As my shower was just around the corner, I couldn’t wait to register for all the things my precious little baby would need. My husband and I entered the store, starry-eyed and ecstatic to start putting our future visions to life. After the consultant handed us a booklet of registry items and administered the scanning gun, we were off to ‘shop’ the aisles. I stood dumbfounded at the front of the store, having no clue how to even begin this mission, until my husband suggested we tackle the perimeter first. Simple enough- there we were at nursing pillows and bottles. Okay, I thought- this won’t be so bad. We can do this.
But wait- did I need a nursing pillow? I consulted the index of my registry book, scanned pages 5-7 on nursing pillows, and learned that yes, this was an essential, according to this baby Bible. Hmm okay, does it matter what brand? Do I need extra covers? Does the name-brand really make a difference if all the products look the same? Should I get a gender-specific color to be cute or neutral in case I reuse it for future babies?
Baby Registry 101
My mind (and pregnancy hormones) were whirling, so I decided to side-step to the bottles. This has got to be easier, right? Wrong. This is where the full-blown sweaty panic-attack started setting in- how the heck did I know what size bottles I needed? How many ounces does a newborn drink? Do I need bottles for when my baby grows older at this point? Will my baby even need bottles? As I became light-headed, ravenous, and insanely angry, I was lucky my husband was there to have someone to direct my completely rational rage at. The entire chapter on bottles and nipples only heightened my bottle anxiety until I grew so weary and wanted to run (or waddle) out of the store.
Every family is different, but I have compiled a list of items my family considers must-haves, nice to haves, and not necessary. While it’s helpful to actually see items in person, I recommend doing most of your registering online where you have more of a variety and can read reviews. First I created in-store registries at Buy Buy Baby and Babies-‘R-Us and later made an Amazon registry. I fell in love with the items, prices, and options on Amazon, so I got rid of my Babies-‘R-Us list. You’ll never know if your baby will take to certain items, but Amazon and Buy Buy Baby have simple return policies, even if you already opened and tried the product!
My registering philosophy was to keep things simplified- I didn’t want to go overboard on ‘stuff’ that would unnecessarily accumulate, but this is YOUR registry, so feel free to go as minimum or extravagant as you see fit. Hope this list helps ease your anxiety. Leave me a comment with any questions.
- Crib, crib mattress (firm), 2-3 waterproof pads, 3 fitted sheets, blanket (NOT used in crib for sleep), 3 receiving blankets, dresser or armoire, changing pad with 3 sheets, storage baskets or bins
- Baby shampoo, lotion, powder, bath sponge, baby brush (would come in the grooming kit). Disclaimer: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using baby powder because of the risk of respiratory problems. I still like using baby powder to keep certain areas dry and soft, so if you’re going to use powder, use it safely. Put the powder on your hands first, away from your baby, not directly on or near her.
- Since I hated putting anything over my newborn’s head (and you will too), side-snap undershirts (like they give you in the hospital) are the way to go for newborns.
- Baby clothes are adorable, but think comfort and practical- sleepers that zip down the front and gowns are great instead of multiple-piece outfits that may be worn once.
- Register for undershirts in newborn through 12 month sizes.
- Since babies can’t sleep with blankets, get 2 sleep sacks/wearable blankets and don’t forget the swaddles- stay committed to swaddling! The velcro and muslin blanket kinds worked great for us.
- Nursing bras, comfy jersey robe for mom if you don’t have one already (I will ALWAYS get this for my expectant friends- it’s what I lived in during pregnancy and maternity leave- does not have to be ‘nursing robe’), bottle brush, correct flow nipples (I like Medela to pump directly into and Avent), 8-10 burp cloths/bibs (we go through so many of these- you can also use dish towels or old t-shirts).
- Bottles: these can vary widely based on your needs. Some families never use bottles and others think they never will but end up using them. From about 0-3 months, babies will take a 4 ounce bottle, then as their needs increase, 6-8 ounce bottles are a convenient size. If you’re as overwhelmed as I was, I suggest getting either a bottle starter set or four 4 oz bottles. Some babies only take to certain bottles, so it may be better to start small, assess your needs, and buy more as you need them.
- Stroller, car seat, two car seat bases (one should come with car seat)
- I suggest not going overboard with toys. Play mat, exersaucer, books, 3 teethers, connecting rings, and choose a few toys at varying ages (light up, sensory). Check through your childhood books to see if you can get a few of your old favorites. Don’t forget a toy chest/bin/basket.
- First aid kit, grooming kit, medicine starter kit, baby safe q-tips
Nice to have
- Diaper pail (not totally necessary- you can use your normal garbage or a normal trash can with a lid. Our diaper pail can take standard trash bags instead of having to buy expensive liner refills- Dekor). SquishSquishBaby also makes reusable diaper pail liners- how smart is that?! Contact the store owner here.
- Humidifier- you can use one that you already own; we got one and have not used it yet, but I anticipate we will in the future.
- Sound machine
- Safety gates- you will not need this initially, but you will want it down the line
- Feeding pillow- my husband actually used this more than I did; I still love my pillow to support my back and head while feeding and sitting but never used it for actually feeding. Everyone is different.
- Rocking chair or glider- I took my parents’ rocking chair- always ask around to repurpose items to be thrifty and for sentimental value.
- Changing table
- Pack and Play- I anticipated using this for my baby to sleep in as a newborn in our room and didn’t use it. However, I use it at my mom’s house and it’s great for use outside, for traveling, and will be great when my baby is a little older.
- Baby carrier
- Umbrella stroller
- Nipple cream- they give you samples in the hospital- ask for more samples while you’re there; you can also use coconut oil.
- Breast pump; you get 1 or 2 free through insurance
- Wipes warmer
- Infant bath tub- you already have a bath tub! Use a sponge in your current bath tub instead.
- Monitor- we bought a monitor but have never used it- our room is directly across from the nursery, so any noise she makes, we hear. Even if we’re downstairs watching TV, we can hear her.
- Trendy, expensive teethers like Sophie the Giraffe (what a scam!)
- Bottle drying rack- I just don’t like how they look out on the counter taking up space; if I hand wash bottles, I just dry them, but I often just use the dishwasher.
- Hamper- takes up space- we just use a draw string bag and hang it in her closet or throw it in with our hamper.
- Traditional high chair- takes up space; a good alternative is a clip-on high chair, which clamps onto the side of a table or counter and can be put away when not in use.
- Boogie Wipes- regular wipes or warm cloth with water works
- Expensive bedding set- even though they look pretty, bumpers (even mesh) are not recommended; same goes for the pretty quilt that comes with bedding- you won’t use it. I bought a few fitted sheets (Burts Bees are awesome!) and if you want a dust ruffle, buy it separately.
- Baby food maker- use your blender or food processor
- Cute bath towels- I always end up using our towels, which are nicer and more absorbent.
- Baby robe- while totally adorable, I can’t imagine any scenario where this would be used practically aside from a picture,
- Fancy clothing sets- maybe a few will be nice for pictures or special events, but it’s a hassle to put on multiple pieces of clothes, and the baby won’t be happy if it’s uncomfortable or cumbersome- neither will you as you struggle to dress and undress him/her.
- Diaper bag- I bought and returned a diaper bag. Again, in my book, a SCAM. I use my adorable Betsy Johnson bag or my large camel-colored leather tote, which are WAY cuter than any traditional diaper bag I found. I also turn to using the Eddie Bauer backpack I bought my husband- two straps are WAY WAY WAY better than one, I PROMISE. All diaper bags should be back packs. Browse the purse/bag sections at TJ Maxx or Marshalls for a great selection, including designer brands, at a variety of prices.
- Baby food cook book- get recipes online. They’re not difficult anyway.
Essentials that we borrowed
- Bassinet (total must for us and was nice not to own it- takes up space and only used for 6 weeks)
- Take good care of items that you borrow and be sure to follow it up with a thank you note.
Registered for and returned
- Bouncer chair; my baby never liked it, but for my niece, this was a must- every baby is different. Buy Buy Baby allows returns even without the box.
Do not let the registering process stress you out- you have enough physical and emotional strains on you as it is, so enjoy every minute of your pregnancy and register from the comfort of your couch. I will answer your questions and would love to hear about your must-have items.