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Your Ultimate List of Baby Registry Must-Haves
Published on Dec 03, 2021. By Amy Roach
bassinet

With a baby on the way, it’s time to get organized about what baby gear you’re going to need—and trust us, you’re going to need a lot! Everyone loves to buy baby gifts, and a complete and comprehensive baby registry is the best way to ensure that generous friends, family members, colleagues, and neighbors can easily find the products you want and need. You can still look forward to some nice-to-have surprises, of course, but your baby registry must-haves are the essentials you’ll need to survive and thrive during baby’s earliest days. A baby registry search can be overwhelming and you may feel lost at first trying to decipher what you need—bouncer or play gym? Bottle warmer or diaper warmer? Cloth diapers or disposable? We’ve got you covered, with this ultimate baby registry checklist.

In this article:

  • What is a baby registry?
  • When to create a baby register?
  • What are the baby registry must-haves?
  • What NOT to put on a registry?

What is a baby registry?

Your baby registry is a list of all the baby products you are hoping to receive before the birth of your child. Linked to a particular retail store, it allows anyone you share it with to find the items you’ve selected and purchase them for you. Highly personal, you can include anything you’d like—from baby registry must-haves like strollers, cribs, baby carriers, and infant clothing to everyday basics like diapers, bibs, pacifiers, and burp cloths. Options for expecting parents include registering at one store or multiple stores, or picking a universal registry, which is a popular choice that combines all your lists into one master registry. In addition, a baby registry is a great way to keep track of which items are on the way and what you may still need to purchase yourself.

When should you create a baby registry?

Your baby registry search can help you find a wide variety of stores to register with—popular choices include buybuyBaby, Target, Amazon, Babylist.com, and Bed Bath & Beyond, among others—but it’s also important to think about when to set up your registry. It’s really never too soon to start. In fact, if you want to begin organizing your baby registry checklist before you’re ready to announce your pregnancy, many retailers will allow you to start building a list in “private” mode. It can take a long time to determine everything you think you’ll need and to choose your preferred brands, so starting early is smart.

For parents who prefer to wait until they are a little further into the pregnancy, a common milestone to start a registry is when you are 12 weeks along. If you are planning to find out the gender of the baby, which usually occurs at around 20 weeks, you may want to wait until that point to add items like clothing, blankets, bedding, and any other products that you’d like to reflect a specific gender. Whatever time frame you choose, make sure potential guests of baby showers or gender reveal parties will have enough time to search your registry and make a purchase.  

What are the baby registry must-haves?

The real work—and the real fun!—begins when it comes to deciding what baby registry must-haves to include on your list. It can be easily overwhelming, especially for first-time parents, as there are tons of products to choose from and tons of brands for each product. We recommend focusing first on the essentials you will use again and again so you are fully prepared from day one. You can always add to your registry, so there’s no pressure to get it all right at one time. And, the choice is completely yours: register for as much, or as little, as you like.

Get started with our ultimate wish list of baby registry must-haves:

Big-ticket items:

  • Infant car seat
  • Stroller
  • Crib
  • Crib mattress
  • High chair
  • Baby carrier
  • Bassinet
  • Pack and play/travel crib
  • Rocking chair, glider, or arm chair for nursing/feeding
  • Changing table with cushioned changing pad
  • Dresser
  • Baby bouncer or baby swing
  • Diaper bag(s) 

Sleeping:

  • Crib mattress pads (1-3, washable)
  • Crib mattress protector
  • Fitted crib sheets (at least 2)
  • Receiving/swaddle blankets (4-6)
  • Baby sleep sacks (2-3)
  • Stroller bunting 
  • Pacifiers (at least 3)

Bathing:

  • Baby tub
  • Washcloths (2-4)
  • Hooded towels (2-4)
  • Mild baby wash
  • Mild baby lotion
  • Bath toys
  • Baby comb or hairbrush

Feeding:

  • Breast pump (if breast feeding)
  • Nursing pillow (if breast feeding)
  • Nursing bras (if breast feeding)
  • Nipple pads and cream (if breast feeding)
  • Breast milk freezer bags (if breast feeding)
  • Nursing shawl (if breast feeding)
  • Bottles (4 oz and 8 oz, 12-15 total)
  • Bibs (4-8)
  • Burp cloths (4-8)
  • Bottle brush
  • Bottle drying rack
  • Formula (if not breastfeeding)

Diapering:

  • Diaper pail
  • Diaper pail liners
  • Diapers (newborn size)
  • Diaper cream
  • Baby wipes (unscented)

Medical/Safety:

  • Baby monitor
  • Baby first-aid kit
  • Thermometer
  • Nail clippers 
  • Nasal suction bulb
  • Petroleum jelly

Playtime:

  • Activity mat
  • Teething toys
  • Rattles
  • Soft stacking blocks
  • Soft baby books
  • Stuffed animals
  • Toy basket(s) and storage bins/cubes

Clothing:

*We recommend registering for baby clothing in several sizes. Your little one will grow quickly and you don’t want to be caught with nothing that fits! Also keep seasonality in mind so baby is warm or cool enough with the weather.)

  • Onesies (8-10; select short sleeve and/or long-sleeve onesies based on season)
  • One-piece pajamas, footed (6-8)
  • One-piece pajamas, no feet (4-6)
  • Elastic-waist pants (6-8) 
  • Baby tee shirts (6-8; select short sleeve and/or long-sleeve tees based on season)
  • Sweaters or sweatshirts, front button or zipper (2-4)
  • Dressy outfits for holidays or photo shoots (1-3)
  • Socks or booties (6-8)
  • No scratch mittens (1-3)
  • Cotton hats (4-6)
  • Sun hats for summer babies (1-3)
  • Bathing suit for summer babies (1-2)
  • Winter hats for winter babies (1-3)
  • Snowsuit (footed) for winter babies 
  • Baby shoes, soft soled (1-2)
  • Mild baby detergent

What should you NOT put on a baby registry?

With so many items on your baby registry must-haves list, it’s helpful to know what you can easily leave off the baby registry checklist. Here are some products we think are out of favor or overrated and not likely to get that much use.

  • Crib bumpers: While once standard baby décor to complete the crib, bumpers are no longer recommended as they present a risk of suffocation or strangulation if baby’s head gets caught between the crib rails and the bumper.
  • Pricey baby outfits and baby shoes: Unless you’re an influencer and need to post pics of your baby in designer duds every day, chances are they’re going to live in basic onesies and footie pajamas. One or two cute looks for holidays or a photo shoot is all you really need. 
  • Wipe warmers: Changing a baby can be a messy and drawn-out process. Adding time to wait for wipes to warm up just isn’t that practical. Plus, babies are tough enough to survive a chilly bum for a few seconds. 
  • Bottle sterilizer: Washing bottles in hot, soapy water has worked just fine forever.
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