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I remember registering for my son. It’s terrifying visiting buybuybaby.com (or the store itself) and seeing tab after tab after tab of items you have no clue if you need or don’t need. For my wedding registry, yes – it was overwhelming, but at least I knew if I wanted this platter or would use a serving spoon. For babies, I had no clue where to even start.
So for all of you dreading the registry, but so excited for the stuff (who isn’t? It’s all so cute), consider this your best friend’s guide to baby registering. I’ve literally gone through each and every tab, my own registry, my past orders on Amazon, and put together my suggestions for dos, don’ts and must haves.
Rule #1: It’s all so tempting (because again, it’s all so cute) – but just remember, these companies are here to sell you everything AND make you think you NEED it all. But you don’t! Yes, it’s amazing how much you DO need for such a little bundle of joy, but you certainly don’t need it all.
Rule #2: If you’re going to need it down the line (at 4 months, 1 year, etc.), register for it.
Rule #3: As always, all babies are different, all parents are different, so these are just my thoughts on what I registered for, bought myself, loved and returned. When in doubt, register for more and return what you don’t use or need (you can ALWAYS use gift cards or store credit later).
Rule #4: If Amazon Prime isn’t your best friend already, it will soon become your favorite thing in the world! It will be you, feeding at 3am, priming everything you didn’t get pre-baby. So when in doubt, get what you think you need now, and Prime everything else later!
Rule #5: Don’t forget about yourself! Yes…you will most certainly need things post-baby too. So check out our Mom Registry List and make sure you’re covered as well.
Some people have 3 strollers and use them all. I have one and use it for everything. But here is what I registered for, received…and use/returned.
- Baby Jogger City Mini GT: Everyone’s style and preference in their stroller is going to be different, but I must say, I absolutely LOVE my City Mini! It is so versatile that we honestly don’t use anything else. It’s easy to navigate with one hand (and as a mom, you become a master at one-handed tasks), it’s folds and unfolds so easily, it’s not too heavy and it’s city chic!
- UPPAbaby G-LUXE Stroller: Everyone always insists you need an umbrella stroller – and maybe when my son is older or when we have two, I may use this, BUT, for the minimalists (or those who can’t spend thousands on baby stuff), mine has been sitting in our basement since my shower. I honestly use our City Mini for everything – even travel. That being said, if you think you’ll need one, I highly suggest this UPPAbaby.
- Chicco KeyFit Caddy Lightweight Car Seat Carrier Stroller: I had people swear by this, and I see it quite often in the stores, but I didn’t get much use out of it…again, I’m a minimalists that just uses my one stroller. But, note that this is just for babies that are still in their car seat. It’s said that if you don’t want your big stroller to go shopping, this is a lightweight and easy to maneuver alternative.
What you soon realize when registering for a stroller is that it’s an a-la-carte menu when it comes to accessories. You’ll have to get these in addition to the stroller. There’s a lot to choose from, but some are more helpful than others.
Keeping in theme, these accessories are specific to the suggested City Mini stroller above – but you can find similar accessories for whatever brand stroller you choose.
- Parent Console: This offers additional storage (and you’ll need it), cup holders and a closed pouch for your keys, wallet, etc.
- Child Tray: When your kids are able to sit in the stroller without the car seat, you’ll need a tray!
- Infant Car Seat Adapter: Your car seat won’t just fit on the stroller, you will need to find an adapter, specific to your car seat, to attach for those first few months.
- Weather Shields: We have a rain cover…we’ve never used it (but if it’s raining out, it’s better to have it). We never did a ‘bunting’ or ‘footmuff’, but I see a lot of strollers that have them in the winter. We just used blankets. But it’s all out there, you just have to decide how much you want and really need.
- The one thing we swear by though – a Sun Chaser! When your baby is still in the car seat on top of the stroller, there isn’t much coverage from the car seat cover, so we found this chaser to be so easy to keep the sun out our son’s face while outside in the sun.
TRAVEL TIPS: You know when you watch the airport staff throwing your suitcase into the airplane – well, think about that when you are handing over your car seat and stroller at the end of the runway. Not only are these expensive items, but your child sits in them every day. Our solution: Gate Check Bag for Strollers and Car Seat. Once you see how dirty and ripped these bags get after travel (we’re already on our second pair for both), you’ll be glad it’s not your seat/stroller that’s dirty and ripped!
We encourage you to do your research on car seats and pick the one that you feel most comfortable with – after all, safety is our number one priority.
- Chicco KeyFit: We chose Chicco KeyFit, for many reasons, but again, go with what you feel most safe with.
- My only suggestion, with whichever car seat you choose, if there is a base involved, get as many as you need for as many cars that deal with your baby. We had one for my car, my husband’s car and the grandparents had one too. It’s a lot easier to transfer just a car seat, than a car seat and base every time you switch cars!
TRAVEL TIP: Remember that when you are traveling with a baby still in an infant seat that requires a base – you need to bring the base with you on your trips! We literally forgot the base 3 trips in a row, fortunately we remembered on the bus ride to the airport (so what’s a few round trips back to the parking lot, right?!).
- Convertible Car Seat: We chose the Recaro, but again, there are many options and here is a product you’ll want to do your own research on for safety reasons!
- Back Seat Mirror: Since your child will be seated backwards for many years, you’ll want to see what they’re up to back there!
- Car Seat Arm Cushion: You’ll be doing a lot of curls with that car seat, the extra padding is worth a few bucks!
- Canopy Cover: When the baby is sleeping or you want to block out the sun, having one of these is helpful.
- Window Shades: The last thing you want is the sun blaring on your kid in the backseat, these are also worthwhile.
- Car Seat Protector: I didn’t register for it because I thought it was a fluff buy! Now with my son is walking through snow and putting his feet up on the back of the seat, these are now in my cart to buy!
There are so many options for a rocker, some really expensive that rock, vibrate, play music – and some that are simple, compact and get the job done just fine! Even when you’re going the minimalist route, I would still suggest having something that you can leave the baby in while you take a shower.
- Rock n Play: It doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles, but it did the job and the best part is that it was so compact and light, that I could fold it up and bring it around the house with me, or even take it with us to grandma’s house!
- Glider or Swing: Again, there are fancy versions and then there is the old school Fisher Price model that my mom got a garage sale that the baby loved so much, I took it from her house (hey…take what works)! Here’s a comparable option, Graco Glider Lite.
ITEMS THAT WILL HELP YOU GET THINGS DONE
- Boppy Newborn Lounger: I first got the regular boppy (the one with the hole in the middle), but then this gift was delivered on my doorstep our first day home from the hospital and it was our SAVIOR! He slept in this (although it clearly says not to let them sleep in it) and it was glorious…the one MUST thing I would recommend to all new parents!
- Bumbo Multi Seat is a life saver. This version of the bumbo allows it to grow with the baby, but this will allow you to actually let them sit somewhere (contained) and safely. When they are really young, stick a toy with a suction cup to the tray and boom…you have time to something for yourself!
- BABY PLAY MAT: These are definitely nice to have, but don’t spend too much on it. I literally got mine at IKEA and he loved it! It’s useful, but doesn’t take long for them to outgrow it. Another option that is easier than a whole mat system is the Hape First Gym.
- JUMPER: Some swear by the Jolly Jumper, some never use one at all. I have this Oribel PortaPlay and my son loved it. I liked it because it can grow with him (legs adjust) and when he grows out of it, it turns into a table! So if you’re going to spend the money, might as well have it grow with him.
- Walker: Eventually they’ll get their legs under them and will want to walk…but can’t…so these walkers are helpful to keep them vertical and moving.
- Carrier: Some prefer the wraps (I literally couldn’t figure them out for the life of me), some go with the less expensive options (and they love them), some prefer the most expensive. We found that our son loved the different options of front to back (as he got older). So we suggest the Ergobaby 3-Position.
You will never travel lightly again – you will need a bag of some sort. I went with a backpack. I hate how straps always fall off my shoulders, so I thought about a messenger bag – but I wanted something that my husband would wear too – so I went with a backpack! I love it. He wears it. We’re happy!
PORTABLE CHANGING KIT
This is a necessity. Trust me, not as many restaurants have changing tables as they should! But don’t go too fancy or expensive. Remember, easy is key. You’re likely doing this all with one hand! I love my Summer Infant ChangeAway.
- Grab & Go Wet/Dry Bag: Speaking of changing on the go – it’s not a necessity, but trust me, it may be worth $15 when your kid has a blow out and you have nowhere to put the damaged goods. This is worthwhile to have in your backpack with an extra onsie (or two) to change into and keep the damage contained.
- SleepSacks: We all know…no blankets in the bed, which means, sleepsacks are the new blanket. I would suggest getting two in each size, so that they can grow into them, as this will be their ‘blanket’ for some time. I went with the HALO Organic Wearable Blanket.
- Swaddle Blankets: It’s all about the swaddle the first few months. So get yourself some good swaddling blankets that are big, soft and comfortable! We love aden + Anais!
- Baby Monitor: We use Nest…and love it. But there are a lot of great options out there. I suggest doing some research to see if you really need all of the different functions.
- Pack ‘n Play: If you ever go to grandma’s house, or travel, or just want the baby to sleep anywhere other than their crib, you’ll need a pack n play. There are a lot of versions out there with a lot of bells and whistles, but the simplest (and easiest to travel with…even if it’s just down the street), is this plain old Graco Pack n Play.
- Crib: My thought is, if you’re going to spend the money, buy a convertible that will grow with them. We went with the Babyletto Hudson 3-in-1 Crib.
- Mattress: We went with Lullaby Earth Breeze Breathable 2-Stage Mattress, which transitions from infant to toddler, and bonus, it’s made in the USA!
- Mattress Pad Cover: I went organic with his bed and his bed cover and while we’ve been pretty good with accidents, this cover just helps with a little extra protection. Also, the 2-pack is key!
- Crib Sheets: A necessity, but I’d go with style on this.
- Mobile: These are nice design elements, but I’m not sure it’s a necessity.
- Sound Machine: I’ll tell you what is a necessity in our household though…a sound machine!
- And as a travel tip, we also travel with one too (travel size here)!
- Dresser: When deciding on a dresser for your nursery, take into consideration the height of the dresser. It may not matter to you, but the lower the dresser, the more you have to bend over to change your baby (if your changing pad is going on top of your dresser). Just something to note.
- Changing Pad: Just make sure it’s waterproof! I went with the Colgate Deluxe.
- Changing Table Topper: Not a necessity, but it does help to keep the changing pad in place. I went with the Serta Changing Top.
- Changing Pad Covers: This is a design choice, more than anything, but it’s nice to have. The only suggestion I’d make are these Boppy 3-Pack Waterproof Liners. Put these on top of your changing pad cover for some additional protection!
- Diaper Pail: It’s true – you’ll be changing a lot of diapers, and diapers don’t always smell pretty. Must you have a pail to solve that – no. Do they do the work – they can (but they still smell when you open them to put a diaper in. They also require specific refill bags, which can add up. So you can get a Diaper Genie and refill bags, or you can buy a garbage bin that has a lid, where you can buy your own garbage bags for cheaper.
- Rocker/Glider & Ottoman: I’d like to tell you this isn’t a necessity, because of how expensive they can be, but I’m not sure how I would get my son to bed (and be comfortable myself) without one. Of anything you buy, you will be spending a lot of time in this, so go for comfort. I went with the Babyletto Trapeze Glider. You will want an ottoman, I went with a cuter option from Land of Nod.
- Breast Pump: My insurance covered the Medela, which I found to be amazing. Now…it didn’t cover the freestyle, which allows you to be hands-free, but that was simply solved by buying a Freestyle Bra. If your pump is not hands-free, buy this bra!
- Accessories: There are so many options and accessories for breast pumps/feeding/storage. I say get the necessities and add on as you see fit.
- Nursing Pads: Whether you go with disposable or re-use, just make sure you have these and have plenty of them. It will be a long time before you can stop using these!
- Storage Solutions: Whatever you do, don’t waste the milk! Find a storage system that works for you, because every drop is gold!
- Cooler Set: If you’re ever on the go, you’ll need to have this set with you to keep that milk cold and fresh until you can get it into the refrigerator!
- Grab & Go Double Bottle Bag: If you’re breastfeeding, your milk will be gold. So to keep it fresh and cold while on the go, this is a great option.
- Vehicle Lighter Adapter: Hey…when you need to pump, you need to pump. I actually found pumping while driving a great way to multitask…just hope you don’t get pulled over (and wear a cover up)! But without this adapter, you’re out of luck and tied solely to a wall and outlet.
- Nursing Cover: Yes, yes, and yes. Necessary. Actually, I would say get two, one for your breast feeding bag and one for home. And if you can find one that serves as a scarf or carrier cover as well (like this one), bonus.
- Nursing Bras: A must. Your whole wardrobe will change into pieces that allow you the best and fastest ways to access your boobs without taking off all of your clothes. So buy bras, bra/camisoles, loose shirts, whatever you need to get that milk!
- Burp Cloths: A necessity. You truly can never have enough burp cloths!
- Bottles: We went with glass. You may not. Your baby might want the bottle that feels like a boob. They all say, don’t get too tied to a bottle before the baby – let the baby determine what they like. We bought Avent, but our son would drink from anything, so it worked out. I would suggest at least one 3-pack 8 fl oz, and at least one 3-pack 4 fl oz. I got two – so six bottles each. It all just depends on how fast you want to wash bottles!
- TIP: At first the baby will only use the 4 fl oz bottles, then they drink more and you’ll need the 8 fl oz, and then you wean them off of bottles and go back to the 4 fl oz – so don’t put the small bottles in a bin where you can’t access, like I did!
- Nipples: At first you’ll start with the slow flow nipples, but then you’ll graduate to different stages as they can handle (and want) more. So try and register for the different stages so that you have them ready to go.
- Bottle Warmer: I got a sterilizer and never used it, but the bottle warmer is helpful when you’re breastfeeding. Otherwise, with formula, you just put in warm water. But for breastmilk, I used Philips Avent Fast Bottle Warmer. When in doubt, throw some hot water in a bowl or sauce pan and that does the trick too!
- Bottle Cleaning: You become a human bottle cleaner, so to help with it, I would suggest a few things:
- A Drying Rack of some sort. I have the Boon Lawn, it’s cute and modern looking. I also have the two ‘twigs’ to help with the nipples.
- Bottle Cleaner: I don’t use the same cleaner for our food as the bottles, so we have a brush that’s just for the bottles. Call me crazy, but it’s also nice to know it’s only for the bottles – and it has a nipple cleaner in it too.
- Travel Version: For your travels, pick this brush up too!
- Bibs: Have lots of bibs on hand, from drool in the early days, to food down the line. But when you get to food, get the full silicone bibs – they are so easy to clean!
- Bowls/Plates: I bought a bunch, but they all get swept (i.e. thrown) on the floor. I highly suggest getting 1 or 2 ezpz mats (get minis that fit on the high chair tray, then bigger as they transition to the table). They suction to the tables (i.e. no more throwing).
- Utensils: You’ll need a spork at some point, but early on, you’ll need spoons…and a lot of them…and in my opinion, they are not all created equally. For me, the BEST spoons are the Munchkin spoons!
- Sippy Cups: We’ve tried a lot of these. These too are not all created equally, but we have found some success with: Munchkin Miracle Trainer Cups (somehow they don’t leak), OXO Tot Transitions Straw Cup, and for travel, we really like the Thermos Foogo Straw Bottle.
- High Chair: You may not need this right away, but you will definitely need it soon enough. I would say this is a necessity, or some equivalent of a feeding seat is. There are expensive chairs, there are inexpensive ones – if they keep your kid contained in a seat with a tray, I’d say it will work just fine! I went with style with the Stokke Tripp Trapp, and I liked how the chair was versatile for different ages.
- Inglesina Fast Table Chair is also highly convenient for going to restaurants or places that won’t have a high chair for you to use. It folds up and is easy to bring with you.
- Bumbo Multi Seat – I mentioned it before, but it could also be a good substitute for a high chair that is versatile with age.
Whether your baby loves or hates the bath, they happen (almost) every day. If you can find things that help you expedite bath time, it makes it that much more enjoyable for all.
- Bath Tub: We don’t have a bathtub, so we relied on the Boon Naked 2 Position Collapsible Baby Bath Tub. I loved how it transitioned from newborn to infant, offered different sizes and angles, and best of all, it collapsed so that we could easily store it without having a hug tub in our shower all of the time.
- Foam Bath Seat: Whatever bath you go with, I would say that this Foam Bath Seat is a necessity. It is so nice to not have to worry about your baby slipping and sliding all over the place!
- Bath Accessories: While fun, these aren’t all necessary. If you have a bathtub, you might want a Kneeler to protect your knees (a folded towel also works); a toy set is cute to have to distract from the shampoo…trust me, you’ll need distraction; if you want to contain the toys, an organizer is nice; to get the shampoo out as fast as possible, you’ll want a rinser (but a cup serves the same function); and for safety reasons, you may want a bath spout cover.
- Hooded Towels: Not only are they the cutest thing ever, but they are extremely handy. Are they a must, no, but again…they are nice when keeping the baby’s head warm.
- Washcloths: These do come in handy when washing a newborn. It’s worth a 3pack!
As always with safety, you should go with what you feel most comfortable and safe with!
- Humidifier: These do come in handy when the babe gets sick, and as we’ve experienced a super dry winter, we’ve had it on every time he sleeps.
- Thermometer: My only advice is find something that works and is easy to use (and that your baby will let you use). I like this 3 Tip in 1
- NoseFrida Snotsucker: Sounds gross, even looks like it might be gross, but GET ONE! They are amazing and I really have no clue how else you will get the mucus out of your baby’s nose!
- Grooming Kit: I got the 30 piece and use about 3 pieces. This kit is nice with just the essentials – a brush is nice, nail clippers and files, toothbrush and soft tip scissors.
- Lock Straps: It may take some time, but all of a sudden they are opening doors and getting into everything. We got these lock straps, which work perfectly on doors, drawers and toilet seats.
Toys are cute and you get sucked in, but it’s so true…they will end up playing with the boxes and your Tupperware. So if you can resist, we say stick to books and the essentials!
- Baby Age Photo Blocks: These are just fun. They are fun for the parents to either take pictures with or merely celebrate surviving another week, month or year!
- Edushape Non-Toxic Soft Foam Building Blocks: These have been fun since day one. Mostly they go in the mouth, but now 17 months later, he’s starting to get what they are actually used for.
- KidKraft Round Table & 2 Chair Set: Do you need this when they are born, no. But it’s so fun to have when they get a little older (my son started to play with it around 1year) and great for clean storage!
- Stroller/Car Seat Toys: I present to you: “Captain Calamari” – the savoir of all car rides! Our friend gave him to us and we now give you this small gift of knowledge to get him too!
- Baby Einstein Take-Along Tunes: Three moms gave this to me, and now I give it to you – I don’t know what it is about this thing, but it’s gold! We have one in every car!
- Sassy Wonder Wheel: It is worth having some sort of suction toy that goes on the highchair, bumbo, or in their hands to keep them busy.
- Teething Keys: Keep these in the freezer for much needed relief when they start to teeth.
About Kerry Doman
Kerry Doman is the founder and CEO of LittleGuide Detroit and After 5 Detroit. She has lived downtown Detroit for 10+ years and still calls the city home with her husband and son. As a relatively new mom, she’s excited to explore downtown with her family and hopes you’ll enjoy doing the same!