I tend to think most baby gear is ridiculous. In fact, I really have trouble understanding people who claim that babies require a lot of stuff. I suppose this argument hinges in part on your definitions of "require" and "a lot," but babies don't absolutely need their wipes warmed.
Even though I'm firmly in the "less is more" camp, there are a handful of things I cannot imagine not having during the newborn period.
(Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. I have no relationship with any of these products or companies except that I genuinely enjoy them.)
1. Swaddle blankets.
Two days old, bad ass swaddle.
Swaddle blankets must not be confused with receiving blankets. They're NOT the same thing! Swaddle blankets are wonderful squares of amazingosity! Receiving blankets, on the other hand, are bullshit.
Westley's collection of colorful swaddles came from a wonderful local shop, Birth and Beyond. If your local cool-hip-and-groovy baby boutique doesn't carry swaddle blankets, look for Aden & Anais swaddle blankets. They're beautiful, but more importantly, HUGE. A whopping 47 inches square! This is crucial for getting a good, snug wrap that stays put while still being comfy for your little one.
2. A nursing pillow.
Some women can breastfeed comfortably without a nursing pillow. I am not one of those women. My body is all torso, which might have something to do with it. In any case, I could not have succeeded at breastfeeding without my Nurture Nest. What I especially like about this particular pillow is that it's bigger and fatter than the ever-popular Boppy.
P.S. Nursing pillows aren't just for nursing.
3. Thirsties diaper covers.
I didn't actually have Thirsties cloth diaper covers when Westley was a newborn, but I wish I had! Of all the diaper covers I tried, Thristies were by far the easiest to care for, had the best fit for my long-and-not-too-chubby baby, and lasted the longest. Our size Large covers, which Westley still uses at night, have lasted over two years! The colors aren't as vibrant as they once were, but the covers still get the job done.
4. Ergo baby carrier.
There are tons of wraps, slings, and carriers out there, but the Ergo is easily the best baby (and toddler, and kid) carrier I've found. It's strong, comfortable to wear, doesn't require an engineering degree to get on and off, and friendly to most body types!
5. Melinda G nursing bras.
Why are there so many shitty nursing bras? Breastfeeding deserves better! It was a revelation when I found a nursing bra I didn't dread wearing. The Melinda G T-shirt underwire nursing bra is exactly like a bra I'd wear in my usual, non-lactating state. It's supportive without looking like bridge engineers designed it. I still sometimes sleep in this bra.
6. Perineal care supplies.
A peri bottle came with my home birth kit, and I would hope that hospitals send new mothers home with them, because this thing is wonderful. If your home birth kit or hospital doesn't hook you up, Lunapads has peri bottles for sale. A nice spray of warm water was the only way I could convince my swollen, freaked-out neither regions to relax enough to pee in the first few days postpartum. Later, the peri bottle was useful for hemorrhoid care. (Moral of the story: don't push so hard next time, if you can help it.)
Also, I couldn't go anywhere without my donut pillow for a while.
I hear the jury is still out on whether these little inflatable rings actually promote healing or hinder it, but mine helped me sit comfortably for those initial long nursing sessions. I think I even took it to Mass on Christmas Eve. It certainly didn't make things worse, and I didn't become a donut pillow addict or anything (hiding it around the house, lying about how often I'm using it, using it to escape), so I'm calling it an essential.
Bonus: BabyBjorn BabySitter.
This lightweight little seat was a wonderful place to plunk the baby down while I showered, dressed myself, or prepared a meal—but not in the first six weeks. Westley received it as a Christmas present from my parents, and at three weeks old, he was a little small for it.
Rock out with your (too big) socks out.