Baby Registry Essentials for First-Time Parents

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I’m six weeks into this motherhood gig now, and while I won’t pretend to have it all figured out, I at least feel like I’m starting to get a handle on things.* I feel especially confident when it comes to the baby gear and items we’re using, as we quickly learned what works for us and our baby, and what doesn’t. So today, I’m sharing what I deem are essential baby items for other first-time parents. You’ll see that I’ve offered a lot of details for each item (yes, I talk a lot!), so if you simply want a checklist of items and nothing more, scroll to the bottom for my checklist infographic. This list will come in handy as you build your own baby registry. Our main registry was with Amazon and our secondary registry (for those who preferred to shop at a store) was with Indigo.

[* Update: I’m now 4.5 months into motherhood, I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to finish this post! But since it’s taken this long, I’ve had a chance to get extra familiar with my recommended products, and I really stand by them.]

GEAR

Stroller — I did a ton of research on the various strollers available, and even went to a few retailers and baby shows to “test drive” them before making a decision. I fell in love with the Uppababy brand and purchased the Cruz model. I recommend getting a travel system (an infant car seat that clips onto a stroller base) so that you don’t have to remove your baby from the car seat in order to put them in the stroller, which is especially handy when you have a sleeping baby that you don’t want to wake! And even if baby is awake, it saves you from having to unstrap from one device and re-harness into another.

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Car seat — This is the most essential item of all, because you’ll need this to get your baby home safely from the hospital. We love our Nuna Pipa because it clips onto our Uppababy Cruz stroller with an adapter, and also because the canopy has an extra pull-down cover that shields the baby from the wind and from the unwanted touch of strangers.

Carriers — I’m a big fan of baby-wearing and my favourite carrier is the Huggaloops wrap. It was a life-saver when it came to getting anything done around the house and for the first 13 weeks it was the only way that my baby would take a nap! I also picked up the Ergobaby 360 carrier for use outside the house (though I’ve since switched to wearing my Huggaloops carrier around the house and when I go out).

Baby bouncer or rocker — the BabyBjörn Bouncer Mini was a lifesaver for me. It almost never leaves the bathroom because it’s how I’ve managed to take a shower everyday since day 1. We looked at battery-operated rockers, too, and liked the ones from Fisher-Price.

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DIAPERING

Diapers — Make sure you’re well stocked before baby arrives, they sure do go through a lot of these! We spent a week using Pampers disposable diapers, then, for about the next 11 or 12 weeks we used a cloth diapering service that picks up the dirty diapers and drops off a clean supply weekly, but cloth diapering wasn’t working for us and we switched back to using Pampers. (I think I’ll write a future post that goes more in depth into cloth diapering versus using disposable diapers.) (Keep in mind that if you choose to use cloth diapers, you’ll also need diaper covers.)

Wipes — You’ll need a lot of baby wipes but I don’t recommend stocking up on this item right away; instead, buy a few packages of different brands to see which kind is best for your baby’s skin, and then buy in bulk once you know which ones won’t cause a skin reaction. We’re using Huggies Natural Care Unscented Wipes.

Diaper cream — anything with zinc oxide is a good idea. Again though, try a few to see which one is best for your baby.

Diaper bag — I wanted something stylish AND functional, and I looked at a ton of diaper bags before landing on the Skip Hop Greenwich Backpack. It’s large, has many compartments, and looks chic with its rose gold hardware. I even used it as my hospital bag - it was the perfect size to hold everything I needed. (You’ll also want to pick up a wet bag for holding dirty diapers when changing on the go.)

Diaper pail — we went with the Ubbi diaper pail and I’m happy with it. It opens from the top by hand, which doesn’t bother me, but if you think you would prefer a pail that opens with a foot pedal you might want to check out the Diaper Genie or something similar.

Diaper caddy — helpful for storing all your diapering needs to carry around to different rooms of your house. This is what I did in the beginning, but quickly preferred just going upstairs to change a diaper in the nursery no matter if I was spending the day on the main floor. I love having the caddy on the changing table.

NURSERY & SLEEP

I’ll be brief here because I’ll be doing a nursery tour post and I’ll include more detail about my nursery room choices in that post, so here’s a quick list plus a few items I wanted to elaborate on:

Crib, mattress, waterproof mattress protector, fitted sheets, change table, changing pad, glider/rocker, footstool, side table, storage bins/baskets, diffuser, baby monitor, books

Bassinet — You’re likely going to have your baby sleeping in your bedroom for at least the first three months, and this is where a bassinet comes in handy. I had a hard time with this item and debated getting one at all because bassinets are so expensive and you only use them for a short period of time. While I was deciding to get one or not, our back-up option was to bring the crib into our bedroom, but we ended up getting a bassinet on loan from our neighbour. Knowing what I know now, a bassinet is essential, and if we weren’t able to borrow one I now belief that this item is worth the high price. It’s so handy to have your baby right next to you and be able to quickly and easily scoop him up when he needs to feed during the night, or to just reach over and lay your hand on his chest to calm him down if he starts fussing.

Receiving blankets — these can be used for multiple purposes: as a swaddle blanket, a burp cloth, a blanket for tummy time, a nursing cover…there are so many ways to use this item, so stock up.

Swaddlers — swaddling is a really great way to calm baby for sleep in their early days. At first we struggled to make our own by folding receiving blankets but he always broke out of them. Eventually, we got these velcro ones by SwaddleMe and they worked perfectly.

Sleep sack — also known as “wearable blankets,” sleep sacks are perfect for babies who are no longer being swaddled but aren’t ready to sleep with a blanket.

White noise machine — we have the Hatch Baby Rest Night Light & Sound Machine and keep it next to our bed so that it’s near the bassinet, but it includes an app so that you can control it with your phone so you can put it anywhere in the room and still adjust the settings. We also have a Sleep Sheep attached to the crib but it’s great for on-the-go, too.

BABY SAFETY & HYGIENE

Thermometer — we have a generic store brand armpit thermometer and a forehead swipe thermometer but I’ve heard that Braun is the best so we’ll be getting one of those soon.

Snot sucker — so gross, but so necessary. Before baby came, I naively thought that babies’ noses only got snotty when they caught a cold. Nope! Just like us, babies always have boogers and their tiny nostrils need clearing because they can’t do it themselves. We like the FridaBaby snot sucker.

Nail clippers — you won’t need to cut your baby’s nails for the first few weeks because their nails are soft as skin and they just fold and break off, but once you start needing to cut their super sharp nails, the FridaBaby nail clipper is a good one because it has a “viewfinder” so that you can clearly see what you’re cutting.

Other items for baby safety and hygiene: baby gate, baby-proofing gadgets, soft bristle hair brush, infant Tylenol, Vitamin D drops, probiotic drops (for treating gas).

FEEDING

Breast pump — I’m using the Medela Pump In Style backpack pump and yes, this brand is expensive but it’s worth it (it’s hospital recommended). I bought mine used and then just bought all the replacement parts new and still saved a ton of money. Check with your insurance company, some of them cover breast pumps. For hands-free pumping, pick up a pumping bra.

Breast pump accessories — keep in mind that breast pumps come in different sizes to fit your nipples. I had to buy three sets of breast shields before I found the right one for me. You’ll also need bottles to collect the milk.

Breastmilk freezer bags — if you’re able to pump extra milk and save it, do it! Always good to have it when you need it.

Bottles and nipples — don’t buy too many bottles until you know which ones your baby will like (they are fussy little creatures!). We’re lucky and our baby doesn’t seem to have a preference. My favourite is the Comotomo and dad likes the Munchkin Latch. We also like the Boon Nursh bottles. When it comes to bottle nipples, keep in mind that they come with different flow rates, so check what already comes standard with the bottle you’re buying, and you can buy extra nipples with greater flow rate separately.

Pacifiers — our baby has a preference when it comes to soothers, he will only take the Philips Avent pacifier. I love that it glows in the dark so it’s easy to find when he spits it out at night and wants it back.

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Teething toys — our boy has already started teething at 4 months old! The “Sophie” giraffe is a popular item and we also just got a clip-on teether where the strand from clip to teether is made of little silicone beads so that the whole thing is one big chew-toy and our son can bite anywhere.

Formula — if you’re not breastfeeding, it’s obvious that you’ll need this, but even if you plan on breastfeeding it’s good to have some formula on-hand just in case.

Other feeding accessories: bottle brush for cleaning, drying rack, burp cloths, nursing pillow, nursing cover (if you’re shy in public).

High chair — not that you’ll need this right away, but good to be prepared.

BATH TIME

Baby tub, hooded towel (this one is GREAT because the other end of it clips behind your neck so you wear it like an apron, making it hands free), wash cloths, hair & body wash, body lotion (we like Live Clean Baby and Aveeno Baby products best).

PLAYTIME

Activity gym, sensory toys, Oball Bendable Ball, blocks, stacking toys

FOR MOM

FridaBaby Fridet Momwasher (a.k.a. a peri bottle), Tucks Medicated Pads, nursing pads (disposables are great, but I also loved these washables ones), Nipple cream (ask your doctor to prescribe Jack Newman’s Nipple Cream, it’s the best!)

CLOTHING

I recommend you don’t buy a lot of clothing at first, especially not before you know how big your baby will be at birth (you would hate to waste money on clothes that never fit to begin with!). Also, family and friends love to buy cute baby outfits, and you’ll hopefully also receive offers of hand-me-downs from other moms. But you’ll at least want to have some long-sleeved bodysuits, onesies, hats, socks and sleepers to start. All clothing you get, whether new or handed down, should be pre-washed, and I highly recommend Ivory Snow laundry detergent. Not only does it work very well, it also gives clothing and linens that fresh baby scent!

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As promised, here’s a checklist of all my recommended baby registry essentials (email me if you would like me to send you a printable version):

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