Preparing for Baby: What To Register For and Buy

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After my first attempt at registering for my baby was a complete failure, I knew I had to get it together and make a list of what we needed so I wouldn't have a complete meltdown over what pacifier to choose, among many, many other more important things. This here is the mother of all lists, it's everything I registered for, received from smarter-than-me moms, or bought after the showers were all over - and now after having a baby and putting all the products through trial by fire for a while - I'd recommend to other moms.
Preparing for Baby: What To Register For and Buy

Of course, this is just one mom's opinion, and the world of mompinions is broad and generous like my hips, so in some cases, I've tried to let you know where I think it's worth not caring so much - because all new mommas-to-be need a few things that their baby's life does not depend on. Besides my brilliant mom-friends and family, and Amazon Reviews, my list was built on the backs of many a blogger who shared their must-haves, nice-to-haves and maybe-just-borrow items, that I researched to form my perfect list, so later this week, I'll share a few of my favorite sources for more lists like this so you can form your own. Plus I've pulled together a list of the best baby deal sites I know of to share with you all - because baby stuff is stupidly expensive. 

Let's be real, all a baby really needs is love, shelter, food, diapers and probably a carseat if you ever want to go anywhere, but these days, we're a little more "generous" with our must-have list. Unless otherwise noted, these are the things I'd recommend starting out with. I've linked them all wherever possible too.

  • Bibs - I love the Ikea bibs (Kladd Prickar)  - they are great for Baby Led Weaning as they cover the ENTIRE top half of baby and are nice in the winter since they are long sleeved. I just rinse them off in the sink after use. We have quite a few cloth bibs that we were given at showers and I don't really have a favorite one. I'd just say the larger, the better. 
  • High Chair - At home we use the Ikea Antilop high chair and have loved it. It's $25 bucks, so that probably makes me love it more, but it's been great so far. It's all plastic so it's easy to keep clean and it has a small footprint which is great for our small house. A lot of people ask if I think Eli will grow out of it since it is so small, but we've had a two year old sit comfortably in it, so I'm not too worried. My only complaint is that it's difficult to remove the tray, so I usually just hand wipe it down - it'd be nice to be able to take it straight to the sink or dishwasher, but because it's so hard to get off, I usually don't mess with it. 
  • On the go we use the Inglesina 2011 Fast Table Chair. It hooks onto the actual table and folds down pretty small so it's easy to take with us. It's great because it allows the child to sit right at the table top, rather than quite a bit below it like the restaurant-style high chairs. Plus, it has a ton of back support, so baby isn't sliding around and even when Eli was little he could sit in it. Oh - and they can't stand up in it since it's a much tighter seat. It just makes meals out a whole lot easier all around, and it's perfect for taking to friends and family's houses that don't have high chairs. 
  • Bottles - If you get a pump from the hospital, such as the Medela one, it'll come with a nipple to attach to the bottles that you use for pumping. This can work well if you normally nurse and bottle feed every once in a while. I'd also recommend getting a few additional bottles. We used the Dr. Brown Glass Bottles when Eli was really little and while they're a pain to clean, I felt they helped with Eli's gas. After I broke one, I tried out the Lifefactory Bottles and I really like them. I like the gripy casing and they're a bit lighter than Dr. Browns. I'd recommend just getting a starter pack of bottles, such as a 4oz. and 8 oz. size and see how your baby does with them - and if needed you can grow your collection from there. 
  • Bottle Brushes - Make sure to get a bottle brush that has a small head on it. We received two at showers (both from Target) and one of them never fit inside the bottles. I like the Munchkin Bottle and Nipple Brush, because it fits in all our bottles, and has the smaller brush on the end that works great for cleaning out pumping supplies and other small nooks and crannies.
  • Bottle Drying Rack - Depending on how often you bottle feed, a bottle drying rack is nice to have. We didn't have one right away, so I can tell you a towel on the counter works just fine, but now that I have one, I can't say that I would go back to living without it. I love the look of the Boon Grass Drying Rack, and find I use it for much more than just drying bottles. I think it'd be awesome in any kitchen even if there were no babies in the house.
  • Baby Nail Clippers, Thermometer - I wouldn't get to caught up in the brand of these. Just make sure the clippers are small (we have these) for the tiny fingers and the thermometer is a rectal one. 
  • Shampoo/Bodywash/Lotion - Same as above, don't get too caught up in the brand. I tend to buy what's on sale and is all natural, but am not brand-loyal.
  • Baby Tub Puj Flyte Mini Tub. This tub is great for newborns and folds flat for storage. We hang ours on a hook on the back of our bathroom door. When baby grows out of the newborn tubs and can sit up, using a large plastic storage bin right in the bathtub works well. That way, you don't have to fill the entire tub every time and it's less room for the baby to fall over while they're still learning to find their balance. 
  • Bulb Syringe - We have the NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator. It sounds disgusting in concept, but the results are amazing. 
  • Medicine - If you're open to using these types of things, have some gripe water, gas drops and baby Tylenol on hand. It's nice not to have to worry about running out to get something when your babe seems to need these things.
  • Humidifier - The Crane Humidifier is the coolest one I've seen and we actually bought and used this while I was pregnant. Super handy during the winter and when baby is sick.
  • Newborn and Size One Diapers - Even if you cloth diaper, you'll need newborn and/or size one diapers for the first few weeks. Have a box of each of these sizes on-hand for when you come home from the hospital. So far, I've found myself purchasing Pampers Swaddlers, but don't have too strong of an opinion on brand since Eli is normally in cloth. If you're choosing to cloth diaper, here's a detailed list on what to get. 
  • Wipes - We like Huggies One and Dones, but they're only worth the money if you use one (maybe two) and are actually done. My husband is not very good at using one and being done, so we've also tried Target's Up and Up wipes and while they're much thinner, they do the job.
  • Diaper Rash Ointment - We went with Grandma Els because it's compatible with both disposable diapers and cloth diapers. To be honest, I've only had to use this a couple times when Eli has been in disposables for a while. He's never gotten a rash in cloth diapers and usually when he starts to get a rash in disposables, as soon as I put him in cloth it clears right up.


  • Breast Milk Bags - We had the Lansinoh brand bags and a few of them leaked out of the bottom corners as I was dethawing the milk - which, as any nursing mom knows - will make you more angry than a two year old when you take their toy away. I'm not sure what caused it, but it happened more than once (and I've heard other mom's say it's happened to them) so I don't think it was a fluke. Also, I find they're pretty hard to pour into a bottle. When someone else was watching Eli, they'd usually spill a few ounces when pouring, just because it takes a bit to get the hang of where the milk comes out of the bags. I'd definitely try a different brand next time. 
  • Breast Pads - TL Care Organic Cotton Nursing Pads. Incredibly soft and worked great for those first few months while my body was regulating. I had the 12 pack and it was plenty. 
  • Breast Pump - You'll likely have no choice on this one as your hospital will give it to you. I have the Medela Pump In Style, and being an exclusive pumper for a while, I can say it works really well. 
  • Burp Cloths - You'll probably receive a lot of these at baby showers, so I wouldn't worry too much about registering for them. These aren't pretty, but are nice an absorbent (the most important thing). You can make them pretty though through a few easy DIY's like this.
  • Lanolin Ointment - Lansinoh HPA Lanolin. Buy it and use it frequently.
  • Nursing Tanks - Don't get caught up in all the advertising for "nursing style" or buying special "nursing clothes." The most important thing is to find tank tops you love - my favorites are these from Target - and then just wear your regular clothing on top. For the first few weeks, you'll likely not be in public so you won't need to worry about clothing, and by the time you've got confidence to nurse in public, you'll be skilled enough to manipulate your regular clothing to work for nursing. 
  • Nursing Cover - Lots of people make these and they sell cute ones on Etsy. I have one my sister-in-law made and I love it. I also have the Dria Cover and have been a big fan. It's on the pricer side, but I love it because of the multiple uses it has. It works as a carseat cover, a light blanket and a nursing cover. It's really all we take with us when we go out, which means a lot less things to remember and keep track of. 
  • Boppy - You can certainly get by without a boppy, but it's definitely nice in those first few weeks when you and baby are learning how nursing works. There's lots of debate between this and the My Breast Friend pillow (please, couldn't they have given it a better name?), but it's really just personal preference.
  • Boppy Cover - If you get the Boppy, you'll need a cover. Don't worry about getting the waterproof liner, just find a cute cover. Mine was a gift from Etsy and I loved having one side with minky fabric because it's so soft.
  • Baby Video Monitor - A video monitor is not a necessity, but both Mike and I would attest that it's one of the best gifts we received. We have the Motorola Wireless Video Baby Monitor and love being able to look at him, for both peace-of-mind and well, it's just fun to see your kid. The one we have also has a thermometer - which I like because then I know if I have the space-heater set to high or too low in our difficult-to-regulate house. 
  • Outlet Covers - Kinda a no brainer here. You'll need them eventually.
  • Safety Gates - I don't necessarily have a great recommendation for safety gates, mostly because Eli isn't crawling, so we haven't installed them yet. 
  • Crib - Lots of options here, just make sure it fits the current safety standards. We have the Babyletto Hudson Crib and have loved it so far.
  • Crib Sheets - We have crib sheets from Serena and Lilly. I love the prints they offer and since we didn't go all out on full crib bedding, I registered for a little nicer crib sheets to get the look I wanted. Lately, I've seen Target have some cute ones as well. I've heard people recommend getting 3-5 crib sheets, but have found two crib sheets are sufficient.
  • Crib Mattress Lots of options on the market, just look for something you like and that fits your crib, here's the one we have.
  • Waterproof Crib Mattress Protector - Save that expensive crib mattress and get it a waterproof protector. We have the Naturepedic Organic Cotton Mattress Protector.
  • Travel Crib - I recommend the BABYBJöRN Light Travel Crib Playard. This travel crib is on the more expensive side, but Mike and I travel a lot and have found it was completely worth the money. It's incredibly lightweight, meaning I can carry it AND our luggage at one time, saving me a trip to wherever we're staying. A lot of pack n' plays are a lot heavier and an awkward shape which makes them difficult to carry. We've used a lot of different pack n'plays and have found this to be the easiest to set up and collapse. It has also come in handy when we have friends that want to stay late at our place and put their kids down for a little while. Between that and traveling, I'd say we pull out the travel crib at least once a week, if not more - so getting this one worth it to us. Watch for sales on these, usually you can snag it at a pretty deep discount. 
  • Travel Crib Sheets - American Baby Company Value Jersey Knit Porta-Crib Sheet. We picked up two of these cheapo sheets for the Travel Crib and they work great. I just store them right inside the travel crib's cover. 
  • Sound Machine - In an old, small house, there are lots of noises, no matter how quiet you try to be. We've loved the HoMedics Sound Machine, and take it everywhere we go (it can run on batteries or electricity). While I still make Eli sleep without it every once in a while so he's not too reliant on it, it's a great sleep signal to him and helps Mike and I not feel like we need to walk on eggshells around the house. 
  • Bouncer/Rocker - Really, any bouncy seat will do, they all seem to work the same. We have the My Little Snugabunny Bouncer and kept it downstairs in the living room. It was great to have somewhere for him to sleep nearby when I wasn't holding him during the day. 
  • Play Matt/Gym - Similar to the bouncer, I don't have much of an opinion on these. We had the Tiny Love Super Deluxe Lights and Music Gymini Activity Gym (Goodness sakes that's a rediculsouly long name, please, tell me - do they really need all those words in the title?) and Eli loved it when he was about 2 - 5 months old.
  • Changing Pad - You can pick this up at any of the major retailers because they're all pretty much the same. Just be sure to check the dimensions to match the changing cover you picked out. 
  • Changing Pad Cover (2) - Mine were a gift from Serena and Lilly and I love how soft and plush they are. I just got two plain white ones, so they'd work for any future nursery. Etsy has tons of cute, colorful options if you want something more custom. I've also heard of people just picking up a cute pillowcase to cover the pad. 
  • Wipe Warmer - A definite nice-to-have; we have the Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer. It's awesome especially in those first few weeks where cold wipes usually make baby cry harder. I think it's akin to having a heated toilet seat ... which sounds ridiculously and absurdly frivolous to me, but I'll admit - I'd LOVE a heated toilet seat, so why not a wipe warmer for my son?
  • Diaper Bag - We received the Marc by Marc Jacobs Eliz-A-Baby diaper bag as a gift from a very generous family member. It a great diaper bag, lots of pockets and very roomy, and I love that it wipes down both inside and out, so it still looks like new. I've also heard good things about the Skip Hop diaper bags for a more budget-friendly option, the Petunia Pickle Bottom bags for fun prints and patterns and the Timi and Leslie diaper bags if you want it to look more like a purse.
  • Car Seat - As with cribs, tons of options - just be sure to buy this new. We have the Maxi-Cosi Mico car seat - it's super lightweight which is helpful for my weak arms.
  • Mirror for the Car - I love our Brica Baby In Sight Mirror for the carseat more than I ever thought I would. It's great peace of mind for the first-time momma, and now that Eli's older, I can turn around an look at Eli (when Mike's driving of course) and interact with him. 
  • Car Sun Shade - I wouldn't be picky about brand here. Just find one that works for your car.
  • Car Seat Cover - As I mentioned above, we use the Dria Cover or a baby blanket. 
  • Travel Stroller - We have the Maxi Cosi Mila (which I think they've renamed to Kaia?) and it's worth every penny - if you get it on sale that is. Just like the travel crib, watch for this to go on major sale (like 75 percent off). We receive tons of compliments on it, from how sturdy it is to how roomy it is for being a travel stroller. We always just keep it in the trunk of our car and I've been amazed at how often we spontaneously pull it out. 
  • Stroller - We have a Baby Jogger City Select stroller and I'm a big fan. Don't get confused by the name, the "city" version is not for jogging, but it's been great on everything from sidewalks to gravel paths and is perfect for where we live. I like that you can put the seat in tons of positions, particularly facing you (which is how the E-man rides all the time because I can't stop looking at him) and it has a nice deep basket for storing things. It's a super smooth ride for baby. Definitely get the "parent console" too.
  • Baby Carrier - I have the Sakura Bloom Pure Ring Sling in Driftwood and the Ergo Carrier. The Sakura Bloom was awesome when Eli was too little for the Ergo, and I still love it for around the house and shorter walks and trips to the store. We use the Ergo for long walks and hikes (like when we went to the North Shore).  I wouldn't say you need both, one carrier will do, but it's hard to know what you like until you've tried a it for a while. I originally started out with the Moby, but wasn't a fan because it was just too much of a learning curve for me. But I know plenty of other moms who love it, so don't rule it out. How's that for a recommendation on baby carriers?
Okay, that's my list - please feel free to share your must-haves in the comments. I love hearing what others have found!

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Image courtesy of Photography By Nealy.


  1. Super awesome list with great description. Im not even close to having a baby, but read through the whole thing because it seemed so reliable. Will be saving!!! Thanks for this!!!

  2. Umm...your hospital gave you a breast pump??? Maybe this is new since they are now covered by insurance, but that is new to me! Also, Lanolin ointment makes the best lip balm ever.

    1. I think it is new...and I think it's just for first-time moms too. I even tried to get it before Eli came and no one would give it to me - even with a note from my dr.! I'm going to look into this a bit more - this question came up on Facebook too! Maybe I was the only one??