Whether you’re steering your cart through the baby aisle at Walmart or Target, browsing at the baby boutique or stocking your baby registry online, the process of getting ready for baby #1 is overwhelming.
Which baby products do you truly need? Which can you skip? Which are worth splurging on? The answer can vary depending on your situation, lifestyle and, of course, your budget.
Here’s the deal: First-time parents need similar things to get ready for the world’s most important job. Yet, everyone is different. Manufacturers know this, that’s why there are so many options at every price point.
To help you select what’s just right for you, BabyProductMom’s master baby registry list can help you get the job done.
So long, decision fatigue!
Curated for pared-down parents, this minimalist list is designed to help you get just what you need to feel prepared without feeling deprived.
As a general rule, with baby gear, less can be more. And more can be a cluttery tripping hazard!
Have no fear! This baby registry list (below) is curated with an eye on your budget, your sanity and safety.
BabyProductMom’s baby registry list includes product recommendations culled from interviews with manufacturers, baby sleep trainers, retailers, pediatricians and me, an experienced baby gear shopper.
As a side gig, I clean and rent baby gear to grandparents and traveling parents for BabyQuip. I have an ever growing inventory of the highest quality and safest baby gear. I’m also a certified child passenger safety technician (CPST) and I’m a stickler for safety.
I’m shopping online and in the store, opening, folding and pushing strollers and asking myself: How easy is this to use? Can a grandparent figure it out? I love shopping online, BUT I’m a big fan of kicking the tires to get a good feel for products and how they operate, if possible. (Fortunately, I live minutes from Target and some awesome baby boutiques.)
If you can’t get to a baby store, don’t sweat it. I’ve done the legwork for you, right here.
This comprehensive baby registry list is designed to be wallet friendly. But there’s still plenty on it, and lots of options at all price points.
Keep in mind…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.
Use this baby registry to personalize your product picks.
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?
Babyproductmom’s unbiased baby registry list will help you make sense/cents of it all, whether you’re buying baby gear yourself or adding to your baby registry.
Ready? Here goes!
This registry guide contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!
But First: What’s Your Baby Registry Strategy?
Pretend you’re paying the tab
If done right, a baby registry can really help you get equipped and minimize the cost of your baby’s first year, which can total over $24,000, depending on your circumstances, according to a 2017 U.S. government report (the most recent stats for everything). Take the products you list as seriously as if they were ultimately going to end up on your credit card statement.
To get the most mileage out of your baby registry, think of it as a limited resource and every item you put on it as using “registry dollars.”
When you register an item, ask yourself, “Do I really want to spend my registry dollars on that?” Not sure about a product? Don’t list it yet—if ever. If an item you’re considering is pricey, such as a premium car seat and stroller, do extra homework and think on it before listing it on your baby registry, even if you’re not paying.
If you’re not having a baby shower, all the more reason to get to work to select just the right products for you and your lifestyle.
Baby Registry List Must-Haves
Infant car seat
(infant car seat prices range from $109 to $420)
An infant car seat is a must-have for most everyone. You’ll need an infant car seat to drive home from the hospital or birthing center.
BTW, most hospitals in NYC and other walking cities will let you walk home from the hospital without an infant car seat. But you won’t be able to leave by carrying your baby. You will be required to leave with your baby in a stroller with a near-flat seat recline like this one or this one, or a soft infant carrier.
Generally, Babyproductsmom recommends buying an infant car seat with a load leg and/or an anti-rebound bar. An anti-rebound bar and a load leg are added safety features that exceed federal government car seat safety standards.
You’ll pay a premium for these souped up seats; they range from $150 to $400. If they’re not in your budget, no worries. All car seats sold in the U.S. must meet federal motor vehicle safety standard 213, providing this baseline level of safety.
But…if you can buy an infant car seat with a load leg and/or anti-rebound bar, it’s worth the splurge.
Exceptions: One infant car seat BabyProductsmom loves (and owns herself) that doesn’t have an anti-rebound bar or a load leg is the Nuna Urbn because it’s super easy to install (it has what’s called rigid Latch connectors) and it doesn’t have a car seat base. Wee!
At just 6 pounds, 9 ounces, it’s the lightest infant car seat on the market. It features a load leg in the base, but no anti-rebound bar.
Safety tip: When installing an infant car seat, consult the owner’s manual, watch the manufacturer’s installation video and consult your car manual. But for quick how-tos, just read the fine-print labels on the side of the car seat. Everything you need to know to install your baby’s car seat correctly is right there.
Shopping shortcut: Pick the infant car seat first, then a corresponding stroller or stroller frame. It’s just easier to do it in that order.
More car seats to consider for your baby registry list:
These infant car seats don’t have a load leg or an anti-rebound bar but they’re still super popular and worth considering:
Shopping shortcut: An All-in-One Car Seat, such as the Graco 4Ever $$ or the Britax One4Life. $$$ The Britax One4Life offers Clicktight installation, which makes installation and adjusting as your child grows super easy.
The Graco 4Ever is also easy to install and adjust as your child grows.
All most all car seat manufacturers make an all in one car seat these days.
Pro: You can use from day (in rear-facing mode) then later forward-facing until you’re baby is 120 lbs and 63 inches tall!
Con: You won’t get the cozy nest that an infant car seat offers and you won’t have an infant car seat to transport your baby around in, which is helpful.
This innovative car seat stroller is an infant car seat and stroller in one.
Pro: Great for travel and getting in/out of public transportation quickly; approved for airplane travel.
Con: It’s heavy–at 35 pounds, but you won’t be stringing on your arm like a purse. You’ll be strolling it most of the time.
Stroller strategy 1: Infant car seat + stroller frame = car seat stroller $
Stroller frames range from $80 to $120.
With this option, you pair an infant car seat with a basic stroller frame.
This strategy is economical and buys you time. When your baby is around 6 months old and starting to outgrow his/her infant car seat, it’s time to go shopping for the next-stage stroller, and you’ll know more about what you need by then. With parenting comes product wisdom.
Baby Trend Snap ‘N Go universal car seat frame. It’s compatible with all Baby Trend infant car seats and likely other brands of infant car seats.
Chicco Keyfit & Fit2 car seat compatible caddy baby stroller frame; it’s designed exclusively for the Chicco Keyfit infant car seat
Stroller strategy 2: Infant car seat + coordinating stroller that’s sold with the car seat = travel system $$
Shopping shortcut: If the infant car seat and stroller are sold together, as a “travel system,” the work has been done for you.
Another pro: Travel systems are often the best value; bundled pricing!
Con: The stroller you buy now you’ll potentially use forever. So make sure you pick out the right one.
Check out examples these travel systems.
Stroller strategy 3: Infant car seat + coordinating stroller = make your own car seat and stroller combo $$$
With this stroller strategy; you mix and match the infant car seat and stroller yourself.
Pro: You can potentially mix your fave infant car seat with your fave stroller, even if they’re different brands.
Con: In some cases, you may need car seat adapters (sold separately) to make the stroller and car seat combos compatible.
Jogging stroller: If you’re a runner/jogging, definitely list a jogging stroller on your baby registry if you have visions of jogging with your baby, but wait until your baby is around 6 months to hit the road.
A jogger probably won’t be your main stroller, so list an everyday stroller as well. If you’re not sure how much you’ll jog/need a big brand like BOB, go with a value brand like Baby Trend, for starters.
Stroller and car seat accessories for your baby registry list
Car seat travel bag. If you’ll be flying with your infant car seat rather than renting an infant car seat when you get to where you’re going, you’ll need a travel bag. List it on your registry. Airlines are hard on car seats.
Stroller muffs (optional) for cold climates: If you’re having a winter baby, attached stroller gloves come in handy.
Bundle Me stroller blanket: Use it in the stroller in cold weather instead of wrangling your baby into a winter coat.
Crib or Bassinet
Strategy 1: Get a full-size crib 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 graduate to a crib in the nursery when your baby outgrows the bassinet (at around 4 to 5 months).
Cribs range from $160 to $5000.
One thing: That new crib smell. If you buy a crib that’s not Greenguard certified, which means it hasn’t been tested and certified to be free of off-gassing (chemical fumes emitted after manufacturing), it’ll have that new smell. No worries. Just air out a new crib for a couple of weeks 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. Just put the brand of crib you’re considering into the search box.
Best value cribs:
Fisher-Price Newbury $: It’s a top seller.
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).
Babyletto $$. Style at a good price. Babyletto cribs are Greenguard Gold certified, too.
Should you buy a convertible crib–one that goes from crib to college–crib to toddler bed to daybed to full-size bed? This nursery-planning post can help you decide. (Short answer: Nah.)
Bassinet: If you decide to go the bassinet route first, you’ll find a range of options, from simple and inexpensive to stylish and pricier, like this Baby Bjorn cradle. Keep in mind that your baby won’t use it long–just five months or so.
The deal here? The firmer the crib mattress, 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 you can find (a common mistake).
Any Colgate crib mattress, even their Foam Supreme II $, which is at the low end (around $100). It will do the job just fine, or this one, for a slight upgrade. Not to be confused with the toothpaste conglomerate,
Colgate has been making crib mattresses since 1955. They know their stuff. If you want an “organic” mattress, check out this one, made from coir fiber (coconut shells), also Colgate.
Generally, innerspring crib mattresses are heavier than foam or core fiber mattresses by about five pounds, which makes middle of the night crib sheet changes harder.
Shopping short cut: Go with a foam or coir fiber or other fiber-filled crib mattress.
Organic Crib Mattress Product Spotlight: If you’re looking for something especially planet friendly, check out the Avocado Green crib mattress. This eco-luxury organic certified mattress is made from GOTS organic certified cotton and wool and GOLS organic certified latex sustainably sourced from farms in India, co-owned by the founders of Avocado Green Mattress by Jeff D’Andrea and his wife, Alex Duncan-D’Andrea.
Avocado is Climate Neutral certified, and in 2020, the company went “carbon negative” with their carbon footprint–all the way from their farms in India to their California factory and shipping to your home. As members of 1% for the Planet, Avocado Green donates 1% of all revenue to environmental non-profits.
The Avocado Green crib mattress has a firmed infant side and a less firm toddler side, but your baby/toddler may not care either way.
- Fitted crib sheets: Get three or four. Go crazy with colors and patterns if you want to. These sheets by Rookie Humans are fun, for example. There’s more to crib sheets than you might think. Check out this post for your options.
- Crib skirt (optional): It’s just for fun–to make a nursery style statement.
Skip: Bumpers, blankets, stuffed animals or pillows. The safest cribs are bare. Make “bare is best” your crib safety mantra. “Bare is best. Bare is best.”
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 the mattress for your baby.
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. No matter what the style, gliders tend to look funny outside of the nursery. They just do.
Space saver: If you don’t have room for a glider, the Rocker Mama will turn any chair into a rocker. Innovative!
Nursery Necessities for Your Baby Registry List
Diapers and Accessories
Changing pad liners: Great for easy clean-up. If your baby pees or poops on the changing pad, you just toss a liner in the trash. Done!
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.
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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 AlvaBaby
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 transforms into a trash can.
Water or fragrance-free wipes: For baby’s sensitive skin. You can never have too many wipes.
For an eco-friendly option, check out Eco Pea wipes.
They’re free of chemicals, including cholorine, phthalates, dioxin, alcohol, latex, and fragrance and 100% biodegradeable.
Diapering Advice: Let’s Get the Conversation Started
In the beginning, your baby won’t be the greatest conversationalist. Still, talking to your baby alot from day one helps develop your baby’s language skills even before your baby starts babbling.
Get into the habit of talking to your baby while doing daily tasks. “Everything that’s happening involving your baby, you need to say it outloud,” says Vonda Scipio, EdD, author of
Let Babies Teach: Learning Child Development through Observing Infants and Toddlers.
“When you’re changing your baby’s diaper, for example, you might say: ‘Mommy’s going to change you now. Are you ready to get your diaper changed?'” In the beginning, your goal is to just gain your baby’s attention by using a mix of words, cooing and baby talk, Dr. Scipio says.
While you’re chatting with your baby, be sure to observe what Dr. Scipio calls the “three second rule” by waiting 3 seconds for your baby’s response, before saying more.
“Your baby will look at you or ooh and ahh. Taking three seconds to acknowledge your baby’s response will help your baby feel valued and learn that communication is about taking turns,” she says.
Angel Dear Lovey: Soothing baby blanket is an essential. But don’t put it in your baby’s crib, bassinet or play yard at nap or bedtime.
A baby monitor gives you an extra set of ears and eyes too (video monitor), but feel free to go off the grid. If you’ve got a small house, for example, a baby monitor isn’t not absolutely necessary. BabyProductsMom offers the Infant Optics video monitor to her BabyQuip rental customers, and they love it.
This will get you going, along with the bounty of cute outfits coming your way as gifts.
Sleep sacks and swaddles of all or one-piece sleepers with attached feet or that open at the bottom. LOVE these sleepers by Magnificent Baby, with “smart” magnetic closures instead of snaps. Get five or six.
Side-snap T-shirts: Get six.
Socks/booties: Get six pairs. Recommended: Cheski baby socks, which are designed to stay on.
Or, 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.
With baby clothes in general, buy only a few items in newborn size. Your baby will outgrow the newborn size fast.
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. Skip this purchase if you have health insurance; get a free breast pump from your health plan. This free service makes it easy to figure out the pump you’re entited to.
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 and go straight to the 8-oz. Babies don’t use 4-oz bottles for long.) Check out this post for your healthiest bottle options.
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 for multitasking.
High chair. You can hold off on this purchase until your baby starts solids (around 4 to 6 months old), if you want to. Babyproductsmom rents the Graco Swift Fold to her Babyquip customers–and they love it. It folds easily, which can save space. It’s a good value, too.
Baby washcloths: Get a 24 pack; that’ll do.
Baby nail clippers, such as FridaBaby NailFrida
Zinc-oxide-based diaper rash ointment, such as Desitin
Dr. Mom/Dad Essentials for Your Baby Registry List
A pain-and-fever reducer recommended by your baby’s doctor, such as Infants Tylenol. Be sure to give your baby the correct dosage.
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.
Pacifiers: Get plenty (as in 5 for now)—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 orthodontic pacifiers.
Boil bottles, nipples, and pacifiers for several minutes before first use (follow label directions).
Pacifier tether: A sanity saver. Babies are paci-dropping pros.
Waffle-weave cotton or muslin receiving blankets for swaddling: Get three 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.
Boba: Popular among babywearers who’ve tried them all.
Soothe shirt for moms and dads (great for wearing all the time, especially during those first newborn days and weeks)
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.
Splurge: 4Moms mamaRoo.$$$
If you travel a lot, this gear can help you go the distance.
Pockit Lightweight stroller. $$ World’s smallest folding stroller. It’s a fraction of the price of the popular Yo Yo BabyZen travel stroller. $$$
Doona Infant Car Seat and Latch Base, the car seat and stroller in one.$$$
Contender travel stroller to checkout: Silver Cross Jet 2020. For babies from birth to 55 lbs. The Jet 2020 fits in the overhead bin and comes with its own “luggage sleeve”/travel bag. It’s compatible with the Nuna, Maxi-Cosi, Cybex and Clek infant car seats (adapters sold separately).
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.
For travel, these modified high chairs can work well:
Foldable travel activity center for play time.
Nice, but Not Necessary for Your Baby Registry
Baby Brezza formula maker: It automatically makes infant formula; worth the splurge if you’re a full-time formula user. (My BabyQuip rental customers request it.)
No Nos–Baby Registry Stuff You Can/Should 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. Radar: Suffocation hazard.
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).Adding a mattress to your travel crib (Yep. Suffocation hazard.) This is a definite don’t. 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!
Soft hooded towels. You’ll get plenty as gifts.
Baby wipe warmer: Unnecessary. Better: Get your baby used to room temp wipes. If someone happens to give you a wipe warmer, tip: Place it near your baby’s changing area so the wipes are still warm by the time they get to your baby.
Was this baby registry list helpful? I hope so! Just making it was alotta work. But it’s worth if it helps you buy just what you need to feel prepared.
Last updated February 4, 2020.
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