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The Minimalist’s Baby Registry: What You Actually Need

Written by Katie Hintz-Zambrano

Photography by Photo Via BabyBjörn

Oh, the baby registry. It’s often a confusing laundry list to navigate, especially if you’ve never heard of half of the stuff you supposedly really, really need. With that in mind, we’re bringing you a streamlined list of what we, as two mothers (one with four children, mind you), believe you actually need to survive those trying newborn months. We’ve included the items themselves, alongside our top product picks of things we’ve used and loved. First things first, take a deep breath, read through our essentials-only list, then ask your fellow mama friends for hand-me-downs, and then build your registry off of what you still need (check out our friends at Cricket’s Circle for extra help). Less is more, mamas!

Bassinet: Most babies will sleep in their parents’ room in a bassinet for the first 3-4 months, before making the leap to a crib in their own space. (That is, unless you decide to co-sleep.)
Mother Pick: BabyBjörn Cradle, $278.53, Amazon.

Bassinet Bedding: Most bassinets will accommodate a standard-size bassinet sheet. If yours doesn’t already come with one, there are lots of inexpensive options online.
Mother Pick: Carter’s Easy-Fit Jersey Bassinet Fitted Sheet, $6.99, Amazon.

Crib and Crib Mattress: Sure, your baby might not be sleeping through the night in a crib off the bat, but it’s one of those big purchases that is nice to get out of the way before the baby actually arrives. Also, it’s great to get them used to sleeping in here (sometimes nestled in a cozy co-sleeper) during daytime naps.
Mother Pick: IKEA Stuva Crib With Drawers, $199, IKEA. IKEA Vyssa Vinka Crib Mattress, $59.99, IKEA.

Crib Pad: Cushion your little one’s head with some extra padding (that absorbs nighttime diaper leaks, too).
Mother Pick: Carter’s Keep Me Dry Quilted Fitted Mattress Pad, $12.98, Amazon.

Crib Bedding: Have fun with this one! Picking out crib bedding allows you to give a real stamp of personality to your nursery. The choices are endless (and one you’ll want to make yourself, and not leave up to your gift-giving in-laws). Let them know exactly what you want. Also, you don’t really need a crib skirt, quilt thrown over the side, or pillows (although they are nice for decorative elements). Note that bumpers are frowned upon and seen as a suffocation hazard.
Mother Pick: Robot March Crib Sheet, $45, Little Auggie.

Baby Blanket: Having at least one great baby-sized blanket to wrap your babe in or throw over him while he rides in the stroller is essential. Look for a high coziness factor.
Mother Pick: Little Giraffe Chenille Baby Blanket, $65, Zappos.

Swaddles: Swaddling your baby is one of the five storied (and well researched) ways to calm a fussy infant (the others S’s include Shushing, Sucking, Swinging, and Side-lying). If your newborn seems to get out of his tight swaddle as soon as you turn your back, you might want to try the Miracle Blanket.
Mother Pick: Aden + Anais Classic Muslin Swaddle Blanket 4-Pack, $48.39, Amazon.

Pacifier: Okay, you might be totally against using a “binky,” but we say those early months are about survival. And sometimes survival includes sticking a paci in your baby’s mouth. Of course, if she’s actually interested in a binky is up to her. Some babies show no interest.
Mother Pick: Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier, 0-3 Months, 6-Pack, $13.83, Amazon.

Newborn Diapers: Oh boy, are you going to need a lot of these. When in doubt, ask folks to send you diapers, either in size Newborn or Size 1.
Mother Pick: Honest Newborn Diapers, $13.95, Honest.

Wipes: Also, you’re going to need a lot of wipes to clean up those dirty bottoms. Another safe thing to stock up on (thankfully, one size fits all!).
Mother Pick: Pamper’s Sensitive Wipes, $23.89, Amazon.

Aquaphor: Protect your newborn’s super sensitive skin after each messy diaper change with a dab of this miracle cream, which soothes a host of other skin ailments.
Mother Pick: Aquaphor Baby Healing Ointment 3-Pack, $17.97, Amazon.

Basket/Organizer for Diapers: You could just have diapers and wipes sitting loose all over the place, but we think it’s best to corral the items in a basket or changing table organizer. Oh, and about that changing table…we don’t feel it’s completely essential. Some moms (us, included) can count the number of times we’ve used ours on just one of our hands. A blanket on the floor or bed works, too.
Mother Pick: Corn Husk Nesting Baskets With Handles, $31, Amazon.

Stroller: A steady stroller is a new mama’s best friend. If you’re often on the road and don’t want to disturb a sleeping baby, look for an adapter that allows you to clip your carseat into the stroller frame.
Mother Pick: Stokke Crusi, $1249, Amazon.

Car Seat: Safety is key. And the hospital won’t let you leave without a car seat. Again, look for one that can hook to the top of your stroller frame for easy snap-and-go capability.
Mother Pick: Peg Perego Primo Viaggio SIP 30/30 Infant Car Seat, $249.95, Amazon.

Baby Carrier: After spending 9 months nestled up inside of you, your baby is not going to want to be far from you once she’s on the outside. Keep her close to your heartbeat with a snug wrap that allows mama (or papa) some all-too-important hands-free time!
Mother Pick: The Wrap by Solly Baby, $65, Solly Baby.

Bottles: Even if you think your baby is going to be breast-only, he might have other plans. It’s smart to have bottles on hand for a plethora of reasons—from the introduction of formula to allowing other folks to feed the baby breast milk while mama takes a break.
Mother Pick: Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Glass Bottles, $13.43, Amazon.

Bottle Nipples: Even full-term babies might need an especially slow-flow Premmie nipple to start with. Get that, and Level 1.
Mother Pick: Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Premmie Nipple, $3.99, Amazon. Dr. Brown’s Natural Flow Level 1 Nipple, $2.40, Amazon.

Bottle Brush: Of course, keeping your bottles bacteria-free is of the utmost importance.
Mother Pick: Philips Avent BPA-Free Bottle Brush, $3.99, Amazon.

Breast Pump: Unless you know breast-feeding is not going to be your thing, a breast pump is essential for freeing you up and letting someone else take of the baby. Although some folks warn against sharing pumps, we used a loaner pump (and parts) from a friend with no problem. Also note that many insurance companies will cover this purchase.
Mother Pick: Medela Pump In Style Advanced, $235, Amazon.

Hands-Free Pumping Bra: Do something productive (or just relax and surf Instagram) while pumping, thanks to this hands-free wonder.
Mother Pick: Simple Wishes D Lite Hands Free Breastpump Bra, $24.99, Amazon.

Milk Storage Bags: While your supply is high (in those early weeks and months), it might be smart to pump and freeze to buy yourself some future freedom away from the babe.
Mother Pick: Lansinoh Breastmilk Storage Bags, $11.02, Amazon.

Nursing Bra: Lactating? Yep, you’re gonna need a special bra for that. Look for something that’s easy to pull down for instant boob access, with a little padding to absorb any leakage, and without too much hardware so you can comfortably wear it in and out of bed.
Mother Pick: Cosabella Mommie Nursing Bra, $84, available July 17th at Cosabella.

Nursing Pads: We’ve tried a lot of these, and this is by far our favorite. It’s not itchy, looks normal tucked into your bra, and is an ace at absorption.
Mother Pick: Johnson’s Nursing Pads, $18.66, Amazon.

Nipple Cream: Sore and cracked nipples are common in the early stages of breast-feeding. Do yourself a favor and show your hardworking nips some love.
Mother Pick: Lansinoh HPA Lanolin, $7.96, Amazon.

My Brest Friend Pillow: Feel free to roll your eyes at the name, but My Brest Friend will become just that, propping up your baby and saving your back during countless breast-feeding sessions.
Mother Pick: My Brest Friend Deluxe Pillow, $39.95, Amazon.

Breastfeeding Cover-up: If you’re breast-feeding, there are going to be times when you’ll need to nurse in public. Having a cover-up that hangs around your neck and frees up your hands is a must.
Mother Pick: Udder Covers, $17.95, Amazon.

Bibs: Protect the clothing of your baby (and yourself) from spit-up sessions in the early days, and solid food spills later on.
Mother Pick: Green Sprouts 10-Pack Waterproof Bibs, $17.03, Amazon.

Baby Monitor: Once your baby is sleeping soundly on his own (our fingers are crossed for you!), keep an eye on him with this video monitor.
Mother Pick: Motorola MBP36 Remote Wireless Video Baby Monitor, $239.95, Amazon.

Glider: Oh, the hours you will spend rocking your little one and feeding him in here! Although it’s hard to find a rocker/glider that’s not a total eyesore, there are a number of them on the market that look as good as they feel.
Mother Pick: Luca Glider & Ottoman, $385-$995, Land of Nod.

Black-Out Shades: To keep your baby sleeping hours and hours on end, it’s best to keep her room as close to pitch-black as possible. We suggest investing in black-out shades that fit the window.
Mother Pick: Custom Black-Out Shades, prices vary, The Shade Store.

White Noise Machine: Another sleep-time savior, a solid white noise machine will help your baby sleep through small disturbances. The much beloved Sleep Sheep is a good starter machine (and it’s oh-so portable), but we like a more powerful option for the long haul.
Mother Pick: Ecotones Sound + Sleep Machine, $99.70, Amazon.

Baby Bouncer/Chair: Lull your baby to sleep, or at least get them to pipe down, with a little soothing vibration. These things allow mama to hop in the shower for 15 minutes here and there. They’re crucial.
Mother Pick: BabyBjörn Bouncer, $172.54, Amazon.

Baby Mittens: Those adorable little newborn fingers come with surprisingly sharp claws that can end up drawing blood. Cover them up to prevent sad, scratch-covered faces.
Mother Pick: White No-Scratch Mittens, 6-Pack, $9.99, Amazon.

Baby-Safe Nail Clippers: Once again, in the baby-talon maintenance category. Although you can chew off a baby’s nails in the early days, once they become a little harder, get yourself a good baby-safe clippers. The one we like (bought on another mother’s recommendation) is pricey, but it’s never cut a little finger.
Mother Pick: Rubis Switzerland Baby Nail Clippers, $42.95, Amazon.

Onesies: You’re going to get lots of clothing, no matter what you register for. But keep in mind you just need a handful of onesies to get you through the first few months, when the baby is usually indoors and wrapped in swaddles and blankies.
Mother Pick: Gerber Unisex Onesie 5-Pack, $9.82, Amazon.

Socks: And those little toes need covered up, too.
Mother Pick: Trumpette Sneaker Socks, $24.50, Amazon.

Activity Mat/Baby Gym: One of your baby’s first toys (and tummy-time central), a solid activity mat will last you through most of the first year.
Mother Pick: IKEA Baby Gym, $19.99, IKEA.

Baby Tub: If you think your sink will accommodate your newborn, then an in-sink bath is a good option. Otherwise, look for a tub that you can sit on a counter (and later inside the larger bath) that’ll grow with your baby.
Mother Pick: Puj Tub In-Sink Baby Bath, $44.99, Amazon. Fisher-Price Whale Of A Tub, $21.99, Amazon 

Baby Shampoo + Bodywash: To clean the baby, obvi.
Mother Pick: California Baby Shampoo and Bodywash, $26.56, Amazon.

Hooded Towel: To dry off the baby…and dress him like an animal, perchance.
Mother Pick: Trend Land Monkey Hooded Towel, $29.99, Kohl’s.

-Laundry Detergent: Baby skin is sensitive, so make sure the detergent used on their clothing is, as well.
Mother Pick: Puretergent Gentle, $13, Puretergent.

Night Light: In the beginning, nights with a newborn are full of feedings, diaper changes, swaddling, and the rest of it. We find that a nightlight helps to keep the room dark, while still allowing you to maneuver.
Mother Pick: MOBI Tykelight WallMate, $24.99, Amazon.

Did we miss anything you consider an absolute essential? Please let us know in the comments below! 


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