You know by now that my family is having a population explosion. With three daughters having babies at the same time, I have learned a lot about what they want for their new arrivals. One daughter, Alex, has created an extensive registry list from firsthand experience and ideas from–her sisters’ and friends. From Alex…
I created this insanely long registry list because lots of friends who are first time parents ask baby gear advice. This is what I send them.
I would recommend signing up for the BabyCenter emails. You enter your baby’s due date and they’ll send you a weekly email with recommendations about how to prepare for him/her and then will send you relevant info once he/she is born. We lean on them a lot for which toys are developmentally appropriate and as a supplement to the doctor’s advice about when to start solids, sleep and potty training, etc. Like anything, you have to take it with a grain of salt. There are definitely some kooks on there too.
This is a list of what we consider “must have” items for our babies and for me. One source that was super helpful for me in creating a registry was Lucie’s List, an online ‘survival guide for new moms’. Another source is the paperback Baby Bargains. The name is misleading, but this book explains which brands are safe (non-toxic) and which are well made for each category of nursery item.
I was overwhelmed by the # of baby books out there and most of them are B-O-R-I-N-G. I didn’t even get through some that are supposed to be fun like The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy. These are the four that I’ve dipped in and out of for advice since he was born and that I highly recommend:
Where to Register:
I registered on Diapers.com but they’re closing down :(. Amazon has taken over the site and will give you 10% off (15% if you’re a Prime member) on all registry items. I also registered at Babylist (like Zola for baby registries) for the twins because I could register for items from anywhere.
Make sure to register for all of the essentials in several sizes (Newborn, 0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12) because he/she will grow out of them. Also, remember that baby doesn’t distinguish between night and day so all of these are good around the clock.
My favorite premium baby clothing brands are:
- Kickee Pants: cult favorite; incredibly stretchy/ soft PJs. Choose the cute patterns, the material is awesome.
- Roberta Roller Rabbit: very soft pima cotton PJs in great, albeit preppy, prints.
- Burts Bees Baby (also on Amazon): These are inexpensive, basic organic layering pieces
- Rylee and Cru: Favorite of the Hipster/ Bohemian print driven brands
- Aden and Anais: Known for their amazing muslin swaddles, they also make gorgeous muslin layering pieces for summer.
- Jacadi: For special occasion pieces. They have great special details/ European flair. If you want to go extremely high end, Bonpoint is even more expensive/ special occasion, but I like the modern vibe of Jacadi.
- Petit Bateau: This is the Gap of France, but somehow they do it even better.
- Mayoral: This is the Gap of Spain but again it’s so much cuter.
- Egg by Susan Lazar: NY based Egg has a great sense of humor.
- Monica and Andy: If organic is important to you, Monica and Andy is a good choice. Founded by Andy Dunn’s (Bonobos founder) sister Monica, it’s all certified organic cotton. The styling is basic.
- Primary: This basics driven NY based startup has a lot of buzz. I think you can find the same very basic styles elsewhere for less $ but it’s worth checking out.
- Maisonette: Started by Vogue editors, this is an online boutique featuring elevated kids/baby brands.
- The Tot: Like Maisonette, this is a high end online boutique. They also have some great articles in their blog about what to buy when in terms of developmental toys, etc.
Categories of clothes that you’ll actually NEED in an infant wardrobe.
- Zip up footies: These are easy for nighttime (and daytime) changes.
- Bodysuits: These go beneath onesies to keep baby warm and to contain any mess. We have approximately 1 million long and short sleeved :). I like Burts Bees baby multi-packs because they’re organic and not that expensive.
- Kimono Tops: Some mamas love these more than bodysuits because you don’t have to pull them over baby’s head to get them on/off. I personally layer a bodysuit under everything.
- Cuff Pants: During the day, your child can wear those cute kimono tops that everyone got him/her with these pants to keep his/her legs warm. The elastic waist is key.
- Socks: You’ll need A LOT of these. I’ve put the cutest ones in the link. Look at all of them from “Trumpette“, but you’ll also want to register for or just buy a bunch from Baby Gap or Carters.
- Hats: You’ll have the ones in the link on him/her 24/7 for the first year (babies lose most of their heat through their heads). You’ll also want some warm ones and a sun one – after 6M, you’ll want the sun one to have a strap under his/her chin because he/she will take it off :).
- Buntings: Even if you live in LA or SF, your baby will need a warm suit for going outside. This is what we brought George home from the hospital in and we bundle him in it for walks, doctors’ appointments, etc.
- Swaddle Blankets: You’ll want a gazillion of these! They’re great for swaddling, but also for covering the stroller to block the sun, as an extra layer when he/she is out and about, etc. All moms will tell you that the Aidan and Anaise swaddle blankets are indispensable.
- “Cheater” Swaddles: This is actually what we swaddled him in. It’s much easier to create a tight “burrito”, especially late night when you don’t want to struggle. I like the “Swaddle Me” brand, but there are lots of choices.
- Sleep Sacks: These are for 3 months+ of age (when they’re rolling over so you no longer swaddle them). You won’t use them at first, but they’re good to have for later.
- First Shoes: Around 9 months, he/she’ll start taking first steps and you’ll want shoes with soft soles so he/she can feel the ground and get her balance.
The rest of the cute clothes/shoes you get from family and friends are great! You’ll put them on him/her during the daytime or for special events, but the above are essential. FYI, one of my favorite “accessory” items was a hooded Patagonia fleece that we put on him during the day once he was around 3M.
Diapers/ Wipes/ Changing:
- Diaper Bag: I got this one because I don’t think it looks like a diaper bag (urban). It holds everything and has great waterproof compartments. HOWEVER I’ve found it totally fine and sometimes easier to carry most stuff in a bag that I already use. I haven’t used the diaper bag at all since he moved beyond the infant stage.
- Picnic Blanket: As soon as you can take her to the park, it’s really nice to have a clean place to let her roll around with toys. We love this one.
- Newborn diapers (Pampers Swaddlers) Get 200 initially because babies grow out of them at 1 month or so and you don’t want to be stuck with small ones. If you prefer compostable diapers, they are more environmentally friendly, but definitely add extra work, we’ve considered a service like earth baby.
- Wipes: I do NOT recommend baby wipes. If you do get them, the ones at the “Wipes” link are “Water Wipes”, which are for sensitive babies. Most babies have sensitive skin and the alcohol in most wipes will give them diaper rash. We only use these “Swisspers Cotton Pads” and warm water. Infant poop is not that intense and these get him clean without hurting him.
- Changing Table Pad: This may not be beautiful but it’s SO functional. It’s waterproof (I still use the liners below), it’s soft for baby, and it fits on every changing table. Don’t buy an expensive changing table mattress pad. You can put this on top of a regular dresser and avoid buying a changing table altogether. How long will you use the changing table anyway? Or you can buy a changing table and this will be the pad.
- Changing Table Cover: Get several of these! They will contain the mess and you can throw them in the washing machine. We also use them for travel, picnics, etc.
- Bum Cream: We’re considering investing in the pharmaceutical company that owns Aquaphor because we go through a pot a month :). If you use this after EVERY diaper change, your child will never develop a rash. We also use it on baby’s face when his/her skin is rashy or dry. You probably want a small one for your diaper bag and one that stays on the changing station.
- Desitin: If/when baby actually gets a diaper rash, this clears it right up (aquaphor protects against it in the first place but this actually treats it).
- Diaper Pail: Everyone has the Ubbi one for a reason: it’s great. We love ours. We use regular trash bags and they fit/ work fine.
- Vava Light: During late night feeds/ diaper changes you won’t want to wake baby up by turning on a bright light. This one turns on/off with a tap of 2 fingers and dims when you press on it. I love it so much that we have 2 J.
- Gripe Water: Natural cure to gas – you’ll use this OFTEN for the first 3 months
- Mylecon Drops: Slightly less natural (and more effective) gas relief drops. We use them once babies are already writhing with gas and they tend to get things moving.
- Probiotic Drops: We give these to the babies every morning along with Vitamin D drops. They’re supposed to help with digestion/ gas but are supposedly much more effective in some babies than others (why not try?).
- Vitamin D Drops: The doctor will prescribe these once/day for the first year. You just mix a drop in with their milk or put a droplet on your nipple once/day.
- Infant Tylenol: You’ll need this after his/her first vaccines if he/she runs a fever
- Rectal Thermometer: People will tell you that you can take his/her temp on the forehead, ear, etc.. but my understanding is that, for the first year, rectal is the most accurate.
- Nail Clippers
- Nose Frieda: Looks gross but you’ll get over it. If he/she gets stuffy nose, this is a lifesaver.
- Windi: Made by the Nose Frieda people, this is for constipation/ gas. It saved us when the kids switched to formula and went days without pooping. I’ve heard that people use it for gas relief but we haven’t used it that way.
- Infant Brush and Comb: You’ll want to use this after baths if he/she has cradle cap or if he/she has hair
- Coconut Oil: We use this for post-bath rub down to keep the moisture in their skin.
- Babyganic Sunscreen
- Blankets: People will give these to you so no need to stock up.
- Burp Cloths: The plain white ones are sold as cloth diapers – they’re actually burp cloths. You can NEVER have too many. You will go through 5+ some days. Stock up.
- Crib Sheets: My favorite are from Carousel Designs (SO cute!). You really only need 2 sets (wash one while using the other), but they’re really fun to buy. Do NOT get bumpers/ bumper sheets. They’re good looking but not recommended because of SIDS risk.
We love the Uppa Baby Vista. Families face the Uppa Baby Cruz vs. Vista dilemma. The Cruz is less expensive, but only fits one baby. If you think you’re going to have more than 1 within 3 years, the Vista is probably a good bet. Friends also love the Bugaboo Chameleon and the lightweight BabyZen YoYo which is apparently adding a whole system (bassinet, etc). Also, you thought you were just getting a stroller? No, you’re getting stroller gear worth a fortune…
- Stroller Bassinet: Will plug into the stroller for the early days – George also slept in this in our room at first.
- Stroller Base
- Foot Muff:for winter warmth (we actually never used this in SF but my sister in NY swears by it).
- Sun Shade
- Rain Cover
- Stroller Seat:Not really necessary until 6 months – will be in the bassinet or car seat at first but eventually she’ll want to look out at the world.
- Other: You can also buy cupholders and extra storage compartments – we never did, but I understand why people do.
- Stroller leash: This is a ‘must have’ in hilly San Francisco – it is a little extra security on SF hills.
- Tub: We love this tub in tub until they can sit up on their own
- Bath Sponge insert: We put this in the tub (above) when they’re really small to be sure they were comfortable and didn’t move around too much.
- Towels: These make a great gift. Restoration Hardware makes amazing ones that you can embroider a baby’s name onto.
- Shampoo: J&J No More Tears is still the gold standard, but we’ve also used Noodle and Boo (hypoallergenic and strong scent that I like but is not for everyone) and Babyganics.
- Faucet Cover(to be sure baby doesn’t bump her head)
- Knee Protector – we don’t use this. I wish we hadn’t bought it. I usually just kneel on a bathmat.
- Formula: Depending on how nursing goes, you may not need this for 6 months or so, but we love Earth’s Best organic. It’s cheaper on Amazon but you can buy it at Whole Foods. Note that the first time you use it, she will be a little constipated because breast milk is a natural laxative and the formula is iron fortified, which can cause constipation. There’s lots of fear mongering out there about good/bad formulas and I’m happy to talk more if you have specific questions about why we chose Earth’s Best.
- Nursing Pillow– We loved the Boppy the best, but others love the Breast Friend.
- Nursing Pillow Cover
- Bottles: We like MAM brand the best. People also love Dr. Browns. The important thing for infants is “natural flow” and broad nipple. George rejected Dr. Browns and we had to move to MAM. It may just take some trial and error to figure out what works for him/her.
- Bottle Warmer
- Bottle Brush
- Bottle Soap– you’ll also use this on the baby dishes, etc. when he/she starts on solids.
- Bottle and Nursing Equipment Drying Mat
- Travel Bottle and Nursing Equipment Drying Mat
- Bibs: for bottle feeding – I love Burts Bees because it’s all organic cotton next to his little neck/face
- Bibs: for solid food – this continues to be our most valuable item 🙂
- Nursing Cover (for nursing in public)
Nursery: Disclaimer: I LOVE Land of Nod for both quality and aesthetics.
- Crib: Converts to a toddler bed with the conversion kit (sold separately). We liked it because it did not have particle board which off-gasses. We also looked at and were interested in Ikea (great health standards because have to be in compliance in the far more restrictive European market), but their cribs are a specialty size that only fits an Ikea mattress. We’ve converted George’s crib to a toddler bed at 2.5 years and it was an easy conversion and works well. I think we’ll keep him in it until he’s 5ish years old (worth the investment).
- Mini Crib: We couldn’t fit 2 full size cribs in the twins’ room so we have them in mini cribs. This is not ideal because they’ll grow out of them before they’re totally ready for big beds but they’re a great solution if you have very limited space.
- Crib mattress: This is SUPER expensive, but worth it! Everything I read about toxins in mattresses led me to believe that it was worth the investment. After all, it’s literally next to their little mouths and noses.
- Mattress Cover: Don’t forget the waterproof organic mattress pad. Your child will definitely pee or puke (!) in her bed at some point.
- Changing Table: Converts to a regular dresser once baby is big
- Glider: I got a Crate and Barrel glider which is good looking and SUPER comfortable for nursing. It’s light colored so I was afraid it would stain but it didn’t at all. I thought I didn’t need a glider and resisted the purchase for the first month. My whole body hurt from hunched over nursing. It’s worth it!
- Pack N Play: We love the Baby Bjorn because it’s really lightweight and easy to fold//unfold. This is essential for taking a kiddo to a friend’s house and putting him/her down while you eat dinner. We also use it when friends bring their kids to our place or when we travel with kids and don’t stay in hotels.
- Ergo Baby 360: This is awesome! It’s adjustable so Jonathan and I can share. It’s Ergonomically designed to be comfortable for both parents and babies. It adjusts so that the baby can face your chest or can face out and look at the world. It’s our favorite piece of baby equipment.
- K’Tan: I resisted this at first because we had the Ergo and Jonathan and I both like to carry George and this is sized (runs big – I wear a small). Ultimately it has been my favorite indoor carrier. I’m wearing him in it right now as I type. HOWEVER, I still struggle to remember how to get it on and off. It’s an unfair test for sleep deprived parents. I’ve heard that the NuRoo is more intuitive and does the same thing. People also swear by the BOBA.
This is mama’s freedom! You can put baby in here and do other things IF your baby loves it. George wasn’t ever totally happy in it. We mostly used it as a highchair when he was in the earliest stages of eating solids. I think we could have lived without it. We have the classic Baby Bjorn but I’ve also admired the Nuna Leaf, which I think is more attractive and which moves on its own (if you buy the “Wind”), but it’s an investment.
I did a ton of research and recommend the Deluxe Rock N Play.
I didn’t get this for George, but did end up getting 2 of them for the twins. They’ve been a great place to put a baby down in different parts of the house (ex. If you’re in the living room and want to watch them while they’re sleeping). It’s not a necessity – you can wait and see if you feel that you need a spot to put the babe and then purchase. P.S. they’re designed for co-sleeping which has never been interesting to us but if that’s something you want to explore; these may be essential.
Playtime/ Developmental Toys:
- Play Mat: Yikes! I have to bring that into my home? Yes. It’s the first toy that helped stimulated George. It turns out that all of the neutral colored mobiles/toys that moms and dads love aesthetically, are less stimulating for baby.
- Mobile: By around 6-8 weeks, baby will start to engage with a mobile over his/her crib. We got ones for the twins from on Etsy (2-month lead time). I also love the Petit Pehr
- Exersaucer: Okay, this REALLY IS parents’ freedom. At around 5 months, George would be happy in this thing for 15 mins at a time. He had a ball.
Other: These are important things that don’t fit under other categories
- Pacifiers: we love MAM (same brand as our favorite bottles) but many people also love Wubba Nubbas, which use Avent Soothies and are easy to keep track of because of the stuffed animals attached to them.
- Shusher: This will save you endless shushing (it gets tiring but it works!)
- Baby Monitor: The cheap and cheerful vtech has worked great for us but we’ve heard the video monitors may be even better, especially for older kids when you’re tempted to let them cry it out. The Rolls Royce of baby monitors is the Nanit. Lots of people use the Nest Cam instead but you have to be logged into the app to keep the sound on, which means you have to have the app open on your phone all night.
- White Noise Machine: We like the MyBaby sound spa. It’s not fancy but it worked for all 3 kids.
- Humidifier: Make sure it’s a COLD (not warm) humidifier. This is especially helpful for colds.
- Detergent (Babyganics)
- Flat Head preventing pillow: Babies can get flatness on their heads if they favor one side of his/her head for sleeping as an infant. We bought this pillow to help correct it. I would use this on my next infant from the start. Alternatively, you can make sure to turn her head back and forth for each nap.
- Breast pump: Your insurance should cover this so don’t pay full price but do buy it ahead of time (you can buy online using insurance @ Aeroflow). I was tempted by the Medela “Freestyle” because it looks like the top of the line (most expensive, touted as premium) and it’s described as portable. Don’t fall for it! The suction is much weaker meaning that it takes longer and is more frustrating to pump. Go for the Pump in Style Advanced “Metro Bag”(NOT built into the bag). Sometimes you’ll want to pack your pump in a separate bag and you don’t want to be wed to the Medela one.
- Alternatively, this startup, Willow, has come out with a wearable pump.
- The fact that it’s cordless is the #1 value prop. I can chase my toddler around the house or make dinner while pumping. When I brought it to a professional conference, I could pump in the ladies’ room without having to plug it in.
- The app is easy to use and tells me how much I’ve pumped and when my milk has let down so that I can turn up the suction.
- The pump and all of its parts including the charger are lighter weight than the traditional ones and easier to pack in my handbag.
- The bags are automatically sealed after I pump so they can just be pulled out and stored on ice.
- Each bag only holds 4 ounces, which means I have to cycle through at least a couple per pumping session.
- When I have the pumps in my bra, I look like I’ve gone up approximately 4 cup sizes, so it’s definitely not something I’d do in a public setting.
- Hands free bra: This allows you to pump while on the computer or reading or whatever…
- Milk Storage: You can store your milk in these bags to freeze it (lasts up to a year).
- Nighttime: I use an even less supportive bra for nighttime (Medela) because it’s more comfortable to sleep in.
- Daytime: I like Bravado the best because they’re wireless. I went from a B to a DD during nursing, so I need a lot of support and I still think these are great functional, easy to wash bras.
- Nighttime: These disposable pads will absorb excess milk when you leak (you WILL leak if you’re trying to sleep at a stretch at night – esp. if you have a night nurse so you don’t have to get up to feed).
- Daytime: These silicon pads are easier to take on and off during the day and I find them much more comfortable than the disposable ones.
Nipple Soothers: At the beginning of breast feeding, these were a life saver. You put them on after nursing/ pumping to soothe sore nipples.
Nipple Butter: This was the cheesiest branding I’d ever seen, but it’s a great product! It helps heal chapped nipples and should be applied to both the nipple and the breast pump cups before you start pumping. This will lower the friction of the pump and cause less chafing.
Mothers Milk Tea: I know it sounds kooky but I swear it works
I hate to say it but it’s not even all over after this list. As he/she starts on solid foods, you’ll want freezer containers to make pureed vegetables and store them, silicon spoons, a highchair (we like the Stokke but you have to buy the baby insert + tray separately), and a toothbrush and toothpaste. Around 18 months, you’ll need a potty training potty. Otherwise, it’s mostly buying clothes, shoes, books, and toys at age appropriate intervals.
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