For being so little, babies sure need a lot of stuff. Well, that’s what we’ve all been told. In reality, babies really do not NEED all of that stuff. It’s just so cute and we all want to make sure we give our babies the very best so we get sold on things pretty quickly.
In reality, there are a few things that will make your life easier and are worth their weight in gold. There are also other things that you might use once or twice and then they’ll collect dust in the corner until one day you realize your child is 10 and they’re never going to use the amazing jumping soothing thingamajig that Aunt Sally gave you. The final category is made up of things that will actually make your life more difficult. We want to avoid these things at all cost.
With one of my friends having her first baby this year, I sent her the research from when I had Eleanor back in 2013. Then it dawned on me that many of you might be interested in this information too. This list was put together for me by some mama friends before I entered the trenches as a mama myself. I’ve since narrowed it down after traveling as a family for 6 months and figuring out what I REALLY needed.
I do want to put a side note in here. Please realize that every baby is different. Some will be able to sit in a bouncy chair or enjoy swinging for hours. To you mothers, I want to say, I hope you realize how lucky you are/were. Our bouncers and swings sadly collected more dust than I would have preferred so they did not make my must have list. Some of this will be trial and error as you get to know the new little life that will change yours forever.
Also remember that the items you bring into your home are an incredibly personal choice. Please take what you like from this list and feel free to ignore the rest. It really is whatever you and your family feel comfortable with. Our priorities for this list focus on limited space, eco-friendly options, and not wasting money.
Here are the items that I would absolutely have on my Baby Registry List:
First, I highly recommend setting up an Amazon baby registry. I had a shower in three different states so it was nice to not have to worry about what stores were located near everyone and then the bigger items could be shipped directly to us vs. having to haul them home on a plane. Big bonus! The returns were easy too so don’t let that fear stop you.
Almost everyone I know has this car seat. It got so crazy during one of my new mom classes that I started putting a special toy on ours so that it would not get mixed up at the end of the class. This was a great infant car seat and Eleanor was always comfortable in it – of course that meant she fell asleep in the car a lot too.
We wanted Eleanor to sleep in our room for her first 4 months before transitioning to her own room (which was also the office). As space was limited, we opted for a portacrib. It has served us extremely well and was the perfect choice for us at the time. If space is not an issue for you, I’d recommend something like this.
I tried several different carriers/wraps and I think the winners are the Ergo or the Boba. In the end we chose the Boba and are really happy with our decision. With the Boba, you can only carry baby on front facing you and on your back piggy-back style. The Ergo lets you carry like this and with the baby on your front facing out too. There are studies that show carrying a baby front facing might cause hip dysplasia although we did use a Bjorn for a few months without any issues. I will say, the Boba was a lifesaver in Europe. We carried Eleanor all over and she was completely content hanging out on my back. People would even stop me to ask what it was and where I bought it.
I have to be honest and say that I never found the perfect diaper bag. Before we travelled we used a backpack from Dad Gear and while we travelled we used a camera bag that we turned into a small diaper bag from Booq. While traveling, I just learned to keep what we needed to a minimum and we were able to fit diapers, wipes, a couple toys, paci, sweater/change of clothes and a DSLR in a small bag because it was designed well. Now if only I could have found a computer bag that could have doubled as a diaper bag, that would have been amazing.
You have two ways to go here – high chair that hooks to the table or a stand alone. We used this one that hooked to the table and loved it. Eleanor was in it from around 6 months to 13 months when we left to travel. It was a great space saver and I liked having her at the table with us.
If you want a stand alone high chair that still comes up to the table, something like this is great. Our Swiss friends had this so we got to try it out for a month. Eleanor liked it and I can see why it gets such rave reviews. The Tripp Trapp has a small footprint, is made entirely from wood and is environmentally friendly. There are different positions so it can grow with your child as they move through the toddler phase to eating properly in a big chair.
I cannot recommend our Medela breast pump enough. Eleanor breastfed for 18 months and I did not NEED to pump until she was 7 months old. However, a backup milk supply is great just in case you get sick and giving your baby a bottle is a great way for Dad to get involved too. At the time, I was able to get reimbursed for the cost of the pump by my health insurance company so definitely check to see if that’s available to you.
Of course, you are going to need diapers. We started with cloth diapers for the first 13 months of Eleanor’s life. I loved having a service that would pick up the dirty diapers each week and I felt like we were doing something good for both Eleanor and the environment. Once we began travelling, we switched to disposable diapers. Depending on which route you go, I highly recommend asking for diapers (or money earmarked for a cloth diaper service) as gifts at your shower.
Loved our Ubbi Pail. This was perfect for our cloth diapers, but it would be great for disposables too. On the plus side, you can use any garbage bag you want, which saves you money, and the handy top door keeps at the nasty odors contained. It also comes in a variety of colors so it will blend into your beautifully decorated nursery.
A bit gross, I know, but when your little one has a stuffed up nose and you are feeling helpless this will be your best friend. The Nose Frieda is so much better than the bulb aspirator because you control the pressure. The bulb ones from the hospital can suck too hard and hurt the baby.
Extra things to ask for:
As a new mom, you are going to be tired – trust me. Adrenaline is an amazing thing, but eventually you realize that super woman is make believe. To make the first few months as a new mommy more enjoyable the following gifts are great ideas.
- A few visits from a maid or house keeper. You should not feel guilty about spending your time napping or gazing lovingly at your little one. This way you’ll have a clean house too which equates to a lot less stress.
- Pregnancy massage. These are amazing when you are 9 months pregnant and ready for the baby to be here already. Carry that extra weight can wreck havoc on your body and this helps. It’d also be a good idea to have a couple massages lined up for when the baby regresses a bit. These are pretty predictable at 5 weeks and 4 months.
- Food delivery service. Again, you want to spend time with your baby and not slaving in the kitchen. Having food delivery set up keeps you from having to pick up fast food too – which of course is not great for you (or baby) if you’re breast feeding.
NICE TO HAVE:
These are things that are nice to have, but we did not find absolutely necessary.
We thought this was a necessity, but after getting this awesome stroller, we found that we did not use it as much as we planned. It was great for walks when Eleanor was a baby, but after she started to crawl she became too antsy to sit in the stroller for long periods of time and we found it easier to carry her. That said, a lot of our friends chose this stroller and rant and rave about it.
If you’re thinking about having more children, we’ve really liked the Phil and Ted’s double stroller. Our friends have this one and we use it when we meet them at the farmer’s market. Our girls are the same age and they’ll actually ride in it while holding hands. It’s adorable!
If your child can self-soothe, these can be great. We were not so lucky with Eleanor. It only makes sense to if you will use it because they can take up quite a lot of space.
Baby bath tub:
We used a bath sling, but some people love small tubs that fit in your sink. This is really a personal choice. Good news is these items are not pricy so you can try one and see if it works for you.
We started with a sound only monitor and switched to the video kind when Eleanor started rolling over (around 4 months). She insisted on sleeping on her tummy which gave this mama some extra stress. The video monitor was a great solution. If your little one is a back sleeper, you may feel this is an unnecessary purchase.
An awesome cheap alternative is to put an old smart phone to use. We did this with our iPhone 4 when we upgraded to the iPhone 6 while traveling. The purchase of a cheap app (Like Baby 3G) turns your phone into a great monitor that works over wifi and cell networks.
Baby food maker:
There is such a small window of time that your baby will be eating mashed foods, before they move on to eating bite size whole foods. Plus, it is really easy to steam your own veggies using the pots you already have in your kitchen and puree with a hand blender or small food processor. A baby food maker is pricey and just takes up space for a very short functioning period.
Baby wipes warmer:
This can be a tough one to pass up because you want to make your baby comfortable at all costs. However, there will come a time when you are not home and need to change your baby’s diaper. When that happens, you don’t want your baby to flip over a cool wipe. It will make your life easier. Trust me.
Changing Pad Cover:
A good friend of mine said these would just get covered in poop and told me to avoid it. We did and just used the plastic changing pad without the cover. Never caused a problem and it was much easier to clean up as things did happen.
BOOKS TO CONSIDER:
I loved my baby books. They kept me sane when I felt like things were never going to get back to normal. Babies are an awesome new adventure (although not always easy) and it’s great to learn from others who have been down this path before.
What to Expect the First Year: A good overview about how your baby will develop over the first year.
Baby Bargains: Your best friend when it comes to shopping. This book reviews everything you’ve ever considered buying for baby.
Bright from the Start: An interesting look at how a baby’s brain develops with tips for games to play with your growing child.
Wonder Weeks: This book outlines the predictable stages of regression your baby will go through. When the first one hits around 5 weeks, you’ll feel like you’re going crazy and wonder if things will ever go back to normal. Thankfully, this book let’s you know it’s normal and confirms, yes, it’s just a phase (of awesome growth).
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
Whatever gifts you get, do not remove any tags or toss any receipts until you actually use the gift. You will get lots of adorable baby clothes, but you do not know how big or little your baby will be when they are born. They may completely skip the newborn clothes and go straight to 3 months. Or you’ll get seasonal clothes that don’t fit until the weather changes. Keeping the receipts allows you to return or exchange a lot of those items for either different clothes or diapers which you will always need.
Have your baby shower host encourage people to buy stuff off your registry. The worst scenario would be to have a bunch of cute presents, but none of the stuff you actually need. Being stuck running around town returning things while you are 9 months pregnant is no fun. All you’ll want to be doing is laying on the sofa and mentally preparing for parenthood.
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Good luck with you baby shower and congratulations on your new bundle of joy. It’s an awesome journey and I wish you nothing but the best (even if I’ll want to punch you in the face if you tell me your baby started sleeping through the night by week 6).
Did I miss anything? Let me know if you have a must-have item that I forgot. Things are always changing so I’d love to pass on the info to new mamas.