Baby Registry Checklist: Everything You Need to Know
Baby and Toddler Expert Robbie M. gets into the dos and don'ts of making a baby registry. Plus he gives a suggested list of items for your registry!
Having a baby is an exciting time in your life. After doing hours of research, you feel adequately prepared to start creating a baby registry. However, this seemingly simple task can be quite complicated, not to mention layered with questions on when to start, how to share it, and the “rules of engagement” and etiquette surrounding the base of asking your friends and family for help. Despite all this, building your baby registry should hopefully be a fun experience that, in the end, should leave you feeling confident that you and your family are set up for success the day your new child arrives. This article will hopefully help answer several questions about baby registries and get you excited to begin the journey yourself!
What Is a Baby Registry?
A baby registry is a list of items that someone (usually expecting parent or parents) put together to act as a “wishlist” for baby gear and baby products they will need when their new addition to the family arrives. The registrant can view this type of registry in a few different ways. Some parents elect to use it as an “essentials” list, adding things that may be lower in cost but needed throughout the first year of their baby’s life. Others view it as an opportunity to ask for larger items they may not otherwise be able to afford or get themselves. Nonetheless, a baby registry acts as a shopping list for gift-givers of friends and family looking to purchase a gift for the expecting family and new baby.
As a parent who has gone through this process, I’ve deeply understood and felt the overwhelming sense of gratitude from receiving gifts off of this list, as having a baby and getting all of the necessary items to support them can be quite expensive if done alone. After going through the process, I try to contribute to my friends’ and coworkers’ registries as I now view registries as a way to contribute to helping the new family in the mindset of “it takes a village to raise a child.” I may not be able to be there 100% of the time to help my friends and family with their newborns, but if I can get them much-needed items and save them a trip to the store, I know I can help.
Curated now offers the ability to create your own baby registry. The unique feature of Curated over other baby registries is that you can work with a Baby and Toddler Expert who can help you select various items to add to your registry. Leveraging their knowledge and expertise of certain products can help you save time and money in the long run, something I wish I had when making my baby registry with my wife two years ago.
When to Start a Baby Registry
Putting together a baby registry can be somewhat daunting, as there are many items that new parents need that most people don’t have lying around the house. With that said, I always suggest that expecting parents add to their registry starting during the first half of the pregnancy. Starting around 12 weeks (second trimester) or four months of pregnancy is a good idea, as many items will require you to do a little research. Things like strollers, car seats, baby carriers, portable cribs, bassinets, high chairs, and baby monitors are all “feature-heavy,” making them items that typically require a little extra research compared to something like a onesie or a bottle. Preparing before your little bun in the oven makes an appearance is always better.
Pro tip: if able, try to find a brick-and-mortar store where you can play around with some of the prospective items you're thinking of putting on your registry. Getting your hands on a stroller or car seat can help you make an educated decision!
One thing to note: shopping by price is always an option with any purchase; however, the cheapest or most expensive baby items may not be the right pick for your family. Things like durability, included features, and fit to your family’s lifestyle are all important things to consider when building your baby registry. Make sure you don’t wait until the last minute to throw together a registry to ensure you have time to pick items that best fit your family’s needs before you hit your due date and your little bundle of joy arrives.
What You Should Put on a Baby Registry
As mentioned above, there’s a lot of debate over what items to place on a baby registry. Some people may feel uncomfortable asking for expensive items from friends and family, while others may have no problem listing costly items on their registry. There is no right or wrong answer, but generally speaking, you want to pick things that will either help with or be used directly by your baby or aid in your new role as a parent. A good place to start is to think of are the “essentials” first. Things such as bottles, clothes, sheets, burp cloths, changing pads, diapers, bibs, etc., are considered “essentials.” Tackling this list first can help make sure all your bases are covered.
Adding strollers, car seats, bassinets, video monitors, and other items from more expensive categories is an excellent next step. These items may or may not get purchased by friends or family, but if they do, it is an awesome win! Most registry services offer a 15% off completion discount coupon if they're not purchased, which can help you purchase those outstanding items.
One Note: when making our registry, my wife and I first and foremost listed items that we knew we would use and get used for a long time. Many “gimmicky” baby items may only be good for one thing and not be used for very long. We wanted to make sure that whatever gifts our friends and family purchased on our behalf would get used regularly by us or our son. Sometimes these weren’t the cheapest options available, but in almost every case, those items have gotten the most use and lasted us the longest. The best baby registry items are the ones that get utilized the most!
Check out the rest of the article for a breakdown on some registry essentials, and for my full recommended list of baby registry must-haves, see the checklist below!
You must have a car seat to leave the hospital with your new baby, so it's a must-have item on your registry. There are two main car seats: rear-facing infant and convertible car seats. Check out my Expert’s Guide to Baby Car Seats to learn more about car seats!
A stroller is another big ticket item. It is used to transport your baby, bring them along for adventures, and act as a base camp when you're out. There are several types of strollers: full-sized, travel system, lightweight, convertible, jogging, and double strollers. Each has its pros and cons. Look at the article An Expert Guide to Baby Strollers, written by one of our Baby & Toddler Experts, for more information on picking which stroller (or strollers) you should add to your registry.
Baby Carrier and/or Wrap
Baby carriers and wraps allow you to carry your baby and still have your hands free. As new parents who still wanted to get a lot done, my wife and I loved using our baby carrier and still use it today with our toddler when he gets fussy in stores or on hikes. Baby carriers like the Baby Bjorn Carrier One and Ergobaby Dream Carrier and wraps like the Ergobaby Aura are great choices.
For more on great carriers, check out the Top 5 Most Recommended Baby Carriers!
Blankets are great for your newborn to ensure they feel cozy and warm. Muslin blankets like the Aden + Anais swaddle wraps are soft and breathable blankets to turn your little one into a snuggly burrito.
Unlike adults, babies need a rigorous sleep environment to ensure they’re safe at night due to their limited mobility. Sleep swaddle blankets are great for keeping your baby safe and warm through the night. If your kiddo is extra wiggly like our son was, look for something like the Halo Sleep Sack. For more information on safe sleep, visit the Academy of American Pediatrics website.
As your baby grows older and out of the swaddle stage, you’ll want to have some pajamas ready to go. Try to find pajamas in several thicknesses, such as light cotton and fleece or flannel, to be covered for various temperature ranges in your home around various seasons.
Pro Tip: look for zippers whenever possible, as snaps are no fun for diaper changes in the middle of the night.
Onesies are a staple and offer easy access for diaper changes. Don’t be afraid to add other sizes beyond newborn sizing; consider adding up to 12-month size onesies. If you’re unsure if you’re having a baby boy or girl, consider asking for more gender-neutral clothing styles.
Include sizes from newborn through 12 months to have your bases covered. Look for socks with non-slip bottoms for when your child becomes more mobile.
Bottles / Drying Rack (Bottle Warmer)
Regardless if a baby is breast-fed or formula-fed, bottles and bottle feeding are a part of feeding time at some point in their lives. Instead of dialing in on one brand at the start, opt for a bottle sample pack to try several bottles and nipples, as babies tend to be very picky about what bottles they like.
Like bottles, opt for a pacifier sampler kit as babies tend to be picky about which pacifiers they like best.
Babies can be messy, so spit-ups are inevitable. Burp cloths can help prevent an unnecessary change of clothes. I recommend having them stocked all over your home or apartment, so there’s always one within reach. Look for soft, machine washable burp cloths. Our favorite burp cloths were the Aden + Anais Silky Soft Burp Cloths.
A good nursing pillow like the Boppy can save mom and dad’s backs when feeding newborns. A nursing pillow is worth including in your registry because it provides a comfortable and safe feeding position for your baby and saves your arms.
Although a much-needed item if you plan to breastfeed, many insurance companies cover breast pumps. Check with your insurance provider to see if a breast pump is within coverage; if not, feel free to add one to your registry.
Manual Breast Pump
A mother-to-be deserves to have the right gear, too! So make sure you consider adding items to your registry such as nipple cream, nipple pads, nursing bras, and bath essentials to take care of mommy. While these may seem a little strange to add, you’ll find other mothers have found these items incredibly useful, and one of them will ensure that you have the same post-birth and breastfeeding experience as well.
As your child progresses to solid food, you’ll need a safe space to feed them. In addition, high chairs will get a lot of use and see a lot of messes, so consider options that can be used for a wide range of kid sizes that are easy to clean. High chairs like the Stokke Tripp Trapp fit both of these needs but look for something portable to add, like the Inglesina Fast Chair Portable High Chair.
Place Mats, Utensils, and Plates and Bowls
ats solid food, you’ll want to make sure they have all they need for a successful mealtime. Look for items that are dishwasher-safe and easily cleaned; the Baby Bjorn Baby Dinner Set is a one-and-done solution that has everything you’d need.
Meal times are messy. A good bib can save a lot of extra cleanup of the high chair and baby. Our favorite bibs are the silicone type that are easy to clean, such as the Baby Bjorn Bib.
Register for multiple brands of diapers (reusable or disposable) like baby wipes to find what works best. With diapers, consider adding various sizes. Please note that many retailers allow for exchanges from one diaper size to another if your baby outgrows a size quicker than anticipated.
When on the go, a diaper bag is the center of all necessities for your child. It can carry everything for diaper changes, snacks, spare clothes, toys, bottles, and more. A diaper bag can enable parents to have a good day with their little one when out and about. Some diaper bags look like traditional backpacks, while others have more of a designer flare to them. Choose one that suits you and your family and look for ones that have separate compartments for ultimate organization.
If you are planning to use disposable diapers, a diaper pail (such as the Diaper Dekor) makes disposing of dirties easy and smell-free. Plus, many diaper pails have off-brand refills that can be found at most retailers, making them a win for the entire time your little one is in diapers.
A good changing pad is worth adding to your registry as you and your baby will spend a lot of time there over the first few years of your baby’s life. I recommend a rubber or silicone changing pad like the Keekaroo Peanut Changer. They are wonderful as they can be wiped clean quickly when things get messier than anticipated.
Throughout the first year of your baby’s life, you will use a plethora of baby wipes. Register for various brands to see what you and your baby prefer best. My wife and I like WaterWipes as they contain almost no chemicals and tend to clean up messes more effectively.
Baby Bath Supplies
Bathtime is one of the most fun times with infants and involves a lot of special gear. Baby shampoo, towels, lotions, a baby bathtub (or kitchen sink insert), and bath toys are all essential items that new parents will need. Consider including Blooming Bath Lotus on your registry; all of our son’s first few months of baths happened in our kitchen sink with this bath aid.
Baby Health Essentials
Unfortunately, everyone gets sick at some point, including your little one. Registering for items for that first cold can be very helpful as you’ll have them on hand when needed. The Fridababy Basics Kit comes with several items that can be used in the event of a sick kiddo, along with nail clippers and a bath scrubber to help prevent cradle cap. Other good items to add are baby medications (talk with your pediatrician first before giving them to your baby to ensure correct dosing), a baby thermometer, and a baby first aid kit.
Bassinet / Fitted Sheets
A bassinet is a smaller and more portable crib for your newborn baby. Despite its short usage period, the perk of having a bassinet is having your child much closer to your bed, making nighttime feedings and changings much easier, especially for mom, who just went through a lot! Make sure you buy fitted sheets (several sets as accidents happen) made specifically for the bassinet to ensure safe sleep.
Crib / Crib Mattress / Fitted Crib Sheets
Your baby will need a crib at some point when they outgrow their bassinet. Along with a crib, you will need a crib mattress and several sets of fitted crib sheets (babies are messy); however, ensure you follow safe sleep guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Portable Crib and Fitted Sheets
You’ll likely travel with your baby at some point and will need a portable crib and fitted sheets. Check out Baby and Toddler Expert Alex K.’s Top Most Recommended Baby Travel Cribs article for some great suggestions to add to your registry.
Sound Machine and Night Light
A great addition to the nursery, a sound machine and night light are worth having to help keep your little one asleep and give you some visibility in the night for diaper changes. My wife and I love the Hatch Rest Night Light and Sound Machine as it can be turned on with a simple touch and controlled via an app on our phones, allowing us to get the nursery ready for a nap on our way back home.
The ultimate item for peace of mind, a baby monitor is a must-have item for your nursery. There are several types available, including sound-only, Wi-Fi video, and non-Wi-Fi video monitors. I’d recommend getting a video monitor so you can check on your little one at any point in the night. For more on the top monitors, check out this article!
One of the best playtime items available, play gyms help keep a baby entertained and busy. Our son spent a good portion of each day playing on his play gym mat.
Baby Bouncer and/or Swing
Our child never liked to be still, so a baby bouncer was our solution. There are many bouncers and swings to choose from. Check out Baby and Toddler Expert Alex K.’s Expert Guide to Baby Bouncers article to learn more about bouncers, and her Do You Need a Baby Swing article to learn more about swings.
One fun thing my wife and I did with our baby shower was encourage people to bring a book instead of a card and have them write a note in the book for our baby. Kids love books and you can never have too many!
They can be very helpful for those first trips to the store for extra diapers, wipes, clothes, etc. Curated has gift cards, so feel free to add them to your registry!
What Not to Put on a Baby Registry
As I mentioned above, the point of a baby registry is to set up expecting parents and their infant for a smooth first year, thanks to the items on the registry. Other than this caveat, there are several items you won’t want to include on your list out of safety concerns for your baby or will likely go unused.
Crib Bumpers These crib accessories are no longer recommended due to a high SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) risk.
Unnecessary but Nice to Have
There are also a few things that may seem nice to have but, in reality, are a little “extra” and likely won’t get used a lot.
A seemingly nice concept; however, if your child gets used to warm wipes when changed at home, any mobile changes with room temperature wipes may not be the most fun for baby. Changing Table
You’d be surprised how many diaper changes happen away from a dedicated changing table. Most of the time, a mobile changing pad or changing pad on a dresser are good options for diaper changes and can save space in your home considering the multiple uses either provides.
Baby Registry Etiquette
Asking people for things can be difficult for some people to do. However, baby registries are a mainstream item in today’s world, so there’s nothing to be ashamed about in making a registry. With that said, there are a few things you’ll want to consider around baby registry etiquette when making your list:
Make sure you give your friends and family adequate time to browse, research, and purchase items on your registry for them to arrive for the baby!
Item Pricing: Not Adding Small Essentials
Not everyone can afford an expensive stroller or car seat; therefore, having items spanning all price ranges is a good idea so that your registry is more accessible to the various budgets of your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to register for many small, much-needed items!
Item Pricing: Not Adding Expensive Items
It seems contradicting to the point above; however, there’s a good chance that somebody may actually buy that big-ticket item you want. It’s always worth adding these items, but if no one purchases them, you can use the typically included completion discount to help buy them yourself. Some registries even allow group gifting, making those larger items more approachable for a group of your close friends or family members.
Baby Registry Announcement (and How to Share If No Baby Shower)
Once you’ve built your gift registry, you can share it with others. Most registries make sharing your registry information through email, text, social media, or a website link. Definitely consider adding this link to your baby shower invites to those on the guest list to be used for baby shower gifts, as it makes for easy shopping.
If you plan on having a virtual baby shower, consider sending out cards in the mail to friends and family with your baby registry link. If you aren't going to have a shower, consider sharing your baby registry link on your social media pages or simply text it to those who ask how they can help before your new baby’s arrival. Traditional baby shower, virtual shower, or no shower at all, a registry is still a useful tool to have ready to send!
Should I Have a Baby Shower for a Second Baby?
Yes, although it may be worth toning down to a “baby sprinkle.'' All new babies deserve to be celebrated, whether it’s your first baby, second baby, or even seventh baby. A baby sprinkle can be a very appropriate way to do so, especially if your second baby is a different gender or there are some items that would be useful to have with multiple children.
There is a lot of time, energy, and thought that goes into creating a baby registry. The benefit of building your registry through Curated is having access to a Baby and Toddler Expert who can provide recommendations or just be a second opinion on your registry choices. Our Experts would love to be a part of your planning experience and hopefully help make you feel great about every item on your baby registry; reach out to me or one of our Baby and Toddler Experts to get started!