No one meets as many mommies-to-be and newborn noobies as a labor and delivery nurse. On a busy day, a labor and delivery nurse may not have lots of time to chat about their patients’ favorite baby registry items, but when I do have the chance I always like to ask!
The stories our patients share as they experience childbirth is 75% of what makes delivering babies such a special experience.
When we have the time to talk, there is a unique sort of bond that forms, and I LOVE to find out what favorite baby registry items come up for different women from different walks of life.
It’s for this reason that I decided to take some time to throw it all together for you here, mama. If you walk away with new ideas–or best case a totally full baby registry–I’ll consider my job well done!
Well, OK. One of my jobs. Those babies don’t deliver themselves.
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2020 Must-Have Registry Items
In our quest to find the best baby items for our baby shower registry, we have to really consider where you’re at in your motherhood journey.
I don’t know about you, mama, but most second-time mothers I know don’t approach a baby shower the same at all. This is particularly true with the registry, given most friends and family will have contributed heavily to the FIRST baby.
If nothing else, there are a few core things that it shouldn’t be necessary to buy again. For that reason, you’ll want to get aggressive for your first little one, and THEN you can go a little easier on the second or third round.
Baby Must-Haves for First Time Moms
Your first baby will be a huge learning experience. Because of that, it’s really important that you take the time to understand precisely what kind of mama you’re going to be.
Without too much preamble, here are my favorite baby registry items for first-time mamas:
- Size 1 Diapers (6 boxes)
- Size 2 Diapers (10 boxes)
- Size 3 Diapers (10 boxes)
This is a low estimate of what you will actually need, but a great starting point for getting that stockpile going! Read all the details about exactly how many diapers you’ll need for your little one in the first year if you really want to have it all laid out.
I also wanted to add – EVERYONE has their favorite diaper brand – and there isn’t a “best” one out there. Try some out and see what you like. The options below are some of MY favorites.
- Pampers Swaddlers (soft and highly absorbent, great for the littlest littles)
- Huggies Little Movers (my favorite for crawling and toddling)
Another CONSTANT and very draining expense is pairing these diapers with a good set of wipes. We never really deliberated much on these. We tried a few different brands just purely out of circumstance and never liked anything as much.
Pampers Wipes – Sensitive
I recommend getting the ones with the built-in dispenser top for in the diaper bag. But the ones that have refill packs definitely offer a savings! So be sure to get a wipe dispenser for your changing table, too.
Changing Pads (3-4)
These changing pads can be used on any flat surface, and are literally a lifesaver since the raised edges make it much more difficult for your little one to roll off when you turn your head.
Note: It is never advisable to leave your baby on any sort of raised surface for ANY period of time. I always recommend that you be sure you have everything you need before you put baby down so that you have absolutely no need to stand back up while baby waits.
Bottle Feeding Equipment
Whether you expect to supplement or plan to exclusively breastfeed, you’ll still want a night off at some point. These bottles are fantastic for those times!
With bottles – different brands/styles work for different babies. We loved the brand below, but there are plenty of others that are perfectly as good.
I liked these bottles. Their bottles are known for reducing gas and colic, and they’re just great quality bottles.
With that being said – it is a little annoying that there are SO many parts. It means they’re a bit of a pain to wash, but it’s worth it in my opinion.
Head here for info on alllll the bottle feeding equipment, broken down for nursing mamas and formula feeding mamas.
Nursery & Sleep
Nothing is more important to a little munchkin than their sleep, mama. Except maybe you.
But, as you work on your registry, I want you to make sure you’re designing your nursery with an optimal sleep environment in mind. You can check out my article on newborn sleep tips to help with this!
For example, one thing I love is a good sound machine to drown out those spare after-hours bumps in the night. I’ll get into that stuff in a bit.
Above and beyond that, there’s always the ACTUAL bed (or crib, bassinet, pack and play….you know). Considering it lives at a higher price point, I’ve included the larger gifts in a section of their own further down.
The second time around, I am so excited to be using a Newton Baby mattress. I SO wish I had known about these sooner. There is seriously so much to love about this mattress:
- 100% breathable
- Proven to reduce the risk of suffocation
- 100% washable (say what?!)
- 100% nontoxic
Y’all, it might seem silly, but I’m just so dang excited about this mattress! It is a little pricier but comes with such peace of mind. It can be used on a toddler bed or with subsequent babies to get more use!
This inexpensive and durable coil spring mattress by Dream On Me is incredibly affordable and leaves nothing to be desired for your little one.
The binding and protective cover resist liquids and can be wiped clean easily, making this a very affordable and practical alternative if you want to spare your party-goers a penny or two.
Crib Sheets (3-4 sets, FITTED)
These luxurious little microfiber sheets will make you wish you had a set for your bed. They are made entirely out of soft brushed microfiber and fitted just right to fit your little one’s crib.
These sheets are available in a bunch of colors, so they’re a great addition to that perfect baby shower registry regardless the gender of your baby!
These little crib and toddler sheets are absolutely adorable and feature a jersey knit that makes them incredibly soft to touch.
American Baby has gone out of their way to make this the only crib sheet you will ever need and provides a bunch of options in terms of colors and styles.
This is a very affordable and quality sheet!
If you want a maximum convenience when it comes to cleaning up the messes we sometimes wake up to with our little ones, look no further than this adorable setup by Ely’s & Co.
These fitted sheets are absolutely waterproof, so you have only to pop them out and into the wash.
No need for a protective sheet beneath the actual sheets. These guys are a steal, mama.
More Nursery/Sleep-Related Musthaves!
I know there is some divide on whether video monitors are worth the expense or not, but for me, they’re totally worth it! The problem is, if you get a more budget option it’s probably not gonna last or have very good range.
We’ve love this video monitor, and when I did have an issue with it (I dropped it, so it was totally on me!) the customer service was amazing–they sent me a new one no questions asked! When I got a second one for baby number two, I was able to get a refurbished camera and saved a bit on cost.
If you don’t go with this monitor, I’m going to urge you to still choose one on a closed circuit (aka NOT one that uses WIFI). I’ve read and seen too many horror stories on the news about monitors that run on WIFI being hacked. Why are there so many awful people out there.
If a video monitor doesn’t feel important to you, or you’re looking to save a little, this is a great option! It’s not anything fancy, but it has a good distance range/quality, it’s cheap, and it’s incredibly durable.
White Noise Machine
This small and simple sound machine is incredibly simple to operate and can be a staple for your little one’s rest all the way into adulthood (we own three of them!)
This machine comes with 6 preset sounds and allows you to time your device or leave it to play all night.
Chances are you know this isn’t the only option available, and certainly not the cheapest. I just couldn’t resist getting it into the must-haves, because it hits two birds with one stone and is absolutely brilliant.
This combination sound machine and nightlight makes for a beautiful and peaceful combination, with an adaptable light and a variety of sounds that can all be controlled from your cellphone.
Owlet Smart Sock
The Owlet Smart Sock is one of the items that I KNEW I wanted to get for baby number two. I had pretty significant anxiety with Walter, especially when he slept.
The Owlet smart sock measures baby heart rate and oxygen levels to alert you if there is any kind of red flag. This is the kind of peace of mind this mama needs to get some rest and sleep herself.
This charming little mobile is hand made and suspended from a ribbon on a ring that’s been embroidered together.
That kind of care and intuition continues through the wind-up style lullabies and the full 360 rotation. It’s a universal fit, so plan to use it on basically any crib.
The song that plays for 2-3 minutes when fully wound is Brahms Lullaby, obviously. Everyone knows the tune.
The Very Hungry Caterpillar (cloth counting clip version)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle has been around every home with littles for years. It’s almost a staple of being a child.
This adorable edition is a cloth-bound version is extremely simplified to meet with your newborn’s needs, which include a teething toy in the corner, and a ring for hanging it on your favorite activity gym.
Guess How Much I Love You (soft book for babies)
Guess How Much I Love You is another bedtime classic, featuring two rabbits who compete a little prove how much they love each other.
This is a basic version in cloth-bound, to once against support a younger crowd. Use this and its longer versions, and you’ll have an extra goodnight that your children will love to hear: “I love you right up to the moon.”
Swaddles and Sleep Sacks
Swaddles can be a definite lifesaver for a new mom. I’ve heard countless stories of moms saying their baby would not sleep without one.
Not only that, but according to the National Institutes of Health, swaddling is proven to calm your newborn and promote sleep. It’s safe, lowers the risk of SIDS, and is overall an amazing product.
Once baby is rolling, it’s no longer safe to swaddle baby. At this point, you can switch to a sleep sack. These are great because they are a wearable blankets that move with your baby so they don’t wake up cold.
My super favorite swaddles and sleep sacks are from Nested Bean because they are easy to use, high quality, and lightly weighted to promote better sleep. You’re gonna love them!
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Zen Classic Swaddle
The Zen Classic Swaddle is a velcro style swaddle which makes it SUPER easy to put on, no matter how tired or bad at swaddling you are. And the lightly weight chest helps keep your baby asleep for longer stretches
When baby graduates out of the swaddle, the Zen sleep sack can be used form 3-24 months! Just like the swaddle, it’s lightly weighted in the center to promote sleep. You can reverse it for tummy sleepers so that the weight in on their back.
I know that for some mamas, simple and classic is more appealing. For you guys that want a basic, no-frills swaddle, go with an Aden and Anais muslin swaddle!
The prints are beautiful, the quality is unmatched, and they have a million uses outside of swaddling–burp cloth, stroller cover, nursing cover, scarf, loose blanket for the stroller or car seat, picnic spot, place to change the baby, the list goes on and on.
Feeding & Nutrition
Preparing for the baby regarding nutrition can be a confusing and contradictory process. There are so many sources out there that push their own agenda, (or PRODUCT) it’s difficult to know who to trust.
For me, I would always trust 1) your doctor, 2) your nurses (especially your FAVORITE one, you know the one… wink), and a trusted breastfeeding, lactation, or dietary consultant, one that lives and practices according to views that align with your own.
Burping Cloths (8-10)
You pretty much can’t go wrong with burping cloths. Well, except maybe to not have any. Here are a few of my favorites for your baby registry.
Extra Bottle Nipples (sizes 0 – 4)
Note: be sure to pick only those nipples compatible with your chosen bottles, and MAKE SURE YOU GET THE RIGHT SIZE!
Bottle Brush (2-5)
Trust me – you NEED these. You cannot get a bottle clean without them. It’s a little ridiculous.
Bottle Sterilization System
If you’re of a mind to load the dishwasher and move on with your life, that’s precisely what you’re in for with this microwave steam bottle sterilizer.
Ridiculously easy to use, you’ll find that you actually USE this sterilizer.
Bathtime & Grooming
Nothing is quite so fun (and harrowing) as watching your little monster’s opinions of bathtime evolve. There will be SCREAMING and there will be LAUGHING (sometimes at the same time).
Our little ones learn to love bathtime, and it’s no wonder why.
It’s not all playtime, though. Be sure you’re getting prepared for the best and the worst of bathtime.
Soap can seem a small detail, but babies have crazy sensitive skin sometimes. Be sure you pick the soap that fits best within your moral outlook and then pay close attention to what your baby’s skin does as a result.
I’ve had mothers and doctors tell me they’ve instructed some moms to NEVER use soap because it irritated baby’s skin so badly, so keep an eye on it.
Not a necessity, but definitely a lot of fun. 🙂
Baby Towels w/ Hood (1-3)
Okay, so you don’t NEED a baby towel with a hood, but it’s not a bad idea to get a couple of baby towels that are just for your little one. Most baby towels are softer than ours, plus they’re perfectly sized for your little one.
Ears! Need I say more?
Jay-EE Bathtime Essentials Kit (with spout cover)
This kit is not a necessity – but I still think it would be super handy. I WISH I would have had an elbow pad with my littles, because leaning on the bathtub gets tiring after a while.
Not only that, but it also comes with a spout cover to prevent burns if the water gets the metal too hot. While a newborn isn’t going to be at risk for this, an older baby/young toddler WILL.
I definitely recommend preparing in advance when it comes to skin care items – ESPECIALLY when it comes to diaper rash cream.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it (which, you basically already have!) is to check that nappie once every hour at first, and change it any time there’s a sign of wetness.
With that being said – even IF you do that, your baby can still get a rash.
You will find all sorts of brands toting different benefits or maximum relief when it comes to diaper rash cream. Doctor Smith’s is nice because it does the job (most of them do), but it doesn’t have the nasty texture that many of the others have.
I know a few parents that swore by this stuff when all else seemed to do NOTHING for their little one’s little bums, but definitely experiment and find what works for you.
Babyganics Daily Lotion (fragrance free)
Talk with your doctor before using lotion, because if your baby doesn’t need it, it’s best not to use it. Baby skin is so sensitive and it’s not worth risking a possible reaction.
Aquaphor makes pretty AWESOME products, but they’re also very greasy. I find it’s one brand that’s rarely upsetting to baby’s skin, so definitely consider it if your sensitive-skinned baby is suffering from a particularly stubborn rash.
There are things we can do to ensure that our baby has every chance to keep all their parts together past toddlerhood. We can’t prevent every bump or scrape or burn, but we can do our best!
Do you have stairs? Pets? Rooms you don’t want baby in? DEFINITELY invest in some baby gates. This is a great low-cost baby gate option, although I personally prefer the option below.
I LOVE having a sturdy baby gate that has a handle on it (and you’ll use it for YEARS). This makes it easy to go in and out of the room without having to jump over gates.
This is especially true if you have pets because you’ll either have to lift your pet or take the gate down for them to walk through it.
Just in case you don’t have a big play space that is easy to babyproof, these extendable gates will give you the chance to create a perfect ward around your little one while you are within reach but busy.
I love how flexible they are. If you want to move baby’s playspace and give them a new area to explore – this is easy to do.
Wall Outlet & Cupboard Safety Covers
You luckily won’t need them until baby is crawling around.
These also are not necessary until baby is crawling, but they’re going to be totally worth it to help prevent squished fingers.
Clothing and Sleepwear
No baby shower gift registry should EVER go without some adorable clothing.
This is where a lot of ladies will want to put their dollars, so be very specific about what you want for your little one, or you’re going to get a ton of stuff that isn’t really your style.
Pro tip: Add BIGGER sizes of onesies to your baby registry – otherwise you’ll get a TON of newborn/size one onesies that you’ll never use.
Crawlers / Onesies (5-10 per size)
You almost CAN’T have enough onesies. There were days that I went through four or five different ones (at least), so make sure that you get enough that you can keep a few spares on hand.
Fun fact: “Onesie” is a registered trademark of Gerber! Carter’s isn’t even allowed to say it!
Pants (5-10 per size)
With our baby, onesies and pants made the easiest outfits. Your kiddo can go through pants as fast as they do onesies, so keep some extras clean and ready.
Outerwear (1-3 per size)
This is obviously going to be dependent on where you live and what you plan on doing outdoors. Also, remember that you can’t leave a coat or heavy jacket on baby in the car. If transporting a short distance (from the car to indoors) is ALL your baby is going to see their first winter, you may not need a heavy jacket.
Pajamas (5-7 per size)
There are a couple of different jammie styles for baby, and what’s “best” comes down to personal preference. Some of the most common pajama types are:
- Footed jammies
- Footless jammies
- Normal jammies (shirt and pants)
Everyone prefers something different, but I really like footed jammies. They’re simple, warm, and easy to get on/off.
If you decide to go with footed jammies, try and find ones where the zipper can be opened from the top OR bottom. They aren’t available in many places (that I’ve seen), but having these makes diaper changes soooo much simpler in the middle of the night.
Also – avoid buttons. Trust me on that. Here are some of my favorites (which I LOVE Carter’s brand btw!)
Baby carriers aren’t for everyone, but they are for a lot of people.
They allow you to go grocery shopping or hiking hands free, and you get to keep baby snuggled close to you all of the time.
Because of the extra weight you’re going to be carrying around, it’s worth spending a little extra on something comfortable. There are quite a few Facebook groups of mom baby wearing exchanges where you can try on and borrow other mom’s carriers to get a feel for what you like.
The two main types are wraps and convertible carriers. I’ll list my favorite of each.
This carrier has six different carrying styles, which is great as it will support your baby from infancy to toddlerhood. They also have a zipper in the front that will help control your baby’s temperature.
All of that is nice, but my FAVORITE thing about this carrier is how comfortable it is. It has great support for your back, and will keep your baby safe and snug.
Oh – there’s also a TON of different styles, and they’re super cute.
Boba is known for making a fantastic wrap. These are stretchy, breathable, soft, and washable.
They’re ergonomic, easy to breastfeed in, and made of organic cotton (with a TON of color options!).
The fact that it’s just one long piece of fabric can be intimidating for some mamas–but get your YouTube on and you’ll be a pro in no time!
What’s more, the fact that it’s one piece of fabric makes this super versatile. There are so many ways to wear this wrap and different carrying positions.
This gives you the best of both worlds! It’s a soft fabric carries but is easier to put on than one piece of fabric because it is connected in the back to create two loops.
It still offers a bunch of versatility in terms of positions but is less daunting than the Boba for many mamas. It was also the most recommended cloth carrier when I asked y’all for input on my Instagram!
Play and Development
It’s becoming more and more clear how important these first few years are for our little ones. Studies show that early play is strongly linked to development in both language and cognition.
That said, it has to be the right KIND of play. Video games can work against these things, big loud toys with lots of arbitrary messages and signals don’t really do much.
The key to getting the perfect baby registry items to help support the right kind of development at the right time. Familiarize yourself with the stages of development your baby.
If you’re interested, the CDC offers a free milestones phone app (it’s called milestones). You can input your child’s age, and they’ll send you mini quizzes to evaluate how your child is moving through developmental milestones.
Here are some of the toys right off of my favorite registry for babies (keep in mind, some of them are developmentally appropriate all the time, and some might need to wait).
Some babies get really bored on car rides, or at places like the grocery store. Having a special toy they can play with during these times will make it easier on both of you.
Not only that, but this toy is great for stimulating baby’s brain, and also exercise their grab reflex!
We have ALL heard about how important tummy time is, but it’s hard to make it into something your baby will actually enjoy.
That’s why I think these mats are GREAT. They encourage tummy time, strengthen muscles throughout the body, and help your baby positively explore new things.
Expensive Baby Registry Items
Sometimes it’s hard to justify putting something big and pricey on the list. The fact remains, there are PLENTY of things you will need that you might not have the means or the time to get for yourself.
Some registries allow you to add higher-priced items and allow multiple people to contribute.
Here are some of my favorite baby registry items that have a high price tag associated with them.
You have a TON of options when it comes to cribs. Personally I like the convertible cribs because they can stay with your little one until they’re past the preschool years.
There are plenty of cheaper and more expensive options. I encourage you to READ THE REVIEWS on the crib you’re considering buying so that you know what common issues are seen with different options.
This is definitely a great budget-friendly option. The biggest downside (in MY opinion) is that if you want to convert it to a toddler bed at some point, you have to purchase the toddler bed conversion kit (you can find it here).
With that being said – this is still a relatively cheap option. The reviews are generally good, it has three heights, and you have a TON of different colors to choose from. It’s sturdy, safe, and simple (which is perfect for some of us).
This crib is a pricier option, but it does come with a few more perks (not to mention it just looks fancier).
For one, it is GreenGuard certified, which means it is clear of over 10000 different chemicals (where many other cribs are not tested/certified like this).
It also comes with four different heights, and you don’t have to purchase a separate random kit just to switch it over to a toddler bed.
I think it’s worth spending some time considering whether you REALLY need a bassinet or not. For some families, it makes sense. But since baby only stays in it a couple of months, it’s not worth the investment for some people.
Also – if you’re shopping for bassinets, be aware that words like “sleeper and rocker” do NOT mean that they’re safe sleep spaces for your baby. An item needs to be marketed as either a bassinet or a crib.
I’m not gonna lie, Mama, this bassinet is a bit of a splurge, but the mamas I know that have it or have used it have the BEST things to say about it. In this case, the cost really does mean more sleep!
I’m using one with my second, and LOVING IT! Seriously. So impressed with the fact that it really is all that it’s cracked up to be.
If you’ve got a bigger budget, or some family members that would be excited to splurge a bit, the SNOO is a wonderful choice.
What’s cool is that you can also opt to RENT one since the window of use is only usually 0-4 months (depending on when baby starts to roll). So check that out as a more budget-friendly option.
This bassinet is a great budget-friendly option if you want a bassinet, but prefer not to spend a ton of money on it (I’ve seen bassinets for over $300!)
It has lights and sounds, and comes with an adjustable canopy.
There are plenty of parents that never spend the money on a changing table. A changing pad on the ground can work just as well as a changing table, but if your heart is set on one, find one that has a dresser attached to it.
Combo Nursery Set
A combo set for the nursery is a great option if you can afford it. It’s definitely the best way to make sure you get matching furniture if nothing else!
Gliding Rocker (optionally including an ottoman)
I would consider this one of my FAVORITE baby registry items simply because if you’re breastfeeding – you’re likely going to LIVE on your glider for a couple of months.
This is one item I’d encourage you to go instore and try out before adding it to a registry, and don’t feel guilty about splurging.
With car seats, you have a couple of options. You can grab a baby car seat that’s going to require an upgrade someday or start out with a convertible car seat that you can use for the entire time period that your child will need one.
Personally, I like having the infant car seat. You can pull these out of the car easily and trek it around with you as you go to the grocery store or over to a family member’s house.
Yes, you’re going to have to spend more in the long run, but it’s SO convenient to not have to pull a sleeping baby out of the car seat after every car ride.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re watching baby like a HAWK in the car seat, but there’s something magical about an infant + car ride. If you can’t get them to sleep any other way, this will often do it.
I LOVE the Graco SnugRide. It comes with a car seat base that you anchor to the car. When you’re removing it, you press on a latch to release the car seat but leave behind the base.
If you decide to go with one of these, I’d recommend grabbing a base for each car that you use regularly because they are a pain to install and remove.
This car seat is an awesome option as an upgraded seat, or the one you start out with. The weight rating is 5-65 pounds, so you definitely won’t need anything else but this.
There’s also a four-position recline, and ten headrest positions to make sure your littles is as comfortable as possible. Graco is known for making great car seats, so I’m confident you wouldn’t go wrong with this one.
There are plenty of different types of strollers, so definitely consider your lifestyle and how/when you plan to use it before making a purchase.
This is a lightweight compact stroller that can fit on the bus, subway, or even in MOST airplane overhead bins. It has great suspension, a deep recline, and it also has 40% more padding than other strollers in its class.
It only weighs 14 pounds and is easy to fold up/put down. Ergo is known for having great baby carriers, and their stroller will provide your little one with similar excellent support.
Portable Play Crib (Pack ‘n Play)
There are some people who use a portable play crib instead of a bassinet or crib. If you’ve ever felt a play crib mattress, you know they aren’t super comfortable.
If you decide to go that direction I’d recommend getting a different mattress for the porta-crib (MOST brands have something like this). Regardless, plenty of babies have slept in these and are PERFECTLY fine, so definitely do it if it’s what works for your family.
This charming little portable play yard sports a removable changing pad and a removable bassinet, which makes this a perfect set for traveling.
The hanging mobile arm that features some hanging plush toys. Don’t worry – it’s removable.
What not to Put on a Baby Registry
Tons of newborn size diapers and onesies–that little one will crash right through them in NO time.
Special keepsake stuff. Consider purchasing this stuff for yourself, because you know what you’ll want to keep forever.
Things for dad in general: while daddy will be a huge part of all this, the point of the shower is really to baby the mama and mom the baby, at least for a little while.
Make no mistake: Dad should be invited, but I think he’ll agree that this is not the place for him to supplement his personal arsenal of needs.
Related: Gift Ideas for the Mama-To-Be
Collecting Your Favorite Baby Registry Items
That’s really all there is to it, mama. Take your time to shop through this list, check out the related items, and really put all the thought in the world into what you think you’ll like, what you know you’ll need, and how it will all come together.
No one knows you and your baby as well as you and your baby. Get inside yourself and dig deep for the styles, colors, and quality of good that will give you the best chance of making this baby your easiest one.
With a little thought and preparation, you can easily make your own favorite baby registry items list so that all your loved ones can contribute to that perfect image!
Happy baby shopping, mama!