Starting your baby registry can be exciting, and also overwhelming. Babies might be small, but they require a lot of gear! You've probably envisioned how you'll decorate the baby's room. You know that you are going to need a lot of diapers, a crib, a car seat and, of course, all of those adorable little outfits!
But when you walk into your local baby store, you might not know how to start building your registry. We're here to give you the details on the things you will definitely need, what might be nice to have, and what can wait 'til later. Here are some baby registry tips to get you started!
They might not be the most exciting thing to register for but you're going to go through a lot of diapers! If you're going to register for diapers, register for a variety of sizes. While you know you're immediately going to need a small size for your newborn, sometimes the "newborn" size doesn't cut it. Some babies only wear newborn diapers for a few weeks; other babies don't even wear newborn diapers at all and jump right into size one.
Registering for and receiving a variety of diapers as gifts will definitely come in handy. It's always a good idea to have the next size up handy in case you think it's time to move up a size.
Also, the brand that works for your friend's baby might not work the same for you. You might even consider registering for one or two different brands so that you can try out different brands.
You can also check with the store where you are registering to find out about their return policy. Many stores will accept returns of unopened diapers packages if you receive too many of a size that you can't use. Even if you can only exchange them for a different size, they won't go to waste, and you won't be stuck with diapers that are too small to use!
Something else to consider: cloth diapers. Cloth diapers are better for the environment and considerably less expensive. If you're going to register for cloth diapers, you'll still have lots of choices to make. What brand and style will you use? Will you use flushable diaper liners? What about diaper covers? Oh...and don't forget the wipes!
Whether you choose disposable or cloth diapers, you're going to need a place to put them. You're going to want a diaper pail that allows for easy removal of the bag or liner, but probably the most important factor when choosing a diaper pail is making sure that it can control, hide, or mask any diaper odors.
Something else to consider is whether or not the diaper pail requires special liners or bags. For convenience, it might help to look for a diaper pail that uses standard kitchen bags. Otherwise, if you're registering for a pail that uses it's own bags, make sure you register for a lot of those, as well!
If you're going the cloth diaper route, look for a pail that comes with washable, reusable cloth liner bags. (Be sure to register for a couple of those, as well!) Like many disposable diaper pails, some cloth diaper pails come equipped with a charcoal filter to help block odors. When the pail is full, you can toss the liner and all of the diapers right into the wash!
You're going to need something to carry around all of your baby gear! When looking at diaper bags, think about all of the stuff you're going to need to tote around. A lot of times, bigger is better. You're also going to want something with lots of storage, comfy shoulder or carrying straps, and material that is waterproof and/or can easily be wiped clean. Some diaper bags are very basic, and some can be very chic and expensive!
If your partner is going to be transporting the baby around as well, there are lots of great diaper bags for dads. That way, your baby daddy doesn't have to be stuck walking around with pink flowers and polka dots if that's not his thing. A lot of the daddy diaper bags look like plain, sleek messenger bags or backpacks--and they don't have to be just for daddies! Register for the diaper bag (or bags) that you'll be the most comfortable carrying!
A car seat is a big ticket baby item that you absolutely have to have before the baby arrives. How else are you going to get your bundle of joy home from the hospital?
Again, there are so many options. You can start with an infant car seat but a lot of babies will outgrow them by eight or nine months. That means you'll need to move up to a convertible car seat. Some convertible car seats can accommodate newborn babies, and because they grow with your baby, they let you keep your child in the rear-facing position for a longer time. Another option is to invest in an all-in-one seat that gives you a rear-facing seat, a forward-facing seat, and eventually a booster seat.
When you finally decide on a car seat, you might want to think about adding an extra car seat base to your registry. If you have more than one vehicle, it is much easier to pop the car seat out of one car and put it in another than trying to move the base every time you need to put the baby in a different vehicle.
You can also register for a baby travel system that provides you with an infant car seat, base, and a stroller. The car seat locks right onto the stroller when your baby is small, but then you can use it as a traditional stroller when your baby is older and is able to sit up. Again, when your baby outgrows the infant car seat, you're going to have to move up.
Your baby's going to need to get around somehow, and that's where a stroller comes in. You can get a simple, inexpensive car seat carrier frame or you can get a baby buggy that is tricked out with all the latest bells and whistles. It depends on how much you think you'll use it and what you'll use it for.
Most car seat brands sell matching carrier frames. These lightweight, minimalist buggies allow you to click your car seat into place and go. These are likely the most inexpensive option. If you get a travel system, you'll be able to stick the car seat on the stroller when the baby is still in the car seat and then move them to an upright position in the stroller when they're older.
You may also want to look into a luxury stroller if you plan on using it a lot. A luxury stroller will typically have plush padding, lots of storage, and convenient add-ons like a shade or a window to peek through at your baby, cup holders, and cell phone caddies.
If you like to pound the pavement, you might want to consider a jogging stroller. Jogging strollers are designed with speed in mind but are usually made for older babies.
And if you already have a child or are expecting multiples, you will have to investigate a double, triple, or even quad stroller. These strollers allow babies and kids to sit next to each other, one behind the other, and some may even have a place for older kids to stand on the back.
Things to consider: how easily does the stroller fold up? Is it lightweight and easy to carry? (Will you be able to haul it in and out of the trunk of your car?) Take this quiz to find out what stroller might be best for you, and then test drive some strollers at the baby store before registering!
If you have the room in the baby's room, you might want to register for a comfy rocking chair or glider. It doesn't have to be super expensive, but you're going to want something comfortable. Chances are, you'll be spending a lot of time in it!
Keep in mind, however, that after awhile, your baby might not need to be rocked, and that a rocker might end up taking up precious space in your baby's room. You might want to make sure that the rocker you register for can be moved out of the baby's room and used somewhere else in your house.
A pack and play is one of those items that you might not think you'll need right away but they can really come in handy when your baby is a newborn.
Many pack and plays now come with small, cozy baby nap areas and changing stations. You can use the pack and play as a place to nap or as a changing area outside of the baby's bedroom. This is a great idea if the baby's bedroom is upstairs and you spend most of your time downstairs; that way, you're not running upstairs to the changing table every time your baby needs a new diaper.
And of course, when your baby is older, a pack and play is a safe way to keep them contained so that he can play while you are trying to do other things, like cook or clean. You can also fold up the pack and play, stuff it in the trunk, and take it with you if you are traveling. That way the baby can nap and sleep wherever you are staying.
Gone are the days of the one-way audio baby monitor. They're still available but now you can also have a video monitor to keep an eye on your baby while he sleeps. Some monitors, like the iBaby video monitor, allow you to watch baby through an app on your smartphone or tablet. That way both parents can supervise the baby from anywhere. This is also a great feature if you have grandparents that live out of town--even they can take a peek if they have access.
There are also monitors available that let you know if your baby is moving around or that alert you in case your baby stops breathing.
You're not always going to be in the same room as your baby. So, if you want peace of mind, register for a baby monitor so you can hear or see what your baby is up to.
Although you'll only be giving your baby sponge baths in the beginning, you're going to want to have all of your bathing supplies on hand for when it's time for baby to make a real splash! Look for a baby bath tub that is suitable for newborns but that can also convert to a bigger tub for babies.
Some tubs contain color-changing marks to let you know if the water is too hot. Other tubs come with digital thermometers built right in so that you know the exact temperature of the bath water.
You're also going to need gentle baby wash, lotion, and a grooming kit--look for an all-in-one kit that has everything you need: baby fingernail clippers and nail files, a brush and a comb, and a nasal aspirator.
In addition to all of your baby's toiletries, you're going to want to make sure you have a baby first aid kit on hand. You'll need items to care for baby's umbilical cord stump and baby's circumcision if you go that route.
You're also going to need a thermometer, and you might want to have over-the-counter pain and cold medications handy so that if and when your baby gets sick for the first time, you don't have to rush around looking for what you need. It doesn't hurt to have things like gas drops and gripe water on your registry either to help with tummy trouble and hiccups.
If you plan on breastfeeding and also want to pump breast milk, check with your insurance company to see if they will provide you with a breast pump. If that's the case, you're in luck! A lot of insurance companies will provide new moms with an electric breast pump at no charge.
You will, however, need breast pump accessories that are compatible with your pump. A lot of these accessories can be sold separately but some are also sold as kits as well.
Things to look for:
If you're bottle-feeding, you won't know what bottle or nipple your baby will prefer until he tries it. This means you could go through several different types of bottles before settling on one that works. You could get lucky and your baby could like the first bottle he tries, but you never know. Think about registering for one or two different types of bottles and different types of nipples. See what works for your baby, and then invest in some more!
Most bottles and nipples are dishwasher safe but check the packaging to make sure. If that's the case, add a baby dishwasher basket to your registry. They are perfect for holding bottle rings and nipples so they don't fall through the rack in your dishwasher! Also, add some sort of drying rack to your list. A lot of times, bottles don't dry thoroughly in the dishwasher, are hard to wipe, and need a little extra drip-drying time.
Unless you're planning on bed sharing, your little one's going to need a bed of his own. You can start off with a bassinet, because a lot of the time, newborn babies prefer to be snug in a cozy, compact space at first. But eventually, your little one isn't going to be so little, and the bassinet probably won't give him enough room.
When looking for a bed for your baby, it's smart to consider a convertible crib. Just like everything else, your baby will outgrow the crib someday, so think of a convertible crib as an investment. A convertible crib will transform into a toddler bed with rails, a daybed, and then, a full-size bed with a headboard and footboard.
When it comes to decorating the nursery, baby furniture can come in coordinating suites or you can buy pieces of furniture separately. Think about the future--your baby's not always going to need a crib or a changing table. As a matter of fact, a changing table that matches the crib is nice but eventually, you won't need it. Maybe you can make do with just a regular, sturdy dresser and put a changing pad on top? (They can be secured to the dresser with straps and nails.)
Be sure to add some waterproof mattress pads and fitted crib sheets to your registry. Most are a standard size so the fit shouldn't be a problem. Sheets come in all different materials and colors. If you need to, you should register for cool cotton sheets for the warm months and warm, fuzzy flannel sheets for when it gets cooler.
Here's a tip: try to layer as many mattress pads and sheets on the crib mattress as you can. That way, if you have a middle of the night accident (diaper leak, spit up), all you have to do is yank off one sheet and mattress pad, and another set will be right underneath and ready to go! You won't have to try to make the bed at 3 a.m!
Be wary of baby store bedding displays. Despite the fact that parents are warned to keep the crib bare and free of bumpers, blankets, and pillows, stores still sell crib bedding packages that contain all of the items that are dangerous. They might be quaint and adorable but they are unsafe for newborn babies. Decorate all over the baby's room but leave the crib empty, except for your baby.
In addition to mattress pads and sheets, add some swaddling blankets, velcro swaddles, or sleep sacks to your registry. Don't forget things like washcloths and towels, either!
Although it's not a necessity for your registry, babywearing has gained popularity over the years, and a lot of people are using carriers to tote their baby around. Some moms swear that wearing their baby keeps the baby calm and relaxed, leaving mom with her hands-free to do other things.
There are many options on the market, so how do you know which baby carrier to choose? There are wraps and slings that you can tie around your body, tucking baby in close. There are also more structured carriers that allow you to carry your baby on your front or on your back. The carrier you choose depends on a few things. How long are you planning on carrying your baby? Only when they're a newborn? How big is your baby? And will you need to be able to breastfeed while your baby is in the carrier? Is the carrier comfortable for you in all positions, with no straps or pieces of fabric too tight or dangling awkwardly? Also, if your partner is planning on using the carrier, does it work for them, too, or would they prefer a different one?
Your best bet? Ask your babywearing friends if you can try their carriers on (especially if you can practice wearing their baby!) or head to a baby store and see what fits!
An optional baby registry item, but a good one to think about, is some sort of bouncer or swing. You don't really need one of each, but depending on how high-tech you want to get, you could look into the futuristic 4Moms MamaRoo that bounces, rocks, and sways your baby from side to side. Bouncers like the MamaRoo come with lots of fancy options, but also come with an expensive price tag, too. The problem there is that most bouncers and swings are really only safe for young babies who are unable to move and sit up just yet; you might get six months of use out of whatever bouncer or swing you choose.
They really do come in handy, though, if you need help getting your baby to nap or if you're home alone with the baby and need to run to the bathroom. Just saying!
As you walk around the baby store, contemplating what to add to your registry (and wondering where you're supposed to put it all) keep in mind that there are tons of things that you're going to need, but not right away. It might be tempting to add that cool race car-shaped walker to the registry, and you might already be concerned about babyproofing, but remember... Your baby won't be walking for several months!
Same thing goes for the high chair and baby plates, spoons, and sippy cups. These are all great things to have, but you're not going to need them immediately, because your baby won't be able to sit up and start eating solid foods for quite a few months, anyway.
So, what can you do? You don't want to end up getting a walker that you're going to have to stash in a closet for a year, but you know you'll probably end up getting one eventually.
See if you can register for gift cards! That way, friends, and relatives can help you out, and you can buy what you need... when you need it!
If you walk into the baby section of any store, you'll likely be drawn to the clothing aisles right away. Baby clothes are so tiny and adorable! You probably won't be able to resist buying a few outfits and cute onesies here and there...
And neither will anybody else, so be careful registering for clothes!
Yes, you need baby clothes, but everybody loves buying baby clothes, and before you know it, your kid could end up with a wardrobe as big as one of the Kardashians. (Did you know the Kardashians have a line of baby clothes?) Because those newborn clothes are so tiny and cute, a lot of people may want to buy them for you. But what if your baby is bigger than a newborn? Some babies don't even go home from the hospital wearing newborn-size clothes because they're so big. It's helpful to have some newborn stuff, just in case, but if you're going to register for clothes, opt for basic onesies and pajamas, and make sure you register for different sizes.
The same thing goes for registering for receiving blankets and burp cloths. You're probably only going to need a few, so don't go overboard. For some reason, if you put these on your registry, people love to give them as gifts, and you don't want to end up with a bunch of blankets that never get used!
Still confused about what you need to add to your baby registry? Most stores will give you a baby registry checklist to use as a guide before they turn you loose with your scanner.
Have fun and happy registering!