to see more info or “Want” it!

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Must Haves for the First 3-6 Months: A Curated List from Nancy Held, R.N., IBCLC

Nancy Held knows a thing or two about babies.  She’s an RN (former nursery nurse), IBCLC, and the founder of DayOne Baby in SF — which pretty much makes her an all-around baby expert!

Nancy recently collaborated with us to put together her list of 45+ must haves for baby’s first 3-6 months — from newborn sleep to breastfeeding to developmental toys — on TotScoop.  If you’re expecting or have a new baby in the house, you won’t want to miss her picks!

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Gift Guide for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers

Gift Guide for Babies, Toddlers, & Preschoolers

Note: Check out the latest (2016) version of this gift guide here!

Looking for the perfect holiday or birthday gift for your little one, a grandchild, or a family friend?  Here are our curated lists of age-appropriate gifts that are proven hits.

If you’re planning on buying a toy, see also our Buying Guide: Baby Toys & Books for info on buying safe/non-toxic toys.

0-6 months

6-12 months

1 year olds

2 year olds

3-4 year olds

All ages

  • Clothing: For a classic holiday gift, how about some snuggly jammies?  Our top picks are the organic sleepers and two-pieces from Hanna Andersson — they’re  fantastic quality and last forever!  The rest of the year, nice pieces from top brands like Baby Gap, Mini Boden, Tea Collection, etc. are always Mom favorites.
  • Looking for something handmade? Check out our top picks for baby goodies on Etsy
  • Experiential gifts: Trip to a local farm or zoo; hike at a local trail or park; a train or bus adventure; or an afternoon of art, cooking, or some other creative activity with gift giver (see also our Pinterest board for great baby & kid activity ideas)
  • Free and fun: Don’t forget the big cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper that all those presents come in!

Any other favorite gift ideas for little ones? Let us know in the comments!

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

Newborn diaper giveaway!

Newborn diaper giveaway prizes

Have a newborn, or expecting a new baby soon? We’re doing a newborn diaper giveaway! We have two bundles of itsy bitsy disposable diapers (leftover from recent “testing” with our newest addition :)) up for grabs!

The prizes

BUNDLE #1: NEWBORN SIZE (shown on the lefthand side of the photo): Total of 62 diapers spanning 5 different brands (28 Naty by Nature Babycare, 17 Bambo Nature, 13 Pampers, 2 Earth’s Best, 2 Honest Co.)! The perfect way to figure out which brand works best for your family before buying in bulk!

BUNDLE #2: STILL PRETTY DARN ITSY BITSY BUNDLE (the 4 packages shown at right in the photo): Total of 109 size 2 (7-13 lbs.) diapers, all Bambo brand. (Bambo is our top pick for premium, non-toxic, eco-friendly disposable diapers — see link to our top picks guide below!)

Here’s how to enter:

1) LIKE the contest post on our Facebook page (this is how we will collect your entry)

2) COMMENT on the same Facebook post with which diaper bundle you want to enter to win (#1 or #2)!  Optional: Include a fun comment related to diapering, e.g. describe your baby’s worst blowout ever!

That’s it!  Entries will be accepted from the publication of the FB post to Monday, 11/16 at 11:59:59pm PT.  We’ll tag the winners (one for each bundle) in a follow-up comment to the same post on Tuesday, 11/17.  Full contest rules appear below.

Looking for more diapering tips?

You might be interested in checking out the following content on TotScoop.com (login required):

Not a registered user yet? Create an account using invite code “FBFALL15”!

Good luck!! And happy butt-wiping everyone <3


Contest rules & details

i) ELIGIBILITY: Open to US residents ages 18 and older. Each individual can enter once.

ii) CONTEST PERIOD: Entries can be submitted from the time the contest post on Facebook is published through end of day Monday, 11/16 (11:59:59pm PT). The winners will be announced on Tuesday, 11/17 by being tagged in a comment on this post.

iii) WINNER SELECTION & NOTIFICATION: The two winners will be randomly selected from each pool of entrants. Once their entries have been validated (to ensure that all three qualifications above have been met), they will be notified via Facebook tag in a comment on this post. Winners must claim their prize via PM within 48 hours. If a prize is not claimed, another winner will be selected.

iv) CONTEST ADMINISTRATION: This contest is being run by TotScoop. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

v) PRIZE DETAILS:

Bundle #1 includes:
– 1 unopened pack Naty by Nature Babycare size NB (birth – 11 lbs.; 26 count), plus 2 extras
– 17 Bambo Nature size NB diapers (4-9 lbs.) in opened package
– 13 Pampers Swaddlers size NB (birth to 10 lbs.) in opened package
– 2 Earth’s Best size NB (birth to 10 lbs.)
– 2 Honest Company size NB (birth to 10 lbs.)

Bundle #2 includes:
– 3 unopened packs of Bambo Nature size 2 (7-13 lbs.; 30 count each) diapers, plus 19 extras in opened package

Cloth Diapering a Newborn

What you need to know about cloth diapering a newborn | TotScoop blog

With our first baby we didn’t start using cloth diapers until around three or four months, so I was excited to have the opportunity to start cloth diapering from birth with our secondborn.

This post won’t provide a general how-to or other info on cloth diapering more broadly.  There’s plenty on that elsewhere around the internet.  In fact, we’ve already got our very own cloth diapering guide and picks for the best cloth diapers right here on the blog.  Instead, we’ll focus this post on cloth diapering a newborn.

The basics of cloth diapering a newborn

OK, so here’s what you need to know about cloth diapering a newborn:

  • Newborns go through a LOT of diapers.  At least 10-12 per day.  So, depending how often you plan to do laundry, you’ll probably need ~24-36 diapers (if you plan to do full-time cloth).
  • Newborns are very small people (surprise!).  Although some cloth diaper manufacturers would have you believe that their “one-size (OS)” cloth diapers fit from birth, the reality is that, even if they do fit without terrible gaping at the waist and legs, they will probably be incredibly bulky (not to mention look ridiculous) on your newborn.  If you’re already committed to cloth, we recommend that you invest in at least some newborn-size diapers (or, if you think you’re likely to have a larger baby, perhaps size 1/small diapers).
  • Newborns poop.  Yep, a lot.  In fact, they often poop often at every diaper change.  And it’s messy: runny, explosive…you get the idea.  Containment (involving some sort of elastic) is absolutely key — unless you want to be dealing with blowouts left and right.
  • But believe it or not, their poop isn’t that bad!   EBF poop in particular rinses right out of cloth diapers (like yogurt), and hardly even smells (no, really).  So although many cloth newbies are grossed out by the idea of handling poop (and putting it into their washing machine), you’ll soon see that it really isn’t that bad.
  • The early days may be a bit different.  Many people choose not to cloth diaper for the first few days because meconium.  You absolutely can if you like, just expect you may get some stains that may not come out as easily.  (I admit that myself was lazy and just opted to use disposables for the first 3-4 days, during my own recovery.)  Also, until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off (usually around 1-2 weeks), diapers with umbilical cord snap-downs are helpful.  I reached for diapers with snap-downs for the first two weeks.

Which cloth diapers are best for newborns?

Your basic options for cloth diapering newborns are pretty much the same as for older babies.  See our basic overview of cloth diaper types (fitteds, prefolds, AIOs, AI2, pockets, etc.).  Now, here are some thoughts on using each with respect to newborns in particular:

  • Fitteds with PUL/wool/fleece covers: These offer excellent absorbency — sometimes more than many newborns need.  Trimmer fitteds are great, though, as the elasticized waist and legs provides excellent containment of newborn poop.
  • Prefolds with PUL/wool/fleece covers: An excellent, super affordable option for newborns.  I’m personally not a big fan of prefolds for older babies (whose mobility can cause them to shift and wreak havoc), but I found myself pleasantly surprised at how well they worked with my newborn.   The “jelly roll”-fold-plus-Snappi combo provided pretty darn good containment of newborn poop.   They washed up well (retained far fewer stains than my fitteds, which have more nooks and crannies), and were dirt cheap to boot.
  • AI2s (all-in-two): I loved the convenience of being able to reuse the cover and just swap out the insert — this made this style a great option for on-the-go (since you have to carry around less in your diaper bag).  With explosive newborn poop the cover often doesn’t last that long, but even with an extra cover or two the overall system is still less bulky to carry around.  Some of the AI2 systems are also very trim fitting — great for under clothing.
  • AIOs (all-in-one): Not my favorite option, due primarily to the high cost, especially for a newborn stash that will only be used for a few months.  However, as a one-piece diaper they’re definitely the easiest to use, so could be a great option for cloth newbies as well as Dads, grandparents, daycare, etc.
  • Pockets: Similar to AIOs, but require a tad more work to stuff and unstuff.
  • Hybrids: Similar to fitteds, but thanks to the water-resistant fleece layer, can be worn without a cover around the house and so can be even more convenient.

I mostly prefer to use wool covers with cloth (as I prefer all-natural fibers and need greater breathability for my babe’s sensitive skin), so we mostly used NB-size fitteds here.  However, I also bought a few prefolds, PUL covers, and AI2s to test out (especially for on-the-go, since it can be a hassle to carry around multiple backup wool covers).  Basically, I bought all the highest-rated newborn diapers out there (all the ones I’ve been coveting since researching our Best Cloth Diapers guide), so I could test them all out in person 🙂

So here are the cloth diapers we tried out with our newborn, and my assessment of each:

Green Mountain Diaper organic NB workhorse fitteds

These were the fitteds that we ended up reaching for most during the daytime.  They are absorbent yet fairly trim, fit well, and contain newborn poop explosions well — I don’t think we ever had a leak.  They are also shockingly cheap (especially given that they are organic), at $5.50 each in the newborn size.  The resale value on these is also amazingly high (you can often sell them used for almost the full purchase price), so you really can’t go wrong with these.

GMD's newborn size organic workhorse fitted (left) is just starting to get outgrown (rise-wise) by our now 10-pound, two-month-old baby (right).
GMD’s newborn size organic workhorse fitted (left) is just starting to get outgrown (rise-wise) by our now 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (right).

Kissaluvs organic cotton/hemp NB fitteds

These are a top-rated newborn diaper, so I amassed a pretty big stockpile of them before birth; unfortunately, they ended up not working that well for us.  They are super absorbent, and I love that they are all-natural fibers.  However, IMO the snap configuration is poorly designed: the umbilical snap-down is awkward, the bottom row of snaps was too low for us rise-wise after the first week or so (~7 lbs.), and the top row of snaps remains too high & loose for us even now at eight weeks and ~10 pounds.   Maybe these will fit better around 12-15 pounds, but at that point we should be fitting into many OS / size 1 diapers already.  Also, the cotton/hemp material does not wash well at all (they quickly become very rough); perhaps the cotton fleece (10% polyester) material would fare better.  Anyway, I was bummed that I didn’t love these more.  Perhaps they work better on other babies.

kissaluvs_snapped down
The Kissaluvs NB hemp/organic cotton fitted, rated from 5-15 lbs., shown here using umbilical snap-down and lower set of rise snaps. We found ourselves needing more rise after about 7-8 lbs.
The Kissaluvs NB hemp/organic cotton fitted, rated from 5-15 lbs., shown here using the higher set of rise snaps.
The Kissaluvs NB hemp/organic cotton fitted, shown here using the higher set of rise snaps. It’s still a bit too loose (even at the tightest snap setting) to be reliable on my smallish 10-pound, eight-week-old.

GMD/Cloth-eez organic NB prefolds

The gold standard in NB prefolds is absorbent, organic, and perfectly sized for newborn covers.  They fit perfectly in both our Blueberry Mini Coveralls and our Thirsties Duo Size 1 Wraps.  I was a big fan of these and recommend them highly to anyone who is looking for newborn prefolds.

GMD's NB prefold is shown fastened with a Snappi on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (left), and tri-folded into a Blueberry Mini Coveralls PUL cover (right).
GMD’s NB prefold is shown fastened with a Snappi on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (left), and tri-folded into a Blueberry Mini Coveralls PUL cover (right).

Best Bottom AI2 system (OS cover + small inserts)

This is IMO the best, easiest AI2 system for newborns.  The OS cover fit our newborn great on the smallest setting, and the size small hemp/organic inserts are absorbent, trim, easy to wash, and fit the snapped down cover perfectly.  The cover is very effective at containing newborn poop explosions, however, because the inserts don’t have elastic around the legs, you should expect you’ll probably have to swap out the cover fairly frequently.  Still, this is my favorite system for outside the house; you just need to carry around one extra cover and a few inserts.

best bottom
The Best Bottom OS shell (left) with snap-in hemp/organic cotton insert (right).
Best Bottom's OS cover (in adorable hedgehog print) on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby, on the smallest rise setting.
Best Bottom’s OS cover (in adorable hedgehog print) on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby, on the smallest rise setting.

Blueberry Mini Coveralls

Blueberry’s Mini Coveralls are my favorite standalone PUL covers for newborns.  They fit well over both fitteds and prefolds; the snap-down rise offers great adjustability; and the leg gussets provide excellent leak protection.  Also, the prints are also absolutely adorable!  If I were just going to recommend one newborn PUL cover to a friend about to have a baby, this would be it!

Blueberry Mini Coveralls (left), rated for 6-18 lbs, fit a GMD newborn workhorse fitted perfectly (right).
Blueberry Mini Coveralls (left), rated for 6-18 lbs, accommodates a GMD newborn workhorse fitted perfectly (right).

Thirsties Duo size 1 covers

This very popular PUL cover also performed very well.  Its leg gussets contained newborn poop well, and it is trim fitting so it works well even with unpinned prefolds. I wasn’t a huge fan of the (very tall) wing shape, so I ended up reaching more for the Blueberry Mini Coveralls, but these are also a very solid choice.

The Thirsties Duo size 1 wrap cover, rated for 6-18 lbs., is shown at right on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (on the middle rise setting).
The Thirsties Duo size 1 wrap cover, rated for 6-18 lbs., is shown at right on a 10-pound, eight-week-old baby (on the middle rise setting).

Wool covers (Loveybums, Disana, etc.)

Wool is the way to go if you prefer all-natural fibers on your baby and/or need a more breathable cloth diapering solution.  Wrap-style covers are hands-down my favorite for the first month or so, when it’s more challenging to get pull-on covers on a tiny, squirmy baby.  My favorite wool wraps are from Loveybums, Babee GreensOrganic Caboose, and Imse Vimse.  Later, when baby starts feeling slightly less breakable, I also loved pull-on covers like those from Disana, Lanacare, Sloomb, and Wild Coconut Wear.

Wrap-style wool covers are easiest to use with newborns. Loveybums (left) and Babee Greens (right) make two of our favorites.
Wrap-style wool covers are easiest to use with newborns. Loveybums (left) and Babee Greens (right) make two of our favorites.

 

Well, that’s about it.  I’ve loved using cloth for the first couple of months, and would definitely do it again.  If you have the inclination — rest assured that you can do it!  All the best and congratulations on your new little one! 🙂


 

Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

Essentials for the First Month with a Newborn

Essentials for the first month with a newborn baby | TotScoop

We’ve just emerged from the first month with our secondborn — whew!  Here are some reflections on the essentials for surviving the first month with a newborn.  (Hint: ix-nay on the drawers full of adorable outfits, baby shoes, the peepee teepee, and the stacks of baby blankets you’ve been ogling on Etsy.)

First, some context. Most newborns spend most if not all of their time sleeping, eating, pooping, or getting cleaned up after one of those activities — so most true essentials will make at least one of those easier.  You’ll also need some basic clothing, and a few gear items to enable you to get out of the house together.  In addition, it’s worth splurging on a few things that will make life easier so you can survive it all with a smile on your face.  Beyond that, everything else is pretty much superfluous.

1. Portable sleeper

Babies spend most of their first month sleeping, so you’ll want to have somewhere your baby can sleep during the day in your primary living space where you can keep an eye on her.  It could be a bassinet, infant seat, “newborn lounger,” swing, or playard (but you definitely don’t need all of those things!).  Many moms absolutely swear by the Rock n Play.  This time around we’ve been using the Lotus Bassinet (below) from Guava Family; I love the breathable mesh sides and the modern look, and most importantly our little one sleeps great in it.

Lotus bassinet

2. Practical clothing

You’ll need 2-3 days’ worth of clothing (taking into account multiple changes per day due to spit up, blowouts, etc.) to get you between laundry days.  Keep it practical!  Those adorable newborn outfits or footies with a zillion snaps might look cute on the hanger, but we can guarantee you’re never going to reach for them (especially when you’re sleep deprived).  In summer, bodysuits/tops are really all you need; side snaps (like those on the adorable owl bodysuit from Zutano below) are great for easy on/off (imagine tugging a vomit- or poop-soaked onesie over your floppy newborn’s head), and built-in foldover mitts are an added bonus.  The basic white Gerber side-snap tees with foldover mitts are fantastic for the first week or two, before the umbilical cord falls off.  For full-length sleepwear or footies, look for zippers vs. snaps or buttons.

Zutano owls bodysuit

3. A few high-quality, generously sized blankets / swaddles

Most first-time moms (including me with my first baby) go way overboard on blankets.  I’m still not even sure to this day what a receiving blanket is for (despite having bought at least a half dozen of them)!  You really only need a handful of high-quality blankets or swaddles; you’ll never reach for the crappy ones anyway.  In moderate to warm weather, two or three light- to midweight swaddles and one midweight blanket (for cooler mornings or on-the-go) are plenty.  If you’re the type of person who is able to master complicated handshakes or sailor knots, you might choose the classic and versatile lightweight muslin swaddles from aden+anais or SwaddleDesigns (which can double as nursing covers, car seat covers, etc.).  If you prefer something more convenient, check out the velcro SwaddleMe wraps or the Miracle Blanket.  If you have a baby who likes to sleep with her arms up, I recommend the Swaddle Up (pictured below), which our little one loves.  For classic swaddles and blankets, don’t bother buying anything smaller than 44×44″ — it’ll be outgrown way too quickly and you’ll be wishing you hadn’t wasted your money.

Swaddle Up

4. Breastfeeding essentials

If you’re breastfeeding, take the time to set up a super comfy nursing station to make those hours and hours ahead as pleasant as possible.  You’re probably already familiar with the basics: a comfortable chair, a footstool, and a breastfeeding pillow.  Then don’t forget a side table to keep everything within easy reach: for example, burp cloths, nursing pads, drinks and snacks, entertainment (e.g., iPad, light reading), etc.  I personally couldn’t survive without my Dutailier glider (uninspiring looking but crazy comfortable), my Brest Friend and Blessed Nest (pictured below) pillows, aden+anais Burpy Bibs (perfect not only for burping, but also as a nursing pillow liner), or Bamboobies nursing pads (for my overactive letdown).  It’s also worth it to invest in a slew of high-quality nursing bras/tanks/tops (my favorite bra — which I wear day and night — is from Majamas).

Blessed Nest nesting pillow

5. Newborn-ready changing station

You’ll probably be visiting your changing station at least a dozen times per day in the beginning, so you might as well get it set up just right.  In addition to the obvious (e.g. changing table/surface and pad), don’t forget ample changing pad liners (our favorites are simple and cheap cloth diaper prefolds) to catch the frequent and explosive accidents that are inevitable with newborns.  For sensitive newborn skin, give scented, chemical-laden wipes a miss; instead use Water Wipes (shown below) or just dry wipes with water.  Also, consider having a few different sizes of diapers on hand; also, don’t overinvest in any one brand or size until after you see what actually fits.  (We had a huge case of Bambo newborn diapers ready to go, only to find that they were way too big for our little one.  FWIW, we found that Pampers Swaddlers, Earth’s Best, and Honest Co. diapers fit much smaller than Bambo and Naty in the same “newborn” size.)

Water Wipes

6. Newborn-friendly baby carrier

You’re going to be doing a lot of rocking and cuddling during those tender first few weeks; give your arms an occasional rest by investing in a newborn-friendly baby carrier.  Alas, the most popular infant baby carriers (e.g., Ergo) are not suitable for the newborn stage, so you’ll probably need to get something else for the early months.  My favorites are wraps (either woven or stretchy, e.g. the Moby or Boba Wrap) and infant-friendly SSCs (like the Beco Gemini, shown below, and the Boba 4G).  (For more on the best baby carriers for the newborn stage and beyond, see our baby carrier guide.)

Beco Gemini

7. On-the-go essentials

With our firstborn, we were housebound for almost an entire month.  With our secondborn, we managed to get out of the house at least once a day right after we got home from the hospital.  The difference?  Knowing exactly what we needed to make it happen: a lightweight infant car seat (which can be easily popped in and out of the car), a car seat-compatible stroller (ideally a lightweight car seat frame like the Chicco Keyfit Caddy or Graco Snugrider Elite), a convenient diaper bag and mini-changing kit, etc.   One of my favorite little luxuries is a car seat canopy to protect baby from sun, wind, and curious strangers; check out this adorable new release from Bebe au Lait (pictured below).

Bebe au Lait car seat cover

8. Boredom busters

You’re about to spend hours upon hours doing laps around your living room and/or chained to a nursing chair.  Trust us, if you don’t already have it, get Netflix.   Or an iPad.  Or, scrounge up some light reading (note, however, that this is not the time to tackle War and Peace).

Orange is the New Black

9. Whatever will make your life easier

Whether it’s ordering tons of take-out, booking some extra help from your house cleaner, or subscribing to Google Shopping Express — whatever it takes to get some of those hours in the day back is worth the cost.  Do it!

Google Shopping Express
Your new best friend. Photo credit: Google

10. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, mama!

Last, don’t forget to take care of yourself!  A happy and healthy mama makes for a happy baby.  Whether it’s postpartum essentials, goodies to keep breastfeeding parts happy, or just some chocolate to perk you up :), sustaining yourself is important too.  Don’t skimp on whatever it takes to make sure you can enjoy those precious first few weeks!

Our Favorite Baby & Kids’ Clothing Brands

Meet our seven favorite baby & kids clothing brands for stylish, high-quality pieces at non-astronomical prices!  (Note: This is NOT a sponsored post.  We just call ’em like we see ’em!)

Baby Gap

baby gap

Baby Gap will hardly be a new discovery for most shoppers, thanks to its ubiquitous retail presence, but it’s such an important cornerstone of the American baby clothing market that we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it.  It churns out a wide range of good quality, well designed staples that consistently deliver.  Look to Baby Gap for everything from layette basics and toddler activewear to sleepwear and special occasion outfits.  They regularly have sales of 30-40%, so be patient with that itchy trigger finger.

Baby/Mini Boden

Mini Boden

This British import creates high-quality clothing with indubitable style. It is sold at select retailers (e.g. Nordstrom) and can also be purchased directly from the Boden website. We particularly love their print/applique graphic tees, baby jeans (so easy to pull up and down), and adorable sweaters.  We regularly salivate over their collections, and always make sure to load up at their regular sales.  (If you’re new to Boden, also don’t miss their women’s collection!)

Hanna Andersson

Hanna Andersson

This Swedish brand is synonymous with unbeatable quality.  Their clothing is engineered for performance and comfort and washes extremely well; pieces often still look practically new when outgrown, and are often handed down through multiple children.  Over 60% of Hanna’s products are Oeko-Tex
Standard 100 certified, meaning they are free of any hazardous substances.  Hannas are also backed by an unconditioned guarantee, and can be returned at any time.  Hanna makes our absolute favorite sleepers/pajamas and training pants/underwear, and is also a great choice for layette items and playwear.

Zutano

zutano

Zutano, one of our favorite brands for newborns through toddlers, offers cute basics and prints.  Their basics (e.g. tops and pants/leggings), hats, and booties are favorites for newborns and infants.  Note that sizing runs small.

H&M Baby/Kids

H&M

For fast fashion for the tiny set, look no further than H&M.  Swedish brand H&M offers a nice range of clothing — including basics, some organic cotton choices, and on trend pieces — for newborns through big kids.  And all at very reasonable prices!  We scoop up their 100% organic cotton basics (like bodysuits and leggings) by the armful!  If you don’t live near one of their retail locations, you can also shop their website.

Zara Mini/Kids

zara

Spain-based Zara Mini/Kids offers a different twist on fast fashion, producing a more classic feeling collection (mostly solids, in a more muted set of colors) at great prices.  They also offer a selection of organic cotton pieces at impressively low everyday prices.  If you don’t live near a Zara retail store, you can also shop online (free shipping over $50).

J. Crew Baby/Kids

jcrew

We adore J. Crew’s in-house Baby & Kids collections, which sport signature J. Crew style, as well as their curated selection of third-party brands (e.g. aden+anais, Nature Baby, Petit Bateau, Baby Oeuf).  (The cashmere pieces aren’t the most practical we’ve ever seen, but most everything else is both adorable and machine washable.) Kids styles (2+) are available in selected J. Crew stores; Baby styles aren’t available in most stores, but shipping is free on all online Baby orders.

Gift Ideas for Newborns Through Preschoolers

Gift ideas for newborns through preschoolers |TotScoop

Looking for the perfect holiday or birthday gift for your little one, a grandchild, or a family friend?  Here are our curated lists of age-appropriate gifts that are proven hits.

If you’re planning on buying a toy, also don’t miss our guide to buying safe/non-toxic toys.

0-6 months

6-12 months

1 year olds

2 year olds

3-4 year olds

All ages

  • Clothing: How about some snuggly jammies?  Our top picks are the organic sleepers and two-pieces from Hanna Andersson — they’re  fantastic quality and last forever!
  • Looking for something handmade? Check out our top picks for baby goodies on Etsy
  • Experiential gifts: Trip to a local farm or zoo; hike at a local trail or park; a train or bus adventure; or an afternoon of art, cooking, or some other creative activity with gift giver (see also our Pinterest board for great baby & kid activity ideas)
  • Free and fun: Don’t forget the big cardboard boxes and discarded wrapping paper that all those presents come in!

Any other favorite gift ideas for this age range we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.

The Minimalist’s New Baby Checklist

The minimalist's new baby checklist, from TotScoop. A guide to what you really need -- and what you don't -- for baby's first six months!

It seems like most baby checklists are a mile long.  Most of the retailers who author them, after all, are just trying to sell you stuff — and many sleep-deprived parents are only too willing to shell out big bucks for the promise of an extra few minutes of peace.  Babies do require a lot of stuff, but let’s face it, a lot of parents overbuy too.  For those who prefer a more minimalist approach, this article will outline the bare minimum essentials that you need for baby’s first six months — and will also provide advice from moms who’ve been there on what you don’t need.  (PS: For those of you who are decidedly NOT minimalists, also check out our Ultimate New Baby Checklist 🙂 )

Nursery & newborn sleep

Crib (must have)

For most families, this is a must have.  But hold on — a select few families who go with the “family bed” hardly ever end up using theirs.  If you think this might be you— wait until after baby arrives to invest in a pricey crib (a playard or travel crib might suffice for occasional usage instead).

Favorite brands/products: See TotScoop parent favorites for cribs and playards/travel cribs.

Bassinet, cradle, or co-sleeper (optional)

Many families buy a smaller, cozier place for baby to sleep in the first few months, especially if they plan to co-sleep in the same room.  This is definitely a nice-to-have if you have the extra cash, but if you’re a minimalist, you can definitely avoid buying a separate piece of furniture.  A playpen with an adjustable height mattress or a “newborn napper” type station is a good solution that can be repurposed later for use in the living room.  Or, hey, you could go even more bare bones.  Consider that many babies in Finland sleep in a cardboard box for the first few months of their lives, and Finland has a much lower SIDS rate than the U.S.

Favorite brands/products: The Arms Reach is the most popular co-sleeper in the US; it can feel a bit flimsy, but does the job.  Moms also rave about the Rock ’n’ Play, which is even more affordable.  More TotScoop parent favorites here.

Swaddles and/or receiving blankets (must have)

You just need 2-3 blankets with which to swaddle your baby and/or keep her warm.  Don’t go nuts — lots of parents go overboard buying dozens of swaddles and receiving blankets even though they don’t even really know what they’re for.  Exercise common sense and just get a few items.  Wait until you see what baby likes and what you find easiest to use (e.g. regular square swaddle blankets, swaddle “aids” with velcro, regular blankets) before buying extras.

Favorite brands/productsAden + Anais swaddle blankets, SwaddleMe velcro wraps, Under the Nile swaddle/receiving blankets.  Check out our more detailed guide to best swaddles and receiving blankets here.  Also, more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Wearable blankets / sleep sacks (must have)

After baby transitions out of a swaddle (usually around 2-4 months), you’ll need some wearable blankets (a.k.a. sleep sacks) to keep her warm.  (Recall that the AAP does not recommend use of any loose blankets in the crib until after at least 12 months.)  TIP: Babies outgrow sized sleep sacks quickly.  Consider looking for an adjustable sleep sack.  They may be more expensive, but they are higher quality and last much longer.

Favorite brands/products: Halo sleep sacks, Baby Deedee Sleep Nest,  Merino Kids and Woolino adjustable merino wool sleep sacks.  Check out our in-depth guide to best wearable blankets here.  Also, more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Rocker/glider (optional)

Worthwhile if you don’t have any other chairs in your house that can offer you good head/neck, back, and arm support while you’re sitting with baby for hours on end (particularly if you plan to breastfeed).  If you’re going to buy new furniture, you might as well get something ideal — look for one with a tall back that reclines.

Favorite brands/products: Dutailier is one of the biggest, baddest names in nursery wood gliders.  See also the Monte Design Joya for our favorite modern rocker.  See more TotScoop parent favorites here.

What you DON’T need

  • A full crib bedding set (including dust ruffle, window valance, diaper stacker, comforter, crib bumpers, etc.):  Loose bedding is not recommended by the AAP until the age of 1, and crib bumpers are frowned upon for all ages.  And well, diaper stackers are just plain silly.
  • A changing table or changing table topper:  These are only useful for a short time, and a really not necessary anyway.  Just get a changing pad and put it on a dresser (if you have one at the right height) or on the floor (that way you don’t have to worry about baby falling off!).
  • A fancy diaper pail:  A fancy diaper pail is not by any means a necessity.  Just get a trash can with a tight-fitting lid (to contain odors), and plan to take out the trash every 1-2 days to keep odors to a minimum.

Gear

Infant car seat (must have)

This is one of the few bare bones essentials that you absolutely must buy before baby arrives — in fact, most of the time you won’t be able to leave the hospital in a private car without one.

Favorite brands/products: The Chicco Keyfit and Graco Snugride are among the most popular.  For a higher-end seat, our favorites are the Cybex Aton Q and the Nuna PIPA.  Also consider the highly rated Britax B Safe or UPPAbaby MESA if you are looking at full-size strollers from the same brands.  See our detailed buying guides and parent reviews here.

Car seat stroller (must have)

You definitely want to have a car seat-compatible stroller of some sort so you pop baby’s infant car seat in and out of the car.  You can either get a car seat stroller frame or a car seat adapter for your full-size stroller to accomplish this.  If you don’t mind getting an extra piece of gear, we’re very partial to the stroller frame, as it’s much lighter weight and more convenient.  But, if you’re a committed minimalist, you may prefer to just get the adapter.

Favorite brands/products: For car seat stroller frames — get the Chicco Keyfit Caddy if you have a Chicco car seat, the Graco Snugrider Elite if you have a Graco car seat, and the universal Safety 1st Clic It! or Joovy Roo (whichever one is compatible with your car seat) otherwise.  Try to get one with a click-in rather than strap-in connection.  See our full set of editors’ picks here.

Full-featured stroller (must have)

Yep, you pretty much need one of these, unless you plan to wear your baby in a carrier all the time (and never want to be able to cart around groceries, etc.).

Favorite brands/products: For lightweight full-size strollers — our top picks are the City Mini (GT) and Britax B-Agile.   For luxury strollers — we are absolutely salivating over the upcoming 2015 model (shipping Nov./Dec. 2014) of the UPPAbaby Vista.  Our top pick for an all-purpose jogging/full-size stroller is the BOB Ironman.  See our full set of full-featured stroller editors’ picks here, and parent stroller reviews here.

Umbrella stroller (optional)

Nice to have for in-and-out of the car and plane travel, but not strictly required.  Consider just getting a lightweight full-size stroller instead.  (Also, note that most umbrella strollers can’t be used until 3-6 months, when baby develops good head/neck control.  So consider holding off buying until later, until after you’ve figured out what’s really important to you in a stroller.)

Favorite brands/products: Our top picks include the UPPAbaby G-Luxe and and the Maclaren Triumph.  For a cheap travel stroller, check out the First Years Ignite.  See our full set of umbrella stroller editors’ picks here, and parent stroller reviews here.

Newborn carrier (must have)

Whether you need one of these depends in part on your parenting style, but we view it as a necessity for all but the most easygoing babies.  Be sure to get something that works well for the newborn stage — many standard infant-size carriers are simply sized too big, and/or require the use of bulky inserts.

Favorite brands/products: Stretchy wraps such as the Moby and Boba Wrap are the most popular for this stage.  Woven wraps (e.g. Didymos, Girasol, etc.) are pricier, but will last through infant and toddlerhood.  If you prefer a Soft Structured Carrier, our favorite newborn-to-infant options are the Beco Gemini, Boba 4G, and Lillebaby.  For ring slings, we love Maya (basic) and Sakura Bloom (luxe).  See our full buying guides and more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Infant carrier (must have)

This is a must for most families — for times when your baby seeks closer contact than a stroller can provide, and/or you need to navigate tighter spaces or uneven terrain (think festivals, narrow store aisles, hiking, etc.).

Favorite brands/products: Our favorite infant-sized Soft Structured Carriers are the TulaBoba 4G, Ergo 360, and Beco Soleil.  See our full buying guides and more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Bouncer/baby seat (must have)

Strictly speaking these are not necessities, but unless you are a super hard core minimalist, you will probably find at least one “baby holder” to be a worthwhile investment (just ponder how else you’re going to take a shower!).

Favorite brands/products: Our favorite is the Baby Bjorn Bouncer Balance Soft.  Fisher Price bouncers are also incredibly popular — they can be eyesores, but they’re cheap and the brightly colored toy bars are very effective at holding baby’s attention.  Another alternative is something like the Boppy Newborn Lounger.  See all TotScoop parent favorites here.

Floor mat and/or activity gym (optional)

It’s nice to have one of these for tummy time and/or playtime during the non-mobile stage (~2-8 months).  While commercially available floor mats and activity gyms are convenient, they aren’t essential; a blanket or towel on the floor will do the job just fine.  However, gyms with arches are handy because they conveniently position hanging toys right above baby.

Favorite brands/products: Our value picks are Infantino and Tiny Love.  Skip Hop makes our favorite products in this category.  See all TotScoop parent favorites in this category here.

Diaper bag and/or changing kit (optional)

You do need something that you can carry dirty diapers and lots of little accessories around in.  You don’t necessarily need a dedicated diaper bag, though — if you already have a roomy bag with plenty of organizing pockets that can be easily cleaned, you’re all set.  You can consider getting a small changing kit with a portable changing pad to organize diapers and wipes within your bag and simplify trips to the bathroom.

Favorite brands/productsSkip Hop and LeSportsac both make great diaper bags.  See TotScoop parent favorites here.

Playard / travel crib (optional)

To contain baby at home, or as needed for sleeping while traveling or at Grandma’s house.  Minimalists might consider getting a travel crib to use as either their primary crib at home, or as their co-sleeper for room sharing, in order to avoid buying yet another piece of gear.

Favorite brands/products: Top budget picks include the Joovy Room2 and the popular Graco Pack N Play series.  Our top premium picks are the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib, Guava Family Lotus Travel Crib, and Nuna Sena.  See all TotScoop parent favorites here.

What you DON’T need

  • Swing: For many babies, these are unnecessary — many babies will sleep just fine in lots of other places.  Plus, they’re huge and they’re eyesores.  However, if your baby has trouble sleeping anywhere else, don’t feel bad about breaking down and trying one.
  • Baby seat (e.g. Bumbo): These are popular, but totally unnecessary, and according to some doctors and physical therapists they can actually be bad for baby’s spine and gross motor development.  If used incorrectly, they can also result in falls and injuries.  Just use a bouncer or floor mat to hold baby instead.
  • Exersaucer/jumper: These can serve as additional handy “baby holders,” and can offer some incremental stimulation for baby, but if you’re already got a bouncer or a floor mat, they aren’t strictly necessary.
  • Shopping cart/high chair cover: Though favorites of first-time moms, these are totally unnecessary, and washing the cover after every use is totally impractical.  Worried about germs?  Just wipe down public surfaces before use, or avoid them entirely by using a carrier or bringing your own travel high chair instead.  Think you need the extra padding?  If baby is so wobbly that she can’t sit up on her own, she shouldn’t be sitting anyway; try carrying her around in a carrier or leaving her in her car seat instead.

Clothing, shoes, & accessories

Newborn & infant clothing (must have…in reasonable quantities!)

Clothing is another area where it’s easy to go overboard.  Yes, baby clothing is adorable; there’s just no getting around it! But, if you are a committed minimalist, you can get by with a lot less than you think.  Many parents end up overbuying clothing, and end up giving away (or selling at a huge loss) tons of like new or even never worn clothing (keep in mind that early on, clothing is outgrown in only a few months).  Just use your common sense to guide how much you actually need to buy: for example, if you plan to do laundry every three days, then you only need three days’ worth of clothes (taking into account a few changes per day, due to spit-up, accidents, etc.).  At the very beginning babies can wear pretty much the same thing night and day — so no need to invest in distinct daytime outfits vs. sleepwear, etc.

Tip: Pick clothes that will keep baby comfortable

What’s most important in the first few months is that the clothing you buy is loose and comfortable (e.g. not constrictive at the waist), and is weather-appropriate.  In hot weather, a simple short-sleeve onesie may be enough; in moderate or cool weather, one-piece sleepers or long-sleeve onesies along with stretchy pants/leggings/footies may be appropriate.  In cold weather, you’ll obviously need additional layers, particularly for going outside.  For the first month or so, until the umbilical cord falls off — consider side snap tees that won’t irritate the umbilical area.

Tip: Shop for easy dressing and diaper changes

For the first few months, when baby is small, consider side-snap tees and onesies so you don’t have to pull them over baby’s head.  For easy diaper changes, consider sleepers with full-length zippers (instead of full-length snaps) or gowns.  For ease of dressing, consider tops with built-in newborn mittens, and pants with built-in footies. Also, make sure you get a few skull caps to keep baby warm through the newborn stage.

Tip: Don’t buy too much NB clothing

A note on sizing: Most babies need NB sizes for a month or so, but not all do — consider buying mostly 0-3 month clothing ahead of time, and only a few NB size pieces, before baby arrives.

Favorite brands/products: There’s no shortage of baby clothing stores.  Just a few of our favorites include Under the Nile, Kate Quinn Organics, and Kushies for organic cotton basics; Gap, Old Navy, and H&M for cute, dependable basics; Mini Boden and Janie & Jack for splurge pieces.  See all TotScoop parent clothing favorites here.

What you DON’T need

In the first six months, you should have absolutely no (legitimate) need for…

  • Jeans, stiff pants, or pants with buttons: Too uncomfortable and/or impractical for newborns and infants.  You want loose, non-constrictive clothing with stretchy waists.
  • Shoes: You don’t need any real shoes until baby starts walking (or, at the earliest, cruising).  Companies sell “crib shoes” for non-mobile babies, but they’re just for show.  Footies, booties, or socks should be sufficient for keeping baby’s feet warm.  If you absolutely can’t resist some adorable crib shoes, make sure to get ones with soft soles that will not impede natural foot development.
  • Baby formalwear: Adorable, but totally impractical.  Even if you have a wedding or formal event — nobody cares if your six-month-old baby is in a cotton onesie and pants.  So whenever you see those seersucker or gray flannel suits, even on the sale rack — move on by!

Breastfeeding/feeding

Nursing pillow (must have)

This isn’t strictly a necessity (plenty of moms get by without one), but honestly if you aren’t on a super tight budget, we think it’s more than worthwhile.  Nursing is hard enough as it is, and you’ll use it enough to make it pay for itself many times over!

Favorite brands/products: The Brest Friend is the top recommendation of most lactation consultants, and therefore is our top pick.  The Boppy is also very popular, and can also be used for propping up baby, etc.  See all TotScoop parent breastfeeding favorites here.

Nursing accessories (must have)

If you plan to breastfeed, you will almost certainly need nipple cream/ointment at the beginning.  A few good nursing bras (including at least 2 daytime bras and at least 2 comfortable nighttime bras) and some nursing pads to stop leaks are also must haves.  A nursing cover is a nice to have, but not an essential; if you want to cover up, you can also use a swaddle blanket or similar.

Favorite brands/products: See all TotScoop parent breastfeeding favorites here.

Basic burp cloths and bibs (must have)

For burp cloths, you’ll need something soft and easy to wash that you won’t mind getting spit-up on.  But that doesn’t mean you need to pay a lot for fancy dedicated burp cloths.  This could be something as simple as an old t-shirt, a multi-purpose swaddle blanket, or (our favorite) a cloth diaper.  For bibs, you’ll probably want to get some basic, waterproof bibs once baby starts feeding from a bottle and/or drooling heavily (most babies start teething around four months).

Favorite brands/products: See TotScoop parent bib & burp cloth favorites here.

Pacifiers (optional)

These aren’t necessities, but many parents find them helpful in the first few weeks or month.  They’re so cheap that it’s probably not a bad idea to have one or two on hand.  Don’t invest in any more, though, until you figure out whether baby will take a pacifier at all, and if so which type she prefers.

Favorite brands/products: See TotScoop parent pacifier & teething favorites here.

Baby bottles (must have)

If you plan to ever be separated from baby at mealtime during her first year, you’ll need some bottles and nipples.  If you’re breastfeeding, pediatricians recommend waiting to introduce a bottle until around four weeks old, to avoid nipple confusion.  If you want to minimize how much gear you have to buy, skip the smaller 4oz. bottles (which babies can only use for a few months anyway) and go straight to 8-9oz. bottles.  Also, we recommend you buy one or two bottles from several different bottle “systems” to start; avoid investing in any one system until you see what baby likes best (many babies are very particular).  For breastfed babies, consider getting wideneck bottles with more natural nipple shapes to ease transition between breast and bottle.

Favorite brands/products: Our favorite general bottle systems are Born FreeAvent, and (for colicky/gassy babies) Dr. Brown’s.  For breastfed babies, here are wide-neck bottles from Avent, Tommee Tippee, and Dr. Brown’s.   If you prefer glass, here are top options from Born Free and Dr. Brown’s.  See all TotScoop parent bottle feeding favorites here.

Breast pump & accessories (must have)

If you plan to pump, a good breast pump is worth its weight in gold.  It’s worth it to get a double-electric pump (as well as a hands-free pumping bra) if you plan to do anything other than very occasional pumping.    You ‘ll also need milk storage containers if you plan to freeze milk longer term, and cleaning wipes if you plan to pump anywhere where you won’t have access to soap and running water.

Favorite brands/products: The Medela Pump-in-Style Advanced is our best bang-for-buck winner for double-electric pumps.  See all TotScoop parent breastfeeding favorites here.

What you DON’T need

  • 4oz. bottles: Babies can only use these smaller bottles for a few months anyway.  Save some bucks by going straight to the 8-9oz. bottles.
  • Specialized bottle drying rack and bottle brush: Unless you’re planning to do very heavy bottle feeding, a normal drying rack and bottle brush will suffice just fine.
  • Bottle warmer: Unnecessary (though you may choose to splurge on one if you’ll be bottle feeding a lot).
  • Sterilizer: Unnecessary (unless your doctor tells you otherwise, of course).
  • Pacifier pouch, clip, and wipes: Unnecessary.
  • Designer burp cloths and bibs:  Cute but unnecessary.

Bath & diapering

Diapers (must have)

Well, there’s pretty much no way getting around needing diapers (unless you are super crunch and are doing full-time Elimination Communication…).  Diapers should be changed promptly upon being wet or soiled, so you’ll go through quite a few in your baby’s lifetime.  Newborns go through 10-12 diapers per day; older babies fewer.

Tip: Save money by cloth diapering

If you are so inclined, you can save some money over your child’s diapering career by opting for cloth diapers.  As a bare minimum (if you can consistently do laundry every 1-2 days), you can get by with a stash of ~15-20 cloth diapers and ~5 diaper covers.  You can find several guides related to cloth diapering here.

Tip: Don’t buy too many NB size diapers

If you’re going disposable, consider buying just a single large pack of NB size diapers to start.  Some babies go straight to size 1 diapers, so you don’t want to overbuy.

Favorite brands/products: For disposable diapers — our favorite premium, green, non-toxic diapers are Bambo, Naty, and Earth’s Best (our value pick).  You can find a number of more detailed guides on diapering as well as TotScoop parent favorites here.

Wipes and accessories (must have)

For newborn wipes — you can hold off on the regular, solution-based disposable wipes for the first month or two.  Most pediatricians recommend using only wipes with water for the first few months anyhow.  For older babies, wipes with water will still do the job, or you can graduate to traditional solution-based wipes.  Reusable cloth wipes are also a great alternative at any age.

Diaper cream is also a must-have to treat rashes (once they appear; some babies are more prone to rashes than others, so no need to stock up prematurely).

Favorite brands/products:  For newborns — dry wipes like these work great (just add water), or you can get premoistened Water Wipes (which contain 99.9% water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract).  For regular baby wipes, our top picks for safer baby wipes (including fewer questionable chemicals) include Honest Company, Naty, and Earth’s Best. Find more diapering guides & TotScoop parent favorites here.

Changing pad (optional)

A changing pad is not a strict necessity, but it sure is handy (to provide a soft surface and keep baby from rolling away).  If you want to go the strict minimalist route, you can just use a towel on the bed or on the floor too.

Favorite brands/products: Our top pick for a safer (e.g. no vinyl), but reasonably priced changing pad is the Oeuf.  If you have a bit more to spend, check out the  Naturepedic and the Keekaroo Peanut.  More diapering guides & TotScoop parent favorites here.

Baby bathtub / bath support (must have)

Some sort of safe place to bathe your newborn/infant (before they can sit up themselves in the big bathtub) is a must.  The best option for most parents is to get a infant-to-toddler tub, which have both a reclining newborn sling/position as well as an upright seated position for toddlers.  If you’re a minimalist, you’ll skip the newborn bucket tubs and sink inserts that will be outgrown after just a couple months.  If you like — and you have a suitable bathroom setup (e.g. a huge sink, or a tub that is comfortable to kneel over) — you can also consider skipping the infant tub and just using a bath support like one of these in your sink or big bathtub.

Favorite brands/products: If space is at a premium in your bathroom, get the The First Years Infant-to-Toddler Tub.  If you have a bit more space, get the Primo Eurobath.  See more baby bathtime buying guides and TotScoop parent favorites here.

Baby shampoo/wash and lotion (must have)

Unless you already use a very gentle shampoo/body wash and lotion for yourself, it’s worth getting a specialized baby shampoo/wash and lotion, especially for the newborn stage when skin is super sensitive.  Look for products that are gentle and fragrance free.

Favorite brands/products: See parent favorites for shampoo/body wash and toiletries on our main site.

What you DON’T need

  • Wipe warmer: Simply not necessary.  Life is rough, kid.  Get used to it 😉
  • Specialized baby bath towel, bathrobe, and/or washcloths: A hooded baby towel and dedicated washcloths are definitely not necessities.  If you are a true minimalist (and this is the true test, my friend, as baby towels can be truly irresistible lol), any towel or washcloth you already have sitting around the house will get the job done.
  • Tons of bath toys: One or two carefully chosen baby bath toys should be sufficient.  Baby doesn’t need much to be entertained, and any more won’t fit in an infant tub anyway.

Health & safety

Baby monitor (must have)

We consider a baby monitor to be in the necessary category — and preferably video rather than just audio.  But before you splurge on an expensive dedicated unit, definitely check out smartphone apps such as Cloud Baby Monitor, which may satisfy your needs (you do, however, need to have an extra device that can be left as the broadcasting unit in baby’s room).

Favorite brands/products: Our top budget video monitor picks are from Infant Optics and Levana.  For a bit more, you can upgrade to an Infant Optics model with interchangeable lens, the Motorola MBP33/36, Samsung SEW-3037W, or Dropcam.  See more TotScoop parent favorites here.

Baby thermometer (must have)

MUST HAVE.  A necessity, unless you already have a forehead/aural/rectal thermometer at home.  Rectal thermometers are the most accurate, but minimalists may be able to squeeze by with just an aural thermometer (which is more useful as baby grows).  Just be prepared that you may need to run to the drugstore to get a rectal thermometer as well if baby gets a high fever as a newborn.

Favorite brands/products: Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer

Bulb syringe/nasal aspirator (must have)

A necessity until your child learns to blow her own nose.  Trust us, it’s worth it to upgrade from a bulb syringe (the kind they give you at the hospital) to a suction-powered nasal aspirator like the popular NoseFrida (MUCH more effective at removing snot).

Favorite brands/productsNoseFrida

Humidifer (optional)

Optional.  Helpful to decrease congestion and/or treat dry skin.  Note that cool mist humidifers are preferred to warm mist versions for mobile babies for safety reasons.

Favorite brands/productsCrane

Baby-safe cleaning products (optional)

If you don’t already use “green”/“safer” (i.e. EWG “A” rated) cleaners — such as all-purpose and bathroom cleaners, laundry detergent, stain remover, dish detergent, etc.— consider switching to them during pregnancy or when baby is born.  They’re safer not just for baby, but also for the rest of your family!  NOTE: Do your homework — don’t buy a product just because it markets itself as “baby-safe,” because often those are just as bad as conventional cleaners. For example, Dreft laundry detergent and most Babyganics products get terrible EWG ratings.  Check ratings on EWG first — see here.

What you DON’T need (at least not yet)

Toys & books (optional)

Babies need a pretty minimal assortment of toys and books in their first six months.  You don’t really need anything for the first month or two; if you like you can get one or two high-contrast items to encourage visual development.  After baby starts being able to focus on objects other than faces, a thoughtful selection of a handful of soft toys/books, grasping toys, and/or musical toys should be sufficient.  You don’t need to go overboard buying dedicated baby toys — as generations of parents will attest, simple household objects (try kitchen objects such as wooden spoons, whisks, mixing bowls, etc.) will do the job as well!

Favorite brands/products: Some of our favorite basic infant toy brands are Manhattan Toy, Wimmer-Ferguson, Sassy, Lamaze, and Infantino.  For premium, non-toxic (e.g. wooden and organic) toys and teethers, our go-to brands are HABACamden RoseMaple Landmark Toys, Under the Nile, and miYim.  Also see our editors’ picks and TotScoop parent favorites for toys and books.


What did we miss?  Tell us in the comments!

Note: All featured products and brands are editorially selected by our editors; we do not accept compensation in exchange for coverage.  This post does contain affiliate links, meaning we may receive a small proportion of any purchases you make after clicking on them (at no cost to you); thanks for your support!  See our full Editorial Policy & Affiliate Disclosure here.