Let’s face it. Stocking your baby registry and steering your cart through the baby super store is overwhelming, especially if you’re a first timer.
Which baby products do you truly need? Which can you skip? The answer can vary depending on your situation and lifestyle. But if you want to keep baby stuff to a minimum, which is a good idea, this master baby registry post is for you. As a general rule, with baby gear, less can be more. And more can be a tripping hazard!
Have no fear! This what-to-get/baby registry list (below) is curated with an eye on your budget, your sanity and your safety.
These product recommendations are culled from interviews with experts, such as manufacturers, baby sleep trainers, pediatricians and my own experience as a baby gear shopper/Babierge Trusted Partner and clogs-on-the-ground reporting (those are the shoes I wear to baby product trade shows, where I spend hours on my feet meeting with retailers, manufacturers and distributors for product info).
This comprehensive product guide is designed to be wallet friendly, while providing just what you need to get the job done without feeling deprived. Warning: There’s still plenty on it.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to be completely geared up from day one. Some products can wait until after your baby is born. And some gear may be completely optional. If you breast feed exclusively, for example, you may not need any bottles. None.
Which products do you truly need? Which can you live without? What’s worth splurging on? Which products are an especially good value? Which have something a little extra that makes them special? Let Babyproductmom’s unbiased minimalist list be your guide—and help you keep your wits about you in the baby aisle and online, whether you’re buying baby gear yourself or adding them to your baby registry. When you’re registering or shopping, take each section in chunks. Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Ready? Let’s get started!
BABY REGISTRY MUST-HAVES
Infant car seat: It’s a must-have for everyone; even New Yorker City dwellers who don’t drive need one for taxi rides. Add a stroller frame, and it turns into an economical stroller. Viola!
Babyproductsmom suggests buying an infant car seat with a load leg or an anti-rebound bar. These safety features exceed federal government car seat safety standards. One caveat: You’ll pay a premium for these souped up seats. If they’re not in your budget, no worries. All car seats sold in the U.S. must meet rigorous safety standards.
Top car seat picks:
Evenflo SafeMax infant car seat
Baby Trend Inertia Infant Seat
Cybex Aton 2
Cybex Aton Q
Cybex Cloud Q
Sanity saver: Pick the infant car seat first, then a corresponding stroller or stroller frame. It’s just easier to do it like that.
Stroller strategy 1: Infant car seat + stroller = travel system
If you pick an infant car seat with a load leg or anti-rebound bar, make it into a travel system. Check out the compatible strollers in this post. Examples:
Cybex Aton 2 + Cybex Agis M-Air 3
Stroller strategy 2: Infant car seat + stroller frame = car seat stroller
If you choose an infant car seat without a load leg or anti-rebound bar, you have lots of stroller options, including just buying a stroller frame for now (recommended). Check out this stroller round up before heading to the stroller aisles. Examples:
Graco Verb. The Verb accepts all Graco Click Connect infant car seats. All told, Graco is a value brand, with best prices on Amazon.
Trending now: Modularity—strollers such as the Britax BReady with seemingly infinite seating configurations for one or more kids. (If this is your first kid, a modular stroller may seem like overkill. But it could work if you like to plan ahead for baby two.) Similarly, BabyTrend’s Sit N Stand SnapGear stroller offers 20 seating configurations for up to two kids. Pair with one or two BabyTrend infant car seats.
Stroller muffs for cold climates: 7 A.M. Enfant Warmmuffs. In the winter, attached stroller gloves come in handy.
Strategy 1: Get a stationary-sided crib (not a used one with a drop side—nuh uh) and put it right next to your bed so your baby can sleep in it from day one.
Strategy 2: Start with a bassinet next to your bed and switch to a crib when your baby outgrows the bassinet (at around 4 to 5 months).
Best value cribs:
Fisher-Price cribs. They’re licensed by the Bivona Company, a quality furniture wholesaler, and carry the JPMA 2.0 certification, which means they meet ASTM safety standards, state and federal requirements and major manufacturer requirements; it combines all safety guidelines into one. All Fisher-Price cribs convert to a full-size bed. Conversion kit sold separately.
One thing: That new crib smell. Fisher-Price cribs are not Greenguard certified. That means they’re not certified to be free of off-gassing (chemical fumes emitted after manufacturing). Solution? Give it a couple of weeks to air out before putting your baby in it. If you would like to buy a crib that’s guaranteed not to off gas, choose from this list.
DaVinci cribs. They’re Greenguard certified and good value. DaVinci cribs are MDB’s value line (a premier children’s furniture manufacturer). Note: Any DaVinci crib that converts to a toddler or full-size bed requires a conversion kit (sold separately).
Crib mattress: The firmer, the better. Think brick. What seems too hard for you isn’t too hard for your little one. Don’t skimp on this purchase—and buy the cheapest one.
Best value crib mattresses:
Any Colgate crib mattress, even their Foam Supreme II, which is at the low end (around $100) will do the job just fine. Not to be confused with the toothpaste conglomerate, Colgate has been making crib mattresses since 1955. They know their stuff.
Fitted crib sheets: Get two or three. Go crazy with colors and patterns if you want to. There’s more to crib sheets than you might think. Check out this post for your options. Fave splurgy place to go for safe crib bedding sets (no bumpers) and ideas: Liz and Roo.
Crib skirt (optional): The safest cribs are bare, so don’t use a bumpers, blankets, stuffed animals or pillows. But you can use a crib skirt to make a nursery style statement.
BabyBjorn Travel Crib Light (splurge). For hotel rooms, going to Grandma’s house or for longish mommy’s group meet-ups, the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light can help babies and toddlers get some solid shut-eye. It’s only 11 pounds to lug around and because it opens like an umbrella, it’s easier to set up/dissemble than a Pack ‘n Play, which is a good value if you’re on a budget. Trip tip: Before your outing, have your baby sleep in a travel crib at home to break it in.
Changing pad: For the top of the dresser (recommended).
Bassinet: Get one if you don’t want to start with a crib from day one, and put it next to your bed. You’ll find a range of options, from simple and inexpensive to stylish and pricey. Remember–your baby won’t use it long.
A rocker or glider: A glider is better; it’s a rocker upgrade. Splurge or register for a glider with padded arms; you can skip the matching footstool if you want to, but it’s nice to have. What not to do: Talk yourself into blowing your budget on a glider because you figure that you can always move it into another room, such as your den or living room, when baby is older. You won’t. Gliders tend to look funny outside of the nursery. They just do.
Waterproof mattress pads: Get two. Even if you buy a waterproof mattress, a water-proof mattress pad is an extra layer of mattress protection and can take the chill off.
Angel Dear Lovey: Soothing baby blanket; don’t put it in your baby’s crib, bassinet or play yard at nap or bedtime.
Get one large package of newborn diapers, 128-count total (for babies under 8 pounds) or size 1 (over 8 pounds), and then load up on other sizes after you find the brand you like best. Babies grow so fast that 128 newborn diapers will likely be all you need. Caveat: If your baby weighs around 10 pounds at birth, you can probably skip the newborn diaper stage altogether.
To help you gauge the disposable diaper quantity you’ll need after the newborn stage, here’s the diaper data that can come in handy:
10: Number of weeks your baby is likely to spend in size 1 diapers
12: Number of weeks in sizes 2, 3, and 4
24: Number of weeks in size 5
48: Number of weeks in size 6
Based on those estimates, here’s the number diapers you’re like to need in each size in total. These numbers can help you plan your bulk diaper buys.
–Size 1, 775
–Size 2, 925
–Size 3, 750
–Size 4, 590
–Size 5, 1175
–Size 6, 2350
This disposable diaper data is just a ballpark. Babies measuring in at the top of the weight and height percentiles at birth and beyond tend to outgrow diaper sizes faster. These strategies in my diaper book can help you save big in the diaper department. Experiment with store brands and/or buy in bulk to save money.
Reusable diapers: If you plan to use reusable/cloth diapers even at least part time (like on weekends to save money), start with six reusable diapers. Once you find your preferred brand and method, you’ll want to have up to 24 on hand if you’ll be using reusable diapers fulltime. Reusable diapers can be almost as easy as disposables aside from the added diaper duty. An easy place to start: Any all in one cloth diaper, such as Tidy Tots or Cuteybaby.
Diaper pail with refills or bags as needed, such as the Diaper Genie Complete and refills. A covered garbage can will do if you’ll be using reusable diapers. Trending: Diaper pails with an extended life, such as the Diaper Dekor, which easily transforms into a trash can.
Water or fragrance-free wipes: For baby’s sensitive skin. You can never have too many.
Side-snap T-shirts: Get six.
Socks/booties: Get six pairs. Recommended: Cheski Baby socks (they’re designed to stay on).
Sock Ons—to keep socks on (if you get socks other than Cheski). Get several.
Comfy daytime baby outfits (rompers): Get two or three. Clothes are the most popular baby gift. Buy only a few items in newborn size. Don’t bother putting any baby clothes on your registry. Well-wishers will buy them for you anyway. Wait to stock up on clothing in the 6-month size and beyond, which your baby will grow into quickly, after new-baby gifts arrive.
Cotton sweater or light jacket: Get one.
If you’re planning to breast-feed, you’ll need:
Washable or disposable breast pads: Get one package for starters.
Breast pump (manual or electric): Go with a double electric breast pump if you’ll be returning to work. Consider renting a pump first if you’re not sure if you’ll need one. Otherwise, go with a single electric or manual pump for occasional use. If you have health insurance, get a free breast pump from your health plan.
Bottles: If you’re breast-feeding and plan to use only an occasional bottle, you may need only one or two bottles. Otherwise, six 8-ounce bottles will get you off to good start. (Money saver: Skip 4-oz bottles. Babies don’t use them for long.) Check out this post for your healthiest bottle options. Also popular: Playtex Nurser with Drop-in Liners. Use 8 oz bottles with 4 oz liners until your baby is ready for 8 oz liners.
Have several bottles on hand and experiment. Some babies will drink from any bottle. Others are pickier. Consider putting one or two starter sets or gift packs on your baby registry.
Bottle-drying tree: Check out a “grass” drying rack. It does double duty because it’s also good for drying delicate glassware such as wine glasses. Also helpful: Boon Stem and Boon Twig for drying bottle and sippy cup parts.
Bottle brush: Get one.
Microwave sterilizer bags, such as Philips Avent Microwave Sterilizing bags. They’re an inexpensive alternative to a bottle sterilizer that don’t take up any room on your kitchen counter—and an easy way to steam clean glass and plastic baby bottles, breast pump parts, pacifiers. Fill each bag with the requisite amount of water (generally ¼ cup), zap for 90 seconds to several minutes and viola! You’ve killed 99.9 percent of bacteria. You can get up to 20 uses out of one bag, too.
Cloth diapers or burp cloths: Get three packs.
Boppy or My Brestfriend nursing pillow: It makes holding baby during breastfeeding or bottle feeding easier. Or, skip this purchase and just sit on the couch or bed and use the pillows you have available.
Nursing cover-up for privacy when you’re breastfeeding in public. Get one that doubles as a car seat cover.
High chair. You can hold off on this purchase until your baby starts solids (around 4 to 6 months old), if you want to.
Trending: High chairs with an extended life, such as the Baby Trend Snap Gear 3 in 1 high chair (value). It morphs into a booster seat. If you buy a Baby Trend Snap Tech car seat, it snaps into the Baby Snap Gear high chair base, becoming a portable high chair (good for travel and Grandma’s).
For travel and small spaces, these modified high chairs can work well:
Plastic infant bathtub: Look for the sling style, which cradles a slippery baby in the water, which is akin to, well, a greased pig. A sling helps you get a grip. Value option that works well: Babies R Us Reversible Foam Bath Sling.
Baby washcloths: Get one 24 pack; that’ll do.
Unscented baby body wash that doubles as shampoo, such as one of these four:
Dove Sensitive Body Wash
Aquaphor Gentle Body Wash (not the baby line)
Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser
Cerave Hydrating Cleanser
For more about baby skincare, check here.
Baby nail clippers, such as FridaBaby NailFrida
Zinc-oxide-based diaper rash ointment, such as Desitin
Dr. Mom/Dad Essentials
A pain-and-fever reducer recommended by your baby’s doctor, such as Infants Tylenol. Be sure to give your baby the correct dosage.
Diaper bag. There’s a lot of choose from; this research can help narrow the field.
Nasal aspirator for blowing your baby’s nose for him or her, such as the NoseFrida snot sucker
Digital underarm/rectal/under the tongue thermometer
Mineral oil: It’s baby oil minus the fragrance.
Pacifiers: Get plenty—one for every room in your house and for the car, too. Pacifier use during a baby’s first year can reduce the risk of SIDS. Good one for starters: NUK newborn pacifier.
Waffle-weave cotton or muslin receiving blankets for swaddling: Get four or more.
Sling or strap-on soft carrier: Some babies love them; some don’t. A strap-on carrier comes in handy when traveling with your baby in places where a stroller won’t fit easily, such as stores with narrow aisles and for carrying infants who like being constantly held.
Soothe Shirt for moms and dads (great for wearing all the time, especially during those first newborn days and weeks)
Original Ergo baby carrier: If you have twins, you can wear one in the front and back. It’s also a good fit for men.
Boba 4G: Popular among babywearers who’ve tried them all.
Baby Bjorn Baby Carrier One: Best seller. Recent improvements include more shoulder padding, a front flap that folds down better, raised clasps to make the carrier easier to use and wider waist belt for more lumbar support. Get the mesh version (better air circulation) if you live in a warmer climate or you’re expecting a summer baby. Babies get sweaty in their carrier.
Infant swing or bouncy seat: To save money and cut down on baby-stuff clutter, choose between the two since both are designed to help sooth babies at the same stage in life. Trending: Products that function as both swing and bouncer, such as the Graco Glider Elite Baby Swing. Bonus: Graco Swings run on electricity or batteries. (Baby swings devour batteries.)
Value: Fisher-Price Baby Bouncer Geo Meadow. Splurge: 4Moms mamaRoo or 4Moms BounceRoo.
Nice, but Not Necessary
Baby monitor: It gives you an extra set of ears and eyes too (video monitor), but if you’ve got a small house, it’s not absolutely necessary.
There’s a lot to choose from. Tried and true: Summer Infant 5” WIDE VIEW 2.0 digital monitor (basic, cost effective, good quality with plenty of bells and whistles). If you want to use Wi-Fi, be on your phone, panning and zoom capabilities, the Summer Infant Baby Touch is also a good one to check out.
Stuff You Can Skip
Irresistible baby shoes. Socks’ll do until your baby starts walking.
Crib accoutrements: Bumper, blanket, stuffed animals and pillows–definite don’t buy. Bare is in your baby’s sleep environment, including a play yard and bassinet.
A sleep positioner. Just no.
After-market car-seat products, such as:
a car seat mirror (radar: parent distraction while driving and potentially dangerous projectile in the event of an accident),
sun shades that attach to your child’s back seat window (possible projectile)
car seat covers that go underneath your child (car seats aren’t crash tested with car seat covers so what can happen in the event of an accident is unknown)
stuffed animals and other toys that have a hard center (projectile).
An additional mattress to your travel crib (radar: suffocation hazard). The mattress that comes with it is thin for a reason.
A bottle sterilizer. Instead of spending $25 to $100 for a bottle sterilizer if you use formula or pumped breast milk, you can use microwave sterilizer bags, as I mentioned, or rely on your dishwasher. It’ll do the job. Or just wash bottles in hot tap water with dishwashing detergent, rinse, and dry. Done!
Boil bottles, nipples, and pacifiers before first use (follow label directions). You’ll typically need to boil each of them for several minutes before first use.
Soft hooded towels. They’re a popular new-baby gift.
Baby wipe warmer: Unnecessary. Better: Get your baby used to room temp wipes. If you do get a wipe warmer, place it near your baby’s changing area so the wipes are still warm by the time they get to your baby.
So that’s it. Was this baby registry list helpful? Lemme know by leaving a comment below or on my Facebook page. This list will be continually updated. But this is it for now.
Never miss a post!
If you haven’t already, be sure to sign up to receive Babyproductsmom posts and special offers by e-mail. Enter your e-mail in the blinking box–to your right, if you’re on your desktop or scroll down if you’re on your phone, and you’re in!
Copyright Sandra Gordon Writing Resources LLC