Trying to build a baby registry was a lot like having writer’s block. I could not force myself to sit down at my computer and tackle this daunting task. It’s just so much! Sound familiar? I’m here to save you tons of time and energy by telling you all the new baby must-haves for your baby registry! We’ll talk through where to build your registry, the must-haves for first-time moms, what NOT to put on a baby registry, AND provide a PDF version of a baby registry checklist printable. You’re welcome!
Where to Build a Baby Registry
Choosing the right place to build a baby registry is so important because you need to register where the people buying you gifts will shop. I’ll go through some options, then tell you my favorite last.
The big question is, what’s available in your town?
But neither is my favorite.
Many mamas love BabyList because it’s all-in-one. You say what you want, and they show your people where it’s available.
- Major pro: No duplicates!
- Major con: Online only.
And while the utility is great, having purchased from BabyList registries, I just don’t find it to be as user-friendly on the buyer’s end.
My Favorite: Amazon
Not gonna lie, y’all. I love supporting small, local stores.
But when you’re having a baby, you have a LOT to deal with, and the ability to consolidate in one place is a total game-changer.
That’s why my hands-down, no-holds-barred, absolute favorite place to create a baby registry is Amazon.
Almost everyone has an Amazon account, returns are easy, and you literally never have to leave your house.
So while I want you to do what works for you, if you’re asking my advice, it’s to create an Amazon baby registry and be done.
If something isn’t available on Amazon, you can also add to your registry from any website. So it’s basically just like Babylist, but more user-friendly and with free shipping for most of your gift buyers.
Trust me, mama. Right now, your main goal is to simplify.
Plus, they send you a free welcome box with all sorts of items you’ll need!
When to Start a Baby Registry
I recommend waiting until the second trimester, but getting it done well before the third.
If you have a history of fertility trauma like me, then you may be afraid to start too soon. I waited until 24 weeks, when Jack was “viable,” because I knew his odds of coming home with me greatly increased at that point. But I’m a unique anxiety case.
Here’s the argument for starting early. Friends and family want to buy your gifts from the day you tell them about your pregnancy.
That’s just a thing that happens. So if you’re comfortable starting earlier, it’s probably a good idea because then you get to choose what they get you instead of ending up with thousands of clothes they think are cute!
How Do I Know What Brands to Choose for New Baby Must Haves?
Girl! If you think building a baby registry is hard, then just wait until you realize how many different brands exist for every. single.product.
But I’ve got you covered.
Y’all know I’m obsessed with research and safety, so I did ALL the research on every product I purchased. Plus, I have experience using the products to know what I loved, and what I didn’t.
That’s why I’m linking to my favorite products for each of the baby registry must-haves below.
Do the research yourself if you want, or just trust me–I promise, I won’t steer you wrong with these great options.
Can’t-Miss Baby Registry Must Haves (for Seasoned & First-Time Moms)
The list is long, I know, but that’s why we’ve also created this handy printable PDF baby registry checklist.
Print the checklist for your own use, and refer back to this article when making specific choices about what to add to your registry.
How to Use this Baby Registry Checklist
This list, and the printable baby registry checklist PDF, are actually a list of things you need to have before having a baby. They aren’t necessarily things you have to register for.
Most people don’t put major items, like cribs, on their registries.
I’ve also listed “luxury” alternatives–sometimes meaning a more expensive, better product, and other times meaning an unnecessary but really great product. Even if you wouldn’t pay for these yourself, you might choose to add them to your registry.
Note About Common Baby Registry Items Not On This List
Undefining Motherhood is an inclusive space, and we have made every effort to reflect that inclusivity in this list. Different parents make different choices, and that’s okay. We’ve tried to provide something for everyone.
That said, a cornerstone of our mission is to provide evidence-based information you know you can trust. As such, we only make recommendations based on evidence-based safe sleep practices.
While we recommend our favorite baby gear like swings, remember that such gear is not intended for sleeping.
Because current recommendations are that babies sleep on their backs in their own crib or bassinet, we also do not recommend any co-sleepers.
That means you won’t find items like a dock a tot on this list. If you choose to use a co-sleeper, there are tons of sites with detailed reviews.
Not all nursery items are likely to go on your baby registry, but you still want to make sure you have what you need. You can get away with relative minimalism, but these items are definite necessities .
- Crib mattress
- Waterproof crib mattress pad (2)
- Crib sheet (2)
- Changing table
- Changing pad
- Waterproof changing pad cover (2)
- Bassinet (optional)
- Luxury alternative: Snoo
Learn more about creating the best nursery here.
Whether you choose to cloth diaper, disposable diaper, or a combination of the two, there are some supplies everyone needs.
We’ll list those here. Then, we’ll break supplies down into specifics for cloth and disposable diapering.
Diapering Must Haves
You’ll need these items no matter what diapering method you choose.
- Diaper bag (check out our favorite backpack style diaper bags here)
- Diaper caddy
- Butt paste
- Diaper pail (Some people say this item is unnecessary. The neutral smell in my house begs to differ.)
- Wet sack
Other Rash Treatments
Important note about baby registry must haves for first-time moms: Your little love will get so many weird diaper rashes in the early days that you want to be equipped with all the meds. Refer back here when you need to know how to use them.
- Clotrimazole (for yeast rash)
- Polysporin (for raw rash)
- Hydrocortisone cream (for non-yeast rash)
- Triple paste (for all rashes)
If you’re using disposable diapers, you’ll want these items to get you started. If your baby is born bigger than newborn diapers, donate them–I promise there are lots of mamas with tiny babies who will need them!
- Water wipes (an endless supply)
- Newborn diapers (~120)
- Size 1 diapers (~300)
- Size 2 diapers (400+)
- Disposable pail liners
If you choose to cloth diaper, you’ll have some different needs than parents using disposables. Different types of diapers, yes, but also, you don’t want to mix cloth diapers with disposable wipes unless you have 2 diaper pails.
Because where do you put the wipes???? (I’m talking from experience here. Learn from my mistakes.) Here are the basics you’ll need!
- Cloth diaper inserts (~24) – double check to see if the diaper covers you buy come with inserts. You’ll still need extra, but fewer of them.
- Diaper covers (5-7)
- Reusable pail liner
- Diaper sprayer
- Cloth wipes
- Spray bottle for water to use with cloth wipes
I see a lot of people say that special bathtubs for babies aren’t necessary. If you have a good sink for bathing baby, this is probably true. If you’re not highly anxious, this may also be true.
But if you’re like me an basically wanted to sponge bath your child until age 30 because you’re TERRIFIED of putting them in a bath tub, then believe me, you need a dedicated baby tub, AND a tub kneeler so your knees don’t die.
Here are my can’t miss bath-with-baby items.
Clothing is one of those things that I really don’t recommend registering for. EXCEPT that you know you’ll need some basic onesies.
And if you put them on you’re baby registry, you’re signaling to people looking at it that they should not buy you clothes other than those onesies.
Will everyone pick up on that signal? No! Will some figure it out but ignore it? Yes!
But to avoid being slammed with baby clothes you didn’t choose, I suggest registering for these basics. Extra for up to 3-6 months will be super helpful for managing spit-up and poopsplosions.
There are things you’ll need when baby starts crying for no apparent reason, and especially during the teething days.
I don’t recommend getting many of any item because you want to see what works for your child. But you’ll want these basics on hand.
People love registering for toys, but to be honest, it’s a lot to store while you wait for your baby to be old enough to use them.
There will be birthdays and holidays–you’ll have plenty of chances to be inundated with toys as your little gets older.
For now, stick to the infant basics, and honestly, there are very few!
- Activity gym
- Early learning toys
- Tummy time mat
- Musical, spinning mobile (to go over where baby rests awake, not over the crib)
Health & Safety
Obviously we want our babies to be safe, and we want to have what they need when they wake up sick in the middle of the night. But again, that doesn’t require a whole lot.
- Baby safe laundry detergent
- Grooming kit (comes with nail trimmers, hair brush, thermometer, comb, aspirator, et cetera)
- Baby monitor
- Luxury option: Owlet baby monitor with smart sock
- Nose frida
This is your biggest expense and something I highly recommend having on your registry.
It can be really hard to choose between brands here, so I’m explaining my favorites a bit, just to make your life easier!
- Stroller (I give other options in the luxury section, but I recommend the Baby Jogger City Mini bc it’s the easiest stroller to use all-around. You can also close it with one hand! WHAT????)
- Infant car seat w/ base (I recommend the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Nido because of the unrivaled safety features. It was the first car seat in the US to have a load leg for front and rear impact. People ask all the time why I don’t recommend the UPPAbaby Mesa because it’s a favorite among my readers. The honest answer: I’m sure it’s great, but I want the load leg, and 3-4 more years of safety reviews.)
- Convertible car seat (not everyone wants to register for this because you don’t use it with an infant. But it’s a big expense when you need it anywhere between 10 and 16 months. I’ve used SO MANY, and trust me, this Britax one is the one you want! It’s super safe and SO EASY TO INSTALL CORRECTLY! 90% of carseats are installed incorrectly. Use this foolproof one.)
- Baby swing
- Luxury option: 4Moms Mamaroo
- Portable crib w/ sheet (I know, I know. This brand isn’t a pack-n-play. It’s WAY easier if you’re actually traveling with it. Trust me. If you just want to set it up in your living room and have the added functions, then get a pack-n-play.)
- Extra travel crib sheet
- Jumparoo (for when they’re 6ish months)
- High chair
Oh how I love a baby carrier. There are 4 main styles, so I’ve listed my favorite of each here.
- Forward facing structured carrier: LilleBaby (take the quiz on their website to find the best carrier for you!)
- Parent-facing structured carrier: Tula (requires newborn insert for early months)
- Wrap: Solly
- Ring sling: LilleBaby
I recommend not fully stocking up on feeding needs until your baby has arrived. Infant feeding does not always go as planned, so it’s nice to have some flexibility here.
Be prepared with supplies to help you breastfeed if that’s your preference, but also have some bottles on hand in case you need them. I even recommend a variety of bottle types because not all babies drink all bottles well.
Still, here are the basics that you’ll definitely want to have on-hand.
Note: We’re separating breast and formula feeding for the sake of supplies, the two are NOT mutually exclusive! Nursing but supplementing with formula is totally common! So is breastfeeding but feeding pumped milk from a bottle.
You do you, mama!
Feeding Needs for Everyone
Whether breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or both, I recommend having all these supplies on hand.
- 4oz bottles (4, different brands/styles)
- 8oz bottles (4, different brands/styles)
- Bottle brush
- Bottle nipple brush
- Drying rack
- Baby-friendly dish soap
- Sanitizing steam bags
- Luxury option: Bottle sterilizer
- Dishwasher basket
- Burp cloths (4-6)
- Bibs (4-6)
- Formula (optional) – I love HiPP, but this website has lots of amazing, super high quality formulas!
New Baby Must Haves for Nursing Moms
Planning to nurse? Cool! I still recommend having the above supplies.
You can even keep the bottles in boxes in case your baby breastfeeds like a champ, but if they can’t latch, you need bottles!
Breastfeeding (Trust my brands here. I know this too well.)
- Nursing Pillow w/ cover (Get a Luna Lullaby. Don’t even look at the other brands. Babies love it and moms do too. TRUST ME!)
- Nipple shields (optional)
- Nipple cream
- Breast ice packs
- Nursing pads
- Milk savers
- Nursing bras (2)
- Nursing tank (3-4)
- Sleeping bra (2-3)
If you’re pumping whether for work or because your baby can’t latch, you’ll need these items. I exclusively pumped for a while, so I have very strong opinions here.
- Breast pump and accessories
- Hands free pumping bra (2-3)
- Kiinde feeding system – Let me just rave for a minute. I was furious when I found out after 3 months of nursing and pumping that this system existed a NO ONE HAD TOLD ME!!!! There is an attachment for literally any pump, so you can pump straight into the bag. Refrigerate or freeze the bag, reheat with their custom bottle heater, and then pop into a bottle base and put a nipple on. All you have to wash is the nipple! Bags are recyclable and I gained 2 hours a day back!
Covers and Clothing
If you’re nursing, you’ll need nursing clothing. Whether you choose to use a cover or wrap in public is totally up to you!
Checklist of Extras & Luxury Items
I call these items “luxury,” but I use that term very loosely. What I mean here is that not everyone will choose to have these items, and some of them are quite pricey.
Many, however, are not. They’re simply items you may not choose to include if you’re a minimalist, or if you don’t have the space in your house.
The first 4 are all sleep sacks, and you will want sleep sacks! But which ones depend on your baby, so I suggest starting with a swaddle and then moving to these based on what works best!
- Zipadee Zip by Sleeping Baby
- Nested Bean Zen Swaddle
- Baby Merlin’s magic sleep suit
- Love to Dream Swaddle Up (Jack loved this bc he could have his hands near his face without being woken up by his startle reflex!)
- Binxy Baby for easy grocery shopping.
- Boppy lounger
- Baby Bjorn seat
- Mamaroo by 4Moms
- Baby Brezza (for formula feeding parents. It’s basically a Kuerig for formula.)
High End Strollers
I love, love, love the stroller I recommended above. But sometimes, we have special needs for our strollers, so I’m adding my favorite high end ones here.
- UppaBaby Cruz: Amazing quality, tons of storage space, great turn radius, super comfy. Cons: A tiny bit bulky if you’re in and out of your car a lot.)
- BOB Revolution Jogging Stroller: Perfect for running moms or those who want to push a stroller on trails. You need to up the air in the tires like a bike, but I’m seriously not sure you can destroy this thing.
- BabyZen Yoyo: THE travel stroller. Lightweight, fits in overhead bin of plane, easy to fold. Cons: Doesn’t lie fully flat and needs separate infant attachments.
What Not To Put on A Baby Registry
- Wipe warmer: They’re fine with room temp wipes, I promise.
- Lots of bottles: You don’t know what they’ll like, so save the money and plastic and wait to see.
- Bottle warmer: It’s not that you don’t need one but that you don’t know. I recommend teaching baby to drink formula room temp. Your life will be way easier later! If feeding pumped breast milk, you’ll need a warmer to warm your refrigerated or frozen bags, but wait and see what bottles and bags you’re using before choosing a warmer. In the meantime, just warm in warm water!
- Toys: Aside from the VERY few listed above, they’re too young for them. By the time your baby needs toys, you’ll have forgotten what you have.
- Clothes: Other than the basic onesies listed above to make sure your kid can be dressed, you want to be able to pick out your own, and I promise you’ll be gifted clothes.
- Peepee Teepees: They’re SO cute. But also so unnecessary.
- Baby food kits: You may or may not choose to make your own baby foot, but it’s a long way off. Establish your rhythm first and see if you really need it. (Hint, if you do, ice trays work wonders.)
- Baby blankets: You’ll get hundreds. You don’t need to ask for any.
- Babyproofing supplies: This is a LONG way away, and knowing your kid will help you know what you really need.
- Night light: Baby will learn to sleep better in the dark. Though having one in the hallway to their room isn’t a bad idea if you want it. I just used my phone.
Must Haves for Mom
Let’s face it. After baby is born, people focus on the baby. But YOU, MAMA, have lots of needs too! SO MANY NEEDS!
Here are just a few things you’ll want. Also check out our article on new mom care packages to find some luxuries you might enjoy.
- Thinx (period panties, sized up)
- Postpartum pajamas
- Frida Mom Postpartum Recovery Essentials Kit
- OR Learn to build your own postpartum recovery kit
- Mom’s on Call (my very favorite if you plan to get your baby on a schedule!)
- Your Baby’s First Year, Week by Week
- Baby 411 (basically your user manual)
Baby Registry FAQ
What stores give you free gifts when you do a baby registry?
Amazon, Target, Buy Buy Baby, Toys R Us/Babies R Us, Burlington Coat Factory, Pottery Barn Kids, Motherhood Maternity Stores, and Walmart Baby Registry all have freebies and coupons for you when you sign up for a baby registry.
When should you make a baby registry?
This is a personal choice, as some women like to wait until a pregnancy is “viable” at 24 weeks. We suggest the second trimester.
Do you put registry on baby shower invitations?
YES! Your family and friends will either get you something THEY want for baby, or have no clue what to buy you. Putting your registry on the invitation helps them know what you actually want & helps avoid duplicates.
What are essential baby items?
Essential baby items fall into the following categories: 1. Diapering (diapers, wipes, butt pastes); 2. Clothing (basics such as onesies and socks); 3. Feeding (bottles, breast milk pumps); 4. Transporting (car seats, strollers, carriers); 5. Sleeping (crib or bassinet, monitor)
What should I skip on my baby registry?
Anything with the word “warmer” in it (bottles or wipes). And avoid things you won’t need for a while, like lots of toys, food kits, & baby proofing items.
What’s one item you tell people NOT to put on a baby registry?
Other Pregnancy Articles
- Unusual early pregnancy signs
- When to announce a pregnancy on social media, to family/friends, & at work
- Pregnancy care package
- Hospital bag checklist printable
- Birthing checklist (how to write a birth plan)
- Getting ready for a baby checklist
- How to prepare for labor induction
- Inexpensive maternity clothes
- Drive by baby showers
Trying to Conceive Articles
Katy Huie Harrison, PhD, is an author, mom, recurrent miscarriage survivor, & owner of Undefining Motherhood. She lives in Atlanta with her husband (affectionately known on the internet as “Husband,”) son (Jack), and dog (Charlotte). She believes our society puts too many expectations on women that make womanhood and motherhood restrictive. Her goal is to shift the paradigm about what it means to be a woman and mother, giving all women a greater sense of agency over their own lives. You can find Katy and her work featured in places like CNN’s Headline News, Romper, Scary Mommy, Demeter Press’s Motherhood and Social Exclusion, & more.