A couple weeks ago, I shared a few of my favorite adorable baby gifts in this baby shower gift guide. But as promised, today I am sharing some of the more practical items for new mamas and daddies to consider. What you will actually need depends on many factors like your lifestyle, budget, and where you live. But I find it really helpful to have a comprehensive list in front of me that I can consult and then narrow down if necessary.
I’m also sharing some of my personal product picks below. While I did quite a bit of research (including asking other mamas), I haven’t put any of these items to use yet since my due date isn’t for another 8 weeks. Once baby comes, I’ll have to let you know which items I actually got the most use out of and which items I ended up feeling like I could live without.
Whether you’re having a baby or even plan on having a baby someday, you can pin this comprehensive list on Pinterest as a resource. And if you have a friend or family member who is expecting, be sure to pass along the link!
We went with this gorgeous, midcentury modern looking crib from Pottery Barn Kids (which you will see in my nursery reveal on the site in a few weeks!)
- Bassinet or Co-Sleeper.
All babies just sleep in cribs, right? False! There are several baby bed options, especially at the beginning when you are doing lots of nighttime feedings and might not want to trek back and forth to the nursery. If you have a nursery all set up but want the baby closer by at the very beginning, consider a bassinet or Moses basket in your bedroom. A co-sleeper is another great option for those early weeks. Co-sleeper styles vary, but the idea is that they safely allow baby to cuddle up as close to you as possible—either in between your two pillows or butting up next to it. The Arm’s Reach Cambria Co-Sleeper, which goes right next to your bed, is on my own registry.
This includes fitted crib sheets (3-4), waterproof mattress pads (2), and swaddling blankets or sleep sacks (3-5). (All my mama friends love Aden + Anais swaddling cloths and swear by the Miracle Blanket for swaddling made easy). Quilts or baby blankets are mostly just decorative at the very beginning.
- Hamper and Storage Bins.
My hamper and storage baskets are from Lauren’s fair trade shop The Little Market. They are handmade by women artisans in Senegal, and they are simply stunning.
When it comes to big-ticket items like strollers, I recommend going to a local baby store and giving them a test drive. I did this and discovered the new Britax B-Agile 4 stroller and B-Safe infant car seat. The car seat gets top safety ratings, and the stroller was by far the easiest to maneuver and collapse. I also love the look and features of the Stokke and Bugaboo strollers if you have a little more to spend. But for its price point, the Britax was my favorite.
- Travel Crib.
A travel crib isn’t just for big trips. If you plan on taking the baby to the grandparents for the night or even being in someone else’s house during naptime, it’s good to have a comfortable and familiar spot for baby to sleep. We registered for the Baby Bjorn Travel Crib Light. It’s a bit of a splurge, but your little one can use it until they are three years old and it’s known for being super durable and easy to transport.
- Baby Carrier or Wrap.
The Ergo Carrier seems to get high marks from every mama. I’m also a big fan of Solly Baby wraps, a literal mom and pop business that I actually discovered on Instagram!
- Bouncer/Lounger and Swing.
Both bouncers and swings are ways to keep your baby occupied when you need your hands free to do something else. If you’re wondering what the difference is, bouncers tend to be more portable and often contain no electronic parts, whereas swings are generally larger—making them harder to transport (even from room to room)—and use electronic parts to gently rock the baby. Some people recommend getting both a bouncer/lounger and a swing, since they do serve different purposes and it’s hard to know which one baby will take to best before trying them out. But if you have a smaller space or are on a budget, I recommend starting with at least a bouncer. I love the bloom Coco Go Lounger because of its sleek design, extremely portable design (it folds right up into a carry case!), and hidden vibration unit that helps to soothe baby. If we do end up purchasing a swing too, we will probably go with the 4Moms Rockaroo, which takes up so much less room than traditional baby swings.
- Play Mat/Activity Gym.
I started off thinking that all activity gyms were unsightly plastic monstrosities that I was just going to have to learn to deal with. Then I discovered this sleek wooden gym from Plan Toys. I plan on using it with this soft and adorable play pad.
Your own feeding checklist will of course vary depending on whether you plan to breastfeed, pump, use formula, or a combination of the three. But most mamas want to have a few bottles on hand at the beginning either way. I’m starting off with couple bottles from Lifefactory (I love their water bottles for grownups and eco-friendly stance!) and a couple bottles from Comotomo (they are soft and squishy, and said to mimic breastfeeding better than any other brand).
Natursutten pacifiers are on my list because they are made of 100 percent natural rubber, free from any harmful chemicals, and are committed to sustainability.
- Nursing Cover.
The Poncho Baby nursing cover is made of 100% organic cotton, it’s super lightweight and breathable, and makes it easy to view baby while keeping mama completely covered.
- High Chair.
The Stokke Tripp Trapp chair looks more like something you’d find at Design Within Reach than Babies ‘R’ Us (and it even has a permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC!). But of course looks aren’t everything… It’s also one of the first high chairs designed to give your little one proper ergonomic support at the dinner table, and can be used from 6 months all the way to 3 years old.
Bath and Diapering
- Infant Tub. Pretty much every mama friend I asked recommended the Puj Infant Tub. It collapses flat and is made out of a soft, comforting material.
- Diapers, Diaper Cream, Baby Shampoo, and Body Wash. For all the baby ‘toiletries,’ I’m turning to Babyganics and The Honest Company. Using gentle, natural products is important to me and both of these brands are ones you can count on in that respect.
Health + Baby Care
- Baby Monitor.
I like the idea of a video monitor instead of a traditional one with only audio. This one from Levana also has an intercom feature so you can talk to baby.
We have this Crane cool mist humidifier on our registry. It’s sleek, modern, and comes in lots of fun colors.
- Healthcare Kit.
You can make things easy by buying a whole pre-packaged baby healthcare kit like this one from American Red Cross. But make sure it includes a really good thermometer, baby nail clippers or scissors, and bulb syringe—which are the items you will use most. You may want to supplement your kit by purchasing these items separately.
- Other than a few inexpensive plain white cotton pieces, you probably won’t need to register for any clothing items. This is everyone’s favorite item to pick out and gift you with at your shower!
And an etiquette tip… You don’t need to put every single item listed on your actual registry for your friends and family to see. Some things (ahem, thermometers that go places other than the baby’s mouth) are just better left purchased by the parents themselves.
UPDATE: Click here for some updated tips about this post!
Mamas: Do you have any must-haves that you’d add to this list?
Let me know in the comments.