One of the most frequent questions we get from readers is how to prepare for a new baby — especially what to register for. It can be overwhelming! (I remember bursting into tears on the way to dinner when I was pregnant with Toby.) So, today I’ve updated my original post from six years ago with every single thing (big and small) we got for our newborn babies. Congratulations to all new parents! I hope it’s helpful, and I’d love to hear your suggestions…
WHERE TO REGISTER
When I was pregnant with Toby, I used MyRegistry.com, since it lets you register from all different stores. That way, you can bring together exactly what you’d like, instead of being limited to one store’s selection. Amazon also offers a registry, and you can install its Universal Registry button to your browser so you can add items from any other site online.
These four books made us feel more confident and prepared when Toby and Anton were babies:
* The Happiest Baby on the Block (both the book and DVD) about how to calm a crying baby. Dr. Karp’s tips work like MAGIC.
* The Nursing Mother’s Companion, an amazing guide to breastfeeding, which made everything much easier. (I mentioned this book in this breastfeeding post, as well).
* The SleepEasy Solution about naps and nighttime sleep. Practical, gentle advice about how to teach your baby to get the sleep he needs. A friend recommended this to us, and I’m so glad she did. It saved us when Toby was four months old and suddenly decided he hated napping.
* And if you’re expecting your second child: Siblings Without Rivalry. When Anton arrived, Toby was less than enthused. This brilliant book shared wise advice and funny cartoons to ‘help your children live together so you can live, too.’ The book changed the way I spoke to our children about each other and helped our boys kickstart their friendship.
Crib — We really like Walmart’s cribs. We got the Olivia for Toby, but they’re all nice. (Here’s Toby’s old nursery.) For Anton, we were given the Oeuf Elephant crib as a gift, which is splurgier but beautiful. (Here’s Anton’s old nursery.) IKEA cribs are also lovely and always highly recommended. (Here’s my friend Lena’s IKEA crib in action.)
Mattress — We chose this natural soybean mattress. Experts say it’s best and safest to get a firm mattress for the crib. Also, says Cup of Jo editor Lexi: We’ve loved having a dual-sided mattress, which is firm on one side for babies and softer on the other side for toddlers, so you can use it for many years. We also used a NaturePedic organic mattress pad, which is waterproof.
Crib sheets — We’ve found that it’s helpful to have a few different sheets, so you’re not always running to the washing machine. There are so many cute ones — like from Winter Water Factory, Burt’s Bees and Target.
Sound machine — Many babies love white noise since it makes them feel cozy, like they’re in the womb. We have this white noise machine, and it’s awesome (I love that it has two different volume settings; and doesn’t have wave/forest/rainstorm sounds, which I find distracting; it’s just plain white noise similar to a fan). We still all sleep with these in our bedrooms!
Baby monitor — With our first child, we were OBSESSED with our video monitor. We could see Toby on the little screen, so we knew if he was asleep or playing in his crib. As a nervous new mom, I also constantly checked to see if he was breathing! But when Anton came along, we didn’t need the video monitor. We were happy and comfortable with a simpler audio monitor. A great thing about this one is that you can put it on vibrate, so if you’re watching TV or have friends over, you will be sure to hear it.
Storage bins — We have a few sweet baskets like these for rounding up toys and extra blankets in babies’ rooms.
Nightlight — If their bedroom is dark at night, you might like a night light, which is handy during late feedings and diaper changes.
Pacifiers — Many of our friends swear by pacifiers for their newborns, since it helps them soothe themselves and stay calm during naps and outings. Our boys didn’t like pacifiers (Anton is more of a thumb guy:), but it might make sense to try one and see what your baby thinks. Here’s an ultra natural one beloved by many friends; and these gently glow in the dark, which helps little ones easily spot them in the middle of the night.
TRAVEL AND GEAR
Stroller — A stroller is a very personal choice, based on your town/lifestyle/budget/etc. We had two strollers for different reasons: First, the Graco stroller frame let us add wheels to the car seat, which turned it into a stroller. This was great when our boys were newborns, since they slept in it really well and we could take them on long walks/out to restaurants/etc.; and even when they were slightly bigger babies, we still used it when traveling (to easily transition between a stroller and a car seat).
For daily use, we love the Maclaren Triumph, which is for babies three months and older. It’s comfy, light and easy to fold (to stick in the trunk of a car). Toby happily rode in his for years, and now Anton has inherited it!
Stroller bag for winter — Bundle bags are AMAZING if you live in a place with cold winters. You can just pop your baby into one of these instead of having to dress him or her in giant jacket/pants/etc. A super cozy choice is the BundleMe stroller bag. (Another winter idea: I’ve spent the last six winters freezing my hands off while pushing strollers around New York City. But many friends SWEAR by these stroller hand muffs, which you just attach over handles. They’re a splurge, but so, so, so cozy and warm. Just a thought!)
Baby carrier — When they were smaller, I loved wearing Toby and Anton on walks around town. Using a carrier also let me have both hands free, and I could easily walk around crowded streets, grocery stores, etc. There are lots of great ones, but my favorites was the Ergo. Padded straps go over both shoulders and it sits on the hips, so the weight is distributed well; it’s comfy and cozy, and I carried the boys that way for years.
Travel crib — If you travel a lot, you might want to register for a travel crib. We did a bunch of research and, while there are cheaper options (Pack n’ Play, Phil & Ted), the crowd favorite BY FAR was the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light, so we decided on that and CANNOT SAY ENOUGH GOOD THINGS ABOUT IT. It packs up into a super light little suitcase for carrying through airports, etc., and it’s comfortable and amazingly easy to use. We’ve used it a million times.
Daytime diapers — We used Honest diapers for the daytime, since they’re pure and chlorine free. Babies wear diapers 24/7 for years, so it was important to me that they be very pure and natural on their skin.
Nighttime diapers — When the boys were about five months old and started sleeping through the night (p.s. more on sleep here!), we got them Huggies Overnight Diapers. They’re so absorbent that the boys never woke up from a wet diaper, which was great for both them and us. :)
Diaper wipes — We like Honest wipes, since they’re natural and chlorine free.
Diaper pail — We got a Diaper Dekor to use as a diaper pail in the boys’ bedrooms; it worked well and kept the room smelling nice! It’s easy to use and, for us, was well worth the price (we would have had to buy a trash can for the room anyway), and I like that you can open it with your foot (versus your hand). Whether you need one of these might depend on what type of trash disposal you have (we can only take out our trash twice a week), and if you already have a good foot-pedal trash can. If you go this route you’ll need Diaper Dekor pail liners, too.
Changing pad — We didn’t get a changing table, but instead just put this contoured changing pad on the top of a dresser. (We hooked it on with a strap and sticky pads for safety.) It worked well and also saved money. A few of my friends with new babies swear by this changing pad, too. It doesn’t require sheets or pads and it’s easy to wipe down.
Cloth diapers — When the boys were babies, we used these for EVERYTHING and had one hanging over the arm of pretty much every chair in the house! Great for cleaning spit up, using as a burp cloth, shielding baby’s head from the sun when you’re walking around outside (they’re very light, thin and breathable). Also, you can wash and reuse them hundreds of times.
Diaper bag — I liked having a dedicated baby bag (when they were newborns, I carried diapers, wipes, a cloth diaper for burping, and a water bottle). The diaper bags in baby stores are fine but aren’t always that cute. I liked Moop’s market bag with Toby, and Storq’s backpack with Anton.
BATHS AND HEALTH
Saline spray — Pretty much all new babies have stuffy noses, and you can spray this fine mist (just salty water) into his or her nose to loosen up the mucus so he either sneezes it out or swallows it. We used it all the time. Great for when the baby has a cold, too.
Nail clippers — We got baby nail clippers for Toby, but for Anton, we just used our adult clippers and they worked fine!
Thermometer — We had a digital rectal thermometer on hand. (I heard a great tip: If you think your baby might have a fever, kiss his forehead to see if it feels warm; it’s an easier way to tell than using your hands.) You can also try a forehead thermometer, which lets a baby sleep through having their temperature taken.
Baby acetaminophen — This medicine can be good to have in the house in case your baby gets a fever or is in pain for some reason. (FYI, our pediatrician said not to give a baby any medicine before he’s two months old, so you might check with yours.)
Bathtub — This simple moulded bathtub sits inside a regular bath and has two sides — one for a young infant and one for a older baby who can sit up.
Shampoo — We’ve always used Honest. But if your baby is prone to cradle cap or dry skin, friends swear by this gentle foam shampoo that somehow knocks out cradle cap within a few uses and makes baby hair even softer. (It also smells so good!) People call it a miracle product. Some parents I know are still using it every day on their kids who are five or even older.
Swaddles — We LOVED swaddling!!! Both boys slept much, much better (and longer) when they were swaddled, since their wriggly arms didn’t startle them. We swaddled them for naps and nighttime until they were 3-4 months old. We tried a bunch of different kinds — velcro swaddles, the hospital blankets, Aden & Anais swaddling blankets… But our FAVORITE by far was the Miracle Blanket, which helped their little arms stay put (meaning: they didn’t bust out of it in the middle of the night). I would highly, highly recommend it; we loved it.
Blankets — People love giving blankets as gifts, so you might wait to buy these until right before your baby is born, since you’ll probably get them as a present. We used ours for floor time during the day, and also we put one in the diaper bag, so the boys could lie on a blanket if we went to the park. We also draped one over the stroller on sunny days. If you do buy blankets, I’d recommend the light and lovely Aden & Anais muslin blankets.
Onesies — Both our boys have summer birthdays, so they didn’t wear many clothes as newborns — usually just a diaper or onesie. The tees and onesies from Gap, Gerber and Carters all fit well and are easy to snap.
Gentle laundry detergent — We like Honest Company detergent, which is easy on sensitive skin.
Of course, how and what to feed your child is a very personal decision, based on many factors. But here’s what we did, if it’s helpful!
A breast pump — We had the Ameda double pump, and I liked it. I didn’t have the easiest time pumping, and I wish there had been more options for pumps when I was a new mom. Do you have a pump you love? (P.S. Breast pumps look intimidating, but I was relieved to find that it didn’t hurt at all.)
Milk storage bags — You can keep your pumped breast milk in these bags and pop them into the fridge or freezer. Super easy to use!
Bottles — Babies seem to prefer certain bottles over others, so you may have to experiment to see what your baby likes. We liked BornFree bottles.
Breast pads — Your breasts might leak for the first few weeks/months (mine leaked like crazy!) so you can just pop these pads into your bra and they absorb the milk. Comfy and great. (FYI, I pretty much wore a nursing bra all the time — even to bed — along with these pads to absorb leaks.)
Nipple cream — To help soothe nipples when you’re first breastfeeding, try this cream. (Note: your baby can drink from your breast even if you have lanolin cream on your nipples; it’s natural and they don’t even notice it.)
Nursing bras — I liked the pretty lace ones by Elle MacPherson.
My Brest Friend Pillow — This initially seemed random and unnecessary to me, but I LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED LOVED this pillow, which made breastfeeding soooooo much more comfortable. The pillow supports your lower back and helps position the baby at chest-level, so your back and arms don’t ache. (I used it many times a day until Toby and Anton got big enough to sit on my knee during feeds, probably around 4 months.)
Formula — We did a mix of formula and breastfeeding when Toby and Anton were babies. I liked this one.
High chair — When Toby was born, our apartment was tiny, so we got a highchair that clipped onto a table and was super small to store. For Anton, we had a little more space and got the Stokke, which we still use and adore.
Teethers — Every baby I’ve ever met loves Sophie the Giraffe — my boys spent many happy hours gnawing away. :)
What recommendations do you have? What do you swear by?