7 Items That Need to be on Your Baby Registry Checklist

Learn the 7 essential, must-have items that belong on your baby registry.

Selecting items for your baby registry is exciting, but it’s also daunting thanks to the explosion of in-store and online products available – as well as uncertainty about what you actually need. For example, if the nursery is right next to your bedroom, do you need a monitor? If you do register for a monitor, should you get the more expensive video version or will the traditional audio-only type suffice?

In identifying your baby registry must-haves, consider the activities your little one will be doing (sleeping, eating, bathing, etc.) and select a few items that will make each activity go as smoothly as possible. Unless you have a large house with plenty of storage space, register only for the items you’ll need in year one, and purchase the rest as your baby grows.

Here are the seven items that need to be on your baby registry checklist:

1. A safe sleeping space

I kept both of my babies beside my bed in a bassinet for the first six weeks then transitioned them into their cribs. Some women co-sleep in the family bed and have no need for a bassinet or crib. Before you register for anything, decide which sleeping arrangement works best for you.

At the very top of your baby registry checklist should be a safe sleeping space.At the very top of your baby registry checklist should be a safe sleeping space.

If you plan on using a bassinet at first, then transitioning baby to his or her crib:

You can splurge on a chic bassinet like this one by Baby Bjorn or go for something more affordable but equally effective. Whatever brand or style you choose, it should be stable and have breathable mesh sides to keep baby safe. You’ll also want to register for a crib. I suggest choosing one that converts to a toddler bed.

If you plan on co-sleeping in your family bed:

Co-sleeping with a newborn doesn’t mean just placing him or her on your mattress – there’s too great a chance the baby could suffocate. If you’re going to co-sleep, you need to purchase a co-sleeper.

One product that’s all the rage right now is the Dock-a-Tot, which can be used for co-sleeping in the family bed as well as for napping on the floor, tummy time and diaper changes, among other things. However, if you’re on a budget, there are countless other options that work great such as this co-sleeper by Summer Infant.

2. Blankets

I used three types of blankets during the first year: a swaddle blanket, a wearable blanket and a stroller blanket.

Some newborns sleep best when swaddled tightly in a swaddle blanket.Some newborns sleep best when swaddled tightly in a swaddle blanket.

Swaddle blanket

Newborns have a startle reflex that can interfere with their sleeping. Sometimes swaddling can help. That said, not all newborns need or like to be swaddled, so you’ll have to wait and see how your baby reacts. Register for one muslin blanket so you can try swaddling the traditional way (I’m obsessed with the Little Unicorn brand swaddles) as well as one easy swaddle blanket, which makes swaddling a breeze!

Wearable blanket

After baby outgrows the swaddle, I recommend putting him or her down to sleep in a sleeveless wearable “sleep sack” blanket. Unlike a regular blanket, which can slip up over baby’s face, this kind stays in place – and keeps baby warm during winter or in summer while the air conditioner is on.

Stroller blanket

You’ll need a traditional blanket to keep baby warm and cozy while you’re out and about running errands on a chilly day. You can also use this in the car.

3. Diapers and wipes

One of the most essential things a newborn baby needs is diapers. You’ll first need to decide between disposable and cloth diapers, which are better for the environment but less convenient.

If you go with cloth, register for several reusable diapers, as well as a few packs of stay-dry liners, which can reduce diaper rash and make clean-up quicker.

Don’t forget the wipes!

4. Feeding supplies

Whether you plan to breastfeed or formula feed, there are several supplies you’ll want to have on hand.

For more comfortable breastfeeding, use a nursing pillow.For more comfortable breastfeeding, use a nursing pillow.

Breastfeeding supplies

Must-have baby registry items for new moms who plan to breastfeed include a pump, bottles and burp cloths. (Insurance often gives a breast pump to new moms for free – call ahead to see if yours does.) If you plan to return to work or have other caretakers feed your baby, you might end up needing to freeze your breast milk and should also register for a pump adapter and breast milk pouches. Kits like this one from Tommee Tippee include a pump adapter, bottles and pouches.

You might also choose to register for a nursing pillow for more comfortable breastfeeding, although a regular pillow works as well.

Formula feeding supplies

Some moms can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, and should register for bottles and burp cloths. Hospitals will feed your baby whatever brand of formula they carry, so you’ll likely want to wait and see what that is and how your baby responds to it before blindly choosing a formula ahead of time. However, if you know you want to use organic, soy-based or GMO-free formula, you’ll want to register for that in advance and pack a can in your hospital bag.

5. Car seat

Another one of those must-have baby items is a car seat. You’ll need to choose between an infant car seat and a convertible car seat.

Infant car seat

The biggest plus to an infant  car seat is that it detaches from the base, which means you don’t need to wake your sleeping baby as you take him from the car to the store or your home. On the other hand, it only lasts for the first year or so, until your baby reaches a certain weight, at which time you’ll need to purchase a second car seat with a higher maximum weight limit.

If you’re a two-car family, or have a grandparent or nanny who will be driving your infant, register for an extra base for your infant car seat.

Convertible car seat

Convertible car seats grow with your baby from the newborn stage to the time they’re ready for a booster, making them a smart financial investment. While you can use the infant car seat as a carrier, you will need to physically remove your infant from the convertible car seat every time you leave the car – even in the dead of winter.

6. Stroller

One of the most basic things to buy for a newborn baby is a stroller. Look for one with lots of storage space underneath.

A stroller with lots of storage space is an essential baby registry item.A stroller with lots of storage space is an essential baby registry item.

If you plan on having a second child within the next year or two, you might want to register for a double stroller, which you can use as a single now and a double later as your family grows. (You can even use it as a triple by adding a ride-on board!) My kids are 22 months apart, so the City Select Baby Jogger worked great for us, although there are lots of similar models at a much lower price point.

If you have an infant car seat, don’t forget to purchase an adapter so it can snap right into the stroller.

7. Bath seat

While you’ll be giving your newborn a sponge bath for the first week or two, you’ll eventually have to submerge him or her in water. Some moms prefer bathing infants in the sink, others in the tub.

The Blooming Bath is the cutest sink bath I’ve found, though I bathed my two kids in the tub using the Angelcare bath seat, which works great for newborns and older infants who can’t yet sit up steadily.


Beyond these seven must-have baby registry items, all the other things on the market are nice but not absolutely necessary. Many products serve more than one purpose! For example, if you’re on a tight budget, burp cloths can also be tucked into baby’s shirt and used as bibs. Babies can be fed with regular spoons and bowls. You don’t even need to purchase special baby food – all you need is fresh produce and a blender.

Oh, and as for my position on baby monitors: When my son’s room was directly next to ours, we never used one and we heard him just fine. However, when we moved to our new house, both kids’ rooms were further down the hall, at which time we used monitors – so they may or may not be essential depending on your home’s floor plan. (And although we have video monitors, my husband and I both agree that we would have gotten by with the more affordable audio kind.) You live and you learn.

Erin Balsa is a Boston-based mom of two who met her husband on an airplane. Her interests include reading, writing and sleeping through the night.