What Your Baby Really Needs: A {Sort of} Minimalist {and Super Customizable} Baby Registry

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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.

Depending on if you’re planning to breastfeed, exclusively pump, formula feed, or do a combination, you might not need all of these items!

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

Nursing bras. My favorite nursing bras have usually come from the Motherhood Maternity store or Target.

Nipple balm. Breastfeeding can be rough at first, so it’s a good idea to have some nipple balm just in case you need it. Or if you have coconut oil on hand, you can try that first. I found that it was very soothing and absorbed quickly so that the baby didn’t have a harder time latching on due to slippery nipple balm.

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!

A breast pump. For moms who are spending a significant amount of time pumping, a hospital-grade breast pump is a must. At this point, I believe most insurance plans are still required to cover a breast pump, so check that out before you register for one or buy one! I’ve only every used this Medela pump, but I’veheard great things about the Spectra as well.

Bottles. My first baby would only take the basic Nuk nipple, but my second has used Avent bottles, which I prefer, mainly because they have a glass option. A lot of people are concerned about the glass bottles breaking, but I’ve never had one break, and they have been dropped many times! They also have little sleeves available to help protect them. If you’re concerned about plastic, but not comfortable with glass, there are also silicone options available like the Como Tomo. Whatever bottle you get, make sure you get a slow flow nipple if you’re breastfeeding.

Bottle brush. Because it’s legit way easier to clean bottles with one than without one!

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.

Once your baby starts solid foods, there are a few more items you’ll need. Some of what you’ll need will depend on if you’re planning to do purees or more of a baby-led weaning approach.

A highchair. I like this one that just buckles onto a regular chair. It saves space and is easy to transport.

Bibs. My top bib priority is that it’s washable. The food-catcher on the front is nice too.

Dishes and silverware. Something that’s not breakable. For the first year or so I just feed the baby off the highchair tray, but if you’re doing purees you’ll need bowls and spoons, and once your baby is a little bigger they can start experimenting with their own dishes and silverware.

Sippy cups. I like the Avent ones just because I can use the sippy lid with a glass bottle.

A blender, if you’re making your own purees. You can get one like the Baby Bullet, that’s specifically made for baby food, but your own blender or food processor will probably work just fine.

Storage containers. Especially if you’re making your own purees. Little jelly jars work great. When freezing baby food, I’ve frozen it in ice cube trays and then stored the little cubes in glass jars. That way it’s easy to thaw just the amount I want, and again, no plastic.

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 tub. Some people end up not using their baby tubs much, but I find having one to be super helpful. I just got mine at our local Meijer.

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.

Sunscreen. I rarely use sunscreen, but when I do, I use Badger.

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.

Music.  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.

Swing/bouncy seat. This isn’t a necessity, but can be really helpful. I’m all for holding your baby as much as possible, but sometimes you need an easy place to set him where he’ll be content.

Stroller. Also not a necessity, but getting outside and taking walks can be a huge de-stressor, so for me, a good stroller is a very worthwhile investment. Obviously, you can carry your baby on a walk,either in your arms or in a carrier, but depending on how long you walk and how big your baby is, it can be pretty hard on your back. I liked this jjogging stroller when my first baby was born. And I like this sit ‘n’ stand stroller for a baby plus a big kid. We always just keep a basic umbrella stroller in the car too in case we’re out somewhere and end up needing it.

Teethers. I like wooden or silicone teethers, and my baby LOVES teething necklaces I can wear.

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!

Stuff that makes you feel good. Register for some comfy pajamas, a gift certificate for a massage, a nice journal, whatever someone can buy that would be refreshing and rejuvenating to you. Sometimes what you need might be some childcare so you can have a couple hours to yourself or to connect with your spouse. It’s ok to ask for things for you.

Restaurant gift cards. 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.

Postpartum doula. Moms need help after a baby is born. 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!

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