What Your Baby Really Needs: A Minimalist Baby Registry

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this free resource! See full disclosure here.

When you’re preparing for a baby, especially your first baby, all the baby gear and stuff can seem overwhelming! And especially for those of us who are trying to create a frugal or minimalist baby registry, it can be hard to know what to prioritize!

Babies are about as expensive as you make them. They truly don’t need a ton of stuff. And a lot of what they use is used so briefly that it’s easy to find quality items in consignment stores or on Facebook marketplace for a fraction of what it would cost to buy them brand new. But many mamas will have a baby shower and will receive a lot of brand new gifts. Your baby really only has a few basic needs, so when you build registry, register for gifts that are actually going to be helpful to you, not just clutter up your house. Skip to the end for a super basic baby registry checklist!

Your baby needs nourishment.

I breastfed both my babies and didn’t need to pump regularly, but if you use formula or exclusively pump you will need some other items!

Nursing pads. For disposable pads, I like these ones by Lansinoh. For reusable, I like these ones.

A nursing/feeding pillow. Whether you’re feeding from the breast or a bottle, it’s nice to have some extra support while holding the baby. It’s surprising how heavy a baby can get when you’re not used to holding him! I’ve always just used the traditional Boppy pillow, but the breastfeeding support group I go to has the My Breast Friend pillows and they are pretty awesome!

A comfortable place to feed the baby. You very well may already have a great, comfortable place to feed your baby in your home, but if not, it’s worth investing in a comfortable chair for yourself. I love my gliding rocker (WITH the foot stool!). One of my special memories of my first son’s early days is my husband setting up a little nursing corner for me. I had my glider, a side table with a small lamp (great for middle-of-the-night diaper changes!), books to read, a water bottle, and a basket of snacks all within easy reach.

A manual pump. I LOVE this manual silicone pump. I so wish I’d had it when my babies were brand new. It uses gentle suction and you can use it while you’re nursing your baby to catch leaking milk on the other side. If you want to build up any sort of breast milk stash you don’t want any going to waste, especially in the beginning when it’s abundant!

Breast milk storage bags. I’ve used a few different brands, but Lansinoh is my favorite.

You may also want a good book on breastfeeding to have as an easy reference. These are a few of my favorites:

“Breastfeeding Made Simple” This is my favorite. Thorough and easy to reference.

“The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” Also very thorough, and probably a little more in depth in some ways.

“So That’s What They’re For!” A light, conversational tone. Very easy read, but not quite as easy to reference.

Your baby needs safety.

A place to sleep. What you choose for your baby to sleep in really depends on what your sleep plans are. My babies usually start out in their own bed and then move into my bed at some point during the night. It’s the best way for everyone to get enough rest. Always be aware of safe sleep guidelines, whether your baby is sleeping in his own bed or you are bedsharing.

As newborns, I like my baby very close, so a cosleeper or bassinet works well. A side sleeper is another great option. Your baby has his own space but is still nearby and easy to feed and check on.

I moved both my boys to a crib across the hall around 2 months. At this point they’re more easily disrupted by noise and other people moving around, so everyone sleeps better this way. I bring them into my bed when they need to nurse, and sometimes they still sleep significant portions of the night with me. We registered for a crib and mattress and chose one that could be made into a regular bed once we were done having babies.

A carseat. We like this Chicco seat for newborns and this Graco one for whenever they grow out of the newborn one all the way through booster age.

Infant care kit. I find the easiest, cheapest way to get basic items like a thermometer, a bulb syringe, nail clippers, etc. is to just get a basic nursery care kit. You can replace some items if you want to ( a Nose Frida instead of a bulb syringe, for instance), but at least you’ve got the basics.

Baby wash. I hardly ever use soap on my babies, but you might want to for a bad blowout or something. I usually use a Shea Moisture wash, but I love California Baby too. Both rate low on the Skin Deep Database.

Moisturizer. I rarely use actual lotion on my babies, but when I do it’s Shea Moisture. If I think they need some moisturization, I typically just use olive oil. If they’re going to be out in cold weather where their face might get chapped or windburned, I use raw shea butter. It’s kind of messy and hard to spread, but it’s very gentle and provides a great moisture barrier.

Diaper Ointment. If my babies have a rash, I typically start with going diaperless and using coconut oil or raw shea butter. If I need to I use Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. I try to keep things as natural as possible, but if the rash isn’t going away I use what works.

Your baby needs comfort.

Baby carrier.  A good carrier is a must-have. I’m sure babywearing saved my sanity (or at least my grades) when my oldest was a newborn. For the newborn stage, I love the Moby wrap. It can seem complicated at first, but I really like that it’s fully adjustable and so snuggly. A less complicated option would be the K’tan. The only downside is that you may need more than one size if more than one person will be wearing the baby. A structured carrier can be nice too, and are often easier for dads to manage. The Ergo and 360 are both great options. Use my affiliate links if you want, but honestly you can find really good deals on lightly used ones on Facebook marketplace ; ) Once my babies get a bit bigger (which is usually fast), I love a Mei Tai-style carrier. They are one-size-fits-all and easy to use. Again, easy to find used.

Clothes. People are going to get you clothes, so register for some outfits you actually want. Lots of onesies, socks (my kids never fit into the smallest sizes), sleep sacks, sun hat, jackets, maybe a special event outfit in each size? Just have fun with it.

Blankets. A couple nice big swaddle blankets are great for the newborn stage. I love muslin blankets for summer, and flannel ones for winter. People will probably get you lots of cute, soft blankets, but register for some that are big enough to swaddle with or if swaddling feels overwhelming, try these swaddle sacks. Also, sheets for whatever size crib or pack ‘n’ play you have.

Diapers. Disposable diapers can become really expensive, so by all means register for diapers! My oldest had pretty sensitive skin and could only use Pampers swaddlers. I part-time cloth-diapered both of my boys, and cloth-diapering has been a great money-saver for us! There are so many great cloth diapers options, but I really like the Alvababy pocket diapers, GroVia, and prefolds with Thirsties covers. Don’t forget wipes too!

Sound Machine. White noise is a necessity for decent baby sleep in our small, one-floor house. I like this one for home and this one for travel. As an alternative, you can just use radio static from a CD player. Then when your baby is three like my oldest, he can listen to audiobooks from the library. I know CD’s are a bit obsolete, but I’m comfortable with my three-year-old operating a CD player by himself. Not so with digital downloads and devices connected to the internet.

Speaking of CD’s, both my kids genuinely love music. JJ Heller’s lullabies are beautiful and soothing, both for mamas and for babies. I also love these Scripture-based lullabies and these Celtic lullabies.

Essential Oils. I don’t sell essential oils, nor am I brand loyal. I’ve personally used doTerra and Young Living, and I love both frankincense (immune-boosting and so nice for skin, both mom’s and baby’s) and the Young Living Gentle Baby blend (calming and just smells so good). If you use essential oils with your baby make sure you’re doing it safely!

Your baby needs you.

More than anything, your baby needs you. Your love and care for your baby matters way more than what you feed your baby, whether or not they’re using all organic, non-toxic toys, or what kind of stroller you get. So take good care of yourself in those early days of parenting. Invest in some items or services that will help you be a sane, happy, healthy mother to your little one. And don’t forget about your partner too. Having a new baby is a huge adjustment for both parents!

A few good friends. Being a new mom can be isolating. Maintain the friendships that are really good for you. You may loose some friends during this stage of life and that’s ok too. But spend time with women you can be real with.

Restaurant gift cards and fresh or frozen meals. Whether it be to have a date night with your spouse or order some take out, food that you don’t have to cook or clean up is pretty awesome during those first weeks and months with a new baby.

Help. Society doesn’t like to recognize it, and culturally it’s not always acceptable to ask for help. If you have friends and family members that you’re comfortable receiving help from, take it. If you don’t have a good support system, hiring a postpartum doula for even a few hours a week can be a lifesaver! Even if you do have a good support system, a postpartum doula is specially trained to help care for new mothers in a way that is empowering and validating to their motherhood journey.

Shared experiences with your baby. Memberships to local zoos, museums, or botanical gardens can be a great way for others to invest in experiences and memories for you to have with your baby. And those are priceless.

A Super Basic Registry Checklist {for Getting Started}

What are your must-have baby registry items? Let me know in the comments!

A Doula’s Favorite Books {Pregnancy and Birth}

 

This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on a link, I may earn a commission without any additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this free resource! See full disclosure here.

 

As a doula, I often have friends and acquaintances ask for book recommendations and other resources as they are preparing for motherhood. Here are a few of my favorite books on pregnancy and birth:

“The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth” by Genevieve Howland. I have yet to find a pregnancy book that I LOVE and have not read this one (yet), but I have heard some great reviews, and Genevieve has a great blog on all things pregnancy, birth, and parenting for natural-minded moms and dads. Who will this appeal to? Parents who like a conversational tone and both conventional and alternative options that are well-researched.

“The Birth Partner” by Penny Simkin. This book is a great resource. Written for dads, doulas, and anyone else who is supporting a birthing woman, I have also found it to be super helpful for expectant mothers. It contains fairly unbiased information on risks and benefits of various medical interventions and practical suggestions for coping with labor and supporting a woman in labor. Who will this appeal to? Moms and their support people who like a logical, analytical approach and practical, concrete suggestions for preparation and participation in the birth process.

“Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth” by Ina May Gaskin. Written by “the mother of American midwifery”, this book is geared toward women who want an unmedicated birth. It is written in the context of birth at home being the norm, but is still very applicable in hospital settings and is great for helping women build their confidence in their ability to give birth. Who will this appeal to? Those who want an unmedicated birth, value the natural process, find inspiration in the stories of others, and want to strengthen their own confidence in their ability to give birth.

“Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering” by Dr. Sarah Buckley. This book is unique in that it is written by an MD with a strong confidence and trust in the birth process along with a strong confidence and trust in a woman’s intuition and decision-making ability. It provides scientific evidence for many birthing and parenting practices that are highly instinctual, but not mainstream. Who will this appeal to? Those who value their own intuition as women and mothers and also value knowledge and scientific evidence around all things mothering.

“Natural Hospital Birth” by Cynthia Gabriel. This book realistically addresses the challenges of unmedicated birth in a hospital setting with a confident, can-do attitude. Who will this appeal to? Those who have a strong desire for natural birth and are, by choice or necessity, giving birth in a hospital setting and want a practical guide to preparation and birth itself.

“The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth” by Henci Goer. This book provides detailed information on many interventions commonly used in modern American childbirth, including the evidence behind them, options surrounding them, and ways to maximize positive outcomes for mother and baby. Who will this appeal to? Those who value a thorough knowledge of childbirth practices along with some cultural background on them and value being an active part of the decisions regarding their care.

“ The Labor Progress Handbook” by Penny Simkin and Ruth Ancheta. This is a detailed book primarily written for caregivers and support people to help address common labor variations and complications with alternatives to help avoid unnecessary cesareans. Who will this appeal to? Those who are very detail-oriented and interested in the physiological process of birth and who feel less anxiety when equipped with the tools to deal with the many possibilities in labor.

“Pushed” by Jennifer Block. This book addresses the state of American maternity care and examines the cultural, legal, financial, and medical influences on current maternity care concerns that can interfere with the rights of the childbearing woman to safe, respectful care and normal birth. Who will this appeal to? Those who are interested in cultural influences on healthcare, improving medical care for women and broadening their options, and who are willing to take action to address any fears that increased knowledge about maternity care concerns may give rise to.

Birth Matters” by Ina May Gaskin. This book provides a compelling viewpoint as to why birth matters and how it can affect the health of mothers, families, and society as a whole. It touches on a wide variety of cultural factors in relationship to birth, including the importance of birth stories, feminism, sexuality in birth, technology, empowerment, and a father’s role in birth. Who will this appeal to? Those who are interested in the cultural factors related to childbirth and a broad, holistic view of mothers, babies, families, and the world. My personal favorite. 

Do you have a favorite book that helped guide you through pregnancy or prepare you for birth? Tell me about it in the comments!