If finances or space are limited, it can be stressful trying to figure out exactly what you need for your new baby. Everyone will give you a different list of necessities, but your budget isn’t unlimited. The essentials really just boil down to the twenty items you should put on your registry.
There are plenty of convenience-focused items that are worth their weight in gold, but you need to make sure you have the necessitates first. I crowdsourced recommendations from around 40 parents I know about baby items worth the splurge.
At the end of each section I mention brands specifically recommended by friends, but there are many great brands to choose from for each baby item and I encourage you to research the right brand for your budget and family before making a purchase.
|$$||$20 - $50|
|$$$||$50 - $150|
1. A snot sucker. $
When did parenting become so glamorous? Gone are the days of the bulb syringe. We’ve ushered in a new era of clearing our kids’ noses with the power of our own mouth or household vacuum. It sounds terrifying, but nasal aspirators are amazing tools to help your child be more comfortable when she’s sick. Don’t worry, most snot suckers have a filter so you don’t have to worry about getting any...debris in your mouth.
2. Pacifier clips (plastic). $
Clip a pacifier to your baby’s clothes and never lose it. Oh, if this tool had been available to my parents, they’d have a lot fewer stories of my sister having epic meltdowns while they tried to find her pacis. A friend with twins recommends plastic as the metal ones rust.
We opted for Wubbanubs once our kids were a couple months old. They are pacis attached to cute little stuffed animals. They are still possible to lose but not nearly as hard as tiny pacifiers. Plus they’re a lovey and paci in one.
Specific brands recommended by friends: PBnJ ($4.49)
3. A yoga ball. $ to $$
If you don’t want to drive around the block twenty times to put a cranky baby to sleep, bouncing on a yoga ball is a great alternative for soothing a little one. Plus you get a little work out in. The downside is the storage space needed for the ball. Make sure you get one with an air pump included. And, if you plan ahead, you can actually make good use of your ball during pregnancy to relieve stress on your joints and during birth to ease contractions.
Place to buy recommended by friends: Amazon has all shapes, sizes and price points.
4. Breastfeeding accessories. $ to $$
Anything that makes breastfeeding easier makes your life easier. Consider a car charger for your pump, a hands free breast pumping bra, breastfeeding-friendly shirts and bras, extra pump parts and bottles so you can do less washing and drying. And a pillow is a must.
Specific brands recommended by friends: Rumina Pump & Nurse Classic Coverage Tank ($28.00)
5. A bouncy chair. $$ to $$$
Before your baby can crawl, you need an option besides holding him or wearing him – especially if you have multiple kids. A bouncy chair is much more portable than a swing and more entertaining than a Boppy pillow. You can put it anywhere that has a floor, strap your baby in for a little bounce, and give your biceps and back a break.
6. Blackout curtains and a curved hanging rod. $$ to $$$
Yes, these are primarily for the nursery so your baby can nap anytime of day without a hint of daylight through the window, but I recommend them for your bedroom too so you can rest while your baby rests.
You have to have the curved rod or the light peeks through both sides of the window.
Places to buy recommended by friends: Target, Walmart, Ross, Ikea
7. Changing Pad $$$
You might be thinking, "Hey the changing pad I’ve got isn’t three dollar signs worth of splurge!" Yes, you can get a changing pad for a lot less than a hundred bucks, but it’ll be one that has a cover that needs frequent washing. Why not make your life easier with a changer that just wipes down?
Specific brand recommended by friends: the Keekaroo Peanut Changer ($99) was recommended by several moms from several different parenting groups.
[Side note: If you are looking to make changing time easier for around $20, get a wipes warmer. You can turn a cold diaper change into a spa experience for you baby.]
8. Rocking chair or glider. $$$ to $$$$
So many of my friends swear by the motion of a rocker or glider to calm a baby and themselves. A lot of special bonding has taken place in these chairs.
The benefit of a rocking chair is that you can keep it forever, but unfortunately it’s not designed for breastfeeding. A glider has the armrests in just the right place and at the right height for comfortable breastfeeding and baby holding. The downside to the glider is that they aren’t usually attractive pieces furniture for outside the nursery.
I get motion sick easily so I avoid rocking in general, but having a comfy chair with armrests in the right place for breastfeeding was definitely worth the money for me.
Specific brands recommended by friends: Dutailier gliders ($500)
[Side note: The ottomans are surprisingly expensive so you could sub in with a nursing stool – but don’t skip a footrest all together!]
9. Services. $$ to $$$
When you are taking care of a baby and recovering from labor or c-section surgery, you deserve a break from some household chores. Have diapers or groceries delivered. Get a weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) box. Look into meal delivery options. Get your house cleaned (I really can’t recommend this one enough).
An expensive but amazing gift to yourself is a night nurse or night nanny (some doulas offer a night service too) to help you get some rest while you recover from delivery.
Specific services recommended by friends: Blue Apron for weekly meal delivery ($70/wk), Amazon Family for groceries and diapers, Uber for meal delivery from restaurants
10. Multiple modes of transportation.
A. Different carriers. $$$ to $$$$
Wearing your baby helps with bonding and keeps your hands free. A lot of parents are going to register for at least one carrier, but different carriers work better for different activities and sometimes mom and dad have different preferences.
B. Different strollers. $$$ to $$$$
Again, you’ll register for at least one stroller (probably one that can be used with an infant car seat and grow into toddler use) but really it’d be a luxury to have at least two.
Umbrella strollers are relatively cheap and much lighter and easy to fold when traveling with toddlers. Jogging strollers are more easily maneuvered on rougher terrains and smoother while exercising. There are so many options now that weren’t available when my babies were babies; strollers that lie flat like a pram, strollers that look like something out of a sci-fi film and twist and rotate from a bed to a high chair, and strollers with a skateboard attachment for toddlers to ride.
Specific brands recommended by friends: G-Luxe UPPAbaby ($260), Orbit Baby stroller with a sidekick stroller board ($240), Baby Jogger Summit X3 ($429)
11. An SUV. $$$$
I’ve discussed everything I wish I knew before buying a car when I was pregnant. But one of my biggest regrets was buying a sedan instead of an SUV that sat higher. Yes, they are a little more expensive but my back and neck paid a major price stooping to lift a very heavy baby into the middle of the back seat of a car. I dreaded it so much that I sold the sedan before we even paid it off and leased an SUV.
Specific brands recommended by friends: Toyota Highlander ($30,490) and Honda Odyssey ($29,550)
You may not be able to afford all of these splurges at once (I certainly wasn’t), but things that make your life as a new parent easier are worth saving for or registering for. Don’t be afraid to register for gift cards that you can put toward a service. And don’t be afraid to spend a little more on an item that will save you stress and cut back elsewhere. You deserve less stress. Maybe don’t register for the SUV, but anything else is fair game.