April 10, 2018

9 Newborn Essentials for the Modern Mom

Everything I loved and used the first several months.

9 Newborn Essentials for the Modern Mom

Well, believe it or not, my daughter will be ten months this week! It’s hard to believe we are pretty much out of the newborn phase. Since that newborn fog has lifted, I finally feel somewhat equipped and qualified to share my take on newborn essentials for the modern mom.

Now, I first must offer the standard caveat I give friends before doling out any sort of mothering advice. I am by no means an expert! But my experience is fresh. I’ve been through that newborn grind recently, so my perspective is current and vivd.

Next, I’ll preface this list with a second note. In general, I hate clutter! I dislike acquiring stuff and having stuff just in case. I don’t like having visual noise in my home.

Furthermore, leading up to the birth of my daughter, I frankly found baby registries and various lists I found online extremely overwhelming. I didn’t know what half the stuff was, nor did I like the looks of most of it. I tend to have a more modern aesthetic than most baby gear has.

In fact, I remember walking through a big box baby goods store and having a mild anxiety attack at the aisles and aisles of “must-haves”. Indeed, there is a whole industry dedicated to telling us what we “need” for our newborn. And for new parents who don’t know any better, it’s easy to feel like you have to buy it all or else you’re already failing as a parent!

However, truth be told, brand new babies don’t need much. Newborn babies really only need love, milk, and a safe place to sleep. And it doesn’t take all that much to make that happen.

So, without further ado I bring you this list of newborn essentials for the modern mom. I will lay out the essential categories, plus my recommendation for each category. Consider this your newborn essentials shopping list!

Newborn Essentials Shopping List

1. You will need a carseat / stroller.

This one tops the list because you will need this one in order to leave the hospital! So, assuming you want to go home with your baby, be prepared with a carseat.

The whole carseat and stroller search was seriously overwhelming for me. Who knew their were so many options?! And why are there so many options?

Now, you might have noticed that I lumped carseat and stroller together. That’s because my recommendation in this category combines both beautifully!

* My recommendation: the Doona all-in-one carseat and stroller 

(also available here, here, and here)

You guys – I seriously cannot recommend the Doona enough! It is my very favorite find for my new baby. The Doona is all one piece. You can convert it from carseat to stroller and back again with one hand! It’s lightweight and perfect for travel.

Simply put, it’s revolutionary and life changing! And that’s not an exaggeration. Sadly, Elle is starting to grow out of it, and I seriously don’t know what I will do after that. We love it so much.

(Side note: I’m considering doing a dedicated post about this with a video demonstration, because it’s that cool!)

2. You will need a bassinet.

In the early days, your baby will most likely sleep in your room near your bed. Having the baby close by makes it easier for all concerned in those first weeks.

* My recommendation: Snoo Smart Sleeper

Read my honest review of the Snoo Smart Sleeper here.

3. You will need swaddle blankets.

In the early days, babies want nothing more than to be swaddled. The first three months of a baby’s life are in fact often referred to as the “fourth trimester”. Being swaddled provides that secure feeling of still being in the womb.

Plus, the usefulness of these blankets extends beyond swaddling. They can be used with a stroller, for tummy time, and even for photo backdrops if you are a photo-taking mama like I am.

* My recommendations: Little Big Bee, as well as aden + anais, Little Unicorn, Lulujo, and Oh Joy for Target

As a color and pattern lover, I was completely drawn to swaddle blankets! So much so that I may have gone a little overboard, given how quickly baby’s grow out of swaddling (month 4ish?). But that’s okay – my wide sampling provided a good framework to provide recommendations for you. So all was not for naught, right?

4. You will need feeding essentials.

No surprise – your baby will need to eat. Figuring out how your baby is going to eat can be overwhelming and stressful. And it’s such a personal matter.

Without getting into TMI territory, I’ll just say that breastfeeding didn’t work for us – despite extensive concerted efforts. I did so / attempted to do so for Elle’s first six weeks of life. But essentially since birth, she has been partially formula fed. And after six weeks, she was exclusively formula fed, until we introduced other foods at six months.

Now, if you end up going the formula route, that’s okay! Don’t ever feel like a failure or “less than” or anything like that. Don’t let anyone “mom guilt” you either.

As for what specific formula to use, I will not even attempt to tell you what to do about that. But I will say this: pay attention to your baby and listen to your motherly instincts. You may need to experiment and try different formulas. We sure did. Ultimately, we found something that works really well for us! But it did take some trial and effort.

I will however recommend the best “equipment” for bottle feeding.

*My recommendation: Dr. Brown’s bottles (or Comotomo bottles)

Advantages of Dr. Brown’s bottles: the venting system helps to reduce gas issues – which was very helpful for us in the beginning.

Advantages of Comotomo bottles: these bottles are aesthetically pleasing and have very few parts to wash and use.

Note that you’ll likely need 4 oz bottles at first, and then you’ll transition to 8 oz bottles. This combo pack of Dr. Brown’s contains both.

* Bonus formula feeding recommendation: Munchkin formula dispenser

Grab you one of these! This one is a lifesaver. Before leaving the house, you fill it up with the appropriate amount of formula for a bottle. Then, when you’re out and about and baby is ready for a bottle, you just put water in the bottle and then add in this pre-portioned amount of formula. Quick and easy!

5. You will need diapers.

This goes without saying, I’m sure. But it is an essential, so I had to include it! Ha.

Now, I will tell you the biggest lesson I learned about diapers. Sadly, for us anyway, the cute diapers weren’t as effective as the tried and true brands. I really, really wanted a certain brand of diapers to work for her, but they just didn’t stay put and absorb that well. So, we resorted to one of the legacy brand of diapers and have never had an issue at all.

* My recommedations: Pampers Swaddlers 

6. You will need a changing pad.

Now that we’ve established your baby will need his or her diaper changed, let’s figure out where you are going to change the baby!

* My recommendation: Bumbo changing pad 

(also available here and here).

Without hesitation, I recommend you get this! This is by far the best changing option I found. This one is aesthetically pleasing, super easy to clean, and safe and comfy for your baby. And it’s available in three colors, though even my color-loving self opted for the soft gray. That’s because this isn’t something I wanted to make a statement so to speak. I just wanted it to blend in, which it does nicely.


7. You will need a baby carrier.

In those early days, your baby wants to be so close to you – which can be both endearing and exhausting. There are going to be times when you need a hands-free option. Whether you are around the house, out and about the town, or exploring the country, find something that gives you that freedom and flexibility.

* My recommendation: Baby Bjorn carrier (also available here).

Some of my friends swear by baby wraps – particularly the Solly baby wrap. And I’m sure they are wonderful! If you want to wear your baby on the regular, try these out! We just never quite figured that out.

However, we absolutely loved (and continue to love!) our Baby Bjorn carrier. While it’s more structured than a wrap, it’s still super comfortable on me while still supporting Elle confidently. We use it on neighborhood walks, as well as on outdoor hikes. In the early days, she would fall asleep in it, as she faced inward. Now, she faces outward and loves looking around!

8. You will need baby monitoring equipment.

This category is down my list for a good reason. As I mentioned in the bassinet section, your baby will likely sleep in your room the first weeks. So, in reality, you probably don’t need baby monitoring at the very beginning.

But if you’d like, go ahead and nail down your system pre-baby to get it out of the way. Trust me, you’ll want it soon enough.

My recommendations: Nest camera (also available here) and Owlet smart sock

Regarding the Nest camera, I’ll be blunt: go get it! Seriously. I already did the leg work for you on this one. The Nest camera is sleek looking, super easy to install and set up, dependable and easy to use.

I love that I can watch her online on my computer or on the app on my phone anytime of day. It makes me feel closer to her while I’m working.

I also love that I can talk to Elle via HD audio. She definitely hears me and responds.

In addition, the camera sends notification alerts when it senses movement, sounds, people, etc. Overall, the camera just provides a really good sense of security in the way it allows me to monitor my baby and her room.

Plus, it provides great entertainment! For example, much to our surprise, the first night Elle slept in her crib, she slept all night but moved all the way from one end of the crib to the other. I was able to create a time lapse of this movement, export it, and share it with family. Another example: her first time to roll over happened to be in her crib and was caught by the Nest camera. So we have that milestone preserved.

Regarding the Owlet Smart Sock Baby Monitor, this is another level of monitoring that you might want to adopt in the early days. By putting a smart sock on your baby’s foot, you can track your baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels using the Owlet app. It’s designed to notify the parent if either of those numbers fall out of “normal” ranges.

Bottom line: the Owlet provides peace of mind, which is so important to a new parent in those early days!

Isn’t it amazing what technology can do for us? Use it to your baby’s advantage!

9. You will need organizational solutions.

Like it or not, babies do come with a certain amount of “stuff”. Keep that stuff in order with organizational bins and such, in addition to the usual closet and dresser storage solutions.

My recommendations: these Petit Pehr pom pom bins (also available here and here – I even use one as a hamper for myself now!) and these cute striped ones and these tasseled ones 

In Closing

Always remember – everyone’s experience is different. So, don’t feel compelled to adopt my exact recommendations. This is what worked well for us. But do consider the essential categories I mentioned, and you’ll be more than prepared for baby’s arrival!

Finally, a few words of encouragement for any expectant moms reading this…

Take a deep breath. It’s all going to be great!

Remember you don’t need everything at the beginning.

More than anything, your baby will need your love – which I’m certain you’ll be ready to provide!

You’ve got this, mama.



If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy these:

An honest review of the SNOO
Carrie’s series of monthly letters to Elle
Meet Elle Esther Hogan
The story of Elle’s birth


  1. Holly @ Coordinator of Chaos says:

    From a fellow lover of color, I must ask about two things not listed – your rainbow sweater, and the rainbow pillow behind the pom baskets!

    I haven’t been in the baby stage for a while but everything you listed were definite yes-es for me when we were in the thick of those first few years!!!

    1. Hi Holly – You bet! Happy to help…

      1. Rainbow throw pillow

      2. Rainbow sweater – sadly, it’s older. You can see more of it here and here. If you want something similar, I’m more than happy to find for you! 🙂

      Always here to help! Thanks for stopping by and chiming in.

  2. Beth Bishop says:

    I love how this really lets you know what you MUST have, versus all the things you don’t really need! Shopping for a new baby can be so overwhelming! This is a great list for new to be moms!

    1. Thanks for saying that, Beth! Yes, it can be so overwhelming. So much pressure to get so much, and so many options for each and every “must have” thing. In reality, the baby doesn’t need that much. Love, milk, and a few other things. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *