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Seve Starling pregnancy support from experts
Seve Starling pregnancy support from experts

Baby Registry Must Haves

Written By
Callai Nagle
Certified Doula and Childbirth Educator

Use this guide to ensure that your baby registry is full of the functional necessities that make bringing baby home a little less stressful.

There are certain baby items that are notorious for their uselessness--we’re looking at you, wipe warmer! To help you avoid novelty baby items that just turn to clutter we have made a handy checklist to make sure that your nursery is well stocked and practical. We want you to make the best use of your space and have all the truly must-have items on hand.

  • The Basics
  • The Nursery
  • The Bathroom
  • The Closet
  • For Carrying
  • For Playing
  • For Sleeping
  • For Feeding
  • For Parents  

The Basics

  • Diapers, diapers, and more diapers. Newborns are notorious for using up a nearly unfathomable amount of diapers! But newborns grow quickly, and while it’s common for family and friends to gift new parents with packages of newborn size diapers, it’s also a good idea to add size 1 and 2 diapers to your baby registry must haves, to make sure you are set for the first several weeks of your baby’s life.
  • Wipes. Look for a brand to add to your registry that is unscented and gentle for a newborn’s sensitive skin, like WaterWipes. 
  • Burp cloths. Gerber 3-Ply prefold cloth diapers make great burp cloths. They’re very absorbent and cost effective.
  • Muslin Swaddle Blankets. These lightweight blankets have many uses and you’ll love having them around. Grab one for a makeshift shade canopy, or as an additional layer to keep your baby warm, or even use one as a nursing cover.
  • Pacifiers. If you plan on offering your baby a pacifier, try adding a few different types to your registry in order to figure out which one your baby likes best.

The Nursery

Did you know that the AAP recommends that your baby share a room with you for its first year of life? That means that your home’s main bedroom will need some adjustments, even if you have a dedicated nursery space for your baby.

  • Bassinet, co-sleeper, or portable crib for your bedroom. Look for a sleeper for your room that has pockets or other spaces for storing items like diapers and wipes to make middle of the night changes easier.
  • Changing table and pad(s). Consider having an extra pad on hand to set up in your bedroom if the baby’s nursery isn’t near your sleeping space.
  • Diaper pail. This doesn’t have to be an expensive name brand contraption. A small wastebasket sized trash can with a lid will suffice. 

The Bathroom

  • Baby tub.
  • Natural Sea Sponge. These are soft, absorbent, and make the best suds. They work much better than the thin baby washcloths you find in stores, and don’t contribute to your ever-present laundry pile!
  • Baby nail clippers.
  • Nose Frida. The snot sucker you operate with your mouth. Yes, it is gross. Yes, you will use it. Yes, you will sing its praises to other parents.
  • Hooded infant sized towels.

The Closet

  • Plain white onesies (long and short sleeved) in newborn and 0-3 month sizes. You can’t have enough plain white onesies. They work well for  layering if it's cooler out, as pajamas if it’s warmer out (especially to use under swaddles to help avoid overheating), and as back-up outfits for the diaper bag in case of blowouts. Plus they are gender neutral, so they can easily be passed down, making them a baby registry must have.
  • Baby clothes that are YOUR style. People love to give baby clothes as a gift. There is something irresistibly sweet about picking out a tiny outfit. You want to ensure that the clothes your baby is gifted with are ones that you will be happy to dress your baby in, so include a few examples of the kind of clothes that match your personal style. Remember to include some sizes other than newborn, since most babies only wear the newborn size for a few weeks.
  • Zip up pajamas. Trust us, you aren’t going to want to deal with unsnapping and re-snapping a dozen fasteners up and down your baby’s leg during those middle of the night diaper changes.
  • Sun hat for spring/summer babies or warm knit hat for fall/winter babies
  • A pair of booties that won’t fall off. Zutano booties have a reputation for always staying in place. 

For Carrying

  • Quality car seat. Check out for car seat reviews and safety tips.
  • Stroller. If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking with your baby, consider a stroller with air filled tires, which make the strollers easier to push.
  • Baby carrier. Did you know some babies absolutely hate to be in the stroller? For babies who prefer to be held, a well made baby carrier is a lifesaver. They allow parents to hold their babies while still having their hands free for other tasks. Wrap style carriers are great for the newborn phase, and soft structured carriers (also called buckle carriers) provide more support to comfortably carry older babies.
  • Bouncy seat. These seats provide a safe place to put your baby while you wash the dishes or take a shower or make yourself a snack. 

For Playing

  • Board books. It’s never too early to start reading to your baby, and reading provides a great way for partner to bond with baby
  • Tummy time mat. Tummy time should start from day 1 of your baby’s life, and having a mat with visual interest and objects your baby can practice reaching toward can make the exercise more fun. 

For Sleeping

  • White noise machine. Babies actually don’t need quiet to sleep. That loud shushing sound is similar to the noises your baby was exposed to in the womb, so for many babies white noise is soothing. 
  • Zip-up or velcro swaddle blankets. If you plan on swaddling, blankets with zip or velcro closures are easier to use and more likely to stay in place. Remember that your baby’s hips should be loose in the swaddle, and swaddling should be discontinued around the 2 month mark.   
  • Sleep Sacks. These wearable blankets provide babies with an additional layer to keep them warm while sleeping and can be used after you have phased out the swaddle.

For Feeding - Breast

  • Haakaa or similar silicone breast pump. These handy non-electric pumps use gentle suction to collect extra breast milk that is released during the letdown. Use it on the free breast while you feed your baby to make sure not a drop of your liquid gold is wasted.
  • Nursing pads. Leaks happen. Depending on your preference, you may like disposable pads (similar to menstrual pads but for wearing in your bra), or reusable pads made of cotton or hemp. Our favorite type of breast pad is Lilypadz, reusable silicone pads that are discreet under clothing and work to prevent leaks rather than absorbing them like other reusable pads. As an added bonus, since the silicone pads adhere to your skin so you can wear them at night without needing a bra to hold them in place.
  • Nursing camisoles. When layered, these help make the majority of your wardrobe breastfeeding friendly. Just pull your top up, and your cami down. They are also comfortable to wear while sleeping.
  • Nursing bras. Look for bras that are stretchy rather than structured and make sure to avoid any bras with an underwire to help prevent clogged milk ducts.
  • Breastmilk storage bags. If you’re planning on pumping, it’s a great idea to have a few boxes of freezer storage bags on hand.

Don’t forget that you can get a medical grade electric breast pump through your insurance plan!

For Feeding - Bottles

  • Bottles with slow flow nipples. Similar to our recommendation for pacifiers, it’s best to get a few different bottle types for your baby to try, rather than stocking up on a dozen of one type. Make sure to always use slow flow nipples for newborn.
  • Bottle drying rack.

For Parents

  • Diaper bag. It’s worth it to splurge a little on a bag that fits your style and comes with functional elements, like a built-in changing pad, or detachable storage pouches
  • Baby monitor. Video monitors that pair with your phone are all the rage!

Other suggestions for baby registry must haves? I'd love to hear about them. Give me a shout with your faves at!

Callai Nagle
Certified Doula and Childbirth Educator
Callai is a certified Childbirth Educator and Doula, and a mom of two school-aged kids living in Vancouver, WA. She has a BA in Art History from UC Berkeley, but becoming a mother radically realigned every aspect of her life, including her career goals. After experiencing two empowering births firsthand, she found a new passion in life and has dedicated herself to supporting families during their transition to parenthood through personalized emotional support and evidenced based education.

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