I gingerly sorted through my baby registry as I sat in the hospital waiting room. Christmas was over and it was time for me to kick it into gear. My baby was due next month!
I added all of the last-minute items I thought I needed and completed my order for diaper wipes, bottle soap, and baby hand sanitizer….Do babies need their own hand sanitizer? And what was I really supposed to do with a white noise machine?
I heard my name called and quickly submitted my order, hoping I had everything. And If I didn’t, I still had time….
It’s hard to know what to buy as a first-time mom. There are so many “must-haves” for first-time moms that really leave most of us feeling dizzy, lost, and ready to pull our hair out.
Maybe you’ve been avoiding building a registry because all of it seems like a headache. But your baby is coming whether you’re ready or not.
When You’re Out of Time
It turned out I didn’t have any more time. My appointment quickly went south and led to being sent straight to labor and delivery.
Some of the items I really needed, I had to do without until they arrived weeks later (like a rocking chair). Others that I had purchased ended up serving very little purpose (like baby hand sanitizer).
Maybe you have plenty of time like I thought I did, or maybe you don’t. Either way, this baby registry list is here to help you sort through all the baby registry items you need and every one that will just collect dust in your nursery.
The Ultimate List of Baby Registry Must-Haves for 2023
Do You Need a Registry?
If you’re a first-time mom, you might be wondering if you need a baby registry. Especially if you don’t plan on having a baby shower.
Building a registry can be beneficial for many reasons, but one of my favorites is the discounts. When you’re rushing to get all the last-minute stuff you need, get it at a discount from your registry.
Where to Register
You can register at as many places as you like. I like Amazon and Target because I can find everything I need and get it quickly. They both offer a 15% completion discount on items from your registry.
The Big Ticket Items
Infant Car Seat
If you like to go on serious walks, a good stroller is worth investing in. If you plan on having more kids soon (less than three years apart), I’d suggest one that can become a double stroller. You can buy the City Select Stroller now and add a seat later.
Tip: Skip the car seat adaptor altogether and just wear your baby for walks until he/she is old enough to sit in the stroller–around 4 months.
If you aren’t a big walker and don’t plan on having another baby soon, one of the Chicco travel systems might be a better option (you get the car seat and stroller at a discounted price). With the travel systems, the car seat clicks right into the stroller without an adaptor.
Crib & Mattress
Babies typically sleep in a crib from 6 months-3 years (most also convert to a toddler bed and full-sized bed). You can get a really nice one, but a basic one like this will do the job.
You also need a crib mattress. The Newton comes at a high price but is supposed to reduce the risk of suffocation (SIDS).
(If you want to do your own research, start by reading this article about harmful chemicals in baby mattresses.)
The swing can be a lifesaver if your baby hates to be put down (which is the case with most newborns). You only use them for the first 6 months or so. This is not the item to splurge on.
If you can borrow one, great! If you plan on having more than one child, it might be worth just buying one that will get you through all of them. But remember you’ll have to store it between kids.
You need somewhere to place the baby while he/she sleeps at night and during the day. There are a lot of different options for this and the one that works for you really depends on you and your baby. You can use a bassinet, a co-sleeper, or a pack-n-play.
The one that works for you is going to depend mainly on your preference and you want your baby to sleep and how determined you are to have them in their own sleep space.
Pack N Play
If you like to travel or plan to have a family member watch your baby regularly, you’ll want a pack n play. We also used this as a changing table downstairs, since our house was two stories.
A rocking chair is a must-have for any new mom. You need somewhere to feed your baby even if you decide not to rock him/her to sleep. I also recommend one that has an ottoman or a way to discreetly put your feet up. Sometimes things get rough in the middle of the night and you end up sleeping in the chair.
I would suggest getting a quality baby monitor that you can add an additional camera to. There’s nothing more annoying than a bright light on a baby monitor or feedback from a cheap monitor while you’re trying to get a precious few hours of sleep.
I love my bebcare baby monitor. It’s an emission-free baby monitor. Plus, you can buy a breathing mat to go with it that alerts you if there’s a change in your baby’s breathing.
Feeding Registry Must-Haves for First-Time Moms
If you’re bottle feeding, you’ll need a lot of bottles. If you’re breastfeeding, you need at least one bottle. I like the Comotomo bottles. This set gives you two of each size (5 oz for younger babies and 8 oz for older babies).
A nursing pillow is one of the first-time mom registry must-haves for moms who are breastfeeding. You basically need more hands than you have to feed a newborn and they nurse for about 30 minutes. This nursing pillow is recommended by lactation consultants and it was my favorite of the three I tried.
Milk Storage Bags
If you need to go back to work or if you just want to build up a freezer stash of breast milk, you’ll need some milk storage bags. I like the Lansinoh bags because you can pump directly into them (see my post, on pumping for new moms if you need help with pumping supplies).
Newborns spit up, some more than others. Either way, you’ll want a good stock of burp cloths. These are really cute, but most will do.
You won’t need this for a while, but a high chair is essential once your baby starts eating solids.
Clothing Essentials for the Minimalist Mom
Sleep and Plays
Get newborn sleep and plays with 2-way zip and mittens. 2-way zip means they zip open from the bottom and top so you can quickly change a diaper in the middle of the night without completely undressing your baby. And you want them to have mittens built-in to keep Baby from scratching him/herself.
As far as sizes go, you really never know. My babies were born early and wore “newborn” for 4-6 weeks, but some babies that are born big only wear “newborn” for a week or so. I’d recommend buying at least a few items in “newborn” and some in 0-3 months. You can always buy more after your baby is born, but you need enough to get you through the first week or so.
Most baby mittens constantly fall off. These stay on. I recommend two pairs so one can go in the wash.
These also stay on and come in a lot of cute colors.
Cooper Pearl Hats stay on, are adjustable, and come in cute colors that can also match their swaddle blankets.
Baby Essentials to Keep Your Baby Clean & Healthy
This bathtub grows with your baby.
Every item in this kit is something I rushed to order at some point with my first baby. They are all great and all must-haves for first-time moms. You’ll be glad you have them when the time comes. Includes, nail clippers, a snot sucker, cradle cap brush, and some weird thing that helps with relieving gas (and is actually a lifesaver).
First Aid Kit
What You Need for Baby’s Sleep
White Noise Machine
A sound machine helps drown out noises to keep babies asleep. I like this white noise machine because it can be used as a nightlight too or to distract a fussy baby long enough to calm him/her down.
I like the Aden + Anais sheets because they’re breathable and keep Baby cool.
Sleep Sacks & Swaddles
Swaddling your baby can help them sleep better. These swaddles are my favorite for the early months because they unzip for diaper changes. Later on switch to sleep sacks to keep your baby warm without using a blanket. The Burts Bees sleep sack is my favorite because it comes in different weights.
First-Time Mom Registry Must-Haves to Make Diaper Changes a Breeze
You want something that has a lot of open pockets so you can sort and quickly find items. It should open up fully so you can see everything. It also needs to have the option of being a backpack because what mom has an extra arm to hold a bag?
My favorite right now is the Freshly Picked Diaper Bag.
You want a diaper pail to help keep the smell out of your space. I recommend the Ubbi Diaper Pail because it just uses kitchen trash bags so you don’t end up wasting money on expensive refills.
Tip: I also put my babies in Huggies Overnites once they could wear a size 2 (I put them in size 3 Overnites, which is the smallest size they make) so they wouldn’t need a diaper change during the night (or fewer diaper changes during the night).
For a Newborn, you should use Water Wipes since they only contain water and a small amount of fruit extract.
A changing pad is helpful for messy diaper changes and for keeping your baby from rolling away.
Tip: Get an extra cover.
Extra Baby Gear
Baby Carrier or Baby Wrap
Some moms aren’t fans of wearing their babies and others love it. I wore mine when they were newborns because newborns like to be held 24/7 and I wasn’t great at sitting still all day. I used the Lillebaby Complete Airflow. The company also has YouTube videos that walk you through how to use it in each of the carry positions.
Lounger or Baby Seat
You need something to quickly set the baby down in if you need to go to the bathroom or take a shower (or do anything else that requires you not to be holding a baby). You can use a lounger of some sort or a bouncer. Whatever works for you. You just need something for this purpose.
I really like this Take Along Mobile. You can clip it anywhere and a mobile is a great way to occupy a baby while you fold clothes or work on something in their room (after they‘re a few months old).
Play gyms are great for occupying a baby who’s a few months old. They love looking at the toys and practicing rolling. It’s also a great place to put your baby down for tummy time.
Extras that Aren’t Worth It
Before you start thinking that you need everything, let’s touch on some of the items you really don’t need and will probably regret buying. Again, this can be different for every mom, but here are some of the classic things that we waste money on.
Too many diapers in small sizes
For some reason, everything you read about babies says to stock up on diapers like crazy. Yes, it’s great to have diapers, but babies go through those first few sizes crazy fast. And remember that every baby grows at his/her own pace, so there’s no formula to how many of each size you’ll need. Ask for receipts and don’t save more than one box in each size (until size 4).
Diapers from brands that don’t work for your baby
Again, diapers. My baby leaked out of certain brands of diapers so badly that I decided to just stick with what worked. So don’t stock up before you know what works for your baby.
Outfits in small sizes
When your baby is a newborn, it isn’t easy to change his/her clothes. You also have to change their diapers often and taking off shoes, socks, pants, and unsnapping a onesie, gets old. Plus, you don’t leave the house very often. Get a few outfits in those first few sizes for pictures and taking your baby out, but don’t overdo it. Plus, they grow fast! They’ll be in the next size before you know it.
Baby shoes can be expensive and most of them just fall off anyway. Save your money and buy one or two pairs of booties in a size up so they can wear them for a while. They don’t really need shoes until they start standing and walking anyway.
Multiple Loungers/Sleep Spaces
You’ll constantly find one mom who loved something, while another never used it. What’s the difference? The people who found it useless had other items they used for that purpose. You don’t need a bassinet, a pack-n-play, and three infant seats. These can all serve the same or similar purposes–setting/laying your baby down. You need a sleep space and a space you can safe set your baby down in for a few moments.
Stuff you don’t want to use
If you don’t take walks, you probably don’t need an expensive stroller. If you hate the idea of strapping your baby to you and rarely leave the house, you probably aren’t going to use a baby carrier. Be realistic about who you are and think about what you’ll use. If something changes, you can always buy those items later on.
Babies don’t really get into toys until they’re around 1. I have tons of rattles, balls, and crinkle toys that my babies never paid much attention to.
There you have my list of things first-time mom registry must-haves. Don’t forget to grab your free List of Baby Registry Essentials. Plus, when you sign up you’ll get all the great perks and information you need on your journey as a new mom. Because no one should have to face motherhood alone.