Considering my youngest child is 4, it has been a minute since I registered for baby items myself. That said, I’ve done a lot of nannying since having my own babies and feel like I still have a good handle on what is popular with baby items right now. One of my besties is currently pregnant with triplets so I found myself rehashing all of my most and least favorite baby items with her and thought others would also enjoy a comprehensive list.
The options can be overwhelming when registering for a baby. The stores are filled with so much stuff, which can be intimidating to a new mom. Let me tell you it is nowhere near as complicated as it looks. You can raise a healthy and well-adjusted child with just a few standard items like clothes, diapers, and a car seat. Those are the essentials, everything else is lagniappe. Although not essential items, there are so many modern conveniences that make the parenting process a whole lot easier and cuter along the way.
Infant or convertible car seat:: I strongly prefer an infant car seat carrier to a convertible car seat based on the ease of being able to get babies in and out of a car (especially sleeping babies) and being able to easily place an infant carrier in a grocery cart and avoid a young child touching everything on the cart. If you decide to go with an infant carrier I highly recommend finding one that will work with your stroller or buying them together as a set like this one.
Stroller:: I particularly love jogging strollers for bumpy NOLA streets. I recommend one with a front wheel that can swivel or lock so that you can easily use the stroller for jogging or walking. Bob is a popular brand, but if you are looking for something a little less pricey Baby Trend is popular for a lower price range and has infant car seats that can click in making it an option from birth and up.
Baby carrier:: Some popular varieties are the Ergo 360, Moby wrap or a sling. Different carriers work better for different lifestyles, I prefer the Ergo 360, finding it easy to put on and off, easy for either my husband or I to use, and super supportive for long periods of baby wearing.
Baby swing or bouncer:: You certainly can get both of these items if you like, but they serve a similar purpose at a similar age stage so one is definitely sufficient. I prefer the bouncer seat as it’s way less expensive than a swing, takes up less room, and is lighter and more easily carried from room to room. Each of my three babies loved these.
Jumper, exercise station or walker:: You can get each of these, but I find that they serve roughly the same purpose for the same age range.
Floor seat:: This is definitely not an essential, so if you are a minimalist you probably want to skip this one, but all of my kids enjoyed these. I even used them instead of a high chair in early feeding. Bumbo is a popular brand.
Portable Crib:: Pack N Play (by Graco) is a popular brand with several different models and features including a changing table, bassinet, diaper holder or mobile. I rarely used the extra features, but they can be nice if you plan to use the portable crib a lot.
Gentle laundry detergent:: You’re going to want something without harsh chemicals and smells for washing all of your baby’s clothes, towels and blankets.
Crib:: Convertible cribs that can morph into a toddler bed or twin bed are popular these days.
Bassinet, bedside sleeper, baby lounger or sleeping basket:: You can certainly have an infant sleep in the crib in their nursery starting at birth, but many new parents find it comforting (and easy for middle of the night feedings) to have their newborn sleep in their room. If you’re planning to go that route, you will want some place for the baby to sleep. I used my Pack N Play for this, or you could use something as simple as an empty laundry basket, but any of these options would work based on your preference. Just remember that you will have to store this after the baby has moved to their own room, so I recommend an option that folds up and takes up little space.
Mobile:: This is definitely not a necessity, but many parents enjoy hanging a mobile above the crib for the baby to look at. You can purchase one that just has hanging objects to look at, or ones that move, or ones that include sound or even lights. You could even make your own with string and cardstock cut outs, string and small toys, or by sewing small objects out of felt or fabric and suspending them from an embroidery hoop. My babies enjoyed ours as entertainment, but would have been fine without it also.
Rocker, glider or arm chair:: This is also not a necessity, I always nursed my babies either sitting on my bed or on our couch, but a having a chair is a nice touch for a nursery, and it might as well be a comfy one for those middle of the night feedings.
Baby monitor:: Since I had my babies a while ago I went old school with an audio monitor, but these days most parents seem to prefer video monitors.
Nightlight:: This is definitely not a necessity, but many parents enjoy having a nightlight in the nursery. Hatch is a popular model that combines a nightlight with a sound machine.
Sound machine:: This is definitely not a necessity, or can be as simple as a fan like I used with my babies for white noise. If you are interested in a sound machine the Hatch nightlight and sound machine combination is a popular one, or so is the Pottery Barn Sleep Sheep.
Dresser:: You’ll want some place to store all the clothes and blankets you have. I highly recommend skipping the changing table altogether and getting a dresser for storage and placing a changing pad and diaper caddy on top for changing diapers.
Changing pad and cover:: Whether you go with a dresser, changing table or the top of your dryer in your laundry room (like I did) you are going to want a changing pad for those diaper changes and at least 2 covers so you have one to use while the other is in the wash.
Toy basket, organizer, chest, or cube shelf:: You are going to want some type of toy organization system as toys add up over the years.
Fitted crib sheets (2-4)
Receiving blankets (4-6):: You could just take the ones from the hospital, but the popular Aiden and Anais muslin blankets are super cute and soft.
Swaddle blankets and/or wearable blankets (3-6):: I loved velcro swaddle blankets for my kids and found them way easier to swaddle late at night than receiving blankets. I’ve heard rumors that some babies don’t like their arms pinned down, so a wearable blanket would be great in that case. Zippadee zippered swaddle blankets are a popular brand with a slightly different approach than the other options.
Heavier blankets (1-2)
Diaper bag:: This Land Backpack has become very popular in recent years and is gender neutral enough for a dad to be comfortable carrying it.
Travel changing pad:: You’ll need one of these for the diaper bag, I highly recommend one that folds up into a pouch with pockets for wipes and diapers because it is super convenient to pull out of the diaper bag and simply take the pouch (rather than the whole diaper bag) when heading to a public restroom for a diaper change.
Diapers:: You’ll need to choose between disposable and cloth. I personally did disposables for the first 2 months, then cloth the rest of the way until potty-training, but I am definitely in the minority. (Click here to read my thoughts on cloth diapering if you are considering it.) I preferred Pampers diapers for disposables, but I had all boys and have heard friends who raised girls mention they liked Huggies better. Honest are a popular brand for less chemicals. Or the Target or Kirkland brand are popular generic diapers.
Diaper caddy or organizer:: You’ll want one of these for your changing table to store all your diapering necessities.
Diaper cream:: You can go with plain old Aquaphor or an all natural fancy butt paste, just have something on hand for when a dreaded diaper rash strikes.
Bum brush:: Diaper creams are super thick and pasty, this tool saves you from wiping your fingers in the thick cream and across you baby’s bum.
Baby wipes:: Disposable or cloth depending on whether you choose disposable or cloth diapers. I recommend an unscented variety to reduce rashes and harshness, and because ultimately you will end up using these to wipe food and snot off their little faces also.
Baby soap:: I like to skip the shampoo to reduce products and opt for a head-to-toe body wash option like this Aveeno product.
Bath towels (2-5):: There’s nothing cuter than a freshly bathed baby snuggled up in a hooded animal towel.
High chair or seat:: Ikea Antilop is a popular and inexpensive high chair.
Bottles and nipples- 4 oz and 8 oz (if baby is strictly bottle-fed you will go through about 10-4 oz bottles per day):: Dr Browns is a popular brand of bottles.
Pump (if you plan to breastfeed):: I never really used my pump, but I was never away from my babies for more than 2.5 hours during their first year. If you plan to be with them and exclusively breast-feed you can skip this and bottles. Medela is a popular brand. Tip:: some health insurance providers will reimburse for this.
Milk storage bags:: If you plan to breastfeed and pump
Nursing pads:: If you plan to breastfeed. You can use disposable or reusable.
Nipple shields:: Lactation consultants may tell you not to use these, but I used them in the beginning with each of my babies and never had problems with milk production. I did not use them every feeding though. Once I was at the point where my nipples were sore (or the baby had a hard time latching on) I would use a shield every other feeding (or so) to give my nipples a rest.
Nursing cover:: There are many different styles but lately the ones that double as car seat cover have become popular.
Nipple cream:: Lansinoh Lanolin was my absolute favorite.
Nursing pillow and cover:: This is not a necessity, you can certainly use an ordinary pillow to prop up your baby for nursing, but I found that the Boppy really was such a game changer for me and made nursing so much more convenient that I even included it with my necessary items to bring to the hospital with me. I recommend having at least two covers, so you have one to use while the other is in the wash. Even if you don’t plan to breastfeed, I loved the Boppy as a way to prop up my baby on the floor or my bed.
Burp cloths:: There are lots of cute burp cloths, but what I used more than anything were the cheap, no frills, white Gerber cloth diapers. I kept them in the diaper bag, used them for wiping spit up, and always left one under my baby’s head while napping on the couch in case they spit up while napping.
Pacifiers (2-4):: WubbaNubs are popular because they have a cute stuffed animal attached, but my kids were never able to continuously suck on pacifier models like these that were straight so I ended up using brands that had the bump at the end. If you plan to use pacifiers I highly recommend also getting at least 1-2 pacifier clips.
Formula:: If not breastfeeding.
Baby Grooming Kit:: Some assortment of items including a toothbrush, hairbrush, nail clippers etc. For what it’s worth, I never found a single kit that had an aspirator worth using, so you can just toss that out when you get it, the one from the hospital is much better, hang on to that one for dear life and never loose it because you can’t find anything comparable in a store.
Aspirator:: As I mentioned above, the hospital aspirator is by far my favorite ever, NoseFrida has also become a very popular item.
Baby thermometer:: I recommend a temporal scanner model.
Gripe Water:: I found this super helpful with fussy newborns.
Infant Tylenol or Motrin
One-piece pajamas (5-8):: My kids lived in these and with lots of spit-up from my babies we changed their jammies multiple times a day. I highly recommend the zippered variety because the snap ones can be frustrating to match up during middle of the night feedings and diaper changes.
Sweaters or jackets (1-3)
Dress-up outfits (1-3): Since my littles spent so much time in zip-up jammies and because they grow so quickly I don’t recommend spending too much money on cute outfits until their growing slows down a bit.
Socks (4-7 pairs):: I was super picky on baby socks. All of the cute socks seemed to slide right off my babies. My criteria for baby and kid socks are that they have bunched ankles (so they don’t slide off) and rubber on the bottom of the feet (so that when young kids start walking they don’t slip all over the place). These socks from Old Navy are my go-to for babies and toddlers.
Hats:: You will want a variety of newborn, at least one broad-rimmed and at least one warm cap that covers ears.
Mittens:: I didn’t use these, but many moms enjoy having the protection to keep the sharp baby nails from scratching their precious faces.
Shoes:: I didn’t put shoes on my babies until they started walking, then for their first pair I prefer something flexible and leather for learning to walk and balance like these Robeez or any similar generic knock-off.
Sophie:: I didn’t have this when my kids were babies, but this squeeking teether has become all the rage lately. You don’t have to go to Pottery Barn to buy one, I have also seen them for sale at Walmart and Target.
Lovey:: I recommend having some kind of lovey for your baby, and I highly recommend buying at least two so you have a backup if the original gets lost.
Wood puzzles:: This Melissa and Doug set is my fave.
Shape sorter:: This Melissa and Doug one is my fave.
Magnetic tiles:: These are my absolute favorite kid toy ever. Kids from age 1 through 10 all enjoy building creations with these blocks. The name brand tiles are on the expensive side, so I really like this generic set from amazon.
Board books:: You’ll want to have a handful of books to read to your little one, I especially like board books for the early years so they are durable enough for toddlers to “read” on their own. A few of my personal favorites are Goodnight Moon, The Hungry Caterpillar and anything by Dr. Seuss or Sandra Boynton.
Items to Skip
Changing Table:: I find this piece of furniture unnecessary and impractical as it clutters up the nursery. As I mentioned above, I prefer to have a dresser to store clothes and place the changing pad on top of it to reduce the big furniture items in a child’s room and make more room for playing on the floor.
Wipe warmer:: Almost everyone on our New Orleans Mom team agreed to this being an unnecessary item. Room temperature wipes did just fine for us.
Diaper trash can:: I never found these to make much difference in odor and didn’t like that you have to buy special (expensive) bags for the specialty cans. I recommend using a good stainless steel trash can with a closing top and taking the trash out regularly.
Food mill:: I always used my food processor when making baby food. By kid number three I didn’t even bother much with that and mostly leaned on very soft foods (such as banana, sweet potato and avocado) and mashed them up with a fork right when I needed them.
Bottle warmer:: I found this unnecessary. My favorite quick and easy method for heating bottles is to microwave a mug of water for 1-2 minutes and then float a bottle or bag of milk in the mug for 1 minute, resulting in milk that is never too hot and doesn’t take very long or need to be closely watched while warming.
Silicone Teething Necklaces:: I really loved these in theory, but not in practice. My kids did enjoy chewing on them, but I did not enjoy having drool all over my necklace, then clothes, and having my neck constantly being pulled against by my baby. Nor do I want to teach my children that everything around my neck is for them to chew on. So now I say, let necklaces be necklaces and baby teethers be that, but there is no need to combine the two.
Baby shampoo:: As I mentioned above, I like to streamline my products and opt for a head-to-toe baby wash in lieu of separate shampoo and body wash products.
It’s very well written and it helps me a lot.