I'm a little bit of a baby gear nerd. I love following the Baby Guy on Facebook and reading about new products. At the same time, I've learned about what's truly necessary, what is nice to have, and what's less than useful. When it comes down to it, babies don't need that much. They need a place to sleep, something to catch waste, clothes, and a way to eat. However, there are a few things that can make life a little bit easier. Adjust this list as needed to fit your own plans and lifestyle. (This post contains Amazon affiliate links)
Don't forget to download your printable registry checklist at the end of the post!
The American Association of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing with baby for the first six months to reduce the risk of SIDs. Some families decide to bed-share from the beginning, while others are more comfortable with baby on a separate sleep surface. If you've been following me for any length of time, you might have caught on that our sleeping arrangements are flexible. Here's what's worked for us:
Favorite products: We loved the Arm's Reach Cosleeper, although we ended up part-time bed-sharing. For the portable crib, we went with a Graco Pack 'n' Play, sans accessories. We chose the SUNDVIK crib from IKEA for the price and its compact size. Skip the fancy bedding sets: the padded crib bumpers are a suffocation risk, as are thick blankets. Instead, register for a couple of fitted crib sheets and waterproof mattress covers. Instead of cotton flannel receiving blankets, register for muslin swaddle blankets like those from Aden & Anais. These large swaddle blankets do double and triple duty as burp cloths, nursing covers, carseat shades, and changing pads. The bamboo blankets are extra soft but the cotton ones served us well. If you are looking for items to round out your registry, I love the Dream blankets, loveys, and sleep sacks made by Aden & Anais too.
Your registry might look different depending on your feeding plans. You might be planning on nursing at the breast exclusively, returning to work after your maternity leave, or bottle feeding from the beginning. If you plan on staying home and don't see yourself pumping, register for a manual pump in case of emergency. If you plan on returning to work or building an emergency stash, or if you plan on pumping much at all, go for the electric pump. No matter your feeding plans, plan on having at least a few bottles on hand just in case. Feeding pillows are useful no matter how you feed baby.
Favorite products: I went through a lot of nursing pads trying to find ones that kept me dry, didn't irritate my skin, and managed heavy leaking. Milk Daze pads were the only ones that met all of the above criteria. If you opt for disposable pads, the Lansinoh pads worked well for me. For breast pumps, check to see what your health insurance covers. If you are planning on pumping, check out the Kiinde system. Breastmilk storage bags screw directly to your pump using brand-specific adaptors, and then snap into a bottle with nipples that work with a breastfed baby's latch. If you plan on formula feeding, the Dr. Brown bottles worked great for us. There are also fabulous glass and stainless steel bottle options now. We've used Boon's Grass drying rack for 3.5 years now, and found it useful long beyond the bottle days. Finally, for a feeding pillow, the My Brest friend is great as a breastfeeding pillow, while the Boppy works great for either breastfeeding or bottlefeeding.
Before registering, think about whether you plan on using disposable diapers, cloth diapers, or both. If you aren't sure where to start with cloth diapers, schedule a one-hour consultation with me!
Favorite products: I don't have a lot of knowledge about disposable diapers (we used what we got from the hospital and baby showers) but I have a long list of recommendations for cloth diapers, depending on a lot of different factors. Way too many to list here! For wipes, I like the BumGenius wipes, but baby washcloths do just as well. I could write a dozen posts about cloth diapers (and probably will), so I'll keep this one short! I will say that I recommend wet bags whether or not you plan on cloth diapering because they are great for swimsuits, soiled clothing, and gross burp cloths. You can, of course, just use plastic bags, but cloth wet bags won't develop holes at inconvenient times. If you use cloth diapers, make sure you register for cloth-safe diaper creams.
Although I'm including clothing on this registry checklist, don't expect people to give you the exact clothing you register for. Most people buy the clothes that they think are cute. That being said, most places offer a completion discount for items that remain on your registry.
Favorite products: I love the Halo Sleep Sacks for swaddle escapees. I also like the sleep sacks from Aden & Anais because they are nice and lightweight over pajamas in the winter and a onesie in the summer. Whether you have a boy or a girl, nightgowns are way easier for nighttime diaper changes. During the day, opt for bodysuits (onesies) and pants or baby legwarmers, or footed pajamas in cooler weather. You'll need socks but not shoes. And finally, even before babies are ready for solid food, they often drool or spit up and bibs can help save outfits.
Babies don't need a whole lot of bathing in the beginning, and sponge-bathing will often do the trick. Many bathe baby in the sink, while others love a baby bathtub.
Favorite products: To be honest, I didn't have a lot of brand preferences in this category. I was really all about keeping it simple.
Your essentials list might be different than mine, but you will definitely need a carseat.
Favorite products: For carseats, I'll direct you to a far more qualified source: The Car Seat Lady. Bucket seats are useful if you want to be able to use the carrier to transport baby in and out of the car or snap it into a stroller frame, especially for colder weather. A convertible seat will work from infancy and well into toddlerhood and beyond depending on the size of your child, and works great if you know you plan on using baby carriers when you are on the go. We got into babywearing pretty early, and found that bulky travel systems didn't work for us. We preferred using the stroller frame that worked with our bucket seat, and then using a lightweight stroller after the bucket stage ended. For the most part, though, we stuck to baby carriers, and that's all about finding the right carrier for you. I can help you with that!
With my first, the Nosefrida grossed me out and I passed---but then I realized bulb syringes were much grosser. The Nosefrida is the way to go. Along with that in the health category, you need a baby thermometer.
A carseat mirror isn't an essential, necessarily, but it's been helpful for me to know when my babies were asleep or awake. And finally, you need a dresser or something for baby's clothes. We put a changing pad on top of the dresser and skipped the changing table entirely.
For nursing bras, I actually had great luck at Target. Register or purchase nursing bras after getting fitted between 34 and 40 weeks pregnant. You may increase in size even more after birth, and may experience other fluctuations as your supply regulates. Why nursing bras at night? You need something to hold nursing pads in place.
Even if you are not planning on breastfeeding, or are a non-gestational parent, your baby will benefit from kangaroo care. You can register for a kangaroo care shirt, like the Nuroo, to facilitate skin-to-skin cuddles, or use a Baby K'Tan.
I loved having all of these things, but could have lived without most of them. My glider remains my favorite chair, and I will be holding onto it for a long time. The bathtub is useful but not required. The need for a baby monitor depends on your house size and how sound carries in your house. We actually have enjoyed using the Cloud Baby Monitor app, with our iPad or an old iPhone as the camera, and my current iPhone as the monitor. For the swing, chair, and play mat, some babies love them, and some hate them. It's better if you can borrow rather than buy. For pacifiers, don't invest in too many but get a couple. You might swear you will never use them (I didn't plan on it) or you might want to, but your baby won't take it (I couldn't get mine to take it when I wanted him to). We used what we called "Rain Lamb," the Sleep Sheep extensively to create sleep associations. We now use a more robust machine.
What did I miss? What would you recommend? What's on your registry?