Coming up with a list of must-have items for your baby and baby registry can be hard. My friend Liza recently asked me what she must have on her list. I had to think back to what I really used with my (now) toddler compared to what was just nice to have but not always necessary.
Here is my list of what I found to be must-haves:
Sound machine with a 5-year warranty: You want a sound machine that is going to last as you will need to use this daily and for a long time to come. You also want one that makes the most basic sounds like white noise and brown noise (fan). We personally love the summer night and ocean sounds. We previously got another sound machine with a projector that was specifically for babies, but it bit the dust after about one-year of use, and it sounded horrible at the end. It didn’t have white noise and played lullabies, which we never used because they sounded so artificial. We ended up using the ocean noise until it died. I recommend a long-warranty product with the basic sounds of white noise. You really don’t need anything else. Here is my recommendation: Wave Premium Sleep Therapy Machine, around $40.
Sleep or Swaddle suit: Babies have to sleep on their backs, and with the startle reflex that is ingrained in them, it is helpful to swaddle It is best to swaddle them in a breathable fabric or put them into a sleep suit that will keep them warm but not cause them to sweat. I recommend using Muslin Baby Swaddle Blankets; Aden + Anais make some nice but expensive ones. (When your infant is small, basic receiving blankets work, especially in winter.) You just need to learn to swaddle tightly and well.
My little guy got out of his swaddling quite easily and wanted his arms free, so we started to use the Summer Infant Swaddleme Cotton Knit Swaddlers from months 1-3.
Later, we switched him over to an awesome sleepsuit which kind of looks like a straight-jacket for kids but works really well; we used the Merlin Sleep Suit which retails at $40. We used this until he started to want to roll over around month 6.
I would be careful how long you swaddle. When babies start to roll or want to roll over during the daytime, that is the time to take them out of the swaddles and allow them to use their arms more. You can also use sleep sacks like a wearable blanket at that point to allow them to move their legs at that point.
Pacifiers and clips: Certain Moms will swear by certain binkies or pacifiers. I think it depends on the baby and what they prefer. It has been recommended not to introduce binkies until the babies have already taken to breastfeeding, if that is what you plan to do, or to the bottle. My doctor suggested waiting until month three, but honestly, we sort of needed something sooner. Our son took to the Philips Avent BPA-Free Soothie Pacifiers, $4 each, relatively quickly. He also loved his Giraffe pacifier which was very cute and which has a little bit of weight at its feet so it works well for a baby sleeping on the Wubbanub makes a variety of cute animal pacifiers, and we ended up with about three or four around the house.
However, do make sure to get pacifier clips or secure-it like tethers that will help keep you from losing the pacifier, because babies like to throw things and then get upset when they don’t have them. These tethers keep the pacifiers in place, and the added advantage is that you can reuse the tethers later on their highchairs, strollers, car seats, and infant/child carriers.
Baby Monitor: This was a tough one. I went through three different monitors until I found one that I liked the quality and value of. I recommend that you check for the following features when choosing a monitor:
- pairable with additional cameras as needed—as for a second baby or for another room
- a monitor that shuts on and off automatically based on baby movement or sounds. This saves battery-life
- long off-power cord battery life, i.e., one that doesn’t die after one hour of being off the power cord
- long transmission range so that you can move around your house and still peek in as needed, even if you are in the yard or in the kitchen
I recommend the Hello Baby Monitor with the 3.2 inch screen. It retails around $80.
Baby Carrier: I have to admit that we have two, one that allows us to rotate the baby outwards, which my husband prefers (age 6 months+) and another that is simply more comfortable and great when running errands with a small baby. I have friends who swear by the Ergo Baby and then I have friends who adore, for hiking especially, the Onya Baby We personally have the Ergo Baby Classic and Infantino Flip 4 in 1. I love my Ergo for its comfort while wearing, but my husband uses the Infantino carrier more. The Infantino has the advantage of working for infants facing inwards at first but then later you can rotate the baby facing outward. At $25, it’s quite a steal, compared to the cost of the Ergo at $150-$180 (360 version).
So those are my top five really must-haves on a baby accessory list.
There are many other things that babies need. However, before you get scared at the financial investment if your friends and family don’t get these for you from your registry or from your suggestions, let me remind you that there are many consignment and thrift shops that carry these at very reduced prices! Finding many of these items second-hand (except disposable diapers, of course!) really saved the day for me!
Thus, these other items I suggest, but not in order of necessity (you’ll need to decide that), are:
- lots of onesies, in dark colors (show less mess)—Short-sleeved for summer, Long-sleeved for winter
- A Boppy with several washable covers
- A tub with a sling for the first few baths
- A bright and colorful playmat for tummy time, I chose one that had little balls and a mini safety guard that went up as we have a small dog and created some separation.
- Ohh… and a diaper pail, you will definitely need that. I recommend the Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail, as you don’t need to buy their bags; you can use other plastic bag liners, thus saving money in the long run. It also locks, which is nice as the kids get older and more curious.
- Car Seat Caddy—depending on what car seat you end up purchasing, which you have to have before you leave the hospital, I recommend getting the corresponding caddy or system that will enable you to click your child seat into a compact lightweight stroller which is especially useful if you have a C-section or simply have a hard time carrying the car seat over your arm. Those car seats are deceivingly heavy. I found it really useful for entering stores and running errands as it has a little basket on the bottom as well.
Hope these all help! Please feel free to share your top five items in the comments section below.