At some point during your prep for your newest addition, you’ve probably stepped back and asked yourself how someone so small could possibly require so much stuff. We feel you, mamas. Creating a baby registry can be confusing, overwhelming and certainly one of the more daunting parts of your pregnancy journey. But, once you learn what you really need—and, more importantly, what really works—it can actually turn out to be pretty fun. We’re here to break it down for all you mamas-to-be who are drowning in decision fatigue. From burp cloths to bottles and strollers to swaddles, here are the best of the best, the most loved, the top-rated essentials: the 38 must-have items that no baby registry would be complete without. To keep it simple, we’re breaking it down for you both by category and by needs versus wants. Think of it as the absolute, most-loved essentials versus the items that fall into the “wouldn’t it be so nice of my friends and family to chip in and get me a [insert awesome baby registry gift item here.]” Now let’s get shopping, moms!
1. A smart baby monitor
The baby monitor: a first-time parents’ BFF if there ever was one. For most of us, a baby monitor offers unparalleled peace of mind during that first year of baby’s life and beyond. That’s why we were so excited to discover Nanit—by far the smartest baby monitor we’ve ever used. This high-tech monitor, chock full of awesome features like a crystal clear HD camera, background audio, sleep tracking, night vision, motion sensors, easy wall mount, and so much more, is everything we could ever want in a baby monitor. It syncs right to your phone, and despite its multitude of features, is super easy to use. And while we realize it’s a bit of a splurge, we can’t count the number of more inexpensive monitors that have pooped out on us over the years. We couldn’t love this one more and believe it’s worth every penny.
2. A mess saver
You haven’t officially joined the motherhood club until you’ve fumbled around changing wet crib sheets in the dark at 3 a.m. While we can’t promise you less mess, we can promise you less cleanup time with this organic cotton waterproof crib mattress. This breathable, organic cotton cover will protect your crib mattress from overnight leaks, drooly babies, and the always dreadful middle-of-the-night throw-up. We love that it’s made from super soft materials so it won’t crinkle when baby moves around. We also love that it’s easy to throw in the washer (and dryer) after an accident.
3. A jack of all trades
If you’re going to stock up on one baby item for your nursery and beyond (other than diapers, of course!) make it muslin swaddle blankets. These breathable, ultra-soft blankets are truly the jack of all trades when it comes to baby gear. They’re great for keeping your little one warm, of course, but also as a swaddle, a place for tummy time or a diaper change, a sunshade, a nursing cover, and so much more. These Aden + Anais classics are some of our all-time favorites. We love all the adorable patterns, the ridiculously soft 100 percent cotton muslin fabric, and how they hold up after what seems like hundreds of runs through the washing machine.
4. An easy-to-clean changer
As you’re soon to find out, diaper changes can be messy. There’s not only a dirty baby to deal with, but there’s the other (even less-pleasant) matter of where all of that “mess” ends up. Enter the Keekaroo Peanut Changer: an innovative baby product if there ever was one. This soft, cushy material is impenetrable to fluids, making it super easy to clean and stopping mold and bacteria from latching on. Unlike other more traditional changing pads, this one doesn’t require any covers, pads or extra fabric, which means less clean-up for you. And it sticks to any hard surfaces (like a dresser), eliminating the need for a changing table. Love!
5. A high-tech sleep solution
Although some baby tech can feel needlessly confusing and overwhelming, there are a few rare instances where infant product innovators seem to get it just right. That’s definitely the case with the Hatch Baby Rest. A nightlight, sound machine, and okay-to-wake clock all rolled into one, the Rest is proven to promote healthy sleep habits and to provide light colors that encourage natural circadian rhythms. (Translation: This little gem is going to get your baby to sleep better and longer. Yes, please.) It’s fully customizable and programmable and can be controlled from your smartphone. It’s smart tech that actually works, and we are so on board.
6. A comfy spot for snuggles
A glider is by no means a must-have in a baby’s nursery, but if you do have the space, we strongly encourage you to register for one. Gliders are the perfect place for bedtime stories, those middle of the night feeds, and skin-to-skin cuddles. This sleek, modern upholstered glider and ottoman from DaVinci is neutral enough to fit seamlessly into any nursery decor and comfortable enough for any parent. It features forward and backward gliding as well as a 360-degree swivel feature, and has a high back for added support.
7. An organic, breathable crib mattress
If an organic crib mattress is important to you, look no further than the Nook Pebble Pure. This 100 percent organic sleep system is also 100 percent sleek, modern and, most importantly, completely breathable. Made from materials like eucalyptus, cotton, coconut, and wood, it’s about as natural as you’re going to get when it comes to your baby’s crib. The Nook comes with a waterproof and stainproof washable cover, so you won’t need to buy any extra crib sheets or mattress protectors.
8. A stink-stopping diaper pail
Having a dedicated place for dirty diapers certainly isn’t a nursery must-have, but if you designate one, you want to make sure that whatever you’re using does a great job of containing all of those less-than-pleasant aromas that babies can manage to produce. The Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail is an odor-containing champ. Because it’s made from steel, not porous plastic like many other pails, and it locks odors in within its walls. It also features a rubber seal around the rim, further helping to keep the sink inside. But best of all? It uses regular tall kitchen trash bags, not special (and expensive) custom liners, so you’ll definitely be saving money in the long run.
9. A wear-anywhere organic footie
It’s so easy to be fooled into thinking babies need a ton of clothes (we know, we get it—teeny tiny clothes are the absolutely cutest), but the reality is little ones really don’t need much at all, especially during those first few months. The simple footie is a baby basic worth investing in. We love this organic cotton option from L’ovedbaby, both for its muted, gender-neutral design and its functionality. Fold-over mitten cuffs, attached feet, super-soft, certified-organic fabric, and an easy-snap front make this one of our newborn outfit go-tos.
10. A versatile baby basic
There are certain baby basics that you just can’t ever have enough of, and the Gerber Unisex Onesie is one of them. These versatile white snap-bottom onesies are perfect for the first year and beyond. They’re great for adding an extra layer on cold days or for wearing on their own. We love the expandable neckline for easy dressing, and of course the amazingly affordable price point. And with this multi-sized pack, you’ll be covered for baby’s entire first year.
11. Soft, warm booties—that actually stay on
While baby booties are certainly not a need, if you live in a colder climate, you’re going to have to keep baby’s toes warm when you venture outdoors. One of the biggest problems with lots of booties, though? They fall off constantly. If you don’t want to spend your day picking teeny, tiny socks up off the floor, you need to add the Zutano Booties to your registry sooner rather than later. Not only are these fleece booties super warm and cozy, but the shape and two-snap closure helps them stay put on baby’s feet. Style and function for the win!
12. A swaddle for self-soothing
There are few things cuter than a tiny baby burrito. While it’s totally doable to swaddle with muslin blankets, some parents—and some babies—prefer the ease of a more straightforward swaddling method. The Love to Dream Swaddle UP is a swaddle hybrid that gives babies all the benefits of feeling safe and secure while also allowing them to move their arms up to self-soothe. It’s super easy to use (legs and hands in, zip up, and go), and zips from the top and the bottom for easy nighttime diaper changes. And not to state the obvious here, but man, do babies look ridiculously cute in this thing!
13. A bottle that mimics the breast
Whether you decide to give your little one breastmilk or formula, most moms decide to bottle feed their babes at some point during their feeding journey. There are so many bottles on the market, and choosing the right one for you is often a matter of trial and error, but we think the Comotomo Natural Feel Bottle is a great place to start. This soft, wide-necked bottle most naturally mimics the breast in both shape and feel. Made from silicone, it’s microwave and dishwasher safe and features dual anti-colic vents to keep milk in and air out. It’s also one of the easiest-to-clean bottles we’ve ever used. (Pro tip: we don’t recommend putting a huge collection of bottles on your registry. Choose one or two to start, then see what baby likes and go from there.)
14. A thoughtfully designed bottle brush
Now that your baby is taking a bottle, you’re going to need a way to clean them. Even wide neck bottles, though easier than their narrow counterparts, tend to easily trap sticky milk and formula. The OXO Tot Bottle Brush is our go-to for all of our bottle cleaning needs. We love its modern and functional design and its flexible neck. The silicone nipple cleaner is ideal for tiny spaces, and the included stand will keep your counters dry. It’s also dishwasher safe for when it starts smelling a bit funky.
15. An all-natural soother
The jury’s out on when to introduce a pacifier to your little one, but when you do, we think choosing one made of natural rubber is the way to go. Although there’s a bit of trial and error involved when it comes to figuring out which pacifier fits your baby best, we think the Hevea is a good place to start. We love the simple design and the retro feel (can anyone say Insta-worthy photo opp?), as well as the cute patterned cut-outs.
16. A burp cloth and bib all in one
Fun fact: Babies spit up. A lot. And if you don’t want to ruin every shirt you own, you’ll want to add some burp cloths to your registry ASAP. We love the look and the versatile functionality of these Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs. Made from 100 percent cotton muslin, they’re insanely absorbent and do a fantastic job soaking up all that drool and spit up. They not only fit perfectly over your shoulder, but they also feature a unique shape and back snap that allows them to drape over baby’s shoulders and be transformed into a full-coverage bib.
17. A modern drying rack must-have
A dedicated spot on your counter for drying all things baby definitely isn’t a need, but it sure is nice if you have the counter space for it. This insanely functional modern drying rack is by far our favorite choice for so many great reasons. The Boon Lawn not only looks cool on your counter, but its flexible “grass” design does a stellar job of holding all of your freshly washed baby gear in place, meaning bottles, nipples, sippy cups, pump parts, and more will have their own spot. It also comes with the most fun accessories like twigs and stems to hold all of those itty bitty pieces that might otherwise never be seen again.
18. A high chair that will last for years
Adding a high chair to your registry may not be top on your list, but before you know it, your little one will be diving into the world of solids—and you’ll want to be prepared. The OXO Tot Sprout High Chair has a simple, clean design that won’t create an eyesore in your kitchen. It’s pretty great when it comes to functionality, too. Suitable for kids 6 months to 5 years, it’s fully adjustable and easily converts from a traditional high chair to a regular seat that can be pulled right up to the table, giving your little one a safe place to sit for years. It’s easy to wipe down, and the recessed tray can hold over 7 ounces of spilled liquids. (Trust us, this fact will be very important to you sometime soon.)
19. A baby whisperer
One of the most beloved baby products of all time, the Fisher-Price Rock ’n Play is a registry item that you’ll be thankful for every single day during the first few months of your babe’s life Sleeper, lounger, and rocker all in one, the Rock ’n Play is an absolute lifesaver for fussy babies. We’ve never met a little one who didn’t love to rock, chill, or sleep in this magical contraption that seems to be positioned at just the right angle to soothe even the crankiest of infants. The sleeper is light enough to easily transport from room to room, so you’ll always have a safe place to put baby no matter where you are in your house or apartment. There are mesh sides for added breathability, and there’s even an auto rock feature (complete with sounds and music) to help soothe baby to sleep when your arms need a break. Trust us on this one—it’s a true must-have!
20. An easy way to travel light
When you’re hitting the road with your little one, a safe, secure infant car seat is an absolute necessity. And if you’re a suburban mama who’s going to be in and out of the car a lot, you’ll also want to keep in mind the seat’s weight, as you’ll be lifting it quite a bit. The Graco SnugRide is one of our favorite infant car seats for its combination of safety, affordability, and weight. Clocking in at only 7.5 pounds, this rear-facing seat is suitable for little ones from 4 to 35 pounds and up to 32”. It’s simple to install using the LATCH system and features one-click technology that attaches it easily to any other products within the Graco travel family.
21. A hands-free way to keep baby close
There’s nothing quite like newborn snuggles. Especially during those first few months, little ones love to be held super close, especially when they’re tired or cranky. But as you’ll soon learn, carrying around 8+ pounds of baby day in and day out can quickly start feeling like a neverending Pilates class. Give yourself a break and free up your hands by adding the comfortable, breathable Ergobaby Cool Air 360 to your registry. Constructed from lightweight mesh, this carrier will keep your little one—and you—cool all year long. The wide waistband and padded shoulder straps provide excellent support and it doesn’t take a PhD to figure out how to get it on and off. Best of all? It features four carry positions (forward in, forward out, hip, and back), so your little one will be comfy on your next adventure.
22. The ultimate ride
A stroller that fits your needs and your lifestyle is probably one of the biggest and most important decisions you’re going to make as you build your registry. Although we definitely recommend that you think long and hard about how you’ll be using this important piece of baby gear (are you a city mom or a suburban family, will you be in and out of the car a lot, etc.) we think the best, most functional stroller for most families is the UPPABaby Cruz. There are so many things we love about this (beautiful) stroller, it’s tough to pick just one. Its compact design means that it’s easy to fold and carry—but that definitely doesn’t take away from any other amazing features. It’s comfy for baby and has a great canopy and adjustable handlebar, features a roomy basket underneath, fully reclines, and can be forward or rear facing. (It’s also compatible with a bassinet and car seats from lots of different manufacturers.)
23. A safe place for baby to play
Once your little one starts sitting up—and especially once she starts crawling—you’re going to need somewhere to contain her when you get tired of chasing her around the house. Play yards are a safe, secure spot for baby to play and rest, and a must-have on your registry. We’re huge fans of the Joovy Room2 Playard for a few key reasons. We love how roomy it is—almost 50 percent larger than most traditional play yards—meaning your little one won’t grow out of it anytime soon. We also love the insanely easy setup, the and the two wheels that make it easy to move from room to room. It even comes with a cotton mattress sheet, so you won’t have to worry about buying one separately.
24. A carrier with the perfect fit
Some mamas (and babes) will take to babywearing right away, so if you think you and your little one will fit the bill, it’s wise to add a wrap-style carrier to your registry. Unlike more structured carriers, wraps are just what they sound like—a long piece of soft, stretchy fabric that wraps around you and baby, keeping her close and comfortable. Though some wraps can be confusing and frustrating to put on, the Boba Baby Wrap is one of the simpler ones we’ve tried and can be mastered after just a few attempts. It supports up to 35 pounds and is made from a cotton/spandex blend, giving it just the right amount of stretch and support.
25. A newborn docking station
The DockATot has taken the baby world by storm over the past few years. Some mamas don’t buy into the hype, but lots of others swear up and down by this baby lounger and can’t imagine momlife without one. The DockATot is perfect for lounging, play, tummy time, and supervised sleep. Babies love the high, soft walls that surround the dock, giving them the snug feeling of being back in the womb while still enabling them to move freely without any straps or buckles. And mamas love the ease of portability, the washable materials, and the swoon-worthy designs.
26. An ergonomic bouncer
Adding a bouncer to your registry isn’t a necessity, but we definitely love the convenience (and fun) it provides, so it may be something you want to think about as you build your wish list. The BabyBjorn Bouncer is simple, thoughtfully designed, and beautiful. The ergonomic design gently supports baby from day one, with no batteries, motors, or bells and whistles required—it’s baby’s own movements that power this chair! There are three different reclining positions, and the bouncer folds completely flat for easy travel. (It’s one of our favorite on-the-go baby items since it’s so simple to fold down and pop in a trunk or even a suitcase.) It even transitions into a toddler seat once baby gets a bit older.
27. A soft (and stylish) place to play
If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of baby gear you’re going to fill your house with, then using a swaddle or a blanket as a play mat for baby will certainly get the job done. But if you think you’d like a more cushioned, dedicated space for baby to play, you may want to consider adding a play mat to your registry. The best part about SkipHop’s DoublePlay Reversible Playmat is that it will actually look good in your living room, unlike so many other play mats we’ve come across. With one side featuring a modern print and one with a more kid-friendly pattern, it won’t stick out like a sore thumb in any part of your house. The PVC-free foam is perfect for playtime, and the mat is fully waterproof and wipes clean easily. It even rolls up for simple storage.
Bathtime, Health, and Safety Needs
28. An alternative (and adorable) baby bath
Before we took on this adventure of motherhood, we had no idea this baby product even existed—but we are so happy we learned about it! Bathing a teeny, tiny, squirmy, and very slippery newborn is not for the faint of heart. But the Blooming Bath Lotus changes all that! Now, instead of having to fumble with a slippery plastic infant tub, simply slip this soft, cushy liner into almost any sink and get scrubbin’. Baby will stay safe and secure, and you won’t have to worry about bending over at awkward angles while trying to get baby clean. Genius!
29. A registry must-have
A few of the items in this health and grooming collection probably would have made us cringe pre-baby. But now, we couldn’t love them more and realize that they are non-negotiable registry must-haves for any mama-to-be! The Fridababy Bitty Bundle of Joy is the perfect starter set for taking care of baby—and you. It features two of our most loved baby products, the Nose Frida, the ultimate booger buster, and the Windi, an all-natural gas-passer. (I know, I know, but don’t knock ’em till you’ve tried ’em, mamas!) It’s also got a pair of baby-friendly nail clippers and a postpartum peri bottle for your likely sore nether regions. What more could you ask for, really?
30. A smarter way to take baby’s temperature
Although it’s not fun to think about, the reality of having a baby or a toddler is that they get sick. A lot. And the last thing you want to do when your newest addition is fighting off her most recent round of germs, making her even more uncomfortable by poking her over and over with a thermometer. Enter the Kinsa: the smarter, better way to take and track your little one’s temperature. Kinsa is a Bluetooth-enabled smart thermometer that wirelessly connects to your smartphone, allowing you to record and track your little one’s temp. It takes under 8 seconds and works orally and rectally. It also works alongside a free app that offers personalized medical advice based on your child’s temperature and symptoms, which will give every new mama the peace of mind she deserves.
Bathtime, Health, and Safety Wants
31. The softest towel there ever was
If you’re short on space in your linen closet and can’t imagine stuffing yet another towel in, then this next registry item probably isn’t for you. But if you have a little extra room, this super soft, super absorbent towel from Burt’s Bees is a great choice. Made from organic knit terry, these hooded towels are about as soft and snuggly as they come. They’re large enough to easily cover baby after a bath, and we love the hood feature for extra warmth and dryness.
32. A modern teether for sore gums
Even though you probably can’t imagine it now, before you know it your little one will be gnawing on everything in sight. To make sure their gum relief doesn’t come in the form of chewing on your finger, you’ll want to add a simple teether to your registry. We heart the Comotomo Silicone Teether for its straightforward design and of course its effectiveness in soothing tiny gums. It’s perfectly sized for little hands, making it easy for baby to maneuver it to wherever she needs the most gum relief. And since it’s made from 100 percent silicone, it’s easy to toss into the dishwasher to keep clean when it’s covered in baby drool!
33. A better, safer rattle
Babies are drawn to bright, primary colors—but they’re also drawn to putting anything and everything in their mouths. Once your baby starts to grasp and play, you’ll want to make sure that whatever she’s chewing on is natural and safe. HABA’s Kringelring Wooden Rattle is one of our favorite first toys for little ones. Developing eyes love to look at the colorful beads around this pliable ring, and tiny hands love to grab and shake it. The ring is handcrafted from natural beechwood, so it’s totally fine to let your little one gnaw away.
34. A smarter play gym that will go the distance
Though not an absolute necessity, you’ll probably want to add a play gym to your registry not only to help entertain your baby, but to help him develop those early sensory, motor, and tracking skills. The Play Gym by Lovevery is pretty much everything you’d ever want or need in a baby play gym—and more. Extensively researched and designed specifically to help foster each of your baby’s learning stages, this gym will take you through an entire year of play and beyond. The five development “zones” foster baby’s visual focus, auditory awareness, sense of touch, awareness of colors, and ability to seek and find. It even converts into a play fort for when your little one gets older!
And don’t forget a few things for you, too, mama.
35. The best way to treat yourself
I mean, does this one even really need an explanation? You’re going to have a brand new baby. You’re going to be insanely happy and in love, but you’re also going to be insanely TIRED. The last thing you need—or want—to worry about is cleaning your house. Let someone else wield the vacuum for a while you rest, recover, and enjoy your newest addition.
36. A diaper bag that doesn’t look like a diaper bag
If you’re not thrilled about the idea of trading in your current purse for a clunky diaper bag, don’t worry, mamas—this adorable backpack-style diaper bag is the perfect blend of (affordable) style and function. The HaloVa Land doesn’t scream “diaper bag,” but has all the functionality that you need for a day out with your little. Made from water-resistant fabric, it’s easy to wipe clean, a feature you’ll definitely appreciate in the coming months. There are also a ton of pockets for storing everything from bottles and snacks to your keys and wallet. And since it’s a backpack style, you’ll always have your hands free for ultimate moming.
37. A soothing way to relieve soreness
If you’re going to be a breastfeeding or pumping mama, one of the most common issues you may face, especially during the first few weeks of your baby’s life, is sore nipples. There are lots of creams available to soothe this painful problem, but we’ve found that most of them are super sticky and tough to apply. Not the case with Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. This botanical-rich cream goes on smoothly and easily without any thick, sticky residue. It’s rich in naturally soothing organic ingredients like calendula, cocoa and shea butters, and olive oil, so you won’t have to worry when your baby gets some in her mouth. And it really works; a little goes a long way to providing incredible relief.
38. A soft, stylish, multi-function scarf
If you think a nursing scarf can’t double as a cute fashion accessory, think again. This floral watercolor multi-use nursing cover is gorgeous; it adds a pop of color to even the simplest of outfits. But it’s so much more! This scarf can double as a nursing or pumping cover and a car seat or shopping cart cover. It’s the perfect accessory to toss in your diaper bag for whatever the day may bring.