This past weekend, I sat with my expectant cousin and we went through her baby registry together. After all, as a veteran mom of two who used to focus her “mommy blog” solely on baby gear reviews, I have an opinion or two about the things you really need on your baby registry checklist.
While a baby registry list for someone living in a city without a vehicle might look a bit different from someone else’s baby registry must-haves in more suburban or rural areas, there are some core need-to-have items and some nice-to-haves that should grace everyone’s list.
Here are my tried-and-true baby registry list ideas:
Somewhere for baby to sleep. A crib, co-sleeper or hand-me-down Moses basket will do the trick. Babies will sleep just about anywhere, and they don’t care about having a fancy nursery with million-dollar decor. Eventually, you’ll need a crib and the best bang for your buck will be one that converts to a toddler bed and then a double bed; The K Man is nearly 11 and still using his! Always ensure that the one you choose complies with current crib safety regulations.
Something to transport baby. This might be an infant car seat if you drive, or it could be a wrap or soft-structured carrier if you’re a walker or plan on using only public transit. A great stroller is always awesome no matter where you live or what your lifestyle calls for. In any case, “babes in arms” is merely a phrase. They get awfully heavy after that first week or two, and you’ll want to be hands-free so you can do other important things (like hold coffee).
A nursing footstool. This one doesn’t come up in a lot of “must-have” lists floating around. Whether or not you plan to breastfeed, you may want a rocking chair or glider to make yourself as comfy as possible. But no matter where you sit to feed — with “the boob” or a bottle — a nursing footstool makes the whole thing much more ergonomic.
Diapers. And a lot of them. Plus a good bum cream to help prevent and treat diaper rash (sorry, but it’s inevitable).
A diaper receptacle. You can get fancy with a bin designed for diapers with scented bags that will mask the wafting poop smells, or you can DIY it with a bin you line yourself with scented bags — just make sure it has a lid that seals well. Even those doing cloth diapers will need somewhere leakproof and stink-proof to keep diapers until it’s time for laundry! If you live in a region that accepts disposable diapers in compost bins, you might even be able to get away with something akin to a green bin lined with compostable liners. You just want to be sure you don’t empty that sucker until garbage/recycling day!
Receiving blankets. From swaddling to cleaning up baby barf, you really can’t have too many of these.
Bottles & binkies. Go easy here. Your kid may not like any of the dozen bottle brands you try, so borrow a few from friends first to see what your baby prefers first. Have them at your house, sterilized with fresh nipples ready to go for the moment you decide to introduce a bottle. Pacifiers aren’t too expensive, so you can put a couple of different brands and styles on your baby registry; but don’t be surprised if nothing works and you become the human pacifier. Been there, done that — eventually, it ends.
A good thermometer. Knowing when you need to be concerned about a baby’s fever is hard if you aren’t confident you’re even getting an accurate temperature reading. Having a thermometer with a few important bells and whistles is the perfect baby registry item. I wish we’d had something like the Braun ThermoScan® 7 Ear Thermometer back when I was making baby lists. I’ve tested this one out on my own kids this week and it reads incredibly accurately (oh, and it’s sterile thanks to disposable lens filters) and very fast. In fact, it reads far faster than any of the digital thermometers we’ve previously owned.
Fun fact: did you know that the eardrum shares the blood supply of the brain’s temperature control centre? That’s why measuring anyone’s temperature in his or her ear canal is ideal. The tip of the ThermoScan® 7 even warms up a bit so it’s not too shocking when it goes into your little one’s ear and that it reads accurately. But my favourite part of all is that you can select from three different age groups with Age Precision® technology to ensure the reading is age-accurate as well; this is key because clinical research tells us that what defines a “fever” changes from infanthood to toddlerhood and beyond.
Breastfeeding stuff. If you’re planning to breastfeed, you might be tempted to add a breast pump to your baby registry checklist. May I suggest, however, that you consider renting one from your local hospital or home health-care retailer first to see if it’s something you’ll use long-term? I had every hope of pumping to allow my husband to do our babies’ evening bottles, but my babies had other ideas. NEITHER of them would take a bottle, no matter what or how hard we tried. So that $450 breast pump we had went largely unused.
Things you will need for nursing, however, include a couple of great nursing bras and tops, plus some reusable breast pads to ensure you can leave your house in the early days before your milk supply regulates (because, hello, leaks!). If you can afford to invest in an at-home lactation consultant in your first days and weeks home, that, too, should definitely be on the must-have baby list.
Organic cotton everything. I’m not as crazy about off-gassing now as I was when my kids were babies and toddlers, but I tried really hard to ensure that any fabrics they’d be close to for long periods of time or frequently (think face cloths, crib sheets, PJs) were made of organic fibres. This is more of a nice-to-have than a need-to-have, of course.
Onesies! All the onesies. Your baby can live in onesies and/or sleepers for basically the first full year of life, save for those Instagrammable fashionista moments we all require for the baby book. (Spoiler alert: you may never actually finish that baby book.)
A sleep sack. We used these with our kids until they went into actual beds (both transitioned from cribs to beds after age three), allowing us to keep blankets out of their cribs entirely.
Nail clippers. I still have and use the baby clippers I got for The K Man more than a decade ago. You might want to just file your baby’s soft nails for the first few weeks while their little bodies are still flailing around like crazy because until you become a skilled clipper (and you will!), those sharp edges can cause some serious scrapes. On both of you.
Really good laundry detergent and stain remover. I cannot impress upon you how much laundry is in your near future. From the poop that somehow ends up at Mach 3 sliding down the arms of your baby’s sleeper to the sheer amount of spit-up that comes out of these tiny humans, there’s a lot of laundering that needs to be done. Big B was the ultimate baby stain remover and his brilliant system of using a spot cleaner first before throwing anything into the washing machine almost always meant success.
Toys, books & an activity centre. At first, you’ll spend hours longingly gazing at your new miracle; but once the novelty wears off, you’re gonna be thinking “Now what?” Reading — soft, interactive books are great for the first year — and playing with simple grab-toys can certainly begin right away and you can introduce activity or jumping centres after about four or five months when your baby’s neck is really strong.
A high chair. You’ll probably start using one when your baby is six to eight months old, so this is a great baby registry item. Look for one that’s easy to clean (just say NO to cushions!) with an option to pull right up to the family table. You don’t need the Cadillac of high chairs here, because you’re in for a world of hurt if you think you can keep crevices free of crumbs or any kind of upholstery clean even once a day, let alone after every mealtime.
A video baby monitor. Yes, to me this is an absolute must even if you live in a one-bedroom apartment. And while it doesn’t have to be a product specifically for a nursery (with technology these days, you might even be better off getting something that can later be repurposed as a general security camera for another area of your home), it does need to be video-based to ensure that you know when going into your baby’s room is the right move or not — sound only won’t give you the kind of information you need in some situations to make a game-time assessment.
One final item for your baby registry is a cool-mist humidifier. Humidifiers help soothe cold and flu symptoms, and keep the air moisturized (which is nice for dry, cracking nostrils thanks to all those boogers and can even work for kids who get serial nosebleeds), but they can even help babies who are well sleep better sometimes, too.
The Vicks Mini Filter Free Cool Mist Humidifier is a far more compact humidifier than we ever had! It’s also super-quiet, comes in three different colours and shuts itself off when it runs out of water. Speaking of water, filling the tank is sooooo easy, which was always a bone of contention with our kids’ first humidifier. Just be sure to keep any humidifier you own really clean using the manual’s instructions to prevent mould and other nasties from growing.
Oftentimes, the best baby registries include all kinds of things that are completely unnecessary (especially if you happen to live in a small space!). So, with that, I bring you…
Things you don’t need on your baby registry list:
- Change table — a small basket with spare diapers, wipes and creams and a change pad or towel on each floor of your home will suffice
- Bassinet — unless one comes with your stroller set, this is not a worthy investment. My babies grew out of their bassinets within the first three weeks!
- A crib bumper or any blankets, pillows, toys or other things that go inside a baby’s crib. Resist the temptation of favouring cute over safe. Experts recommend that babies have NOTHING in their cribs, including bumpers, to help prevent SIDS
- Burp pads. What a joke! Those damn things are WAY too small to catch projectile baby puke; stick with receiving blankets thrown over your shoulder instead
- Baby-proofing products. Number one, I don’t personally believe you need these at all (we didn’t even use baby gates!), but number two, don’t fill up your baby registry with things you won’t even use until your second baby is on the move. When you just have one baby or toddler, you’ll have time to watch their every move like a hawk — says this helicopter parent!
- A wipes warmer. OK, OK — I had one the second time around because Miss Q was born in the dead of winter, but it was purely a luxury and it wasted wipes because it dried them out prematurely
- Baby wash, lotions and potions. Honestly, water is just fine. On the rare occasion when water won’t do the trick (like those explosive poo-namies), you can use whatever gentle bar soap you have kicking around. It’s my opinion that we lather our babies in too many fragrance-laden products and, at least in Canada where the term is unregulated, “fragrance” in an ingredient list can be a red flag
- While cute or even fashion-forward diaper bags with heaps of pockets are awesome if you have a never-ending baby registry, a backpack you already own is also equally as good
- Nix the baby food blenders, folks. Your own blender will do just fine, and if you go with baby-led weaning, you won’t even need that!
This is a magical time; don’t let something like creating the perfect baby registry checklist freak you out, especially now that you have this handy list to help you out. Ultimately, YOU are all your baby really needs.
DISCLAIMER: Braun and Vicks compensated me for this post, but all opinions and suggestions are my own.