When I was a few months pregnant with my first we moved to Italy where we knew only a few people and throwing a shower when either me or my husband even went to one, seemed weird.
I bought all my baby essentials myself and frankly, I was quite happy I didn’t live anywhere near BuyBuyBaby – otherwise, I would have probably bought a lot of gadgets. In fact, the first time I visited the store I did buy a lot of things that looked so fun… but the baby hated it after a while I found it absolutely unnecessary waste of money.
Most baby essential lists will tell you you need lots of things, but you really don’t. If you’re looking for gifts for baby shower first ask for the baby registry (no, it’s not weird or unpolite to have one), but if there’s none then the most useful gifts are diapers or wipes. Really, the mom will thank you for it later.
When Dylan was born we got so many clothes from the family that we didn’t even have opportunities to put it all on. Let alone quite a number of them weren’t to my liking at all.
Baby Registry Must Haves
Essential Baby Items (0-4 months) to Put on Your Baby Registry
Parents may argue what does “essential” mean, because just because it’s not essential doesn’t mean you don’t want it because it might make your life easier.
Take a crib for example. We went to IKEA and got a crib, feeding chair and changing table in one go. It was “cheap” – since it’s not actually that cheap, but less than if you bought a fancy one. I won’t do it for my second baby, and I’ll explain my reasons throughout the post.
Convertible crib – unless you want to buy a new bed for your baby a few months later, get a crib that can convert to a toddler bed. We had to remove one part only at 12 months because Dylan was done with the crib and wanted to have an easy in-and-out option.
Important: get a waterproof crib mattress or a waterproof lining! Diapers do leak quite often at night. You’ll also need some basics like crib sheets.
Changing table – I obviously got it because everyone said it’s a must-have and quite frankly you can just put a portable changing pad anywhere. It was useful only for a few months, but quite often I ended up changing the baby on the sofa, bed, etc.
Swaddle blanket – Wrapping the baby was a lifesaver. I found regular handknit blankets or bamboo swaddle to work way better than all the fancy swaddlers out there (otherwise both kids would get out of them in a second).
Binkies & binky chain – Pacifiers in plural because you’ll lose some and your baby will bite through them. Unless you want to keep washing them non-stop invest in a chain.
Carseat – Obviously, you need a car seat. Do your research about car seats, because models and prices vary by a lot. Think about how much you want to spend, because it’s not something like a stroller that you can resell (Facebook marketplace is full of free car seats, because people don’t want to buy used ones especially considering they only have 3 years expiry date).
Infant carseats clippable into a stroller are great, but make the stroller even heavier and also only last 8 months. Now we have Graco Slim Fit that will last us for years.
Important (!): get a seat protector, otherwise a car seat will destroy your car long-term.
Carseat Mirror – Mirror was a game changes for us. Dylan was able to see us and . It’s not something I recommend buying as a gift. We got one actually and had to buy another one, because the one we received didn’t fit the car.
Stroller – You obviously need a stroller and it’s going to give you a headache. There are many choices out there and while it may seem a stroller is a stroller it’s not true. Most people need two strollers even if they think they don’t (you’ll remember my words when you buy a travel stroller later on).
We went through four strollers, because I thought I could get a cheaper one and have the same quality. I was wrong.
If I was to get one again I’d get a Cybex Priam for home and Babyzen Yoyo for travel.
Baby bottles – pretty self-explanatory. Many registry advisors will tell you you need a sanitizing machine, microwavable sanitizing bags and drying racks. I’ve never sanitized bottles apart from doing it the traditional way by cooking them when I bought them. I had no time for it and quite often when I travel no possibilities either, so I say it’s not necessary as many kids around the world don’t have it and live just fine.
Clothes, but including Footed pajamas – You don’t want to fight with socks all the time. My kids lived in bamboo footies the first few months and I think most parents would agree with me. Later, we pretty much moved into organic cotton bodysuits and bottoms.
Diaper Genie – Unless you love the smell of poop in the house, yes, you do need it.
If you’re planning on traveling with a baby you might need a few more necessities I described in another post.
Maybe needed for some parents:
- Nose Frida – Many parents swear by it, we used it maaaaaybe once. I’m saying maybe because we tried to use it and I’m still not sure if this even worked.
- Crib Liner – We used these crib liners because otherwise Dylan would throw his binky through the crib railings and yell for it and Holden would stick his feet in between railings and complain.
- Baby bath with newborn insert – It was needed for us, because we only had a shower and strange sinks. Otherwise, I would wash the baby in a sink or regular bathtub.
- Baby swing – It’s nice to be able to put the baby away in a swing and have some time. Dylan slept in it and loved it. You don’t need the fancy Mamaroo, we just got a cheaper magnetic one.
What you don’t need (that’s popular and totally overpriced and unnecessary):
- Fancy rocking bedside bassinet – bassinets only last for a few months. By 4 months your baby will need to move out of it. In my opinion, if you have the funds you can get it but don’t stress if you don’t have or want to spend $1000+ on Snoo. Baby will be just fine without it.
We got this little thing if wanted to safely co-sleep and also used it as a changing table as well.
- Bottle sterilizer – You can cook the bottles once you buy them and just wash them in a dishwasher later. Your baby will be just fine.
- Wipes Warmer – Only Americans invest such weird things. No one else would ever use it.
- Milk machine – Someone recommended it to me and I discovered how popular this was. The thing is, while it may seem super convinient for night feedings it requires cleaning every second use and otherwise it usually mixes the formula wrong. Overall, it requires time.
- Water warmer – I do stand by water warmer as an alternative to the milk machine, because it requires no cleaning and it’s pretty convinient. Necessary? Not at all, but convinient especially with 2 under 2.
- Subscriptions for toys – I explained more why I think subscriptions are terrible in this post (unless you want to show off on Instagram), but your baby also doesn’t need a $300+ monthly supply of toys. They don’t care for much at this stage apart from observing the real world.
Essential Baby Items for Your Registry (4-8 months)
At this stage babies are becoming more aware of their surroundings, start to eat solids, some might start to pull up and even stand. Which means trouble for you! 🙂
By all means, put these items on your registry as well so you can get a completion discount after (read more on it here).
- Baby books – babies get interested in books at this stage. They don’t need a lot, but some are great. Dylan loves these little b&w books.
- Feeding chair – Back in Italy we had an IKEA feeding chair which was enough for feeding the little dude some paps and jars. I would not use it long term, so recommend buying a good one from the beginning – the one your kid will be able to climb into on their own, without making the chair collapse.
We considered Stokke Trip Trap and ended up with Oribel Cocoon, but used to have Graco – Dylan climbed into it on his own without any issues.
- Utensils & sippy cups – some of my favorites are Munchkin cups and tableware.
Maybe needed for some parents:
- Teething toys – Something your baby will love or hate. In our case we had plenty from family members and threw away all of them because Dylan wouldn’t use any. I recommend trying one and seeing if the baby likes it. Holden loves them all, but his favorite ones are simple wooden rings.
What you don’t need:
- Really fancy weaning bibs – It was seriously harder to put on the baby and make more mess when taking it off. Get a normal BumKins instead.
Essential Toddler Items (8-12 months)
This is the time when the hardest period starts – your calm baby is turning into a toddler the tornado. It means babyproofing is in order because they’ll get into everything anytime.
The amount of babyproofing really depends on you and your level of comfort. I installed baby gates for my office because otherwise, Dylan is making a giant mess in my paperwork. You also might want to have some on the stairs if you’re not comfortable with teaching your kid how to handle them from the very beginning.
- Toys – at this stage the baby will need some toys. Some recommendations here.
- Baby gates – A must-have around the house. If you have a cat don’t buy the ones with a cat opening – the baby fits there as well 😉
- Baby locks (for drawers and trash cans) and door knob blockers. Most kids figure out how to open doors by 1 (mine knew by 7 months) and knobs by 18 months (mine knew by 9 months), so you might collect them beforehand.
Maybe needed for some parents:
- Baby Playpen – Some swear by it, for us it was a disaster. It’s nice to have an option of confining the baby in one spot, but Dylan was hysterical when even near it and he was putting his weight on it to make it collapse to get out. We returned it, but I hope not all babies are so crafty.
- Bath Toys – It’s not essential, but I recommend it. Your baby will start getting bored just sitting in a bathtub, so if you want to have some peaceful washing time get some. Whatever it is, even a rubber duck will do the job.
What you don’t need:
- Jumperoo – You don’t need it, but we loved ours. I bought another one for Holden (since we moved and had to start over).
- Baby Walkers – Your baby will learn to walk when they’re ready, not with the help of walkers. Walkers can be actually pretty scare and cause injuries.