The Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist: Must-Haves and What you Don’t Need for First Time Moms

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So you are expecting a new bundle of joy and are trying to figure out exactly what you need! Congratulations!! With over $70 Billion worth of baby products sold worldwide each year, there is no shortage of baby items to choose from. It can be completely overwhelming knowing what you actually need versus what is a luxury. It ends up taking a bit of trial and error and word of mouth through mommy friends…and quite honestly, it’s easy to end up wasting a ton of money on baby products that you won’t use.

 

Not to worry though, after much research and testing, I have created a complete checklist of baby items to purchase (or register for) and categorized them into Must Haves, Nice to Haves, and Splurges. Must haves are those things that the vast majority of people will need to purchase for a baby. Nice to Haves are things that you could get by without, but they bring added convenience, peace of mind, or comfort, so I feel that they are worth the investment. Finally, splurges are things that are completely optional and dependent on your lifestyle. I’ve also included some of my personal recommendations and advice to help you navigate the ever-expanding market.

For an FREE printable version of the checklist, download below:

The Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist PDF

A printable PDF form of the Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist

Also, if you are planning on creating a Baby registry, I recommend creating an Amazon Baby registry. Mostly because Amazon has the largest selection by far, but they also have some great perks. There is a 10% completion discount (make that 15% for Prime members), easy returns for 90 days, you can add products from any site (not just Amazon), and they provide free shipping over $25 (or free two-day shipping as always with Prime). Additionally, Prime members get a free welcome box, valued up to an estimated $35. It’s worth considering, especially now that Babies R’ Us is out of business.

The Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist for First Time Moms

Nursery:

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Must Haves:

  • Crib
    • A crib or a bassinet is the safest place for a baby to sleep, and you will definitely get a lot longer use out of a crib compared to a bassinet. It will also be easier for you to get your child sleeping in their own bedroom if you make the transition while they are still an infant. You will want to make sure that whatever you purchase meets the current safety standards: no drop-sides, slats no more than 2 3/8″ apart from each other, and no broken pieces. Don’t use a hand-me-down from another generation, you should look for a crib manufactured at least within the last 10 years since safety standards have changed so much.
    • My Recommendation: Go with something that fits with your budget and your style (and meets safety standards). We have and LOVE the Tatum Convertible Crib from Pottery Barn; their furniture is always well-made, delivery is on-point, and their items are impeccably designed. So you can’t go wrong if you choose something from them.
  • Fitted Crib Sheets (x3)
    • You will obviously need some tight-fitting crib sheets for the cribs, and I highly recommend purchasing multiples. Many babies spit up frequently, so it’s great to always have a clean sheet on hand. If you are super on top of laundry, you will only need two, but what real-life mom is?
    • My Recommendation: These Burt’s Bees Organic Crib Sheets are super soft, hold up through many washes, and are easy to get on and off of the mattress. They also come in a variety of colors and patterns so you can easily match your nursery decor.
  • Crib Mattress
    • Crib mattresses should be firm and fit tightly into the crib. You will want a mattress that leaves no more than 2 fingers worth of a cap between the sides of the crib. Many crib mattresses today have a firmer side for infants and a cushier side for toddlers so that you can simply flip it over as baby gets older.
    • My Recommendation: This Sealy Soybean Core Hypoallergenic mattress is a great non-toxic option that is Greenguard Certified.
  • Dresser
    • You will of course need a place to store all of those cute baby clothes (and burp cloths and blankets and diapers and the list goes on and on). I recommend investing in a dresser that will grow with them through the years.

Nice to Haves:

  • Mattress Cover/Pad
    • If you purchase a waterproof crib mattress, these are not completely necessary; however, they will help with preventing stains if you plan to use with multiple children (and through potty training). Look for something lightweight (no padding) and breathable.
    • My Recommendation: The iLuvBamboo Crib Mattress Pad Protector is a great choice that will hold up through many washes and is soft and breathable.
  • Changing Pad
    • While not an absolute necessity (you could change baby on a towel on the floor or on the bed), changing pads are super convenient and worth the investment in my opinion.
    • My Recommendation: Ditch the soft changing pads with covers and liners and invest in the Keekaroo Peanut Changer. You can find my full review here, but I think it is worth every single penny.
  • Diaper Pail
    • This another that you could live without, but likely won’t want to. It’s a pain to run every poopy diaper out to the trash, so having something that contains the smell a bit so you can extend time between taking the trash out is well worth it in my opinion.
    • My Recommendation: I would say that the Ubbi and the Munchkin Step are both fantastic diaper pails. You really can’t go wrong with either of them, but the Ubbi is the winner for me because you don’t have to purchase special expensive bags. Read my full comparison of the two here if you are interested.
  • Glider/Rocking Chair
    • Unlike the phrase “I slept like a baby” suggests, most babies do not in fact sleep soundly for extended lengths of time. It’s great to have a rocker of some sort to rock them back to sleep and to feed them in right in the nursery so that you can quickly transition them into their crib as if you were holding a bomb that might explode at any minute. Look for a chair with high arms so that you can rest your elbow when holding baby.
    • My Recommendation: I prefer Gliders for aesthetic purposes; this Noami Home Odelia Swivel Rocker Recliner is a great choice. It is comfy, has high arms, rocks smoothly and it reclines so that you don’t have to buy a separate ottoman (saving you space and money).
  • Blackout Curtains
    • Having blackout curtains will help you keep the room dark during nap times and help to keep baby from waking super early in the morning when the sun first starts to rise.
    • My Recommendation: Get whatever goes with your style preferences and fits the decor of your nursery. These Nicetown Blackout Curtain Panels come in many colors and sizes and are truly blackout curtains, so that make a great pick.
  • Baby Video Monitor
    • Even if you plan to have baby sleep in your room, during nap time it is super handy to have a video monitor to keep an eye on baby. If you do choose to purchase a WiFi monitor, make sure it is secure. There have been reports of monitors being hacked and creeps talking to babies over them. SCARY!
    • My Recommendation: Given my note above, we elected to go with a non-WiFi monitor. After purchasing two Samsung monitors, the third time was the charm with this CasaCam Video Baby Monitor. The 5″ monitor actually has the same user interface as Samsung, plus it has a temperature monitor, automatic night vision, two way audio, lullabies, a nightlight, zoom, and a HD pan and tilt camera. It also comes with a handy docking station for the monitor. We love ours and highly recommend it.
  • Sound Machine
    • Sound machines can really help to drown out outside noise for your baby to keep them from being awoken. It’s also really soothing for them and can help them to fall asleep easier. Many of them have built in night lights as well. I turn this on at night so that I can see to feed my son….so it’s a great feature to look for.
    • My Recommendation: There are so so many options out there, and honestly most any of them will work fine so don’t stress over this one. I do recommend finding one that you can run by plugging into the wall or with batteries so that you can easily take it with you when you travel.

Splurges:

  • Mobile
    • Full disclosure, I purchased a mobile for both of my children because they are adorable, and I really enjoyed designing a nurse for each of them. This was a final touch that just makes it look complete. With that said, my children didn’t give a hoot about their mobiles. They preferred staring at the wall and crib slats over it (and they even played music!). Mobiles are also quickly outgrown, so just keep all of that in mind if you do decide to purchase.
  • Bedding Set (Crib Skirt, Quilt, etc.)
    • You don’t have to have any additional bedding items to what I outlined above. A bed skirt will make many cribs look nicer when the mattresses sit up higher (you can’t use when they are lowered down), and a quilt can be nice for when baby becomes a toddler. Bumpers are safety hazards and are no longer recommended.
    • My Recommendation: Buy a crib skirt now and buy a quilt with their favorite character on it when they are old enough to care (and old enough to use it too).
  • Bassinet
    • Buying a bassinet is not truly a necessity. Many people choose to have baby sleep in their crib from the start or use a pack-n-play in their room until baby is ready to transition. However, many bassinets are convenient if you have the extra money to spend.
  • Bassinet Sheets
    • If you do go the bassinet route, make sure you buy extra sheets for those middle of the night blowouts or frequent spit up episodes that babies just love to have.
  • Changing Table
    • Buying a specific piece of furniture for changing baby is just simply not necessary. Most people these days opt to use a dresser with a changing pad or change baby on a bed.
  • Baby Movement Monitor
    • There are tons of baby monitoring devices that track heart rates and oxygen levels coming on to the market these days (this Owlet smart sock is one example). The reason I say these are splurges is that evidence suggests that these devices cause parents more harm than good by causing unnecessary concern with false alarms; some of them have high levels of inaccuracy (missing low rates that should be alarmed) since they are not independently tested. Furthermore there is no evidence that they reduce SIDS risk. If you do decide to purchase one of these devices, research the accuracy and false positives. Otherwise, you may just be buying yourself more worry.

Bathtime:

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Must Haves:

  • Baby Tub
    • This one would be pretty difficult to live without until a baby is able to sit up on their own. It’s pretty hard to hold a wet, slippery fragile newborn and wash them at the same time, so I think it’s worth investing in something. If not a full blown tub, then at least an inexpensive bath sling.
    • My Recommendation: The Munchkin Sit and Soak Baby Bath Hard Tub, a simple lightweight bath tub that has exactly what you need for 0-12 months. It keeps baby warm by having them tilted at the right angle so they aren’t exposed. The handle doubles as a hook for storage and easy to clean.
  • Baby body wash
    • Look for something gentle on the skin and hypoallergenic for sensitive newborn skin. I would wait on heavy fragrances until they are a bit older. Check out whatever you plan on using at the EWG website; they rank personal care products based on toxins and known allergens.
    • My Recommendation: We personally use Babo Botanicals skincare; this sensitive fragrance free newborn foam wash is the perfect choice for a newborn.
  • Baby lotion

Nice to Haves:

  • Rinsing Cup
    • You can absolutely get away with not purchasing anything fancy (you could use a plastic cup that you already own), but you do need something to rinse the baby with.
    • My Recommendation: We use this soft flexible rinse cup from Munchkin, it’s soft, safe and works well.
  • Bath Toys
    • Of course, you don’t absolutely have to buy bath toys (and this is absolutely something you could hold off on until baby is older); however, they bring a lot of fun to bath time. Toys can also seriously help with children who aren’t big bath time fans.
    • My Recommendation: My main recommendation is to avoid anything with a squirty hole. They are breeding grounds for mold and are a pain in the booty to keep clean. Fishing Rod bath toys are always well-loved, and my daughter’s absolute favorite are these bath time crayons. If you do want to buy the squirt toys, make sure you buy some like these that open up for easy cleaning.
  • Bath Toy Organizer
    • If you’re gonna buy bath toys, you are going to need somewhere to put them up. Bath Toy Organizers also serve as a sort of drying rack since they are built to drain.
    • My Recommendation: Many of the organizers that suction to the wall don’t work well and the mesh can tend to grow mold. They’re constantly falling down, especially if anyone other than your children takes a shower in there. For that reason, I recommend the Ubbi freestanding Organizer with a removable drying rack bin and scoop. It’s simple, but completely functional.
  • Bath Kneeler
  • Bathtub Spout Cover
    • For safety and peace of mind, I think it’s worth the small investment to ensure your child doesn’t hurt themselves on the hard (sometimes sharp) metal spout in the tub.
    • My Recommendation: We, and almost every mom I know, use this super cute whale spout by Skip Hop, although I am pretty sure any design that you like will work just as well.

Splurges:

  • Soft Hooded Baby Towels
    • I know that they are adorable, but you can easily dry baby with regular bath towels. It’s amazing how quickly babies outgrow those cute little towels, so I do classify this one as a splurge.
    • My Recommendation: This Premium Ultra Soft Bear Hooded towel by Minibus.   It’s great quality and is larger than most baby towels, meaning you can use it up through the toddler years.
  • Soft Baby wash cloths
    • This falls into the same category as the bath towels. Having ones specifically for the baby stage is totally not a necessity, but it’s probably worth having a separate set from your own.
    • My Recommendation: These ultra soft bamboo wash cloths. I love them because they are sooooooo soft and bigger than most baby wash cloths.
  • Bath Thermometer
    • You can absolutely feel the water with your elbow to assess if it’s the right temperature for baby. If you are a worried first time mom or a very concerned about having the perfect temperature, this may be worth purchasing.
    • My Recommendation: If you want one, this floating rubber ducky thermometer will do the trick. As a bonus, they’ll love playing with it as well.

Feeding:

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Must Haves:

  • Baby Bottles
    • Even if you are breastfeeding, you will likely at some point have to give your baby a bottle. I do recommend waiting on stocking up until you know your baby will take the bottle that you chose. Purchase one or two until you know that your baby likes it.
    • My Recommendation: Honestly, whatever the baby prefers. I ended up pumping exclusively with my daughter, and she liked the Dr. Brown’s bottles. These are a bit of a pain because they have so many parts. My son who was exclusively breastfed, ended up liking the ComoTomo Bottles the most. I love these because they are easy to clean with fewer parts and breastfed babies usually have high success rates with them.
  • Bottle Brush
    • To truly clean bottles, you do need a longer brush that can reach into the bottom and edges. So if you have bottles, this is a must have.
    • My Recommendation: I prefer these Dr. Brown’s Bottle Brushes with the sponge on the end. I find that the bristles don’t get down into the bottom edges as well as the sponge. The sponge will wear out over time much faster than bristles, but it’s worth replacing occasionally to have it do a superior job in my opinion. Additionally, I love the fact that this has a little suction cup to store it upright.
  • Cloth Bibs
    • Another necessity for when you bottle feed, unless you want to constantly change outfits. Look for cloths with a decent size to them. I also prefer to avoid the velcro ones simply because you have to wash them by themselves or they can ruin clothes. Cloth bibs also come in handy when baby is teething and drooling up a storm!
    • My Recommendation: I love the soft bandana bibs because they are cute and don’t have any velcro.
  • Burp Cloths
    • You are going to want something to protect you and your clothing when burping and to wipe baby’s face off. Skip the cute dainty ones, and look for ones with more surface area.
    • My Recommendation: I absolutely love these Muslin Burp Cloths by Synrroe. They are BIG, soft, absorbent and inexpensive.
  • Waterproof Bibs
    • Once baby starts solids, you will want to have some of these on hand so that you can easily clean off the 95% of food that didn’t make it into baby’s tummy.
    • My Recommendation: I swear by the silicone ones (here is a really cute set that I love). The silicone cleans easily and lasts over time. I found that some of the non-silicone”waterproof” fabric bibs ripped or got holes over time. Then the cloth underneath became gross. No thank you.
  • High Chair
    • Trust me when I say this, less is more when it comes to a high chair. You want something that is easy to clean because every nook and cranny of that thing will be filled with food at some point. I registered for a fancier high chair myself with multiple stages and lots of padding. I ended up hating the thing and pulling the padding off to just use the hard plastic underneath. Another important component is how easily you can remove the tray, so be sure to consider that because you will do it a million times before all is said and done.
    • My Recommendation: The Abbie Beyond Wooden High Chair with Tray. This is durable enough to last you through multiple children, converts as they grow, is easy to clean, and super sturdy.
  • Sippy Cups
    • My Recommendation: We love the Munchkin Miracle 360 cups. They are easy to take apart and clean, my daughter took to them immediately (while she struggled with other sippy cups), and they teach your child how to drink from a normal cup. Full disclosure, they do spill some when thrown which can be annoying.
  • Plastic or Soft-tipped Spoons

Nice to Haves:

  • Bottle Warmer
    • Most babies prefer warm milk. You can heat up water and put the bottle in it and swirl, but honestly these days who has time for that? I say buy a bottle warmer…the time you will save is well worth it.
    • My Recommendation: I had the Dr. Brown’s Bottle warmer initially. It worked well, but it leaked everywhere all the time and drove me crazy. Then I purchased the Kiinde Kozii bottle warmer, which I like a lot more. However, many complain that it is slow to warm (which is actually the safe way to warm milk) and breaks. We’ve had ours through 2 babies without issues.
  • Bottle drying rack
    • You can skip buying a drying rack specifically for bottles and use whatever you have in the kitchen now. However, the bottle drying racks have nice hooks for bottle nipples, pacifiers, pump parts, and other small pieces of baby gear that do make it convenient and worth considering.
    • My Recommendation: You can’t go wrong with the Boon Counter Drying Rack. If you purchase this, make sure you buy some of the flowers or twigs for drying out bottle nipples and smaller parts.
  • Formula Mixing Pitcher 
    • If you are formula feeding, you will either be constantly missing up bottles for baby or forking over your hard earned cash for pre-mixed formula. Enter the mixing pitcher that allows you to easy mix up a days’ worth of bottles at once. This is worth the small cost to make life easier for you; it will save you tons of time measuring in the long run!
    • My Recommendation: The Dr. Brown’s Mixing Pitcher is highly rated by my mom friends. The mixing mechanism works very well and it is super easy to use.

Splurges:

  • Dishwasher Bottle Basket
    • So I bought one of these, but I honestly did not use it all that much. We tend to wash our bottles and pump parts by hand because they don’t really get clean in the dishwasher. I also am not a fan of mixing food with all the baby stuff. If you do use the dishwasher, then this is worth buying.
    • My Recommendation: The Munchkin High Capacity Dishwasher Basket. This keeps things well separated so they clean well in the dishwasher, and it actually stays closed when you run the dishwasher.
  • Steam Bottle Sterilizer
    • We have one of these and I LOVE it. However, I bought it because I was exclusively pumping with my daughter. We had so much stuff to wash and sanitize that we really put this thing to use. If you are breastfeeding, you likely won’t have much of a need for this and could simply buy these sterilizer bags. If you are formula feeding, it might be worth considering.
    • My Recommendation: The Baby Brezza Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer. We have this thing, and we love it. We use it for pump parts, bottles, pacifiers, teethers…you name it. It’s great because it drys everything too!

Breastfeeding:

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Must Haves:

  • Nursing Bras:
    • I suppose if you had to, you could use a normal bra and just pull it down. However, if you plan to breastfeed for any length of time, this investment is well worth it. They’re more comfortable and it will be much quicker for you.
    • My Recommendation: These nursing bras are super comfortable, affordable, and come in a pack with many different colors. I live in these around my house. When I need to go out of the house, I use this amazing push-up nursing bra. It eliminates the mom boobs and makes me not feel like a milk machine.
  • Nipple Cream
    • While you may not need to use this forever, it’s super helpful to have some when first beginning to breast feed and if/when you start pumping too since that’s when you will be the most sore. Buy some and be sure to pack it in your hospital bag.
    • My Recommendation: I absolutely love this Organic Nipple Butter by Earth Mama. It was recommended to me by a Lactation Consultant, and once I started using this I never looked back.
  • Breast Pump
    • If you will ever be away from your baby for a significant length of time, you will need a breast pump. The good news is that many insurance companies will cover an electric breast pump (and they usually require you to purchase specific ones). Our hospital also provided us with a manual pump before we left, but you won’t want to rely on a manual one unless you rarely pump.
    • My Recommendation:  I have personally used a Medela pump, a Spectra pump, and the Hands-free Willow pump. The Spectra is my favorite traditional pump, but I love having a tether free, hands-free pump. You can find my full review on the Willow Pump here; be forewarned it is pricey and insurance likely will not cover it.
  • Milk Storage Bags
    • Unless you have lots of extra bottles, you’ll want some storage bags to keep your refrigerated or frozen milk in. Keep in mind when you freeze your milk to lay the bags flat until they freeze, and then you can store them upright afterwards.
    • My Recommendation: The Lanisnoh milk storage bags are my favorite because you can pump directly into them (with no adaptor) using the Spectra pump. They work well, don’t leak, and are easy to pour from.

Nice to Haves:

  • Breastfeeding Pillow
    • Having a breastfeeding pillow is super convenient, especially when you are first learning. Do keep in mind that over time, you’ll likely find any pillow or blanket will do. As baby becomes bigger, you likely won’t use anything at all.
    • My Recommendation: Hands-down the My Breast Friend nursing pillow is my favorite. I love it because it buckles closed which means it isn’t shifting around while you and baby are moving around. It also has some handy pockets where you can put a water bottle, nursing pads or even a remote to keep them in reach while nursing.
  • Nursing Cover
    • Many moms prefer to wear a cover when in public breastfeeding. If this sounds like you, you will want to purchase a cover to use.
    • My Recommendation: I do prefer ones that cover you all the way around because I personally didn’t purchase a million specific nursing clothes, so I usually just lift up my shirt to feed baby and didn’t want my whole back exposed when feeding. I ended up liking this poncho style nursing cover the best because it didn’t cling to baby like the stretchy ones do. It also can be used as a car seat and stroller cover too as an added bonus.
  • Hands-free Pumping Bra
    • I think these are worth every penny. They provide compression to give better milk output and allow you to free your hands to do other things while pumping. You can hack one by using a sports bra and cutting holes, but the zip up ones are quicker to put on and off.
    • My Recommendation: Out of all the hands-free pumping bras that I tried when I was exclusively pumping, I liked the Simple Wishes Signature Hands Free Pumping Bra the best. I love that it’s adjustable because when breastfeeding your boobs change is size quite dramatically over time. Additionally, as you wash and wear the bra (and it stretches out) you can tighten it to maintain compression and keep up your milk output.

Splurges:

  • Extra Pump Parts/Bottles
    • This one is dependent on your lifestyle. If you are a working mom or pump a lot, then this investment is well worth it. You will obviously need to purchase whichever ones work with your pump.
  • Cooler Bag
    • This is another one that is dependent on your lifestyle. If you are pumping and traveling quite a bit without access to a refrigerator, it may be worth investing in a small cooler bag. You don’t have to buy something specifically made for bottles, but those bags can be a bit better at keeping bottles upright.
    • My Recommendation: The Skip Hop Insulated Breastmilk Cooler and Baby Bottle Tote. It accommodates almost any bottle size and includes a freezer pack. I also like that it has little pockets for storing spoons or smaller items.
  • Breast Therapy Cold/Hot packs
    • These are not necessary in my opinion for two main reasons: firstly, you likely already have ice packs or warming pads you could use if push comes to shove. Secondly, the period of engorgement and pain is usually fairly short before your body begins to regulate with breastfeeding. They do fit perfectly around your breasts and provide comfort, so you may still decide they are worth it.
    • My Recommendation: The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Hot or Cold Breast Therapy Pack with Cover is a great option. These can be cooled or heated and used alone or with a breast pump to either provide relief or encourage your letdown.

Diapering:

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Must Haves:

  • Diapers
    • You will need something to catch all of those lovely little pees and poos, and oh boy, will there be a lot of them. So whatever you buy, stock up!
    • My Recommendation: We prefer disposables because they are so much easier (but I know they are horrible for the environment and costly in the long run). After having tried many diapers for our two babies, my favorites are Pampers Pure. They are super soft, hypoallergenic and fragrance free. On top of that, they rarely leaked on us. They are super pricey, but most of the hypoallergenic higher grade diapers are. My son constantly had a terrible case of diaper rash until we switched to these.
  • Wipes
    • When you are at home, you absolutely can use water and wash cloths as your own home made baby wipes. Even then, you will want something to use when you’re on the go.
    • My Recommendation: I promise I am not a representative for Pampers, but I do absolutely love their Pampers pure wipes. The pure wipes are thick and stay very wet; they also don’t contain fragrances and other common allergens so I feel good using them on sensitive baby skin. I DO NOT recommend Pampers’ regular wipes as they have a weird texture and do not wipe well.
  • Diaper Rash Cream
    • Chances are at some point your baby will have diaper rash. These creams can be used both to prevent and to treat diaper rash, so you will want to have at least one tube on hand.
    • My Recommendation: I have two recommendations here. For every day use as a preventative, buy this Boogie Bottoms Diaper Rash spray. It’s so convenient to use with just a quick spray, and it works really well. For treating cases of diaper rash, buy Triple Paste Medicated Ointment. We use this for flare ups that need more serious treatment as it is really thick and is great at treating diaper rash.

Splurges:

  • Wipe Warmer
    • I promise you that baby will be okay with room temperature wipes. Wipe warmers inevitably dry out diaper wipes. Additionally, you won’t be able to use warm wipes on the go so you are getting baby used to something that you can’t always maintain. Most people only use it for a few weeks and then it ends up collecting dust. Save yourself the trouble!

Travel:

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Must Haves:

  • Car Seat
    • This is an absolute must have for baby’s safety. Most hospitals will not let you leave without demonstrating that you have one. Whatever you buy, make sure that you properly install it. Most towns have inspection stations (frequently it is at the fire station) that will inspect your installation for you to make sure your car seat is in properly.
    •  My Recommendation: You do have quite a couple options here.
      • You could just get a convertible car seat that grows with baby so that you have something that will work through toddlerhood from the get go. Look for one that is easy to tighten and loosen. I can’t tell you how frustrated I got with our one car seat that just wouldn’t tighten enough. We LOVE our Nuna Rava Convertible Car Seat. The Graco Milestone All-in-1 Convertible Car Seat is also another great option that is much more affordable.
      • The other option is to buy an infant car seat initially. The advantage is that these are removable from the car, so that you can take the car seat out and attach to a stroller or carry baby into a store. The disadvantage is that they will outgrow it, and you will still need to buy a convertible car seat at some point. I do recommend buying the travel system (car seat and stroller combo) if you go this route. One of the top rated infant seats is what we used with our first – the Chicco KeyFit 30. We loved it, and it is available in a variety of colors and patterns too.
  • Umbrella Stroller
    • Unless you plan to wear baby for 100% of your outings, you’ll likely want to have a stroller to pop baby into. Umbrella strollers are smaller lighter strollers that are great to keep in your car. They usually fold very easily and are easier to deal with than larger strollers.
    • My Recommendation: If you get an Infant Car Seat, buy an umbrella stroller that is compatible with it. For Chicco, the Mini Bravo Plus is a fantastic option. It has all the function of a full-sized stroller, but is lightweight and easy to use. It’s not the smallest umbrella stroller out there, but it is a great all in one stroller.
  • Travel crib / Pack and Play
    • Chances are at some point, you will need to travel somewhere overnight with your little bundle of joy. These can also be helpful to keep out at home if you have a multi-story house – that way you have a safe place to put baby when you need to put them down for a moment. Additionally, you can use this instead of a bassinet in the early days.
    • My Recommendation: You can get years of use out of the Graco Pack ‘n Play Newborn2Toddler Playard. It has 7 modes of use – including a bassinet, a raised bassinet, a care center, a travel bassinet, a toddler playard, a toddler cot, and a portable napper.
  • Diaper Bag/ Backpack
    • Sure, you could use a large tote instead of buying anything, but diaper bags have many additional pockets for holding all those small baby accessories. I recommend buying a backpack version to free up your hands – trust me, you’ll need them!
    • My Recommendation: There are so many to choose from! Pick something with a large (but not bulky) with easily accessible front and side pockets. This HaloVa Diaper Backpack is highly rated and meets all of those requirements. Plus it’s inexpensive and super cute to boot!

Nice to Haves:

  • Jogging Stroller
    • Where the umbrella stroller fails is on rough terrain. So even if you aren’t a runner, you’ll likely want a jogging stroller for certain outings. We take ours any where we except to do a lot of walking or where we know we won’t be on pavement.
    • My Recommendation: The BOB Revolution Flex Strollers are top of the line. The wheels work on ANY terrain and the ride is incredibly smooth. If you plan to use your jogging stroller a lot, consider this option but know that you will pay for it. If not, opt for something a little less expensive like the Baby Jogger 2016 City Mini GT.
  • Changing Station Mat
    • These changing stations are great because they are basically an all in one clutch, meaning you can open your diaper bag, grab this and you’ll have everything you need to change baby. Otherwise you will find yourself rummaging around in your bag in the middle of a diaper change…which is hard to do one-handed and with a line of people behind you waiting for the changing station too!
    • My Recommendation: We love the Skip Hop Pronto Signature Portable Changing Mat. The mat is sizable and the pockets allow you to pack everything you need. It is also well-made and comes in a variety of designs to match your diaper bag.
  • Window Sun Shades
    • If you live anywhere where it gets hot and sunny, you are going to want to either tint your car windows or purchase a window sun shade.
    • My Recommendation: These Enovoe Care Window Shades come in a 4-pack for under $13, a great deal. They come in two size options and they stick really well to your windows. Simple but they do the job well.
  • Baby Wrap and/or Baby Carrier
    • Carrying baby in a wrap/sling/carrier is a great way to free up your hands while keeping baby content. Additionally, you will likely run into situations where you can’t take a stroller with you. Having a carrier will make life much easier (especially for your tired arms).
    • My Recommendation: This really varies SO much from mom to mom. There are baby wearing groups that you can attend and actually try out some of these wraps and carriers. I would honestly recommend doing that. My personal favorite is the Boba Wrap. I struggle with the carriers and neither of my kids ever really liked them.
  • Car Mirror
    • Since the current AAP guidance on keeping children rear-facing means they will be out of your sight for many years, it can be really nice to have a car mirror for peace of mind (and so you can see what they are up to).
    • My Recommendation: Look for something shatterproof and safety tested as mirrors can be hazardous if they shatter or if they are not attached properly. The Shynerk Baby Car Mirror is a great shatterproof option with heavy duty straps to ensure that the mirror does not come loose.
  • Backseat Air Noodle
    • While this one might seem excessive to some, I specifically bought my new car because it has overhead vents in the back. Since we live in a hot climate, before that, I would pull my rear-facing red-faced children out of their car seat to find their backs covered in sweat. This noodle redirects cold air back to them and would have given them some much-needed comfort. Overheating in children is no joke!
    • My Recommendation: I’ve honestly only seen one brand of these, and they are highly rated: the Noogle. It’s worth checking out if you live in a hot climate and the back of your car does not have overhead vents.

Health & Safety:

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Must Haves:

  • Thermometer
    • This is an important item to have on hand. Most pediatricians recommend that for any baby under 3 months, you contact them if they have a fever of 100.4 degrees F or higher. Many pediatricians will want you to provide a rectal temperature. Typically the guidance for is to add 1 degree to an armpit temperature (if you aren’t comfortable taking a rectal temperature), so baby is considered to have a fever for 99 degrees F. As always, talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions about thermometers to get their recommendation.
  • Baby Tylenol
    • You will want to have this on hand, but DO NOT administer without permission and dosing information from your doctor.
  • Hair Brush
    • Even if baby doesn’t have much hair, having a soft bristled brush comes in handy if they have any flakey skin on their head or cradle cap.
  • Nail File
    • Many babies are born with papery thin nails that they are constantly managing to scratch their face with. They seem to grow back overnight, and you will find yourself constantly trimming them.
    • My Recommendation: Do yourself a favor here and buy an electric nail trimmer – our favorite is Little Martin’s Baby Nail Trimmer. It’s dummy proof; you can’t hurt baby with it (unlike with clippers) and it works so much better than an old fashioned nail file. I highly highly recommend making this purchase.
  • Pacifiers
    • While there are moms who choose not to use pacifiers at all, everyone I know does. It’s a great way to comfort a baby and the AAP recommends offering to babies one month and older to reduce SIDS risk.
    • My Recommendation: Every baby is different when it comes to pacifiers. I recommend purchasing one of a few different types to have when baby comes home. Once you figure out what they like, then stock up. We had success with Dr. Brown’s HappyPaci for my first and with MAM pacifiers for my second.
  • Cool Air Humidifier
    • At some point in your baby’s early life, they will probably catch a cold. A humidifier is one thing that you can do to help moisten their airway passages and provide comfort. You won’t want to be running out for this with a sick baby in tow, so considering purchasing one ahead of time (if you don’t already have one, you might want two – one for your room and one for baby’s room because you’ll probably be catching a lot of what they get too).
    • My Recommendation: This Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier by Proaller is incredible because it holds 5L, has intelligent climate control, and is whisper quiet.
  • Nasal Aspirator
    • A nasal bulb is a must for suctioning out mucus from babies nasal cavities. They obviously can’t blow their noses, so if they get congested, this is going to be your best friend to help them breathe easier. Before you buy anything here, check with your hospital to see what they provide. For both of my babies, we were sent home with the classic blue nasal aspirator, so you may not need to buy anything.
    • My Recommendation: My pediatrician along with many others and many of my mom friends LOVE the NoseFrida. You use your own suction to safely and hygienically remove mucus from baby’s nose. It is more gentle than the nasal bulb, but my babies still hated any form of suctioning (a necessary evil unfortunately).

Nice to Haves:

  • Gas Relief
    • Many babies are plagued by gas that forms from swallowing air while eating and crying. Which only leads to more screaming and more gas. You’ll likely want at least one option handy when that precious little bundle of yours comes home.
    • My Recommendation: Consult with your pediatrician, but we got the best results from Mylicon. The active ingredient, simethicone, works to gently break up gas bubbles in baby’s tummy. Unlike gripe water, which has shown no evidence in studies of being effective, simethicone has been proven to be effective. This is an ingredient found in adult gas relief products such as Gas-X and Mylanta as well.
  • Probiotics
    • More and more studies are showing the importance of gut health on your overall health and the same is true for babies. While the research is still ongoing, studies have shown that probiotics decreased crying time for babies with colic. They are also commonly recommended by many pediatric gastroenterologists for a number of GI issues.
    • My Recommendation: Our pediatrician recommend Gerber Soothe, and we saw some decent results from it.

Baby Playtime:

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Must Haves:

  • Play mat/Activity Gym
    • With the back to sleep campaign, came a new set of recommendations for tummy time to prevent flat spots on your baby’s head. You will want some clean and soft spot to do tummy time with them. Activity Gyms are great for keeping them distracted during tummy time (which they often hate). They also provide a great place for babies to practice their hand-eye coordination by batting at hanging toys.
    • My Recommendation: The Play Gym by Lovevery took the market by storm recently. While it is a pricey option, moms agree that it is worth the cost. It is made for developmental play, plush, easy to clean and designed to hold up over time and through multiple babies. It is way sturdier than any of the activity gyms we have used and can hold up any other toys you might want to attach to it.
  • Baby Lounger
    • Chances are you won’t be able to hold baby at every moment. These loungers are great because they provide a comfy nest to plop baby into for a moment and are super portable. We took ours to family gatherings and all through our house.
    • My Recommendation: Our son loved the boppy lounger, and it came to us highly recommended by other families who used it.
  • Books
    • Reading from an early age is critical for their language development. We read to our babies before they were born and started bedtime stories with them a couple weeks after they were home from the hospital.
  • Development Toys & Teethers
    • Just like older children, babies can get bored and want to engage in play and explore the world around. This play helps them learn and develop; you can encourage learning by selecting age appropriate toys and playing with them.
    • My Recommendation: One of our personal favorites that we often give as a gift is the SmartNoggin NogginStik Light Up Rattle. It is a little ugly, but babies (and even older children) are drawn to its bright colors and lights, smiling face, and mirrored bottom. It’s a Rattle, but a whole lot more!

Nice to Haves:

  • Baby Swing
    • A baby swing is absolutely not a necessity, and I will also warn you that not every baby likes them (but many do). Movement is very soothing for babies, and in those early days when you have little sleep, these can be lifesavers for a crying baby. A human can only rock and bounce so much!
    • My Recommendation: Hands-down, the MamaRoo by 4moms was our favorite – you can actually read my full review of this next generation baby swing here.
  • Baby Bouncer
    • Much like a swing, this is a nice to have and not a true necessity. Our second baby had GERD, and we struggled with being able to set him down somewhere for even a second to get something done or attend to our oldest. For whatever reason, he loved his baby bouncer the most out of everything (even over the fancy swings with more movement and more features – go figure). Worth every single penny.
    • My Recommendation: Oliver highly recommends the Fisher-Price Deluxe Bouncer. They come in a few different animal selections, but the features are the same. They have a vibration setting that is awesome! When baby moves around, it bounces and soothes them, but you can also use your foot to bounce them more.

Splurges:

  • Excersaucer/ Activity Centers
    • These activity centers are places that you can put baby as they are learning to stand that are filled with bright lights and engaging toys. You can absolutely get by without one. If you do buy one, keep in mind that baby should not be in them for longer than 30 minutes at a time, and your baby may not end up liking it. These are items that your child will grow out of almost just as soon as they grow into it.
    • My Recommendation: The Fisher-Price 2 in 1 Sit to Stand Spin and Play Safari is a great option if you want one of these centers. It converts into a toddler play table so that you will get additional use out of it.
  • Bumbo / Sit me up Seats
    • These are little seats or chairs that provide assistance so that baby can sit up before they learn to do it on their own. Keep in mind that baby should not be in these for a long period of time. Otherwise they can hinder their development and delay their learning to sit on their own. They still need to practice with their own muscles!
    • My Recommendation: We used the Fisher-Price Sit-Me-Up floor seat with my daughter, and I absolutely loved it. She enjoyed being upright in it. I liked putting her somewhere I could play with her and pump at the same time (I ended up having to exclusively pump with her).

Clothing:

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I actually wouldn’t register for baby clothes since people will inevitably want to pick out clothes to give you. You’ll also just have to buy some adorable tiny baby outfits as well I am sure. However, I would make sure that you have the following essentials for baby:

  • Zip-up Sleepers (4-6)
  • Onesies (8)
  • Hats (3)
  • Socks (6 pairs)
  • Swaddle Blankets (3-4)
  • Wearable Blankets (2)
    • For when baby first outgrows swaddling, I recommend the Magic Merlin Sleepsuit as a Swaddle Transition product. It is amazing. My son didn’t sleep soundly until we started putting him in this.
    • When baby is used to not being swaddled, I recommend switching the the Halo Sleepsack as a wearable blanket. My daughter wore this until she was ready to transition into her big kid bed with real sheets and blankets.

Phew! You made it to the end. You’re now ready to start all of your shopping and check finish baby registry off of your never-ending to-do list to prepare for baby. Congratulations and happy shopping!

Are there any items I left off? Please drop me a comment below if I missed one of your favorite items!

Thanks for stopping by!

Katie

For more newborn must-haves, check out my Top 10 must-haves for newborns for first time moms.

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