Baby Registry – What Do I REALLY Need?

Who knew bringing home a tiny human required so much STUFF? In the nine months I had leading up to arrival of my son, Elijah, I mostly spent time researching what I did and did not need, to make our lives a little bit easier. With the things I decided that we did need, I tried to find the most cost-effective way to obtain them.

Obviously, babies will have different preferences for what they like, but oftentimes, we don’t know these preferences until weeks after they have arrived. These are the items that were must-haves for me and little Eli, and this list can be a guide and starting point for soon-to-be mothers who are a little overwhelmed by it all.

Where to Register

It seems like every single store that sells baby items wants you to create a baby registry with them. Here are the ones that I found to be the most useful and have the most perks.

  • Amazon – After creating a registry at Amazon, add something on the list that you were going to buy anyway that is at least $10. Purchase the item and check off the rest of the boxes on the Amazon baby checklist, and you will be eligible to receive a free Baby Registry Welcome Box, worth $35. Although boxes will vary, I received: helicopter toy, hedgehog swaddle blanket, Avent bottle, full size baby wipes, Pampers diaper clutch & 2 newborn diapers, and samples for nursing pads, Aquaphor, diaper cream, and baby shampoo.
    BONUS: Anything left on the registry that you did not receive, you can purchase for 10% off (15% for Prime members)!
  • Target – After creating a baby registry with Target, you can pick up a free welcome bag at any Target stores, if they have them in stock. I received: MAM bottle, Nuk pacifier, Pampers diaper clutch & 2 newborn diapers, and samples for nipple cream and Dapple dish soap.
    BONUS: Anything left on the registry that you did not receive, you can purchase for 15% off!
  • Babylist – I ended up creating and sharing my registry at Babylist with friends and family because I can easily add items from wherever I want. I really like the layout and design, and the customer service is easy to work with.
    BONUS: Anything left on the registry that you did not receive, you can purchase for 10% off!

    *See the items that I mention below on my Pinterest board*

What to Buy Secondhand

There are a few options for where to look for secondhand baby items. I mostly used Facebook Marketplace to find items that were being sold locally. I also occasionally used Craigslist, although the response time was usually a lot slower. Thrift stores, Goodwill, and baby consignment shops are also great places to look for gently used items.

  • Diaper pail – Some people claim that a diaper pail is a waste of money because the smells of poop cannot be contained. Elijah hasn’t really explored the world of solids yet, but so far, his formula and breastmilk diapers have been contained fairly well in our Diaper Champ (except when we are changing it out, but that is to be expected). The other plus is that we can use regular trash bags, which is a huge money saver. Other popular diaper pail brands include Diaper Genie, Munchkin, Dekor, and Ubbi. Ubbi is another one that doesn’t require special refill bags.
  • Swing – For a fussy, colicky baby, a swing is a lifesaver. Our swing put our baby to sleep when nothing else would work. We bought a discontinued Graco model secondhand, and it has definitely served its purpose well. I would recommend getting one that will plug into the wall if you don’t anticipate moving it around often.
  • Bouncer – These are very easy to find used. There are lots of different brands to choose from, and you shouldn’t have to pay more than $10 for one. There are also swing/bouncer combinations as a space-saving option.
  • High chair – Once your little one is able to try some solids (4-6 months), a high chair is a very handy to have. If your family frequently eats in the dining room, a booster seat style high chair would work well; it’s also more portable. I found a Graco Duodiner high chair in great condition for $10, and it has been the perfect place for Elijah to try out solids.
  • Changing table – Although some people end up changing their babies on beds or couches, I always liked using the changing table because all of the materials I needed were within reach and easy to access.
  • Swaddles – I loved using the Swaddleme pods and velcro swaddles for the first three months. They keep the baby’s arms contained so the startle reflex doesn’t wake them up multiple times a night.
  • Pack n Play – Although Eli didn’t spend a lot of time in his Pack n Play, it served as a baby station for the downstairs. It was a place to set him down when I needed my hands, and the changing station for the downstairs was a lifesaver.
  • Exersaucer – This won’t come in handy until your baby gains complete head control (~4 months), but it can entertain your baby for quite awhile. They are pretty expensive when purchased brand new but can be found secondhand fairly easily. Because they tend to take up a lot of space, try to find one that can be collapsed and/or converted when they get older, like the Evenflo Exersaucer Triple Fun.
  • Rock n Play – Moms swear by the rock n play when newborns have a hard time going to sleep. Although it is not technically sleep safe, the inclined hammock-like sleep surface is liked by a lot of babies and can be a lifesaver for extreme cases of reflux. Paying a little more for the auto-rock option is worth the money, in my opinion.
  • Fisher Price Sit Me Up chair – Eli started favoring sleeping on one side from the first day we brought him home. This resulted in a flat spot on one side of his head. At such a young age, it’s difficult to keep the babies off their heads all the time, since tummy time can be so tiring and uncomfortable. This chair keeps the baby upright in a natural position, without the need for complete head control. Having this seat was crucial in helping his head grow back into a nice round shape.
  • Nursing pillow – I have the Leachco Cuddle-U pillow, and it created a soft surface for me to rest my arms and the baby, when I held him for a nap or when feeding him. It’s also a great baby lounger and works as a prop up pillow for tummy time!

    Big Ticket Items

    These are the items that I knew I wanted but were priced on the higher end. When close family and friends ask what they should get you or if you need ideas for Christmas/birthday gifts, choose from this list.

  • Crib – Babies get transitioned to their rooms and their cribs at different ages. I wasn’t sure when I would be willing to graduate Eli to his own room, but I ended up doing it sooner than anticipated (4 months). This has done wonders for my sleep at night, and Eli has been sleeping in his crib very well. If you don’t have a nursery or have limited space, a mini-crib may be more a more suitable purchase.
  • Baby monitor – This is must-have if you have a fairly large house or if you plan on sleep training. We have the Summer Infant Dual View baby monitor, and it has been working well so far.
  • Glider – A glider is not a must-have and may not be feasible, depending on the size of the nursery, but I really enjoy using it for nighttime feedings and story time.
  • Travel system (with extra base) – It’s a good idea to invest in a quality travel system because it will cause a lot of headache if you don’t like the one you have. I opted for a budget-friendly one by BabyTrend, but if I could go back, I most likely would pay more for Chicco or Britax. The three-wheeled jogger-style stroller are much easier to maneuver than the four-wheeled style. Make sure to add an extra base to the registry if you anticipate multiple people or cars driving the little one around.
  • Convertible car seat – This is the car seat that will grow with your baby. These typically have a weight range of 5-40 lbs and can be used rear or front facing. The only downside is that it is not portable and must stay in the car, so it’s not as convenient for infants.
  • Dockatot – I debated for a long time before finally pulling the trigger on this expensive baby bed. Some people claim that it is a miracle product and will get your baby to sleep through the night. I can guarantee that does not happen with all babies (it didn’t with mine). But this is a great flat sleeping surface for babies that don’t like sleeping in a bassinet or crib. It’s also extremely lightweight and portable for sleepovers at Grandma’s. The deluxe size claims to fit babies 0-9 months, so you will get a lot of use out of it.

    Basic Necessities

  • Diapers/Wipes – Have at least one pack of newborn diapers on hand, and you can never have too many wipes. We have had great success with Pampers and haven’t really tried other brands. I also prefer the sensitive/fragrance-free wipes to minimize irritation.
  • Burp cloths – Babies spit up a lot. Or they drool. Or they leak milk when eating. I didn’t like using blankets as burp cloths because I felt like I had to wash them after doing that. I always have to have designated burp cloths within reach. My favorites are Carter’s terry cloth burp cloths. They are extremely soft and absorbent and in a very handy shape. I also purchased Gerber’s prefold gauze diapers, which work great as well.
  • Blankets – Blankets can be used to keep the baby warm, as a swaddle, as a burp cloth, or as a changing surface. They typically come in flannel or muslin varieties. I like using the muslin blankets more because they are lightweight, breathable, and more stretchy.
  • Bottles – Bottle preference is very specific to the baby. We tried Dr. Brown’s Wide, MAM, and Avent. My favorite to use are the MAM bottles. The nipple is slightly flattened to fit into the baby’s mouth to form a tight latch with minimal leakage. The holes on the bottom of the bottle allow the bottle to vent perfectly, with no nipple collapse. The nipple was constantly collapsing with Avent bottles. The smaller size bottles hold 2 ounces more than most other small sized bottles. And the gradual angle of the shape of the bottle allows all of the milk to travel to the nipple easily. I didn’t like how the milk would get trapped in the Avent bottles. Other popular brands that we didn’t try include Comotomo, Tommee Tippee, Playtex, and Lansinoh.
  • Pacifier – There are a lot of differing opinions about the use of pacifiers, but studies have shown that using one at night can reduce the risk of SIDS up to 6 months. We tried the Wubbanub pacifiers, but Eli was not a big fan of the flat soother style nipple. He really enjoyed using the MAM brand pacifiers, and the glow in the dark ones are extremely helpful when searching for a pacifier at night.
  • Nose cleaner – Baby nose holes are teeny tiny, and the bulb syringe is not very effective at removing snot. The Nosefrida looks and sounds scary, like the baby’s brains are getting sucked out, but it works well. The oogiebear ear & nose cleaner is the perfect tool for cleaning out external ear wax and dried boogers from little noses. The product also claims, “Friendly bear design won’t scare baby.”
  • Diaper cream – All babies will need diaper cream to protect their bottoms. I like to slather it on before bedtime as a preventative measure, in case he poops at night. I like Bordeaux’s Butt Paste brand, and I’ve also heard great things about Desitin.
  • Babybum brush – Diaper cream is very waterproof and will adhere to your hands. It can also be hard to apply far enough between the cheeks to where irritation is present. This brush is very helpful in keeping my hands clean and reaching easily between the butt cheeks. The cream comes off the brush easily with a wipe.
  • Formula pitcher – If you plan on exclusively formula feeding or supplementing with formula, the Dr. Brown’s formula pitcher is a must-have. Instead of preparing bottle after bottle throughout the day, up to 40 oz of formula can be prepared at once and stored in the fridge. The mixer in the pitcher prevents clumps and makes formula preparation a breeze. I also use warm water for formula preparation, which completely eliminates clumps every time.
  • Mini fridge – We have a two story house, and we spend the majority of the time on the second floor. The mini fridge was the perfect place to store my pump parts (between washes), expressed breast milk, and prepared formula. It saved me so much time and energy that I did not have.
  • Baby bathtub – The bathtub we use is the Skip Hop MOBY Bathtub with Sling. It’s easy to fill and clean and supports the baby’s neck and body very well during baths. It’s also shaped like a cute whale.
  • Drying rack – If you use bottles, you will want to have a dedicated bottle drying area. Different bottles brands and sizes will fit better on different types of racks. I like the Boon grass because all bottles and parts will be able to fit. I also have the Munchkin drying rack, which is great for nipples and tall bottles.
Photo of my chunky dude dozing in his Dockatot

✿ Katie ✿

5 Tips for Having the Best Pregnancy Experience

The fact that we, as women, have bodies capable of growing a whole person inside of us is a miraculous thing. There’s nothing quite like seeing that line appear on the first pregnancy test, and then taking ten more tests just to be sure.

As amazing as our bodies are, the nine month process of making a baby doesn’t always feel amazing. Here are some ways to make the pregnancy as enjoyable as possible.

  1. Get comfortable!

    Carrying around 30 lbs of extra weight is not my idea of a good time. It’s hard on the joints, the back, and it can really affect sleep. Rest is so important, especially in the final few months, when fatigue really hits and relief can be so hard to find. A body pillow, like the Leachco Snoogle, can be a lifesaver to provide support for an aching, pregnant body. I even brought mine on vacation at 37 weeks pregnant! This pillow isn’t cheap, but it can also be used as a nursing pillow. And dogs seem to love it, so there is that.

    As clothes start to feel tighter, it can be hard to justify buying maternity clothes. After all, who wants to buy clothes that can only be worn for a few months and are not cheap at all? If possible, look for second hand maternity clothes on local buy/sell sites. They are often in good condition and priced very reasonably.

    Regardless of price, I would absolutely recommend investing in a wire free bra and a pair of full panel jeans/shorts. The underwire in your bra will start digging into your growing belly, and having a comfortable, wire free bra will make the biggest difference. Be sure to account for your growing breasts and size up if needed. For pants, I highly recommend the full panel style to fully support your growing belly. I tried using a belly band to extend the wear of my pre-pregnancy pants, but every time I bent over, my pants were on the verge of falling down, and that was not very attractive or convenient.

    My favorite stores for maternity clothes are Motherhood Maternity, Old Navy, Target, and H&M. Wait for a sale to stock up on some cute pieces!

  2. Be prepared, but not too prepared.

    I am a researcher by nature. If I am traveling to a new city, trying out a new restaurant, or gearing up to have a new experience (i.e. having a baby), I like to be as prepared as possible. Everyone has probably heard about the book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting. It can be a very helpful resource for a new mom and provides a breakdown for every month of pregnancy. However, it is extremely dense, and not a very easy read, since much of the information won’t be relevant. It serves a better purpose as a textbook to reference when faced with a specific question, rather than a book to read cover to cover. Some of the dangers mentioned in the book can be overwhelming, so take in the scary-sounding information with a grain of salt and be sure to use other resources as well.

    A book I found much more useful was Expecting Better by Emily Oster. Rather than accepting the rules at face value (no sushi, no alcohol, no caffeine), she delves into the research as to why pregnant women are told these seemingly random rules and the risks involved if these rules are not followed. Many of these guidelines are outdated and have no scientific basis.

    For dads who feel unprepared, The Expectant Father by Armin A. Brott and Jennifer Ash, is a great option. The book answers a lot of questions that fathers-to-be may have on how to be a supportive partner during pregnancy and a father figure to the baby, without all of the specifics of physical changes that are included in books geared towards women.

  3. Try not to worry.

    The moment you become pregnant, the worrying begins. And, I hate to tell you, it doesn’t ever go away. Starting with the first trimester, I constantly worried about having a miscarriage. I visited this website on a daily basis to see as the probability of having miscarriage decreased slowly as the weeks passed. I celebrated viability day at 24 weeks of pregnancy, where the baby has at least a 50% of survival from then on.

    After I began to feel the baby move, I monitored the baby’s movement and did kick counts as if I had the sole responsibility for detecting if something may be wrong. On top of that, there’s the fear that I may fall and hurt the baby or get into a car accident.

    There is SO MUCH pressure on the mother!

    It’s more or less impossible to not worry about the little person inside of our bellies, but try not to be consumed with these thoughts, especially when so many things are out of our control. Instead, focus on the positives, such as getting the nursery ready, washing and putting away baby clothes, and taking full advantage of all the free time you still have. This is the perfect time to go on fun dates with your partner and to catch up with old friends.

  4. Don’t let guilt get the best of you.

    As I slowly stepped onto the scale at my monthly OB appointments, I found myself holding my breath, hoping that the weight that appeared had not jumped up too much from the previous time. The doctors and midwives had mentioned to me that the rate of my weight gain was above the ideal trajectory. To decrease the likelihood of having an oversized baby, they suggested increasing my level of physical activity, as well as avoiding the consumption of: white breads & pastas & potatoes, fats, sweets, sugary drinks, artificial sweeteners, and even fruits that are high in sugar!

    I nodded in agreement but in reality, I wanted to say, “I didn’t avoid these things before I got pregnant. What makes you think I can avoid them now?”

    It’s okay if you can’t always muster up the energy to exercise your tired, swollen body. It’s okay to use food as comfort when you’re having an especially bad day. It’s okay if these habits are causing you to gain more weight than you should. Growing a person is hard work, and you deserve a break every now and then!

  5. Find a community

    Going through pregnancy for the first time can be confusing and lonely. I had so many questions that I couldn’t always find answers to by Googling but that didn’t seem important enough to ask my doctor. Luckily, I was able to find an amazing community that I am still a part of, four months postpartum.

    I joined the subreddit r/BabyBumps on Reddit, which is an awesome place for pregnant women to ask questions (What does an epidural feel like? What should I put on my registry?) or to share about their pregnancy excitement (first positive test, ultrasound pictures, nursery decor).

    There are also offshoot subreddits based on the month and year of your due date. I joined the r/JuneBumpers2017 group, and I got connected to hundreds of women around the world who were going through the same thing at the same time. It was incredibly helpful to have so many people to turn to and commiserate with. At one point, one of the members of JuneBumpers2017 created a Facebook group, which was a lot more accessible and easier to navigate. The group is still extremely active, and we are continuing to figure out this motherhood thing together.

    If you have friends who are also pregnant or have kids, connecting with them is a great way to form a community. But for those of us who don’t have that kind of support in our “real lives,” I would highly recommend seeking out one online.



✿ Katie ✿