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Baby registry must-haves: The ultimate baby registry checklist

baby registry must haves

Congratulations on your pregnancy, mama! You are starting out on one of your life’s greatest adventures.

As you prepare to welcome baby into your arms, your friends and family are likely asking (and asking, and asking) when you will start a baby registry.

The trouble is you have no idea where to start.

When pregnant with my first baby, I had no idea. I started by asking my mom and sister for items on my registry and kept adding things as I remembered them. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t include many of the essentials that I needed. And that is why I created this ultimate baby registry checklist. It has all the baby registry must-haves, neatly organized by product type:

  • Baby sleep
  • Health and Safety
  • Nursing Support
  • Bottle-Feeding Support
  • Play and Baby Development
  • Big-ticket Items

Baby sleep

baby registry must haves baby sleep

Every parent will tell you that getting sleep during the first 3 months is a challenge. So, anything that helps to get better shuteye is an absolute must.

White noise machine 

A white noise machine helps drown out distracting noises so your baby can sleep soundly; it also blocks out loud noises like doorbells and barking dogs that might startle them awake. 

You will want a white noise machine in the nursery and if you travel frequently, consider getting an additional smaller one for the diaper bag. 

Blackout curtains 

A dark room helps encourage a longer and deeper sleep which is especially important in the early days when your baby is learning the difference between day and night

The best baby registry for you depends on your specific needs, such as your budget, the product brands you’re considering and whether you’d prefer to register online or in-store.  - whattoexpect

Blackout curtains for the nursery are a great add to your baby registry because it will put you in control of how to lighten or darken your babys room during those mid-day naps. 

Sleep sack 

Swaddling is a calming practice that many newborns love. You'll want plenty of swaddles to keep up with all those diaper changes and spit-ups, so register for at least three or four swaddles.

baby registry must haves: zen one sleep sack

Trusted by over 1 million parents the  Zen One™  will help your baby learn to self-soothe and fall asleep independently, so they get longer, healthier, more restful sleep in just 1 - 3 nights!

Mattress protector 

Pee! Poop! Spit-up! It all happens in the crib — and later on, the toddler bed. Keep clean up simple with a mattress protector. 

Add a few machine washable ones to your registry so that after accidents happen you always have a spare.

Zip onesies 

Picking out baby clothes is one of the most fun parts of preparing for your little one. Be sure to consider how practical the clothing will be during those 2 am diaper changes. 

After all, a button-front onesie may be adorable, but you’ll be thankful for that zipper in the middle of the night. Add at least 5 zip onesies to your registry, and you will never regret it! 

Nursery care and Hygiene

baby registry must have: Nursery care and Hygiene

Before we move on to toys, decor, and other fun items, consider taking care of the essentials. 

Stocking up on nursery care and hygiene items means you are well-prepared to take care of your little one when they get sick or hurt. For your baby’s health and well-being, be sure to have the following items on hand.

Baby health care

Children are prone to catching colds and tummy bugs because their immune systems are not yet fully developed. 

This is why new parents should be ready with a thermometer and humidifier on hand to help monitor and ease concerns.


No surprise here! Parents use up to 3,000 diapers in their little one's first year of life. That's about eight to nine per day! 

Now, multiply that by 3 years (the average time babies use diapers) and you're looking at 6,000 diapers. This ends up costing parents anywhere from $1,200 - $1,500 during their child's diapering years — yikes! 

Cloth diapers

If you’re looking for something a little more eco-friendly, look into cloth diapers. Cloth diapers come in the cutest modern prints and they're easy! Definitely not the ones your grandparents used with tri-folds and pin

Cloth diapers are reusable diapers. They have a waterproof cover that goes over a cotton cloth insert that fits inside the diaper. When the insert is soiled, you remove it, wipe the baby's bottom, and put in a new insert. 

When you're out, you'll need some type of wet bag for storing soiled inserts (otherwise they will stink!).

Changing pad and wet/dry bag

Speaking of diapers, blowouts will happen when you least expect them. And, you don't want to have to lay your baby down on the ground or directly on top of a dirty changing table in a public restroom. 

A portable changing pad will give you a clean place to lay the baby during a change and a wet/dry bag allows you to keep your diaper bag sanitary by zipping all that mess up in a leakproof, machine washable bag. 

They also come in super adorable patterns and colors — who doesn’t love that? 

Nursing support

baby registry must haves: nursery support

Once your little one arrives, he or she will be an eating and sleeping machine, so make sure that your set up well for feeding. If you're a first-time mom, start by asking yourself how you plan to feed your new bundle of joy. 

If you plan to nurse consider adding essential nursing support and breast care items to your baby registry.

Nursing pillow

A nursing pillow is vital for new moms. Not only does it make feeding easier, but it is also a lifesaver in the early days when you feel like you are going crazy with this new little person who is totally dependent on you

A good nursing pillow will allow you to relax while you nurse and help your arms not get tired and sore holding up your newborn. 

Hands-free, cord-free breast pump 

A hands-free breast pump allows moms to multitask while pumping! They are an all-in-one unit (no wires) that sit directly on your breast, held in place by your bra.

Whether you're going back to work and need a way to pump discreetly at the office and maintain your milk supply, or you just want a way to give yourself a break from nighttime feedings, having a hands-free pump that's easy to use can make life so much easier.

Soothing support

The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be painful as your nipples adjust to being used as a pacifier. 

To reduce pain and soreness, apply a soothing balm or heating/cooling pad after every nursing session to help alleviate irritation. Consider adding these to your baby registry or to your personal must-have list. 

Milk storage equipment

Milk storage is essential for mothers who pump their breast milk. Especially if you are a mom who is planning on returning to work after the baby is born. 

These bags are used to store milk in the refrigerator or freezer so that someone else can feed the baby when you’re not available to breastfeed.

Milk storage is also important if you plan on feeding your baby a combination of breast milk and formula. More on bottle-feeding support coming up next.

Bottle feeding support

baby registry must haves: bottle feeding support

After babies are born, they typically nurse every two or three hours around the clock for the first few months. So, you will want to have an idea of how you plan to feed your little one. 

Some moms choose to breastfeed exclusively others will provide some feedings with expressed breast milk and others with formula because it gives them flexibility. If you plan to bottle feed consider these essential support and breast care items.

Formula dispenser machine

A formula dispenser machine is like a Nespresso machine for babies — except you know, formula and not coffee because baby’s don’t drink coffee. 

Hand-shaking formula bottles is always an option, and it's fine for people who require a bottle once in a while. However, a baby formula machine, will save you time if you're creating multiple bottles of formula each day, such as to take to daycare or to leave with a grandma.  

Bottle cleaner/sanitizer

You can clean bottles in the dishwasher, but the high heat isn't hot enough to kill bacteria or germs. Using a bottle sanitizer means you can rest assured that baby’s bottles are clean and sterile.

Bottle drying rack

Another thing that might not be on your registry radar is a bottle drying rack. They can be placed on the counter or hung from a cabinet door, and are great for keeping bottles, nipples, pacifiers, breast pump parts separate, and sanitary, from your other dishes.

Play and Baby Development Gifts


baby registry must haves: Play and Baby Development Gifts

Play is a crucial part of the early years for children. It’s how they learn about their environment, their bodies and the world around them. Kick off your baby’s critical skills like problem solving, communication, creativity, and sharing with these essential play and baby development toys.

Books for baby

Put your little one on the path to becoming a lifelong reader by asking friends and family to gift their favorite childhood picture books.

Reading is one of the best ways to help your baby learn about the world around them. Experts agree, reading aloud to your child from birth is one of the best ways to develop language skills. 

Memory Book

As a parent, you're going to want to remember everything about your little one. From their first smile to their first steps and everything in between, you'll want to document every tiny moment shared between your family. And what better way than with a keepsake like a baby memory book? It'll be the perfect place for you to jot down all of those precious memories.

Subscription toy boxes

In the first year, your little one is learning everything about the world around them and how to use their body.

The right toys at this age have benefits that will last a lifetime. By subscribing to a monthly toy box, you don't need to worry about clutter in the playroom. New toys arrive automatically and keep you on top of your baby's developmental needs and interests.

Big-ticket items: baby gear and equipment

Baby registry must haves: baby gear and equipment

Your friends and family are asking, "What do you need for the baby?"

It's an exciting time in your life, and you want to tell them what you want, but you don't want them to think you're cheap, materialistic or ungrateful. So how do you ask for big-ticket items or expensive gifts on your baby registry?

Do you really need a $400 bassinet? No. (But do you want one? Yes.) Does it make sense to register for a $200 cashmere blanket? Maybe not. Do I want one of those, too? You betcha.

What you need is the right mindset and a plan of attack. Which means: 

  1. Don't think of it as a registry; think of it as a baby wish list.
  2. Think about who will be shopping for your wish list and what they can afford.
  3. Get creative with your wish list so people can buy big-ticket items by purchasing part of it. 
  4. Consider that friends and family could also go in on the same gift together, lowering their costs. 

Diaper bag

You'll use this from the day your baby is born until she's too big to fit in a stroller — and maybe beyond if you find the right one! When choosing a diaper bag, look for one with lots of pockets (inside and out), easy-to-clean material, adjustable straps and an easy-access opening. 

Baby stroller

The best advice for choosing a baby stroller is not to be distracted by all the cute bells whistles but to really think about exactly what you’ll be using it for; or if you are more likely to use a baby carrier.

So, consider where you live. If you are in a more rural setting consider something like a jogger. This is a large stroller with three bicycle-like wheels. It's stable and durable and can take almost any terrain, but it's heavy and not well-suited to small spaces like stores.

If you live in a city with smooth sidewalks, you likely won’t need an all-terrain stroller. You would want to look for a light weight stroller with a carrying strap so you can throw it over your shoulder when running errands. 

Baby monitor

A good baby monitor will give you peace of mind when the baby's asleep in another room or down for a nap while you're running errands. Video monitors especially can help you keep an eye on your little one from across the house (or even from work).

Car seat

This is the only item that's non-negotiable and not really something you want to scrimp on. Look for one that's approved by Consumer Reports and has top safety ratings. They should have a five-point harness, which keeps kids safer in the event of an accident.

If you can help it, try only to use a new car seat. Car seats have a “use by” date, so if someone wants to give you an old car seat their baby has “grown out of” as a gift, make sure you check the manufacturer date or politely say you will buy new. 

Baby swing

Baby swings are essential baby registry items, especially if you're a first-time mom. I remember buying my first swing and how much it helped me get through some rough days.

Here's the deal: Baby swings simulate the motion of your arms when holding the baby and naturally calm and relax babies. Swings are also great for keeping your infant busy for short periods of time (like when you need to shower or cook dinner)

Baby bassinet/crib

During the first months of life, an infant may spend up to 20 hours a day sleeping, so you'll need a comfortable place to put them down both during the day and at night.

Bassinets are typically lightweight with four wheels, which makes them easy to move from room to room. They also take up much less space than traditional cribs, making them an ideal choice for the first year when you’re sharing a room. 

Rocking chair

Ok, so it's not a necessity like a car seat or crib, but having a comfy place to sit and rock your baby is pretty awesome. You can also use it for those late-night feedings. 

Don’t forget to consider the size of the room and take your time. Choose a rocking chair that you really love because it will become an item that will last years past your baby stage!

What not to register for

When you're expecting a baby, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of products on the market. A quick search for “baby” on Amazon yields more than 200,000 results!

While no doubt you want to give your new bundle of joy the very best, it's important to register for items you'll actually use. Here are a few common baby gifts you should skip when setting up your baby registry.

Crib bumpers

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is advising parents not to include one popular item on their registries: crib bumpers. Not only are they unnecessary—they can be dangerous for infants. 

Baby blankets

Baby blankets in the crib are also a big no-no. They are not safe for babies to use during the first year of their lives. AAP recommends a firm surface like a crib or bassinet with only a fitted sheet. 

Stuffed animals

That also means you should skip the stuffed animals. Cute as they may be, stuffed animals tend to pile up quickly and aren't practical for newborns. Save them for future birthdays and holidays instead.

Baby shoes

There are other items you should just wait until you’ll actually need them. For example, itty-bitty baby shoes. As cute as tiny baby shoes are, they actually interfere with babies' development, especially when they’re learning to walk.

Baby Seats

One more thing in relation to the baby’s development. Physical therapists and occupational therapists agree it’s best to skip baby seats.

When babies sit unsupported, they engage their core and pelvic floor muscles which leads to better balance.

In a seat, babies don’t have to engage as many muscles or pay as much attention to their balance.

That’s a wrap

When it comes to creating a baby registry checklist, you can put anything you want on it - there are no right and wrong answers.

Just remember this is your baby registry, so if something makes you happy then put it on that list.


Other Resources

Healthychildren.Org: Swaddling: Baby Registry Items to Avoid

Athena S.

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