When you become a mother (and even before you’re a mother), everyone tells you about all the “stuff” you need. But the truth is, a lot of the things that are recommended for new babies aren’t even really useful! So I’m here to tell you what’s actually baby registry essentials (and what you can skip).
If you practice attachment parenting for your baby, you can really cut down on many of the items you buy for your little one. Since you plan to be right there with her, you don’t need lots of extra gizmos to watch her or entertain her.
How do you know what baby products really are “must-have” and which ones you can take a pass on if you want to do a minimalist parenting style?
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three four kids, I’ve finally figured out what all I need (and what I don’t). I’m so glad, because we got rid of a lot of our baby stuff before the fourth baby (whoops). It’s nice to know I don’t have to rebuy every single item I had before.
Read on to learn what the best baby products are for 2020, and what you can save on!
If you’re practicing attachment parenting, you can save a ton of money because there’s no need for a separate nursery. Find out what you actually need instead.
Best co sleeper bassinet / crib
The American Academy of Pediatrics still suggests that baby sleeps in your room until at least six months (preferably the whole first year).
So instead of ponying up for an expensive crib, consider a bed-side bassinet. You can fix this style of crib to be a co sleeper by bringing it up to the height of your bed. And the best part is that if you’re breastfeeding, it will be much easier to roll over, feed your baby, then roll back to bed for sleep!
NOTE: Don’t forget a few bassinet crib sheets so you have some to swap out after poopsplosions.
RELATED: Bed sharing with baby: How to do so safely
And if you choose to co-sleep, you may need a firmer mattress. I have a whole post on safe, non-toxic mattresses for bed sharing.
RELATED: Best mattresses for bed sharing with baby 2021
One more note: If you’re using a hand-me-down crib instead of a bassinet, that’s fine, but consider replacing the mattress. Mattresses from before 2013 are especially likely to have toxic flame retardants, but even newer crib mattresses often contain PVC, phthalates, and other hazardous chemicals.
RELATED: Is an organic crib mattress worth it? Plus the best organic crib mattresses
Wearable blankets – the Zipadee Zip
I know that swaddling is really popular. but if you choose to bed share, it isn’t safe. Your baby needs his little arms and legs to alert you of his presence.
Plus, swaddling the legs in tight can put baby at a greater risk of hip dysplasia or dislocation.
And you should never use a loose blanket to cover your baby to keep his face from being covered up.
This is why I love the Zipadee Zip! I only discovered this wearable blanket after my fourth was born. It allows your baby’s arms to be covered even when he’s not swaddled, plus your baby looks like an adorable starfish in it :).
And the Zipadee Zip comes in a bunch of adorable patterns. I suggest sticking to lightweight Zipadee Zips if you plan to co sleep since he’ll also have your body heat nearby. Get at least 2 (probably 3) of these wearable blankets so you’ll have one for when the other is dirty.
Nursery – what to skip
Believe it or not, there is no need for a nursery set-up for your baby.
Trust me, I know that there are so many precious sets of nursery decor out there. There’s nothing that can put you in buying mode like looking at all the adorable crib linens and dreaming about the Pinterest perfect nursery.
My oldest daughter had a nursery. But spoiler alert:
She never slept in it.
After her, we never went through the expense and hassle of decorating a baby’s bedroom again.
Besides, the prettiest parts of a crib bedding set, like the bumper and the blankets, are actually unsafe for babies. Both of these have tragically led to suffocation for some babies.
Not only can you save money on crib linens, but if you’re room sharing, you likely don’t need an audio/video monitor for your baby. You’ve just saved a hundred dollars – you’re welcome!
One of the (many) great things about breastfeeding is that you don’t have to worry about buying or carrying around a bunch of stuff! You’ll have no formula costs, and you only need a few bottles for pumped milk. Plus, breast pumps are often covered by insurance, so the most expensive item becomes free for you!
RELATED: Newborn breastfeeding: 12 tips
Best breastfeeding class
It’s true that breastfeeding is natural, but it still helps to get some education on it!
Most hospitals offer breastfeeding classes. Some are fantastic, and some are…not so much.
That’s why I strongly recommend Milkology’s Ultimate Breastfeeding Class. It is hands-down the best breastfeeding class on out there (and it’s really inexpensive too!). In fact, I have a whole post reviewing this fantastic product.
Best breastfeeding supplies
For the first few weeks, you’ll probably want some gel soothies for your nipples. You shouldn’t be in major pain, but I’d be lying if I told you there might be some tenderness (like getting used to a new pair of shoes, but on your nipples).
You might want to get some lanolin to soothe your breasts too, but there’s honestly a good chance that your hospital will give you a tube of it. In that case, you won’t need to buy it yourself.
Once your milk comes in, you’ll also *likely* need some breast pads for leakage. While I used disposable ones in the past, I think for my fourth child I’m going to go with these reusable breast pads.
This pack has enough to last you a week, so you don’t have to worry about constantly washing them (trust me, you’ll be doing at least weekly laundry with a new baby). Plus, these are much better for the environment (and cheaper in the long run!) than the disposables.
UPDATE: Yes, I got the reusable pads. I like them. Definitely get the pack of 7 if you don’t want to be committed to doing laundry every other day in the first month after your baby.
Nursing bras make things so much easier! I remember there was a learning curve for me to figure out those pesky cup snaps, but once I did figured them out it became much easier to feed my baby.
You should choose bras with no underwire (as they can trap milk and cause plugged ducts or even mastitis).
The best nursing bra out there is the Simply Sublime by Kindred Bravely. They’re smooth, comfortable, and supportive.
The other great thing about this bra? When you breastfeed, the size of your boobs will be all over the map. Sometime during the first week, you’re likely to be engorged when your milk comes in. Your breasts will grow a cup size or two overnight (literally). And then as your supply evens out, they’ll likely get a bit smaller again (although the size can fluctuate from day to day depending on frequency of feeding, if your child is going through a growth spurt, and so forth). These bras are stretchy enough to fit well even with all these ups and downs in cup size.
I also like this style from Angelhood as they work well even without the underwire. Honestly? The girls look pretty good in them! These bras are nice and smooth under clothes and surprisingly supportive.
After four kids, this style will be my daily bra even after I’m done breastfeeding. I suggest getting at least 3 – one to wear, one to wash, and one for your drawer. Even so, you’ll need to wash them pretty frequently if you forget to wear breast pads inside them.
Nighttime nursing bras
Once you’ve given birth you’ll need a nighttime bra too, at least for a few weeks.
A nighttime nursing bra will give you gentle support (I feel super silly writing that phrase), but more importantly, it will give you somewhere to put those breast pads for when you suddenly start leaking a huge amount of breastmilk at night (ask me how I know). As in, if you’re not wearing a night nursing bra with pads in it, you should probably sleep on top of a towel.
Kindred Bravely makes organic cotton sleep bras that are super comfortable. One of the best features (that I haven’t seen anywhere else) is that their sleep bras have openings in the inner layer so you can insert breast pads into the bra (most bras require you to just stick the pad into the bra against your nipple, leading to the pad falling out in the middle of the night, leading to milk everywhere in your bed).
Regardless of the brand you choose, the crossover design of nighttime nursing bras make it easy to access your breasts at night when you’re too sleepy to fool with snaps. Plus, they’re softer than regular nursing bras. Again, a pack of 3 (jsyk, this don’t have the inner layer so you can insert breast pads) makes things easier because they’ll need frequent washings between leaks and spit-up.
The other essential for breastfeeding? Get a few nursing camis in neutral, layerable colors. When I have a new baby, I wear a nursing cami pretty much every day.
Nursing camis usually come with a shelf bra, and they have snaps on the strap that allow easy access to feeding.
Kindred Bravely is a favorite nursing cami for a reason. Their Simply Sublime maternity tank has a bra so supportive that you won’t need to wear another one underneath (even with the extra support many new moms need).
The clips make it easy to get access for nursing and pumping, and the adjustable straps are helpful for your changing breast size during pregnancy and postpartum.
Plus, this tank is soft and stretchy, making it comfortable during both pregnancy and postpartum. Best of all, the Simply Sublime tank is seamless (I’ve tried other brands that had super scratchy seams, making them really uncomfortable to wear).
And yes, the Kindred Bravely nursing cami is a little pricier than some others out there, but with its seamless construction and supportive underwire-free bra, it’s worth the investment.
If you’re looking for a cheaper option, this three pack is a great choice. It comes in neutral colors, is long, and fits both during pregnancy and postpartum. It has a shelf bra, so you may want another bra underneath depending on the amount of support you need.
Nursing camisoles are really helpful for nursing in public (especially if you’re just getting used to doing so or you’re nervous about it). Here’s how you can use a nursing cami to nurse your baby with practically no skin showing:
Wear a nursing cami (with or without a bra, depending on how much support you need) and put a shirt over that. When it’s time for baby to eat, just pull up the shirt, pull down the snap for access, and your baby will be nursing without any of your midriff showing. You’ll have just a little bit of skin out, and baby’s head will be covering it, like in the picture above.
If you’ll be working and pumping, you’ll need an electric double pump. The Medela On the Go Tote is a great choice with its own case and portable battery.
If you’re staying at home, it’s still a good idea to have a breast pump, but a simpler one will work fine (although you may still want an electric pump if you’ll be away from your baby a few days a week). Try something like this manual breast pump. It’s cheaper and easier to carry with you if you go out of town.
Breast milk bags
You’ll need something to store all that liquid gold in, and you want to make sure your milk isn’t leaked or spilled. I am partial to Lansinoh Breast milk freezer bags. They’re strong, they have a double zipper to prevent leaks, and they are BPA and BPS free, so you can feel safe using these to store your baby’s milk.
You’ll probably want to have a few bottles for that expressed milk. There are two main concerns when choosing a bottle for breastfed babies:
- Make sure you choose a style that allows baby to have lips flared around the base of the nipple (not a bottle that he sucks on the nipple itself). This will best mimic breastfeeding. Check the picture above to see what I mean.
- Always use slow-flow nipples for breastfed babies. This way, babies don’t get used to quicker meals and come to prefer a bottle.
The other thing to be aware of: Babies will develop their own preference to a particular brand of bottle, and it’s different from one child to the next! With one child, we used Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature bottles and they worked great. Our fourth child absolutely refuses Tommee Tippees but likes Avent Natural bottles.
I suggest that you get plain white muslin burp cloths.
Why? First, they work best. Secondly, if you get super cute burp cloths you’ll not want to use them because it’ll bug you to get spit-up on the pretty little patterns. Just get plain ones. You’re welcome.
Bottle and pump cleaning supplies
You’ll need to clean all these bottle and pump parts frequently. You can get away with just a bottle brush (I like the Munchkin brand because it has a little-bitty brush you can also clean out the bottle nipple and other hard-to-reach parts of your pump) if you’re super vigilant to clean bottles just as soon as you’re done with them.
If you let them sit for a while, though, the proteins from the milk become hard to dissolve. For that reason, I also suggest getting Medela Quick Clean Breastmilk Removal soap. It easily removes breastmilk residue.
Breastfeeding registry items to skip
Nursing covers? Skip ’em. Are you a big fan of eating under a blanket? Your baby likely won’t be either.
If you’re interested in a nursing cover because you’re afraid of showing yourself when you’re nursing in public, I get it. But here’s what’s likely to happen: Instead of being modest, you’ll be more exposed than ever when your baby flings the cover away from his head.
Just get the nursing camis and move on. With a little practice, you’ll be able to breastfeed without anyone even noticing you’re doing so.
Day-to-day and baby safety items
Your routine changes when there’s a new baby! While you don’t need a ton of new stuff inside your home, there are a few things you can get to make your life easier.
Glider / Rocker
Especially in those first few months, you and baby will spend a lot of time snuggled up in a glider. There’s a lot of things to think about when choosing a glider for your baby.
(NOTE: If you are tired enough that you think you’ll fall asleep, just get in bed with baby. It is safer to fall asleep with baby on a flat surface than in a recliner or on a sofa).
You’ll want a glider with arm rests low enough to comfortably support your arms, but high enough to easily bring baby to breast.
You’ll also want one wide enough to be comfortable in holding a baby, but probably not so wide that you can’t rest your arms.
Since you may spend hours a day in your glider holding your baby, you should choose one that is non-toxic. For that reason, you should go with one that’s Greenguard Gold Certified.
When your little cherub gets older, she’ll probably play in the glider (whether you want her to or not), and you want to make sure it’s sturdy enough to withstand a rough toddler. Based on personal experience, I suggest a glider that doesn’t have an exposed gliding mechanism so that 1. It holds up for more time and 2. No moving parts pinch your child.
If you want a glider that has more of a cozy sofa look, I recommend the Babyletto Extra Wide Swivel Glider. You can also get a matching ottoman, which is really helpful for propping your feet up so you can comfortably feed baby.
If you’re looking for something with a higher back (also a good idea since you’ll be spending a lot of time in this chair), you can also check out the DaVinci swivel glider. This glider comes with an ottoman included, and it’s at a lower price point than the Babyletto (but still gets really good reviews).
To even get home with your baby, you’re going to have to have a properly installed carseat.
Our family has always been happy with Graco seats. With an infant, it’s nice to have one that is easy to carry around. After all, if you get somewhere and your baby is still asleep, it’s much nicer to be able to carry him in the carseat instead of waking him up (NOTE: Don’t set a carseat down on the floor or another flat surface for the baby to sleep for an extended period of time. The seat will be at the wrong angle, which could constrict baby’s air flow).
That’s one reason I love the Graco Click Connect. This car seat comes with a base that allows you to literally click the seat in without having to hassle with seatbelts every time you switch cars (although there is a seatbelt option for strapping the seat in).
Plus, you can save a lot of money by only buying one seat instead of one for every car the baby goes in. Just buy enough bases for each parent (and maybe the grandparents); the bases are much cheaper than the carseat. Then, you can simply pass around the carseat and be ready to go!
Baby carriers / Baby wraps
Once your baby is old enough (and your back and abdomen are recovered from the immediate shock of childbirth), it become much easier to do life if baby wear, especially if you have older kids too. Most babies love to be held all the time, particularly during those first three months, which we call the “fourth trimester.”
I have a whole post on the best kinds of baby carriers up through the toddler years, but for now, I’ll focus on just two that are best from around 6 weeks old to young infants.
RELATED: Best baby carriers – How baby wearing helps moms
When babies are very small, I love to use the Boba baby wrap. This stretchy wrap is cozy for small babies and comfortable for parents. It’s the most most comfortable wrap and feels like you’re just cuddling your baby.
The Boba is perfect for walking around the home or even doing light housework (NOTE: Don’t bend over while using a stretchy wrap or any other carrier unless you are securely holding onto your baby with a hand).
Why am I being so brand specific here instead of recommending the Moby (which is easier to find in big-box stores)? The Boba is much more lightweight and breathable. Plus, it holds its shape better and doesn’t stretch out quite as much. When it’s warm outside, this feature makes a big difference.
Boba wraps come in a bunch of beautiful colors and prints. The only problem is which one to pick.
If the idea of tying a wrap makes you nervous (it’s really not hard once you learn, but I totally get it), or if you want a more supportive carrier for hiking or slightly more strenuous activity, you should go with a soft structured carrier. For that, I recommend the Ergobaby Adapt carrier.
The Ergobaby Adapt works from 6ish weeks and well through toddlerhood. You can use it for a front carry, or after 6 months you can use it for a back carry (like I just did today hiking up a trail with my family).
Yes, the Ergobaby brand is a little pricer than many carriers you’ll find at your local big box store, but honestly? With baby carriers, you get what you pay for. I’ve had cheaper carriers, and they don’t fit well and leave you with back, shoulder, and neck pain (and even headaches!). Even worse, poorly supportive carriers can also also lead to hip dysplasia in your baby.
This is a product you don’t want to skimp on. Fortunately, it comes in several colors and patterns so you can make a choice that you’ll love for the years it will last.
This is up to you and really depends upon your situation.
We had a Pack n’ Play for our first baby because we were new to the whole parenting thing and thought we needed one. Looking back, we could have gotten away without one.
However, I think it was important that we had a play yard for our second daughter. We lived in a smaller home where we couldn’t keep all the power cords tucked away. In addition, it turned out that the home had lead paint in it! We definitely didn’t want her crawling around the floor unattended.
Now that we’ve moved into a new, updated home, we are comfortable giving our baby more free reign. This time, we haven’t even put out our play yard and it’s been fine.
If you have unsafe areas you want to keep baby from, or if you have multiple levels and spend a lot of your daytime hours on the floor away from the sleeping areas, a play yard might be a good investment for you.
There’s no need to buy a whole changing table, but unless you’re willing to gamble on your baby poopsploding on your bed in the middle of a diaper change, I strongly suggest getting a changing pad. We place ours on our dresser, and it fits perfectly.
Since your baby will be spending a lot of time here, I suggest the Sealy Baby Soybean Comfort Pad. The contoured pad protects baby from rolling off (obviously don’t leave your baby on a diaper pad unattended), and it’s PVC-free and Greenguard Gold certified, meaning that this pad is non-toxic.
While the pad is waterproof (a definite plus), you’ll still probably want a few changing pad covers. There are a ton of cute patterns out there (although I really like these cute little bears), so just fine the ones that you like.
This is your call. Baby poop honestly doesn’t smell that bad, so if you’d rather have a regular trash can and call it a day that will work.
But once your baby starts eating solids, dirty diapers get a little stinkier. At that point you might wish you had a diaper pail.
We’ve used the Munchkin diaper pail for years and are very happy with it. The only caveat: Walmart doesn’t carry the refill bags. You can get refills at Target or online really easily though.
If that’s a dealbreaker for you, the Diaper Genie may be a safer bet. This gift set comes with several bag refills, making things easier for you.
Diapers and wipes
Yep, diapers are important items for anyone with a baby. We’ve tried several diaper brands over the years, but we always come back to the Target Up-&-Up diapers. They don’t leak overnight and they’re much more affordable than Pampers, the only other brand we’ve found that don’t leak.
(NOTE: Only buy 1 smaller pack of newborn diapers. Your baby will be out of them before you know it! You won’t need that many Size 1 diapers either.)
Target also makes great baby wipes. We get them a case at a time to save money.
I suggest getting a booster seat instead of a high chair. You can attach it to a dining room chair and it will take up much less space than a traditional high chair. Plus, your child will need a booster seat when they’re older anyways, so it’s a nice way to save money.
I like this one from Fisher Price. The little tray is great when your baby is just starting solids, but when they’re ready to eat with the family, you can just bring the chair up to the table.
If you choose to do baby-led weaning (which I have loved with all four kids), you won’t need baby spoons or forks very often, because baby can just use their hands.
But you’ll want to pay attention to what kinds of baby spoons you get. Most spoons are designed for a parent to hold and put in baby’s mouth. With baby led weaning, your baby is meant to feed himself. Therefore, you’ll want a baby spoon with a shorter handle, like this.
These soft silicone spoons are great for baby to practice with! They’re easy to hold, non-toxic, and gentle on gums.
And while most foods will go directly on your baby’s tray, some foods (like soup) may work better in a bowl. I strongly suggest you get bowls with a suction bottom (like these) so that you have a better chance of the bowl staying put.
Bath time/baby care
There are a lot of baby products out there. Unfortunately, several are unnecessary or even unsafe! Here are the ones I recommend.
We love Baby Bum Baby Wash. The light tropical scent is lovely. Plus, Baby Bum Body wash is vegan and phthalate, paraben, sulfate, and silicone-free.
After bath, I like to use Aveeno Baby Moisturizing cream. This lotion is great for baby’s sensitive skin and is paraben, phthalate, and fragrance-free.
Baby healthcare kit
Safety 1st makes a great all inclusive grooming kit with a brush and comb, baby nail clippers, a medicine dispenser, a nasal aspirator, and a thermometer. All those little things you forget about until you need them. Plus, it comes with an easy carrying case for travel.
You know how they take your baby’s temperature at the hospital, right?
It’s not very fun to do that at home.
And your child will be at least 3 or 4 before she understands how to place a thermometer under her tongue. For that reason, I suggest getting a temporal thermometer (one that takes a temperature across the forehead).
We’ve used the Exergen thermometer for years and it has done great for us. In fact, we even use it to check our own temperature now.
Play and tummy time items
Here’s the honest truth: Babies don’t need many toys. For the first few months, a toy like a rattle will do nothing but stress a baby out, and even after, babies are still easily entertained with only one or two objects around.
But it is nice to have a few fun items (preferably ones that are battery-free) for your baby. There’s no need for electronics or flashing lights, just a few objects for baby to look at and bat around. It’s so fun to watch the pleasure your baby will get from the simple cause-and-effect of “kick play mat, watch toys move.”
Here are some of our favorite baby toys after four kids.
Oball rattle ball
Oball toys come in a lot of fun designs, but I like this one because it rattles and because you can throw it and chase it during the crawling stage.
This ball is soft and flexible and great for teething babies. Plus, the little holes make it easy to grip.
Infantino spiral activity fox
Our youngest little guy loves this fox. He plays with him in the carseat (it wraps nicely around the handle) and enjoys all the different textures and shapes.
It’s really nice to have a play mat for tummy time. And once your baby is a little older, he’ll love batting at the toys and kicking the bars to watch what happens.
We have an Infantino 4-in-1 Twist and Fold Activity Gym and our little guy really enjoys it. He spends a lot of time playing with the toys and looking in the little mirror.
While there are a lot of great options out there, I still suggest choosing a play mat that doesn’t have light-up or singing toys. Everything is still new in your baby’s world, so toys he can manipulate on his own (without just pushing a button) will still be very exciting.
Why aren’t baby clothes on this list?
You guys: I have an obsession with tiny adorable baby clothes. It’s a problem.
And you know what? I’m not the only one.
Whether you ask for them or not, EVERYONE will buy you cute baby clothes. You’ll get a bajillion onesies, footie jammies, and tiny outfits.
So there’s sort of no point in registering for baby clothes, because you’ll get them either way (same goes for baby blankets. You’re going to have a million baby blankets even though you only really need 2 or 3).
If you have any control over the situation though, try to only get a few (like, 5-7) newborn sized shirts and jammies. Unless you have a premie, these will only fit for like 4-6 weeks. And some “blue-ribbon” babies are born already too big for newborn clothes!
Instead, encourage people to think ahead and buy clothes for the first 12-18 months. If you have a winter baby, ask for short-sleeve 6 month onesies and long-sleeve 12 month shirts, but if you have a summer baby, ask for cozy warm 6 months outfits and 12 month short sleeve rompers. That way, you’re prepared for a year on clothes.
Conclusions on a minimalist baby registry
This is seriously everything I can think of that you need for your baby registry!
Don’t forget to sign up for your free printable checklist that has all of this stuff in one easy printable. If you think I missed something, let me know.