Baby Registry Must-Haves


Several of my friends are pregnant with their first babies right now and are going through the process of creating a baby registry. Having had my little one last year, I know all too well how overwhelming this can be. With the plethora of products out there beckoning first-time parents, it’s hard to separate the must-buys from the gimmicks. I was as clueless as they come when creating my own registry and had no idea where to start. After surviving eight months with an infant though, I now have a pretty good idea of what to stock and what to skip. All babies are different of course, so some of the things Jackson loved may not suit other little ones, but generally speaking, I don’t think you can go wrong with the list of basics below. If you’re a soon-to-be mom looking for registry tips, I hope this helps!

Sleeping Collage.png

  1. Bouncer / Rock N’ PlayJackson LIVED in this and the Boppy lounging pillow for the first month. When I was pregnant and deciding what to put on my registry, I asked one of my best friends what single, can’t-live-without item she would recommend and this was it. Man was she right! We got so, so much use out of this rocker. Jackson actually slept in this next to our bed until he was 6 months old!  It has a slight incline so it’s great for babies that don’t like being flat on their backs, and  it’s not big so can easily be moved from room to room during the day as needed. We liked the Graco one we got but there are tons of options that are probably pretty comparable. 
  1. Travel / Mini Crib: We initially bought this to take on trips to visit family, but wound up setting it up next to our bed once Jackson outgrew the rocker and we still weren’t ready to transition him to the nursery (at 8 months old we still haven’t). The new recommendation from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) is to have babies sleep in the same room as you for the first year, if possible. Truthfully, we’ve kept Jackson in our room more because of the sleep challenges we’re experiencing with him than feeling like we need to follow the new recommendation, but whatever the case may be, having a portable crib that you can keep by your bed is super helpful. I like this version because it allows you to lower the mattress once the baby has outgrown the bassinet, so you can use it at the newborn stage and beyond.
  1. White Noise/Sound MachineWe love this Skip Hop one and use it every night! It has both melodies and nature sound options, plus serves as a nightlight, so it kills two birds with one stone. I definitely recommend getting some kind of sound machine, especially if you live in an apartment and have to drown out noise that you may not be able to control.
  1. Swaddle BlanketWe didn’t use these for all that long but they’re useful in the early days if your baby likes being swaddled and you find swaddling to be a pain in the ass like I did, ha! They take the guess work out of it.
  1. Sleep Sacks: These are good for once the baby is over swaddling or has outgrown it. Since you’re not supposed to put blankets in the crib with the baby to sleep, this lets you wrap him without having to worry about a blanket getting tangled, etc. We still use one.
  1. Baby MonitorWe have a Samsung version that works just fine and that I’ve generally been pleased with, although I’m not married to this particular model. I highly recommend having some kind baby monitor for peace of mind.

Playing Collage

  1. Baby Lounging Pillow We have the Boppy brand in the elephant print but it comes in a bunch of different designs. Jackson loved this thing for the first month or so. Before he could sit up, it was so nice to have a comfortable place to put him besides the rocker where he could look around and observe .
  1. Activity Gym: Once Jackson was about 3-4 months old and could reach for things, this activity gym was great. I’d place him on his back in the center of the mat and it kept him engaged for quite a while! It’s also a good place to practice tummy time. And for people who are tight on space (aren’t we all), the whole thing easily folds back up into the plastic case it comes in so you can quickly stow it away.
  1. Floor Seat: Once Jackson was sitting with support he wanted to be upright constantly. I mean ALL the time. This little seat allowed him to be in a seated position while on the floor or couch (with supervision of course) without us having to always hold him on our laps. It also folds and can be tucked away.
  1. Foam Play Mat: There are about a billion different foam mats to choose from at different price points but we opted for this basic one to start off with. We like it because the foam is extra thick and padded and is made from non-toxic materials (apparently not the case for all options). The pieces can also be formed into cubes so that Jackson has something to grab onto and pull himself up on when he’s older. This is another apartment friendly/space saver product since all the pieces can easily be broken down and put away.
  1. JumperThis isn’t useful until a baby is about six months old and does take up significant space, but it’s a must-have in my book. A jumper lets a baby who’s standing with support practice this skill and get some exercise. Jackson loves it!

Changing Collage

  1. Changing Pad: Assuming you have some kind of changing table, you’ll need a changing pad to go along with it. Unless you want to go with something fancy and organic (and it will be covered anyway), I see no reason to spend a lot on this. I have the Babies R US brand and it has worked well.
  1. Changing Pad Covers: In addition to a changing pad, you’ll need a cover to go over the changing pad to prevent the pad from getting dirty. I recommend getting a few covers so that when one is dirty you always have an extra on hand. To extend the time between washes, I also like to throw a disposable changing pad on top of the cover. This may seem excessive but I don’t throw these out after each diaper change (unless they get soiled) so they last a while and save me from having to wash the cover literally every other time I change a diaper. The ones meant for babies are cute but I’ve recently started buying wee wee pads at the pet store to serve this purpose, since they’re a lot cheaper and work just as well.
  1. Wipe WarmerThis is one of those things that I thought was gimmicky and completely unnecessary so I didn’t buy one initially. It was really jarring for Jackson as a newborn to use cold wipes though — he HATED being changed at first. I wound up buying one after Jackson was born and still use it. Not an absolute necessity by any means but it makes being changed a little more comfortable.
  1. Diaper PailDo you NEED a diaper pail? I suppose not. But if you want to contain the smell of dirty diapers, I recommend getting one. I bought a Diaper Dekor Plus after reading reviews and I really like it. It’s discrete, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and keeps the odors at bay.
  1. No-Rinse CleanserI keep this on the changing table and use it when I’m dealing with an extra dirty diaper. It’s nice to be able to clean the diaper area without having to actually bathe the baby every time, especially since you’re not supposed to submerge newborns in water more than a couple times a week because of their delicate skin. I use it a ton now that Jackson is older and eating solids too, since his diapers are now a whole new ball game!
  1. Changing StationThis is great for on-the-go changing and could even be used as your main changing set-up if you don’t get a changing table right away.

on the go

  1. Stroller: We love this CityMini stroller. We like to go on long walks and wanted something that would hold up to uneven pavement, gravel roads, etc. The biggest plus in my opinion though is the single hand folding technology. No struggling to figure out how to fold it up when you’re done! That said, it’s very pricey and while I do think it’s worth the money, if you’re looking for a more budget friendly option, we also have the Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller. It also folds super easily and is incredibly lightweight.
  1. Car Seat (& Base): A car seat is a an obvious essential (don’t forget the base!) but there are so many models out there to choose from. We got the Chicco KeyFit30  infant seat because it got top ratings for safety and ease of use, the biggest factors for me. One thing I didn’t take into account though is how it would fit in our car. In retrospect, I wish we’d tested this out first because it’s a tight fit with the passenger side. Live and learn!
  1. Baby carriers: I highly recommend getting at least one carrier for when you don’t want to bust out the stroller, or for when baby is being fussy and you need to be hands free for a few minutes. I have two. I’m not kidding when I say the Baby K’tan was my saving grace for the first couple of months. For quite a long time wearing Jackson with this carrier was the only way I could get him to nap. It’s like a wrap carrier but you don’t have to tie anything, which is a major plus in my book. If you’re like me and don’t want to be bothered with figuring out how to tie something and then worry if it’s secure, I suggest this carrier. Now that Jackson is older, we’re using the Ergobaby 360 instead and it’s equally great but for a different use. We like it for longer walks because it has straps like a backpack and provides a lot of support. David can even use this one too! 
  1. Diaper Bag: You can really use any bag as a diaper bag but I find that the bags made for this purpose have way more compartments than non-diaper versions. I love the diaper backpack I was gifted because it allows me to be hands free and that’s always a big plus when toting around a baby! 

other stuff

  1. Nursing Pillow: For getting started with breastfeeding this pillow was an absolute necessity for me. I didn’t nurse without it for the first month.
  1. Baby Tub: Bathing an itty bitty baby isn’t the easiest thing in the world but this tub made it manageable. The design is good and I like the fact that it can be used from newborn to toddler age.
  1. Stroller & Car Seat Toys: These are a must-have for keeping baby entertained in the stroller or carseat while on the go. Jackson was most amused by the owl and Forest Friends book  but there are a ton of options.
  1. Zip-up Footies: I quickly learned that when it comes to PJs, the zip-up versions reign supreme. When it’s 3am and you’re changing a diaper and the baby is screaming, every second counts! Zippers are much quicker to get on and off than snaps.

Let me know if there’s anything you think is missing from this list!

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