Making a baby registry was one of my favorite parts of being pregnant right along with decorating the nursery.
In addition to picking out adorable cute baby things, I needed real tips on how to decide between a 4 in 1 carseat vs. an infant click-in carseat. Or that you might want to consider an unpainted crib because once baby is teething they will chew it. Or to skip the forehead monitor because your pediatrician will always want a rectal temperature.
So here is all of the advice I wish I got when I made my first baby registry.
I cover the basics like when, where and how to make a baby registry plus give you real mom advice on what to buy and what to skip, how to save money, what I wish I bought, and tips on swaddles, cribs, rocking chair, carriers, car seats, diaper bags and more.
When to create baby registry?
Before we get into the tips of what to put on a baby registry, let’s first talk about some of the logistics around registries. First up, when to create a baby registry? There is no such thing as too soon to create a registry. I created my registry with my first baby the day I found out I was pregnant. I’ve even had some friends who created their baby registry before even getting pregnant.
At the very least, create one a few weeks before you send out shower invites so you have time to fill it and can add it to the cards.
Where to do baby registry?
Amazon is obvious, they are the largest online retailer, many people already have Prime or payment info already setup, making it easy for your friends and family to make purchases.
MyRegistry.com is a lesser known option but one of the best places to create a baby registry. What makes MyRegistry so convenient is that after signing up, it’ll automatically sync any existing baby registries that it can find (Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.) and it’ll enable you to download a browser addon that you can use to add any item to your baby registry from any store on the web. This means that if you want some obscure item from Etsy or some elaborate baby swing not found on Amazon, it can still be on your baby registry and you won’t have to go create yet another registry at that obscure shop or store.
You will only want to include one (max two) links on your shower invitations so MyRegistry can really help you with that.
How many items to put on baby registry?
This is a little tougher question to answer than when to create your baby registry, because there is such thing as too much. If you include too many items on your baby registry it’ll be too difficult for your friends and families to navigate through and find the item(s) they want to get you. I would only include the items that you think people would buy and leave off the obscure or super expensive items that will just clutter things up.
Even though I registered for items that matched my theme, I found that I got more gifts on-theme if I told people my nursery theme. One way to let everyone know is to make your shower the same theme as the nursery. Plus you can reuse decorations from the shower for the nursery.
What to put on a baby registry
Alright, so now that the basic questions are out of the way, let’s get into the 20 tips of what to put on a baby registry. Here is a list of what I would skip and what I used after going through it all twice.
There are better options than the traditional swaddle
You don’t know it yet but sleep is about to become one of the biggest issues in your life. Babies are supposed to get up a lot, especially in those first few months. It prevents SIDS and they also have to eat around the clock. But there is another thing at play which is their Moro reflex, which is why we swaddle them.
The swaddle has been improved upon. You can now get one that allows their arms to be “swaddled with their arms up” which was the only way my baby would sleep. Additionally, when the time comes to transition out of the swaddle at 4 months because they can now roll, you can use the Magic Merlin Sleepsuit. This thing was an absolute lifesaver for me.
Lastly, you want to start using sleep sacks after that because kids don’t learn how to use a blanket until 3 yrs. or older. They don’t understand blankets. Sleep sacks are essentially wearable blankets and they have provided a cozy warm cocoon that helps my kids sleep. They come in cotton and flannel. Temperature was such a big problem and so hard to get right, I really wish I had learned about sleep sacks sooner so I am telling you even though you won’t use them until baby is bigger.
Additionally, there are these onesie “gowns” that are fantastic because there are no snap or zippers to figure out during nighttime diaper changes. Lastly speaking of sleep, be sure to have a noise machine, dimmable night light, and black out curtains.
Only get a backpack diaper bag
The same person who invented messenger style diaper bags is the same person who invented heels. Both are extremely impractical for a mom. There is no way you want to be fighting to keep a messenger bag on your shoulder, especially once your baby is on the move. You need to be able to move fast, bend down and chase a toddler.
The only diaper bag you should ever get is a backpack style one. I have yet to meet a single mom who is on their second kid and doesn’t have a backpack diaper bag. By that point, we have all upgraded and learned our lesson.
Find a phone-free monitor that can be used for multiple cameras
At first we thought a camera that connected to our phones was the way to go. However, you can’t use your phone or iPad if it is being used as a monitor. We quickly returned it and found a much better solution.
We have the Infant Optics Camera and it has lasted for 4 years and still works. It also allows you to add multiple cameras to the same monitor. It has a scan feature so you can monitor more than one room. We have cameras set up in the playroom and in both bedrooms.
Baby Monitor Tip: If you find that you have really bad WiFi with your baby monitor on, it may be time to update your router. Most baby monitors clog up the 2.4 gHz band, meaning you’ll need a router that also uses the 5.0 gHz band (my husband made me include this)
If you plan on traveling with baby, then you need this
All of our family is a plane flight away so we flew a lot with baby. Babies actually love flying. Nurse them on the way up and the roar of the engines will put them to bed. However, packing for baby was an organizational disaster. I always packed baby’s items with mine so we could check less suitcases. No matter how much I tried to organize the suitcase, it was always a mess because their stuff was so small.
While these things might seem stupid, and that is what I thought until I tried them, packing cubes are going to save you so much hassle and stress when you family pack. It is so easy now to combine all of our stuff in all sorts of suitcase arrangements.
Flying with baby tip: If at all possible, book with Southwest. Family boarding is after the “A Group”, meaning you and your partner can grab a row near the middle or back and no reasonable person will want to sit next to a baby. Voila! Free seat.
Skip the mini “adult” baby clothing
A lot of my mom friends always joke that when you get hand me down baby clothing it’s all so new and unused because you get all of the impractical cute things that baby never wore.
I know they are so cute. I still swell with happiness when I see little baby jeans or boots. But here’s the thing, they won’t fit well, they will be uncomfortable to snuggle in, they aren’t great for changing and babies sleep so much that you will have to change them back into a sleep outfit every few hours.
So, stick to onesies. Gerber tends to run small. Carters tends to run bigger. They are best for sleep, snuggles and not to mention, they aren’t tight or uncomfortable on baby’s belly. Babies have a hard time with gas and digestion simply because their systems are so new. Keep baby warm, comfy and happy with onesies, leggings, footed pajamas (pretty big obsession with Burt’s Bees pajamas). I also really like the leggings that have feet because you should skip socks and shoes until they are walking. You will just lose them all.
Another thing to consider is size. If you really like an outfit, grab it in 6 months or older. You honestly do not need that much in every size. You will probably be gifted a lot of outfits but only in newborn and 3 months. My babies both only wore newborn for a week. They also quickly outgrew 3 months. Exchange some of the outfits you get so you have some in a variety of sizes because you don’t know how fast your baby will grow.
Don’t waste money on the changing table
I don’t care who you are but there is no way you are going to walk (and do the stairs) all the way back to the nursery to change every single diaper. Remember, those first 6 weeks you will be recovering from birth. You might even need a c-section which means you will be changing baby wherever you are (couch, floor, bed etc.).
Not to mention, once baby is mobile, a changing table is now just a safety hazard. It is so much easier to change baby on the floor. Save your money. Instead just get two changing pads, two covers and two caddies.
You will keep one set in the nursery and one set on the main floor, like in your living room. You can store all of the changing supplies in the caddy. Caddies are great because you can repurpose them after the baby years. Speaking of caddies, I also grabbed one to house all of my nursing supplies. Again, while I had a nursing chair in the nursery and loved it. I only used it at night or when baby woke from a nap. I mainly nursed on our living room couch and kept the nursing caddy with me, so I had supplies.
Baby Changing Tip: When you’re on the go (especially as your baby gets older), a diaper clutch is a nice, lightweight alternative to a full on diaper bag.
Where should you splurge?
On anything that is going to be used the most and the longest, especially if you have more than one kid. These are the things that you really want to get good quality because it will be cheaper to buy once than have to replace. Here are my big three.
A rocking/nursing/reading chair
The first one for me was a rocking/nursing chair. If you don’t get an ottoman, then grab a nursing stool. I used it from day one to nurse and rock baby. As my child grew, it was our bedtime reading chair in addition to nursing. I used it all the way up until baby number 2 was born and then kept using it. I have already gotten 4 years out of it. If we had more kids, then I would be using it for even more years. Since we are done having kids, I instead plan to keep it as a reading chair in the playroom.
When we did move the chair into baby number two’s room, we got my toddler a little kid chair for her bed books. She really loved it. It is probably one of the most used kid items we have in our house. I wish I had bought it sooner because I would have loved to have taken monthly pictures in it as she grew during her first year.
Nursing Chair Tip: If you don’t go with a nursing chair that has pockets, make sure you have a nightstand nearby, you’ll be in that chair for hours and will want a place for your phone, snacks and water bottle.
An unpainted simple crib
The second is a crib. I don’t recommend spending any extra money to get a convertible crib. By the time you are ready to use it as anything but a crib, you will probably have baby 2 on the way. Additionally, by the time you are ready for the bed, you might decide you want a twin instead. Realistically you don’t want to move a kid out of a crib until 3+. Most are just not ready for it. Don’t be too eager to move them.
I would mainly invest in a very safe, durable crib. I would not get a painted one and instead go for wooden. When your little one starts teething, they are going to bite the top railing and the paint also. In addition to it not looking good, I really didn’t like my little one eating paint.
On the topic of crib, I would invest in a high-quality mattress. They will sleep on that mattress for probably 3 years. You want a mattress that has a toddler side and an infant side. Go high quality because you will use it for at least 3 years. If you have more kids, then you will be using it for even longer.
Crib Tip: When shopping for cribs, pay attention to the reviews for how easy it is to assemble and disassemble. We had to move our crib maybe 10 times and my husband was sweating and cursing each time.
An easy to clean high chair
We went super cheap on our high chair with our first baby and it was such a pain to clean. This led us to not want to feed baby in the high chair. The result was that she didn’t get introduced to or try as many foods as a baby/toddler. We relied a lot on packets and then later on had a very picky toddler. We then had to work hard to get our toddler to try new foods.
Not only is giving baby real food so much better than packets and on the go snacks, but also its cheaper. We try to be home for every breakfast lunch and dinner. We dice and give baby lots of variety. It can take up to trying something 21 times before acquiring a taste for it. You want to reach 21 times ideally before they are a picky toddler. There is actually a book called French kids eat everything that explains this is why kids in France eat everything.
You need one for quite some time and if you have more than one kid, you use it for a really long time. This is one of those quality matters items. We eventually purchased this one (absolutely love it) after the fiasco with the cheap one we originally got.
Skip the forehead thermometer
They will always want a rectal temperature because it is more accurate so don’t even bother spending the money on the other one. You will need one and they are cheap so grab one.
Rectal Thermometer Tip: There will be a time when baby will be upset because they need to poop and can’t. The rectal thermometer will do the trick.
You might never use the baby bath
You can get a baby bath but if your baby is big like mine, they will outgrow it fast. Additionally, it is a luxury item. Back in the day, you just folded a towel, placed it in the bath and lay baby on the towel. You only fill the water up until the water is touching baby’s back. You can then use a wet cloth to clean baby.
Also, I loved to take a bath with baby. I would hold baby and even nurse her in the tub. It was really fun. My husband would also take a bath with baby. If your husband freaks out, then have him wear a swimsuit. There is no reason to miss out on this fun experience, especially when they are older and want to play.
Lastly, another thing my baby really enjoyed was showers. I would hold her and have the water dance on her back. My point is that you don’t need a baby bath and you might end up not using it. Just my experience.
Baby Bath Tip: If you have one of those large farmhouse sinks in your kitchen, just fill that for baby’s tub. You’ll save a lot of water (and time).
Infant Tylenol did not work for us
My experience was infant Tylenol wasn’t great. It was a large volume of liquid, which my baby would puke up about 50% of the time. Additionally, it only lasts for 6 hours max. Infant Motrin on the other hand is a much smaller dose and lasts 8 hours.
We had much better luck with Motrin especially when teething started. It would get us all some adequate sleep. Some doctors will tell you to alternate the two (Motrin and Tylenol).
Lastly, you should of course always consult a doctor before giving any medication to a baby and I am not a doctor.
Fussy Baby Tip: If your baby is colic, or just fussy/gassy, Gripe Water can be a life saver. Maybe not the most-exciting registry item but an essential nonetheless.
Those cute burp cloths won’t do you any good
I would love to meet the baby who only got those tiny cute burp cloths dirty. Not to mention they are so overpriced. It is also an item you will only use in those first few months. You also might not even need them at all, your baby might not spit up often.
Instead grab these, they are cheap, highly effective and can be used for any clean up.
You don’t need a crib set
What?!? They are so cute! But they are expensive, and you won’t be able to use them. First most come with bumpers which unless they are mesh are dangerous. Second, they all come with a blanket which again, you can’t use in their crib because they are dangerous.
You only need the fitted sheet. I got a minky one and my baby loved it! Aden and Anais makes some really cute ones too that you can match with the changing pad cover. You are also going to be gifted so many baby blankets at your shower, you won’t know what to do with them all.
If you really want to decorate their room, and you do because you are nesting, then find other ways to decorate the room outside of a crib set. Get some artwork and fun decals for the wall.
I wish I got more small baskets and bins
Like I mentioned with getting packing cubes for travel, baby items are so small and traditional furniture just isn’t made for it. You will want to use baskets in drawers and a lot of them. There is no other way to keep all of that stuff organized. Once they are bigger and you don’t need the baskets for clothing anymore, they transition well to the playroom for toy storage.
Additionally, I used bins and baskets throughout the house in different rooms so I could store baby stuff such as diapers on different floors.
Click in car seats are a must if you have multiple caregivers
If you have multiple people picking up, watching or driving your little one, then instead of buying multiple car seats, just have everyone buy a base for the infant car seat. It is so much cheaper especially if you get last year’s model. You also just click it in and out instead of trying to install a car seat every time or have multiple car seats.
The other nice part about these is that they usually also pair with a stroller. However, it is an infant car seat so you have to buy another car seat once they outgrow this one. You can usually get a year out of an infant car seat. We got about 6 months out of it since our baby was big.
Car Seat Tip: If the click-in setting isn’t important to you, consider a 4 in 1 carseat instead. This will get you the most bang for your buck as your child will use it through toddler-hood and beyond.
Try a wait and see approach for a stroller
If you get a click in infant car seat, then I say it is worth it to get the accompanying stroller.
I say to wait to see if you want a stroller, because a lot of people end up not really using one (this mom agrees). First, if you have a colic baby, they might not even like the stroller. Second, how much do you walk? If you aren’t in a city, then you might not really use it much.
We rarely used ours. We got it with the click in car seat. Looking back, we could have been perfectly fine with a good umbrella stroller. We really only use strollers when we travel to a city and in airports.
Stroller Tip: Check Facebook Marketplace for used strollers, often families will buy one beforehand and almost never use it, meaning you can often find great strollers in good condition.
Everyone should have a baby carrier
Babies are small but still a lot of weight to carry. They love to be carried. I loved carrying my baby. It made me so happy and nothing was better than feeling my baby on my chest. I wouldn’t want anyone to miss that experience. And, to be honest, it was the easiest way to travel. I also liked how I could tell if baby was at a good temperature, etc.
I would get one good carrier that can be for infant all the way up to toddler. We went with the Ergo Carrier because then my husband who is 6 ft tall could also use it. All babies love to be carried since they love to hear your heartbeat and be close to you. However, if you are one of those lucky individuals who get a colic baby (me!), then your lifeline will be the carrier. My colic baby spent all day every day in a carrier and she was happy.
Baby Carrier Tip: If you’re having a fall or winter baby, a Boba Wrap Carrier is a great item to keep baby warm and snug during cool, outdoor walks.
Don’t baby proof until later
You have no idea what type of baby you will have. My first never opened a single kitchen cabinet or played the toilet. My second however is everywhere.
All we needed for my first was a stair gate. With my second, I am thinking that idea of a minimalist house with nothing in it will suffice for baby proofing. Save the money until you know what is problematic. You have lots of time, baby proofing doesn’t need to be done any time soon.
Save money for photos
You will want to get newborn photos of your new family. Taking newborn photos yourself is really hard because babies are so tiny, it is hard to pose them well. These must be done in the first two weeks for them to be newborn photos, meaning where they bundle them in that sleeping swaddle. After that, babies don’t look like newborns and they won’t sleep like a newborn anymore.
Dr. Seuss Books can wait
I love to read and I couldn’t wait to relive all of the wonderful books of my childhood. I had a book shelf full of books all for a toddler. I didn’t really realize what was a good book for a baby.
My first loved to read anything and my second was on the go so much that it was hard to read to her. The books that they both loved were Peek-a-boo, First Words, Hello Duck, That’s Not My Owl (etc) series, and Baby Einstein.
Besides loving to read, it was very important to me that we did read because studies show it really helps their vocabulary and conversation skills. The benefits are endless so start now. It is such a fun and wonderful bedtime tradition.
Everyone always forgets the classic baby toys
While we got some really fun baby toys. I was surprised at how long it took us to get the foundational toys. The ones that are played with for years and still are played with by my toddler.
Pursue your Baby Registry Today
If you haven’t started one yet, I would make an Amazon registry because they have everything and it’s so easy for your shower guests. I would then also make one at MyRegistry.com It allows you to group all of your registries (Amazon, Etsy, etc) so you can send people to one spot.
By including the right items on your baby registry, you’ll save money down the road by not having to buy replacement items (which is important because toddlers are just as expensive).