I recently read an article by yahoo finance about the top 5 things that you need for a baby and they are pretty far off the mark. Here's a link to their top 5. As a side note, since the author didn't include items like diapers, wipes and clothes, I'll omit them as well. :)
Here are my top 5 things you'll need for a baby:
1) An awesome sling or wrap. I think wraps are fantastic as they're forgiving on size and allow you two hands of freedom. Plus, there's tons of holds that you can do with a wrap. A good sling is a nice alternative though. I've had both and would pick a wrap over a sling, for it's versatality.
2) Car seat - look, even if you live in the city, you have to have one in order to leave the hospital. This isn't a purchase that I ever buy used on, either. You can borrow from a close friend or family member if the seat hasn't been in an accident and isn't past its expiration date - which, for most seats, is six years. This is the only one that I agree with from Yahoo's list. I like an infant bucket seat when the babies are younger than six months old, but switch around that point as they become to burdensome to carry and to awkward to just leave in the car. For that reason, I recommend the Graco Snugride (not the 30 pound one). Great seat, easy to use and install and come with bases so that you can outfit more than one car as a baby mobile more easily.
3) A great double electric pump. Okay, so you're not going back to work, so you don't really need, nor can afford the double electric pump? Then buy a decent hand pump. The Medela Harmony or the Avent Isis. Both are good hand pumps that retail under $35. They usually both come with a bottle too, so you might not even need to buy number 4 on my list.
4) Bottles - contrary to the Yahoo Finance article's suggestion, you do not need to buy several sizes of bottles. Try the ones that came with your pump first, if those don't work buy another kind. Breastfed babies can be somewhat finicky with artificial nipples and bottles, you have to find what works for you. As to the suggestion that you'll need larger bottles, I call major shenanigans on that one. Most breastfed babies aren't sucking down 6-8 ounces per feeding. They typically take what they would get at the breast, a normal amount being about 2-4 ounces. There are some breastfed babies that are super amazing (as is mommas milk supply) and can quickly nurse 8 ounces, but those babies are the rarity, and not the norm. I have no scientific journals to back this up, this is all personal opinion, having spent the last year as a volunteer weighing babies at a breastfeeding support group.
5) A good swaddling blanket. The ones sold in stores are usually too small, so look for large ones as a swaddle is so important for super young babies. Some people have friends or family make them some larger blankets - super easy as you just need flannel and to either serge the edges or to finish the edges with a sewing machine.
As for a place to put baby, well you have the infant car seat if you need it. Or you can try putting the babe in your partner's arms (or a grandparent, etc). While a swing or bouncy seat are essential to some babies, they aren't for all. We got our use out of our Fisher Price Papasan Swing with my daughter - she loved it. My son was just as content to lay on a blanket on the floor. Different babies, different personalities, and all that.
Finally, as to author Stacey Bradford's assertion that "of course, you'll also need clothing, formula and diapers", well, I can agree with the clothing and diapers. I completely disagree with the notion that you'll need formula. While supplementation is sometimes needed for medical reasons, for the majority of nursing babies, supplementation is not needed. What's needed is support for the breastfeeding mom, so instead of putting a can of baby formula in your kitchen for just in case or taking that free formula bag, why not find the name of a local IBCLC as well as the meeting times and dates of local breastfeeding support groups (or la leche league meetings). If, for some reason formula is needed, worry not....there are tons of stores open 24 hours a day, no need to keep that can of formula tempting you at 2 am because the baby isn't sleeping and you're tired (it gets better, I promise!).