Before Greg and I went to register for our baby shower I thought that registering for a baby was going to be as easy and fun as registering for a wedding. This couldn’t be further from the reality. Registering for a baby is way more stressful, and leaves you feeling like you either need nothing, or everything. While the amount of stuff you actually need lies somewhere in-between, in the beginning it really is closer to nothing. After several rounds of researching, editing, measuring, consulting mom friends, and (of course) exchanging, when Cary arrived we were prepared. All without going overboard, or at the expense of making our grown-up space look like a day care.
Now that I’m a year into this parenting thing and have several friends who are pregnant and about to start the registry process, I’m sharing everything that I learned from the process. I’ve put together a list of the best baby items on our registry, the things that went back, and the items we initially overlooked but quickly became favorites.
1. Rock ‘n Play– The ‘plopper’, as we referred to it- as in, the thing you ‘plop’ your baby in- was the most used item for the first few months. This is what Cary slept in, napped in, and was plopped in when he wasn’t being worn or held. This is lightweight, safe for baby to sleep in, keeps them on their back and in a slightly inclined position to help with any reflux, has soothing vibration and sound options, and folds up into a compact form that can be easily transported around the house, or anywhere else you may go. My tip- go with a model that uses an AC plug to charge the unit over a battery operated model. Other options here, here, and here.
2. Ubbi Diaper Pail– I never thought I could be so in love with a product whose sole purpose is to hold dirty diapers, but this diaper pail is brilliant in its simplicity. Its slim profile and rounded design allows it to fit inconspicuously in a small space. However, with the wide array of colors it comes in, fitting in to any decor is a breeze. Practically, it is compatible with any trash bag, unlike other models which use proprietary bags, and really keeps all of the smell inside. I love the chevron, clouds, and hearts!
3. Baby-Wearing Gear- Baby-wearing is something that can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of your wrap or carrier it is so easy and gives you some freedom in the form of hands-free time. Also, having your baby snuggled up against you and feeling their sweet little breath is possibly the best thing in the world. I used three types of carriers, and found that each to be optimal for a specific use. Sounds excessive, but if you do a lot of baby-wearing (and you should, it’s the best!) you’ll appreciate having options. Oh, and did I mention that all three allow you to nurse hands-free, too?
The first carrier I used is the NuRoo, which is designed to wear your baby skin-to-skin, and is by far the easiest to put on. It is essentially a wrap shirt with a pocket for the baby, and is secured by super strong velcro and a belt which gives support under baby’s hiney. Although it holds up to 25 pounds, this one is particularly ideal in the first 6 months, before they get too squirmy. This was something I hadn’t registered for, and am so glad my friend (and all around super woman) Ashley gifted me- I loved it!
Next up is the Boba wrap carrier, which is one long piece of fabric that you tie onto yourself, the trick being to tie it on so tightly that you don’t know how you’ll get a baby in there. Because you can easily put baby in and out while keeping it tied on to you, this is particularly great for running errands, going out to eat, or at a party.
The third carrier I use is the LILLEbaby. There are a ton of soft-pack style carriers out there that allow you to wear your baby in a variety of positions, and all have their loyal fans. I opted for the LILLEbaby because of the lumbar support pad, and got the Complete Airflow model because that is what was in the store in an acceptable color the day I went, and leaving without a carrier was not an option. Had I compared all of the models before buying one I would have ended up getting the Airflow- it gets HOT wearing a baby! This carrier is great for long walks and hikes, sporting events, and bigger kids that want to move around a bit while being worn.
4. Skip-Hop Mobile– This mobile was not what I originally registered for, and I learned the hard way that not all mobiles are created equal. We started with a wind-up style, which was great, until the music stops after 90 seconds and Cary started screaming. This one is battery operated and stays on for 20 minutes before the auto-shutoff kicks in. It also comes with a remote so you can turn it back on without entering the room and disturbing baby.
5. UPPAbaby Vista Stroller– Nimble enough to navigate city streets and tight spaces, and sturdy enough to take the bumpy terrain that comes with them smoothly. This stroller folds up in one step and stands on its own, taking up little space at home, and making trips in and out of the car a breeze. The sleep-safe newborn bassinet makes getting out of the house with a newborn especially easy, and when you are a new parent, every little bit helps! With a rainbow of colors to choose from, you’ll also look darn good pushing this. I went with navy, but had this one been available when I was buying mine, the leather accents would have swayed me.
6. NoseFrida– Grownups with stuffy noes are miserable. Babies with stuffy noses are inconsolable. This gives them relief in seconds, while only slightly irritating them in the process. Don’t forget the filter refills!
7. Sophie– If you’ve spent any time around a baby, you’ve likely heard of, or seen for yourself the effects of this giraffe on a screaming baby. They hype is real, folks, and if spending $25 on a rubber giraffe for your kid sounds crazy, do it for yourself.
8. My Breast Friend– This nursing pillow is so supportive, and the adjustable strap keeps the pillow clipped right up against you without sliding away from your body. The pillow top is slightly raised on either side so your baby is supported and at your optimal boob height. There’s also a handy pocket to keep a snack, nipple cream, or Apple TV remote, all equally essential in successfully breastfeeding.
9. SleepSak & Easy Access Clothes- This sleep sack that can be worn with arms swaddled in, to the face, or out, kept Cary cozy and content throughout the night. The zip from the bottom also allowed easy access for faster diaper changes, a feature that cannot be underestimated. The inverted zipper feature is so smart, but can be hard to find. Luckily my friend Erin knew what I didn’t and sent Cary two inverted zipper outfits that quickly became our go-to outfits- it was a sad day when Cary outgrew these! The Cat&Jack brand at Target has this feature, and their clothes are so cute! The other brand I loved was Burt’s Bees– all of their clothes are so nice! We started with a nightgown, and then Cary received a few adorable rompers from my friend Elaine, which he wore almost everyday all summer. Once we found something we loved, we wore it on repeat, and it helped having smart, generous friends introducing us to some brands that were functional, and adorable!
10. Freshly Picked Moccasins– At first I got these because they are cute, then I got another pair because they are a far superior option to socks. They stay on and keep Cary’s toes warm, even when we are out walking on a cold day. After a day of crawling around and playing, his feet actually get a little sweaty and are no longer the feet of a baby, they are the stinky feet of a little boy!
11. Ingenuity Booster Seat– This seat clips on to one of your chairs so your baby can eat at the table with you, without adding a bulky height chair. Right now our chairs can easily be wiped down, but if we had chairs that I preferred not be subjected to dropped baby food, I’d get this chair that transitions from baby to kid, and maybe this, which gets great reviews, for eating at the counter, or for travel.
Now for the things I registered for, but ended up going back:
1. Any baby bath- I always found it easiest to get in the bathtub myself and hold Cary when giving him a bath. The actual baby bath felt too cumbersome, and was another ‘thing’ to have to clean, dry, and put away. Now that he’s a bigger boy, he loves splashing around in the bathtub, laying back on me and enjoying being submerged in the warm water. I think some of that has to do with having this routine from the beginning.
2. A pack ‘n play with all the bells and whistles- Pack ‘n Play, changing table, mobile, removable bassinet with vibration- these are all of the features that came with the Pack ‘n Play that we initially registered for, and never used. All of the parts to set the thing up were overwhelming, so we decided to leave it until we needed it. By the time we needed a Pack ‘n Play for an overnight at family’s house, Cary had aged out of all of the features except the actual playpen part, and we had gotten along just fine without them. The bassinet is a clunky, downgraded version of a Rock ‘n Play, you end up changing your kid on the floor more than anywhere else, not to mention that having the whole permanently thing set up takes up valuable floor space! Go with a simple version when the time comes, and have it ship it to your destination for one less thing to pack.
3. Baby bath towels- Baby bath towels are adorable, but they quickly become too small, and using the grownup bath towel that is already in the bathroom is just easier. You’re bound to receive a cute one as a gift, so count on that, and skip registering for a week’s worth of them!
4. Plain White Onesies- With the amount of clothes we received before Cary was born, and the more that were sent once he came and we knew he was a boy, the plain white onesies were cast aside in favor of those we’d received as gifts.
5. A lot of bath products- One year later, and we’re still using the same small bottle of bath wash and shampoo, and only just opened a new lotion. Register for too much, and you’ll have bottles of unopened products hanging around until your kid goes to college. Although with products that are nice enough you’ll want to use them for yourself too, that may not be such a bad thing!
6. Fabric Nursing Pads– I hate the idea of recommending the disposable version of a product over one that can be reused, but this was something that REALLY didn’t work for me. They look lumpy and don’t stay in place, thus defeating their purpose and your morale. These disposable pads are shaped to fit more naturally, and have adhesive strips to secure them in place.
7. Unnecessary First Aid Products- Any medicine for baby will come with a dispenser, additional syringes aren’t necessary. Ear, forehead, or no-touch thermometers can be more expensive and don’t provide as accurate a reading as taking a temperature rectally, necessary for infants. This one and the compatible liners work well.
8. Car Accessories- Anything that isn’t affixed to your vehicle can end up being a safety hazard by becoming a projectile if it comes loose, or in the event of a crash. Mirrors, sun shades, and certain toys that clip to a carseat are included.
What were some of your favorite products, or the ones you didn’t use?