What You Should Really Put On Your Baby Registry
Almost 18 months after my child was born, I still had a shelf full of unopened baby items. With the tags still on. And they were all things I registered for. Let's just say I was not in the most clear-headed when figuring what to put on the baby registry and could have used some real-world help.
Some items on a baby registry checklist—car seat, footie pajamas, stroller, bottles—are things you already know you'll need. But what about those non-essential items? Do you really need a Pack 'n Play and a bassinet? What about a video monitor? To find out what to include on a baby registry, we polled actual moms and dads, and they gave us the rundown on what you—and your kid—really need.
Add these to your baby registry checklist now.
Rock 'n Play ($99.99)
Far and away, moms lauded the Rock 'n Play. It's a bassinet and swing all in one. Also, baby sleeps inside it at an incline, which is helpful for those with gas and acid reflux. Best of all, it's at bed height, so it can double as a sidecar co-sleeper in those first few months. Any item that knocks three others off the list is a MUST.
Video Monitor (starting at $52.24)
Though a few parents were meh about the monitor, most loved it because it saved them from hovering at the door trying to deduce the urgency of their kid's cries. One dad raves about his baby monitor: he can tell at a glance whether the diaper's pee-detecting stripe had changed color—without going into the bedroom.
Portable Playpen (starting at $85.95)
For us, this was an invaluable piece of gear. When our daughter was an infant, she took daytime naps in it, and it also functioned as a first-floor diaper-changing station. When she got a little older, she played in it while I was cooking and couldn't keep close watch. We used it as a travel crib, too.
NoseFrida: This works way better than the rubber bulb for clearing little nostrils. Make sure you stock up on filters.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes ($10.66): The lights and noise distract and calm little ones, and the classical piano music never gets annoying.
White-noise machine (starting at $15.99): Baby will sleep like a metaphorical baby, and not like an actual one.
Breastfeeding supplies: Add to your baby registry checklist a nursing pillow, lanolin ointment or gel pads for soreness, nursing pads for leaks, and a double-electric pump (if your insurance doesn't cover it).
Swaddle blankets (starting at $10.95): The best ones are light and airy, with a breathable open weave.
You should probably wait and see.
Wrap, Carrier, or Other Baby-Wearing Gear
Some moms say they couldn't survive the first year without one, as it allowed them to keep their hands free while their baby napped or snuggled against them. Others feel they're more trouble than they're worth, especially the type that requires you to wrap swathes of fabric around yourself. As one mom griped: "You still have a baby in front of you. I ran into stuff all the time because I misjudged the distance between me and said object."
I was gung-ho about using cloth diapers, until the baby came and I realized I'd rather sleep than do all that laundry. Wait to see how your schedule shakes out; you can always find another way to shrink your carbon footprint.
There are so many feeding-chair configurations that it's worth it to wait and see how you'll use it. We got a standalone high chair as a hand-me-down, but only used it when we didn't eat in the dining room. When we did, we used a chair that hooked onto the table itself or a harness that attached to a full-size chair, like this one.
Some babies never use them. Mine gnaws on the handle.
You will never use these things. Seriously. Never.
Any appliance designed specifically for baby food: Any baby food appliance has a grownup counterpart that is more versatile. You can use your stovetop or rice cooker to steam vegetables and your regular kitchen blender to puree them. This category includes baby-food freezer trays. One dad never used his for their intended purpose: "I now use them to make large ice cubes for cocktails."
Fancy clothes; newborn clothes that go over the head (rather than snap on); anything with buttons: "Nobody wants to deal with a button-down shirt for a tiny baby," says one mom, Meaghan. And guiding a shirt over a newborn's wobbly, delicate head can be nerve-wracking. If you have an event coming up, the baby might need special-occasion clothes, but as Meaghan declares, "PJs and comfy clothes are the way to go."
Changing table: One mom thought she was saving space when she got a crib/changing table combo, but "I ended up changing my kid's diaper anyplace that was handy." A changing pad atop a dresser, the floor, a couch, or even the coffee table works just as well.
Shoes: Is there anything less purposeful than putting shoes on an infant? As one mom put it: "So cute but not worth cramming them on." Also, they always, always, always get lost.
Wipes warmer: "They dry them out." "They get cold as soon as you pull them out of the container." That's just a sampling of the arguments against a wipes warmer.
Pacifier wipes, high-chair wipes, toy wipes: You don't need a different wipe for everything; regular baby wipes are good enough.
Though Aimee stays up to date on the latest food trends for the Guide, most of her meals are served cold and cut into tiny, toddler-sized bites.