The Best Baby Registry Items for a Newborn

Published: October 5, 2014

Overwhelmed by the thousands of things you need for a newborn? How much do you really need for a tiny human who is only going to sleep, eat, poop, and cry for those first few weeks? This list has everything you need to bring home baby. 

  1. Car Seat, to get baby home!

    You need a carseat to legally transport your baby home. Most parents opt for a bucket seat for the ease of taking a sleeping baby out of the car. However, you can just go straight to a bucket seat. Whichever you choose, be sure that you choose based on crash protection in the rear facing position as evaluated by a third-party reputible source, such as Consumer Reports, and that you have the seat properly installed. Most fire departments and police stations have a staff member certified to teach proper installation. Also read up on proper use. You need to know how to adjust buckles, fit your child to the seat, and that NO aftermarket devices may be used on your seat, such as a towel or pad that goes between the carseat and the seat of your car.

  2. A place to sleep.

    Baby will need a place to sleep. You might not have space for a crib (or even want one!), so know what works for you. Good quality playyards come with a bassinet feature. You can also use a co-sleeper, or even co-sleep with baby. If baby will be in or next to your bed, be sure anyone in the bed with baby has discussed safe sleeping with a peditrician. 

  3. Cloth diapers

    Regardless of your decision to use cloth or disposable diapers, you need non-prefold, plain white cloth diapers. 

    Babies leak everything everywhere. Having something that is large, absorbant, and easily cleaned is key. For the first few weeks, you'll always have some at arm's reach, and always have some in the laundry, so go ahead and get two packs. Or three, or five, just so you don't need to do laundry every second. I don't judge. And once you are done with the blow-outs and spit-ups, these make awesome dish towels and dust rags. 

  4. Washing Baby

    Did you know they make baby tubs with jets now? Do you know what a newborn does not need in this world full of new sensations? Sensory overload in the form of a jet-packed bath! Keep it simple. We found that slings worked best for our kids. They fit in sinks and tubs, and are easy to dry and put away. Completely foam or cloth baths will mold on the inside and start to smell even if you follow the directions. Giant plastic tubs are difficult to store unless Baby has a dedicated bathroom. So keep it easy. If your baby hates bath, make the water a little warmer and deeper. Remember that 98 degree ocean they were in for 40 weeks? 

  5. Feeding baby! Bottle Edition

    Breast! Bottle! Oh, the controversy. Here's my advice - what you determine best for your family is what is best for your family. Respect the choice of all. 

    That said, you're going to need a few things. 

    Bottles, to formula feed or pump and let someone else feed baby while you take a shower. I recommend Dr. Brown. If you pump, get the narrower necked bottles, as they connect right up to most pumps. 

    A bottle rack, to dry bottles. Choose whatever fits on your counter. 

    A sink. Wait, I don't need a fancy sanitizer? Nope. Those things are a joke. Spend your money on diapers and Luna bars. 

  6. Keep the poop under control

    Choose a diaper system that works for you, and a vessel to contain it. Most hospitals give you diapers to take home to hold you a day or two. Even if you cloth diaper, take advantage of these free disposables, because getting those first black poops out of cloth is near impossible. 

    In terms of containment, I can not say enough about Diaper Dekor Plus. Mine has held strong for 5 years, and the customer service is amazing. I've also never had the joy of shoving my hand into a messy poop diaper with this model like I did with Diaper Genie on a basis frequent enough to make me hostile towards the brand. Nor have I had to disassemble the entire unit to scrub poop out of mechanisms, as is common with Diaper Champ. The Dekor also takes regular trash bags or cloth wet bags, if you don't want to spend money on refills, repurpose as a trash can, or use with cloth diapering. 

  7. For the pumping mama


    Get it before you start pumping. Figure out how it works. Give it a name and know that it is your new BFF. Now you can hold your baby with one hand, eat with the other, and pump. 


    Also, nobody believes that woman just had a baby. You can be a little mad about that. 

  8. Boppy Pillow

    Yes, there are a million different nursing pillows, and yes, you will hear a million different emphatic reviews of each. In terms of overall usefulness and longevity, even if you are NOT nursing? Boppy has it. 

    I brought mine to the hospital, for when after hours of hard work, I suddenly had to find the energy to supply a baby with food from my body. It makes it pretty hard to drop the new little ragdoll. 

    They are useful for stacking right on top of your Breastfriend pillow for the first few weeks when your baby is impossibly small. They are great for having as a back-up, because you aren't going to drag your nursing pillow from the living room to the nursery all day long. 

    We used it for tummy time, sit support, and one of my daughters refused to nap anywhere but in the Boppy for a few weeks while her reflux was getting under control, despite the huge "No Sleeping" symbol on the tag. We were just sure not to walk away from her while she was napping. 

  9. Muslin swaddle blankets

    You know, the giant ones. They will become floor covers, burp cloths, swaddles, changing pads, stroller or carseat covers, and blankets. Eventually they even become capes. They are light and breathable, so you can use them in the summer, and you will use more than you thought possible for longer than you imagined. I can see two from where I sit and my children are all over the age of 1. And this is one area where the more expensive option is usually better. You will want something higher quality, to endure all those washes and stay soft for a long time to come. 

  10. Snack food, for you.

    Waking up every few hours is demanding enough without the added bonus of having a body that is trying to recover. And if you are nursing, multiply that by 1000. So get snacks. Lots of them. Get protein bars (Luna bars are amazing for nursing moms) and cheese sticks and so many crackers. Keep them near your nightstand and wherever you feed baby at 2am. Because it is no fun holding a nursing baby while you raid the refrigerator in the middle of the night. Take my word for it. 

  11. Lansinoh disposable breast pads

    If you are a first time mom, you may have not thought of this one. I mention specifics because this is THE brand that really works. They are the most absorbant, the most discrete, and the least irritating. I tried reusable pads and other brands, and nothing compared. Even if you formula feed, your boobs will leak. EVERY woman that just had a baby will have leaky boobs. So be ready. 

  12. Pajamas and onesies

    Keep it simple, keep it easy to get on, off, and to the diaper. 

    You will want to shove Baby in all the adorable outfits you picked out after that first sonogram, but you will quickly learn that you need function, not presentation, right now. Also, babies have an inate ability to sense frills or anything costing over $5 and regugitate all over it. Spare yourself some tears and frustration and get a few kimono shirts, maybe some leg warmers or pants, and a few pajama sets. And an excellent washing machine. 

And that is about it. Anything else is just accessory in those first few weeks, so toss it on the registry for fun, but don't panic when the next issue of Failing At Parenting tells you that DSS is coming to your house because you don't have the latest wipe warmer and snot sucker. You've got this, even when you feel helpless and clueless.