Congratulations! You’re expecting!
And you are here because you have people around you who are excited for the new life you’re bringing forth, and you need to make a baby registry to guide their generosity. Yes?
So I’m here as a slightly experienced mom (who, I’ll add, is a wannabe minimalist) to help you sort through all of the hubbub of baby preparations and whittle your list down to the essentials.
Why not add every single thing that Babies R Us suggests you add? Because, in my experience and in the experience of many moms I know, you will not get everything on your baby registry. Take whatever you received from your wedding registry and reduce that percentage–by a lot. And you and dadman will be left to get everything else, ya know, with all that money you have after paying for the birth. Welcome to parenthood. ;)
What is this phenomenon?
It is lots of well-meaning ladies getting very excited to
1.) buy baby clothes that THEY adore
2.) hand-make you something sentimental, like a blanket (probably one you won’t know how to wash) or
3.) get you what THEY think a new mom needs (which is hit or miss with what you do actually end up needing and/or wanting.)
All of these gifts are welcomed and worth thanking a dear friend for, don’t hear me complaining. But they’ll leave fewer friends and family members ACTUALLY referring to your registry to see what you want. To see what you need. To see what taste you have in clothes or nursery decor or toys. Thus, my best advice is to choose what you really want and need when creating your registry. If someone is going to spend money on you, make it count for something you’ll put to good use.
Having said that, do register for things that you’ll intend on buying no matter what because most stores will offer you a single-use completion discount close to baby’s arrival date. That is GOLD, friends.
A little love for and advice about Amazon registries
Amazon is one place to get a completion discount–15% off for Prime members! They are also currently sending out welcome boxes to registrants (they were NOT doing that back in 2012 when I was having my first babe!)
I love using Amazon for baby registries because I have friends and family everywhere, so this simplifies shipping costs for them. In fact, because of that handy dandy completion discount, I’ve made small baby registries for my second and third babies as well. I casually mention it on Facebook to my friends–I say that I mostly made it for the discount but here it is if you were wondering what we need, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the handful of sweet friends who still send gifts. :)
You can also add gifts from other stores to your Amazon registry with their “wish from any website” button. This helps consolidate things. I will add this caution though: your completion discount only applies to products directly sold by Amazon.com. So, watch out for that! Don’t get your heart set on pricey nursery decor from a specialty shop and assume you’ll get a percentage off. And one more word to the wise, that completion discount will expire, so don’t drag your feet too long waiting to finish up the list–speaking from very unfortunate experience here. :/
Onto those Baby Registry Essentials
Now, without further ado, I give you what four years of motherhood have helped me decide are the baby registry essentials. These are things I actually use and love. Just a disclaimer before I get the comments that make me feel bad about myself as a person– different moms will find different things useful. This list is just one mom’s opinion, mmmkay? Feel free to leave constructive comments; you’re a welcomed part of this conversation!
(This post is loaded with affiliate links. They’ll cost you nothing extra to use, but they will help buy groceries for the family behind this blog, so thank you if you use them! Also, shout out to the fine people at CiPu for providing the diaper bag featured in this post at no cost to me in exchange for my real experience and honest review–which is all I’ll ever give you.:)
Wear that baby! If you can only have one carrier, go for the Ergo Baby with the newborn insert. Hands-free baby wearing allows for so much sweet bonding time while also giving you the freedom to accomplish tasks, kind of like you did before you had a baby.
If you can get two baby carriers, I really love having a Moby Wrap for the first few months. I know there are simpler wraps than the Moby out there, but I haven’t personally tried them so I won’t vouch for them. I will say that once you get the hang of the Moby wrap, they really are so nice for giving your newborn that fourth trimester feeling they crave. :)
Now there is a wide spectrum of diaper bags you can choose from. They range in price and style and you can certainly find whatever speaks to your personality and needs.
I will say that I started my Momlife with an expensive oversized shoulder diaper bag. It was a beauty that I drooled over my whole pregnancy until I finally sprung for it with birthday money. Four years later? I am not using it. It has endured a lot of wear and tear, but that’s not the reason it’s sitting in a closet. It’s honestly just too bulky and difficult to carry. And I have waaayy too much to carry these days to bother with it.
If I could advise you based on my diaper bag experience, I would highly recommend selecting a bag that can be worn in the fashion of a backpack (or one that actually IS a backpack.) THAT is the practicality a mom needs when she’s forever toting a baby, a diaper bag and six other miscellaneous bags around with her. If you can wear it evenly and comfortably on your back, you will use it so much more.
I’ve recently fallen in love with CiPu Diaper Bags. I just used it on my family’s recent bike and beach trip. It has plenty of compartments (but not an obnoxious amount, you know?) I love the side pockets for water bottles and sippy cups, and I like the hidden pockets that are flush against my back for a phone, thin wallet or passport.
It’s not too feminine for my husband to take a shift wearing it, either. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT, LADIES. My favorite feature is this cute little removable tote with a changing pad inside of it. Because sometimes you only need a couple of diapers and wipes. I’m finding that to be increasingly true the older my toddler gets (I’ll go back to needing the whole nursery every time I go out once I have a newborn again.) But when it’s a short trip out and you just need the essentials? This tote is fantastic. The whole bag is awesome for day outings, travel and life with a newborn who spits up and blows out diapers like its his job.
I know, we’re not all cut out to be cloth diaper moms, but if you are, GET YOUR CLOTH DIAPERS AT BABY SHOWERS. As a cloth diaper mom, they’re my absolute favorite gift to give a new mom who intends on cloth diapering just because I know how absolutely useful they will be for SO MANY YEARS AND CHILDREN TO COME. If you’re considering the cloth diaper route, I actually have a whole ‘nother list for you because you are brave and you are my people. ;)
I like to get baby goods second hand whenever I can, but a convertible carseat is worth getting new. You see, car seats expire every six years anyway. We have been using a Graco Convertible Carseat that goes up to 65 pounds since our first son was born. He’s now four years old and weighs 45 pounds, so I suspect that he will outgrow this seat right around the time that it expires.
If I were to go back and get a whole new carseat, I would make an easy-to-remove seat cover a PRIORITY. Because those things get messy and having to uninstall and undo all kinds of straps, wash, and then figure out how to put it all back together? STINKS.
Infant Carseat (with one extra base if you have a second car!)
Now you CAN skip this because a convertible carseat is 100% safe for infants. BUT an infant carseat is a wonderful, useful luxury to have in addition to the convertible. Becaaaause they are just so convenient to click into a base and click back out. If it’s cold outside, you can get baby strapped into the seat inside. You can smoothly move a sleeping baby from one place to another without much disturbance. Which leads me to the next wonderful, useful luxury…
Infant Carseat Stroller Frame
Those carseats get heavy! Give your arms a break and make transitions smooth with an infant carseat stroller frame.
Changing Pad (with two covers)
You will find that you get so good at changing diapers, you can change them just about anywhere without a trace of evidence. But there is always that ridiculously messy diaper that will make a fool out of any of us. A changing pad is a comfort for baby but it also contains that mess. Get two covers so one can be in the wash while the other is there.
And even if you have no space for a changing table (been there, done that) keep your changing pad along with a bin of diaper changing supplies under a couch or bed. Pull it out when it’s time, push it back when you’re done.
Nursing Pillow (with two covers)
My Brest Friend truly is my best friend. Eventually, I prefer side-lying breastfeeding in bed, but when the feedings are frequent and the baby is still small, a nursing pillow is such a help. Get two covers so that the one with the spit up can have a sub while it goes in for a wash.
Some moms are masters of using any ol’ blanket to cover up with. I could not. I often needed to SEE what was going on to get a good latch, and later when baby got grabby, I needed the security of the strap around my neck. Here’s the cover I used for my first two babies, and here’s the cover I’m hoping to get with my third.
Simple Pack’n’Play (with two sheets)
We made the mistake of getting a pack’n’play with all the bells and whistles (changing station, vibrating infant rocker, music and such), but we never use more than just the pack’n’play itself. We do use it quite a bit though–for travel, when we have baby guests and we also used it in place of a crib when our space was limited. So I recommend a basic pack’n’play with two pack’n’play sheets (get three or four if you will use this as baby’s primary sleeping place.)
Crib sheets (3 or 4)
You’ll probably want to pick whatever looks cutest in your nursery!
Pro tip: layer a mattress cover, crib sheet, ANOTHER mattress cover over that, and then a sheet for a quick middle-of-the-night bedding change when you need it most.
Rather than soaking through scads of nursing pads each time I nurse, I actually just stuff one of these into my bra on the side I’m not currently nursing from and then tuck another under the folded down bra that I am nursing from. You can use burp cloths for obvious things like burping baby and cleaning up spills, too. ;)
We like this space saver high chair that straps onto a regular chair. Whatever you get, make sure that the tray is easy to remove and wash!
One that travels well is nice. Ours broke from a curious toddler who fiddled with it too much so now we just use a box fan. *shrug*
I’ll leave you to your own research on this one.
And, depending on your lifestyle and feeding choices, you’ll either want
2.) plenty of bottles, bottle brushes, and a bottle drying rack.
You guys, this list could go on, but I think that sums up what I would definitely put on my registry if I had to do it again.
If you find that you have a lot of big ticket items on your registry, be sure to add some small, affordable things for friends who don’t want to spend a lot. Your favorite baby soaps, disposable diapers, wipes, a few outfits you like, wall art, thermometer, nail clippers, some favorite books etc.
I’ll add a few more things that are worth buying second-hand, but I would not want to pay the brand-new price for:
-A fancy expensive stroller unless you live in an urban area and will use it as much as a car or you’re a dedicated jogger. Even then, check out all of the used strollers for sale around you–you might be surprised what a great deal you can get, and then no one had to spend $400 on a stroller.
-A baby swing–this might be the only way you get a shower in a day so I won’t say they’re not worth having, but they are short lived, so check around for a good price.
-Bumbo chair–again, a short-lived season, but it’s nice to have before baby can support himself by sitting up.
-A Jumparoo/Exersaucer– these things take up a LOT of space which is why I don’t love them. But, some babies are delighted by them and their moms wouldn’t trade them for the world. So, if you can find a good deal and have the space, get one!
What you can do without:
I went to the Nourishing Little Souls Facebook Page to ask the wonderful and wise mamas there what they thought they needed but, turns out, they could definitely do without, and here are some of the responses I got (and I heartily agree with all of them!)
“Definitely the grocery cart cover…super cute, but super unnecessary.” –Kristina Devona
“The diaper genie. The refills are expensive and it’s just an expensive trash can.” –Alexa Eberly:
“Baby wipe warmer!” HJ Shirley:
“Baby wash clothes and towels. Regular ones work just fine and my kids got too big for the baby towels really quickly.” –Julia Vaughn DeBerry (YES MINE TOO.)
“Baby bathtub. Sink worked fine until they were big enough for the bath.” –Alexandra Chapman Rineer
“Moses basket. Had to have it, never used it.” –Autumn Edwards:
I’m not going to post them all because I’ve already pushed your attention spans to their limit, but here’s a link if you want to see all of the other great advice from moms like you! Thanks to all of you sweet ladies for tossing your wisdom my way!
So there you have it, my get-you-started list as you open a new chapter of life filled with learning curves. I wish all of you expectant mamas–be it through pregnancy or adoption–the absolute best as you prepare for your little bundle. I hope you’ll come back to this blog right here when you need encouragement or a laugh or a listening ear. <3 Kate