What to Put On a Baby Registry

by Ryan Guina

Hi folks! I’m Ryan’s wife, and I’ve been asked by my wonderful husband to write a post about the dizzying world of baby registries. Why? Because Ryan is smart enough to avoid things that make one dizzy. So in exchange for researching the baby registry, and I was bribed with a massage. (OK, maybe not that last one, but it wouldn’t hurt!)

How to make a baby registry

Research is key when planning a list of needs/wants for your baby. Baby products are a huge business, and sometimes it’s hard to distinguish between the necessary and more frivolous items. My mission was to determine what is necessary and to find quality products.

I read reviews of baby items from Babies R Us, Target, and Wal-Mart. I read online parenting and mommy forums. I also devoured the book, Baby Bargains. (Thank you, Mom, for giving this to me on my birthday! It’s been an enormous help!)

I quickly discarded the Babies’ R Us suggested registry list… Actually I laughed at it. Half the items are a waste of money, in my opinion. (But yes, it’s fun looking at the pictures of those beautifully coordinated nurseries!)

I concluded that what a baby needs is: a place to sleep, a means of transportation, food, hygiene, temperature control, a sense of security, and lots of love. I planned our baby registry list with these in mind.

pack-n-playFor sleeping I listed a Play Yard, fitted sheets, and a protective mattress pad. That’s it! No crib. No coordinating wall boarders, lamps, and curtains. Nothing that shakes, rattles, rolls, or plays the 1812 Overture. Just your basic Pack ‘N Play to start with. We can put it right by our bed, take it downstairs, haul it to Grandma and Grandpa’s, and give this baby a comfortable place to sleep while saving loads of money and space in the house! When our baby gets a little older we will reevaluate her needs and buy a bed that fits her.

Next up: means of transportation. A car seat is non-negotiable. In fact, most hospitals won’t discharge you until you bring in the car seat and put baby in it! graco-snugride-32Hubby and I took a hands-on approach with this item. We spent an entire afternoon looking at car seats, travel system strollers, lightweight strollers, and stroller frames. We finally narrowed our choice down to an infant car seat and stroller frame. The cost ended up being less expensive, and the stroller frame was lighter… which makes lugging it around much easier for me! When baby is able to sit up, we’ll look into lightweight strollers.

Food: Here’s where we can save a substantial amount of money! The food will be free because I will be providing it from the confines of my body. (Apologies if this is as far as you can read.) I also listed a manual breast pump, several bottles, and milk storage bags for those days when attaching baby to the confines of my body just wouldn’t be convenient.

baby-bathtubBathing. If you’re still with me, hoorah! I applaud you. Let’s move on to the next necessary item: hygiene. We’ll need warm water, a gentle baby wash, a basic, no-frills, baby bathtub, soft washcloths, and a hooded towel. A baby brush would be good too, especially for styling that baby curl coif.

Hey, did you know there are baby bathtubs – excuse me – SPAs on the market? It’s true. These tiny tubs have jets and shower heads and probably aromatherapy and mood lighting. Shoot! I’m putting one on the registry just for myself!

Diapers, etc. We’ll also need diapers, diaper wipes, a pad on which to change baby, a diaper pail, and perhaps some A&D ointment. We’re considering cloth diapers, but that’s another post altogether…

Temperature control – How do we keep baby at an ideal temperature? Clothing, blankets, and the thermostat. I listed Onesies (actually, the technical term is “bodysuits”), sleepers, receiving blankets, a couple of hats, a few cotton t-shirts, and baby booties for the hands to prevent baby from scratching off her face! (Baby mittens just fall off the moment you put them on.)

We’ve already received several baby outfits as gifts, and I imagine we will continue to receive more. So, I think we’ll have this area covered. If we need more, I know of a great consignment shop close to home that has good quality baby clothes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Security and love. OK, so you can’t really buy the last items, sense of security and love. Hubby and I have to provide these by being attentive, patient, and loving parents who hold, cuddle, talk to, and care for our baby. Is this not the most important?

So that’s our baby registry! Well, not quite… some other items I listed were: thermometer, baby monitor, bouncer, sturdy diaper bag, Boppy, and a baby wrap (I hear those Moby wraps are fantastic!).

And now that’s it. I bet you can think of other items to add to my list… maybe even items you would delete, but this is what works for us. Sure, there are other items we will need in the future, but I figure we can always add to our baby stuff as we learn and grow as parents. It’s all a learning experience.

My brain is burning from all this thinking. I believe it’s time for my massage now!

Ryan says: Thanks for writing this article, Love!

For those of you keeping track at home, here is a rough outline of what our baby registry looks like. You may find that your situation calls for additional or fewer items; we prefer to start small and add as we go. We linked to some of the items we chose on our registry, mostly based on recommendations from Baby Bargains and personal preference.

  • Baby Bargains (not actually on the registry, but this helped us better understand our needs and is full of great reviews and important information. I HIGHLY recommend this book!).
  • Pack ‘N Play and accessories (fitted sheets, mattress pad).
  • Infant car seat (we will need to get a larger car seat when the baby outgrows this one).
  • Stroller frame (we will get another stroller when our baby outgrows the infant car seat).
  • Manual breast pump, baby bottles, and milk storage bags.
  • Baby bathtub, soft washcloths, and a hooded towel.
  • Diapers, diaper wipes, changing pad, diaper pail, ointment, etc.
  • Clothing – Onesies, sleepers, receiving blankets, hats, cotton t-shirts, and baby booties
  • Blankets, burping rags.
  • Thermometer.
  • Baby monitors.
  • Bouncer
  • Diaper bags (2 – one large to cover most situations, one small for convenience. Both unisex in appearance).
  • Boppy
  • Baby wrap or carrier (We like Moby wraps or an Ergo baby carrier).

Do you have anything to add to our list?

Published or updated March 1, 2011.
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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Oh baby stuff! You guys are going to drown in a sea of baby stuff! Then it will be toys– a sea of toys . . . those were the days. I remember them well.



2 Four Pillars

Finally a well-written article on this blog! 🙂 (Just kidding Ryan).

Great article – I really like your “less is more” approach. A lot of expecting parents think they have to have a whole pile of baby stuff before the baby arrives when in actual fact you need very little in the beginning.

I wouldn’t worry about the baby brush – he/she might come out with hair or the hair might not show up for a year or 2.

Interesting choice of stroller – it should work pretty well. It’s hard to find the perfect stroller – it’s easier to have several strollers for different purposes. We have an umbrella stroller we keep in the car – a big one (single) for walks in the neighborhood and a double jogging stroller which I roller blade with. We might get another double stroller as the jogging one is too wide for some uses.

I’d be interested to hear how the pack and play works out for sleeping. The ones we have are smaller than a crib and the fact that it is very low can mean it’s harder to get the kid out of.


3 Kristen

Good post! As we prepare for our little one, I’ve been quizzing all of my friends with new babies and asking what baby items they got/bought that they couldn’t live without and what items were a total waste of money.

One item that everyone loves that surprised me is a pillow called a “Boppy.” It sort of looks like a half inner tube, and you tuck it around the front of your waist when you hold or feed the baby. I’ve tested it out with my friend’s new baby. It’s amazing how much easier it makes it to hold a baby for an extended amount of time. It allows you to rest your arms and/or the baby, while still keeping the baby in a good position. Babies can get surprisingly heavy for as small as they are!


4 Kacie

Sounds great! One thing to ask on your hospital tour is what freebies you’ll get. My hospital gave us a thermometer, so that was one less thing we needed to get ourselves.

We opted for an all-in-one carseat (First Year’s Trufit) and it worked for my baby from 5 lbs. 11 oz. to 15 lbs. now to much more. We don’t have a stroller yet but I’m hoping to get an umbrella-type stroller in the next few weeks.

Best wishes!


5 Dan

Greetings, Ryan’s wife.

As one who has sired descendants, I’m going to toss in my two cents which you may follow or ignore:

– The Pack ‘N Play is wonderfully convenient, however I wouldn’t rely on that as the every-night sleeping location for the child when he/she is a little older. The mattress pads are no more than an inch thick and I would imagine they’re much less comfortable than a standard crib w/ infant mattress. I would also worry about the long-term effects on the child’s back after sleeping on such a surface every single night. Also, at some point the baby will be too big for the Pack but not quite ready yet for a bed.

– The travel system stroller eliminates the need for a separate light-weight stroller. Also, many of them allow the child to lay down and sleep. If you want something smaller in addition, umbrella strollers come very cheap.

– Breast pump – I would spend the money and go for the electric pump. With a manual pump, that’s a lotta squeezing your hands will be doing.

– Diapers – If you go with cloth, I guarantee at some point you both will say “screw it” and buy disposables…

– I agree with the above post about the Boppy – a fantastic invention that saves your back. Good for dads too. Works much better than just a pillow.

There’s a lot of baby junk that you don’t actually need, so it’s great to see you’re sifting through it all. Good luck and have fun!


6 Jeff Rose

Well, here I go attempting to comment on some baby stuff.

I have to agree on Dan on a few items: Pack N Play and the breast pump. Yes, I know. I’m getting ready to comment on the breast pump.

The Pack N Play is great for travel and maybe the occasional nap in the living room, but that’s really about it. We ended up buying one of those convertible beds that starts as a crib and will eventually become a small bed. It’s worked great the whole way with our son approaching two.

My wife will definitely verify the electric pump. For time’s sake, she actually wishes we would have bought the double pump. Any time you can be more efficient and save time, you’ll want to take full advantage. This is one of those opportunities.

I would also encourage to spend the extra money and get a video monitor. That has saved us so many times of having to get up in the middle of the night because of hearing a noise from the crib (and yes there will be plenty of noises). By just looking at the monitor, we can see if he’s just moving around, or if he really needs our attention. If I could buy any new parent one thing, it would be the video monitor.

Good luck!


7 PT Money

Good choices, Ryan. We’ve heavily used our pack n play, bathtub, and carseat/stroller combo. One other thing we’ve found very useful was our swing.

Buy some extra diapers and stash them where only you know about them. That way when you run out you can save the day with your extras.

Go electric breast pump. And check out diaperdude.com for a nice bag for you.


8 Dan


Good call on the double pump. You want the dairy factory operating at maximum capacity.
Also not a bad idea on the video monitor. At the very least, get the radio monitor.


9 Kristy @ Master Your Card

Ha! This was a cute article, in terms of style. Ryan, you should definitely have your wife guest blog more often!

I really enjoyed the less is more approach you guys have. When I was born my mom said they went all out, with a ton of stuff they never even used – not even when they had my sister. My mom has always told us, if we have kids, keep it simple. And first time parents are notorious for going overboard on the baby stuff, so it’s interesting to see first-time frugal parents. I think your list is adequate, though I agree with other comments on an electric pump. My sister went the manual route and cursed herself for it everyday.

Best of luck to you guys!


10 Ryan

Thanks for the comments everyone. My wife and I are both learning a lot, so we may have to rethink a few items on the list. 🙂


11 FFB

The Boppy is great! Helps in feeding so much! My wife also loves her electric breast pump (kind of a tough thing for a dude to say).

The What to Expect When Expecting books are great. You might want to look into the first year book.

It always helps to have extra diaper bags. We’ve gone through a few already of varying sizes (all were gifts fortunately). You have to find your rhythm with the bag as to how much you need to carry versus it’s size. A big and small is good.


12 Tom

I am glad you posted this because last weekend, my girlfriend and I had to go to our local big box department store to buy a few things off of her coworker’s registry for her upcoming baby shower. I wish they had read this.

I should preface by saying that Father of baby is the type who would describe himself as a “geek.” He’s the type who grew up with that 1970/1980s brand of sci-fi that so many 30-something men like him have a undying love for. I have no problem with that. It’s his thing. How he spends his time and money is of no concern to me.

But I was shocked to find, among the 4 pages of perfectly acceptable baby shower gifts, items such as “Battlestar Galacta, Season 2 DVD,” “Wolverine Claw gloves,” and a host of toys and DVDs that the kid wouldn’t be old enough to play with or enjoy until he was at least 6 years old. These items were obviously on there for the father to place in his rec room or take in to his office and keep on his desk. I was

If you get off on sci-fi, and playing with/collecting things that are marketed toward children is your thing, that’s fine. But don’t use your new baby to try and get your friends to finance your fetish.

Sorry for the rant. It’s been bugging me for a week. And I felt like this was an adequate forum to finally put my frustration in to words.


13 Ron@TheWisdomJournal

Don’t forget the U-Haul trailer to haul all this stuff around! (jk)
Babies do seem to need a lot of stuff, but trust me, you’ll be glad you have it.

Hope you get a pack or two of cloth diapers. They’re great for burping the little ones and after that stage is over, they make fabulous polishing clothes for your car!


14 P

I have a 2 month old baby and another toddler, so I am speaking from experience;

1.Get electric medela advanced pump (it costs a lot, but will be so useful) I am SAHM and it is very useful for me getting extra zz’s.
2. Boppy pillow
3. Newborn diapers and wipes, Petrolium jelly, and A&D ointment for diaper rash
(don’t buy a lot of diapers as every baby grows up fast, you will be left with extra)
4. carseat travel system, there are great onefor $150 or get used (under 4 years)
5. basic infant bath tub and baby shampoo
6. 4 towels with hoodies, wash clothes, burp clothes, cloth diapers (one size fit all)
7. recieving blankets, one thick blankets
8. infant needs lot of clothes, so get onecies, pants, socks, pajamas with leg covering. do not bother getting hand gloves.
9. get basic medical things, babiesrus has a pack, for saline drop, syringe-thingi, nail cutter, comb, mylocon drops for gas, or gripe water, infant tylonol. etc.
10. window shade to cover baby from sun in the car or use towel
11. diaper changing pad and atleast 2 covers. no need to buy diaper changing table or crib.
12. hats
13. breastfeeding and baby book by dr sears, for frugal of us check out askdrsears.com and kellymom.com for free resources.
14. sling are infant carrie, it will be so helpful.
15. white noise or similar type cds
16. glider to breastfeed or put baby to sleep.
17. night lamps so you can change baby, see him/her breathing without waking him/her up.
18. lot of help with groceries, food drop off, baby watching so you can nap gift could be more meaningful for baby shower gift.

most of all enjoy and relax, it is hard work but it is so rewarding. Pardom my type-errors as I am typing with my 8 weeks old while feeding him. congrates.



15 Kerri

Hey Guys, I like your list. Simple and to the point. No extraneous items. Good heads in that household.
I would agree on the electric pump too. Having gone the manual route, it can be QUITE time consuming! You want to spend as much time as you can with my granddaughter! Not that I think that will be a problem. 😉
As for the baby brush, if she’s like the est of the family, don’t expect too much hair. The less hair, the easier to keep the head clean. But I hope she has curls!
Ryan, with you and your brothers and sister, I found a swing a wonderful addition to what you have listed. They now have them that are infant friendly, and at times they just want that motion and Mom and Dad aren’t always smooth and consistent enough. (and sometimes get tired)
Love to both of you,


16 Kerri

Oh, yeah, I forgot. Even if you go the cloth diaper route ( as I did with you) you will still want disposables for when you travel. Trust me on this, so much easier. When the little one is older and ready to start eating “real “food, a baby food grinder is great. She can eat whatever you eat.


17 Birdie

Terrific Article! We loved Baby Bargains 7 years ago and still love it!

Re: the A&D Ointment, I personally prefer Desitin and, if that doesn’t work, Butt Paste. Not sure if either is cheaper but both work WONDERFULLY! 🙂



18 Casper

I have just one thing to ad to the list, which saved my life almost four years ago, when my daughter was born and probably will again when my son arrives next month. For Dad and Mom: If you do not own a set then: Cordless Headphones!
If, and God forbid, the little treasure is gonna a cry alot, at all hour of the day and night, it will really make it easier when you can walk around and listen to some music instead. It will calm you down. A calm parent has much greater success calming down a baby;)


19 Dawn

I have two girls, ages 5 and 18 months, so I think I have legitimate comments on your list.

Sleeping – I’m not sure a pack and play will go the distance. If you don’t want to buy a crib and you don’t want the baby to sleep with you, you could try one of those co-sleeper things that attaches to the bed, or a bassinet or cradle. Then, you could use the pack and play for downstairs, travel, etc.

Car Seat & Stroller – I can’t say enough that car seats and strollers are not where you want to save money. I think you’ll be fine with the infant seat/stroller frame for a few months. When your baby outgrows the infant seat, consider the Britax car seats. They are expensive, but worth the money, in my opinion. Car seats are all about safety. As far as strollers go, my lightweight umbrella stroller is a Maclaren Triumph, and I love it. It cost around $120, I think, but I’ve had it for 4 years and it is still in great condition (including multiple airplane and taxi rides).

Food – Breastfeeding is great. I’m happy that I was able to do it with both my girls, but it isn’t always easy to get started. I recommend that you get a book and take a class, if one is available to you. The Dr. Sears Baby and Breastfeeding books are good; check out http://www.kellymom.com for great info about breastfeeding. I strongly recommend that you get a boppy. They’re super useful. When you start solid foods (we started at 6 months), you can make some of your own baby food if you want to, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t. Easy foods to prepare for babies include bananas, squash, peaches, plums, etc. Other things are way easier to buy!
Bathing – if you have a large enough kitchen sink, I actually find that much easier than the baby bathtubs, at least at first. Newborns only get sponge baths anyway, and I hate those plastic bathtubs. We do have a blow up duck bathtub that was useful; I think I got it at Target for $10. A few hooded towels and washclothes are a necessity, as is a comb, if your baby has hair.

Diapering/hygiene – Diapers and wipes for sure. A changing pad is optional – I tended to use the bed, sofa, floor, etc. more than the pad. I use Balmex diaper cream regularly and Triple Paste for diaper rash. My kids have sensitive skin, so the cream is a must. If you’re breastfeeding exclusively, you don’t need a diaper pail at first (I have the Diaper Dekor and like it much better than the Diaper Genie, which is what I had with my older daughter), but they are convenient. I use disposable diapers, so I can’t comment on the cloth option.

Clothing – for infants, depending on when your baby is due, I think onesies and sleepers are ideal for the first few months – I just don’t really see the point of dressing babies up on a daily basis when they are so much more comfortable in a onesie and sleeper. I generally think onesies are an absolute necessity until you start potty training (I hate it when kids try to remove their own diapers!). For the first couple weeks, you need a few of those wrap undershirts, because onesies don’t work until after the umbilical cord falls off. Consignment shops and Ebay are great resources for baby clothes. Receiving blankets are good to have, and I think you should definitely get a couple packages of prefolded cloth diapers – they are incredibly useful.

Good luck.


20 Mama Bird

I found your blog via Baker’s blog and thought I’d check out this post. Now, I can’t help but add my 2 cents. 😉

Neither of my boys would sleep in their pack n play as an infant…so you might want to have some money saved in case you need to buy something else if that doesn’t work. My older son would sleep in a Snuggle Nest, but the younger one only wanted to sleep next to me in the bed (co-sleeping). I have friends though that their kids would only sleep in their crib, so it just depends.

I would not survive without my Boppy, especially at night when I just too tired to hold my baby for eating. It’s a lifesaver. You can always find these at consignment sales.

I also second (or third) Britax carseats and the Marclaren Triumph. I LOVE this stroller. I’ve had mine for over 2 1/2 years and it’s still going strong. And when people add as a feature, “can steer with one hand”, this really is a feature that you will become acutely happy to have.

Neither of my boys liked the swing…so I would advice going used to borrow one to test out first, if you can.

Thermometer – get a good rectal one. They are the most accurate and the doctor always ask for the rectal temp anyway. We got a highly recommended ear one with this last baby and it’s a pain to get an accurate reading (and I’m still never sure).

And yes, even if you use cloth (I have been for 3 1/2 yrs) you will still used disposables some of the time.

So, those are just a few of my recommendations. Of course you will get a TON of advice from all directions and really you just need to try things out. Some things will work for you and some won’t. Everyone is different. Good luck!


21 Ryan

Mama Bird: Thanks for sharing your tips! The Pack ‘N Play will surely be a short term solution, I can’t imagine we will use it indefinitely. We have money set aside for whatever we find we need in the first few months!

My wife also had a Boppy on her list, but I guess it slipped her mind when she wrote this article. I have since added it because it has been mentioned by several commenters!

We are thinking about using cloth diapers, but we know we will use plenty of disposables as well – basically any time we are away from home and possibly at night. We’re trying to keep an open mind with this topic.


22 Lindsie

We got the 3 in 1 convertible crib that grows with the child, I think it is a great investment.

Also borrow borrow borrow! I am so glad we borrowed a swing instead of buying because my daughter hated it.

I also agree on checking with the hospitals on freebies. Our hospital gave us a small diaper bag filled with information pages and such, it was the perfect size diaper bag for trips that would only be a few hours.

We registered for blankets and ended up returning them to the store because we literally recieved 20 handmade from all of those well meaning grandmas!

Best of luck to you!


23 Angelia

Loved the article. I have a 7 month old and a 5 year old. You’ve gotten some awesome feedback. I agree with most of it. Here’s my 2 Cents:

I would deffiantly have money for a crib. Both of my kids hated the bassinet and playpen, but slept great in their own bed. Buy one that holds a toddler mattress to make it last longer.

Skip the hand mittens and use socks. They stay on better and serve two purposes.

Electric Pump – I started with the manual, but it takes so much time that’s it’s just not worth the effort. Especially if the child wakes up in the middle of pumping. Your nerves just won’t last long enough to finish pumping.

Thermometer- I use the one that scans across the forehead. I have had it for 5 years and love it. Most of your hospitals are changing to it. My son has only had his temp taken with this type.

Borrow, borrow, borrow…..babies are picky…it’s so much better to test and find out before you spend lots of money. Yard sales, second hand stores, consignment stores, and internet are great resources…kids grow so quick that used clothes are just like new because most kids don’t stay in them that long.

Butt cream-it’s the zinc that counts….but feel it what made me choose A&D (unless they have sensitive skin) it’s much creamier.

Mendela nursing pads-they are the thickest ones I have found and they are machine washable. Saves a lot of money. My friend said she used wash clothes in her day and age, but I just couldn’t see myself doing that.

REGISTER with everyone who does a baby registry or makes a baby product -most of them you can do online. All of them send free stuff, even if it’s just coupons. Including the formula sites because they partner with other baby products. (You can always donate the formula.) Huggies and Pampers both send free samples as well as coupons. The hospital should send you home with around a pack, so if you register for diapers start with Ones (not newborns). Freebies are great to see if you like a product, but they also work really well for trips. Just the right size.

Best of luck.


24 Ryan

Angelia: Thanks for the tips! We have the money set aside for a crib/bed, and anything else we might need. To start with we plan on going as light as possible, then adding as needed. We also have plans to hit up yard sales this summer to see what we can find. I hope we can get some nice clothes because it’s amazing how quickly babies outgrow them!


25 Hito

This is super helpful, so much so that it is now on my favorites list. I’m only four months pregnant, and the amount of random advice people feel the need to pour into you because overwhelming, if not slightly drowning. The pack and play is a great idea, they now make playards I think its called, where its basically a moses bed that connects at the top of a pack and play. Some of them also have changing tables as well built in, so you can just pop that thing in the trunk and be good. It looked like you could use them when they get older as a pack and play, but I haven’t gotten close enough to see them yet. (saw it on babies r us this morning) My friend actually swore by her “Moo Moo Cover”. Its a nursing blanket that’s actually made well. Instead of tossing the blanket up over your shoulder and hoping nothing shows, it’s been designed more like an apron.
It might be more than what you need, and to be honest you could probably make something just as practical at home if you had the know how, but it’s one of the few splurges I am truly considering.
Also, the swing. Everyone I have ever talked to has pushed the swing above all else. I went to a shower once and one of the girls said “I know you didn’t register for this, but trust me, you are going to want this swing in a few months.” The last few times I’ve been at my friends house, her daughter is happily sleeping in the swing. It’s apparently a life saver!
Thanks again for putting together these amazing tips and hints! Now I just have to figure out when I’m SUPPOSED to reigster and I’ll be set!


26 Ryan

I’m glad you liked the article, I will be sure to tell my wife! 🙂

Be sure to check out this article as well: Cloth Diapers vs. Disposable Diapers.


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