No matter what, finding out you’re pregnant will always be met with questions. Whether planned or unplanned, first or fifth, each pregnancy is a learning experience. When should I schedule my first doctor’s appointment? What do I want to do differently with my second child? Am I ready for this? These are all valid questions, and ones moms shouldn’t have to attempt to answer alone.
Though it may feel like a lifetime when you’re going through it, pregnancy also means we have around nine months to prepare. Another perk? Baby showers exist. This means that we can be showered with gifts that will either be essential or come in handy when the little one enters.
Planning a baby shower starts with a well-rounded and thought-out registry for guests to select gifts from. The purpose of a registry is to have a guide of items that are either essential, needed, or nice to have for the soon-to-be parents. It can feel overwhelming to start on a registry without any guidance. That’s why we wanted to provide a rundown of baby registry must-haves for all parents-to-be to reference when creating a baby registry together.
Baby Registry Must-Haves
Creating your baby registry can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help with editor- and expert-approved picks for everything you need for your new baby (and for you!) with our first ever Registry Awards. Click here for our top picks for everything from bouncers to baby bottles.
When to Start a Baby Registry
Mamas can begin building their registry as soon as they find out they’re pregnant—or adopting—and add items along the way, although many expecting parents wait until around 12 weeks. It’s best to start the registry early, so you can continue adding to it as you get more recommendations and do more research. And remember, just because you create the registry, doesn’t mean you have to make it public until you’re ready on most registry sites.
How Many Items Should Be On a Baby Registry?
Each registry will be unique and reflect your style. If you’re going for a more minimalist registry, you might only have a smaller list of essential baby products. If you want to be extra-prepared, your baby registry might include significantly more items.
You’ll also want to consider your celebrations before baby’s arrival. Do you have multiple friends, family, or coworkers throwing your baby showers? You’ll want to have a larger registry so guests have options—and you’re getting gifts you actually want.
According to the universal registry site Babylist, their average registrant adds 125 items to their registry. This list of baby registry must-haves will hopefully act as the ultimate baby registry checklist of items to consider.
We’re beginning our list of baby registry must-haves with feeding because, of course, it’s an essential part of baby’s life. Feeding time will look unique for each family, and everyone should strive for a routine that works for them. However, there are a number of universal products that will make the feeding process more efficient and easier to find that routine. Whether bottle or breastfeeding, there are products perfect to add to your baby registry.
There are many options on the market in different price points for feeding baby.
Burp Cloths and Bibs
Feeding can often lead to spit-up, especially when burping a baby. Burp cloths and bibs are great for cleaning up baby as well as protecting clothes.
Used to extract breast milk, a breast pump is necessary for any moms who pump for any number of reasons. There are several different options available, including hospital grade, hands-free, double electric, manual, and more.
Breast Milk Storage
Pumping moms will need storage containers for their breast milk. Options generally come in bags or bottles.
When babies start to sit up on their own and experiment with foods other than breast milk or formula, a high chair will be needed. Look for one that sits baby upright and has foot support.
Plenty of nutrient-dense and high-quality formulas are available to have on hand whether you choose to formula feed, combo feed, or want to have a back up for any unexpected feeding challenges.
Space-saving bottle rack options are great for air drying bottles, pacifiers, and breast pump accessories.
Sterilizer and Baby-safe, Dishwashing liquid
All those bottles, pacifiers, and pump parts need to be washed—a lot. Be sure to have a sterilizer or sterilizer bags as well as gentle dishwashing liquid on hand.
Baby Food Maker
These nice-to-have devices allow us to make baby food from scratch once our little ones start solids.
Life is about to get a whole lot smellier—but it’s worth it, we promise! One of the biggest learn-as-you-go aspects of parenting comes while diapering. We can read up on the best techniques to use when changing a dirty diaper, and probably should, but physically changing a diaper is one of those things we don’t really understand until we’re doing it ourselves. In this category we’re including the essentials like diapers and wipes, as well as some really good-to-have items to put on a registry like a diaper pail.
Babies go through a lot of diapers. Whether you have a tried and true brand already or want to try some out, this relatively low-cost gifting option is a great inclusion. Babies also grow quickly, so don’t be afraid to register for a few sizes if you have room to store them.
Where there are diapers, there are wipes. Parents tend to go through these just as fast, if not faster than diapers, so don’t worry about having too many on hand.
Not necessarily a necessity, but certainly nice to have. The wipe warmer will save baby from the harsh coldness of wipes.
Changing pads go on top of changing tables (see nursery section), and form a barrier between the surface and baby. Choose an option that’s easy to clean—whether you can easily wipe it down or launder it. Some even double as a scale to weigh baby.
Diaper Rash Ointment
You’ll want some of this on hand to prevent and heal the inevitable diaper rash.
Keep the smells at bay with a quality diaper pail to house dirty diapers.
Keep all of the diaper changing supplies in one place by organizing the products in a functional and cute diaper caddy.
A baby registry must-have for leaving the house with a little one. Diaper bags come in a variety of sizes, colors, and price points.
Fanny Pack Diaper Bag
The trendiest item on our list. Diaper belt bags are perfect for mamas who don’t always want to carry around a full diaper bag. And one that friends will love to gift!
Must-Haves for Baby Sleep
When it comes to getting babies to sleep, we often hear one of two cases from the mamas in our lives. Either their baby was heaven-sent and started sleeping through the night almost right away. Or, the opposite, with months of trial and error before finding the perfect newborn sleep routine. The truth is (again), every baby is unique. We never know if our little one will be the type to sleep through anything, or will need their room pitch black with a sound machine going. Having these baby sleep items on hand has the potential to make a challenging situation easier.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends baby sleep in the same room as their parent(s) for the first six months of life. A bassinet is the perfect size to have your baby sleeping safely nearby, and parents have great budget bassinet options all the way up to smart bassinets that respond to baby’s cries by rocking.
Swaddle blankets come in a variety of styles and price points. Learn to swaddle using safe sleep guidelines. Loose blankets should never be in bed with baby.
Sleep Sacks/Wearable Blankets
To add an extra layer of warmth around baby without using a blanket, sleep sacks come in handy and can encourage safe sleep practices.
To ensure baby rests peacefully, a sound machine is great for drowning out noises that may disturb them.
Whenever baby is sleeping on their own, a baby monitor allows us to be in another room while keeping an eye and an ear on them.
Great for both in a nursery and while traveling, blackout shades ensure excessive light isn’t getting into the room and disturbing the baby’s sleep.
Registry Must-Haves For Mom
While it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new baby, new moms need a lot of care as well. Here, we’re sharing some registry must-haves for moms.
Mom’s body will go through a lot while giving birth. To take care of her after the fact, consider registering for a postpartum kit that will include things like disposable underwear, ice maxi-pads (AKA padsicles), a nursing gown, and more.
Moms deserve the ultimate level of comfort, so a nice postpartum robe is, of course, one of our baby registry must-haves.
For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, a quality nursing bra will quickly become a new best friend.
Breastfeeding and pumping can be hard on moms, so having a nipple cream on hand to soothe and heal the skin around the nipples can be incredibly helpful.
Oversized Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is always important, especially as a new mom. Having an oversized water bottle is a handy registry item to consider (especially if you’ve been eyeing that Stanley Cup!).
Who knew a little human could use so much stuff? While it may be surprising how many products can come in handy while taking care of babies, there are products new parents will not want to do without. While a stroller and car seat is a baby gear must-have, there are plenty of other products to consider; from wraps and carriers to pacifiers and baby-proofing supplies.
Safety first! You’ll want to bring your car seat to the hospital as you’ll need it to take your baby home. Be sure to have it installed correctly.
One of the more essential baby registry must-haves is this higher ticket item. There are a variety of strollers on the market and they’re great for any time we want to go for a walk or take baby out of the house.
A lifesaver for many parents, pacifiers can be comforting and soothing for babies.
Bouncer, Swing, and/or Play Yard
Whether a bouncer, swing, or play yard, parents will need a safe spot to put baby down. Just remember to follow safe sleep guidelines. Even if they fall asleep in a bouncer or swing, they should be moved to sleep on a flat, firm surface.
Baby Carrier/Baby Wrap
Babywearing is convenient and can promote skin-to-skin contact between baby and caregivers.
Baby Safety Gate
Safety gates are crucial for keeping babies safe by keeping them out of spaces they shouldn’t be in. Whether it’s another room or stairs, the gate makes sure baby can’t wander too far.
Baby Proofing Kit
These kits are full of helpful products like locks, outlet covers, furniture anchors, and corner pads that ensure our homes are safe for babies. They’re one of the more inexpensive baby registry must-haves we encourage everyone to register for.
Nursery & Decor
One of the most exciting parts about preparing for a new baby is putting together their nursery. From fun themes and color palettes to the cutest decor, this is a great time for parents-to-be to get creative. On top of creativity, there will be some furniture items to add to the list, as well as products to make baby’s new room more comfortable. This is a great place to include fun gift options, including our personal favorites: personalized baby gifts from Etsy.
When babies outgrow their bassinet, it’s time for the crib. This larger furniture item can range in price, style, and size to fit the needs of the family.
There are plenty of great options for crib mattresses at varying price points.
To cover the mattress, you’ll want at least 2-3 crib sheets. Our favorite brands make their sheets with organic cotton, non-toxic dyes, and adorable patterns.
Just like adults, babies can get congested. A humidifier is a great, safe, and effective way to fight nasal congestion.
Another one of the higher ticket items on our list of baby registry must-haves is a changing table and dresser. Most of these dressers are specifically designed with a removable changing table on top for easy diaper changes.
A chair for the nursery is a must-have, especially for late-night feedings. Our favorites include a footrest, supportive arms, a place for parents to rest their heads, and noiseless rocking capabilities.
With all of these baby registry must-haves, we’re going to need a place to put them. Shelves allow for easy organizing of all of baby’s necessary products and toys.
Because babies often come with their own library from parents, friends, and relatives, having a cute bookrack to hold them on is both stylish and orderly.
This is the fun part! We can shop and add all of our wish-list items for decor for the nursery.
Bath & Grooming
Many babies love bath time and it can be a wonderful bonding experience. Register for these bath and grooming products to have everything you need.
Baby bath tubs one of the more important baby registry must-haves as they offer protection from slipping while bathing. Most baths are compatible for both babies and toddlers, making them a great investment up front.
This inexpensive safety feature offers protection from the metal bathtub spout.
From baby shampoo to body wash and lotion, many first bathing sets will include everything it takes to keep baby clean and moisturized!
Baby Grooming Set
Look for a set that includes the essentials like baby nail clippers and brushes to keep cradle cap at bay.
Hooded Towels & Washcloths
Necessary for drying the little one after a bath. Most baby towels even come with an adorable hood and matching washcloths.
An all-over ointment will be a lifesaver for dry or sensitive skin. Use it all-over to combat eczema, redness, dryness, rough patches, or other irritations.
As babies get exposed to the outside world, they’re also getting exposed to germs. Having a thermometer on hand is helpful when baby might be coming down with a cold.
Once baby starts teething, we’ll soon want to start brushing. A finger toothbrush gives us a way to do that without using a harsh bristle brush.
When babies discover their new teeth, they’re going to want something to chew on. Teethers are a safe way to do that, and many can be frozen to help soothe baby’s sensitive mouth while their teeth grow in.
Since babies can’t blow their own noses, nasal aspirators safely suction out the mucus that gets built up.
Another question we may have as parents is, how can we play with baby? It’s easier than you think. Here are some great options to consider adding to a registry to bond with baby through play.
High-contrast flashcards and baby-safe mirrors are low-cost options to keep baby entertained during the all-important tummy time.
Babies are constantly learning. Even when they can’t understand the words, they’re picking up on a lot and they love to hear our voice. Adding books to a registry or encouraging guests to gift books instead of cards is a great way to build up baby’s library. It’s also a great idea to include some of the best parenting books that will help along the way.
Get the most ‘bang for your buck’ with a quality play kit that includes multiple different toys.
Along with books, sensory toys are great for learning as well because they stimulate baby’s senses.
Babies love to kick and will love learning they can control the sound when they kick their legs.
Play Mat/Activity Center
Both play mats/play gyms and activity centers have similar purposes—to provide engaging and stimulating entertainment for little ones. Many options will also grow with baby into toddlerhood.
May we remind you: after a baby shower it’s perfectly normal to be envious of a baby’s closet. With so many cute items, and everyone wanting to include an outfit with their gift, baby’s drawers will be fuller than we can imagine. Add a few of your favorite pieces in the following categories to a registry to get outfits you actually like.
Babies will live in their onesies early on. At several price points, we can find quality, soft onesies that babies will be comfortable in.
As one of the most fun baby registry must-haves, baby shower attendees will love to gift cute outfits for baby.
For as much as most babies sleep, they’ll be in pajamas a lot. Plus, they grow fast and messes happen. Be sure to register for some pajamas with zippers for easy diaper changes (unless baby needs pajamas with snaps for medical reasons) so you never run out.
Keep baby’s feet warm by registering for socks. Then, for leaving the house (or completing a cute outfit), booties will do the trick!