Our Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist
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.
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.
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.
- infant car seat*
- Compatible lightweight stroller frame
- Extra car seat base for second car
- Fleece bunting/ rain cover for car seat
- Newborn headrest 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
- 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)
*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.
- 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
- 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 ‚Äì your options will be MUCH smaller, more streamlined and better looking.
Baby Grooming & Safety
- 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.
- 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.
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.