“Making a baby registry is so easy!” said no expecting parent ever. We get it: From the minute you find out you’re pregnant, you’re navigating countless life changes. Add a baby registry into the mix, and suddenly you’re evaluating the usefulness of hundreds of unfamiliar products (what is a swaddle sleep sack, anyway??). It can all feel very high stakes.
So let’s start with this: Yes, making a baby registry is a lot—but it’s pretty wonderful once you’ve figured it out. After all, a registry is the best way for your friends and family to come together, help out, and get you exactly what you’re going to need for this brave new world you’re entering into. Consider this your definitive getting-ready-for-baby checklist.
In this article:
When & Where to Register
What Not to Add to a Baby Registry
How to Create a Baby Registry
Health & Personal Care Essentials
When & Where to Register
Some parents are eager to jump into registry planning the minute they learn that they’re pregnant; others wait until the end of the first trimester or around the 20 week mark to get started. Your schedule is your own—it’s really whatever you feel most comfortable with—and you can keep your baby registry private until you’re ready to send it to friends and family (usually when baby shower invitations go out). Our advice: Take your time adding and subtracting items when it’s in private mode, and don’t try to do too much at once. After all, most people don’t have a baby shower until the third trimester—and you might choose not to have one at all.
When you’re ready to get started with your baby registry, your first big decision is where to create your baby registry. Whatever registry you choose has to be simple to navigate—both for you, and for anyone buying items off of it. Many online registries also come with sweet deals for new parents—you might get a discount on registry items that remain unpurchased, for example, or special gift packages—so make sure to read up on the fine print. There are tons of excellent registry possibilities, but these are our favorite places online for creating baby registries—all of them easy to use, versatile, and intuitive:
Once you’ve landed on where to register, the real fun begins.
What Not to Add to a Baby Registry
The good news here: There are no real rules! If you want to put a value pack of English muffins on your registry for all your postpartum snacking needs, have at. (Who knows? You might have an English muffin enthusiast in your friend group who will be delighted to give them to you.) Or if you just want cash so you can make some choices on the fly, you can add always gift cards into the mix. That said, there are a few basic baby registry parameters. Consider holding off on adding big-ticket items for older kids; if you’re gifted a convertible car seat years before you’re going to use it, by the time your child is big enough some newer, more advanced model will have arrived on the market. By then, you might also have a better sense of your child’s particular needs and preferences (and they will have preferences).
Which brings us to our second point: your baby’s likes and dislikes. Before you stock up on twelve packs of baby bottles, for example, keep in mind that some babies can be particular about feedings and might not like your bottle of choice. Get a few, yes—but don’t buy too many duplicates of any given item if there’s a chance it might be a baby reject.
Also, remember that some family and friends will always go rogue and purchase items that aren’t on your baby registry. Those purchases often take the form of impossibly cute onesies, chic woolen sweaters outgrown in the blink of an eye, handsome Scandinavian wood rattles, and adorable baby blankets. So, so many baby blankets. All these gifts are lovely (and who doesn’t like a few happy surprises?), but it means you don’t need to overload your baby registry with clothing items or baby toys. Or blankets.
Lastly, don’t forget that babies grow fast. Like, noticeably-bigger-overnight fast. You will probably not need 36 newborn-sized shirts.
How to Create a Registry
Maybe researching obsessively is your jam; maybe it’s your worst nightmare. Wherever you fall on the research spectrum, adding those first few items to your baby registry can be daunting. Some people like to start the process by strolling through an actual store to get a sense of what’s out there; others watch baby product reviews on YouTube; some people get advice from friends and other parents on what’s worked for them and why. These are all great tactics—try all three if you want!—and can help reduce your stress. To help you stay organized, we’ve rounded up the items we think you’ll appreciate having once baby arrives, handily broken down into categories. Let’s dive in.
Crib + Mattress: You might not start with your baby in a crib, but you’ll move them over after a few months—and that time will come sooner than you think. Organic mattresses made with nontoxic materials are readily available these days and worth the investment.
Bassinet or Co-Sleeper: The first few weeks to months will be so much easier if your baby sleeps in your room (probably within arms’ reach). Co-sleeper and bassinet options now include built-in motion, white noise, side openings and more.
Fitted Sheets: Having at least two fitted sheets—sized for both the bassinet and for the crib—will cut down on frantic washer/dryer trips.
Changing Table or Dresser: Standalone changing tables are a good way to get organized, but aren’t always the most space-efficient options. Our favorite is a dresser with changing table built into the top for maximum space in the nursery.
Changing Pad Covers: Changing diapers is a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Having 3–4 changing pad covers in the house means you can swap out for clean ones quickly.
Rocker or Glider: We hope your baby falls asleep quickly, easily, and with zero fussing. For the rest of us, these chairs help lull little ones to slumber and are a perfect cozy spot for feeding.
Hamper: The amount of dirty laundry one small baby produces can be mind-blowing. Keep everything organized with a hamper that separates their laundry from yours (if you think adult socks go missing in the wash, just wait for baby socks!).
Storage Bins or Baskets: Babies just seem to generate stuff. Put it all away with bins or baskets that help sort things and stash them out of sight.
Swaddle Blankets: If you’re an origami professional or Dr. Harvey Karp, perhaps you use these lightweight, square, breathable blankets for actual swaddling; for everyone else, swaddle blankets are an essential light layer when babies are napping in your arms (we also love them as stroller covers to block the sun when baby is snoozing).
Swaddle Sleep Sacks: These genius velcro or zip-up innovations replicate all the coziness of a swaddle without you having to do all the folding and tucking. Once babies are out of swaddles, an arms-free sleep sack is the next step for nighttime warmth and comfort. (Doctors recommend keeping loose blankets out of babies’ cribs).
Baby Toys: Add just a few key items: a nontoxic teether, a couple indestructible board books, maybe a soft little rattle that makes an unobjectionable sound. Remember, the rogue gifters will fill in this category for you, whether or not you add toys to your registry at all.
Stroller (with bassinet attachment): This is one of the biggest purchases on your registry, both in terms of cost and utility. If you can, find a store where you can test out your favorites for weight, handling and comfort.
Infant Car Seat: Your number one concern for a car seat is safety! Make sure it’s highly rated and installed correctly once you have it (most fire departments will actually check your seat for you to ensure it’s right before you come home from the hospital). Many infant car seats are designed to neatly snap into your stroller—particularly handy when you have a snoozing newborn—so research whether the two are compatible. (If you’re purchasing your car seat and stroller from two different brands, there may be add-on attachments to make the two fit together).
Diaper Bag: This is where all your essentials will go for any trip out of the home. Pick one that’s durable and feels good on your shoulder or back once it’s full—and make sure both partners are on board with the look and feel.
Changing Pads: That’s plural for a reason. You don’t want to find yourself in a restaurant bathroom with no changing table and only one small changing pad to put on the floor to protect a wiggly baby. Our Portable Changing Pad folds up neatly and is made of easily wipeable recycled materials.
Baby Carrier: Babywearing is a win for everyone: your baby gets to snuggle up close to you (and loves the constant movement), and you’re hands-free. Look for ergonomic carriers that will grow with your child as they get beyond the newborn stage.
Baby Swing: An instant soother for many fussy babies. Lots of swings come with built-in music, sounds, or overhead mobile.
Lounger: The answer to “Where do I put the baby so I can eat/shower/use the bathroom?”
Play Mat: Your little one needs a comfortable place for tummy time, toy discovery and playing during the first months.
Stroller Sleeping Bag: If the weather gets frosty where you live, zipping your baby into a cuddly sleeping bag specifically designed for strollers is crucial.
Stroller Gloves: Gloves are gloves are gloves, right? Well, not really: regular gloves can slip around on the handle of a stroller and are easy to lose when you’re out (and sleep-deprived). Stroller gloves are great to have for the winter season: They’re cozy, puffy mitts that attach directly to the stroller handle so you can slip in and out easily. Are these nice-to-haves, not need-to-haves? Sure…but your hands will still be grateful to have them.
Stroller Cup Holder: You will never appreciate having your cup of coffee handy more.
Bottles: Most new parents will end up trying a few types of bottles to see what their baby prefers. Start with a standard size and number one nipple to get them going.
Bottle Drying Rack: Endlessly washing baby bottles is a fact of life for most new parents, but you can streamline and organize the task with a dedicated drying rack—plus, keeping bottles separate from your own dishes is important to minimize contamination with potential allergens. Some drying racks even come with their own bottle brushes, which also cut down on germs.
Bottle Sterilizer: You can choose from microwave bags or on-the-counter machines, but the important thing is to get your bottles as clean and germ-free as possible.
Pacifiers: You won’t use these forever, but a good newborn-size pacifier will help get your little one calm and quiet, especially for sleeping.
Breast Pump + Accessories: Most insurance plans cover a breast pump for free, so that’s the best place to start. If you want something more specific, you can always purchase one that fits your needs. You will need to find the right flange size for your breasts to ensure the right fit.
Nursing Pillow: Propping up a tiny newborn to breastfeed can be tricky. These C-shaped or wraparound pillows help them get cozy while supporting your back and arms. They double as great snooze spots too.
Formula: We love breastfeeding, but not every parent produces milk immediately or in enough quantity. Having some newborn formula at home alleviates the pressure.
Burp Cloths: Spit up happens. Sometimes a lot of it. Be prepared for the inevitable with plenty of soft burp cloths onhand.
Infant Tub: Washing your baby in the kitchen sink is one of the sweetest moments with a newborn. Make it easier with a tub with a built-in sling so that baby is safely held in place.
Hooded towels: You want to make sure your little one’s head is covered as soon as they get out of the bath to prevent a chill.
Washcloths: Get a stack of these to help gently soap up and wash off baby in the bath.
Baby Shampoo: Look for a tear-free, sulfate-free, all-in-one shampoo and wash like our Baby Shampoo + Wash. It not only streamlines the bath process but ensures that no matter where the soap goes, it’s safe and non-irritating for baby. Our moisturizing Baby Shampoo + Wash comes in three aromas: Vanilla + Ylang Ylang, Rose + Geranium, and Fragrance Free for the most sensitive littles. (BTW, all of Pipette’s aromas are 100% plant-derived—no hidden or mysterious fragrance ingredients, ever.)
Baby Lotion: Baby’s skin loses moisture easily and benefits from regular, daily hydration—which is why we love the fast-absorbing, lightweight feel of our Baby Lotion.
Baby Oil: Post-bath, give baby a relaxing massage with our silky Baby Oil to seal in moisture. Added bonus: If your newborn has cradle cap (i.e., the newborn equivalent of dandruff), a few drops of Baby Oil applied to the scalp before bathtime is the best way to soften and loosen flakes.
Baby Balm: Baby skin gets surprisingly dry, especially in winter. Target chapped cheeks, dry patches, or sensitive spots with our multipurpose, extra-rich Baby Balm, which gives deep, nourishing hydration.
Baby Essentials Kit: Sometimes the easiest thing to add to a registry is a one-and-done gift set. Our bestselling Baby Essentials Kit includes Baby Shampoo + Wash, Baby Lotion, Baby Oil, Baby Balm, Baby Wipes, and a 100% cotton washcloth.
Health & Personal Care Essentials
Diapers: Get more than you think you need—newborns can go through 8–12 diapers in a day!
Wipes: From dirty bottoms to messy faces, baby wipes will come in handy all day long in a million different ways. A water-based, pH-balanced wipe like our Baby Wipes is gentle enough for constant use (and you will use them constantly)—our wipes are also infused with our proprietary sugarcane-derived squalane so skin stays soft and moisturized. Oh, and they come in 4 packs and 10 packs—because there’s no such thing as too many wipes.
Diaper Pail + Liners: A diaper pail that locks away smells and mess is an absolute must for the nursery. Don’t forget to stock up on extra liners so you don’t run out mid-dirty diaper.
Diaper Rash Cream: Sooner or later your baby will end up with a red bottom, and our Diaper Rash Cream’s ultra-clean formula is all-important for soothing and preventing irritation. Made with moisturizing squalane and non-nano zinc oxide, it creates a protective barrier for the skin, sealing out wetness and calming red, rashy skin.
Baby Cream to Powder: Babies are rightly famous for their adorable chubby rolls, but sometimes chafing happens. This ingenious baby powder alternative is a safe, talc-free, mess-free cream formula that transforms into a velvety finish, minimizing chafing for those little rolls and folds.
Baby Monitor: Being able to leave the room and still keep an eye on baby is hugely important. Find one that fits your needs, whether it’s internet-based with an app or a traditional monitor.
Humidifier: Have we mentioned babies’ skin gets dry? This helps with that, and can also help babies breathe easier—especially in drier climates.
White Noise Machine: White noise simulates the sound that babies heard in the womb, which leads to better and longer sleep.
Thermostat: Babies should sleep at night at temperatures ranging from 68-72 degrees. If you don’t have a thermostat built into your nursery already, a portable room thermometer will help you keep in the right range.
Thermometer: And speaking of thermometers—there will come a time when you’re little one will get sick, and you’ll want this close at hand. For ease of use, our favorites are forehead thermometers, which read your baby’s temperature in just a few seconds.
Basic Medicines: You don’t need to go overboard here, but having a few basics like fever reducers and gas relief in the house is helpful (especially if you suddenly need them in the middle of the night).
Baby Nail File: Out of nowhere, your baby will suddenly have razor blades for nails. And teeny, tiny baby nail clippers—while well-intentioned—can be a particular layer of parenting hell for the uncoordinated. (Just wait until you attempt trimming a one-millimeter-long fingernail on a newborn at 4 a.m.) Our advice? Help them avoid scratching themselves (and you) with a baby nail file. Look for new versions that feature spinning files that buff the nails down.
Bodysuits: Everyone will tell you that you don’t need newborn bodysuits, but who knows what your baby’s birth weight will be? Stock up on a few side-snap bodysuits (most newborns loathe anything going over their heads)—in all sizes.
Footed Pajamas: Babies have an innate ability to kick off socks instantaneously. Keep their feet warm all night with pajamas that have the socks already built in.
Rompers: Think footie PJs without feet. An all-in-one romper makes it easy to get them dressed quickly.
Pants: Depending on the weather, your baby may need more coverage than just a bodysuit.
Hats: Babies in hats are deeply adorable, which is reason enough to put this on your registry—but depending on the time of year, a good sun hat or a warm beanie are more necessity than fashion choice.
Socks: Head and feet need to be kept warm on a newborn—but as you’ll discover, it’s almost impossible to keep shoes on a newborn’s feet. (Plus, who’s walking anywhere?) We say: Skip over shoes for the first 6–9 months at least, and stock up on multi-packs of baby socks—keeping in mind that at least 3–5 baby socks will be missing their mates at any given time.
Mitts: Not every newborn scratches themselves, but enough do to merit being forearmed with tiny little mitts to cover their hands.
Booties: While you won’t need proper shoes until they start walking, soft booties add an extra layer of warmth to chilly toes for outings.
Remember—at some point, almost everyone will have a case of baby registry overload. That’s normal. It’s a ton to learn, and we give you full permission to walk away from the computer and take a break when you hit that point. But know that this too shall pass, and at the end of all your registry planning is the best possible finish line: a growing family, and all of the helpful baby essentials you’ll need for it.