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Our Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist

Aug24

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In response to popular demand, we have consolidated Amalah’s Baby Registry Checklist that was originally introduced via weekly installment on our Pregnancy Calendar. Here you go!

If this is your first pregnancy, you’re probably ready to start registering for baby gifts. And you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. So…allow me to boss you around for awhile then.

There’s obviously no shortage of baby paraphernalia you can register for, but so much of it works best if you pick it out later, once your baby is here and you’ve gotten to know his or her likes and dislikes. And no matter what that crazy wild-eyed blond blogger-type woman said to you at the store about which bottle/pacifier/diaper brand is the Best Thing Ever, resist the urge to register for multiple identical items, but instead register for one or two of multiple brands and let your baby make the choice.

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As my registry dwindled, I felt obligated to add more stuff and crap to it. And that’s how I ended up with 434 receiving blankets and at least 10 of those sleepsack things — and only three of the blankets were actually big enough to swaddle my 10-pound linebacker of a newborn, who hated the sleepsacks with the heat of…well, a thousand fleece sleepsacks. He hated the Avent wideneck bottles and pacifiers I’d stocked up on, ultimately preferring Dr. Brown’s standards and Soothies. The vibrating bouncy seat (which I’d gotten in place of a swing, because “everyone” told me their babies hated swings) pissed him off like nothing else. He loved, loved, loved the baby swing we went out and bought out of sleep-deprived desperation a week later.

I discovered that I personally hated those elastic-bottomed gowns that “everyone” raved about, preferred co-sleeping (which I’d been deadset against) to lifting him in and out of the Pack-n-Play bassinet attachment, and kicked myself for not getting a sling. And don’t even get me started on that freaking awful stroller.

So. If I could go back and do it again, I actually would have registered for a lot less, and not felt weirdly obligated to keep the list stocked with low-cost baby gifts that ended up getting donated to charity basically unused. (Because OF COURSE I ripped the tags off ALL 434 blankets and washed them BEFORE Noah was born. Because OF COURSE I DID.) I should have politely requested more gift cards for use later — there’s just no way to know how many diapers you’ll go through, or whether breastfeeding will work out the way you plan, or what kind of exersaucer you’ll want six months from now.
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For my second baby, I did have the chance to do it all over again. I registered for less, bought less, and surprisingly, ended up using less. Ezra needed 1) boobs, 2) diapers, 3) a baby sling and 4) some jammies. If we were feeling fancy, anyway. It was…really nice, actually. And yet, we still ended up with baby gear duds and a lot of barely-worn, too-small clothing.

I’ve waffled back and forth on including any kind of actual specific checklist here, since it’s all just so subjective and varies by person (AP? anti-plastic? devoted worshiper of the battery-powered baby-raising gods?), living situation (suburbs? city? mcmansion? 500-square-foot studio?) and of course, BABY. What worked for us and our kid might not work for you. Hell, it didn’t even work out for US the second time around sometimes.

What To Register For A Baby

But what the heck, I will include some checklists, because good GOD, this is giving me a headache and taking forever. Items are divided into (very) rough categories of BUY NOW and BUY LATER, just to help you prioritize what you’ll need from day one and what you can wait a bit on.

Baby Gear/Clothing

Buy Now
- infant car seat*
- Compatible lightweight stroller frame
- Extra car seat base for second car
- Fleece bunting/ rain cover for car seat
- Pack-n-Play, bassinet, or co-sleeper (plus 2-3 sheets and a waterproof pad)
- Sling, wrap or infant carrier (or all three, if you are me and can’t decide)
- diaper bag (don’t kid yourself, though – you’ll probably change your mind and want something different later, so budget accordingly)
- Swaddling blankets (I recommend the Miracle Blanket)
- pacifiers (a couple different kinds, but don’t go crazy)
- a few high-contrast infant books & toys & rattles
- Coming Home outfit, or something special for birth announcement photos
- onesies & footed sleepers (more thoughts on newborn clothing here)
- socks & hats

Buy Later

- floor gym
- Baby Gates/ Play yards
- Lightweight stroller or full-sized stroller*
- bouncy seat**
- baby swing**
- Jogging stroller (check Craigslist, these are probably the most-purchased and least-used things out there)
- Exersaucer/stationary entertainment/containment (Bumbo or bebePOD, etc)
- crib aquarium or musical toy
- convertible car seat
- real “clothes” (a floppy newborn body is not easy to dress in another other than snaps and shapeless cotton things)
- snowsuit (if you get a good seat bunting you may never need one, and you’ll probably get a never-used hand-me-down one from someone too)
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*Obviously, if you live in the city and/or don’t have a car, a stroller would definitely be in the Buy Now category. The stroller will be as good as a car for a good three or four years, so make sure you love it. The wrong stroller will make you hate life, believe me. My personal favorites are the Maclaren Triumph single (so light! so foldable!) and the Phil & Ted’s in-line double (not so light or easily foldable, but the non-double-width, strong frame and fantastic steering more than make up for the bulk). If you are really tempted by the “travel system” type, be warned — the convenience of snapping a car seat into the stroller is often negated by the overall mediocrity of the stroller, and the realization that oh my God, you are lugging and pushing around 30 pounds of stroller and seat for seven pounds of baby. We streamlined the second time and went with the stroller frame or just a sling/carrier any time we went anywhere that didn’t require the double stroller.

**But don’t buy these MUCH later. Get both right off the bat if you’ve got the room, otherwise wait and see if your baby seems to calm down while bouncing or swinging. Noah LOVED to swing (we figured this out after Jason was only able to get him to sleep by swinging him around the room in his car seat) but we did end up using the bouncer enough to justify its purchase as well (great for taking into the bathroom and for early solid-food feedings). We still didn’t learn our lesson, though, investing in a SECOND swing before Ezra was born, so we wouldn’t have to lug one up and down the stairs. A great plan if Ezra HADN’T HATED SWINGS.

Infant Feeding

Buy Now
- Bottles*
- Bottle sterilizer & warmer**
- Plain prefold cloth diapers for burp rags (four or five packages, at least, and don’t bother with the “pretty” shoulder rags and lap pads. Cloth diapers rock, and we are STILL using those suckers for every mess our child managed to make these days.)
- Bibs (small absorbent ones for infant drool and spit-up, larger pocketed ones for solid feeding)
- Breast pads (Avent nursing pads are great for leaks, the gel varieties like Soothies/Lilypadz are lifesavers for sore/chafed nipples)
- nipple cream /ointment
- Nursing pillow (You’ll never get a consensus on these — some mothers love them, some never use them. Some love the Boppy and others swear by the My Breast Friend. I found the Boppy to be helpful early on, but it was soon relegated to the pile of Stuff That Never Got Used Very Much In The End.)
- Breastmilk storage containers
- Bottle brush
- Nursing wrap/cover

Buy Later

- More bottles — 8 ounce-capacity with higher-flow nipples
- High chair or dining booster seat****
- Splat mat
- Plates, utensils, sippy cups
- Steamer basket for homemade baby food
- Small blender or food processor
- Ice cube trays for storing homemade food

*Yes, yes. No matter what your lofty breastfeeding plans are, it’s not a bad idea to have a bottle or two handy. If you know what kind of breast pump you’ll be using get something compatible. Otherwise, ignore the big gift sets and try out a couple of the BPA-free options (Evenflo glass, Born Free, Dr. Brown’s, etc.) and see what works best for you and your baby. Make sure you start with level one or even preemie nipples to reduce the chance of your baby developing a flow preference over the breast.


**As for the sterilizers and warmers — we loaded up on all that crap and got rid of it a few months later. Unless you don’t have a dishwasher and really find warming up a pot of water to be INCREDIBLY TAXING, these might not be worth giving up your precious counter space for, particularly if you’re only using bottles as an occasional supplement. (Of course, it didn’t help that we tried TWO electronic bottle warmers that didn’t work at all.) (For washing bottles and pump parts in between dishwasher sterilizing runs, we used a handy little plastic basin we swiped from my hospital room. LIFE LESSON: Steal everything from the hospital that is not nailed down.)


***DO NOT buy a breast pump. Rent one from the hospital or your lactation consultant. Wait until once your supply is established and you know your long-term plans before choosing between a hand pump or something like the Medela Pump-in-Style.


****Did you register for a bouncy seat or Bumbo? Use it for those first cereal and solid feedings instead of some giant plastic monstrosity. Wait until your little one can sit up unassisted to pick out a high chair – your options will be MUCH smaller, more streamlined and better looking.

Baby Grooming & Safety

Buy Now
- Baby bath tub. (Something small enough for your kitchen sink and your bathtub, and preferably one that folds up or stores easily. Don’t go beserk on this — you won’t be using it that long.)
- Towels and washcloths. (Listen, people looooooove the baby towels. They will buy them for you by the truckload — itty bitty squares of pink and blue cloth and tiny hooded towels embroidered with ducks and ridiculous little infant bathrobes. We owned them all too, and while they were fun for photos, their practicality soon wore off. The towels are suddenly too small to cover your baby’s legs, the washcloths start disappearing in the wash, and seriously. A bathrobe. For an infant. At some point we figured out that you are, in fact, allowed to use regular towels and washcloths on a baby.)
- Gentle tear-free shampoo and body wash. (Oh God, this stuff too. We had 34 bottles of varying brands and scents and purposes by the time Noah was born. Those little baby bodies are SMALL, people. You need one bottle! I’m sure you’ll make it back to the store at some point before you run out.)
- Baby grooming kit (brush, comb, nail clippers, nail file, etc.)
- Ear and rectal thermometers. (Get niiiice digital ones. You’ll cherish them for years of illnesses.)
- Nasal bulb sucky thing. (Yeah, they’ll give you one at the hospital, but having two is nice, since at some point you’ll get thoroughly grossed out by it and toss it, OR your baby will only allow you to clean his or her nose if he or she is allowed to suck on the spare one. Yeah.)
- Humidifier/ vaporizer.
- Multipurpose ointment for baby (non-Petroleum or petrolatum based and UNSCENTED), baby oil, lotion, cotton balls and swabs.
- Baby sunscreen.
- Teething rings and teething pain relief options (we like the homeopathic tablets). (Yes, I know they aren’t born teething but if I put this in the “Buy Later” category you will all curse me when you forget to buy it and four months later your baby suddenly erupts in teeth in the the middle of the night and DAMN YOU, AMYYYYYYYY.)
- Diapers! Yeah, you’ll need a slew of these. A couple small packages of the newborn size and a giant box of the size ones should cover you for a couple weeks. Maybe. Maybe not. Just…plan on making trips to buy diapers, early on. If you plan to use cloth, here’s a comprehensive guide to selecting styles and brands.  (I suggest SAMPLING before committing to a system) and how many diapers you’ll need for a newborn and older baby.
- Wipes! Some newborn skin cannot tolerate wipes of any kind at first, while other babies are fine. Get fragrance and alcohol-free wipes (or cloth), and also a giant bottle of Cetaphil to use instead in case of a bad rash or skin irritation. Travel-sized wipes for the diaper bag are a good idea too.
- Diaper rash cream (Lots of it. Different brands too).
- Dye- and fragrance-free laundry detergent (It does NOT have to say “baby” on it, by the way. In fact, many of the “baby” detergents are just loaded up with fake baby-powder fragrance that may irritate newborn skin.)
- First Aid kit.
- Infant medications, like Mylicon drops, gripe water and Infant Tylenol. (ALWAYS CHECK with your pediatrician before giving ANYTHING to a newborn, however.)
- Baby monitor.

Buy Later

- Any type of baby-proofing product. Seriously. They aren’t born mobile and lack the hand-eye coordination required to stick forks into the outlets.
- Bath toys. Newborns? Not big toy fans, no matter how precious that teeny rubber duck may seem.
- Potty seats and stepstools.

As always, we and other Alpha Mom readers LOVE to read about specific items that you found useful to have immediately and which just took up precious space. So, bring it on!

Here’s a printable version of our  “what to register for your baby” list that you can download and print out, to take to the baby store with you if that’s how you roll.

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If you’re considering an online baby registry, we recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases.  You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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26 Responses to “Our Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist”

  1. Mouse Aug 24 at 2:54 pm Reply Reply

    I like the Buy Now/Later divisions. We’re getting ready for baby #2 (albeit, almost 7 years later) and are glad we kept a lot of stuff like the bouncy chair. Though it can be a bit hard to avoid the siren call of EXCITING NEW PATTERNS and ADDED FEATURES. Of course, our infant car seat expired over a year ago, so that will be the biggest item going on our list.

  2. Dori Aug 24 at 7:22 pm Reply Reply

    Thanks for this!! I was just using the info she had on the weekly updates to create my registry- this makes it so much easier! Egads- 10 weeks until baby!

  3. Heidi Aug 24 at 7:45 pm Reply Reply

    I agree that baby burp clothes, wash clothes, towels, and bathrobes are essentially USELESS. They’re cute, sure, but useless nonetheless.
    I would NOT have survived if I didn’t buy the matching mobile with her crib set. She loved, LOVED, to watch fans, so the mobile saved our lives when it was too damn cold for the fan to be on.
    Also, when buying clothes, if you’re a first timer, you’ll probably buy a TON of cute little outfits. You’ll end up using very few. I kept my May baby in onesies almost the whole time, and when we went out, I used the footed pants. Those are a LIFESAVER. Socks get lost, normally, when you’re running a GAZILLION errands, and you have no clue where it could be. Also, FOOTED PAJAMAS. OH. MY. GOD. I <3 the zip up ones, they were sooo easy when she needed to be changed.

  4. Lynda Day Aug 25 at 12:05 am Reply Reply

    What a great resource, well done! Think you should also include some ideas for clothing premature and small babies, for multiple births or bubs that just decide to arrive early.

  5. Jen L. Aug 25 at 9:05 am Reply Reply

    Great list, Amy! In addition to all the big stuff, I recommend adding plain white onesies in every size they make them to your registry. This serves two purposes: 1. Your friends and family get to buy baby a cute item of clothing. 2. It saves you from having to run out to JC Penney’s at closing time on a Sunday to buy 9 month onesies, only to find they don’t HAVE any. Ahem…

  6. Olivia Aug 25 at 9:12 am Reply Reply

    My two cents on nursing pillows: I bought a Boppy brand Cuddle (maternity) pillow to help me sleep comfortably during pregancy. I was fantastic, and the shape worked well as a nursing pillow after I gave birth. Well worth the money. It’s now packed away waiting for my next pregnancy.

  7. Getting Baby To Sleep Aug 25 at 10:27 am Reply Reply

    I agree that the Miracle Blanket is a must-have item for Getting Baby To Sleep. Another good option is the SwaddleMe by Kiddopotamus. However, I have read that the Bumbo is bad for baby’s spine development which is why I never got one.

  8. Ms. Krieger Aug 25 at 11:36 am Reply Reply

    “Ezra needed 1) boobs, 2) diapers, 3) a sling and 4) some jammies. If we were feeling fancy, anyway.”
    Yes, exactly. Our first was born three weeks earlier than expected and that was all we had in the house. (Sling was improvised with an old sarong tied around my shoulder for a while, too.)
    (and a swing would probably have been great, ’cause she loves to swing, but oh well.)
    I know this post is about baby registries and if that’s your thing, go for it! Amalah’s list is excellent. But if you’re one of the stuff-phobic, rest assured you really don’t need anything but the Ezra-approved equipment listed about.

  9. Stefanie Aug 25 at 5:02 pm Reply Reply

    Forgive me for asking what may be a monumentally stupid question, but I’m confused about the whole swaddling blanket thing. I hear wonderful things about them from everyone so of course want to get them and make my baby sleep, but then I hear that blankets in a crib are an absolute no-no. Can someone please explain for me?
    _____________
    Editor: this is a very fair question. One of the most famous advocates of swaddling is best-selling author Dr. Harvey Karp who answers this very same question in the FAQs on his website (just scroll down a bit): http://www.thehappiestbaby.com/faq.html

  10. Rachel Aug 25 at 5:05 pm Reply Reply

    I love the list! The only thing I’d add is that we wouldn’t have gotten any sleep at all if it wasn’t for my Halo sleepsacks! I was never any good at swaddling. I was constantly checking on my DS to make sure there wasn’t anything on his face. So the Halo sleepsack with the swaddle made it goof proof. Insert baby, wrap and voila! Safe, sound and he slept great!

  11. Heidi Aug 25 at 7:00 pm Reply Reply

    Also, on the SwaddleMe blankets….
    From talking to friends who had MUCH more experience than me I was told, “Chances are, your kids either going to love it or hate it, so buy one or two anyway.”
    I got one for my baby shower, but never used it past the two disastrous times. Even as a newborn, my daughter couldn’t STAND it if she couldn’t flail around.

  12. Olivia Aug 26 at 8:38 am Reply Reply

    @Getting Baby to Sleep: A lot of baby equipment can be bad for baby’s spine or hips. As with all things, moderation is the key. As long as baby isn’t in the Bumbo for long lengths of time (and really, what baby is willing to sit still for more than 10 min?) then everthing will be fine. The same goes for car seats, baby bjorns, high chairs, walkers, etc.

  13. Liz Aug 26 at 10:43 am Reply Reply

    This is a comment for those looking at having #2 close in time to #1 (ours are 20 months apart, wheee!). Don’t assume that just because #1 is still using something that you will definitely need to get a second one for #2. Our son was totally over the highchair well before we needed it for our daughter, and even though he was happy in his crib, we went ahead and transitioned him into a trundle bed before she was born.
    And let me just add in my UNDYING HATRED for any item of clothing that requires me to sit a floppy newborn up and pull fabric over his/her head. HATRED. HATRED. ANGRY HATRED. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, ONESIES AND SLEEPER SACKS.

  14. Mandy Sep 21 at 11:51 pm Reply Reply

    wow, thanks a lot. I’m a first time mom, and struggling with what to get now and later. but your post helped so much. infact, i think i might just copy paste – with a lil tweak. hehe, thanks!!!!!!!

  15. andrea Oct 29 at 12:49 pm Reply Reply

    Do you have suggestions for what to request for the first year (12 mo-24mo )? With Christmas approaching relatives from both sides want to know what to give our now 7 month old. Part two?
    ________
    Editor:
    We read your mind!
    Gifts for 1 year-olds:
    http://www.alphamom.com/smackdown/2009/04/gifts_for_oneyearolds_other_pe_1.php#more
    Necessities for a Baby’s first year (Gift of the month club):
    http://www.alphamom.com/smackdown/2008/01/necessities_for_babys_first_year_the_baby-gift-a-month_club.php#more (may have some ideas in here!)

  16. gwen Nov 13 at 5:43 pm Reply Reply

    This was so helpful! thanks!

  17. Meagan Dec 25 at 9:08 am Reply Reply

    As a preschool teacher, you’d think that I would be set, and know everything about anything to do with babies. (Despite what my husband thinks, I don’t). This list is really a lifesaver! Thanks so much!!

  18. Elisa Jan 01 at 11:16 pm Reply Reply

    I like the idea of buy now/later list. I was wondering though, what about changing table or at least changing mat?

  19. nicole Apr 20 at 7:35 pm Reply Reply

    WHere do you suggest registering? And do you suggest not registering for the buy later items?

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Apr 21 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

      Amazon is a great place to register. I think Amazon is the google of shopping and usually has links to nearly everything and you can add items from any other other website to your baby registry as well.

  20. Alexandra May 06 at 1:55 am Reply Reply

    My first could not live without 1) the little green pacifier you get at the hospital, 2) SwaddleMe, 3) baby rocking chair (she couldn’t sleep laying down,) and I couldn’t live without the onesies that button up the front. Seriously, snap, it’s open, snap, it’s closed. I want to kiss whoever thought of that. Now #2 is coming. Let’s see if he/she is as strange as #1.

  21. Lisa Aug 26 at 7:12 pm Reply Reply

    Thank you so much for your list!  I’m  a first time mom-to-be and love that this list is split into buy now and later.  I’m so glad I found it.

    I know you said not to buy your breast pump, that renting would be better, but I just wanted you to know that basic breast pumps are now covered by insurance!  I’m not sure when your post was first written; but when the Women’s Health Initiative passed at the beginning of 2013, breast pumps among other women’s health products now have to be covered by insurance without prior authorization.  All that is needed is proof of need or a prescription from your doctor.  Any home medical equipment/durable medical equipment provider can then set the new mother up with the appropriate breast pump and bill her insurance (of course deductibles and co-insurances apply).  

    Again, thank you for your list! I will definitely be bringing it with me when I register later this week!

    • Danielle Oct 30 at 3:08 pm Reply Reply

      I actually emailed my insurance company about this, and they said my employee is “grandfathered” and does not have to support this- which they do not. The only way my insurance will cover a pump is if baby and I have to be separated- ie she is in NICU and i am released from the hospital, which of course would be awful. 
      I just wanted to note that to my understanding- this isnt acually available to all.

  22. keelie Oct 18 at 10:15 am Reply Reply

    Alot of insurance companies are covering the cost of breast pumps. So before you pay money to rent one check with your ins company. I just got a Medela pump in style tote.

  23. Erin Houston Texas Nov 10 at 11:58 am Reply Reply

    Best info ever!!!! Thanks for being honest :) I also plan on asking for stuff I need now and buy as I go with gift cards. I’m having a gift card shower w/ family and for work/ friends having a traditional baby shower.

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