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.
BREASTFEEDING PILLOW (BOPPY VS. MY BREST FRIEND): Most moms love the My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow over the Boppy Nursing Pillow & Positioner. We have one of each, and I prefer the My Brest Friend over the Boppy for Nursing as well. Many moms don’t like the Boppy for breastfeeding as it doesn't fit or stay on as well, but it is useful when the baby is learning to sit up later as it serves as a giant cushion around them while they learn their balance.
BREAST PUMP: If you want to pump, check with your insurance company first to see which brands they will cover. Most should pay for one, but they vary on which brands they cover. We have a Medela, the Spectra S2, and Spectra 9+ Portable Pump. All of them work great. The Spectra 9 worked well for traveling as it was small and portable, but it wasn't as powerful as the S2 model. I prefer the Spectra S2 overall just because I learned on that first and feel it’s a little easier to use and clean. Again, check with your insurance company first before buying a pump. For those that need more discreetness, the Elvie Electric Wearable Smart Breast Pump is a game changer as it is as silent as a breast pump comes, lightweight, and wearable without all the cords or tubes. Many of my doctor mama's wear this one at work.
BREASTMILK FREEZER BAGS: If you plan on pumping and storing milk, make sure to get a supply of Breastmilk Storage Bags. Really any brand works, but we usually went with Lansinoh or Medela as they were inexpensive. Some people prefer to spend a little more and pump directly in the bag with these Kiinde Twist Pouch Bags. We used these for awhile but went back to the standard ones since it really wasn't saving that much time in our book, and I was going through a lot of bags.
NURSING / STROLLER COVER: Many options are out there now. We love this gender neutral 5-in-1 Milk Snob Cover and this adorable leaf-patterned 5-in-1 Cover. For the best all-around nursing cover though, we love the Bebe au Lait Nursing Cover which works even better for nursing as it has an open neckline which allows you to see baby while keeping you covered and allows baby to get better airflow. It is also especially useful as baby gets older and more fidgety.
SWADDLES / SLEEPSACKS: This is another one that is baby dependent. There are so many different swaddles from the traditional Muslin swaddle blanket to transitional swaddles to velcro and zipper swaddles. We have tried them all. The Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets come in so many cute patterns and are great for newborns if you can master the swaddling technique and also work well for a lightweight baby blanket, burp cloth, and stroller cover. Our son loved being swaddled in the muslin blankets for 0-2 months. Quick tangent - if you haven't read, The Happiest Baby on the Block, it has some great advice and tools to help calm baby, swaddle baby, and help baby sleep longer. We followed the nurse's trick at the hospital and used 2 swaddle blankets with their special wrap, and baby never seemed to come unraveled then. For those that don't want to mess with swaddling the baby or if baby is super squirmy, the HALO Sleepsack Swaddles work great! We used both size Newborn and Small for my daughter and then transitioned to the HALO Arms-Free Sleep Sacks. The great thing about the HALO sleep sacks is that they are versatile and you can use them as a swaddle with both arms in while baby has the startle reflex, with hands by face if baby wants to self-soothe, with 1 arm out while in the transition phase, and with both arms out. Bonus, you also don't have to unswaddle to change the diaper! You can get them in different fabrics - the fleece one is great for the winter months. We also used these super cute velcro SwaddleMe Sleepsack Swaddles for my daughter during her first 3 months. My son wanted his hands to self-soothe so we used the I Love to Dream Swaddles for him which were PURE GOLD, and we nicknamed him our flying squirrel whenever he was sleeping in them. We then transitioned to the HALO Arms-Free Sleep Sacks for him as well. We also have tried the weighted Nested Bean Zen Sack, but honestly, I didn't find it any more helpful for our babies than the standard sleep sacks, but again, each baby is different, and yours may love it!
BLACKOUT CURTAINS: This is personal preference, but once baby gets past the point of being able to sleep anywhere and everywhere (hello 4 month sleep regression!), these Blackout Curtains are big hits in our home as we have them in all our rooms. We have the white option and since they have grommets, we put the light blocking out shade closest to the window and then layer them with pretty curtains on top to coordinate with the room. As long as you buy white, you will barely be able to see them behind your layered room curtains.
DIAPER BAG / BOOKBAG: There are so many cute options now – you really can’t go wrong. We had this classic style JuJuBe Diaper Bag and loved it for our first, but also have this Multifunction Travel Backpack as it looks a little cooler for Dad and is easy to carry while still hauling baby or carseat. You only need one though so pick one that works for your needs.
We love having different options for different reasons and stages of life!
BABY WRAPS: The Moby Wrap and the Solly Wrap are our two favorites. Moby is great year round, and the Solly is perfect for the summer and in the home as the material is lightweight and comfortable to wear. You only need one though and you can't go wrong with either! Wraps are easy to use once you get the hang of them and perfect for the newborn stage. I prefer the wraps when the babies are newborn to 3 months (as the wraps are tight and babies are so wiggly and babies love being close and snuggly with Mama!) and then prefer the carriers after the baby has more head control.
BABY CARRIER: Carriers are a little faster to put on and take off and great when baby has more head control. The Tula Coast Explore Baby Carrier is a great option as it is lightweight and can be used with newborns to toddlers (7-45lbs) and with different positions: face in, face out, or on your back. The Ergo Omni 360 Carrier is wonderful as it can also be used from newborn to toddler (7-45lbs), and it sits the weight on your hips so that it is easier on your back. This model allows baby to sit facing towards you, outwards, on your hip, or on your back. If we had to pick, this would be our winner. Both my husband and I wear and love this carrier. Whatever brand you choose, just make sure the weight sits on your hips - 10 extra pounds of baby is surprisingly tough on the back/shoulders!
HIKING CARRIER: We love the Chicco SmartSupport Backpack Carrier for hiking as it's an affordable option that's easy to put on and comfortable to wear.
BABY BATHTUB: We have this Angelcare Bathtub and our son loved it, but our daughter wasn't the biggest fan. A lot of mama's also like the Blooming Lotus Baby Bath as it is super soft and comfortable for baby and works awesome in the sink. Bonus, it's great for pets too! Just throw it in the dryer when finished and hang up to save space! As baby gets older and is transitioning to sitting up on his/her own, you may want try a bath seat like the Summer My Bath Seat to keep baby safe in the bathtub once they outgrow the baby bathtub/sink. This also works great if baby has an older sibling so they can bathe at the same time!
BABY TOWEL: In actuality, an adult towel works just as well, but having a baby towel is fun for those first baby bath photos. There are so many to choose from - you can't go wrong! This organic bamboo cotton Hooded Puppy Towel is absolutely adorable, super absorbent, and fast drying!
BABY SCRUBBER & WASHCLOTHS: Sure baby washcloths are cute, but let's be honest, adult washcloths do the same thing. We personally prefer the DermaFrida Skin Soother Baby Silicone Brush over washcloths as they get baby clean, help gently exfoliate with silicone massagers, and are easy to clean/dry (and no extra laundry).
BATH TOYS & ORGANIZER: Once baby has transitioned to the bathtub, he/she will likely have many fun bath toys to make bath time even more fun. This Ubbi Bath Toy Organizer is our favorite for keeping toys organized as it is easy to clean, compact, simple design, and also has large draining holes. These Munchkin Letters and Numbers are a great way to making learning through play even more fun during bath time! For some cute squirt toys, check out Munchkin Ocean Squirts Bath Toys.
BABY NAIL CLIPPERS: A must have. We keep one in the diaper bag and one in the nursery. This Safety 1st Baby Nail Clipper even has a built-in light for extra help and to clip babies nails while they are asleep. If you don’t feel comfortable cutting their nails early on, use emory filing boards to keep them from scratching themselves. We were never huge fans of the mitts as they always seemed to fall off. Many of the zippered onesies have built in mitts too to help keep baby from scratching themselves while sleeping.
BABY BASICS KIT: If you want to bundle a few items, this FridaBaby Baby Basics Kit is a winner as it combines the famous NoseFrida (a MUST-HAVE), NailFrida, Windi (if you have a constipated baby, these are a life saver early on but make sure baby doesn't get dependent on them), and the DermaFrida for scrubbing baby.
BURP CLOTHS: Having spare burp cloths around is always a good idea, especially if you have a happy spitter. Using cloth diapers or these Muslin Burp Cloths is one of my favorite tips when I first became a mother as they are soft and absorbent, inexpensive, easy to clean, and since they are basic, you won't get upset if they do get stained, which is inevitable at some point.
THERMOMETER: We love this Fridababy 3-in-1 Forehead, Ear, & Touchless Thermometer, We keep one in our home along with a rectal thermometer. If you haven't taken a baby's rectal temp yet, get ready, there will be many bum temps in your future (at least for the first year). To make it as easy as possible, FridaBaby Quick-Read Rectal Thermometer is a no-brainer and delivers a read in 10 seconds! We keep a spare in our diaper bag as well as you just never know when you may need to check your baby's temp.
CAMERA / MONITOR: Technology changes so quickly, but we have been super happy with our Motorola Video Baby Monitor that comes with 2 Wide Angle HD Cameras, Infrared Night Vision, and remote pan, tilt, and zoom. If you plan on having more than one kid or just want more than one camera option for various rooms in the home, go for a monitor with dual or multiple cameras. You won't regret it!
SOUND MACHINE: I recommend getting baby used to a sound machine if you want as much sleep as possible. We actually have 2 in each room (the Dohm Sound Machine near the crib as it is one of the best white noise machines and sounds out there) and the Lectrofan by the door of the room (to drown out noisy kids, dogs, traffic, etc). Having a sound machine will make traveling and sleeping in strange places so much easier because it is a good sleep cue. Plus it drowns out background noise so you don't have to tiptoe during nap time or have them wake up to a loud toddler or barking dog.
BABY PLAY / DEVELOPMENT:
TUMMY TIME MAT / FLOOR GYM: One of the top favorite floor gyms/activity mats is the Lovevery Activity Floor Gym as it has so many features and grows with the baby from tummy time to a play fort as they get older. It has Montessori-inspired development zones to reveal for learning or conceal to prevent overstimulation. Baby can use it to help build focus, explore senses and colors, make sounds, and more! All of my mom friends rave about this one, along with so many of the Lovevery products on the market.
ACTIVITY CENTER / EXERSAUCER: We have been the grateful recipients of 4 exersaucers that have been handed down to us as we keep one on each floor of the house as well as at Grandma and Grandpa’s. One of our favorites is the Skip Hop Explore & More 3 Stage Interactive Activity Center. It is a Godsend when trying to cook, take a shower, or get ready in the morning. You can also check at consignment sales and online as people sell these all the time!
EXTRAS THAT WILL GET YOU OFF TO A GOOD START:
BUM & POO PRODUCTS:
DIAPERS: A box of newborn, 2 boxes of size 1, and 3 boxes of size 2 will get you off to a good start.
WIPES: Get plenty! You will go through these quickly! Many mom's love the Water Wipes. We alternate between these and an inexpensive Hypoallergenic and Fragrance option such as Pamper's Sensitive Skin Wipes.
DISPOSABLE CHANGING PAD LINERS: 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. They work great to place on top of a changing pad since babies pee and poop everywhere in the beginning. Just throw them away and avoid a little extra laundry!
DIAPER PAIL: When it comes to stinky diapers, a diaper pail helps to contain the stink. We like this Ubbi Odor Locking Diaper Pail as it doesn't require any special bags, has a sleek design, has child locks, and helps keep the smell contained being made of steel instead of plastic. A word of caution, once baby starts solid foods, not even the perfect diaper pail will contain the smell for long, so plan on emptying that trash often!
DIAPER BAG DISPENSER: When you're out and about, having this Diaper Bag Dispenser attached to your diaper bag is helpful and thoughtful, and the people around you will thank you. We keep extra Arm & Hammer Bag Refills at home in our diaper changing areas for the extra stinky diapers as well.