We lived in a 1 bedroom apartment until just after our baby turned 1, so we didn’t go to town on baby stuff but I wasnt as minimalist as I thought I’d be.
1. Halo sleep swaddles (2). So much better than swaddle blankets!
2. White noise machine
3. Baby monitor (cheapie sound only kind). If your place is really tiny you won’t need this, but we liked being in the backyard while baby was asleep. It was also great when traveling/visiting family with larger homes.
4. Place for baby to sleep. I’d recommend getting a travel crib with bassinet combo. We got a cosleeper and crib free so we use those, but still bought a travel crib for travel. My friends babies slept in travel cribs until they transitioned to real beds.
5. Carseat: get one with good safety rating, doesn’t need to break the bank
6. Baby clothes: babies do not need a lot of clothes and this is great to purchase second hand.
7. Baby carrier (lille baby worked great for us from infancy)
8. Baby bath. A lot of advice says this is optional. Maybe if you have a great kitchen sink (we didn’t). We bought the shnuggle baby bath and still use it at 15 months. Best investment ever. Saved my back, my daughter loves bath time and saves water (which is expensive where I live).
9. Activity mat. If you only buy one toy, buy this.
10. Not essential but I was gifted a baby Bjorn bouncer and it is awesome. It was so nice having a safe place to put baby when I needed hands free. We also put her in it during dinner before she could sit up. It folds up really small, so great for small homes. It’s also machine washable. My daughter uses it as her lounge chair now and loves “reading” in it.
11. First aid kit: Aquaphor, infant Tylenol, infant Motrin, Pedialyte, thermometer.
12. With bottles, don’t buy many because your baby may not like the first ones you pick out.
13: An on the go diaper changing station. Skiphop makes a good one.
Things that aren’t necessary but I ended up buying anyway and liked having: bottle drying rack (she drank pumped milk at work so we had a lot of bottle dishes), wipe dispenser, a few additional toys, a wrap carrier (in addition to the structured carrier), hand breastpump, changing table.
Also we didn’t get a stroller until baby was 3 months. I always used the carrier, so I’d say a stroller isn’t an immediate necessity although if you have a C section that might be a different story.
We cloth diaper, so a basic cloth diaper setup was part of our essentials. If money’s tight that’s a good way to save.