Registering for a baby as a first-time mom is confusing. There are all these lists online for “must-have baby registry items,” but they include so many obvious items: cribs, clothes, diaper pail. Um…DUH! So you go to your mom for advice.
You: Should I get a baby swing that runs on batteries or one that plugs in?
Your Mom: They have ELECTRIC BABY SWINGS NOW? When you were a baby, I had to turn a crank and it was so loud that it woke you up and you would have this cute little startled reaction…. [gets emotional]
So you turn to your friends, but realize none of them have babies and their vague advice of “my sister-in-law uses this and she seems to like it” doesn’t exactly convince you that it’s going to work for your lifestyle.
That’s not to mention the war between your Preggo Brain and your New Mom Brain.
PB: You don’t need that, it’ll just complicate things.
NMB: HOW DID YOU THINK YOU COULD LIVE WITHOUT THIS PRODUCT YOU ARE SUCH AN IDIOT AND A TERRIBLE MOTHER.
Well, now you can learn from my mistakes.
This list is not inclusive by any means. And most of it comes down to preference. (They make baby stuff in so many shapes, styles, methods, and colors, because one size does not fit all.) This list is all of my top 10 must-have baby registry items: things I should have registered for, why I thought I didn’t need them, and why I totally did. If what I’m saying makes sense, go ahead and scan that sucker at the Target aisle.
Muslin Swaddle Blankets
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: I already had a TON of receiving blankets and just couldn’t justify paying $34 for 4 more. It’s just a blanket, people, chill out.
Why I Totally Did: Flannel receiving blankets were WORTHLESS. Seriously, don’t register for them. They are too small to swaddle even a newborn (my daughter was 7 lbs 7 oz at birth). The muslin ones are huge, breathable, and can make a number of different types of swaddles. Any muslin ones will do, really. We bought this set on Amazon and they were just as good as the Aden + Anais brand we had purchased previously. Just make sure they’re at least 44″ square.
Changing Table for Downstairs
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: I don’t really have room for one. I’ll just change her in the laundry room on top of the dryer. I’ll be standing right there the whole time. Plus, I’ll be cloth diapering, so I can just throw the diapers right in the wash!
Why I Totally Did: HAHAHAHAHA!!!! I must have been suffering from serious Preggo Brain because the instant I brought my tiny, precious, fragile little daughter into the house (through the laundry room, I might add), New Mom Brain’s first thought was “I CAN’T CHANGE HER ON TOP OF THE DRYER!” My husband ran out the next day and bought a cheap one to set up in my office. It was super annoying having walk up the stairs every time she needed to be changed.
What I Thought I Didn’t Need Them: “I spent well over $300 on cloth diapers, wipes, wet bags, and accessories. I am going to make this work.”
Why I Totally Did: Getting used to being a mom is rough work. I had just had a c-section. I didn’t know how to tell whether her diaper was wet or not. And my husband was never really on-board with the whole “wash diapers in the washing machine” business. Disposables were just easier. We never used a single cloth diaper on her butt. Not even one time. (We did use the flats and prefolds as burp cloths.)
Rock n’ Play Sleeper
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: “She’ll sleep in the swing during the day, the bassinet in our room at night, and the crib when she gets old enough. It’ll be a waste of $75.”
Why I Totally Did: Two words: wonder weeks. There were nights where we literally could NOT get Baby Bear to go to sleep no matter what we tried. And when she finally did fall asleep, my usually excellent sleeper would wake up every three hours, like clockwork. The Rock n’ Play fit neatly next to the bed so I could pop in the paci and give her a little rock without even really having to wake up. And it was so useful beyond nighttime. I took it to other people’s houses so Bear could nap without me having to lug the Pack & Play everywhere. It was a great infant seat that I could carry around the house so she could observe the world. (Oh, and by the way, I bought ours at Once Upon a Child for $20. Best money I ever spent.)
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: I had a TON of bibs already. (You don’t ever need to register for cloth bibs, by the way, they just show up.)
Why I Totally Did: Unless you’re feeding your baby 50 times a day, you will not have enough dirty cloth bibs to make a full load of laundry. And when fruit puree sits for a while, it turns moldy and mildewy. Cute bib is now ruined. Silicone bibs can just be washed with the bowls and spoons and everything else you used to feed the baby and it will be dry and ready in time for the next feeding. Plus, it has a nifty little pocket to catch any dropped food.
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: The Chicco Lullaby LX playard we have came with a simple activity gym. That’ll be good enough, right?
Why I Totally Did: She couldn’t reach any of the hanging toys until she was about 5 months old, but wanted to play before that. So there she was, just staring at things she couldn’t have. Luckily, a friend let me borrow her kid’s old activity gym and Baby Bear was HOOKED. Babies learn how to use their legs long before they learn how to use their hands, so she had a lot of fun kicking this piano and staring at herself in the mirror before she figured out how to play with the hanging toys. (Oh, and speaking of hanging toys, these colorful links helped bring everything down to her level.)
Bottle Drying Rack
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: I’m going to breastfeed and only give a bottle a couple times a day at most. I don’t need another thing taking up space.
Why I Totally Did: Bottle + nipples/collars + milk storage lids + pacifiers + pump flanges and valves + dinner dishes = Leaning Tower of Dishes. The drying rack now keeps Bear’s stuff separate from ours so we don’t have to go digging under a bunch of pots and pans to get to her paci. Plus, after Bear turned 8 months or so, she flat out refused to nurse for longer than 2 minutes but sucked down a 6 oz. bottle like a starving wolf cub. So I became an exclusively pumping mommy (never saw that coming!). Way more than “a couple bottles a day.”
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: ????? Honestly, I don’t think this ever once occurred to me.
Why I Totally Did: Finicky newborns don’t like cold bottles and breastmilk separates when it sits in the fridge; heating it up helps all the fatty stuff “melt” and homogenize. “Gently swirling” it doesn’t do jack on cold breastmilk. My mom found this one at a garage sale. It uses steam and remembers the time that you used on the last bottle, so if you get into a habit of always offering your baby the same size bottle, you just turn it on and go.
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: I don’t want my baby to become dependent on a pacifier.
Why I Totally Did: It was a choice between having her suck on my boob all night (literally all night) or giving her the paci and going to sleep. I take that back; there was no choice. Babies have a primal urge to suck on things, regardless of whether they’re hungry or not. (And Bear never found her thumb.) I was breastfeeding and working on getting a good latch but as soon as the doctor told me I could introduce one, I did. The paci let us all get some sleep.
Portable Stroller Fan
Why I Thought I Didn’t Need It: To be honest, if I had known these existed when I was pregnant, I would have registered for about 4 of them. I saw one when Bear was about 3 months old and instantly screamed, “Babe! We have got to get one of those!”
Why I Totally Did: We live in Central Florida, so summers are
hot and humid hell on earth. Since newborns can’t regulate their body temperature very well, it made me nervous putting her facing backward in a hot car with nothing to cool her down. I ordered this rechargeable fan on Amazon and it is AMAZING. It’s durable, points in every single direction imaginable, and the battery lasts quite a long time before you have to recharge it. It works great at theme parks too.
What “non-essential” items did you have to run out and get after your baby was born?