The baby registry. So much excitement and stress all rolled up into one task. Registering can be one of the most fun stages of being pregnant, but if you’re a psychotic over-analyzer like me, it’s also a massive undertaking. I felt the need to make sure I was choosing the “best” of everything. Like, literally everything (thank god for Lucie’s List). I researched the best crib mattress cover, the best changing pad, the best bottle brush… I was insane; believe me when I say those things don’t matter. Do not do this.
But when you’re in the baby store, it’s really easy to get sucked into the hype of all the things you have to have. And then you end up with a houseful of crap that never gets touched, while still not having everything you actually need to care for the newborn human you’re suddenly responsible for.
So here’s a head start… these are things you’ll really, truly, actually need, even if they’re not the fun, cutesy things. You’ll find no baby blankets on this list. Whatever you do, do not register for blankets. Because you’re going to end up with a drawer full of them regardless.
I know, if you’re a pregnant first-time mom right now, you’re probably thoroughly grossed out by this thing. I’m sorry about that. But not THAT sorry because you’ll thank me later when you need it. Just trust me.
This was one of the things I had to venture out to Buy Buy Baby for. I just couldn’t imagine a situation in which I’d need it when I was pregnant, but then my tiny baby was born in November, and the air was cold and dry, and the pediatrician said he needed one, so out we went. And now, he sleeps with it on almost every night in the winter and whenever he is sick (which is always).
I’m sure other moms will disagree with this being a “must-have” item, but I really don’t know how people survive without it. Sometimes, my baby wakes up in the middle of the night and cries out once or twice, and then goes back to sleep. I can look at the monitor and see that he’s still laying down and know I don’t need to get up. Sometimes, he wakes up from a nap, and is completely silent, but sits up playing with his monkey lovey. I’ll leave him in there for a while if he’s content, but sometimes will adjust his next nap if needed, knowing what time he woke up. And sometimes you just need to zoom that camera all the way in to watch his chest move up and down so you know he’s still alive, OK? We all do it, and you know it.
You may not intend to use pacifiers, and I applaud you for that. But trust me when I say you’ll want one of these tucked away in a drawer somewhere, juuust in case your baby screams for three hours straight and nothing else works and if you don’t literally plug his mouth with something you’re going to rip all your hair out and your postpartum hormones are already doing that for you so dear god just make the screaming stop.
Forget blanket swaddling. Ain’t nobody got time for that, and let’s be honest, you’ll never do it right. My husband got pretty good at it out of sheer stubbornness and determination, but nothing was better than these velcro swaddles. You’ll want at least 5-6, because they’re gonna get dirty — a lot happens overnight. 😳
Again, this might be pretty disgusting to you right now, but you’re gonna need it. I also recommend this BabyBum diaper cream brush — not a “must have” necessarily, but after a year, I still hated putting cream in my baby’s butt crack so I finally caved and got one. Worth it.
Baby will spend a lot of time laying on and staring at this thing… laying and staring is basically their only activity for the first 4-5 months, so make sure you have something worthy.
After a few months, when they can start to support their upper body, you’ll be able to plop them in one of these and *gasp* WALK AWAY. Yes, yes, everything in moderation, but you’re gonna want it. I recommend a combo Exersaucer + jumper like this one… my baby loved his for a LONG time. We finally put it away at around 13 months, mostly because we were tired of looking at it in our living room, not because he was tired of using it.
Again, some moms will probably disagree with me, but I say skip the bassinet and just get a Pack ‘n Play. Most of them come with a bassinet attachment, but then you can use it long after that stage as a travel crib (or a baby jail when you need to contain your crawling baby while you cook or shower).
I used both the Boppy and the Brest Friend, and honestly liked them both. I got more use out of the Boppy in the long run, so that’s my reco, but the Brest Friend was great for the first month when baby was tiny and floppy.
I originally bought a different nursing cover and a separate, different car seat cover, and neither worked great, but I just assumed that was how it was (the baby was already here, so the days of hyper-researching were gone). Then, a friend’s mom gave me this as a gift and it changed. my. life. As a nursing cover, it fully covers you, so you don’t have to feel exposed nursing in public, but it’s lightweight and breathable so it doesn’t get super hot. As a car seat cover, it just slips on and off the seat, and you can easily peek in the top without lifting the whole thing and blasting the baby with light. And it’s thin enough to roll up nice and small to fit in your diaper bag. OK, I’m done gushing. I just really love this thing. (I wish I were getting paid to say that, but I’m not… Milk Snob, hit a sista up).
This is another one that I had to grab shortly after baby was born. I didn’t think I’d need it right away, but then quickly decided I wanted to start building up my stash for when I went back to work, and wanted to pump a couple times a day. Better to have this ready!
The good, the bad, the ugly, y’all. Leakage happens. Like a lot, in the beginning. So you’ll want some of these nearby.
These Aden + Anais burpy bibs are my favorite burp cloths – they may seem absurdly expensive for something designed to absorb puke, but these are so big and absorbent that they’re worth it. And I love it that they can snap around the neck as a full-coverage bib. If your baby is a spitter, you’ll need about a million of these.
We had a super teeny tiny baby, so for the first couple months, we used (and loved) the Baby K’tan. But once he was a little bigger and could hold his head up, the ErgoBaby 360 was much more comfortable for all of us.
I know, you guys. A $25 chew toy. It’s outrageous. But I’ll tell you what: my baby loves this thing. I don’t understand it. But I do know you’ll want it around when your baby starts teething. That’s what a registry is for: making someone else buy all the overpriced nonsense you don’t want to buy for yourself.
Possibly my #1 can’t-live-without baby product. Sleep is life, y’all. There are lots of sound machines out there, but this one is my favorite, because it’s just a fan, so it’s “organic” white noise (I know, I can’t believe I just said that either, but it’s a thing). You turn it on in baby’s room while he sleeps, and it filters out all the other noises happening outside or in the house, so you can continue living your life while they nap, and not have to worry about tip-toeing around. I mean, we still do tip-toe around because again, sleep is life. But it’s probably not necessary.
I fought this one hard. I thought it was stupid to get a big, clunky tub he’d only use for a few months, and that we’d then have to store for the next baby. So we tried the Puj tub, which opens flat when not in use. It just didn’t work for us, though. It didn’t quite fit right in our sinks, and baby was always too cold not being fully submerged in the water. So after a few weeks of screaming through bath time (all of us), I caved and got this whale tub. Complete game-changer. Suddenly baby loved bath time. It was a miracle. This $20 tub is worth every damn penny, and every square inch of closet space it’s currently taking up.
Obviously you still need all the basics, too: a crib, dresser/changing table, diaper pail, stroller, car seat, bottles, high chair, thermometer, etc. These are the “goes-without-saying” items. I’ve linked some of my favorites for each of those, too, though.
So there you have it. Your registry is done! I know you’re still going to add some fluffy, fuzzy, cutesy stuff, so now you can focus on that instead of the boring, useful stuff.
Experienced mamas, what did I leave off?
*Note: Some of the links above may be affiliate links, which means I get a teeny, tiny percentage of the sales, with no extra cost to you.