Baby Registry Checklist – from Someone Who Knows

You may find a lot of baby registry checklists on the web.  Many of them come with standard items that you probably don’t actually need.  Very few actually explain why you need what you need or what to look for.  In addition, some checklists aren’t complete.  We experienced a lot of surprises and things we had to pick up last minute.  Here is what I have found you truly need your first year with baby.

The following is a list of everything you will need your first year with your baby.

Scroll to the bottom for a printable list!

Where to Register

Before you look into what to register for, you should consider where to register.  I would recommend registering at Target or Amazon (please note my disclaimer below, I am an Amazon affiliate).

The nice thing about using Target for your registry is that most people think to check there, whether you’ve told them about it or not.  In addition, you might get so many Target gift cards you don’t know what to do with them!  However, Target tends to be more expensive than other retailers.  If you are registering at Target, check each item to see how the price compares to Walmart or Amazon.  If the item is more than 15% higher than either of these stores, I will register for it elsewhere.  Another perk of registering with Target is that it supposedly provides you a welcome basket, but I was never able to get mine at the store.  Customer service looks at you like you’re nuts.

Amazon is my preferred place to register because it has a wide variety of products to choose from.  If you join Amazon Prime and purchase at least $10 off your registry, they will send you a welcome box valued at $35.  In addition, having Amazon Prime will be helpful when you bring your bundle of joy home from the hospital and realize all the things you forgot!  Get a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime here.  Amazon also offers a 10% registry completion discount.  The discount increases to 15% off with a Prime Membership.  If you register with Amazon and sign up for Amazon prime, don’t forget to try out Amazon Family for special discounts on diapers, wipes, formula, and other baby supplies.  Your first days home with your baby go so fast – you will be surprised how many times you need to “run out” to get something for your baby.  It’s much easier to have those items come directly to your door!

Not all the items on the list are conducive to baby registries – your friends and family may not want to purchase mundane baby supplies.  You may feel awkward asking for breastfeeding supplies.  Your friends and family will want to give you clothes, bibs, blankets, and toys that you didn’t register for because it is fun for them.  Therefore, I have listed in bold items that are particularly good for your registry.  Even if you plan to purchase the following items yourself, add them to your registry – perhaps after your baby shower.  Target and Amazon’s registries offer completion discounts.  Anything on your list that was not purchased for you, you can get for 15% off if you are an Amazon Prime member or 10% if you are not.  That’s a pretty good deal!  At Target, the completion discount is 15%.

 

Photo courtesy of Modern Hello photography in Wichita, KS

Breastfeeding

It’s not as easy as you may think to breastfeed your baby.  It actually takes a lot more supplies and hard work than just placing your baby to your breast.  For additional tips on getting breastfeeding started, check out my post here.  If you’re not certain if you want to breastfeed or not, consider 11 Reasons to Breastfeed or 10 Reasons to Feed Your Baby Formula.

  • Breast pump – Your insurance should cover one, but I like Medela because that is what is used in the hospitals.  If you have a Medela pump, you can take your pump parts with you to deliver and then hook up to their hospital grade pump.  The easiest way to obtain a pump is to call your insurance.  They will tell you what pumps are covered and what steps you will need to take to get one – most likely obtaining a prescription from your OBGYN.
  • Remember to purchase your pump parts separately
  • If you are going to be pumping a lot, for instance if you are going to be exclusively pumping or if you are planning to pump when you go back to work, you may also need:
  • Hands free pumping bra – take this to the hospital.
  • Silicone breast pump – these are great for getting a little extra milk during a feeding.  You can attach to one side while feeding the baby, and it will catch the let down.  It is also portable and doesn’t use electricity, so it’s great for travel.  Find out 8 uses for a silicone breast pump here.
  • Breastmilk storage bags – I suggest you purchase brand name Lansinoh bags.  I had three Target brand bags develop holes in the freezer!
  • Nursing pillow – I like the Boppy, but many mothers swear by My Breast Friend.
  • Nursing pillow cover – Get two to swap out.  Especially early on, you will find your baby tends to spit up, even when nursing!
  • Nursing cover or scarf
  • A comfortable chair with a footrest for nursing (preferably a rocker).
  • You may also need:
    • Nursing pads
    • Nipple cream (although coconut oil works very well)
    • Nipple shields

Feeding

Bottles and Formula

Whether you are breastfeeding or formula feeding, you will still want to get at least a few bottles so that you can have someone else look after your baby.

  • Bottles – Don’t purchase too many bottles yet.  Buy one brand and see if your baby likes them.  I personally recommend Dr. Brown’s bottles because they help with gas and have low flow nipples shaped like a mother’s.  Once you find what your baby likes, you may want to get up to 10 bottles, depending on how many bottles she is taking a day and how often you want to be washing bottles.  Also, if you intend to breastfeed, keep bottles small – 4-5 ounces.  If you are formula feeding or exclusively pumping, you may want to look into getting some larger bottles as baby grows.
  • Pacifiers – Similar to bottles, wait to see if your baby likes the shape of the pacifier you have before you purchase tons.  Update the pacifier as your baby ages and always purchase orthodontic pacifiers.
  • Bottle cleaning basket for dishwasher – I never used a fancy bottle drying rack.  I just let the bottles dry over a towel that I traded out every day.  However, with all the tiny little bottle parts, I did need something to help me run them through the dishwasher.  A dishwasher basket saved me hours of time.
  • Burp rags – Get about 7 for the newborn burping phase and then keep them around as handkerchiefs when your baby is older.  She will want to tear up facial tissues, and a rag is easier to wipe with.  Plus, it is reusable, so it is more environmentally friendly than traditional facial tissue.
  • Bibs – My confession is that I rarely use bibs for eating.  The baby gets food everywhere regardless, so I just resign myself to changing her outfit after a messy meal.  You may want to register little bibs for teething.  When baby starts to teethe, she will drool like crazy!  My advice would be to not register for bibs for an older baby.  Your friends and family may want to make or purchase these for you, and they will likely do so without consulting your registry.

Look for a wooden or plastic high chair – unlike the one pictured – it will be easier to clean up after your baby.

Starting Solids

You will be starting solids in the middle of the year, so don’t forget to register for these items.

  • High chair – Don’t get a high chair with too many bells and whistles.  Remember, your baby won’t be eating until she’s at least six months (per the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatricians).  Go for something easy to clean – preferably without cloth straps.  This high chair from IKEA is both affordable and simple.  Better yet, opt for a booster seat that is easy to clean and transport.  Another benefit of a booster seat is that you can transition your baby to sitting with you at the table, which will help her when she is learning to eat solids.
  • CupsSee my post on the best baby cups.  I like the Munchkin 360 Miracle Cup to prevent spills and to help with speech development.  My second choice are Nuby’s Wash or Toss straw cups.  When I mentioned introducing liquids to my baby, my pediatrician recommended I just purchase one brand of cup and stick to it.
  • Spoons – When baby is first learning to eat, I like Num Num spoons.  They come in a two pack where one spoon almost looks like a bubble wand.  This is the starter spoon that allows the baby to dip the spoon into her food and then taste it.  The second spoon is a flattened wand to provide a larger portion size of food as baby advances.  They have a silicone tip that is great for teething!
  • Utensils – After she has graduated from the Num Nums, your baby will need a set of spoons and forks to practice with.  I recommend plastic tipped utensils so that she doesn’t hurt her teeth on them such as Re-Play utensils made from recycled milk cartons.
  • Plates – Until she’s older, baby will just tip plate over and knock the contents on the floor.  But once she has the self control for a plate, look for sturdy plates with high edges that you can put several portions into.
  • Snack cup Once baby starts finger foods, you are going to be up to your ears in Cheerios.  Get a little cup with a silicone lid that allows your baby to access her snacks without making (too big of) a mess.  They’re like sippy cups for food!

On the Go

  • Travel system – I could go on for hours on what to look for in a travel system.  However, instead I will just point out why you need one.  When your baby is little, it is easiest to carry her around in her car seat bucket.  You will want a stroller that allows you to put the car seat in it, because you don’t want to be jostling a little baby in and out of her car seat all the time.  In addition, I have found the stroller part of our travel system was a lifesaver when it came to getting out of the house as a new mom.  I could go into any public place with my stroller, and I had room for my diaper bag underneath.
  • Get a base for your travel system for your spouse’s, parent’s, and in-law’s cars if the baby will be riding in them often.
  • Car mirror – This has been one of my favorite baby purchases!  It is wonderful to be able to see if my baby is asleep, awake, or distressed while I am driving.  She looks at the mirror for entertainment, and when I am at a complete stop, I turn around and make faces at her.  Don’t forget to get a second one for your spouse’s car as well.
  • Diaper bag – Opt for a bag with a backpack option which are both stylish and functional.  They hold so much more than a traditional diaper bag and keep things organized, too.
  • Umbrella stroller – Look for a find at a garage sale or baby resale event.  When your baby is older and able to sit facing forward, the umbrella stroller will help you stay mobile and will be easier to transport than your larger travel system.
  • Travel bassinet – If you plan to travel a lot with your little one, or if you are going to be having naps while at the in-laws, look into a small bassinet you can travel with.  You can also use a small bassinet to set up a second sleep site for baby in your house – this is very helpful during those early months when baby takes a lot of short naps.  You can put her to sleep in the living room and go work on some dishes in the kitchen.
  • Blanket – Look for a blanket that is larger than swaddling blankets and not too puffy so that you can transport it easily.  You will want to carry this in or near your diaper bag so that when you go to play dates you have a place to lay your baby.  A good blanket will have two distinguishable sides so that you know which side hits the ground and gets dirty.  Hopefully you are lucky enough to have someone in your family who can make a special baby blanket or quilt!  Your baby will treasure it all her life.
  • Baby carrier – I have yet to successfully wear my baby, but I have the Infantino carrier, and that works well for long trips with the baby.  It doesn’t work well for day to day baby wearing, because it is so hard to get her in and out.  I would like to try the Moby wrap with my next baby.  Look into joining Baby Wearers International and lending from their library of baby carriers.  You can find out what works best for you.
  • Car seat covers – You will want something light to cover the car seat from the sun in the summer – a light blanket can work, but you may want a way to attach it.  More importantly, look for a snug, warm car seat cover for winter.

Dressing

Do not buy too many newborn clothes – these days it seems babies are running large, and you don’t know how long your baby will be in newborn clothes.  We had some cute outfits that we literally wore once.

In general try not to purchase or register for new clothes.  (Ask around for hand me downs or look at garage sales or infant resale stores).  But when you do, look for sales at Kohl’s or other department stores.  At Kohl’s we like to purchase clearance baby clothes when we have a 30% off coupon.  Walmart also sells very cheap baby clothes – including brands like Carter’s and Disney.  Sometimes you can even find these on sale.

Know that you will likely get a lot of clothes from friends and relatives – both new and hand-me-downs.  People enjoy buying toys and clothes as gifts and won’t necessarily purchase based on your registry.  If you want a 10-15% completion bonus, go ahead and register for some cute outfits.  But be realistic in quantity – you may be up to your ears in clothes you never even asked for.

There are some additional supplies for dressing that you want to make sure to add to your pre-baby checklist:

  • Hat – Get your baby started early wearing hats.  They help shade her eyes and head from the sun, and they can keep her head warm in winter, too.
  • Mittens – You may have some baby mittens for your newborn to keep her from scratching herself, however I am more concerned with winter mittens.  Make sure to be prepared for cold weather.
  • Sunglasses – Start your baby wearing sunglasses early so she doesn’t learn to tear them off her face.  Look for sunglasses with a cord around the back of the head.  If she can’t get them off easily, eventually she will stop trying.
  • Headbands – If you’re having a girl, get her started early using headbands.  You don’t need too many, though!  Find a few cute ones you can mix and match with her outfits.
  • Sweater – Have a sweater to keep baby warm in the winter or in cold air conditioned locations.  Also, a light long sleeved shirt is essential to keep baby’s sensitive skin protected from the sun.
  • Pajamas – Get 3-7 pajamas depending on how much you want to do laundry.  Footie pajamas can be substituted for day clothes easily, so you really can’t have too many PJ’s.
  • Outfits – I recommend getting 7-14 “outfits” – enough for two per day.  Newborn babies are famous for spitting up and blowouts.  We technically could have gotten away with only 4 outfits because we were doing laundry every day.

Diapering

Look at setting up at least two diaper changing stations around your house, especially if you have multiple floors.  A diapering station can be pretty simple – a mat to lay the baby on, a few diapers and wipes, some diaper cream, and a trashcan lined with plastic bags.  You can put these essentials into storage cubes and keep one in every room in the house if you like!

Don’t purchase too many diapers ahead of time.  Your baby may have a skin reaction to a certain brand.  In addition, you don’t know how long she will be in each size.  You will go through newborns in the blink of an eye, 1’s and 2’s fairly quickly.  We are in 3’s now and it looks like we will be for quite some time.  I recommend signing up for Amazon Family to get a 20% discount diapers delivered right to your door.  You can sign up for a 30-day free trial here.

Don’t purchase wipes or diaper rash cream ahead of time until you learn what is easiest on your baby’s skin.

Here are your diapering essentials:

  • Changing table
  • Changing pad – make sure to measure the dimensions of your changing table and choose a changing pad that fits
  • Changing pad cover
  • Trashcan and bags – you don’t need a fancy diaper pail.  As your baby gets older and her poop starts to smell, you will want to remove each poopy diaper to the outside of the house as soon as possible.  So having a large, deep diaper pail to accumulate diapers in won’t matter when you’re changing out the trash bag every day.
  • Coconut oil – I do recommend some coconut oil for painful diaper rashes, cradle cap, or just to moisturize baby’s skin.  You can also use it as a nipple ointment.

Play

Don’t purchase or register for too many toys.  Friends and relatives may want to give baby some toys, and they will enjoy picking some items out themselves.  Further, your baby will inevitably not want to play with the real toys you buy for her.  I would avoid sound making toys as much as possible – they can overstimulate the baby.  Besides, non-electronic toys help your baby’s motor and problem solving skills as much or more than the bells and whistle variety.

You should get certain large toys at garage sales and baby resale events, including:

    • Bouncers
    • Swings
    • Exersaucers
    • Sit and play / Bumbo chairs
    • Activity tables
    • Activity gyms

Other toys your baby may love:

  • Rattle – She will love the sound this makes, and she will love making it rattle herself.
  • Blocks – For baby’s first blocks I would recommend either the soft teething blocks or a block sorter.  It will be a long time before she sorts the blocks, but you will have it ready for down the road.
  • Donut stacker – Such a simple toy can be very entertaining.  My 19 month old niece still loves stacking these.  If you don’t get a traditional donut stacker, get some sort of stacking toy.
  • You can never have too many teethers
  • One Lovey – get at least two of the same Lovey for wash days, but don’t fill baby’s toybox with stuffed animals just yet.  Watch out for stuffed animals that have eyes sewn on to their heads – these are not approved for children under the age of three and present a potential choking hazard.
  • Storage cubes – I keep one of these in each room filled with various toys.  Then I have another cube that I rotate in and out of the loop to keep things interesting.  I also use these cubes to organize her clothes.  I have more cubes than cubbies even!

Baby Proofing

  • Play pen – I like a pack n’ play for younger babies, but older babies may want to crawl around and explore.  You can get large area baby yard that will keep your baby safe while she exercises her new found skills.
  • Baby gates – these are hard to shop for because every house is unique in its doorways and stairways.  Try a home improvement store for some advice on where to find gates for unique entries.
  • Outlet plugs – Get small outlet covers that slide back to allow you to plug a device in.
  • Toilet bowl clamps
  • Door handle covers
  • Door and cabinet locks

Sleep

  • Crib – I would purchase a new crib for safety reasons, but I wouldn’t spend too much money on it.  You need a safe place for baby to sleep in her own room.  A new crib will need to comply with safety standards but doesn’t need a lot of additional bells and whistles.
  • Bassinet – For at least the first six months you should sleep with the baby in your room.  I recommend a pack and play with a bassinet attachment.  That way, when baby graduates from the bassinet, you have a safe place to put her when you are indisposed.
  • Crib and bassinet sheets
  • Waterproof mattress pads for the crib
  • Receiving blankets – We didn’t use these very often, but you may want one or two to have handy if you want to snuggle with your baby.  Remember, she is not supposed to have blankets in her crib until she is a year old, so there’s no point on stocking up on warm blankets.
  • Sleep sacks – I love the Halo sleep sacks because they swaddle the baby when she is a newborn.  As she gets older, the sack still covers her and acts as a blanket, but allows her arms to be out.  Get at least two for when spit-ups happen.  For winter, get fleece sacks, for summer, get cotton.  Look into getting at least a few sizes of the sleep sack – your baby will grow out of her newborn sack before you know it!  Find out more about why I love sleep sacks here.
  • Gloworm – You only need one nightlight / white noise machine.  The Gloworm is a great toy because it will play some soothing music, shine a soft light, and calm baby down when going to sleep.  As she grows, she can play with it as a regular toy, and she will enjoy hitting the button to turn the music on and off.
  • Baby monitor – For a baby, you only really need a sound monitor, not a fancy video monitor.  However, by toddlerhood, you will want to see what is going on.  So go ahead and get the video monitor now.  Read reviews to see what others are saying about your monitor.  For instance, ours was a gift so we only found out after we got it that it had a low battery life.  Plan ahead now to see where you will place the monitor.  You may have to mount it on the wall somewhere to properly see the crib!

Bath and First Aid

You don’t need anything fancy for bath time.  For the first few baths, we had a baby tub that we received second hand, and it was helpful.  Some people use the sink, because you are giving baby a sponge bath anyway.  We quickly graduated to sitting in our bathtub, holding the baby so she didn’t fall, and you could technically do this from the beginning as well.

You can purchase baby washcloths and baby towels or just look for extra soft towels and washcloths.

As with diapering, don’t purchase too many shampoos or baby washes too early.  Wait to see if your baby reacts.

Don’t worry about getting a medicine dropper – most medicine should come with one, and if not, just ask your local pharmacy for one.  They are usually happy to help out.

Here are some items to register for that may really help out:

So there you have it – everything you need for your new baby!  Have fun with this – look for things that catch your eye or have special meaning to you.  Each of these items will have a pivotal place in your life during these good old days.

Get the PDF version of this checklist here: Baby Registry

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