Suggestions for a baby registry
From my 6 months of experience, with one entire baby, here's what I
would put on my baby registry before she was born if I could go back in
time and do it again. Your mileage will almost certainly vary; babies
and adults all have very specific opinions. You should consider your
lifestyle and your house; I make notes when I think it's relevant, but
I probably underestimate.
I was totally blown away by how incredibly useful the presents people
gave me were. I think this is the most mileage I have ever gotten out
of presents. For the first three-four months of her life, the vast
majority of all the important things in Opal's life were presents. I
think that's totally cool.
Do be warned that many of these things are not useful for several
months, during which you will wonder desperately why you own them. It
will be OK. Babies grow into things.
We found that findgift.com was a non-obnoxious way to maintain an
on-line registry that included stuff from lots of places. Browsing the
web for links is also less stressful than wandering around baby stores,
particularly on weekends. The only problem was that we did get two
mystery gifts which we still do not know the senders of -- if you were
wondering why we didn't thank you for the mobile or the baby sleep
sacks, it's because we don't know who you are, not because we didn't
None, if you have sources of hand-me-downs. Buy an outfit you adore in
size Newborn and one in 0-3 months. Nobody else can be trusted to do
this. Then dress the baby day-to-day in whatever hand-me-downs and
gifts you get without asking until you know what shape the baby is and
what clothes actually work for you and the baby. If you do not have a
source of hand-me-downs, a 3-pack each of cheap footed sleepers with
snaps, cheap footed sleepers with zippers and gowns in size 0-3 months
should meet immediate needs. Note that the baby may be too small for
0-3 months at birth or may outgrow them within weeks. Unless the baby
is premature, it will probably be able to wear the too-large ones and
just look silly, but that's why it's worth getting at least one size
Unless you love doing laundry, you will need a vast number of clothes
in the first size the baby wears, and in the size it wears when you
start solids. We used to go through 4-6 outfits a day, dropped to more
like an average of 1.5 by 4 months, and now that we're on solids we
average pretty close to 3. This is why hand-me-downs are great; why buy
new for something that's going to be on the baby for an hour or two
before being covered in horrible substances? If you don't like them, it
doesn't really matter.
If people really want to buy clothes, encourage them to buy at least
3-6 month size as the baby may be wearing this size very soon. This
will be very depressing if you have an average sized baby and you own
40 baby outfits, none of which the baby can wear for 3 months, but it's
better than having them be too small immediately. The baby really will
grow into them.
When contemplating clothes, remember that the seasons change. For some
reason the first thing I bought was a lovely winter 3-6 month outfit.
Why did I not think about the fact that a baby that is supposed to be
born in February will be 3-6 months in summer in this hemisphere? I
suppose I was listening to all those people who said she'd wear 3-6
months in a week or two, who were WRONG. Good thing we went to
Australia when she was 5 months.
Do get a hat. With a brim, and a velcro strap. The hospital will give
you a dorky little hat to keep the baby's head warm, but you will want
to go out, and that will require sun protection.
One hooded towel. Lots of people say they use baby washcloths all the
time, but it turns out we don't. The hooded baby towel works just great
for us, though. Some people hate them too.
At least 6 cheap receiving blankets. These are not useful for very
long, but when they are, they're indispensable and they get dirty
almost as fast as clothes, so like clothes they don't need to be nice
except for special occasions. We used them for swaddling and
temperature adjustment. Now they've been relegated to backup spit-rag
status, when we can't find a diaper.
At least 12 cloth diapers. Regardless of what you use as diapers, these
are marvelous for wiping things up with. I believe we have purchased 30
so far, although we've never been able to find that many at the same
time. They disappear while you're out and about. If you have a spitty
baby you will never want to be more than a foot or so from a spit-rag
of some sort, and you will cover your house with these.
Rubber-backed flannel things. Preferably at least one big one; we could
never get her to spit up on the little ones, although they gave us
extra confidence in putting her down sometimes. These look and feel
better than other waterproof objects. They also pack in a smaller space
Waterproof pads. The absorbent kind. Otherwise when the baby pees in
the middle of a diaper change it just runs all over the place. Yes,
ick. We have three small ones and two big ones and a rubber-backed
flannel one and an absorbent cover on our changing pad and this
is by no means excessive. A bad day still may mean going through 2
pads. Actually, just a few days ago I went through 2 in one diaper
Lots of proper baby blankets/quilts. When the baby is new you will look
at these and think "What do I want with those? They're the size of
Nebraska and you aren't supposed to let babies sleep with blankets
anyway." The major use for these is to go under the baby on the floor,
although you may also want to cover an awake baby with them, wrap the
baby in them while going somewhere, or even let the baby sleep with
them (safe if you are right there watching or the blanket is firmly
tucked in so it cannot go above the chest). We actually have been
known to let our baby sleep with one wrapped around her, but aside from
that we need: 2 for daycare, one for the jogging stroller, one for the
diaper bag (to take to yoga), one for the living room, and one for my
office for work. That's 6, not counting the illegal one in the bedroom,
the spare ones, or the beach towel we keep in the car for when none of
the others are available. Let your loving relatives go to town on the
baby quilts and covers, as long as they're intended for use - machine
washable, solid cloth (not open like the crochet one I made my baby
which is therefore no good for protecting her from the carpet), not so
precious you'll be heartbroken if they get stained. And, by the way,
now that she's 6 months and mobile, they no longer look even as big as
An Avent Isis manual breast pump. I got one in a kit with a carrying
case and bottles, and that was all the Avent bottles we needed,
because Opal hates them and I use them only to pump into. If you
intend to breastfeed at all, this will be worth it. If you are pumping
seriously you will also need another pump, but that can wait until you
find out how things go. The Isis is reasonably cheap, and will be
useful for pumping to relieve engorgement (you're so full of milk the
baby can't latch on; the baby has just slept 5 hours for the first time
and is still asleep, but you're so full of milk it woke you up) and
pumping enough to figure out what bottles the baby likes. You may also
use it as a backup pump if you get a big electric, or your only pump if
you end up mostly being around to feed the baby.
Take'n'Toss sippy cups. Take'n'Toss makes a nice big gifty set with
bowls and spoons and big cups, and a little package of cups designed
for first sippy cups. These are the best sippy cups in the universe.
They are useless with a newborn, but the big set makes a satisfactory
rainbow-colored present, and the little sippy cups and the spoons are
useful from about 4 months. The rest of it is no good until you start
solids, which is about 6 months, but they store well.
Baby safe feeder. This is a mesh thing with a handle. We now own two,
an original one, which has replaceable mesh and is good to use for
messy things like banana, and a cuter one by Munchkin which is not
replaceable and which we use basically only for ice. Started being
useful at about 3.5 months for ice.
Playtex Ventaire bottles with silicon natural latch nipples. These are
the bottles Opal actually takes. Your baby might take Avent bottles,
and might not take these, but they're one of the most likely choices.
Lots of babies like them. You want bottles even if you're breastfeeding
so you can leave the baby with a babysitter with expressed breast milk.
If you don't mind disposable things, any of the Playtex bottles with
this style of nipple would be fine. We hated the disposable liner ones,
and not just because of the waste; they didn't flow right for us
somehow. Most people don't have this problem, though. Many many people
have babies who will take these nipples and not Avent.
A feeding pillow. Well, I ended up using bed pillows, but the Boppy was
handy for propping the baby up when I wasn't feeding her. My Brest
Friend has a good reputation, but it's one of these unpredictable
things. It's just really hard to tell what you'll like until you have
the baby, at which point shopping for pillows is not going to be high
on your list of things to do. Might as well have one to hand, just in
case. The Boppy did make me feel better for a while, as part of my
Lansinoh. It helps sore nipples. One tube will probably last you your
A nursing stool. In point of fact I used telephone books and didn't
particular mind doing so, but if you would rather not clutter your
living room with randomly placed large books, a nice low footstool will
improve your life. (There is a stage of breastfeeding in which
everything must be placed just exactly so, possibly involving having
your partner help hold things during setup. It passes, but anything
which can help is worth it.)
Maybe a changing table, or a Pack-n-Play with changing table (see
below) or a contour changing pad. Changing tables are a matter of
preference. We used the one built-in to our Pack-n-Play for several
months, but it was really too low for Paul, and our backs started to
hurt. Now we use a contour changing pad on top of a dresser. If that
idea appeals to you, ask for one of them and 2 terry-cloth covers for
it (these are one of the few baby things that are widely available in
nice, bright colours). You could also change the baby on the floor,
which many people do on just a waterproof pad, but I have to say I'd
use the contour changing pad for that, too (in fact, I'm tempted to get
another one) just to help keep her from rolling over and wandering
away. She stays put better in the contour pad than on the floor.
Cloth diapers if you want to use them, but don't ask me what you need.
If you are going with disposable diapers, don't bother asking for
diapers until the baby is born and you know what size it will be. Cloth
diapers are more flexible in sizing and less bulky to store, you could
ask for them as shower gifts.
Not a diaper pail, unless you cloth diaper or it is hard to get
to your garbage can. If you are breastfeeding
and/or you have easy access to your outdoor garbage can, those diaper
disposal systems are more of a nuisance than anything else. We've
gotten away just find using plastic grocery bags and taking them out
when they smelled (which they don't very much with an exclusively
A travel changing mat. You will want at least one travel changing mat.
You may find it useful to have one per car and one for the diaper bag;
it's amazing how easy it is to forget crucial objects when you are
sleep-deprived and there are 40 diferent things you might need.
A diaper bag. Ours is actually a messsenger bag, but it's big, it's
waterproof, and it isn't easily mistaken for anything else we own. It
has pockets but not as many as a diaper bag would have. It doesn't have
a built-in changing mat, but we carry a travel mat, which you probably
want anyway, because a diaper bag is too big to carry all the time if
it's big enough to carry everything you need. Really. You need to fit
the baby's clothes, some toys, a blanket, spare diapers, a spare shirt
for you, a hat for the baby, possibly a baby carrier, probably a tube
of diaper cream, and almost certainly a few other random items.
Things for carting the baby around
Strollers are a whole nightmare unto themselves; there are something
like a thousand different ones, ranging in price from $20 to $2,000.
Buy an infant car seat, and if you need a stroller (for instance, you
are going to take the baby to the grocery store on foot often and need
to carry the groceries as well as the baby) buy an adapter that lets
you use the infant seat. That buys you 3 months to figure out exactly
what you use a stroller for and what features you need. Actually, we
didn't buy a stroller, or want one, until the baby was 6 months old and
Paul wanted to take her jogging (you can't take them jogging until they
have good neck control, no earlier than 3 months; she could have gone
jogging then but he didn't feel like it). A stroller can be great, but
it can also be a nuisance that prevents you from taking the stairs and
has to be manhandled into the car while you deal with a struggling
baby. You do not need one just because you have a baby. If you
need one, you probably need several for different purposes. I do not
know which one(s) you need, and you will be lucky to figure it out
without buying the wrong one at least once.
A pouch-style sling. This is the easiest of the cloth things for
carrying a baby around in, and comes in any colour you like including
camo if you find the whole sling thing too girly. They say you can
nurse in one, but it never worked for me. On the other hand, it only
took a few tries to master (and would have been faster if I'd had a
person to show me) and requires no adjustment. It also allows no
adjustment, so if the people who carry the baby are radically different
sizes you will need more than one. But hey, you can get them as cheap
as $20, so it's not that big a deal. We have a New Native, but whatever
pouch sling appeals to you would be fine. I would avoid one of the
fleece ones unless you have a winter baby and are willing to eventually
get a cotton (or silk) one for summer.
A ring sling. This is the classic hippy sling, famous for being
intimidating to adjust. It's also the most flexible kind, and the tail
that gives it the hippy look is useful for draping over the baby for
warmth, shade, or privacy. I can nurse in one of these, although Opal
now rejects the concept of eating with things over her head. We have a
Maya. If you want the anti-hippy fashion statement, do one of these in
silk. They're machine washable, so practical, just not cheap.
Get at least one sling before the baby is born. When you are desperate
baby is howling anyway, insert the baby in the sling. You will be
convinced the baby hates the sling. Take the baby for a walk in it
anyway. It will be OK. Maybe not the first time. Months after she
clearly loved the sling, Opal would still howl upon initial insertion,
for no apparent reason, but on-lookers would often think we were cruel.
30 seconds later she would be happy as a clam and usually asleep, and
the on-lookers would be reassured.
And hey, if you like the look of other baby carriers, go for it. These
slings are useful from day 1, but over the course of a baby's life you
will have many chances to use baby carriers, and different ones are
useful for different things at different times. For instance, Opal used
to sleep happily in the pouch, but now is too big, and can barely be
induced to sleep in her Maya ring sling, while she sleeps just great
carried vertically. Many people think that Baby Bjorn style
carriers where the legs dangle shouldn't be used for 3 months, but
that's not a universal belief. I happen to like asian baby carriers
(mei tais) which are a vertical style but have more hip support -- some
people loathe having to tie them, though. Baby backpacks are a 6-month
plus thing, and by then babies have very firm opinions, so it would be
better to shop for them with the baby along.
As for a car seat, get a proper infant seat where you can pop out the
carrier and cart the baby around. It's safe in the car and it's
incredibly handy not to have to wake the baby up. Alas, they're heavy
and I always whacked myself in the leg with it, leaving fascinating
bruises. Plus, when you're looking at the weight limit on it
calculating how long it will last, be sure to check out the length
limit as well. Opal is still under the weight limit at 6+ months. But
she outgrew the seat in length by 4. Still, it was great while it
lasted. Pick one that can be used without the base so you can use it in
other cars; it should have a 5-point harness, and upholstery that comes
off so you can wash it. Actually, look, just buy this year's Graco like
everybody else. Spend your car-seat searching energy deciding which
colour you hate the least.
First off, newborn babies do not play. Second, lots of people will get
toys no matter what you say, because they're fun to shop for. So
there's no point asking for many toys. However, there are a few things
that you will want and should ask for specifically.
A baby gym (a mat with arches and toys dangling from it). I would get
the Tiny Love Gymini Deluxe because we have a plain Gymini and love it,
but the Deluxe comes with a purple elephant. But lots of people make
versions of these things. A flat mat is best for small babies.
Extra links. Links are little plastic rings with an opening used to
attach toys to other things. Activity mats come with them. You will
need more. You will eventually be obsessed with connecting as many
things as possible with them, so that they do not disappear and you do
not need 14 hands. You will come to hate toy manufacturers who make
toys without loops, because they are evil. The fancy alphabet-shaped
links are good, not because they are educational (adults often have
trouble identifying which letter they are supposed to be) but because
they are better for teething than plain ones and the funny shapes often
Multi-toy gift packages. Things with 14 different rattles in them, and
the like. There will come a time when 14 different rattles are a really
useful thing to own, because first, you will want to have them in lots
of different places to avoid having to remember to move them about, and
second, novelty value is important, so rotating small toys is more
useful than owning a few large ones.
A mirror. One with a block to make it stand up at an angle, preferably
one that gives you different angles (so a 30-60-90 triangle is better
than a 45-45-90 triangle). The mirror should come off the block so you
can velcro it to other things (like for instance the handle of the baby
carrier so it's above the baby). Endless amusement for a really long
A mobile. We really like the Tiny Love Symphony Deluxe, but the
important things are 1) it is interesting to look at from below 2) it
moves by itself 3) it makes noises that you can stand to listen to and
4) you can attach it somewhere useful. The Tiny Love actually does not
score well on 4, but is good on all other points.
A baby hammock. OK, it's
odd, and people look at you funny, but if they
knew that you could rock the baby to sleep, safely, from the comfort of
your own bed, and you could travel with the baby's bed, and they
understood the magic, mystical importance of these things, they would
not laugh. There are all sorts of other claims about how wonderful they
are, but those are the two things that really do it for us. We really
love the hammock.
A baby bouncer. We didn't get one of these. We got the next thing
instead. I think I would get both, because a low-end bouncer, while
it's not as useful (she'd have long since outgrown it by now) is cheap
and would have pleased her better as a small baby. Personally, I
wouldn't want one of the fancy ones. Small, non-electronic objects are
good. In baby-land, only energetic striving towards the small and
non-electronic will keep you from drowning in 3-foot tall objects with
electronic kangaroos on them. You could get a swing instead, and if you
have a big or multi-level house, you might in fact ask for both so that
you can stash the baby safely on several levels without having to try
to carry the baby and a large baby-holding object. Some babies hate
bouncers; some hate swings; some hate both. The only way to find out is
to have the baby, and by then it is officially Too Late because you
will want a baby-calming device while you are still too insane to shop
for anything that requires real thought.
Fisher Price Infant-to-Toddler Rocker. In our household, this is the
object that allows us to shower and go to the bathroom in peace. You
strap the baby into it (in the bathroom, there is no dignity at all in
having children) and she is content for minutes at a time. When other
people were raving about their bouncers, she was lukewarm about this.
But she is still lukewarm about it, and all the bouncers have been
Pack-n-Play. This is a playpen, with bassinet and changing table. Ours
also came with a really lame mobile. We used it as a changing table for
a long time. We might have used the bassinet feature if we'd had a
multi-level house, but in ours it was easier to just move the hammock
around. We now use it as a playpen, although she rapidly notices she is
in a cage and objects. For Opal, it's not a long term solution,
but will allow you to get dressed or deal rapidly with the laundry.
SuperYard XT. This allows you to gate off a larger area than a playpen.
This has much more staying power for Opal, particularly since she can
pull up to standing on it. Think of it as one of those modern zoo
enclosures, while a Pack-n-Play is more of a cage.
A baby monitor. If you need one at home for day-to-day use, a Sony
BabyCall appears to be the popular option, but I get that from the net,
I know nothing. We don't need one at home, and for a while I thought
that meant we didn't need one at all. I was wrong. I need one when I
take the baby to work; we need one when we take the baby out to parties
and want to put her down to nap in a bedroom; and we have been known to
need one while traveling (we forgot it on our last trip, to friends who
live in a historic adobe, and ended up
trapped in the same room with her when she napped, because sound
doesn't carry well through 3-foot thick mud walls). For this
purpose we got the First
Years attachable, a stunningly unpopular monitor, and love it. Both
ends can be battery operated, and the parent end has a lights-only
A big stuffed animal. Really big. Way bigger than the baby. Then you
take pictures with it regularly and see the baby grow.
A silver rattle. We have one that was mine when I was a baby, rather
battered (it got stuck in the stroller wheels while I had it), and it
has been through 2 babies since. If you treat it as an actual baby
object rather than a sacred heirloom to be stared out, it's really
rather practical (ours would be better with a loop to attach it to
things). Cold metal is great for teething on, and she loves it.
Brownies. Or whatever other sort of frivolous, high-calorie food items
might make you feel better at a hungry, tired, stressful point in your
life. A friend sent us a brownie sampler from Zingerman's which was
A massage certificate. Nobody got me one, but I wish they had. Boy, is
post-partum a stiff and sore period of your life in which having
somebody else take care of you (instead of needing things from you) is
important to you.