A slightly above-average achiever's guide to parenting
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A Realistic Baby Registry
April 22, 2019
Congratulations, you’ve made a human. Turns out baby humans require a lot of gear you typically wouldn’t already own. And thanks to the commercial machine that is Big Baby, who capitalizes on the fear of new parenthood, there is a lot of pressure to buy a lot of stuff and put it on your registry. And it makes perfect sense. You don’t know what you’ll need, or when you’ll leave the house again, so best to buy all of it because it's one of the only ways we can feel like we're preparing for the impending change in life.
So, to help the stress, I’ve created a baby registry with some good explanations of what you'll actually need and some things you definitely don't. I half joke that the only thing you really need are
an Amazon Prime Membership and diapers ....but there's some truth to that. Just keep in mind that anything you need you can get in a store same day or on amazon a day later. And remember, you'll survive parenting. Yes it will be somewhat stressful, but adding to your credit card debt won't help that. So stick to the basics (or have your wealthy relatives buy things for you)
Click on any of the links below to find the items I mention.*
Bottles- I know this isn't helpful, but bottles are a personal choice....and by personal, I mean personal for your baby. Don't commit to one type and assume your baby will willingly take them because some babies can be super fussy. I had a friend go through like 10 different bottle types before she found one her baby would take. Other babies can be fine with anything. But just in case, so you're not returning a million, start small. Get the 4 ounce options of one or two types. You can always get more. My guys were thankfully great with the Playtext drop in bottle system, which is great because you can pump straight into the liners, and freeze them. Or if you're using formula, you can drop into them and not have to clean them when you're done. I know it's bad for the environment, but my cleaning skills while sleep deprived were bad for germs.
Bottle Cleaner- even with the drop in liners, you'll still need weirdly shaped brushes to clean the nipples of the bottles. With most things kitchen related, I turned to OXO and love their bottle cleaning brush set. Because whatever brush size you THINK you need, you'll need something else entirely and this set has 4 different brushes so you're covered no matter the weird shape product you need to clean out (didn't think of three day old butternut squash puree that's gotten into the crevice of your tupperwear, did you..but don't worry, there's a brush for that).
Bibs- Once your kiddo graduates to eating, you will need bibs 3 times a day (or more). Get the ones you can rinse off in the sink and immediately reuse. Trust me. These also have the best clasp and are generally superior to all other bibs. Cloth bibs are cute but you won't be reaching for them regularly so don't put them on your registry.
Spoons- For a lot of the eating stage your kiddo will be using their fingers, but eventually you'll want a spoon. I tended to like these from OXO because they were small enough for tiny mouths. But I have friends who prefer a wider spoon to get more on. So, maybe one of each?
Plates- when your kiddo is learning how to eat, they’ll need an edge to push the food onto. Usually this means the edge of the high chair, but if you want to put your kid at a table, I suggest these plates to contain the destruction.
High Chairs- This one is going to be a personal choice based on your décor and needs. But some things to consider are
Footprint (do you have space in your kitchen or not)
Wiping down (do you want to throw a cushion in the washing machine or just wipe down the plastic seat with a sponge)
Does it have a “lip” on the tray so your kid can push their food into it.
Are you going to need to move it and if so, do you want wheels or just something light weight
Given this and my small kitchen, my two favorite choices are either the wipeable ikea version (available for $50 on amazon or cheaper at ikea) or this inglesa one which doubles as a travel high chair and clips onto any table. It’s what we used exclusively for our boys. But there's not much difference in high chairs so whatever you get will likely be fine.
Teethers- when you hit the teething stage, you'll want something your kids can nom on without choking. My guys loved this with frozen fruit inside of them. You definitely won't need them for a bit, but good to put on the registry.
Muslin Blankets-You will definitely need swaddle friendly blankets, and these are fantastic. You can use them for a million things including swaddling, but will probably only need 6 at most. Aiden + Anisreally are the best ones of these but they're expensive, so have someone else buy them for you.
Magic Merlin Sleep Suit- True story, the Magic Merlin Sleep suit used to be sold with a money back guarantee that if your kid didn’t sleep for 11 hours or more when using this, you could return it. Now it’s such a known quantity they don’t offer that, but the theory still holds. The idea is that this stops babies' arms from startling and waking them up in the middle of the night (think of it as a snow suit for babies 12 pounds and older) and it’s the step after they bust out of the swaddle. I’ve heard a few people say it didn’t work with their kids, but I’ve heard more (myself included) say it was their favorite baby item.
White Noise Machine- hot tip, you can just use an old iphone and download the free white noise app and it works just the same (And you can take it with you when you travel). But if you don’t have that option, this is “the” white noise machine that has great sound quality, runs all night, and is pretty affordable. Just get something, it really does help with making the room sound like the womb.
Happiest Baby on the Block- Download this DVD and skip the book. It gives five great tips (the 5 “S”s) to help fussy babies sleep. It was more useful than my full day newborn class….ten times over. Get the DVD (or stream it somewhere online) so you can see the tricks in action because you won't actually believe how loud you need to SHHHHHH to recreate that womb sound. MGH sent us home with a pamphlet on this video and it was super helpful. It was also my husband's favorite "tool kit" for dealing with our baby in the early stages.
Black out shades- For the love of everything holy, get blackout shades. Then tape them to the side of your windows so no light gets in. Honestly, light is the one thing that can mess with a newborn’s sleep cycle and once it goes wonky, it takes a lot to get it back on schedule. Any kind will do. But I’ll also make a plug for these travel version ones which we use all the time (in a pinch you can also use trash bags and painters tape but your hotel/rental WILL look like a meth house).
Wash cloths - newborns just feel so delicate and that’s why I really loved these wash cloths. They’re SO soft and 5 years later, it’s still what I reach for in the bath tub even though my kids are grown. Like the Annis and Aiden muslin blankets, these are expensive so have someone else buy them for you.
Babyganics soap set- You will need to wash your baby with something and this is a solid company that most babies tolerate fine. Have someone buy you a set on your registry and then try out other stuff to see what you like. I’d put this in the “if someone else is buying” category. Cause if I’m buying, it’s Johnson’s and Johnsons.
Baby bath- you will need something to put the baby in until they can sit up on their own. Spoiler alert is that they’re all nearly the same, so get whatever one you think is pretty.
Ergo 360 or the Lillebaby 360- You’ll likely want a baby carrier of some sort. No matter which type you get, I suggest the 360 options so you can face the baby in or out. The two best versions are the Ergo and the Lillebaby. I think the difference is mainly on color style preference, but I have heard from friends the Lilebaby is better for those with a short torso. Hot tip for both of these. If you're having a summer baby, opt for the "travel" or "air flow" versions because wearing kiddos in the summer is swampy.
Play Mat- you will need somewhere to lay your baby down. In my experience, babies don’t super love activity mats, but it’s a good designated space to be “theirs”, and is also a good way for visitors of your house not to trip on them. Unfortunately, as far as I've found, they're all pretty heinous looking because turns out babies love brightly colored schemes. They have no taste.
Pack and Play- Another option for once your kids get mobile is a pack and play. You’ll likely use this for travel at least once or twice, so this is a good thing to have around. If you have two floors it's a good option to keep one in the floor other than where your other "changing station" is and opt for the luxury one with a changing station on it. Can't have too many places to change a baby as it turns out.
A play yard- You can get a play yard with a gate system, but my pediatrician recommended an inflatable pool instead with a blanket in the bottom because it's softer edges, it's super cheap, and it's small when you're done with it. Bonus, you can fill it with ball pit balls for the toddler stage. Oh, or use it as an actual pool in the summer. And FYI you don't need a pump to blow it up. A hairdryer on cold will get the job done.
Sun Structure- if you plan to go to the beach, you might as well get someone else to pay for your shade structure. I LOVE the Sportbrella for families because it’s easy to sling on your shoulder and take to the beach and put back away when the inevitable meltdown is occurring at the end of the day.
Bumbo- There's a weird period of time where babies are no longer floppy like newborns but they can't reliably sit on their own. This is for about 2-3 months and often is around when they're trying new foods. It's a short period but a Bumbo makes a great place for them to sit up and look around. So this is worth a purchase unless you can snag one from a friend.
Playmat- you may want something comfortable to sit on like a cushy play mat since you will be doing a LOT of floor sitting. My friend has this one and it always feels comfortable on my butt.
A few words on clothing. Your friends and family are going to get you what they're going to think is cute. Most of it will be impractical but it's their god given right to buy cute useless clothing to oooh and ahhh over at the shower. What you'll actually want to look for are the following things:
Onesies - more than you think are necessary. And at least one newborn outfit to bring your kiddo home from the hospital in. They likely won't be in the newborn size for long at all, so don't buy too many of this size.
Things without a lot of buttons or snaps- buttons are the enemy and snaps are to be used sparingly.
Things with zippers- zippers are faster and are your friend. Particularly in the middle of the night for diaper changes. I found that the gap had the best onesie zipper footie pjs.
Booties- your kid won't need real shoes for a long time. These booties are great for the meantime and actually stay on their feet. SO MANY shoes and socks fall off, it's like the bermuda triangle phenomenon of children. They come in tons of colors and both my boys wore them in gold, which is semi gender neutral.
Do NOT buy (at least not in the first instance)
Velcro swaddle systems- For us, my kids could easily break loose from almost any swaddle, Velcro and snap included. You may want to have one or two of these on hand but for us they were a total bust.
Mamaroo- Don’t do it. This is the most regretted purchase I’ve heard from all my mom friends. It’s large, expensive, and tons of babies hate it. Pass until/if you find out your kid needs constant motion to be happy.
Jumparoo- This, while also large, we did use but only for about 2 months. I’d suggest waiting to see if you can borrow one of these from your soon to be made mom friends. If, however, you’re looking for things to put on a registry for rich family members to buy, by all means add it.
Bath Toys/Toys generally- honestly babies don’t care about toys for a long time, and it’s pretty fun to buy them once they start getting interested, so I’d hold off on purchasing any until you know what your kiddo likes and just use measuring cups in the meantime.
Guava Crib- While this is lighter and easier to travel with, it’s not as sturdy once your kids start pulling up. So if you’ve got a strong kid, I’d pass on this and stick with a pack and play.
THINGS I CAN’T WEIGH IN ON BECAUSE THEY’RE TOO PERSONAL
There are a few baby things that will be too tough for me to give a universal suggestion. But here are some thoughts about them to help you pick the right one.
Will you be going in and out of cars often (is fold up crucial)
Are you planning on more kids (do you need extra add on seating…totally not a tough question for baby number one)
How often will you touch it (ie, if you’re in the city and it’s gonna be your car, you can spend a lot. If you’ll occasionally be using it in the burbs, okay to skimp)
Cribs- shhh don’t tell anyone but these are pretty much all the same. So just get whatever one you think is pretty.
Are you tall? Then look for one with a high back so you can rest your head.
Do you want a foot stool or a retractable footrest ?
Is rocking important?
What do you want it to look like?
Food containers- I had high hopes that when my kids started solids I would puree them their own foods to send to daycare and put them in reusable pouches or containers. In practice, I did none of that and bought the premade pouches because they’re great. If you know yourself, it might be worth getting these food accessories now, but otherwise, I’d say pass.
Sippy Cups- This is one that is truly overwhelming if you’ve walked into a Buy Buy Baby. Do not panic. Your kid will not be drinking from a cup for at least a year and you’ll be a pro by then. I’d frankly punt this question for a later date (you’d be surprised how many considerations there are for sippy cups- do you care about cleaning pieces, do you care about price and losing it at the playground, branded or unbranded...it goes on for hours). Just trust me here and punt on this one.
A Baby Gate- Yes, you'll need to child proof, but I recommend child proofing as you realize your kid is getting into things. There's just too much to worry about for the first few months and they aren't mobile so you'll be fine ignoring this for awhile. When you get there, the "biggies" are
baby gate- this one is what lots of friends use but your stairs may require different things. If you have a weird bend or long angle to cover (like I did) I suggest the retract a gate option.
electric outlets- most new construction require built in safety outlets already, but if not, it's a quick fix to cover them
cabinet locks- I suggest putting the dangerous stuff up high and letting your kids explore the lower cabinets anyways. It's hours of entertainment for them so long as the stuff inside is safe.
bolting furniture that can tip- this one is a big one since once they start to walk they'll be pulling on everything. But some piano wire into the wall does the trick. And that's not a problem for at least a year, so don't worry about it now.
FYI- these are all affiliate links and I’ll get a small percentage of what you buy (at no cost to you) but since Amazon has half my paycheck, I consider this a fair trade.