Don’t shy from hand-me-downs. Most baby gear gets little wear and tear, and your friends probably have similar tastes to yours. My friends and I have been passing gear and clothes around for years. The kids love it!
Consignment shops or swap meets are another great option for “gently-used” items.
Keep your due date in mind when registering for clothes, especially outerwear. If it’s late Spring, there is no need for winter-worthy outerwear in a newborn size.
Limit the amount of newborn-sized clothes you register for, because you don’t know how big your baby will be! Register for a few essentials (like onesies) in newborn sizes. If your baby is large, she won’t be in that size for very long.
You'll probably receive lots of baby toys as gifts, so there’s no need to register for them.
One item you should register for, however, is a play mat with dangling toys. This will keep baby amused for long periods of time and encourage them to play on their tummies.The toys are often removable, so when your baby outgrows the mat, he can still enjoy the toys.
It’s not always necessary to buy all new furniture. See what you already have that can be re-purposed. Older furniture can give a baby room some charm, and most furniture can be re-painted to look like new.
Photo Credit: tiarescott
Essential Baby Gear: Car Seat
Rear-facing or infant/toddler convertible car seat
Get one with a stroller attachment so you can easily remove a sleeping baby from the car seat.
Photo Credit: Jim Champion
Essential Baby Gear: Stroller
You should have a proper stroller for when your baby outgrows the car seat. Although researching online for safety, features, stroller weight, etc. is important, you should physically go to the store to test out strollers before making your final decision.
Photo Credit: mrplough
Essential Baby Gear: Monitor
Many monitors come with video, which I think is fantastic. If you're a worrier, you might want to invest in a video monitor.
Photo Credit: Robert S. Donovan
Essential Baby Gear: Nightlight
Nightlights allow you to see in your child’s room after dark, and when she gets older and is possibly afraid of the dark, the nightlight can make her feel comfortable.
Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt
Essential Baby Gear: Bassinet or Co-Sleeper
You'll want your baby in the room with you for at least a couple months, so getting one of these is a must.
If you are planning to register for a play yard, you might want to consider requesting the version with the bassinet attachment. It places the baby at bed height, offers lots of storage for items you need within reach and can be removed when you are ready to use the Pack n’ Play as a play yard or travel bed.
There are so many options: Should you get a standard crib, or one that converts into a toddler bed? While both have their advantages, see what features work best for you.
Crib Sheets, Mattress and Mattress Cover
Register for these because you will need several sheets in case of accidents. One mattress and cover should do the trick.
You'll probably be given plenty of these, so don't register for them. Also, babies shouldn’t use a blanket for the first several months because there can be problems with tangling or suffocating. Instead, keep them warm in toasty pajamas, and register for light cotton blankets because they are great for swaddling, tummy time, etc.
Photo Credit: Ert
Necessary Items: Diaper Station
Here's what you'll need to create your own diaper station.
Changing table or dresser-top changing bed
If you’re on a budget and already have a dresser that is a comfortable height for diaper changing, just register for a dresser-top changing pad.
Diapers & Wipes
This goes without saying, and is a must for when your baby arrives home from the hospital!
Diaper Genie or trashcan with a lid – I prefer a trashcan. They are less expensive, they do not require special bags and they are easier to clean.
Photo Credit: Joe Shlabotnick
Essential Baby Gear: Apparel
Onesies/tee shirts –Make sure you have at least 10 in newborn-size and then register for more in larger sizes. You never know if your baby will spit up a lot so you want to have plenty on hand.
Socks/booties – plan accordingly based on the weather. You only really need a few pairs in each size.
Fleece Onesies (if baby is born in the colder months) – 3 or 4 of these in newborn size would be enough to get you going.
Photo Credit: Charlotte Morrall
Essential Baby Gear: Bath time
These are great and provide solid support for your baby in the tub. They're also not expensive, so I would recommend registering for one. If you're strapped for space, you can also bathe the baby in the sink while she's still small.
Get at least 10. They're great for bathing, spit up and other small messes. Cloth diapers are also great spit-up pads.
Register for two or three of the hooded ones. Regular towels are fine, just not as cute.
Diaper ointment, baby wash/shampoo, and baby lotion. Buy them unscented or lightly scented, because you don’t know what scent will appeal to or bother your child.
Make sure to buy these: Rectal thermometer, fever reducer (Tylenol/Motrin), nasal aspirator, rubber finger brush (for brushing those new teeth!).
Photo Credit: Jason Trommetter
Essential Baby Gear: Food
Unless you're nursing exclusively, I recommend going for a higher-end pump, especially if you plan to use it more than once a day. For infrequent pumping, there are lower-end models or even hand pumps.
Bottles, and nipples especially, are very specific to each baby, so register for just a few, then see what your baby’s preferences are for nipple size/shape and flow.
If you are getting plastic bottles, look for BPA-free and try not to heat milk in plastic (BPA-free or otherwise), as many studies reveal that plastics release toxins when exposed to extreme heat or cold. Heat and freeze milk in glasses instead.
Photo Credit: Rich Moffitt
Other Gear You Might Need
Bouncy Seat or Baby Swing
These provide you with hands-free time, though some babies like one more tha the other.
Bouncy seats are relatively inexpensive (skip the ultra-pricey versions), and seem to be more popular than swings. My recommendation: Register for the bouncy seat and borrow a swing if you think your baby will like it.
Another great provider of hands-free time. Wait until the baby is born and test a few out at the store.
Pack n’ Play
This is indispensable for hands-free time and for use as a travel bed. If you ever have guests with infants, it might be handy to keep this around when your baby outgrows it.
Photo Credit: drewzuckerman
Registering for Baby Gear
There are lots of great places to register and many have checklists available.
You might want to consider registering at a large chain, like Babies R’ Us or Target and also at a boutique store for more special items. For large chains, I feel that Babies R’ Us and Target have the best variety and pricing, but Babies R’ Us has a much more liberal return policy.
Be sure to save all gift receipts, especially for items that you don’t plan to use right away, like the stroller, just in case you discover the item doesn’t suit your needs.
Photo Credit: Paul Sableman