Baby Registry Essentials
Expecting your first baby? CONGRATS!! Welcome to the no BS guide that was created by Mom's for Mom's. I've collaborated with many parents to create a "getting started guide" of baby essentials that have proved to be the tried and true must-have's throughout the years to make the transition to parenthood as seamless as possible. We've weeded out the fluff and kept to the essentials along with great recommendations to get to the nitty gritty of what you actually need so you can be ready when baby arrives! This guide will be your new best friend as you navigate the realm of all things baby as we have already done the research for you and tried the products that come highly recommended by parents time and time again!
Before we get started, a quick tip if you haven't already done so - make sure to register at Amazon and BuyBuyBaby as they both have completion discounts, fun promotions, welcome gifts, longer return windows, and more!
Another awesome option is Amazon's Family 30-Day Free Trial as you save 20% on diaper subscriptions (hello savings!!), receive exclusive coupons and deals from Amazon Family, and have access to exclusive baby registry benefits, FREE 2-day shipping on most items, and unlimited instant streaming of movies, TV shows, and songs! It's worth it just for the 20% off of diapers! Try Amazon Family FREE for 30 days!
If there's even a chance you'll be having more than one baby, do yourself a favor and buy some items in neutral or unisex colors (like white, grey, green, turquoise, etc) for things like high chairs, baby bathtubs, playpens, baby carriers, baby swaddles, activity centers, car seats, bottles, nursing pillows, baby dishes, etc. Though it may be tempting to go all out and get everything pink and all things floral if you're having a girl, your pocket book may regret this if baby #2 is a boy (or maybe baby boy will just have to roll with loving all things pink and frilly!)
If you have other mama friends that are in slightly different baby stages, share baby items, especially the bigger items like baby swings, activity centers, walkers, toys, clothes, etc. This is great way to save money, stay green, and save space! Also check out online and consignment sales to save money on items that are safe and easy to wash.
When buying baby products, keep in mind, quality over quantity. The baby market is just like the wedding industry - all over, in your face, and "Baby" is placed on everything to make you think you need it. You probably don't. And you also don't need 10 of everything! Use your rational brain, think through things, talk to experienced parents, decide what you and baby actually need, and invest in quality over quantity.
That said, the suggestions below are of personal opinion but come highly recommended by many parents. Every baby and situation is different so take it all with a grain of salt, and use your best judgment. You'll know your own baby best after all! What works for one baby might not work for another, but that doesn't make it useless/bad. Every baby (and parent) is different, so take what works for you and throw out the rest!
OK, let's get started on the good stuff!
CRIB: This is personal preference of course to match your oh-so-adorable nursery! To coordinate with our rustic coast adventure theme, we chose this Evolur Waverly 5-in-1 Convertible Crib in weathered white that converts into a toddler bed and full bed. A close second was this super cute Babyletto Lolly 3-in-1 Convertible Crib.
MATTRESS: We opted for this Newton Breathable Waterproof Baby & Toddler Mattress to help minimize our anxiety with baby sleeping and SIDS concerns, but this is a personal choice. There are less pricey options as well such as this Graco Premium Foam Crib and Toddler Mattress. We ended up using our Newton Breathable Mattress for our baby's first year, and then used a less expensive option once baby turned 1 and gave the Newton Breathable Mattress to our newborn son.
BEDDING: You need at least 2 crib sheets and a waterproof crib liner (if your mattress doesn't come with one). FYI, Bumpers are no longer recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics because they only pose a hazard and don't actually serve a purpose. You may eventually need the Mesh Breathable Bumpers if baby starts reaching out or getting legs stuck once baby is older, but you can tackle that much later!
BASSINET / SIDE SLEEPER: For the first few months when baby is sleeping in your room, consider a bassinet or side sleeper. Some people use the bassinet that comes with the pack 'n play. Our bassinet of choice is HALO's basic version HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper. Our baby never took to this Newborn HALO Bassinet Insert as we didn't try it until 2 months in, but some of my mama friends swore by this. Just start your newborn with it early. I personally don't think the extra fluff in the HALO BassiNest Swivel Sleeper Soothing Center (complete with nightlight, vibration, and sound) is worth it (and also more sleep props to wean down the road), but if you want to get all fancy, feel free to upgrade! Both of our babies had bad cases of GERD which resulted in our babies not sleeping well on their backs. Mama and Dada were beyond sleep deprived and desperate for sleep, so we finally gave in with our second child with the SNOO and elevated it on one end to help with his symptoms. Some parents love the SNOO, though I'm still not completely sold after using it for 4 months.
CHANGING PAD: We love this Summer Contoured Waterproof Changing Pad and it's a great price too! Make sure to get 2 changing pad covers as they will inevitably get dirty. We keep these Disposable Changing Pad Liners nearby for the early stages when baby has many blowouts and also keep a few in the car and various rooms where we frequent often.
INFANT CAR SEAT: Many people buy an extra Car Seat Base for their spouse’s car. We didn't find this necessary, but many people who share in daycare drop off/pick up find it a necessity. Our favorite infant car seats are the UPPAbaby MESA Infant Car Seat and the Nuna PIPA RX Car Seat and Base as they both adapt to their corresponding stroller. The main perk of an infant car seat over a convertible car seat is that if baby is sleeping, you can easily take the infant car seat out of the car and put it in your stroller or shopping cart to take baby with you and avoid waking your sleeping bear! They do outgrow the infant car seat rather quickly though so make a decision on what will be best for you and your situation. Another AWESOME option is this hybrid Doona Infant Car Seat to Stroller option (car seat, base, and stroller all in one!) which converts from an infant car seat with base directly to a stroller in one simple motion in seconds! You have to check this out to at least see if it would be a good fit for you! It would be PERFECT for those that live in the big city and take UBER for transportation. Some mama's prefer to skip the infant car seat and go directly to a convertible car seat (see next item). We enjoyed having the infant car seat though for the ease of taking sleeping baby with us though!
CONVERTIBLE CAR SEAT: After baby outgrows the infant car seat, it is time for the convertible car seat. Or if you have opted to forego the infant car seat all together, finding a convertible car seat that fits a newborn and meets the needs of your growing baby will be the goal! We have 2 Nuna Rava Car Seats for our two kids - they have an amazing safety rating, and our kids seem to be extremely comfortable in them. Some other car seats that come highly recommended would be this Maxi-Cosi Pria 3-in-1 Convertible Car Seat, this Graco 4Ever DLX 4-in-1 Car Seat, or this Britax One4LIfe ClickTight Convertible Car Seat.
CAR MIRROR: Place the mirror behind the infant car seat to see baby while in the front seat. I'd recommend one that tilts like this classic Munchkin Brica 360 Pivot Mirror or upgrade it to this Munchkin Brica Night Light Car Mirror where you can see your baby at night with the built-in light options and remote.
STROLLER: Many moms highly recommend anything from Baby Jogger such as this Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 Stroller. If you think there is a chance you will have a second baby, do yourself a favor and splurge on a convertible double stroller. You'll thank me later and get the most bang for your buck. We made the mistake of buying a single stroller only to buy a double stroller a year later. We absolutely LOVE our UPPABaby Vista Stroller and couldn't recommend it more. You can use it as a single stroller with infant seat, bassinet, or toddler seat or use it with 2 kids (or even 3 kids with this PiggyBack Ride-Along Board!). Once baby #2 arrives, you can use it in a variety of configurations to work with you as baby/toddler grows! You can purchase the bundle with this UPPABaby Vista Convertible Stroller Set which comes with the MESA Infant Car seat, rear or front facing toddler seat, bassinet, and other accessories. Another way to save a little money is to buy an older model like the 2018 UPPAbaby Vista Stroller without compromising quality or perks. Make sure to buy the correct adapter pieces as needed and don't forget the Snack Tray (a must for toddlers)! If jogging is your thing, you can't go wrong with the BOB Gear Alterrain Jogging Stroller. For a lesser expensive travel system, many moms like the Chicco Mini Bravo Plus Travel System that comes with the #1-rated key fit 30 Infant Car Seat and Stroller.
PACK 'N PLAY: These are great for travel as well as having a safe secondary place for baby to sleep or play in the house. There are tons of brands here – they all do just about the same thing. Some are just heavier/more cumbersome, some are easier to use than others, and some come with more frills and whistles. We love our Nuna SENA Aire Travel Crib, but it is on the pricier side. If I would do it over, I probably would have purchased a less expensive option since they really all do just about the same thing. Here are some other suggestions from Mama friends: If you want small and light with easy one-handed setup, the 4Moms Breeze Plus Portable Playard is great. Another traditional option with a bassinet is the Graco Pack 'n Play Care Suite.
HIGH CHAIR: I couldn't be happier with our Graco 6-in-1 Convertible High Chair. We have loved using it for our babies and now use the booster chair for our 2.5 year old while our 9 month old uses the high-chair. Many moms also like this Fisher Price SpaceSaver Chair as it fits directly on a chair which is a great way to conserve on space and is portable for travel. Definitely find one that has easy to wipe material though as they will get messy. We also have a Travel Table Chair that works great when dining in restaurants, visiting friends, or traveling.
BOTTLES: This is a total baby dependent one! Don’t go crazy and buy a ton of bottles as you won’t know what your baby will end up taking until baby arrives. Instead start with a small pack from a few different brands to see what your baby will take before investing in them. Different nipples can make a difference too. My daughter would only take Maam bottles with slow flow nipples since I was nursing her. If you plan on breastfeeding, make sure to start with newborn nipples (slow flow). My son was a different story. We had every bottle out there (MAM, Dr. Brown's, Lansinoh, Comotomo, Medela, Spectra, etc.) and to this day he never took a bottle no matter how many attempts, different bottles, different feeders, or strategies we tried. He finally started taking a NUK Sippy Cup at 7 months, PTL. Babies are all so different. Many parents rave about Dr. Brown's, but they can be a pain because of all their parts. Regardless of what bottle you use, if you plan on pumping, find bottles (or use adapters) that fit directly onto the breast pump so you can pump straight into the bottles.
BOTTLE DRYING RACK: Hands down, the Boon Lawn Drying Rack with Boon Accessories is awesome. You'll be using this ALL the time for baby bottles, pump parts, toddler dishes/utensils, etc. You'll thank me later.