Figuring out what products work best for you and your family before you register is no easy feat. The learning curve of all things parental is steep, and trial and error quickly adds up to wasted dollars and lots of baby junk taking over your living space.
So what’s a parent to do?
Google is most definitely your friend here – and enough cannot be said about the customer review section of a product website – but don’t forget the people you know in real life. There are moms and dads who’ve gone down in the parenting trenches before you who would LOVE to share their experiences. Poll your Facebook friends and talk to the mommas in your playgroup. Stop a stranger who’s pushing the stroller you had your eye on to see if they’re happy with their purchase. You’re likely to get way more information than you asked for from a comrade-in-arms, and who knows? Maybe even a friend.
Since you’re here, I’d love to throw my two cents into your growing pool of baby registry information.
Some of my inspiration for this list comes from the fact that between babies one and two, we moved from a large house to a small one, and therefore our baby things needed a little weeding. I’ve also given consideration to the things that we’ve had for all three babies we could not have done without. Portability and storage are big selling factors for me – but functionality still reigns supreme.
Aside from the basics that everyone registers for (a high chair, car seat, pack n play, crib . . . you get the idea), these are 12 things I think every parent needs on their baby registry…
 Portable Bassinet
I was once a firm believer that bassinets are a waste of money because babies only use them a couple months. They are not! Babies actually sleep better when they are in a smaller space, and realistically if baby’s living in your room, you only have so much floor space to share.
This was the only “crib” that fit in our room when we moved into our smaller home, and it has a tad longer shelf life because the bassinet function drops to the base like a pack-n-play (bonus points for easy portability). Ours was shared to no less than four other families, sleeping seven different kiddos including our own. At less than $100 this was money seriously well spent.
 Transitional Baby Bath
Everybody gets at least one of those blue baby bath tubs that fit over the kitchen sink for when baby is a floppy mess in the bath – but they only last so long. Babies quickly get bigger and more difficult to maneuver in said position over the kitchen sink, but can also have a really hard time transitioning to the enormity of your home bath tub.
With three kids we’ve used several transitional pieces – some of which are no longer considered safe to use – but have settled on the really simple, really inexpensive inflatable tub inside the bathtub. I’m sure I have made fun of these before, but they work. So much so that baby number three is STILL using this piece at almost two years old.
 Folding Bouncer
All three of my kids lived in their bouncer until they became mobile, but the one we registered for was a little clunky and not easy to transport for playdates or visits to grandma’s house. My sister-in-law gave us their folding/portable bouncer when our oldest was six months old and it quickly became our favorite.
Not only does it have vibration and music features like every other bouncer on the market, it folds up SO EASILY and can be tossed into the travel bag for quick transport. This was a huge space saver for us as well because when baby went to bed for the night, we often folded it up to get it out of the way. Baby stuff takes up a ton of space – it was so nice to be able to reclaim just a little bit back every evening.
 Double Breast Pump
When it comes down to breast pumps the two brands you’ll likely have to decide between are Medela and Ameda. I’ve used both, and while there is not much difference between the day-to-day functionality of each, there IS a difference in cost. For this reason, and because it is also completely compatible with Medela parts, I lean toward Ameda.
Before you even think of putting a breast pump on your registry, check with your health insurance carrier to see if they cover the cost as part of your regular health coverage. If they do, end of story, mark it off your list, move on to the next registry item.
If your insurance carrier DOES NOT cover the cost of a breast pump I would strongly suggest borrowing or renting a pump before opening the one I’ll recommend you register for. It is so important that you make sure you CAN express milk this way, and that you REALLY WANT to express milk this way.
I did not register for a breast pump because I thought it was too pricey to put on my list. With my first child I tried to get away with a single pump (much cheaper) to compliment nursing exclusively and it just did not last. I got a double (through insurance) with my second child and pumped exclusively for 8 months (no nursing, no formula). I got another double (through insurance) with my third and pumped exclusively for 6 months. While I had to get two different double pumps because I used them so extensively, I’ve had several friends use their double pumps to supplement feeding for multiple babies.
Again, breast pumps are a pricey registry item, and one that may need to be replaced with extensive use, but it is one that pays off if this is how you want to feed your baby. Formula isn’t cheap either so it really comes down to what you CAN do and what you WANT to do.
If you’re sure this is your jam then I wholeheartedly recommend the following:
See Ameda Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump and all corresponding accessories
Inevitably baby will start teething and chewing on the beautifully expensive crib (that someday is supposed to be a double bed). Oh to keep it looking nice forever (groan, cry, extremely sad face). Wait you can! Gummy Crib Rail is a quick, inexpensive fix to protect the wood of your crib from baby’s gnawing gums.
 A good Humidifier
We went through several fancy humidifiers that leaked and made noise and needed crazy filters (uggggh) until my girlfriend told me to just go buy one from Walgreens. Who knew?
We’ve been really happy with the cool mist humidifier they sell. It’s quiet, doesn’t make a mess on the floor, and the nightlight is a nice touch. Unfortunately it’s not available online. You’ll have to go old school and pick one up at your local store.
 Playard Mattress
Pack-n-Play’s are great as far as playing is concerned, but they are not so comfortable when it comes to sleeping (and my kids have done lots of sleeping in Pack-n-Play’s!).
Like the portable bassinet this is another one of those must-have baby products – we have loaned ours out to two other families in addition to using it with two of our three kids – and well worth the $30 investment. Make sure to grab the specially fitted mattress pads and sheets. SO WORTH IT!
 Potty Seats
It’s hard to think potty training while you’re gestating but (1) TIME FLIES when you’re having fun and (2) EVERYBODY eventually learns to use the toilet. Potty training is seriously much closer than you think.
You’ll need something for at home, and also on the go, so register for both. We are HUGE FANS of the PRIMO Folding Potty Seat with handles which fits very nicely over any public toilet, keeping all the nasty things you know are hiding there away from little bodies. For home we’ve nixed all the cutesy little potty seats and gone with the way more practical regular toilet seat with built-in child potty training seat by Mayfair. The child’s seat is magnetized to the toilet lid so unless you’re actually in the process of potty training – you won’t even know it’s there. You’re welcome.
 Swaddling Blankets
I got a RIDICULOUS number of blankets for my baby shower (and for every child thereafter) and I have only LOVED one type. These blankets are the absolute BEST blankets for swaddling. They are extremely breathable, stretch to accommodate tight tucks, and are large enough to grow with your baby. We swaddled our third until he was a YEAR OLD in these. Do not waste your time or money with anything else.
 Lots of Sleep Sacks in lots of sizes
I registered for all the adorable crib bedding only to find out you’re not supposed to USE any of it with the baby for fear of suffocation. As soon as your baby is done with swaddling all you need is a sleep sack. Get at least two in each size (so you can handle nighttime accidents), in neutral colors (so you can use for both genders), and varying thicknesses (they have fleecy kinds and thin cotton kinds). All three of mine have slept soundly in Sleep Sacks until 2-3 years old.
 Forehead Thermometer
I couldn’t tell you what a doctor thinks about these thermometers (our pediatric nurse isn’t a huge fan), but when your baby or growing child is sick and uncomfortable, and you need a quick read of their temp, a forehead scanner really does the trick. I have attempted using any number of thermometers under the arm or in the rear end and it’s just not fun for ANYONE involved. Bonus points for being able to scan a temp without waking them up. (NOTE When reporting any temp to your pediatrician it’s important to mention how it was taken.)
 Nasal Aspirator
The hospital is going to give you a nasal aspirator (to get the boogies out of your little one’s nose) and it will work well. Doing the job any good nasal aspirator should. BUT…
Eventually you will start to wonder where all those boogies go, and just how gross it might be looking inside that enormous blue bulb, and how in the world you will ever make it clean again. But you cannot live without a nasal aspirator! I promise when it is within your power to help your child sleep YOU WILL DO WHATEVER MUST BE DONE. Even suck the snot out yourself (yes I am aware of how gross this is – but trust me on this one ok?).
Get the NoseFrida. It’s clear so you know what’s going on inside. It can be cleaned in the dishwasher. And that blue little filter will keep the boogies out of your mouth. I promise!
What about you?
What would you have added to your registry now that you’ve got your mom-groove on? Sound off in the comments below!
This post contains affiliate links. When an affiliate link is clicked, and as a result an item is purchased, I may receive a commission on the sale. You will never pay more for the product via an affiliate link on my site, rather the commission comes out of the regular retail price set by the manufacturer and/or distributor. Additional questions? Read my disclosure page.