The ULTIMATE Baby Gear Guide: Understanding your true “need”

When I first got pregnant, I spent WAAAY too much time browsing, researching, and fretting over what I had to have on my registry (aka master purchase and budgeting list) to prepare for parenting.  One of the best things I did was to reach out to some trusted mama friends and ask for advice of their “musts” and “don’ts” in regards to the STUFF I had to get to prepare for baby. That compiled list, along with my trusted friend, Baby Bargains, were lifesavers to the time and energy saved finding the right items for my registry, and not STRESSING (any more) over the list of what I had to have before I could be the best parent I could be.

This list is my tribe’s best advice of where to start with your registry (updated post-baby #2), and my top pics in products I’ve since landed on to narrow down some of your options.  Bottom line – YOUR list will be right for YOU – and you’ll find that happy place in the midst of all the advice that will come knocking at your door.  Be OK with the fact that you could change your mind about what you need or want or prefer, somewhere along the parenting journey. It’s all part of the process – and no one expects you to get it all right the first time.  Have grace for yourself – and Good Luck!

You’ll find below – my “quick registry list”what I would get if I had to register right now, in a simple list form – and My “registry suggestions” – a more detailed list with explanations and some links to a few product options in these areas based on my research.  This page is LONG folks – I’ve separated out my main ‘list’ for those of you who just need quick answers, but hope to be a resource from research in one place.  I hope it’s helpful – Enjoy! And I welcome and appreciate your feedback if you have other items you would consider necessary as well, or to continue to keep this page up to date! 😉

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Quick Registry List(Updated with newborn through age 3 in mind)

  • Crib, mattress, two waterproof mattress pads, and two sets of sheets
  • Video Monitor and traveling monitor unit
  • Pack and Play with bassinet and bouncer attachments
  • White noise machines: one for room, and one to travel with
  • Humidifier
  • Heater/Fan combo unit
  • Changing station: Changing pad with two covers, 3-ply “diapers” for pads, diaper pail with replacement liners, diapers, wipes, cream, lotion and hand sanitizer (Add cloth diapers, a second pail, cloth wipes with warmer AND sprayer if you plan to use cloth for your diaper option)
  • Changing table or dresser with topper
  • Rocking Chair or Glider
  • Diaper bag with all diaper, hygiene, and ‘accident’ necessities
  • Travel pouches for compartmentalized packing
  • Bathroom items: baby bath, toiletries, wash clothes, hygiene kit, bath toys, stool(s) and toddler toilet
  • Baby gates, outlet covers, and door knob covers
  • Baby carrier(s)
  • Swaddle or receiving blankets and baby blankets
  • Swaddles and sleep sacks
  • Clothing – pick a few to highlight your style with size variety
  • Nursing pillow(s) and covers
  • Bottles and cleaning set
  • Sanitizer or sanitizing bags
  • Breast Pump with all attachments, plug-ins, storage bags and extra parts
  • Nursing tops, pads, and lanolin
  • Pacifiers and clips
  • Burp rags and bibs
  • High chair
  • Feeding set, silverware and water bottles
  • Teething toys
  • Activity gym with rings
  • Bumbo seat with tray
  • Exersaucer that bounces
  • Variety of age-appropriate toys
  • Toy organization: shelf with drawers, or baskets
  • Balance bike with helmet
  • Infant car seat with frame stroller or car seat attachment for stroller
  • Infant head support for car seat
  • Transitional car seat
  • Car mirror, seat cover, and window shades
  • Stroller to suit your lifestyle

Optional “needs:” (These are items I would buy again with my routine, but that many would say they could live without for one reason or another)

  • Bassinet for mom’s room
  • Backpack bassinet or compact infant napper for travel
  • Rock and Play or similar baby napper that you can move from room to room
  • Swing (I just loved mine, but I would borrow if I was doing newborn life again)
  • Mattress insert for pack and play 
  • Automatic night lights
  • Stroller/Car seat “bundle-me” (if you have a smaller babe in really cold weather = ranch life)
  • Flip out shade tent (if you have a smaller babe in HOT weather with little shade = ranch life)
  • Car ‘kit’ with diapering and ’emergency’ needs, toys, and food (again, we live in the middle of nowhere = ranch life with long drives to anywhere)
  • Bottle warmer (only if I was working full time again)
  • Milk storage bag organizer (if you have to pump multiple times a day and need to compact often)

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My Registry Suggestions:

This list is an extended version of my ‘simple list’ above, with a little more explanation and understanding as to why I’d have these items on my list and not others, or why they were necessary for my routine and lifestyle.  Take a breathe before you continue and try not to get overwhelmed – yes – it’s a LOT of stuff!

Nursery items and Diapering essentials

  • Crib – make sure your crib is a newer model that’s up to standard (see 2017 guidelines here). I would get a basic crib model as found at Ikea if you have a ‘future bed’ you hope to use for your kiddo. The convertible was pretty and dreamy for our first, but we blew through the bed transitions during potty training, and then didn’t want to use the bed as a crib for our second child once it was all set up for our ‘big girl.’ On the other hand, the Convertible Cribs are perfect through high school if you don’t have another option for your children as they grow – and a full size bed is a good guest option too!
  • Crib mattress – I did a lot of research on my crib mattress, and have been really happy with the Soybean Mattress we chose.  I also didn’t really realize how fast I’d be using a full size mattress when I put in all that work- it may be worth registering for both sizes if you have the space to store it and use a registry that has mattress options.  Those registry discounts can save a lot!
  • Sheets for all beds (at least 2/each for your bassinet, Pack-n-Play and Crib). Make sure you measure your bed and mattress – or buy the special sheets that go with the bed if it’s not a standard shape.
    • I also bought various waterproof mats, none of which I really used until I was potty training.  Honestly, the waterproof mattress cover for your crib and whatever size bed your little will move to out of the crib, are all I would buy again. I would buy two large mats and two mattress covers for your potty training stage! (Yes, I use them both with Addie’s Full size bed so I don’t have to take my mattress pad off every time we have an accident – sheets are enough work already!)
  • Bassinet – or some kind of co-sleeper for your bedroom for the first few months. There are many Pack ‘n Play with a bassinet feature options, if you have room in your bedroom. Because you only need it for a short period of time I would borrow if you can, or use something multi-purpose.
    • For my second babe I borrowed a HALO Bassinest…if you can afford it…oh SO wonderful to not have to get out of bed! We got the Rock ‘n Play Sleeper to have a napper that was transportable, and I have also enjoyed my Tiny Love Rocker Napper for multi-purpose use, and to have a ‘bed’ at work! If you prefer to co-sleep, the DockATot looks dreamy, and has gotten great reviews.
    • I traveled with both my littles when they were tiny, and wanted a sleeper on my bed for various trips that would fit in my suitcase.  The LulyBoo was a great co-sleeper that I continued to use if I wanted a comfy lounger for my infants, and BRICA Bassinet was amazingly compact to travel with.
  • Baby monitor – I recommend a video option. They are a little more expensive, but well worth the visual to ‘check’ on babe without having to go into the room, especially while you’re learning together and “sleep training” with your first baby. There are a ton out there – we have a Summer Infant option that you can also use with an app from a further distance with wifi – I love that feature!
    • We also have a basic unit that I take everywhere we travel – the big factors I felt necessary after research were the DECT technology, notification features, and talk-back option. This Avent Monitor won me over when we registered, and I would still recommend it.
    • If you have a small neighborhood with lots of friends, or you’re traveling and need a little more distance in the reach of your monitors once kids are a bit older – you can also get a set of radios with a VOX option to save some money, and use when kids are older and feel cool carrying around the radio that has really become their ‘leash.’ Shh…it’s our parental secret!  We got these Midland Radios, and I love that I can roam a bit farther and still feel like my baby is safe.
  • White noise machine – I have this HoMedics model I love in my babies rooms, but we also have a travel version that we take when we’re sleeping away from home, in the car, or anywhere there’s noise through baby’s nap. (*And that’s not because we use a noise machine as a crutch – hopefully your baby can sleep without them. But especially when traveling – things are just loud!) You can also use an old phone or your iPad and put a white noise app on it.  Perfect use for your old smart phone once you upgrade!
  • Humidifier – make sure you buy a COOL mist option. We jumped on the Vicks bandwagon and have a few types of their humidifiers that have worked well for us.
  • Heater/Fan Unit – Even if you don’t want to break the bank on this one, your baby is worth making sure your unit is safe. I would fret about this when I first moved my lady to her own crib. The key is to have something with a temperature sensor, and settings to allow the automation to work correctly.  *My safety ‘buffer’ was the temperature notification setting on my monitor. We like this Lasko heater for slight temperature modification in a single room (as in the house is doing most of the work already to control our temps).
  • Night lights for your room and changing area for night time – I prefer the ones that go on by themselves for the bathroom and hall; the one I can turn on with a switch, in our bedrooms for when we need just a little light (diaper changes or scary monsters primarily).
  • Dresser and Diaper station: Changing Pad and Covers, and size appropriate baskets or drawers to organize everything! We were given a changing table with our first child and I loved that it was a handy piece with extra storage for everything diaper-related, but it did take up extra space I wished I had for toys or wall room once our daughter played in her room more, and before she was potty trained.  This second time around, we picked out a Baby Relax brand dresser that we can put the changing pad on with a topper, which is also a fun piece to help theme our room.
    • Diaper bag – oh the debate is endless in what you may want.  I would get something that’s pretty versatile, and suits your lifestyle.  But 3 years into the game, I could still justify having my jumbo double baby bag, the Skip Hop diaper bag that I initially got that has ALL the pockets (I like to be extra prepared for everything), and the cute bag I can wear as a purse, but also has all the diaper bag secrets.  Get one you love initially – that’s my best advice – otherwise you will always want something else and it will be easy to justify springing for that thing you really like and never had…an then you have multiple bags.  My current dream bag is this Honest backpack. With two kiddos, there’s definitely something to say about the back pack option, and a cute bag that makes you feel fancy on special ‘mom days’…if anyone wants to get it for me, lemme know! 😉
    • Diapers: We always have a stock of diapers in the appropriate size because I use disposable at night, or whenever traveling.  I love the Honest brand diapers and feel I can justify the extra cost since I cloth diaper most of the time.  When you bundle (see Honest website), the cost is really the same as most “eco-friendly” diaper options, and I feel better about what’s in them.
      • Our favorite cloth diapers have been what we researched and settled on with baby #1, BumGenius (we have the 4.0 – they now have a 5.0 model).  I love that I can put the babies in them almost right away – and they last with the adjustable options through all diapering stages.  I also used a newborn set of cloth a friend had which I loved, but you really only need to spring for an infant set if you’re hard core about starting right from day one. I would start with 24 diapers, and you could always get more if you found you wanted more for your cycle. I ended up with 30 as a full time working mom – bought me a little more buffer in my laundry routine with my schedule – but most people I know have fewer. I did a ton of research on cloth diapering, really wanted to try it, but didn’t think I’d last.  Baby number two has begun the journey, and I plan to share all the tricks of how I found it was actually really easy and SO worth it financially – another blog post to come!
    • Wipes:  Why doesn’t the world tell everyone without kids that wipes are good for everything!?! You can never have enough…we go through them fast, and keep packs in multiple areas, so we get the big box at Costco, which have the plastic access on top of each pack.
      • Since we cloth diaper, I also have a full set of cloth wipes that I get prepped and keep in a wipes warmer at my changing station. I wouldn’t get a warmer if I didn’t have cloth, but it’s been great for us, and a perfect storage container to reuse. Our cloth wipes have lasted through two kids – though you can also cut up fabric and make new ones consistently if you prefer.
    • Diaper pail – it’s amazing how fast your trash can stink without one of these bad boys.  I always have replacement liners on hand as well – you don’t want to run out of that bag that ‘seems to last forever’ when it doesn’t any more…
    • If you cloth diaper, you also need: a sprayer system!!! (This is really the tool that got me through cloth diapering when that poop was no longer just ‘water soluble,’ and easy to throw in the wash without pre-treating).  Lots of diaper pails have washable liners for cloth, but you want to have a place for both unless you’re using just one or the other. (I used my “diaper pail” for my disposable diapers since they always sat longer until it was “full,” and a metal trash can with lid for my cloth, along with a small trash can with a foot pedal for trash/wipes that I still wanted to be sealed – like when you use a disposable wipe on your cloth because you didn’t restock the cloth wipes yet.)
    • Diaper rash cream – make sure you get natural cream if you’re doing cloth; some creams affect cloth. My doctors recommended this Butt Paste, and I had the Burts Bees cream from my newborn kit I was gifted – but I never needed paste often. I have the same routine with baby powder. I would recommend buying small bottles of all these hygiene items to start you off – and get more of what you need once you find your routine and know if you need a back stock.
    • We used 3-ply cloth diapers on our changing pad for big diaper messes. These are a lot easier to throw in the wash each time you change baby with a blow out, and then you don’t have to change your mat cover each time your baby ‘spills.’
    • Changing mat for travel – often come with diaper bags, but I do love the small waterproof pads for this purpose, especially if you set up a ‘diaper station’ on vacation, or in your car, and want to keep your diaper bag mat in tote.
    • Travel bags – I have yet to find the perfect bags, but regardless of the single options, I have consistently used bags to separate and sort when packing, for my diaper bag, in my beach bag, driving to town, etc, etc.  I really like the ones I’ve gotten from Thirty One, but have a few others I’m planning to test out soon and load up on if they prove right for me.  I just like finding what I need quick – and as  a “prepared packer,” there’s just always too much in my bag without the sorting help.
  • Glider or Rocker – if you buy something new make sure it has arms – your nursing game will be WAY easier. I found that both gliders we were gifted started to squeak, so when baby number two was coming this Rocking chair with ottoman was one of the first things on my wish list – and I LOVE IT!! I think this is one big purchase you can justify – you will spend PLENTY of time using it through your kiddos’ different sleep seasons and with bedtime routines.  Also something I would suggest getting that you see or feel, and fall in love with – so many special moments will take place in this chair…it’s worth it…did I convince you yet? 😉

Bath, Hygiene and Safety

  • Hygienic kit – you can get most of what you need in a common Baby first aid kit.  A great registry item to bundle some of these needs!
    • Thermometer – have one you can use rectally (from the hospital), but a nicer digital forehead or ear model (or combined version) that works quickly is really helpful when the kids are sick and you need answers fast.
    • Aspirator (the hospital gave me a couple, but only the bigger ones are worth it if you get one ahead of time).  There are lots of people who swear by the NoseFrida and claim it’s “the best.”  I just can’t do it – so I bought the similarly priced Graco NasalClear and it’s been a lifesaver.  The basic aspirators feel like torture when there’s really a lot up there to work out, and this one can give a consistent suck until it’s out.  It also plays music to distract, which sounds like a joke, but it really works to make my kids laugh, or feel like there’s a reward.  Make sure you use saline if your babe has dryness or red at all – poor little noses.
    • These Nail Clippers are the best!  I have a pair in my diaper bag, bathroom, and travel kit so I’m never without. The little files can also work well on infant nails – or some moms bite their babies nails to prevent accidentally cutting.
    • Soft Brush
    • Kids Brush – their hair will grow…eventually! My little girl loves to brush her own hair with “her brush.” The earlier you start making it a routine, the easier it will be to get the knots out that they start to have, since brushing is the ‘norm.’
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste.  I used the Finger Toothbrush while my first was teething – when I eventually went to the dentist with her they told me they start seeing toddlers as soon as they pop one tooth, but before age three they don’t get much done during visits with most kids.  The small brushes are hard to find in a store though unfortunately.
  • Gentle, wholesome soap, shampoo and conditioner.  Since I get my diapers from the Honest company, I can save money on their other products as well – I really like their shampoo and conditioner combo, but I need special hydrating soap for my girl and her eczema skin.  Tubby Todd has a line that claims to work wonders I just ordered, but I’ve liked the Renew line from the Melaluca company as well.
  • Lotion – We use Cetaphil Cream, or similar lotions that have a thicker texture, for our sensitive skin babies. They soak into the skin better, especially after baths, and tend to be the first line of defense against eczema and dry skin patches. The only other brands that have worked for us are either specialty, or Eczema labeled lotion/cream blends.
  • Aquaphor – this has a petroleum jelly-type texture, but is our second line of defense against dry skin patches.  It’s got a healing element when it comes to scrapes or dry skin, and it’s a great mild moisture-balm for little hands to apply once they hit the “big helper” stage and want to apply themselves.
  • Baby bath. We’ve used two models of baths to put in the big bath (or large sink), and I think it’s really user preference as to which you’d rather use, or whether you need one at all.  The Infant Tub with Sling is great if you have the space and for progression in the tub where you can give your baby the feel that they’re laying on their own.  I bought this Travel bath when we set up for an extended vacation, and it’s also great to use at home as long as you don’t mind filling the tub each time you give your little a bath.  You could still use a Sponge or hold your babe if you don’t want another product to store, and their only super helpful until your little is sitting up on their own and could enjoy the bath without one of these ‘helper’ items.
  • Shower mat and accessories. I would get an Non Slip Mat for your shower that’s easy to clean!  I also got a faucet cover that’s saved my kiddo’s head many a time, but it is a luxury if you’re looking for “necessities only.” 3 Sprouts has a storage accessory line that I ended up using to decorate as well. I love their bins and room storage items as well. Bath toys are nice to have for distraction, but can also clutter. Look for a few you can start with – many toys can double up and be switched out in seasons with interest.
  • Baby wash cloths and towels.  I am going to swear by these Norwex body cloths for life, as I use them for all cleaning now…BUT this is one area you can omit the extra expense if you’re looking to cut back.  The kiddos can use the same towels and washcloths you have – and will eventually (like at 3 years in our case) prefer them – even when their stuff is oh so cute and you want to buy multiple options :). A soft cloth is great for little sensitive skin – that’s all you really need!
  • Outlet Plug Covers – we just went conservative and covered them all. They’re cheap, and the risk isn’t worth it…google articles on accidents – yikes!
  • Other safety items – we chose the route of training vs. overly preventing with our kids. We have some door handle covers for rooms and closets with ‘unsafe’ items, but we didn’t put cabinet locks on everything and remove all things breakable.  BUT every kid is different – and we don’t leave our kids unattended much – this could still change.  There’s a lot out there, so it’s just helpful to know what you can get in the event you see the need start to arise (search baby safety on Amazon – lots!).  We did opt for gates on our stairs for fall prevention, and I like the options we have that can either swing flat against the wall, or that’s retractable so that they can hide when not in use.  The cheap option you can move around could be enough for some households – but I hate always having them in the way somewhere, or having to find where you moved it (though that is the benefit on the flip side, if you only needed one area blocked at a time)!
  • A few medicine necessities we ran to grab right away:
    • Saline – need for stuffy noses to use with the aspirator!
    • Gas Drops or Gripe Water – lifesaver for the upset tummy (just don’t use too much at once)!
    • Infants’ Tylenol – make sure you ask your doctor or get a measurement guide before you use this at all, but it’s been a lifesaver for infant pain and fever when I couldn’t do much more – and it’s the first thing the nurse line will advise you to use if they can suggest anything, before going to the doctor.
    • Vitamin D – I bought something over the counter (because of all the reading I did) but didn’t realize my doctor would prescribe something better that they preferred – wait to get the free bottle insurance pays for 🙂

Clothing and Cuddling

  • Baby clothes – the temptation is so great to buy a wardrobe for each size…don’t do it! I would pick a favorite that’s season appropriate in a few sizes for your registry to give people an idea of your style…everyone loves to buy clothes, and if you’re creating a registry for your first child, you’ll get a lot! One thing I didn’t think about until I was dressing my child after receiving everything was to look at how you put it all on before you cut tags off and wash stuff, and find you want to throw it away after one use: zipper vs. snap; big neck vs. pullover – I don’t know how they expect you to button up the back of a onesie easily on some of the stuff out there – but I would think about that before you keep some of the things you may prefer to exchange! And don’t feel bad exchanging things because your special aunt or friend got it for you (of course only you can be the judge of that)- it’s impractical to have 24 onesies in one size, and you’ll need more of something else, or another size! Make sure you think through the season your child may be in when they’re a certain age (before keeping a spendy jacket they’ll never use in the summer), but know that some kids skip sizes, or grow way faster than the average…hence the beauty and godsend of Hand-me-downs!
  • Infant beanie hats (small and stretchy like a beanie; cotton doesn’t stay on!)– I would ask before you leave the hospital if you can have/buy 2-3 of the ones they put on babies when they’re born… I couldn’t find them anywhere else cheap, and these are the best for newborns as long as they can fit! Keeping babies warm the first few weeks is the most important, so it was nice to have a few we were rotating.
  • Swaddles and Sleep sacks – you can definitely use blankets, but if you have a ‘Houdini child’ like me you’ll need a SwaddleMe with Velcro, or my favorites have been the Ergo swaddle and Miracle Blanket – they work best because they have little arm holders. The Woombie also has a great zipper option, but it can feel like an art getting a wiggly child in properly.  You could be lucky and have a kid who doesn’t startle themselves awake – but a proper swaddle also feels like the safest sleep option for bitty babes.  I really like the HALO Sleepsack when you get to a transitional stage – and they can work well as swaddles if you want to get one item that grows with you if you can get it tight enough.
  • Swaddle blankets – Muslin blankets are great for everything: travel blanket, warm weather coverage, changing area cover, feeding cover-up…there are a ton of brands out there, but aden + anais has a soft version I would mimic if you shopped elsewhere. Receiving blankets are also great to pack and make a changing space, or use as covers – but after my babies weren’t newborns, I didn’t really use them as blankets – don’t keep too many!

Feeding

  • Breast pump  – check with your insurance, as many companies will cover the cost of a breast pump for new mothers.  Even if you don’t plan to use it much, it’s a great investment for the times you want to go on a date, go on a trip, or especially if you have to work and leave the babe with someone else. My pick as a working mom: Medela Pump-in-style.  The pump, replacement parts, and extra parts were all available on Amazon, so that made it an even bigger win for this Prime member mama! (I even had two pumps thanks to a friend, and it was so nice to have a set of stuff I kept at work when I was away full-time!)
    • If you’re not planning to really need to pump daily or consistently, or you don’t have the amazing insurance benefit that may provide you with one, you can also just get a Hand pump for the quick emergency “I’m about to burst” pump – or to just have as a back-up.  Every mama and her “equipment” are different, so you may want to wait before making a big purchase if you’re not sure you’ll need it often.
  • Milk freezer bags – I went with the Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags because they lay flat and store more than others I tried samples of. I also invested in a milk storage freezer organizer that is spring loaded to put your milk in that will flatten the bags upright for storage. Well worth it since I didn’t want to have milk bulging out of my freezer everywhere – and I could store it better in an organized fashion. This was essential when I was working full-time, but you could do without if you don’t pump consistently for a longer period of time (as in not just the first two weeks when you’re engorged…it may not last longer than that, so don’t feel like you have to jump the gun on this type of purchase if you don’t have a consistent pumping need)!
  • Nursing pads – I bought some overnight reusable nursing pads with a plastic side to control leaking so I didn’t feel chaffed all the time due to disposables; I also have Lansinoh disposable pads for the long town days tough. I guess think of them like diapers…this was the brand that held the most and didn’t leak for me.  #nursingrelality
  • Nursing tops- Target has good options. I LIVED in these tanks the first few weeks! A must for your hospital bag as well unless you’re fine being topless most of the time – no judgement there, just want to give you the full picture, guests and all 🙂 I tend to wear nursing tanks as bras under shirts just to hide my skin when I nurse.
  • Nursing bras- Motherhood Maternity had the best bras I found and that have lasted. I looked for non-wired bras because of the affect they can have on milk production, but I was lucky to not really have an issue with that for both my babies so far! PTL.
  • Lanolin or good coconut oil for sore and cracked nipples – hopefully you won’t need it, but it’s good to have on hand especially at first, and especially if you plan to pump a lot! I kept a tube in my ‘nursing bag’ or ‘pumping kit.’
  • Nursing cover – there are a lot of options out there with accessories you can wear and whip out as a nursing cover. Between my two kids the stretchy “5 in 1” cover came out, and outside of my flow shirts I can fit my babe into during nursing sessions, these have become my new favorite! I really like Covered Goods materials, but there are many similar brands now too, like the ones I found on Amazon.
    • If you do want a killer shirt to nurse under – I’ve been wearing one of the shirts from our LSJ line tons! Check it out on our La Seniorita Jolie website! (See my LSJ page for more insight into this company.)
  • Boppy (nursing pillow) with Cover – OR I was also give a My Brest Friend Nursing Pillow which I loved for the littler stages, but lost interest in when I wanted to feed quick and not strap something on. If anything, these pillows may help force you to stop and spend time with your babe as you have it set up in your special spot. I’ll be honest – with my second child I feed while moving chasing my toddler around, so I my pillows haven’t seen as much use. BUT – they also promote better posture and if you struggle at all to find a comfortable nursing position, it’s worth it!
  • Burp cloths – a good soft rag will work great. I really love all my bamboo fabrics for babies in general, but you can also find this type of material and sew some great cloths. I have a friend that surged some fabric together and they’re my favorite – anything about 12×6 inches is a good size in my opinion.
  • Bottles.  Who knows what your baby will end up liking, or taking, unfortunately. My suggestion (now that I’ve lived through a breezy bottle feeder, and one that still won’t take anything consistently- is to at least only OPEN one at a time until you’ve tried and know it’s the right bottle. Thankfully, we had no problem getting our first to take the ones I picked out, washed and had all “ready” for when we started and I went back to work. That decision to unbox and open would have been a nightmare if my son had come first.  If you know you need stuff – register for it, get it ALL, but wait to open it until you know it’s right for your babe.  If you do get unlucky – at least you can return stuff and get bottles until you find the right pieces.  I really loved my Medela Pumping Kit, and you can get nipples to go right on those bottles if that works for you. I used mostly Avent Bottles, and felt like those were great and have been universal for many mamas.  With baby number two, we’ve gone through 12, yes TWELVE different types of bottles. The only two we’ve had some success with are the MAM Newborn bottle and Bare Perfe-Latch Nipple bottles. These seemed to have nipples that are softer, and more “breast-like” as reviewed (not just advertised…some of them lie!).  I also have a Minbie Bottle bottle that I’m hopeful about – but we’re still in process with this kiddo.  BONUS for the readers: I’ll save you some dough if you’re local – for the small price of some dark chocolate you can try ALL of my collection before you buy if you find yourself in that selective nipple pinch. It’s an expensive collection I didn’t wish to have, but would love to share! 😉 
  • Sterilizer – we ended up buying an Electric Steam Sterilizer while I was working full time, and we never had to boil and clean, or be super careful with washing processes to feel like our parts were getting clean. Totally worth it in my opinion if you use this stuff regularly.  Medela also makes Steam Bags that work great if you need them on the go, or if you rarely need a sanitizing option.
  • Bottle Brush  – I found I really wanted to have a ‘bottle only’ cleaning brush while I was pumping and bottle feeding at work consistently.  Norwex also has a great option for this if you want higher end cleaning materials. I also used a drying rack when I was using bottles and brushes daily, and I would get that separate area set up again if I was using a bottle and pump regularly.
  • Pacifiers – 1 or 2 are nice to have on hand even if you don’t plan to use them lots or have your kid rely on them. I would suggest getting “orthopedic friendly” pacifiers if you do plan to use them. My favorite have been the Avent Soothies and the more “natural” Natursutten.
  • Pacifier Clip – It’s nice to have at least just one to help you track your pacifier and keep it clean (or just off the floor).  I love browsing the small shops for these – there are TONS on Etsy made by moms who have started something so they can work at home. Love supporting that when I can!
  • Bottle warmer – This is an item you could definitely live without if you don’t plan to bottle feed often.  Or even if you do, really.  On the other hand, we were given a The First Years bottle warmer and it was pretty great to have when I went back to work full time, and warming the bottle was one less thing to have to juggle for other caregivers. The convenience is what you’re paying for – and that could be worth it depending on your childcare (or husband’s stress when you’re not around). 🙂 We also have a travel bottle warmer that’s like a thermos. It’s been great for traveling with if we want to use a bottle, or know we’ll need one on the road. The design and two part construction was what sold me, and why we still have the TT model linked.
  • Bibs – get a waterproof snap version for a bib! Who knew velcro was so worthless if you end up fighting the bib war as your kiddos grow.
  • Feeding set – I really like my Re-Play childs’ dish set I got for my kiddos.  They’re durable, versatile, and great for traveling as well.  Eco-friendly is definitely a bonus. The only other item outside the collection we use a ton is a cup with straw and lid for smoothies and travel drinks – if that’s a good option for meals or snacks in your family, it’s worth the purchase.
  • Water bottles – We love our Hydroflask bottles for hot and cold, but the best no-spill bottle we have a collection of now are the CamelBak kids water bottles.
  • High chair or booster seat – We registered for the 4-in-1 convertible high chair system which has been great, but takes up lots of space in our kitchen, or storage.  If I could do it again I would buy a folding high chair that still has good support, and a compact travel booster seat for travel, or use next door, at restaurants, etc. Some people swear by the hanging clip-on chairs, which are also nice for restaurants and travel, but it all probably depends on where you typically eat as a family. That routine won’t likely change, so my top advice in all the options is to buy something that will fit well in that space you already use.
    • There’s also a tray you can put on the Bumbo seat to double that use and have something to practice sitting in for those first months, and while your baby fits in it! (Mentioned below as one of my top play items too!)

Play

  • Bouncer/swing/sleeper unit – pick one and go with it; you’ll more then likely use one more then all the others and then the ‘options’ you had will just sit. I loved our swing for the first few months, then found that the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play was way more handy to move around and ideal as another set of hands, especially as we tried to transition to the crib for good sleep habits. A Bouncer can work in this way as well, but isn’t useful as long.  Another reason I would suggest getting a pack-and-play that just has that removable attachment.
  • Activity Jumper – As soon as my daughter was sitting up, all the way until she could get out of this on her own, we used the “jungle gym” for activity time, distraction, learning, and exercise.  I would suggest getting an option without wheels on the bottom if you have stairs, something you can add different toys to for variety, and one that is transitional in height to get more use out of it. If you have this you don’t need a stand-alone jumper (though some moms swear by these for the exercise their babies need), and it has more features you can use before the jumping stage.  I’m a fan of this Baby Einstein model.
  • Activity Baby Gym – great for all the initial ‘activity’ stages and sensory learning. I used to think it was so silly to hang stuff all around your baby and call it play – and while you can definitely live without this type of accessory – there’s really not much else you can do to interact with your babe, and these keep them entertained if you ever have anything else you need to do in your house without them in your arms.  I’m convinced I had an early roller due to this kind of entertainment as well.
  • Bumbo seat with tray attachment. Some kids do grow out of these before they can really use them – but for most kids this is a great socialization option to include your baby with some independence, as a second stage for “tummy time” neck muscles, and to bring your infant into meal times.
  • Baby Links to hang toys and attach to things (car, crib, play yards, etc) – Most baby toys have a ring you can hook to this, and not only do these allow for easier access to toys, but they keep track of them in little wobbly hands as well.
  • Toys. My best piece of advice for toys is to get a few things at a time and find a consignment store you trust that will allow you to bring stuff in and trade in stages. It’s so easy to get out of hand with the amount of stuff kids bring to your collection, but as I work through round two, here are a few toy pointers that are helping me:
    • Set up a storage area, or space that you want to keep toys and figure out how you want to organize it.  I have a couple corners of the house and my kiddos rooms where I try to keep the sprawl of toys contained (ha!). At least my type-A personality can be consoled that most of the stuff we have has a place.
    • If you don’t want tons of battery operated stuff you have to change, or stuff that makes noise – just keep it out. Your kids won’t miss it if they haven’t had it.  And you may hate your kids’ stuff less.
    • Try to have more stuff around that teaches your kids or brings out their imagination (books, puzzles, blocks, learning toys) than items that just take up space (stuffed animals, items their not interested in, or duplicates).
    • I love wood toys – teethers, rattles, play food, blocks, etc.  They last longer, look nicer, and are often easier to clean.  Find the type of stuff you like, whether it’s wood or something else – and get things that are fun for you to play and show your kid how to use too. They’ll be more interested in things you’re excited about also.
      • If there was one brand I would pitch to use as a good example of a lot of these points, it’s Melissa and Doug.  They’ve thought of everything, of course – so it’s also a good place to start for general ideas for development, ages, or types of toys you’re looking for in different kid seasons.
    • I’m sure there are other great thoughts when it comes to general toy suggestions – feel free to comment and share!
    • Here’s a quick list of a few TOYS to start you registry if you want some toys on there that would get you started for a few stages:

Car and Travel:

  • Infant car seat (with an extra base if you plan to use more than one car). I’ve been super happy with our Graco SnugRide 35 – the click connect system is awesome and from my experience so far I would make sure all my stroller/seat options were compatible. (*Note that all car seats expire and are rated for only one accident, no matter how minor.  You should never buy a used car seat, and you want to take this into consideration if you get one from a friend rather than register for something you can use for all your kiddos.)
  • Transitional car seat (second stages and later) – We landed on the Britax Boulevard and have different models of this seat for both of our kids. The updates in just two years are really nice! I would suggest looking at a few websites that claim to have the current year’s “Safest Car Seats” and find a common thread if you want to do updated research.  I also really like Lucie’s list for gear reviews if you’re looking for product comparisons.
  • Head and Body Support for infant car seat – we wouldn’t have been able to leave the hospital without one since our babies were so small. And with a lot of town driving, my kiddos sleep much better with the built in pillow!
  • I’ve also loved my car seat and stroller “sack” for winter weather (we bought the infant and toddler model of the JJ Cole)– hard to justify if your’e not going to really be OUT in the cold, but we will have used both two winters for each kiddo – really handy in cold climates to keep from layering and bundling an infant that’s hard to dress.
  • Baby Car Mirror for car – great if you plan to do any driving solo with your kid under 2 before they turn and face you! It helps you check on them quicker for safety, AND they can eventually track and see you. We also got the Safety Shades for our windows, but I think the shade option on the car seat is sufficient on our seat (you’ll want to check that on your model, some have much smaller canopies).
  • Car seat cover – great for those transitions you make with the seat when you want to keep your babe asleep.  I love these new stretchy covers that you can use for nursing, as a swaddle, and a cover!
  • Baby carrier – I’m all about baby wearing, and with my second this “hands free” option has been integral as I juggle child needs.  I use all three variations of carriers listed here, but if you’re not sure you want to register for all, or spend the money in this department, you should borrow different styles and figure out which feels most comfortable once you have your baby!
    • I love my Boba Wrap (like the popular Moby but with stretchy material) to keep my little close and for the early days around the house, etc.  While I can’t really reach for my wrap in hot weather or conditions, it’s my favorite in the tiny newborn stages to keep my babies close, and for times when I’m hoping to get a longer nap in. It feels the most supportive and comfortable during this snuggle-stage. I found the Solly wrap community long after I purchased my wrap, but covet the soft fabric other mamas have – I would get this type of wrap if I did it again.
    • My Wildbird ring sling is my second choice for support in keeping my smaller babe close, or to create a good nap environment.  Ring slings take a little more practice to master comfort and proper form, but they’re the easiest to slip on and off once you have them down, and you can use them with older kiddos in various positions – front, side, or back carries.
    • I also have an Ergobaby Carrier with an Infant Insert which has always felt like the carrier of all carriers, especially since they’ve come out with the 360 model that allows you to wear baby facing different directions. It’s easy to clip on and seems like the most comfortable for my husband to wear, and I’m still using mine with my 3 year old.  This is my favorite carrier to wear my kids on my back, but hasn’t been my go-to until my kids have a little more stability, as the support really stops at your kids’ shoulders. I’ve also seen these passed down through multiple kids and families and still be in great condition.
  • Backpack carrier – We were given a great Backpack carrier and I have loved using it for the few hikes and adventures we’ve been on.  It’s not worth it if you don’t go use it. It’s a bit bulky to carry around doing errands, and has less support for a napping kiddo, but if you’re active and plan to USE this – you could definitely justify having one to help allow you to #getoutside! I’m all about gear to allow you to keep normalcy with activity and/or adventure in your routine with a growing family!
  • Bike Trailer – definitely optional but great for the biking family in the same vein as a backpack carrier.  Don’t get one unless that’s a normal (often) routine for you.
  • Stroller – this was the hardest item for me to land on.  There are MANY ideal models depending on your lifestyle and need for a stroller.  I found a great site to help break down some top options – rather than try to recommend various models, I would defer to Lucie’s list (again) to help you out. Meg breaks down different kinds of strollers based on what kind you’re looking for and gives you a top list for each variation. It’s awesome!
    • I will share that for my various needs and after going from one to two, I ended up with a Click frame stroller for the carseat, single BOB Revolution Jogging stroller and BOB Revolution Duallie that live at the ranch, a single bob motion and a City Mini GT Double for travel (that live at Grandmas), AND an Umbrella Stroller that lived in my car for ‘town trips.’ (I know, it’s crazy…and we’re downsizing as we speak! But I will say – I’m also a consignment junkie, and the deals can be a steal!) I wish I would have just gotten a  Bumbleride Twin or adjustable Bugaboo Donkey from the beginning and invested in ONE (amazing) stroller for everything.  If I could go back in time, and for my ranch-life needs, that feels like my ‘dream stroller’ I’ll never own, since I have all the others and no more money left for stroller allowance. 😉
  • Pack and Play or travel crib (can also double as your bassinet option).  I love this type of option from Graco with the different removable attachments! It’s nice to imagine a more compact travel bed, but a standard pack and play with attachments you can use is probably more versatile. I also bought this amazing Mattress topper for our kids, and it’s maybe more comfortable than their cribs at home.  It has saved us in comfort and with sleep on longer trips, but I bring it for every overnight now!
    • If you need a travel bassinet – there are a few options I tried because I could throw them in a suitcase while my littles were small enough, or because we didn’t have space for a full bed.  I’d say the most compact option is my BRICA Fold N’ Go, and it’s done the job to travel and put on a soft surface.  This LulyBoo has also been a great companion for a beach nap, or to throw in the car and use for bedtime if we’re visiting at a friends’ house.  They’re not expensive if you know of a few trips coming up where you could pick one, and especially to share in a small mama community.

Some optional registry examples I’ve picked up in my gear-mama-ness:

  • Pop-Up Shelter.  I use this all the time in our hot summer weather with little shade to create a little shelter for my tribe. Not only does it give us great shade, but it helps keep our stuff contained, and creates a little base for us as we play, or swim, or adventure away.  The only downfall is that it’s not great in heavy wind areas, but I love flipping this out and creating our spot – and it’s compact and easy to tote around!
  • Kids Sleeping Bag – if you’re a camping couple (or pick your adventure) and know you want to keep camping as a family, it’s smart to register for some of the essentials you know you’ll need to add to your camp gear collection. A sleeping bag also doubles as a travel toddler bed on any couch once your baby doesn’t stay in a pack and play anymore. 🙂 We maybe wouldn’t have splurged for our KidCo GoPod, but have gotten “out” more as a family, like we always loved – because we have it.  Sometimes specific gear can keep you doing the thinks you love, or that have made you “you,” and in that big picture, a few dollars are worth the memories.  Especially since you have consignment sales later in life 😉 We were also gifted a Kids Folding Chair, and I love that we can all pull out our own chairs during family outings! You get the picture in justifying some “stuff” to allow you to continue to do what you love.  All about it…

Other necessities:

  • Coffee
  • Chocolate
  • Wine
  • DARK Chocolate
  • Beer
  • Lots of love and support and encouragement surrounding you – people you’re willing to ask ALL the ‘silly’ questions and just have conversations about how it’s going with. It’s amazing the things you learn and insight that comes up just in the every day conversation. Things that books don’t tell you unless you’re reading EVERYTHING! Finding your tribe is the best advice – just like how I created this resource!
    • If you want to get crazy – you could even do this on your own!  When I first generated this list I picked 4-6 mamas who I knew well and wanted to mimic in parenting, or style, and asked them the same question: “What are a few things you’d say you couldn’t live without as a new mom, and some of the things you got and wished you didn’t waste the space on.”  Of course you’ll see the same things on both sides of your friends’ lists – but because you know your friends and why they would justify one item or the other, you will see a fuller picture of their insight.
    • **Having your mama tribe also helps you fight off postpartum depression and loneliness that so many moms just try to deal with themselves.  We were created for community – and you’ll be so much more set up for success when you’ve linked arm in arm before you trip and fall!

Again- Good Luck!  And don’t stress. You got this mama!! ♥

 

(*Note that I’ve linked many of the products I would recommend through Amazon, but feel freedom to do your work and price check around.  I am not getting paid by these companies directly and I almost always go look through reviews on Amazon before settling on a big purchase – but I would go for the best deal as well!  I will clarify that these links are the only way this site is supported, so I appreciate if you do choose to use Amazon as your buying option!)

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