It’s easy to go overboard with your baby registry the first time around. You don’t know what you’ll actually need, everything looks so cute, and we fear being improperly prepared as new parents. After two pregnancies, I’ve realized how LITTLE we truly need to keep our babies healthy, safe and happy. Here is my no BS baby registry list for minimalists or those short on space (or on a budget) of my must-haves that you’ll actually use.
Think of it as the baby registry for minimalist who are still a tad control freak. And no you won’t find any onesies here. TRUST that you’ll get approximately 14,000 of those. DO NOT REGISTER FOR ONESIES.
Co-Sleeper: Arm’s Reach Mini Ezee 2-in-1 Bedside Bassinet
Our first go around we had the Halo Bassinet, but it was clunky, heavy and took up too much space. Plus I still had to physically sit up to bring baby into bed for midnight nursings and there was no storage besides a small side pocket (uh where do you put your snacks, Halo!?)
Our new house has even less space for a bassinet than our old apartment, so I needed something compact, mattress-height (for ease of bringing baby into bed) and MUCH more storage!
The Arm’s Reach has 4 big mesh pockets (two on each side), storage underneath, can convert into a freestanding bassinet OR drop the side panel for a true co-sleeper.
Swaddle: Halo Sleepsack Swaddle (save) or The Ollie Swaddle (splurge)
Most babies coming fresh from the womb are going to sleep better and calm quickly when swaddled. They’re used to being compressed in a tiny water sac after all. I love the Halo Sleepsack Swaddle for safety reasons. It doesn’t ride up over baby’s face like a loose muslin blanket swaddle (and I even had that issue with the Snuggleme swaddles). It has little sleeveless arm holes, a zipper for easy diaper access, and you can swaddle nice and TIGHT without it being too hot!
The Ollie Swaddles “grows with” the baby so you don’t need to buy multiple sizes (it’s a little pricey but I suppose the same as getting 3 Halo swaddles in different sizes…). It’s also recommended by Cara from Taking Cara Babies Newborn Sleep program!
Sound Machine: Marpac Rohm Portable White Noise Machine
This is the classic and original sound machine created without a wireless device. White noise can help drown out background sound for baby (i.e. from dogs barking, other children, you showering for goodness sake), and it also sounds a little like your blood swishing around to them (the inside of a womb is quite loud apparently!) Someone recently told me they were concerned about the EMFs from these sound machines, so I would keep them across the room from the baby to be safe.
EMFs are a common concern for wireless baby monitors, your smartphone, WiFi and blue tooth too. They’re hard to avoid but you can take some easy steps to reduce exposure like keeping devices farther away from baby and turning your phone on airplane mode over night if you sleep with it in your room (I leave my phone in another room overnight).
This is one baby item I don’t go fully non-toxic with… these pacifiers are BPA-free and made from hospital-grade silicone. They are the only ones that “stay” in that I’ve found, and other rubber-based “eco” pacifiers have a strong smell and have gagged both my babies. We don’t over-use pacifiers, but I do think there’s a time and place (i.e. in the car to console a crying baby when you can’t comfort them or to help a baby fall asleep when mom’s boob isn’t around).
The little stuffed animals attached to them make these pacifiers easy to find in the house or bassinet and gives baby something to hold onto. Since newborns cannot sleep with stuffed animals in their cribs, these Wubba Nubs make a cute comfort item. They’re also less likely to get lost since they’re so noticeable! We’ve had no safety issues at all with these!
Ball: O-Ball – Multi-colored
Nothing more classic or versatile than an O-Ball in primary colors. They’re easy to grab even at 2-months-old, can be rolled to a 6-month-old baby sitting, and are brightly colored and contrasted. I love wooden toys but lightweight plastic toys can have their place in a balanced toy box too. I can’t think of a toy (besides an empty cardboard box) that beats the O-Ball in versatility and developmental appropriateness.
Soft Books: Melissa & Doug The Wonderful World of Peekaboo
Soft sensory books are the best choice for little babes – you can easily throw them in the wash and they have sensory facets that board books do not have. Most of them make crunchy sounds when baby touches them and are brightly colored (and cannot be used as weapons by older siblings).
Every baby needs a rattle to hold onto and shake, shake, shake. For at least the first year of life, cause & effect “toys” are going to keep babe’s attention and rattles fill that need. Shake, it rattles, shake, it rattles… every time!
Play Mat: Skip Hop Silver Cloud Play Mat (save) or The Play Gym by Lovevery (splurge)
No matter where you live, baby needs his or her own play space. I like a designated playmat that allows for hanging toys for them to practice reaching and grabbing. It’s also a great padded space for tummy time. As a child gets older and starts exploring via crawling, I like to have a designated Safe/Yes Space.
We use this play yard (it’s huge) from crawling age until at least 18 months. I personally don’t think a Pack n’ Play allows for enough space for a kid to explore their environment and MOVE which is why I love a fenced in play yard. It allows me to cook in the kitchen and watch baby play safely with only toys I know are safe and won’t be a hazard. Kids need at least one YES space in their homes to just be kids! RIE parenting method speaks to this in more detail.
For the first 12 months of my eldest daughter’s life, I would buy her a birthday toy so by the end of the year, we had 12 toys/books/rattles in her toy collection (plenty enough!) I love Haba and Hape brand toys as well as Montessori-style toys from Etsy!
Stroller: BOB Jogging Stroller Flex 2.0
I am a fan of strollers to get mom out and moving and baby out in nature! The BOB Jogging Stroller can’t be beat – it’s air-filled large tires means it can withstand tough terrain like gravel trails, grass and even sand. We also have the Uppa Baby Vista which is great for neighborhood walks, but it doesn’t compare to the comfort and ease of the BOB. My only complaint is the basket underneath is rather small, so I use my Diaper Bag Backpack to carry items and have a handlebar tray on mine as well!
Car Seat (Infant): Britax B-Safe Ultra Infant Car Seat (no brominated flame retardants) or Uppa Baby Mesa Wool Infant Car Seat (no flame retardants in Jordan or Henry wool option)
These are my top two choices for an infant carseat in terms of safety and quality. They’re both very sturdy (which means they’re a little heavier than average) and are loved by many parents. You can get Britax and Uppa Baby attachments for your BOB stroller too!
I also want to add that the Uppa Baby Mesa is more comfortable for baby than Britax B35 which is more of a bucket style. Some babies won’t mind this but I have a particularly fussy baby who prefers the Uppa Baby Mesa car seat (we have both) where my oldest had no problem with the bucket style!
I do not recommend additional baby equipment such as bouncers, swings and especially walkers. You can read this article for why. Floortime, babywearing (wear as much as you want newborn- a few hours a day after newborn stage is totally fine) and tummy time are important for infant development. The more we utilize baby equipment, the less opportunity of our children have to use and develop muscles, motor coordination and sensory proprioception. Save your money and grab a wrap/carrier (below) to keep baby happy if they won’t nap in their bassinet, and keep them entertained on the floor rather than a bouncer or swing.
Nursing Pillow: My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow
For me, a nursing pillow is a must. It props baby up and closer to the breast, making newborn latch an easier to achieve feat. It’s more comfortable for both you and baby. My Breast Friend and Boppy are the two most popular brands, and while I love my double-sided Boppy (a firmer surface for tiny newborns so they don’t sink down and have trouble latching), My Breast Friend is more comfortable for mama and has a little pocket for snacks, your phone or your wallet so you can online shop while you nurse (my speciality).
Glass Bottles: Life Factory 4-ounce BPA-Free Bottles with Silicone Sleeve
These glass baby bottles are no-slip, easy grip, seal tightly and aren’t made of plastics which can leach into your milk or formula. They come with Stage 1 newborn nipples, but you can get Stage 2 and 3 nipples (2 for only $5) as your baby gets older and can handle more flow.
Manual Pump/Overflow Catcher: Hakka Manual Breast Pump
This silicone manual “pump” is a LIFESAVER in the early weeks of breastfeeding when let down is like a tourist-attracting geyser. You suction is to the your breast while baby nurses the other one, and it catches all the let down. I could easily catch 2 to 3 extra ounces of milk essentially negating the need for my fancy hospital-grade breast pump (which I do use too – but you’ll get a free one with insurance each pregnancy).
First Cold: FridaBaby Nasal Aspirator and Little Remedies Saline Mist
Our first daughter gave our newborn second daughter a cold at about 2 weeks old. Spraying the Saline Mist (no additives or preservatives!) up my baby’s nose and sucking out the snot with the FridaBaby (don’t worry – it cannot get in your mouth) works like a charm. It’s entirely effective for keeping a stuffy-nosed baby comfortable before they learn how to blow their nose (when they’re like 7 years old, I swear). The saline mist is great to have on hand if you live in a dry environment as well!
Gas/Colic: FridaBaby Windi Sticks and Well Elements Gripe Water
Inevitably your baby will get gassy at some point – whether it’s because they’re reacting to something in your breastmilk or in their formula, or because they simply have a brand new digestive system getting used to input besides amniotic fluid. These two non-toxic choices for calming baby tummy bubbles are gold.
The Windi sticks are a little peculiar at first (literally a tube you gently stick up baby’s butt) but they are safe and WORK like magic to release gas and help with constipation. The gripe water can come in handy during crying spells from gas or discomfort – it only lasts 4 weeks because it does not contain preservatives. Keep it in the fridge after opening and dispense any time baby is having some early months tummy trouble. They aren’t cheap, but trust that I would not spend $15 on butt whistles (that’s what I call them) if they were not worth the money.
Non-Toxic Bath & Body Products: Beautycounter Baby Bundle & Primally Pure Baby Powder
Using toxin-free products on baby’s skin is of upmost importance to me, and I know it’s important to many other moms as well. Beautycounter’s Baby Line is made without harmful ingredients, uber gentle on the skin and sensitive enough for baby’s who deal with dryness or other skin irritations. We’ve been using the products for years and love them! I gift this set and Primally Pure’s Non-Toxic Baby Powder to many a pregnant friend!
Baby Bath Tub: PRIMO EuroBath
This may have been the best $25 I’ve spent since becoming a mom. It allows for easy bathing by positioning baby in a comfortable, no-slip reclining position. Truly, the baby can’t slip down (but always be within arm’s reach or have one hand on baby when in the bath). It’s easy to clean and after 3 years of use, ours is still in great shape. It has two bathing positions – one for newborns and one for older toddlers so they can sit themselves up and play in the bath. It also saves water since you don’t have to fill up a whole bath tub to halfway submerge your kiddo.
Non-Toxic Wipes: Water Wipes
LOVE! Some people complain about the sticker top but they recently made it more sturdy. These are the most gentle wipes out there. I am an Amazon subscribe n’ save member, we love them so much! We use them to clean up messy hands and faces for my 3-year-old too even though she’s been out of diapers for over a year. Register for a LOT of these (or for Amazon gift cards!)
Safer Disposable Diapers: Pampers Pure (save) Bambo Natural Diapers (splurge)
Look at Pampers coming out with a much safer version of their beloved diapers! These Pampers Pure are the most blowout-proof of all safer diapers I’ve tried (more so than the Bambo, although I love those for older babies). They’re soft, made without Fragrance (helps you avoid phthalates on baby’s skin!) and don’t contain parabens or 26 European Union designated allergens. We’ve been using these AND Bambo with our second baby and have had a great experience (no rash, rarely a blow out).
I choose not to use cloth diapers as they tend to be bulky (and obviously a lot more laundry) and can inhibit movement in babies – they have even been linked to delayed motor development (i.e crawling and walking). I choose to use more environmentally-friendly disposable diapers and make other choices for our family that sustain the environment.
You’ll also need a changing table, changing pad and a couple changing pad covers.
Wrap for newborn stage: Solly Baby Wrap
My Solly Baby Wrap lasted me through both kids’ newborn stages, but I did have to transition to the below carrier at 2 months old with my second due to neck and back pain (she wanted to be held a lot more than my first). I prefer Solly for newborns but once a kiddo hits 10 pounds, an ergonomic carrier like the one below is MUCH more comfy! The Solly seems to be more cozy for newborns though, so I do recommend both if you plan to baby wear.
Ergonomic Carrier for 10 lbs + (up to 35 lbs): Beco Gemini
I own/have owned a LOT of baby carriers so I can vouch for the comfort of this Beco Gemini. It is suitable for babies 7 pounds plus but we started using at 10 pounds. My favorite parts of this carrier: you can cross the thick padded straps in the back to make an X for more diffuse weightbearing on your neck/shoulders, you can front carry AND back carry (for older babies) AND it has a little cover for baby’s head if you’re out in the sun or want to keep germ-y strangers away!
You’ll want a baby book that you can bring to the hospital for footprints. I love the Mom’s One Line a Day journal! You can write one memory from each day for 5 years and go back and compare each year as it passes (for example, all of June 12th memories will be on the same page over the span of 5 years).
THINGS YOU DEFINITELY DON’T NEED
Baby Mittens – you can file or clip baby’s nails instead
Baby Shoes – cute but pointless and will get kicked off
Baby Bouncer, Swing or Walker – addressed above
More than 5 to 7 onesies for newborn size
Four strollers – choose just one with an infant car seat adapter
More than 2 to 3 glass baby bottles with different nipple sizes.
A convertible car seat – wait until baby truly needs one before you decide which one to get
MORE PRACTICAL ASK IDEAS
Amazon gift cards so you can restock wipes & diapers
Donation to child’s 529 education fund
Meal Train – have a good friend or family member set up a meal train so you have food delivered to you the first few weeks with baby
Hulu or Netflix 1-year subscription if you don’t already have one
Housecleaning fund for your first 3 months with baby
Healthy Meal Delivery
Babysitting “Coupons” from close family members you can cash in when you & your partner need a date!
Whole Foods gift cards for easy hot bar meals