Car Seat – This should be a personal purchase. For one, it’s expensive. For two, there are so many factors into which seat is best for you that unless you are specifically listing a brand and model, you will likely not be satisfied with what you receive.
Stroller – Again, personal purchase for the same reasons as the car seat. And this has even more options to choose from and decide between than a car seat. Do you want it forward facing only or with the option to rear face the seat? Do you want three wheels or four? Jogging stroller or umbrella stroller? Do you want red, black or beige fabric colours? Do you need a big basket for when you cruise the mall in your ample spare time between diapers and breastfeeding and spit up? Do you want it to fold your laundry AND put it away or just fold it and leave it for your husband to put away *hahaha, get it? Husbands putting away laundry?* (My review on my most favourite stroller can be found here!)
Play yard – (When did these stop being called play pens?) Do you see your child sleeping over at Grandma’s a lot before they are two? Do you have a large house and need a bed for them on the main floor? Do you travel a lot with bubs in tow? We bought one, thinking it would be great for my in-laws place and for trips. It’s in our attic now after being used only a handful of times – most of which on our patio at the new place while we were doing renovations and we needed to keep him contained and/or he needed a nap. We never took it on a trip as we usually just co-slept instead of using valuable trunk space or having to lug it through the airport. I think it was used as a giant laundry basket for clean clothes for a while too (I knew I should have gone with the model of stroller that puts laundry away…)
Carrier – I was an avid babywearer. Partially because I loved the hands-free snuggles on a 15 minute walk around the neighborhood, partially because I loved that he wouldn’t scream bloody murder if he was snuggled close. My son was a carrier-baby until about 6 months. And even then, he wouldn’t last too long in the stroller. I use the carrier once a week or so now. But he’s getting too chunky to wear for long. I, personally, LOVED the Moby Wrap. It was great when he was little. However, as he got older (read : heavier) the Ergo was my preferred carrier.
High Chair – Once baby starts wanting to be more than a lump, these are useful. We used to put D in his before he even started solids so he could sit and watch us eat dinner (when I put it that way… it sounds kind of mean! But he liked to be part of the action and loved to sit with us, haha) Check out my review on my favourite (out of the four, yes, FOUR!) high chairs we have had in the past.
Nursery FurnitureCrib – We went and got one of those convertible cribs when I was 8 weeks pregnant. (We were excited, shut up) It was a great deal because Boxing Day sales were in full swing. Honestly, I wish we went with the cheap IKEA one. Sure, ours will go from crib (with two mattress levels) to toddler bed to daybed and then to double bed frame and supposedly be the only bed our son will ever need. But our son is so active that he would fall out of the toddler bed far too much, resulting in very limited sleeping and many wakeful nights kissing dented foreheads. With the IKEA beds, you don’t feel bad only using them for a year and a half and then being done with it and tossing it in the pile of “baby paraphernalia” taking residence in the garage that may never see the light of day again. (Or using them as a laundry basket….)Mattress – You will definitely need one of these if you are going to use a crib. Unless you want to start corporal punishment early on.
Glider/rocker – I wasn’t interested in buying one. It just seemed pointless. What’s wrong with the couch? I ended up getting one (brand new!) off Craigslist for cheap. And I am thankful for it. It made nursing so much easier and more comfortable. And it was great to sleep in for the first two months of late-night feeds. I became very good at sleeping sitting up with baby snuggled close.
Bassinet – We had one given to us from a co-worker of my MIL. It was convenient. I would wheel it around the house with me when I was feeling neurotic and couldn’t stand for my child to be out of sight for a whole 30 seconds it took me to go pee. But it was also great to have him sleep beside the bed so I could wake to his every snort, thinking he was choking on his own mucus again (we had a decent amount of that in the hospital after birth) and then not be able to sleep because I was paranoid. We used it until he was about 8 weeks and he had begun to roll consistently.
Changing Table – We just stuck a changing pad on top of a cabinet that was at a good height and called it a day. It worked and still works for us. You can get tables meant solely for this purpose but it will be sitting in the garage, next to the crib, once they outgrow it (read : learn to fling themselves off, mid-change)
Dresser – Unless you plan on using your playpen like we did, this is useful. We didn’t have a closet in D’s room in the apartment where he was born, but even if we did, I wouldn’t have hung up his clothes. Now that he’s 1.5y, sure. But before I was changing his shirts far too much that hanging just seemed like such a time and effort sink. Plus, it would be harder to do laundry when he was sleeping in bed. Folding meant everything could be ready to put away.
Bouncy Chair – My son never liked it much but it was great so I could bring him into the kitchen, put him by my feet and kick him (erm, lightly bounce his chair with my foot) as I made dinner.
Swing – Another purchase we thought we would skip. But we got a good deal on a used one from Jason’s work. Turned out it was D’s second favorite place to sleep (First favorite was my arms. While I bounced. And swung him. And patted him. At the same time. And I had to stand – because he would know the difference!)
Exersaucer – Not needed until they are 4-6 months old, but great once they can use them. We got D’s before he was born on a great sale and it was his Christmas gift at 4 months old. He didn’t really use it until 6 months, but loved it when he would go in it. He learned to bounce decently high in it and built up some strong legs! It helped him feel more part of the action than laying down to play.
Toys – Typical, I know, but we went overboard with the toys. We had more than needed. Just a few toys is all they really need at a young age. Crinkle toys, rattles, a small ball with holes for them to grip are great toys that can be used in various ways to promote development. A laser pointer is also fun once they start crawling.
Cloth diapers are quite popular nowadays. However, they are not for everyone. It’s a larger start-up cost (though cheaper in the long run) but you will need to either have a diaper service or a front loading washer. The top-loaders are not good for cleaning them thoroughly.Wipes – You will need tons of these. Especially for the first few poops… Those take a crap-ton (see what I did there?) of wipes to get the sticky stuff off. They are also great for when you get spit up on your face in public. Or find strawberry jam smeared on the crotch of your pants (oh yeah, that has happened! More than once.)
Diaper bag – Planning on leaving the house? A suitcase meant for a 30 day trip with three different seasons and types of weather will suffice. Or you can use a diaper bag. One with many pockets is good so you can pretend to be organized. And one with a diaper change “kit” is great – you can store diapers and wipes in the pad so that when you need to duck into the bathroom of a mall to deal with a poo-explosion, you have everything handy. Unless you husband used it last and didn’t refill it and you don’t have any diapers in the big part of the bag. You want it to be easy to clean. Those Coach bags that are the nice, fancy leather? Not so fancy when your bottle of milk spills all over.
Diaper cream – Great for when your son eats too many oranges on the same day as he eats too much pineapple. You’ll want to keep this handy at the change table and in the diaper bag for when their little butts get angry.
Diaper genie – We love ours. Until it’s overfull that the last diaper you thought you pushed all the way in, didn’t actually fit and left a tiny gap that has now set loose 6 days worth of poop smell into the house. That’s when I usually cram it down and hope that my husband gets the next diaper change and has to empty it. It’s a vicious cycle – sometimes it will go back and forth between us for a day before I finally cave. Then D and I talk about how he needs to start spending more time following daddy through the house when he poops. (We use Finders Keepers to determine diaper duty. Unless I’ve changed far too many. Then I declare that rule void.)
Tank tops – A bit of an odd thing to have on the list but for moms that want to nurse in public without showing too much skin, wear a tank top under a shirt. You can lift your top shirt up and your tank top down to expose only the nipple and not your stomach and breast. Old Navy’s Tamis were may favourite as they were super stretchy and soft. And had tons of colours to chose from.
Breast pump – Sorry ladies with an A cup, this isn’t the female version of a penis pump. If you are going to nurse and plan on being able to give Dad baby-feeding duties, you’ll want to invest. They can be quite pricey though. I wasn’t planning on pumping very often so I got a single electric pump. I know other people that got double pumps so that they could have regular date nights or so that the dad could do midnight feeds. And I know other people that used hospital grade double pumps so that they could pump for six months and then go back to work while having enough milk to continue their little one on breastmilk until a year. It all depends on your needs – but keep in mind that your plan could be totally different than what actually happens!
Bottles – These are piggy-banks for the liquid gold you produce. Depending on the brand of pump, they may fit right onto the pump. Or you can use an adapter if they aren’t compatible. If you’re going to freeze milk, do it in ice cube trays or milk baggies instead of the bottles.
Nipple cream – For the love of God, don’t forget this. I had terrible cracking and bleeding issues after nursing for at least 12 hours a day (That is NOT an exaggeration) and this was my lifesaver. Medela makes a great kind. I stuffed it into my nursing pillow cover and used it after each nursing when it was bothering me and once or twice a day if it wasn’t. I imagine all brands are safe for baby, but I would double check before you buy it.
Breast Pads – Otherwise people will wonder why you keep looking at your boobs (I would always check throughout the day if I had forgotten them because I would leak often) Also great for when D would decide to let out his “OMG I’m freaking dying of hunger” battle cry and the flood gates would open before I even picked him up to nurse him. And no, I am not talking about his tears.
Formula – Even if you plan on breastfeeding, it’s handy to have a can at home just in case. A lot of times you can register for samples from various brands and they will mail it to your doorstep. Or you can ask at your doctors for samples.
Dishes – Eventually you will want to start solids, right? May as well grab some essentials for it while you do a mass shopping spree. Plates, sippy cups, bowls, little baby spoons are all great to have for when you decide they are ready to start eating.
Baby towels – I would buy a thicker towel so when the inevitable pee-while-wrapped-in-only-a-towel happens, you can stay a bit dryer. Plus, it’s softer, cozier and warmer for baby.
Baby cloths – Need to wipe spit up milk off your shirt? Have to wipe poop from a flailing foot after a diaper change? These are perfect size. They are also great for wiping hands after meals when they start to learn to feed themselves.
Swaddle/receiving blankets – Keep those flailing limbs at bay. Wrap your child up tight so you don’t get punched during their fit of rage. Also helps keep baby feel safe and secure when sleeping.
Crib Bumpers – We went with breatheable ones so that when D smushed his cute little face into the wall of his crib, he would still be able to breathe. Plus, they are harder to use to climb out of bed as they are flimsy when stood on. They aren’t really “bumpers” to the point that when rolled into, they won’t pad his head from the bumps, but we never had any issues. Plus, the occasional *thud* let us know he was still alive and starting to stir.
Blankets – Good for tucking on baby in the stroller, car seat or for laying on when putting him down on the floor in the mall (don’t judge) It’s not recommended to use them on baby during naps and bedtimes as they can get tangled up.
Sleepsack – Good for if your baby doesn’t like being swaddled like a burrito but still needing warmth at night. Also great for potato sack races.
Pants (4-6) – They are good to have. Or so I’ve heard. My son was without whenever we were at home while he was a baby. We did use them when we went out though. Sometimes.
Shirts (0-6) – I wrote zero because we never used actual shirts on D until was 6 months or so. We always used onesies. They don’t pull up when holding baby and they don’t get in the way. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with shirts until they are older. Onesies are the way to go.
Socks (5-10) – You know how annoying it is to lose your socks in the wash? Imagine how many you will lose in the wash when they are the size of your thumb. I used to put them in a mesh laundry bag to wash. Even then, some would escape and the washer and dryer monsters would get their feast. Also, you’ll lose some from baby pulling them off or kicking them off while on a walk.
Shoes – Okay, not needed since your infant won’t be walking anytime soon but who can resist?!
Hats – Weather appropriate. Don’t stick a toque on during the summer etc. Common sense stuff, you know?
Winter wear – If needed. A one-piece snow suit / bunting outfit is great, especially if you babywear. I never got the stroller/car seat blanket bags as I found that a blanket on them was more convenient and faster. Also then you can use lighter weight blankets or heavier, thicker blankets when needed and not have to remove straps and attachments. Gloves are good too.
White noise machine – So flipping awesome if your baby needs a constant noise to help him stay asleep. I bought one when my son was 15 months and really really really really wish I bought it sooner. And the day this one dies, is the day I go buy a new one. It’s helped so much.
Baby monitor – Even if you are in a small two bedroom condo, it’s still handy. We went with the one that has a pad to go under the baby and tells you if they stop breathing (or escape, when they are older) but even just a sound monitor would be beneficial. You can take it into the shower so you can hear baby as they wake up the same second you step foot under the water (seriously, it’s almost like they have one strapped to us and use it to wake at the worst possible moments!) There’s also video ones, which I think would be awful for my sleep since I would constantly be checking on him.
Wipe warmer – This is common on a lot of registries that I’ve seen from friends and online strangers. Personally, I don’t think it’s needed. Or really wanted. I’m only including it on my list because I have been asked my opinion on it a few times and thought I’d give it here as well. I used to just bunch up a wipe in my hand and warm it up while I undid the clothes and diapers before wiping. I can see the desire for one, but it’s for a split second and they are likely going to be mad about the diaper change anyway so a warmed wipe isn’t going to make them suddenly smile and coo with enjoyment.
Gates/Pens – We loved our sons jail. It helped to keep him and his toys contained. Also kept the dog at a safe distance when she got too rambunctious or when I had to leave the room for a moment or two. You’ll want to figure out where you want your child to be allowed to go and where you want him to stay out of to figure out baby gates. Remember, top of the stairs need a wall mounted gate to prevent your super-baby from pushing the gate over and surfing down the stairs on it (though that does sound quite fun!) Gates that swing away, rather than having to be pressure mounted each time, are excellent for in high traffic doorways. Hands free ones are good but not necessary.
Plug covers – Important if you don’t want your child to look like Albert Einstein.
Cord mounts – We used these recently in his bedroom so that he can be in there unattended (read : neglected) and not have to worry about strangulation.
Drawer and cupboard latches – These protect the things in your cupboards from getting dumped out and thrown around the house. Bonus : Little fingers can’t get slammed in the drawers.
Furniture mount – Keeps your child well-rounded and not flattened by a falling cabinet. While it seems unlikely your child can pull a big, heavy dresser over onto themselves, think of how stable that dresser is with all it’s drawers open with a 35lbs toddler dancing while standing on the top drawer.
Bubble wrap – Just be sure to leave room around the mouth and nose as to avoid suffocation.
Did you have any items from babyhood that you found useful and aren’t on the list?
Any particular brands you do or don’t like?