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Must Haves for Baby Registry and What You Don’t Need

pregnant woman sitting on bed with baby items holding a note pad making a list of new baby must haves for her baby registry

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Trying to create a baby registry was a lot like having writer’s block for me. I could NOT force myself to sit down at my computer and tackle this daunting task. It was just too 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 registry!

We’ll walk you through where to build your registry; the must-haves for first-time moms; what NOT to put on a baby registry AND provide a FREE PDF version of a baby registry checklist printable. Yesssss!

What is a Baby Registry?

A baby registry is a centralized place where expecting parents can share their wish list of items for parents & baby. Friends and family can visit their baby registry to guarantee they’re purchasing new baby gifts that the family they’re supporting both wants and needs. 

Baby registries typically include items like baby gear, clothing, feeding supplies, nursery furniture, and recovery products for birthing parents. It’s a great way to ensure parents are getting both items and brands they desire for their little ones. 

Some people prefer to choose gifts without a baby registry because they believe those gifts are more personalized, but we recommend buying from the registry if there is one. While people appreciate personalized gifts, this is also a time in life when a lot of new things are coming into their home, and getting them something you know they want and will use really goes a long way in supporting them through what can be an overwhelming process. 

If you do start feeling overwhelmed, take a step back, breathe, and check out our Expecting & Organized Pregnancy Planner, which is the perfect tool for creating your baby registry. It has a full checklist, including an explanation of how to know if you need different items and brand recommendations! 

When to start baby registry?

You can start a baby registry whenever you’re ready. Many people suggest waiting until the second trimester when the risk of pregnancy loss decreases—but we have a slightly different opinion on when to announce a pregnancy and when to create a registry. 

For us, the perfect time to create a registry is when you feel inclined to do it. We don’t suggest sharing it until you feel personally comfortable having baby items in your house, but creating it can be a fun way to connect with your baby, and if there’s a time when you feel excited about it, we say go for it. If you wait until you think you’re “supposed” to do it, it can feel more overwhelming.

When to share baby registry?

Share a link to your baby registry on your baby shower invitations, plus anytime someone asks for the link. 

It’s common when you’re expecting for someone to ask, “Where are you registered?” This is the perfect time to share!

Where to build a Baby Registry Checklist

There are 2 major things to keep in mind when choosing where to build a baby registry:

  • Where will people buying you gifts actually shop?
  • Where can you easily make returns?

You’ll also want to consider things like perks provided: gift baskets, registry completion discounts, free baby products, etc.

But what matters most is that people can get you what you want, and that you can return extras or items that don’t work out once you’re home from the hospital or birthing center.

For in-person or online shopping, Buy Buy Baby and Target are common, great choices.

Online Baby Registry Options

For online-only registries, many mamas love BabyList because it’s all-in-one. You say what you want, and they show your people where it’s available.

But 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.

Definitely the easiest place to put together an online baby registry is on Amazon.

As much as I love supporting small, local stores, when you’re having a baby, you have a LOT to deal with. Truth be told, the ability to consolidate your baby registry must haves in one place is a game changer.

Almost everyone has an Amazon account, returns are easy, and you literally never have to leave your house. Ahhhhhmazing.

Can’t-Miss Baby Registry Must Haves

Think of this list, and the printable baby registry checklist PDF, as new baby must haves.

In other words, you don’t have to put all these items on your registry, but you will want to make sure you have them before baby is born.

Print the checklist for your own use, and refer back to this article when  you want brand recommendations or explanations about why you need certain items.

Not sure what brand to choose? Click the links to see our recommendations!

Nursery Must Haves on Baby Registry

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.

Must Haves

Nice to Haves

New Baby Must Haves for Diapering

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. Let’s do this, mama!

Must Haves 

You’ll need these items no matter what diapering method you choose.

Nice to Haves: 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:

Disposable Diapering

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!

Must Haves

Cloth Diapering

If you choose to cloth diaper, you’ll have some different needs than parents using disposables, so you’ll want to put the following items on your baby registry must haves list!

You’ll need different types of diapers, yes, but also, you don’t want to mix cloth diapers with disposable wipes unless you have TWO diaper pails. Because where do you put the wipes???? (I’m talking from experience here. Learn from my mistakes).

Must Haves

Nice to Haves

Bath Time Must Haves for Baby Registry

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 where babies and water are concerned (unlike me), this may also be true.

But if you’re like me and basically wanted to sponge bath your child until an inappropriate age because you’re TERRIFIED of putting them in a bath tub, then believe me, you need a dedicated baby tub.

You ALSO need a tub kneeler so your knees don’t die.

Must Haves

Nice to Haves

Clothing Baby Registry Essentials

Clothing is one of those things that I really don’t recommend registering for. EXCEPT some basic onesies.

And if you put them on your 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 onesies for up to 3-6 months will be super helpful for managing spit-up and poopsplosions.

Must Haves

New Baby Must Haves for Soothing

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 too much of any one item because you want to see what works for your child.

But you’ll want the following basics on hand.

Must Haves

Nice to Haves

Baby Registry Essentials for Play

People love registering for toys, but to be honest, they are 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!

Must Haves

Nice to Haves

Health & Safety Must Haves for Baby Registry

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!

Must Haves

Nice to Haves

Baby Registry Checklist: Baby Gear

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!

Must Haves

  • 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).
  • Baby swing
  • High chair

Nice to Haves

  • 4Moms Mamaroo
  • 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 car seats are installed incorrectly. Use this foolproof one.
  • 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)

Baby Carriers

Oh, how I love a baby carrier! There are 4 main styles, so I’ve listed my favorite of each here:

  1. Forward facing structured carrier: LilleBaby (take the quiz on their website to find the best carrier for you!)
  2. Parent-facing structured carrier: Tula (requires newborn insert for early months)
  3. Wrap: Solly
  4. Ring sling: LilleBaby

Read more about everything you need to know about baby wearing your newborn!

Baby Registry Must Haves for Feeding

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!

Must Haves

Whether breastfeeding, bottle feeding, or both, I recommend having all these supplies on hand.

Nice to Haves

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’ll need bottles!

Must Haves for Breastfeeding (Trust my brands here. I know this too well.)

Nice to Haves


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
  • Manual breast pump
  • 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!

Nice to Haves

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!

Baby Registry Checklist: 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:

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 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 food, 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 SO MANY. 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.

Baby Registry Must Haves for Mom

Most people don’t put a lot of items for mom on their registries, but since this is a complete list of baby must haves, we cannot forget about mama!

Having a baby is hard work, and no matter how your baby gets into your arms, you are a badass for going through all you have.

Please take care of yourself with these postpartum must haves, whether you put them on your registry, or buy them for yourself.

Safety Note

Undefining Motherhood is an inclusive space, and we have made every effort to reflect that inclusivity in this list of baby registry must haves.

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.

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.

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.

Baby Registry Essentials FAQs

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.

How many items should be on a baby registry?

The number of items on a baby registry will vary depending on your desires, needs, and the size of your social circle. Because many websites and stores offer registry completion discounts, we suggest putting everything you want on your registry so you can save money when you buy what’s left at the end.

What should I splurge on my baby registry?

Splurging on your baby registry is a personal preference. After all, people can choose to buy more expensive items, or not. This is why many people choose a few nice items to include “just in case” someone wants to buy an expensive gift. Splurge options often include smart products, like baby monitors, high-end bassinets, and fancy strollers. 

What’s one item you tell people NOT to put on a baby registry?

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