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The Minimalists Guide to Baby Essentials: The First 3 Months

A close friend recently told me she was pregnant. After sharing her exciting news, she told me how she just had a little breakdown because she was feeling overwhelmed about everything she needed for the baby. I, coincidently, had this exact same experience when I was pregnant and since she asked for advice I thought I would create a minimalists guide to baby needs: For people who want the baby, but not all the ‘stuff’ that comes along with them.

Obviously, every baby is different, so my bare bones list might not work for everyone but I do think it’s a useful starting point. Every essentials list for babies I found when I was pregnant was ridiculously inflated. In what world is a wipes warmer a “must-have”? My whole philosophy is based on buying items as you need them and getting rid of them when you’re done.

I suggest you buy used items whenever possible. If you are buying used, you will get a great deal, be able to use it for a few months and then hopefully sell it back for close, if not the same, as you bought it for. Then it’s really more like borrowing! And that way you don’t need to worry about storing stuff for future babies because you can just buy another round of used stuff.  So with that, here’s my list: 


  • Breastfeeding- assuming you can master the art; it is the easiest of all the baby food options. It’s always with you; it’s perfectly warmed and requires no prep.
  • Lanolin nipple cream- you’ll want it for the first few months.
  • Nursing bras- I just bought two cheap ones.
  • Breast pump- it was essential for me because I’m working, but I have lots of friends who breastfeed and don’t have one. I’d just recommend doing some research on this one because it’s a lifestyle choice.

If you change your mind with breastfeeding, formula and bottles are readily available. Don’t worry about buying them for back up since you may never need them.


  • Diapers- cloth or disposable, your choice. Only buy one box pre-baby, because you don’t know how large your baby will be. Again, they are readily available to pick up as needed.
  • A few sleepers- wait until you know what you’re having and then buy some cute used stuff. Sleepers are the easiest.
  • Clothes- you can buy EVERYTHING second hand. Or, borrow from friends/family. A friend once told me to never pay more than $10 for one piece of baby clothing. It was great advice!


  • A “bed”- If you’re up in the air about your sleeping arrangement (crib or co-sleeping) and you’re short on space, consider a used playpen. You can use it for travel if you decide to get a crib down the road or if you decide to co-sleep. Also, lots of playpens now have a handy change-table and bassinet option.
  • A few blankets- my daughter loved to be swaddled but not all babies do.


  • Car seat- this is the one item I would recommend buying new. It’s impossible to know the history of a used car seat and you can always get a new car seat on sale.
  • Stroller- this is a decision that really depends on your lifestyle. If you live in the country or enjoy walking on trails, you’ll have different needs than a city dweller. Give some thought to where you’ll be using the stroller.
  • Wrap or carrier- I use my carrier all the time, so this is a must have for me. I find it easier to pop a baby in a carrier most of the time.


  • Babies really don’t need toys for the first 3 months. You are the most interesting thing for them to look at it. You can just show them stuff around the house.

Nice, but not essential

  • Breastfeeding pillow- buy used and sell when they grow out of it.
  • Swing- buy used and sell when they grow out of it.
  • Vibrating Chair- buy used buy used and sell when they grow out of it.
  • Baby Bag- buy used or use a bag or backpack you already have.

Don’t bother

  • Grooming kits are a waste of money. The only useful thing is the nail clipper, but for the first 3 months it’s safer to just chew their nails off.
  • Baby thermometers- they are a fortune (especially the ear ones) and you can just use an oral digital one that you would for an adult.
  • Baby towels – regular towels are way better.
  • Baby bath- you just put the baby in the tub with a little towel under their head.
  • Baby plates/spoons- adult stuff is fine. Just use a teaspoon.
  • Baby monitor- if you live in an apartment- you will hear your baby. No need for a monitor.

If you start with these few essentials, you’re sure to save lots of money and probably your sanity. You can put your pregnant nesting desire into looking for great used deals on our site instead! With enough lead-time, you should be able to find everything you need for baby.

Freelance Social Media Consultant/Producer/Production Manager and lover of media, entertainment and "the Internet". Mother to 1 human toddler and 3 guinea pigs, I live in Halifax, NS and I adore it. Follow me on Twitter: @erinberube

4 Responses to “The Minimalists Guide to Baby Essentials: The First 3 Months”

Michal Ann

Great advice! The impulse to buy is huge, but baby really needs very little. The only thing I would add would be “burp” cloths – cotton tea towels, old flannel sheets cut to smaller sizes – anything to cover the shoulder that offers a little shielding.



    Good point, we also have a whole bunch of homemade cloths!


Great list! Cloths can also be used instead of spending a fortune on wipes. I would add breast pads (washables are great) and a bunting suit (season dependent). We co-sleep but I’ve heard sleep sacks are great for crib sleepers. And for mom on the “nice to have list” I would suggest a nursing tank as well as the bras, great for layering!



Some very good, practical advice. I know some people who spent thousands of dollars on new everything for their first kid, most of which was worthless after a few months.


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