50 Newborn Essentials you Really Might Not Need (but the lists tell you you do)

It all started when I was 9 months pregnant with my first child and I received an email from a colleague titled “Newborn Essentials”. I stopped what I was doing, opened it excitedly and started reading. And reading. And reading. The email was a good 3 A4 pages long, a proper scroller, and I remember feeling my eyes widen as I read. I quickly forwarded it to my husband and picked up the phone to book us in an appointment at the John Lewis Nursery Advice service (don’t so it).

Flash forward 4 years and I’ve learnt a lot (and got rid of a bunch of useless items we didn’t need.) And when I put it out to the Instagram community, it seemed you parents felt the same. So here goes; a list of 50 Newborn Essentials you don’t need (but everyone tells you you do) according to other parents. I struggle with the emphasis on stuff when having a baby and the whole concept of trying to sell us mums stuff before a baby is even born to create a fully prepared nursery.

Take the specific items with a pinch of salt – every child and every parent, their situations and needs are different, and if an item makes us feel happier and calmer as a mum, then that’s a win. The list is more a simple reminder to just think twice about buying so much stuff. It’s very easy (especially at 36 weeks, waddling along) to be sucked in to the Marketing hype (I certainly was) and feel pressure to buy certain items. So here’s the list, plus some accompanying commentary from parents; I hope you find it useful.

1.Wipes Warmer machine – “for the Royal fanny. Just no.”
2.Disposable wipes – “after a week of wasting a box of warmed wipes on my newborn who wouldn’t stop screaming with every nappy change, I quickly switched to what my mum once did with me, which was just washing us in the sink”
3.Nappy bin – “basically a big plastic bin, with a plastic cartridge full of plastic bags to wrap dirty disposable nappies in. Horrendous” / “definitely the most unnecessary item ever” /”A nappy bin which wraps the nappies in plastic, WHAT WAS I THINKING?!”
4.A bottle prep machine – ” I just have a thermos of prefect temp water” / “when I was sleep deprived with my first I used to click the button on our perfect prep then just stand there like a Zombie watching the water pour all over the floor whilst I still had the bottle in my hand ??”
6.Impractical/uncomfortable outfits – “my kid is dressed in 95% hand-me-down onesies and 5% gifted clothes.”
7.A bath thermometer -“a bath thermometer. Why?!? Just stick your finger in and feel if it’s warm or not ??‍♀️”
8.Snot sucker – “snot sucker, not only is it grim it’s also useless and unnecessary!” / ” if anyone has ever successfully used one of these, I am yet to hear of it!”
9.Moses basket / cot – ” in those first few weeks I wondered why on earth my baby didn’t like the Moses basket. Oh. Turns out they all like to sleep near their mama!”
10.Expensive buggies –  “once upon a time I was in Mothercare dreaming about these buggies way out of reach ££££. Here I am realising a sling, carrier is all baby needs”
11.Or even just a buggy – “no need for a buggy if you can carry (unless recovering from a section)
12.Ball pit
13.Baby bath – “the most ridiculous, unpractical item
14.Baby walker – “took up about half of our flat, he didn’t use it and it barely worked on our carpet ?”
15.Most baby ‘toys’ – “my son was only interested in my boobs” / “she is 7 months and she just wants what we have. She loves lids, old tv buttons, a wee ball she found, menus when we are out, her food bowl and bag straps – the toys don’t get much of a look in!”
16.Special baby shampoo or wash– “my baby has survived pretty well for the last year on just plain old water. Never had dry skin or any of the other problems that I imagine the chemicals in most washes actually aggravate or cause” //” We don’t use anything but coconut oil” / “Once was enough to give him a baby acne. Water is the best.. ”

17.Baby food blenders  – “I can steam food and mash up just fine without a fancy plastic machine” //”I bought it and sold it to the next unsuspecting victim within one unsuccessful use”
18.Special baby changing bags –
“just use a backpack”
19.Baby monitor –
“and pretty much any item that only has one function!”
20.Changing mat –
“in fact, anything revolved around a “changing area. A blanket does just fine”
21.Food pouch fillers
22.Shoes – 
“they can’t walk… what the hell is the point?”
23. Co-sleepers – “haven’t used it once. Every newborn ?? needs a bosom for a pillow ✌?”” /  Seriously, used it once and he ended up in bed with us “
24. Plastic shaped bibs with the scoop for catching ‘stuff’ –
“made more mess than they saved”
25.A pee pee teepee –
26.Trousers / pants – “I live in south Florida (it’s above 80* 90% of the year) and people always comment how my baby isn’t wearing pants. I’m like, really?”
27.Sophie the bloody giraffe!!
28.Baby flannels

29.A ‘coming home’ outfit

31.Gina Ford book

32.Ewan the dream sheep – “I find myself infuriated by product after product that claims to make babies sleep better, from ‘dream sheeps’ to special vibrating seats. Stop trying to make parents think buying stuff solves the problem! The stuff gets in the way of the thing the baby really wants…their mummy and daddy!” / “A phone app is all you need”
33.Top and tail bowls
34.A baby grooming kit
35.Baby changing table – “I’ve always changed my sons nappy on the floor on a towel which has meant he’s had to freedom to move around and explore his surroundings”
36.Playpen – “never got used, not even once ?”
37.Crawling ball
38.An egg shaped thermometer for their room – “causes anxiety if the room increases by 0.5degree! Needless to say it didn’t last more than a few weeks!”
39.Tummy time pillow – “still trying to sell it on a Facebook group some three years later”
40.A bumbo / all the other devices you can use to help child sit/ stand – “Just wait a few months!”
41.Bath kneeling pad – “what about just some towels or the sink?!!”
42.Electric swing
43.Steriliser – “we just boiled the kettle or used a tablet”
44.Nursing chair
45.Baby towels – “tiny little things that barely even cover the babe. I’d much rather use a regular, full size towel, without cartoon characters on it.”
46.Baby safe laundry detergent
47.Nappy rash cream
48.Baby specific plates and cups
50.Grow bags – “think my baby must’ve slept one night in his. And we were gifted three.”

So next time someone offers to send you a list or asks you if you’ve bought all your baby stuff yet, perhaps just smile and nod (and reflect upon your clutter-free home and slightly fuller purse). It took me having my second child to realise that babies need so little to be happy and are actually very minimal creatures. Anything I needed was a conscious decision once I was past the newborn stage – there’s nothing that can’t be bought as and when it’s needed – or even better, borrowed or acquired second hand.

One parent told me that “apart from having more wooden spoons around the house – for eating, nibbling on when teething and drumming on any surface that would make a sound – we didn’t use any of the baby must-haves most lists seem to have.” Another wrote “All babies need is love, food and warmth ❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️”. And I have to say, I tend to agree.

Is there any item you would add to the list?

Emma xxx

P.S Sustainable Newborn Essentials and 10 Ways to Reduce Waste and Live with Less


  1. JP
    October 4, 2020 / 10:40 pm

    If a reader follows this list they’ll literally end up with nothing for their baby! It’s actually pretty poor advice to be giving. And perhaps a switch to a more negative piece about ‘what really helped’ would be more beneficial but I guess, a lot less ‘headline grabbing’.

    • JP
      October 4, 2020 / 10:41 pm

      *less negative piece

  2. Karmin
    October 17, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    Agree with a lot but also use a lot of these, like the snot sucker. How do you clear a clogged nose without one? My babies have both gotten snot stuck high up in their nose which makes it hard for them to breathe, sleep, and eat, even without having a cold. My second baby also has a lot of gas/hiccups/reflux, and doesn’t seem to be able to nurse to sleep. The pacifier is one of the only ways to get her to stop yelling during the day, after she is full and fed. Unfortunately my first one liked the baby wrap and my second one screams in it, so I have had to rely on a swing, etc because she hates being smashed next to me in a wrap. I’m sad she isn’t cuddly at this point, but some moms really can’t rely totally on a carrier if their baby hates it. Other things like fancy uncomfortable clothes and wipes warmers and all that, yes I agree not necessary. This list could be helpful to a first time mom but also can make moms who have used these things feel a little less adequate or something.

  3. Adele
    October 17, 2019 / 8:58 am

    The snot sucker is brilliant!!!! Been a lifesaver with both my boys, and kept them entertained while I changed nappies 😉 I totally get the point behind making this list, but there are loads of things on here that I would call essentials. Like a cot/Moses basket…! And a pram….! And nappy rash cream…! And trousers….! It maybe hot in the US, but it’s flipping cold here in London most of the time!!! If you’re a mum/dad to be reading these comments, please take the sentiment behind this list on board, but don’t take it too literally! x

  4. Anna
    October 11, 2019 / 12:32 pm

    Love this list! Some of the things Were essentials for me but all depends on your situation. Baby no 2 due any day and we’ve bought next to nothing. I am a big advocate for the snot sucker though!!!! Especially to clear their little noses before a feed.

  5. Andrea
    August 3, 2019 / 7:56 pm

    I had twins and some of the items you listed saved my sanity/life.

  6. Kate
    May 14, 2019 / 10:23 am

    I think people are missing the point… It’s about being sold the idea that you NEED all these things prior to your child, a unique & demanding individual, even being born! No one does. What you’ll gradually discover is what works for you & what your child prefers, which is great & can be purchased/borrowed/tried out when necessary. We bought so little, largely through being so overwhelmed & indecisive but it paid off as the things we genuinely needed for our wee one quickly became apparent. Then we’d only accumulated things we used. The only additional thing I’ve purchased in prep for the 2nd babe is a buggy board & even that’s for the toddler; I’ll just need to wait & see who see is this time around. Well done, Emma! X

  7. Georgina
    March 1, 2019 / 7:58 am

    I agree with all of these apart from the Jumperoo! Buy them second hand though!

  8. Char
    February 27, 2019 / 8:33 pm

    Listening to your podcast at the moment and was intrigued by this list but totally disagree with so many things!! We used and loved the majority of things – to be quite honest your ‘don’t need’ list is a ‘must need’ for me and many other mums I know ! In particular the nursing chair prevented horrible back pain from feeding in bed and on sofas, our jumperoo our baby LOVED so much, and how are you doing without disposable nappies when out in public!? Oh and Gina Ford saved our lives and gave us a baby who has slept through the night since a few months old for 12 hours and hasn’t deviated since!! Each to their own I guess… but I find this a very odd list.

  9. Aaron Pull
    October 25, 2018 / 2:26 pm

    A few things on the list obviously you don’t need – a ball pit, the nappy bin etc. but other things seem to be a bit odd. Not sure where my baby would sleep if we didn’t have a Moses basket? A buggy is pretty useful to have (maybe all these people have cars for longer journeys?) sure it doesn’t need to be expensive. Sleeping bags stay on in the night blankets don’t so would recommend those as well.

    strange list, think by people who are trying to prove they are better than other people because they do or don;t do something.

    • March 4, 2019 / 8:18 am

      Totally agree with you. Definitely made me feel like a bad mother for relying on some of these things. Not quite sure what the intention is here but for someone who is already struggling it’s made me feel even worse.

  10. Anna
    October 24, 2018 / 1:21 pm

    I agree with a lot of the things on the list, but the snot sucker is one of the best things I ever bought! My son is 7 and is more than capable of blowing his nose now but before that the snot sucker was just brilliant. Also weirdly satisfying when you get a lot out. Yes, I know, gross. But satisfying! Totally agree about the sophie the giraffe! My god, that annoyed me, everytime someone said to get it and I never did until someone bought it for me and my son couldn’t have cared less for it. Marketers dream that thing is.
    But dummies worked for us, especially when we were flying and my sons ears were hurting from the altitude and so having a dummy was great. Another one of those things that you are going to get judged for. Once my son was really young and had it in his mouth for take off and a woman in front of me turned around once up in the air and told him that he doesn’t need it! Yeah, cos she is the expert on my child and his ears. Before he turned 2 we had a little chat in the kitchen about how it was time for the dummy to go and he was totally fine with it. Every family is different. Good list though x

  11. Jennifer Bailey
    October 17, 2018 / 11:16 am

    I agree with a lot of this list but the perfect prep made life worth living again. Trying to hold baby and measure boiling hot water while half asleep was not ideal! I know lots of people ignore the more recent rules about making up formula but I was too scared on my first baby.
    Also my daughter got way too sweaty in a sling and rejected any kind of baby carrier once she could walk! Pushchair was essential.

  12. Sabrina
    October 16, 2018 / 10:18 pm

    You definitely need a lot less than most lists make you believe and some things are also not even all that good for babies. Some things depend on the situation though.
    When my little one was born we lived in a house with a shower but no bath tub and tiny sinks. A baby bath was a necessity for us so. ^^
    It’s really all about staying practical.

  13. Jules
    October 16, 2018 / 6:59 pm

    Totally agree with most of this list – we has a small flat so I tried out of necessity to keep things to a minimum and it turned out most stuff was totally unnecessary anyway. But I’m intrigued by the suggestion of no buggy at all?! Maybe in the beginning and if you have a car but there’s no way I could carry my two year old around just in a sling using public transport – i’d break my back!

  14. Nina
    October 16, 2018 / 6:16 pm

    27 and 31 made me crack up:-D happy I ended up not buying most of these things.

  15. Kate Sugarman
    October 16, 2018 / 10:25 am

    I don’t agree with a few of the items that made this list: baby grooming kit, snot sucker, nappy rash cream are essential in my eyes – but yes, the majority of stuff you’re told you need is just crap.

  16. October 16, 2018 / 9:45 am

    I agree with everything EXCEPT THE SNOT SUCKER!! I’ve used mine every time babe has had a cold to help him sleep and feed. Oh, and maybe Sophie la giraffe..

  17. Natalie
    October 16, 2018 / 8:39 am

    Great list! Totally agree!! EXCEPT FOR THE SNOT SUCKER!!! ? We used it so many times when he had a cold and struggled to breastfeed. He had a cold at 3 weeks old bless him it was so sad! The snot sucker is my fave and was a life saver!

  18. Anonymous
    October 16, 2018 / 7:51 am

    Fantastic advice thankyou much needed at this time, no 1 is coming soon and people keep on throwing things at me and telling me what to get. What would you say then are the few essentials you would definitely not do without though?

    • Laura
      October 16, 2018 / 11:48 am

      Around 6/7 baby grows and vests if it’s cold (I found the baby grows/sleepsuits with zips good as when you’re sleep deprived poppers can be confusing! Lol! Nappies – preferably washable as disposable nappies stay on the planet forever – even the supposedly bio degradable ones – see a previous post 🙁 reusable wipes which you just use with water, muslins, a blanket, a car seat and a sling / carrier 🙂 enjoy, it really does go so so fast! And when things are tough just know that everything is a phase and everything changes all the time and gets easier all the time! Xx

      • Anonymous
        October 17, 2018 / 10:55 am

        Thankyou!! Sleeping bags I have been handed down, as well as Muslin cloths, and some clothing and for now it’s actually all we’ve got … and a sling carrier. nappies I will start with the cloth nappy library to see what works. Much appreciated advice thanks X

  19. Rosie
    October 15, 2018 / 9:35 pm

    This is amazing! I think that people get so obsessed about buying every little thing and then don’t use them. I don’t have children but I am a nanny which has been great in teaching me that cuddles solve most things and second hand toys etc are loved just as much as new ones

  20. Anonymous
    October 15, 2018 / 9:32 pm

    Pregnant with my 4th. And love your list. So many people ask have you got stuff and all I say is I have 7 baby grows vests a blanket and muslins that’s all I need. They always look shocked that I am not buying loads of stuff.

  21. Laura
    October 15, 2018 / 9:16 pm

    I’m a little bit in love with this list.
    Our third babe is on the way, by now we know we need very little other than some cloth nappies and wipes, a small pile of clothes, and meals delivered by kind friends and family for a few weeks.

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