When I was expecting my first baby, I was overwhelmed by the baby registry process. The options were endless, but I also felt like if we didn’t get every hot new baby contraption, we were somehow already failing as parents (The mom guilt starts early).
But did we actually need this much stuff?
After three babies and lots of stuff, the answer is: no, we didn’t.
Over the past five years, we’ve splurged, we’ve saved, and we’ve borrowed our way through many of the most popular baby items.
Obviously, everyone’s parenting experience is different, so these are simply my mom-to-mom (or dad) opinions. Here are the ones I’d buy again—plus, ones I’d splurge vs. save on.
A High-Quality Stroller
The UPPAbaby Vista Stroller is no doubt a big-ticket baby registry item. There are certainly less expensive (and still great) stroller options out there, but there’s more than one reason why the UPPAbaby Vista is a mom favorite and bestseller in the stroller category.
The Vista’s design allows for multiple configurations, making it great for the newborn through toddler years.
Adding a second or third seat to it is super simple should your family expand down the line.
Older kids can stand and ride on the piggyback attachment (I can get all three of my kids moving in this one stroller).
The infant bassinet easily detaches from the stroller base and baby can safely sleep in it.
The under-seat storage area is huge—great for lugging all the toys, stuffed animals, scooters, helmets, snacks, blankets, and everything else my kids just have to bring.
A Smart Baby Monitor
A baby monitor is a must have, and I’ve gone through a number of them. From bad video quality to bad battery life to just downright bad, I never liked a baby monitor until I switched to a smart monitor.
I have and love both the Owlet Cam and the Miku Pro, especially because I can see the baby from anywhere on my phone, even when I’m not home. While pricier than some other options out there, I would have saved money by going with one of these from the start instead of making my way through three other monitors first.
With HD night vision and 4x zoom, the picture on this cam is clearer than most other monitors.
For more than one kid, you can add additional cameras.
It has several customizable settings, like keeping the volume on even when the app is closed so you can still hear the baby.
A Safe, Comfy Place to Set the Baby
A soft blanket and safe floor space can be a great spot to set baby down for a bit, but sometimes you want to place baby in something a bit more comfortable, a little closer to you, or, you know, where getting stepped on isn’t a risk.
Its ergonomic design allows your baby to play or rest while you’re not holding them, using baby’s own movements to gently rock.
It’s also lightweight (6.6 pounds) and easily portable, so you can take it to a visit to grandma’s, a playdate, or on a road trip.
With four different positions, the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is a good option for newborns all the way up to age 2, so you’ll get plenty of use out of it.
The Dock-A-Tot is not safe for sleeping and should not be used for it.
Designed to keep baby cozy, it’s an ideal spot for letting baby lounge nearby while supervised.
It’s lightweight and portable, making it great for travel.
Adding something like a toy arch turns it into a play area.
The cover is washable, so you don’t have to worry about the inevitable messes that will happen.
A Breathable Crib Mattress
I loved the peace of mind a breathable crib mattress gave me. That said, all crib mattresses must meet certain safety standards from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, so you can rest assured that as long as yours meets them—and you’re following the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep guidelines—you’re making a safe choice.
Made with a first-of-its-kind Wovenaire core that’s 90% air and 10% food-grade polymer, this is more breathable than many other crib mattresses.
Its unique composition also helps stop body heat from getting stuck in the mattress, keeping the baby cool and comfy while they sleep.
The breathable material may also help reduce carbon dioxide rebreathing risk.
GREENGUARD Gold Certified, it has low chemical emissions.
It’s also dual-sided, so you can use it through the toddler years.
The entire mattress is 100% washable from the cover to the inside core material.
A Battery-Powered Bottle Warmer
I was anti-bottle warmer until I tried a portable, battery-powered one. Hot water in an insulated cup worked just fine for me at home but not so much on vacations and road trips.
It's the only cordless, battery-powered travel bottle warmer, making feeding baby on the go much easier.
It fits most wide-neck bottles, or you can purchase adapters to fit others.
It has four temperature options and uses a slow-heat technology to preserve nutrients and prevent hot spots.
The formula dispenser is a game changer for making a bottle while traveling mess-free and easily.
A Comfortable Wearable Baby Carrier
The amount of time I spend babywearing is directly correlated with the number of kids I have. I could have gotten by fine without a baby carrier with my firstborn. A baby carrier was a game changer when we welcomed baby #2 and a full-on necessity with baby #3. After nine months of pregnancy, if I’m going to wear my baby on my body, you can bet I’m going to do it comfortably.
This wrap is comfortable, breathable, and stretchy while providing solid support for babies up to 25 pounds.
It has just the right combination of stretch and stability to hold your little one ergonomically in place.
For wearing baby around the house, this machine-washable wrap is ideal.
This is an editor favorite for a multi-position baby carrier, with four carrying positions that support baby’s hips and legs in an ergonomic position.
The mesh is soft and breathable to keep baby comfortable, and it’s easy to adjust for parents to be comfortable too.
While expensive, it will last from the newborn days through the toddler years.
Items to Save On
A Pack ‘N Play with a full-sized newborn insert can pull double-duty as a place for baby to sleep when they’re still in the room with you as well as a travel staple.
As for the babies who won’t sleep? The SNOO is worthwhile to consider, but it definitely falls on the splurge list.
White Noise Machine
You’ll find this basic white noise machine with one sound in all of my kids’ rooms (and mine too). When my oldest started waking up early when he moved to a big boy bed, we found some relief through one of the noise machine/night light combos that changes color when you want them to wake. But it was short lived for the price.
This uses a soothing sound of rushing air to help mimic a womb-like environment and soothe baby.
The wooshing sound also acts as a noise buffer to keep sounds from around the house—like other kids—from disturbing baby.
You can adjust the volume and the tone to fit each baby’s unique preference.
It’s small enough to travel with you on vacation.
I’ll admit it: I got caught up in the hype of some of the fancy high chairs when I was expecting my firstborn. Our family gifted a pricier one to us, and while there’s nothing wrong with it, my very favorite one that we use more often is this $20 IKEA one.
Hear me out—yes, baby clothes are adorable, and yes, you will want a few special-occasion outfits. Keyword: few. My kids all spent much more time in durable, comfortable rompers, PJs, and onesies than any of the adorably fancy outfits I got them in their first year of life.
After three blowout-prone babies with sensitive skin, name a diaper brand, and I’ve probably tried it. The ones I swear by are the generics.
Who knew there could be so many contraptions designed to rock, swing, and sway a baby? After trying out quite a few (borrowed from friends), the favorite of all my kids was a pretty standard one without many bells and whistles.
Babies are endlessly entertained by the world around them with everything being new. My middle baby’s favorite thing was to stare at the polka dot wallpaper in the laundry room. A few quality, age-appropriate toys are plenty to stimulate and engage a baby. Save your dollars for investing in solid toys when they’re a little older and not so easily entertained.
Items to Skip
Anyone with a baby can tell you how quickly all of the baby’s things take over the entire house. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of the items on this list, these are just the few that I would skip if I went back in time.
I’m sure there are some items here that other moms have on their must-have list—and that’s great! This is just one mom’s opinion.
Jumperoos are designed for older babies, usually around 5 to 6 months old. And a jumper can be a helpful place to set down and occupy the baby while you get a few things done. Personally, our use of a jumper was short lived with my firstborn and non-existent with my second and third, which is why I’d put it on the skip list.
This is another item I’d file on my list of rarely used. My kids preferred to push around big cardboard boxes or other (safe) household items over their baby walker. Selfishly, the noise and music—though it can be muted—was not my favorite thing to hear all day.
Full disclosure: I never had a wipe warmer; it just seemed unnecessary to me. I also didn’t want to get my child used to a warm wipe and then be shocked at daycare or when we were out-and-about with a cold wipe.
This is a bit of a hot take, but I just couldn’t justify the cost of a formula maker when scooping and shaking the bottle myself was so easy. That said, I have friends who swear by this as the ultimate best baby item they purchased.
Similar to the jumper, we didn’t get as much use out of an activity center as I would have anticipated. I found that a blanket on the floor with age-appropriate toys was just as entertaining to them.
Fancy Diaper Bag
Unless you’re going to use it as a regular purse when you’re going out sans baby, I wouldn’t make a big investment in a designer diaper bag. A diaper bag takes a lot of spills, spit-ups and all sorts of other messes. I bought pouches monogrammed with my kids’ names to throw in my purse with their essentials. This has lasted me through all phases, from newborn needs with bottles, diapers, and wipes to preschool necessities like toys, books, snacks, and beyond.