Baby Registry Must-Haves for the Minimalist Momma


Your baby needs you, bottom line.

But some additional accouterments are nice to have as well. The problem is that there is a plethora of "baby stuff" out there. There are enormous businesses that peddle every imaginable life-simplifying product, and I feel like I've tried most of them. If you're not careful, soon your house is full of life-simplifying products that magically transform into life-complicating clutter.

That being said, here are some tried and true necessities that my girlfriends and I agree are a great starting point for your registry. These are just suggestions, based on experience. Ultimately you get to explore and see what's right for your family.

  1. Swaddle/comfort blankets. May I recommend Aden and Anais 100% cotton muslin swaddlers? This is why: First, they are big. Some swaddle blankets are so tiny that as soon as your kid puts on a few pounds or ends up strong enough to break a swaddle, you're outta luck. These are great to use for the long-haul. I have an 8 month-old that's built like a tank and the size of an average 2-year-old. Second: they wash so nicely! I've also witnessed a full-on-bowel-cleansing baby poo land right on a plain white swaddle. I soaked that blankie in a little regular Dawn and OxiClean and it came out looking new! On top of that, they get softer as you wash them. Third and my favorite reason: they can double as a nursing cover, changing pad, car seat canopy, and burp cloth. Tie two corners around your neck and you have a light, breathable, private little lunch cabana for Little One. Fold over a few times and it is as absorbent as any burp cloth out there. Did I mention how nicely they wash? Throw it over your stroller or car seat and the sun is blocked out, but baby won't overheat. See how many items that saves you from having to buy? They also come in a ton of cute colors and patterns. Don't worry about warmer blankets, you'll get them whether you ask for them or not. If you don't, you can have one of mine.
  2. A bassinet (and a sheet). Even if it's only for a little while, you'll probably have Bunny-Butt in the room with you for that indeterminate first stretch of night-feedings. Opinions here vary widely, but my favorite is the Arm's Reach Mini Cosleeper. It looks like the typical collapsible playpens that virtually every mom has, but it's about half the size and the mattress sits up near the top. It stands alone but comes with straps to secure it to your bed. It also has detachable risers to adjust to the height you're comfortable with. One side drops down so that baby can be in his or her own place, while literally right next to you. We got this one because we lived in a teeny, tiny apartment in Boston and needed to make the wisest use of every inch. It does come with a travel case but is a little heavy, in my opinion, to be schlepping around your next Euro-trip. FYI: once your baby can pull him or herself up on things, it's time to put the bassinet night-night. Another reason I like this one is that it folds up the same way as those aforementioned playpens. P.s. If space is not an issue, look into standard size playpens that have a removable bassinet. Two birds: one versatile child-containment unit.
  3. Onesies. They're a perfectly acceptable outfit. They show off those chubby thighs. They're relatively easy to put on. They go with everything. The question is: how many? I recommend 7-10 in each size up to 12 months. If you do laundry more than once a week, you'll need fewer onesies. If you do less, you'll need more. The only reason I'd say more than seven (one for each day of the week) for starters is because some kids are just messier than others. But start with seven and see what kind of kid you have. My daughter could've gotten away with three or four for all the messes she made. My son, however, goes through at least one additional outfit change most days. Also, baby clothing is adorable. People are going to come out of the woodwork to buy you another outfit. Don't worry about registering for clothing (unless it's to give people an idea of your taste), but make sure you register for some plain, neutral onesies. Public Service Announcement to new parents: Do yourself a favor and always have a onesie in the diaper bag. You may go months without needing it, but the one time you have an all-out poosplosion in the mall, you'll be grateful you came prepared.
  4. A diaper bag. Speaking of being prepared away from home, let's talk about diaper bags. I had a nice diaper bag, an expensive diaper bag. It was all designer-y and cute. It was waterproof on the outside and soft and satiny on the inside. That was all dandy until my two-year-old poured an entire glass of whole milk into it while we were on vacation, in Arizona, in the summer. Not. Good. This may not, and hopefully does not, happen to you. But if it does, may I advise you to consider buying a washable diaper bag? Better yet, more and more moms are just using a good 'ol Jansport. Yep, a simple backpack is easy to carry, doesn't look too girly for a manly dad to carry, and zips up into a no-spills aircraft friendly juvenile supply transportation unit. Things to consider: Is it washable? Does it hurt to carry after a while? (you can test this out by bringing a 5lb sack of potatoes to the baby store with you and wearing your prospective bag around with the potatoes in it while you shop. Just make sure they're clean). Is the main pocket zippered? I suggest a zippered main compartment because snaps will inevitably come undone when that thing is stuffed and velcro gets stuck to fabric like muslin swaddle blankets. Does it need to have stroller straps (which can be purchased separately, btw)? How often are you going to use a stroller? This is the one I have, which I love except for the stroller straps (the stitching is coming out).
  5. A stroller. Dear moms who can go jogging with their babies. Chapeau, darlings. You are my heroes. I am not one of you. That being said, I am in love with my B.O.B. It is the SUV of strollers. I shall not be convinced that there is a better stroller for me. But here are some things to consider when looking for the right one for you:
    1. Frequency of use. Are you pretty darn active? Chances are, if you were before baby, you will be after baby. If you're going to use your stroller a lot, I suggest inflatable wheels. ones made of the compressed foamy stuff degrade and fall apart with time. Ones make of plastic just need a good sharp rock and they're dented for good. Solid rubber is also a good option, but they add weight.
    2. Type of use. If you are one of those amazing runner-moms, are you the kind that is going to do off-roading, beach running, or just up and down the street? The more versatile the terrain you're likely to traverse, the more I suggest something with good suspension and easy steering. You don't want little Bugaloo getting too jarred during your jaunt. If you are a shopper and you know it, make sure to check the size and ease of access to the basket. B.O.B.'s don't have great baskets, but that's not important to me. If it is to you, maybe check out something else, like a City Mini. If you live in a big city where space is always a premium, consider a low-profile stroller like the Stokke.
    3. Weight, height and ease of collapse. If you frequently use your stroller, you may find yourself at some point trying to get it out of the back of your car with one hand. If you can't do it when you're out stroller shopping, don't plan on being able to do it at Costco. Make sure the one you select is easy enough for you to assemble and collapse over and over again. If you're going to be pushing this thing around for a long time, it doesn't do to be all hunched over a short stroller. I like my B.O.B. because I'm 6'1'' and it is tall enough for me. Make sure your stroller is accessible to you without having to change your natural posture.
    4. Canopy. When the sun is out or it's raining, how much of your little Sunshine will be covered? Do you want to be able to see baby when the shade is up? This is just a matter of personal preference, but make sure you compare different options.
    5. Maneuverability. Try taking the stroller for a spin around the store. Can you steer with one hand? Can you fit between tightly squeezed clothing racks? Are the breaks easy to activate? When the diaper bag is attached, can you still walk without kicking it every step? Don't forget to throw a sack of potatoes or something heavy in there when you're testing it out.
  6. Stuff for baby's toiletry bag:
    1. I recommend putting your go-to baby items in one bag. That way when there's a hangnail, a fever, a rash, or a tooth, you always know where to go. Here's the best of my most frequently used items
      1. Safety 1st nail clippers. The handle is big enough to hold securely, there is no dinky little magnifying glass (I find those just get in the way) and the steel is sharp enough to leave a smooth edge.
      2. Bordreaux's Butt paste. You can use any butt paste, but this is my favorite. I've never seen a rash stand up to it for more than a day. No fragrances added, just good 'ol fashioned butt paste. It's also fun to say. Butt paste. Also, the tub I've linked here has lasted me through two kids.
      3. Simethicone drops. These come in a variety of brands. Simethicone is a natural anti-gas that can help with colic. Look for something dye free; you don't want it staining anything.
      4. A good thermometer. Just look at reviews on Amazon and register for a nice one. At 2 AM you don't want to wonder if Jelly Bean's temperature of 103 is really accurate, you need to know. It can save you a trip to the hospital and help your 24-hour nurse line to advise you correctly. Some are in the ear thermometer camp, some like the infrared temporal artery scanner. Just make sure you get something accurate.
      5. Hyland's teething tablets, Ibuprofen, and Tylenol. Those are the only things I have ever needed (along with Simethicone) to keep my kids comfortable. Hyland's were my go-to for teething (they're homeopathic), with Ibuprofen and Tylenol used pretty sparingly. Even if you never use them, they are nice to have around to save you from going to the Pharmacy at an unholy hour of the night. FYI: Simethicone can be given to a newborn, everything else usually needs to wait until 6 months. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
  7. A baby carrier:
    1. Again, a hotly debated item. I'll recommend an Ergo and a Moby. A Moby is cumbersome to get used to, but to me, it feels just like being pregnant. It has excellent weight distribution and is highly adjustable. You can use them for bigger kids, but they are ideal for babies. Ergo's are nice too, especially the newer ones that are designed to hold a baby on the front or back. I've never met someone who didn't love their Ergo. Just do your homework. Ergo's are expensive, Moby's are not. I'd go ahead and register for something expensive and if you hate it, well, return it and buy something else!
  8. Shoes, a hat, and a lovey:
    1. As far as I'm concerned, baby shoes are stupid. They don't stay on baby feet. But you've gotta keep those little toes warm, so what's a momma to do? Footie jammies? Long socks that don't get kicked off? Those will work. But if you must have shoes, the only ones I can recommend are Robeez. They are all leather, nicely elasticized, and stay on wiggly little kicky feet.
    2. Find a nice, cotton, wide brimmed hat for summer. Cotton is breathable so Scootie Bug doesn't overheat. Also, a head burn on a baby accounts for nearly 20 percent of their body surface area, so keep that sweet head covered! A snuggly winter hat with ear flaps is wonderful for winter. Again, I'm pro natural fibers, but fleece and poly blends will definitely keep that little melon warm. Just make sure to check them often to see if they're sweaty.
    3. When you're on the go, don't waste your time packing up fifty different toys for baby to play with. Find one travel buddy. A nice, soft, washable, cuddle friend. If you must, also register for some kind of colorful plaything like a Winkel or an O-Ball. They make a little noise, but they're not annoying. And I suggest no more than two toys for traveling! Baby will get used to not having to be constantly entertained by new things and you will thank me later for that. Also, do yourself a favor and don't waste your money on something that takes a battery. There are lots of fun toys to register for, but, like clothes, you'll probably get a bunch anyway. Oh, throw a Britax Back Seat Mirror in there too. Those are great for when you're in the car.
  9. Diapers, Wipes, and a Pail:
    1. For your run-of-the-mill disposable diapers, I recommend Pampers for the first six weeks. They come with a little wetness indicator that helps you get used to knowing when to change Button. After that, Huggies are my favorite. There is also a myriad of "natural" diapers. If that makes you feel better, go nuts. But until I see a compostable diaper on the market, I'm not sold on "natural." Huggies makes the best wipes.
    2. If you're going to go cloth, you can't go wrong with BumGenius. There are a million cloth diapers on the market, and I've tried about five or six poplular brands, but these are my favorite. Soon, I'll write a post on cloth diapers, but for now, just google it.
    3. Whether disposable or reusable, you'll probably want a diaper pail. Some pails require disposable liners that you have to keep buying. I do not recommend those. I hate running out of stuff, so I recommend a Diaper Champ for disposables (if you run out of diaper champ liners, any standard trash bag will do). For reusable, just get something with a zipper. Trust me on that. No drawstrings. Zippers.
  10. A bottle, a binky, a bag, and a bib.
    1. If you're going back to work or plan on pumping for any reason, you'll need a bottle. Read: one bottle. Some babies will use anything, others are extremely picky. Don't waste your money on a whole set of bottles when kiddo might not even like them. Also, when Baby is done, just wash it and you're ready to go again. A funny thing happens when you only have one of something. It's like you acquire radar for it; you always know where it is and take better care of it. That's my argument for the one-bottle household. But if you want two, I won't judge.
    2. You'll probably get a binky at the hospital, but if you don't, I recommend registering for a Soothie and a binky leash. They are very basic, but the nice thing is that they don't grow with baby. Eventually, they just don't want them anymore. Don't worry about getting a Super Soothie when Baby is bigger. They are the same size, just harder. I don't understand their existence.
    3. Munchkin makes a mesh teething bag that you can put all kinds of fruits and vegetables in, fresh or frozen. My kids have both loved them. Just avoid bananas, they stain the bags.
    4. Aden and Anais also makes Burpy Bibs. Get the two pack. Use one, wash one. I was on an airplane once when my kid emptied the contents of her freshly-fed stomach right into my outstretched hands. Fortunately, I was holding one of these bibs. Mischief managed. The volcanic vomit was entirely contained with one bib. That bib is now three years old and looks, well not new, but pretty darn good.

So that's it! There are lots of fun things out there, and I'd love to hear about your can't-live-without discoveries as I have just shared mine. I have a post-script of items you may want on your radar, but that I've left off this list.

Congratulations to you and happy baby-ing!

Here are some things I left off the list that you may still want (and why):

A high chair. Strictly speaking, these are not necessary. They are nice, but you can live without them for a good, long while. They can also be replaced a bumbo with a tray if you're tight on space. There are also very low-profile chairs that attach right to the table.

A baby bouncer or swing. If this is your first kid, I'm going to venture a guess that Snookie Poo gets more snuggle time with mom, dad, friends, and family than downtime. If it's your second kid, this is maybe a better option.

A crib and a car seat. I left these off because you can't leave the hospital without a car seat and a crib is often the first thing people think of when it comes to the nursery. As long as you buy new, you'll be sure to get one that meets all the latest safety standards. It's just a matter of color preference.

A breast pump. Most insurances cover one for free. Just make sure to ask your OB or Midwife for a prescription for one. They also usually come with a few bottles for pumping milk. Another reason you only need one for feeding baby.

Oh yeah: nursing supplies. Lansinoh makes the best nursing pads. You can register for a four-pack of 60 count boxes for something like $20 on Amazon. I also recommend asking for a prescription for APNO cream (all-purpose-nipple-ointment) and registering for 100% lanolin cream. I left these off because some mommas don't want personal hygiene items on their registry. Nothing says, "happy baby shower" like, "here's some cream for when your nipples get a yeast infection."