Building a baby registry list is overwhelming! Figuring out what to register for a first baby is challenging. Let us help. This is your basic “if I knew then what I know now” registry. We have lots of friends with buns in the oven and have asked ourselves what we would register for now, knowing what we didn’t know back then…
Also, once your shower is over and you’ve washed and folded all the mini clothes in fragrance-free detergent, there are more things to buy (that no one is going to want to buy you) and many things that are great to get used. We’ve made notes of those, too.
(For your convenience, we’ve linked everything to Amazon where possible.)
3 Must Haves on Any Baby Registry List
Here are three must-haves on any baby registry list, if you don’t have them on your list add them now.
- Car seat that can be used to carry the baby around, such as Graco SnugRide (always get new!). Remember to have this properly installed before you go to the hospital to have that baby or they won’t let you take him or her home with you. Oops. Extra car seat bases are handy (but not essential) if you have more than one car.
- A stroller that can push around car seat – we prefer the bare bones snap-n-go models such as this Graco stroller frame for the first 5 months. Advantage is that they are light and fit easily into the car (also great to borrow since it has such a short shelf life – thanks to Whit for lending me hers).
- Breast Pump – If you’re going to be a nursing mama, you’ll want a breast pump of some sort. If you’re not planning to ever return to work or be away from your bambino for more than a few hours, a small pump will serve you just fine (like a manual Medela hand pump or Medela mini electric that’s teeny and zippy). Working moms, do yourselves a favor and get the big kahuna electric double pump (like the Medela Pump In Style). Check to see if your breast pump is covered by insurance.
NICE TO HAVE ITEMS
- 3 big-enough receiving blankets [easy DIY instructions] (1 meter by 1 meter) or a piece of flannel fabric finished at the ends is perfect. Aden+Anais sells great 4-packs. The really soft blankets from Gap or other boutiques are nice for the stroller, but not sufficiently large (and are too stretchy) for swaddling.
- Diaper Bin – We picked this Munchkin / Arm + Hammer Diaper Pail for maximum stink control; it’s easy and doesn’t require special bags. Inspired by my preschool, I’ve also individually bagged the offending poopy diapers and carried them right outside. Some folks use regular old trash cans and take out the trash every day. Up to you.
- Newborn sleep place – depending on your plan for sleeping, you might want a Moses basket, co-sleeper, or something else. If you want a Moses basket, don’t forget a sheet for it. We both just put the Pack N Play with the bassinet insert right next to our beds for the first few weeks (future toddler use as a DIY ball pit!).
- Pack N Play sheets – these are differently sized than crib sheets.
- Swing, bouncy seat, both – You’ll hear mixed reviews on these puppies, they are great to borrow because the padded parts are fully washable and some tinies don’t really groove with some models. My baby slept in his swing for months, overnight! This bouncer/rocker combo really does last through toddlerdom.
- Bathtub – We recommend either the Eurobath or the First Years; the Eurobath is quite large and costs more but both are good for newborns to toddlers (we used the Eurobath for three years!). Winning a genius award, we plunked our infant and tub on the kitchen counter to avoid bending and kneeling.
- Diaper bag – You actually can use an oversized handbag or a backpack for diapers and associated changes of clothes. But if you can’t resist this rite of passage, pick out a style you like. Consider features like whether it’s too girly to share, if it clips to your stroller, how heavy/ bulky, and how happy you’ll be carrying it when your baby weighs 18 pounds. Whitney liked her Skip Hop and I used little Pack-it cubes chucked under the stroller. It’s a totally individual choice.
- Link-a-doos toy clips handy dandy loops that hold little toys onto the car seat, stroller, diaper bag or high chair. Sometimes, they’re also a favorite chew toy.
- My Brest Friend nursing pillow – Love love this thing for early breastfeeding when there are never enough hands; you can buy new or borrow one and wash the cover. A Boppy is also pretty good and has a second life helping your baby with sitting and tummy time.
- Baby monitor – The trend today is video and there are a lot of options. Currently, my favorite budget/techy monitor is Fredi. The camera connects to an app on your phone (which I always have nearby) and it is super affordable. My favorite overall is Infant Optics which has an interchangeable lens, so that you make sure the image is crystal clear. Don’t take my word for it on this one though. 18,000 people on Amazon love it. Audio-only is also fine. We like to see lights on the parent unit that show you a baby’s distress as well as broadcast it and a small and battery-operated so you can take it with you.
- Crib – no problem to get used if it meets current safety standards or a great gift for your family with deep pockets. We also think this DaVinci crib that converts into a big kid bed is genius (and a great price!)
- Mattress sold separately – get a good one
- Crib Sheets – Whitney was fond of her sheets in t-shirt material. Get three sets so you don’t get caught with all your sheets in the laundry when its naptime. I also recommend a waterproof under-pad of some sort (get 3 also).
- Mobile for crib – One that moves and is interesting from the bottom (baby’s view); used for about 5 months but it could be the difference between showering and not. If you’re feeling crafty, here’s how to make one that’s personalized.
- Mobile for above the changing table – Give the kid something to look at and grab for aside from his privates when you take his diaper off for changing.
- Extra changing pad – Again, a luxury. Some smart moms use this for a second changing station in the house; Julian got extra use out of his as a traveling bed for overnight trips during the first 3 months.
- Changing pad covers – Remember to check the size and shape. I lay a burp cloth down to minimize changing the cover, but it is nice to have 2 for diaper ‘splosions.
- Fluffy bath towel – I love a hooded towel that is super soft with a hood that I would want to curl up in if I were teeny. This bath apron is so clever. Pottery Barn also makes some decadent ones. Get two.
- Sun shades for car windows – the ones by Britax are highly-rated and reposition easily. We both ended up tinting our windows, but you might try these before calling the auto pimping squad.
- Bottle drying rack – super useful, cheap-o thing to clutter your counter and keep all the bottle bits straight.
- Cage for bottle bits and pacifiers – I have one of these nifty things for putting all the bits in the dishwasher which I do not yet own.
- Glider/Rocker – I love my hand-me-down glider and Whitney had a really nice new one that she barely used. I think she would have rather gone on a weekend ski trip with the money it cost. I know some other styley people that have gotten other kinds of chairs in an attempt to have real-looking furniture.
- Coordinating furniture or any other delightful pieces of baby room frivolity (lamp, valance, bumper, anyone?)
WHAT EVERYONE WANTS TO BUY YOU
- Clothing – mostly you will be covered by gifts of clothing. Make sure to let friends know you are open to hand-me-downs. Babies grow out of newborn clothes so quickly, there’s no sense in owning tons of them. Register for things in all sizes up to 12 months.We won’t get too specific on clothes as it’s the easiest and most fun part. A few extra notes in case you’re a real rookie:
- Stuff that doesn’t need to go over the baby’s head is really nice for the first few weeks
- Multi-pack of onesies, long-sleeved onesies are harder to find and you’ll blow through them (literally!) faster than you think.
- Mini sweatpants that aren’t attached to anything and shirts that are not onesies in newborn size for the week that the umbilical cord still lives with your baby
- Don’t forget socks and caps
- Toys – little tiny stuffed animals, noise-making hoo-hahs, miniature playthings. Yep, the being inside of you will one day love toys. And your loved ones will have a blast with these too.
OTHER ESSENTIALS for your Baby Registry Checklist
Or stuff to have on hand so you’re not running out to the store for the first couple weeks when you should be resting and bonding.
Health and Hygiene
- Nail clippers – The tiny nails of a newborn have to be trimmed more than once a week and it’s hard to guide those clippers. I recommend buying sharp nail scissors as well. Holden wore teeny mittens for the first 3 weeks of his life because we gave up on trimming the nails.
- Digital thermometer – you will likely be obsessed with how warm or cold your newborn is. If you tend to be a keep-track-of-everything type mom, you may write it all down or even graph it.
- Washcloths – I don’t think there’s anything special about baby washcloths.
- Burp cloths – A pack of cloth diapers will do, but better are the ones that are found in the car washing section of a store like Target. You’ll want a stack in every room for the first 6 months.
- Baby Tylenol, Baby Orajel, Baby Mylicon, Gripe Water
- Baby shampoo and bodywash
- Diaper Rash Ointment, something zinc-based; my fave is Desitin, I subscribe to it.
- Homeopathic teething tablets
- Purell – I have little containers all over: diaper bag, near changing table, the car… hint hint hint.
- Pacifiers – Just go ahead and get them and you can decide later if you want to use them. Get some clips/leashes to go with them.
Mama Wellness and Happiness
- Huge maxi pads for the 5 week long period you’ll be having after the baby is born.
- Disposable breast pads
- Nipple cream – Hope I’m not the first to tell you, my friend, there’s going to be some pain involved. I don’t think it helped, but I used it anyway: Lansinoh brand is the best known. I liked Motherlove better; you can find it at Whole Foods. If you’re bleeding or raw, see a lactation consultant STAT, they can help!
- Beer – Guinness for me – celebrate and make more milk!
- Bendy straws and Gatorade – Breastfeeders will be extremely hungry and thirsty and unable to move from their position under the baby at first. Nice to have a cup with a lid and straw next to you at all times.
Don’t forget the Diapers on your Baby Registry List!
- Newborn diapers – just one pack in case your baby is huge and outgrows ’em right away!
- Size one diapers – a big jumbo case cuz you’ll need ‘em eventually.
- Diapering service or Fuzzi Bunz – I use disposable compostable available in my area, but for cloth-lovers, a few months of a diapering service is a great gift. I hear Tiny Tots is the best around here. Or pick an assortment of Fuzzi Bunz for the future. You can also subscribe to disposable diapers via Amazon, diapers.com, or Honest Co.
- Diaper wipes – uber gentle for newborn skin… for the first month, I actually rinsed them of all chemicals before using. Whitney had on her list a Thermos for keeping water next to the changing table because she planned to use paper towels and water as instructed by the crunchy Berkeley hospital, but ended up being too lazy.
- Diaper bag sized container of wipes – to refill with wipes
Oh yeah, Feeding the baby
- Formula – Though this tip is controversial, we believe that even if you plan to nurse, you ought to have some of this on hand in case of an earthquake, fire, or other emergencies.
- Formula dispenser – this handy item is for feeding on the go; this BPA-free one by Avent doubles as a snack dispenser for big babies.
- BornFree bottles – 2 sizes (4 oz and 8 oz) with nipples in sizes 1, 2, 3 and some soft sippy cup lids.
Non-stuff Stuff that you would love to get but won’t want to ask for on your baby registry list.
- Cooking – food of any kind. Home-delivered gourmet, something pre-made and frozen, or an account at your favorite takeout joint.
- Cleaning – a cleaning service for a few weeks or months
- Home Doula – mother’s helper, babysitter, night nurse are variations on the theme of someone to help you get the baby cared for
- Massage – it may be a while before you feel comfortable going for one, but it’s so nice to have that gift certificate on the fridge as a reminder
- Classes – Mommy and me, Gymboree, Mom’s Group… you may not have considered these kind of groups ever before in your life, but you soon will! Membership has its privileges. Here are five classes to consider with your baby. Too soon? Start with a local Moms Group and take baby steps!
Very cool: a baby registry service like BabyList allows you to register for services (maid, massage, whatever!) as well as stuff (cute etsy hat and 10 jillion diapers) all in one place.
FOR 6 MONTHS AND BEYOND
Your baby will eventually get older and drink from bottles, eat real food, crawl around, stand up, walk away, and speak in sentences. As long as your kind-hearted family and friends have their wallets out, you might want to ask for some future-oriented stuff too:
- High chair or booster/ feeding chair
- “Big boy” car seat – I like the Britax Marathon and wish they made one in my size (yes, it’s pricey but your baby will use it for years)
- Stroller that works for the sitter-upper (and hopefully collapses easily and fits in your trunk)
- Sign language books and dvd
- Feeding bowls, spoons, bibs (that are easy to clean!)
- Jumperoo or Exersaucer entertainment pod
NEW VS. USED
Really, anything that doesn’t skeeve you out and passes current safety standards is ok to get as a hand-me-down. Whitney has hooked me up with lots of great toys and clothes and a snap-n-go stroller.
I got other nice things from the Berkeley Parents Network and Craig’s List. Once you know some of the bigger ticket items that you want, you can watch the lists for a couple weeks to see what comes up. Also, don’t be afraid to tap into your own new mom community. Ask around if folks are done with their carriers and swings. Odds are that they’ll want the gear to serve another family rather than sit idle in an attic.
I’m cool with yard sales for most things, but not these:
- Car seat – new safety regulations have me spooked into getting new models for every little baby. I am devoted to the Graco Snugride bucket seat and the Britax Marathon big kid seat.
- Crib mattress – possible links to SIDS might shame you into buying new. Then again, I got a used one for Holden (before knowing any better), a cheap one for Milo that smelled really weird, and another used one for Sawyer.
- Mechanical breast pump – the hand pumps are thoroughly washable and dishwasherable… but not the electric. Ok, don’t tell anyone, but my breast pump was a hand-me-down and the lactation expert lady at the hospital told me to replace the tubing (which you should never try to clean btw) and I’d be fine. I also loved my Hygeia Enjoye and then passed it on (which is officially pass-downable).
Related: How to get them to stick to your baby wish list and not go rogue.
Updated February 1, 2018