10 Must-Have Items for Your Baby Registry

Expecting a new baby? Snag the essentials for infants and their nurseries.

must have baby gifts

So you just found out you're going to be a mom. Congratulations! The excitement of sharing the news about your pregnancy is just part of this wonderful experience -- just think of all the cute gifts you'll get at the baby shower! Once you've decided where to register, the seemingly overwhelming task of figuring out all the things you'll need for the new baby soon follows. But this task doesn't have to be daunting. Pediatricians and parenting bloggers in the know weigh in on this list of items for your baby registry and take the guesswork out of creating your list.

Remember that baby items change a lot from year to year, as does the number of product safety recalls. Search the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for the all the latest product recalls, before you accidentally add an unsafe item to your list.

  1. Car Seat
    Babies require an infant car seat and then a convertible car seat. Convertible car seats begin as a rear-facing infant seat and as the baby grows into a toddler, it converts to a front-facing toddler seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides a list of car seats and safety seat manufacturers, with weight limits, height limits and prices ranges. Dr. Julie Olivo of the Medical Clinic of North Texas echoes the AAP's requirement for rear-facing car seats. "For the child's safety, they should stay in a rear-facing car seat until two years old," he says.

    There are many brands of car seats to choose from, with a mind-numbing array of features. Jennifer, from Real Posh Mom, recommends the Britax brand for its safety awards and stylish prints. Jenn, from JennsRAQ.com, recommends the Diono Radian R120, which can be carried on your back like a backpack.

  2. Crib
    Eventually, all babies need a crib. Cribs also need to adhere to safety standards. In 2007, 11 million cribs were recalled by the Consumer Product and Safety Commission, and that includes many old styles of drop side cribs. For a list of current crib recalls, check out the commission's complete list. Sherry, who blogs at Young House Love, fell in love with the Baby Mod ParkLane 3-in-1 Baby Convertible Crib for her new baby.

    As with all cribs, a good mattress is important. The crib mattress should fit your crib tightly, with little to no space or gap between the mattress and the crib. Another popular item that moms-to-be are adding to their registries are co-sleepers, or infant sleepers, that can keep baby close to mom. Brands such as Arms Reach and Fisher Price carry these types of devices that are perfect for newborns.

  3. Diapers
    According to Consumer Reports, you can spend approximately $2,500 on disposable diapers until your baby is potty trained. With cloth diapers, you purchase a few accessories up front -- such as diaper inserts, waterproof covers and/or liners -- then you wash and reuse. For cloth diapers, you may want to check out Kushies or Bummis as a source.

    Consumer Reports recommends buying a single starter pack of 40 newborn-sized disposable diapers for babies eight pounds or less. With babies that weigh more, purchase size 1. And of course, add packages of different brands to your registry so you can determine which is best. For a complete list of diaper brands, check out Consumer Reports' Diaper Buying Guide. Don't forget the baby wipes and diaper creams!

  4. Strollers
    Add two strollers that you desire to your registry. The first one should be the infant car seat carrier. Choose one of the lightweight and versatile Snap-and-Go car seat carriers on the market, such as the one from Baby Trend. Many moms, such as Kathleen, the blogger for In This Joyful Life, recommend the double stroller version. They are lightweight and less bulky than travel systems. As baby gets older, she will outgrow the carrier stroller.

    Then pick out the second stroller based on your needs. Consider a double stroller if your baby has older siblings or if you're expecting twins. If you are active and plan on jogging with your baby, select a jogging stroller for the registry. If you have to walk up stairs to get to your home or if grandparents will be watching your baby often, get a lightweight stroller that is easy to carry. Brands such as Maclaren, Combi and Joovy make great strollers of all types.

  5. Boppy
    The Boppy is a versatile nursing pillow and infant support product that does so many things. Not only does it support breast feeding, but this handy pillow also helps support your baby, assists in tummy time and props up your baby when he's starting to sit up. Breastfeeding support centers and hospitals such as the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless Bedford encourage the use of the Boppy, and lactation consultants use them with new mothers. On the Bump, sbost0118 calls it "a must have if you are planning to nurse".

  6. Feeding Essentials
    If breastfeeding, moms should add a breast pump to their registry. There are so many types of pumps, with brands such as Medela and Ameda. Breast Pumps Direct is a good place to check out product reviews. If you are formula feeding your baby, add either a newborn bottle starter kit or a variety of bottles in different sizes from 4 to 8 ounces. There are many brands available, but Dr. Brown's bottles with the natural flow are popular choices, as well as Avent. Check out the Consumer Reports guide on baby bottles for different bottle types and brands.

  7. Gas Drops and Baby First Aid Kits
    After trying ways to minimize gas, moms should consider a gas aid, with their pediatrician's consent. Products such as a simethicone (found in as Mylicon drops, Little Tummys and Phazyme) or a homeopathic remedy, like gripe water, can help baby with digestion. Moms such as Sarah at Education of a Stay At Home Mom says Mylicon Drops are "a life saver when your baby has gas", while Nancy at empowered mommies "prefer[s] a more natural product, Gripe Water." But while many moms on parenting blogs recommend them, Drs. Laura A. Jana and Jennifer Shu, both fellows of the American Academy of Pediatrics, say studies suggest these drops are not that effective.

  8. Baby Carriers, Wraps and Slings
    Baby carriers also seem to top everyone's baby registries. Not only are they great for moms-on-the-go, but they're useful for nannies and babysitters as well. The Ergo brand is one of the most recommended, along with brands like Baby Bjorn and Snugli. Ranging in price from $75 to $200, baby carriers allow for you to carry baby around and keep them close to you while also keeping your hands free. The first Ergo baby carriers were designed to apply proper ergonomics for parents. Danielle, from Momotics, calls it "by far the most comfortable carrier I have ever worn, not only for me, but for the kids also."

  9. Baby Shirts, Underwear and Pajamas
    Depending upon the time of year, simple clothes for your newborn should adjust to the seasons. For the spring and summer, baby underwear or simple t-shirts will do. For the fall and winter seasons, baby pajamas or sleeper sacks are good additions to a registry. Depending upon the size of your infant, if they are 8 pounds and over, newborn size may not last your baby long. So opt for sizes that start at three months. Be aware that brands may also be sized differently. Purchase five to seven of each size.

  10. Baby Swing or Bouncer
    The rocking motion of the popular baby swings or the vibrating motion of a baby bouncer are what makes getting one of these items for your newborn so popular. Brands such as Fisher Price and Graco are frequent favorites across the parenting blogs and forums. On BabyCenter, CaliBears calls her swing "a life saver when baby is overly cranky or when you need a spare hand."

Adding items to your baby registry is an exciting time for parents-to-be. Always keep safety, comfort, convenience, lifestyle and costs in mind. When your new bundle of joy arrives, you can rest assured you're prepared with the essentials!

Heather Buen is a social media and communications consultant, as well as a mother of three, who has lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas for over ten years. She covers all things family and has experience as both a writer and single mom. Her work can be found here.

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