As postpartum doulas, we work with a LOT of new families… first time moms, first time dads and newborns. So it’s only natural that we get asked, a LOT, what our “must-haves” are for baby registries. Here it is! Yes, it’s a long list. Please note, that this does not mean you need all of these things to have a baby. If you’re feeling at all overwhelmed by this process, check out this blog we wrote on this subject.
- Car seat. This is a non-negotiable, must-have. You may not take your baby home from your birth location without one. We prefer the infant style car seat versus a “convertible” car seat, for several reason. First, because they usually fit newborns better – even tiny preemies. Second, because they’re handy for taking a sleeping baby in and out, since you simply remove the actual seat from the base (which is secured to the car.) The Cybex Aton Q not only received the best ratings from Consumer Reports, but also has the recommended “load leg” feature to improve crash protection. Plus it comes in fabulous colors.
- Stroller. Yes, we like babywearing, too. We’ll get to that in a minute. A stroller is fantastic even if your baby never goes in it because it holds all the stuff! Trust us, you’ve never needed more stuff in your life once you have a baby. Get the kind that matches your baby car seat so that you can clip the car seat right into it. Easy peasey! We love this one from UppaBaby. Check out our list of other recommended strollers here.
- Baby monitor. At some point, you’ll master laying a sleeping baby down in her bed and walking away to the promised land of the couch and Netflix, so a baby monitor will come in handy. If you have a two-story house, you may want to consider the fancy kind with a video monitor or one that feeds to your iPhone. One system that is very popular is the Nanit which includes: baby monitor, camera, sleep tracking and alerts, white noise, soothing sounds and adjustable night light. Technology deluxe!
- First Aid. It’s good to have a baby thermometer, nail clippers, nasal suction syringe available. You can find a good selection of all of these at Frida.
- Nasal Aspirator, aka Snot Sucker. A pretty popular item with new parents is the NoseFrida by fridababy. This little tool helps you keep your babies nasal passage clear and is useful if baby has the sniffles.
- Diapers. You will need an assortment of sizes on the smaller end. Have a few newborn and a few size one ready. You may want to try several different brands to figure out what you like best. Have you considered cloth diapers? Today’s cloth diapers are not like those your grandma used… they’re form fitting, super cute and easy to care for.
- Diaper Pail. Our doulas love this one from Ubbi! Can be used whether you’re using cloth or disposable diapers.
- Diaper Bag. This is a must, of course. We suggest having one for both parents in styles they like. Dads love the grey backpack kind. Moms love the stylish, “more like a handbag” kind. JuJuBe has a nice line-up of fun prints, fabrics that can be easily wiped down (important!), different shapes and configurations and handy features (like a safe place for your sunglasses and smart phone.)
- Wipes. Again, you may develop a preference. Some parents prefer those a bit on the drier side. Others like the wetter ones that slide over skin. Get a few different packets from the store to try them out. We love Water Wipes because they work great, are gentle on your babies sensitive skin, contain none of the yucky chemicals and are also biodegradable and therefore good for the planet. Also another chance to consider cloth – reusable wipes have a much lower impact on the environment and your wallet!
- Nursing pillow. You’re going to spend a lot of time nursing your sweet baby! Let’s make sure you’re comfortable.
- Breast pump. This is going to come down to preference, too. You may need to do some research and talk to friends before choosing which pump to add to your baby registry. First, find out what your insurance company provides. Also, check out this list that explains the difference between hospital grade, electric, wearable, and manual breast pumps and gives lots of good recommendations. The Spectra S1 Plus Electric Double Pump was rated the “best overall breast pump of 2022” and has great reviews.
- Bottles and cleaning accessories. There is no “perfect” bottle for breastfeeding – don’t buy the consumer hype! If you’re planning to express milk to feed your baby or use formula, you’ll need a good supply of bottles, nipples, and appropriate cleaning tools, like a bottle scrubber and drying area. If you choose the Dr. Brown’s bottles, our doula Korene recommends you get the Preemie (0m+) sized nipples which have the slowest flow. In her experience, some newborn babies struggle with the Level 1 (0m+) sized nipples, especially babies born early, with colic or reflux.
- Bottle warmers. The Baby Brezza is a high-tech gadget that will automatically make a warm bottle of formula instantly. Quick opinion: it saves time, is easy to set and use, and has different temp settings. But it definitely requires maintenance and cleaning. Some families really like having one, and others would rather just pre-make bottles and then use a simple bottle warmer like this one from Dr. Brown’s.
- Formula. If you are not planning to breastfeed you’ll need to have formula on hand and ready. Here is our advice about choosing the best formula for your baby.
- While it doesn’t need to happen right away, at some point you’ll want to give your baby a bath! We like this Puj Flyte bath for when they’re really little. It’s soft and folds up like a cool piece of origami into your kitchen sink. Hello, back saver!
- Babies don’t need a lot of soap, and most of our clients are concerned about the amount of chemicals in the average drugstore baby shampoos. We love the baby body wash from Earth Mama Angel Baby made from organic castile soap (which is naturally tear-free, too.) In yummy smells like orange/vanilla and lavender, and a no-scent option, you’ll be sniffing your baby’s head for hours after bath!
- Muslin receiving blankets. Aden & Anais is the OG in this category. Whimsical, fun prints and just the right level of warmth for our crazy Florida weather. Also the perfect size for swaddling, and has been known to stand-in as burp cloths, changing pads, nursing covers and stroller shades. Call this a multi-tasker!
- Swaddles. Swaddling mimics your womb and touch, and helps your baby to self soothe. It moderates your baby’s natural startle reflex. Nowadays we have many more options for swaddling our babies than just using a receiving blanket. Here are some that our clients have used: Swaddle Me Original Swaddle Wrap, Halo Innovations Sleep Sack and the Zipadee Zip which our doula Korene says is her favorite transition sleep sack of all.
- Baby washcloths. All babies spit up a little. Some babies spit up a lot. Wash cloths stashed around the house are a must!
- Onesies. Sure, you won’t be able to resist all those adorable newborn outfits. To be honest, your baby will spend so much time sleeping at first that you’ll want her to either be in a onesie or a baby sleeper most of the time. We find the onesies to be easier given the number of diaper changes that will take place in each day… who has time for all those buttons?
- Baby sleepers: Speaking of which, we’re seeing a growing number of families choosing these magnetic pajamas, no buttons or zips! Dads seem to be the ones who appreciate them the most.
- Baby carrier. A baby registry must for Tampa Bay parents is a climate-friendly choice. Which means, no Mobys. We know, the Moby is a super popular choice for first-time parents, but take it from experienced parents – no one wants to be tied up in all those sweaty hot layers! You’ll also want to pick one that is comfortable for both you and your baby. Great newborn choices are a woven ring sling, like these from Sakura Bloom, or an infant-sized buckle carrier with a breathable mesh front, like this from Kinderpack.
- Co-Sleeper. When your baby is a newborn, you’ll most likely want them in your room for sleeping. Some options for co-sleepers are the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper or this super high-tech Halo Bassinet Swivel Sleeper.
- Snoo Baby Bassinet: This baby sleeper will gently rock and soothe your baby with motion and noise overnight or during nap time. It is a transient device that you will only use from birth to about six months (or when baby can get up on her hands and knees.) So, it’s a very big investment for short term use. However, many parents swear by and love their Snoo and have gotten more sleep while using it.
- Sound Machine. Our postpartum doula Rebecca calls this her “go-to, most favorite gift ever!” White noise is a great way to block out distractions for restless babies (and super sleepy parents, too.)
- Baby Dream Machine: Our doula Korene highly recommends this 5 in 1 dream machine. Why? It has red light therapy which is the only wavelength of light that does not have an inhibitory effect on babies natural production of melatonin. It makes pink noise, which is a nice change from the run of the mill white noise. Pink noise sounds full, deep, rich and monotonous. Perfect examples of pink noise are the sounds of a heartbeat, a fan or humidifier, ocean waves, the patter of rainfall or the rustling of leaves on a tree. It also has a night light, essential oil diffuser, and a cool-mist humidifier which almost every parent uses at some point to keep the air balanced or when your baby is not feeling well.
- Humidifier: The fridababy 3 in 1 humidifier is another option which is a little less pricy. It also has a cool-mist humidifier, essential oil diffuser, and a color changing nightlight.
- Baby swing. Remember those old-school back-and-forth swings? Well, meet the new style! This super cool Mamaroo from 4Moms bounces up and down and sways side to side. With modes like “car ride” and “tree swing” it is bound to have a setting your baby will like for long enough to let you eat a whole meal at the actual dining table.
- Snuggle Me Organic Infant Lounger. Recommended by our doula Jessica, the Smuggle Me is made with organic fabric, it gently hugs your baby making them feel snug and cozy. It is a useful item to set your baby down for lounging or tummy time or when you need an extra set of hands.
- Playmat. When your baby is ready for some play time, you’ll want a nice blanket or playmat to lay her down on. Most have dangling toys and fun colors.
- Crib. Our clients typically want their baby in their room, at least for the first months, which is why we suggest a co-sleeper. But eventually, you may want your baby in her own room. Signing up for a crib on your baby registry is a great way to get other people to contribute! 😉
- Reading Material: Yes, you should have some books on your baby registry. Wonder Weeks, The Baby Book, Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, No-Cry Sleep Solution. Answer those middle of the night questions like, “Is it normal that my baby sleeps this much? This little? Is it ok that my baby’s poop is green?” (Short answer: yes.)
- Nursing pads. For a while – like maybe several months – your breasts will leak milk. You’ll want to have nursing pads (They go inside your bra) to soak up that milk. They come in the disposable or reusable (cotton) variety. Milkies Milk Savers are cool nipple pads that fit inside your bra and catch any leaking milk to save for later!
- Nipple cream. You may have tender nipples in the beginning of your breastfeeding journey. (Notice we said tender! If you’re getting cracked or bleeding nipples, something needs fixing. See a certified lactation counselor.) We like this organic version from Motherlove.
- Silverettes: Another lifesaver for tender nipples or soreness from pumping. These little silver cups are placed right over your nipples to soothe and protect your skin. We first heard about these from a client who raved about her experience.
- Glider with a foot rest. As we mentioned earlier, you’ll spend a lot of time nursing or feeding your baby. Do it in comfort!
- Earth Mama Herbal Perineal Spray. This cooling, gentle spray is heaven on your lady parts after vaginal birth.
- Nursing bras/shirts. Another one where what you like makes all the difference! Some nursing mothers prefer the “pull shirt down from the top” approach, while others like to “pull shirt up from the bottom.” Get a few to start yourself out and then add more after baby is born. We like the nursing tanks from Motherhood, Target and Glamourmom.
- Postpartum Doula Support. Feeling overwhelmed yet? There is a LOT that goes into taking care of a newborn AND yourself! It’s totally okay to call in for help. If you know in advance that you’ll need professional support, adding postpartum doula support to your baby registry is a great idea.
We hope this list helps you in putting together your own personalized baby registry. Remember you don’t NEED everything on this list. Babies don’t really NEED lots of things. They mostly just need you, but sometimes additional baby gear can be helpful. Good luck!