About half-way through my pregnancy, I started to panic about everything I would need – and didn’t yet have – to bring a baby home. I spent hours and days franticly Googling, comparing products and reading reviews to determine the baby registry must haves I needed to add to my own personal registry. By the time Valentina was born, we still didn’t have everything we needed, but it ended up being ok.
Now that I’m well past the baby stage, I’m here to help you determine the baby registry must haves you’ll need for your own bundle of joy because there’s nothing more helpful than recommendations from real moms who have been there. Similar to my what to pack for labor and delivery post, I’m team less is more. Because Valentina came early and we didn’t have everything all at once, it gave me a chance to learn what we actually needed and I could pass on what we didn’t need.
I have many baby registry must haves saved in this list, but there are more in this post.
This should be one of the first items you source because you’ll use it almost everyday. A stroller is something I highly recommend seeing in person so you can test how it rides and get a feel for its other features like storage and general ease of use. I liked having a stroller system that came with a bassinet attachment which we used exclusively for the first six months. I liked that Valentina could sleep in the bassinet wherever we went and that it kept her covered and shielded from the elements and the general public. Once she was too old for the bassinet, we switched it out for the rumble seat. Our stroller system also included rain covers for each attachment so we didn’t have to buy them separately. This is the exact stroller we bought.
If you have a car or plan to go anywhere in a car, a car seat is another must. We originally bought the car seat that fit our stroller system, but when we consulted a car seat consultant (The Car Seat Lady) to help us install it after Valentina was born, she informed us that it wouldn’t fit our premature baby or our car. We promptly returned it and bought this car seat based on her recommendation. It’s one of the safest car seats on the market and Valentina used it well past her first birthday. With the right adaptors it fit right into our stroller system too.
A baby carrier isn’t just useful for travel – I loved using mine in an airport – but also for the early days when your baby just wants to be held all the time and you want to be able to move.
For a more structured carrier that is both stylish and ergonomic, I’m obsessed with Artipoppe – you can read my review here.
For a softer wrap-type carrier that I used when Valentina was much smaller and before she fit the Artipoppe, I used this one which is an Amazon best-seller.
I never knew we would need a travel bassinet until we actually needed one. We bought this travel bassinet for a road trip to Washington D.C. when Valentina was four months old. It was perfect. You could also potentially use it outside (in the shade) and it’s easy to carry. That said, if you want to be one and done on a travel sleep solution that lasts well into toddlerhood, the Guava Lotus is hands down the best investment.
A diaper bag is so personal because while you want it to be practical, you also want it to fit your own style – and be spacious enough to hold everything you need. This SkipHop diaper bag has served me well on all points and it comes with stroller straps!
This 7 AM Enfant baby wrap was my favorite thing we used on cold days and nights to keep Valentina toasty and warm. It worked both in her car seat and also in her bassinet. On extra-cold days in the bassinet I layered a stroller blanket over it and wrapped it tightly around her body below her chest.
If you’re traveling and want to make it easier, a lightweight and compact umbrella stroller is the way to go. We love our compact stroller because it easily folds with one hand and can easily be stored in the overhead of an airplane.
Because Valentina spent the first weeks of her life in the NICU, she learned to eat from a bottle first which turned out to be helpful. I found I liked bottle feeding because I knew exactly how much milk my baby was getting. That said, she struggled with the NICU’s basic bottle so they gave us these wide neck bottles which worked wonders. It does have a lot of parts to wash – I used the dishwasher for it – but we ended up staying with them and graduated to this bigger size until we weaned Valentina off bottles altogether.
Once your baby is old enough to start solids, a high chair is the first order of business. We started out with this Lalo high chair because of the design, but it has been difficult to clean and is a rather large footprint if space is an issue, it’s something to keep in mind.
We also couldn’t have lived without this booster seat which we used in lieu of a high chair this Summer when we rented a house. It firmly straps to any dining or kitchen chair.
For tableware, we bought some bamboo and stainless steel bowls with a silicone grip – this was a great starter set which includes a spoon, a mix of silicone bibs and sleeved bibs for really messy eating.
We started out with purees so I liked these infant spoons with the long handles for feeding. If you’re planning on Baby Led Weaning, you won’t need much else in the way of silverware until the toddler stage (I will write a separate post with toddler recommendations. At this rate, it will likely be finished when my daughter is a teenager!
As we prepared to wean Valentina off the bottle, we introduced straw cups. This was probably the most stressful for me because so many of the cups we tried leaked and the ones that didn’t weren’t clear (we found Valentina likes to see her milk inside the cup). I wanted to get the perfect straw cup which made our transition slow. Spoiler alert: There is no perfect straw cup so try a few. Early on, we started with a weighted straw cup to help her learn how to drink from a straw. I didn’t love it overall, but it was a good learning cup for her.
For water on the go we used these learner sippy cups. As she got older and drank more water (Valentina loves water), we upgraded to a bigger sippy cup. For on-the-go snacking, this is a great silicone snack cup.
For daycare I found this adorable little Thermos container to keep food hot (they won’t re-heat anything) and this bento box for cold/room temp food. I also couldn’t resist and bought her this Pottery Barn Kids lunchbox which fits the bento box perfectly.
We were clueless about
bath tubs everything so took advice from a sales associate who recommended a convertible bath tub and we’re glad we did. From infant to toddler, this tub has grown with Valentina. Your needs may vary depending on your home and bathroom set up and some people prefer different bathtubs for each stage, but I’m always team less-is-more and like to make do with what I have.
I learned very fast that Valentina has sensitive skin and mild eczema so I stuck with very basic bath products for the first year. For diaper cream we used Aquaphor, which I also used this as a moisturizer lotion on her skin when she was a newborn and infant. Using this, she never got a diaper rash.
In the bath, we used Puracy on her skin and hair because it’s so gentle and hypoallergenic.
This was her first bath book and toy set which she loved.
I am partial to these hooded infant bath towels which were thick and warm.
Swaddles and Sleep Sacks
Swaddles and sleep sacks are always the hot topic of conversation among moms. Let me say that we tried every sleep sack hoping it would be the answer to our sleep woes. At the end of the day, the only thing that worked was a gentle method of sleep training. That said, the sleep sacks I really loved at each stage of development were: these which mimicked a swaddle but are much easier than actually swaddling. This was a good transitional sleep sack for us to help with the morrow/ “startle” reflex and eventually transition into these blanket-like sleep sacks exclusively.
Every nursery needs a sound machine. This is the one we love because it plays lullabies, white noise and even has a built-in ok to wake clock for when your baby becomes a toddler. You can program it to turn on and off at designated times. It packs easily so we take it with us whenever we travel.
Bassinet and Crib
I chose our bassinet for aesthetics alone but ended up loving it. It’s makes such a statement that we’ve kept it as a place to display Valentina’s stuffed animals in her bedroom. After she graduated from the bassinet, we bought this sturdy mini crib to save space and we’re still using it comfortably.
Another can’t-live-without nursery item is this baby monitor and HD camera. It basically runs itself and all the stats and sleep information you would ever need is accessible right on your phone.
Clothing is so individual and you get so much of it as gifts, but these are a few of the items that worked for us for beach/pool/hot weather and a couple other special outfits we found.
Winter Coat: We tried a few different winter coats and ended up really liking the winter coats from Primary – they’re washable, affordable, comfortable and fit well.
Winter Hat: Hats were a big buy and try item for us but I found the best hats to be a fleece-lined hat with a chin strap to keep it in place.
Snowsuit: A MUST if you have a Winter baby! Snowsuits are perfect for keeping your baby warm without a lot of bulk. You can layer them over onesies or pajamas then put your baby in a carrier, stroller or car seat and skip the Winter coat altogether especially in the very early months. I’m obsessed with this snowsuit for a newborn because it snaps to create legs openings but can also unsnap if you wish to keep it more like a gown depending on whether you’re using it in a bassinet or carrier.
Pajamas: Pajamas are also a matter of personal preference. Babies grow fast and wear pajamas A LOT so expect that you will be buying a lot of PJs. We started with organic cotton footie pajamas but I learned quickly that Valentina is tall so I started buying organic cotton footless pajamas. For newborns, though, if you’re doing middle of the night feeds and diaper changes, do yourself a favor and get these magnetic pajamas.
Shoes: Pre-walking, these were the cutest and coziest bootie-like option to keep Valentina’s feet warm. I got the 3-pack linked here.
As soon as she started crawling everywhere, I bought a large and very chic play mat similar to this one. It was also helpful for those early walking days when there are lots of falls.
For the first year especially, I really liked the Lovevery play kits. It takes all the guesswork out of buying developmentally appropriate toys. Click here for my Lovevery review discount code.
Some of Valentina’s favorite books were the books that came with the Lovevery play kits and also the classics like Good Night Moon, Llama Llama Red Pajama and this series of books meant to teach sign language. She loves the pictures of the kids and it gives us an opportunity to make up stories and narrate. Board books are the way to go for little hands that like to tear paper.
Baby Loungers and Jumpers
One thing I learned as a new mom is not to overly rely on “containers” for your baby – the best place for a baby is on the floor! That said, sometimes you want to put your baby down on or in something. In the early days we used this baby lounger and as Valentina grew and learned to roll, we used the Doc a Tot, which of the three mentioned here is a baby registry must have. Finally, as she got older and stronger she loved being in this jumper and activity center.
We wanted to save space so never invested in a full swing, but we used this bouncer as an alternative and Valentina was mesmerized by the lights and music.
If there’s one thing that many people overlook when considering baby must-haves for a baby registry, it’s muslin swaddle blankets. I couldn’t get enough of these. I stashed one or two in the diaper bag which came in handy to drape over the stroller on walks or for nursing or as an extra layer to keep my baby warm in the car seat. They’re also great for tummy time, laying your baby on them during infant classes and burp cloths in a pinch. Of course, we also used them for swaddling. They’re multi-purpose!
If you live in a cold climate, stroller gloves are a necessity for keeping your hands toasty as is a stroller caddy for stashing all of your personal belongings (goodbye, designer handbags!).
What have I missed? Is there a baby registry must have you couldn’t live without? Are you working on your baby registry and have a question for me? Ask away!