The Baby Registry Checklist For All Your Must-Haves

Parents-to-be can find everything they need for their baby registry on this handy checklist.

Congratulations — you’re having a baby! Whether it’s your first rodeo with pregnancy or it’s just been a while since you had your last baby, the news can be exhilarating. After a few months, once the novelty starts to wear off and you get around to thinking about a baby registry, you'll likely have a "holy crap" moment. As it turns out, babies require many essential items (see our list of cute, safe baby cribs here) — and the bottom line adds up quickly when you start to add items to your baby registry.

If you’re lucky enough to have someone throw you a baby shower, tackling that baby registry might not seem quite as daunting (take a breath because all of that money won’t be coming directly out of your own bank account). But as soon-to-be parents start wading through endless baby items, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all the options that arise when completing the baby registry. Is a wipes warmer really necessary? What type of bedding is safe for a baby? Should I really include a bassinet and a crib? From baby clothing to car seats to cribs, bottle warmers, pacifiers, and more, it can be difficult to differentiate between nice-to-haves and must-haves for a baby registry.

Luckily, this been-there-done-that mom of three — four in just a couple of months — has figured a lot of this out the hard way. Although each family will have different needs based on their own preferences and what works best for their baby, I’ve found myself coming back to this same baby registry checklist with each child we’ve added to our family. I’m passing along this hard-earned wisdom to you as you embark on your baby registry journey. Be sure to bookmark this page, because you’ll definitely want to keep it as a reference guide to make sure you don’t miss any baby essentials!

1. Car seat/travel system

I’ve had a car seat/stroller travel system with each of my babies so far, and honestly, I can’t imagine managing those early months without one. The infant seat clicks into a base that’s anchored in your car, and you can easily remove the bucket seat and click it into a stroller. Ta dah! Parents won’t have to remove their sleeping baby from the car seat and awkwardly transfer her into a stroller (just remember to purchase an extra base if there’s more than one car you want to use to transport your baby). Once your little one grows out of the infant car seat, you can still use the stroller for years. The $199 Graco Modes 3 Lite Travel System is one lightweight, easy-to-fold option to consider.

2. Crib & crib mattress

A crib is one of those basic necessities you’ll definitely want to invest in. After all, having a safe space for your child to sleep is of the utmost importance. The majority of cribs these days are designed to grow with your baby. You can typically change the mattress height as your little one starts to get more mobile and climbs, and many models convert into toddler beds, daybeds, and even twin or full size beds with the additional purchase of conversion kits and mattresses. For $280, this Delta Children Archer 4-in-1 Crib and mattress is a practical and chic option to consider. While this particular option is a crib and mattress set, in many cases you’ll need to purchase a mattress separately.

3. Waterproof crib mattress pad

Along with that crib and mattress, you’re going to want at least two mattress pads. Trust me on this. Between spit up and diaper leakages, this is a must. This $24.99 two-pack of Biloban Waterproof Crib Mattress Protectors can help get you get started.

4. Fitted crib sheets

You’ll need a few fitted crib sheets. This two-pack is adorable and just 18 bucks. Other than that — contrary to what older generations may think, or what photos of lavish nurseries might suggest — nothing else but your baby should be in the crib. No bumpers, no stuffed animals, no toys, no loose blankets. Nothing. This will reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (ACA).

5. Bath tub

Although some parents prefer to wash their babies in the kitchen sink, I’ve found it easier to use an infant bath tub inside my regular tub. For $32, the Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Sling 'n Seat Tub grows with your baby. Stage 1 features a soft mesh sling for newborns; stage 2 has a "baby stopper" insert that prevents your little one from slipping and sliding around; stage 3 is designed for unsteady sitters and features "sit-me-up support"; and stage 4 serves as a toddler tub.

6. Hooded towels and washcloths

From experience, some babies love bath time — and others hate it. Whichever type of baby you end up with, having a hooded towel to dry her off will help minimize heat loss (and crying) and help the process go more smoothly. That way, you can get her dressed and snuggled up warm in your arms. This $21.99 Simple Joys by Carter's Baby Boys' 8-Piece Towel and Washcloth Set is a baby bathing necessity.

7. Baby wash and lotion

Along with a tub, washcloths, and hooded towels, you’re definitely going to need some gentle baby wash/shampoo and baby lotion. My sensitive-skinned babies all did well with Aveeno Baby products, and you can snag this Aveeno Baby Gentle Moisturizing Daily Care Set — which comes with a bottle of Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo and a bottle of Aveeno Baby Lotion — for $13.99 on Amazon.

8. Receiving/swaddle blankets

Receiving blankets are so handy and versatile that I wouldn’t know what to do without them. You can swaddle young infants in them or use them as oversized burp cloths. They’re good for lying down on the floor during playtime/tummy time, and of course, they work well as light blankets to tuck around your little one on chilly days. While there are specific swaddling blankets that tend to keep your baby wrapped up longer, based on my experience, these are nice-to-haves. Pick up a six-pack of Luvable Friends Flannel Receiving Blankets for $16.69 on Amazon.

9. Burp cloths

Have I mentioned that newborns and young babies have a tendency to spit up... a lot? Yeah. It’s all part of getting used to that whole digestion business. While dealing with a spitty baby is undoubtedly messy, parents can keep staining to a minimum (and save themselves multiple outfit changes per day) by always having a burp cloth nearby — especially during and immediately after feedings. These Gerber Birdseye Flatfold Cloth Diapers worked phenomenally as burp cloths with my babies. Grab a 10-pack for $14.99.

10. Baby carrier

I wouldn’t have said this with my first child, but kids two and three made baby-wearing a must. With a baby carrier, you can keep your infant calm and snuggled close while still having two free hands to wrangle a toddler, complete household chores, or push a cart at the grocery store (and still have room for the groceries in the cart). My favorite carrier is the Ergobaby 360 — just be sure to buy a newborn insert if you plan on using it before your newborn reaches 12 pounds. At $149, this Ergobaby 360 bundle comes with the carrier and the newborn insert.

11. High chair

Obviously, a high chair isn’t something you’ll need right away for a newborn, but once your baby arrives, you’ll be surprised how quickly time flies. Before you know it, your child will be trying all kinds of pureed baby food — and you’ll need somewhere convenient for her to sit. The Graco DuoDiner LX Baby High Chair is actually a 3-in-1 design: It’s an infant high chair, a toddler booster high chair, and a booster seat, so you’ll be able to use it for years to come once your little one starts on solid food. At $89, it’s reasonably priced considering how long you’ll be using it.

12. Playpen

Playpens are perfect for keeping babies safely away from toddler and canine siblings. They also double as nap spots and safe places for your baby to sleep if you’re traveling. Personally, I’ve enjoyed having a Graco Pack 'n Play because they easily collapse and fold up into a carrying case. As with many models, this Graco Pack 'n Play On the Go Playard features a removable, full size bassinet that’s ideal for those early days at home with your baby — and you can’t beat the price at just $45.99.

13. Bouncer

I would highly recommend having a bouncer handy. Not only is it yet another safe place to set your baby down, but the soothing motions and sounds will help your little one fall to sleep. This particularly cozy-looking Fisher-Price My Little Snugapuppy Deluxe Bouncer definitely looks like it would do the trick. At $39.20, this design is adorable and functional.

14. Swing

good baby swing is another registry staple — and for good reason. Gentle motion and lullabies (or nature sounds) are the perfect recipe for a sleepy baby. Plus, it’s another way to stimulate and entertain your baby while you grab a bite to eat or finally use the bathroom. Although it’s definitely on the pricier side (as far as baby swings are concerned), the 4moms mamaRoo4 is a modern and compact baby swing that offers five different motions for your little one. Even cooler? You can control motion, speed, music, and volume straight from your smartphone.

15. Activity play mat

An activity mat is an ideal place for your baby to perfect her hand-eye coordination skills. She’ll have fun batting at its dangling toys, listening to music, and checking herself out in reflective surfaces. The soft mat is also a good spot for tummy time or for her to practice rolling over. This Baby Einstein Caterpillar & Friends Play Gym is just under $50 on Amazon — and pretty darn cute, if you ask me.

16. Baby Monitor

A baby monitor is essential when your little one is napping in her crib during the day, or when she starts sleeping in her own room at nighttime. Although plenty of parents choose to use a video monitor for that extra peace of mind, they are a bit pricey. At the very least, you’ll want to include an audio-only monitor for your registry. The $39.95 VTech DM221 Audio Baby Monitor has served my family well for years now — and I’m sure it’ll get the job done for yours, too.

17. Glider-rocker

When you’re up several times each night for diaper changes and feedings, having a glider-rocker in the nursery is a must. The soothing motion of the gilder during and after a feeding session will help relax your baby and (hopefully) allow her to settle into a deep sleep. I can’t guarantee she’ll stay asleep during the transfer from your arms to her crib, but the glider will give you a fighting chance. This $129.99 Windsor Glider and Ottoman is the same one we have in our nursery, and we love it.

18. Dresser/changing table combo

Considering all of the cute baby clothes you’re bound to receive at your baby shower, you’ll need somewhere to put it all, and because you’ll also need a surface for those middle-of-the-night diaper changes, why not save on space and invest in a 2-in-1 design? Enter the dresser/changing table combo. This $209.99 South Shore Cotton Candy Changing Table and Dresser with Drawers is sure to do the trick. Just make sure to include a changing pad and a couple of washable changing pad covers on your registry for your baby’s comfort.

19. Breast pump, pads, milk storage bags

Moms-to-be who plan on breastfeeding (especially those who will return to work) will need a breast pump along with breast pads and milk storage bags. It’s worth noting that your health insurance will cover some types of breast pumps, so be sure to check with your insurance provider about the specifics before you purchase a breast pump outright or add it to your registry. Breast pads will help collect milk that leaks during feedings and at other times during the day. Finally, milk storage bags are a practical way to store and freeze expressed breast milk for later use. This $279.99 Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump Solution Set includes everything you’ll need to get started on your breastfeeding/pumping journey.

20. Nursing Pillow

Based on my personal experience, those first few weeks of breastfeeding can be very difficult. Between trying to ensure your baby has a good latch and struggling to keep her properly propped in your arms, it can feel like a losing battle. One tool that can help a mom and her baby get (and stay) comfortably in position is a nursing pillow. Once baby is older, a nursing pillow can be a handy aid for supervised tummy time, too. This Boppy Nursing Pillow is $38.40 and comes with a removable, washable cover.

21. Diapers

Who could forget diapers? You’ll use thousands of this particular baby essential, so it’s a good idea to start stockpiling early. While it's true plenty of parents choose to use a cloth diapering system, my family has always gone the disposable diaper route. There are pros and cons to either approach, so it boils down to personal preference. From experience, Pampers Swaddlers disposable diapers are a great option during the newborn stage because they have yellow indicator lines that turn blue/green when wet. New parents can periodically check on the line color from time to time instead of taking the diaper completely off if they're unsure.

22. Diaper pail/refills

Although I might classify a diaper pail as a nice-to-have baby product versus a necessity, it can be so convenient for middle-of-the-night diaper changes. Trust me, there is plenty of nighttime diapering in your near future. Simply toss a wet/dirty diaper in the diaper pail and you won’t have to locate a trash can in a different room during your sleep-exhausted stupor. Bonus: A diaper pail helps to eliminate that unpleasant used diaper smell. This $63.97 Playtex Diaper Genie gift set comes with a diaper pail, eight refills, and eight carbon filters for odor control.

23. Wipes

Along with diapers, you'll need plenty of wipes for your little one — because urine and feces. Enough said. I’ve stuck with scent-free, gentle wipes for my sensitive-skinned little ones. These Pampers Sensitive wipes will get the job done without irritating your baby’s skin. Include plenty of large boxes on your registry and don't hesitate to start a stockpile of your own. Trust me, you'll need them.

24. Diaper rash cream

No matter how diligent I’ve been in changing my babies' diapers as soon as possible, they’ve all experienced diaper rash (with wetness combined with irritation from disposable/cloth diapers, it's just bound to happen). This is why I always have a tube or two of diaper rash cream on hand just in case. Through the years, we’ve kept coming back to Boudreaux's Butt Paste Diaper Rash Ointment. It’s thick and highly effective for soothing red, irritated diaper areas. Be sure to toss a tube in your diaper bag, too!

25. Diaper bag

Speaking of diaper bag, you’ll absolutely need a bag of some sort to carry around all of those diapers, wipes, rash creams, extra outfits, burp cloths, bottles, hand sanitizers, and more when you’re out with your baby. For the sake of convenience, my go-to has always been a diaper bag backpack — to me, it's just easier to wear on my back so I don't have to worry about a traditional diaper bag slipping off my shoulder. This $33.99 Macro Diaper Bag Backpack has plenty of pockets and pouches so you can organize all of your baby items.

26. Bottle set

Whether you plan to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby (or some combination of both), be sure to add a bottle set to your registry (even if you hope to feed your baby straight from the breast, emergencies/unforeseen circumstances do happen, and it's better to be safe than sorry). You’ll want to make sure the set includes different sizes of bottles as well as different nipple flows so the set can "grow" with your baby’s needs. This $35.62 Philips Avent Anti-Colic Baby Bottle with AirFree Vent Beginner Gift Set will get you off to a great start.

27. Footed pajamas

I’ve discovered you can never have too many footed pajamas. Between baby spit-up and diaper leaks, you’ll probably be going through more than one pair of PJs per night. Pro tip: go for the zip-up pajamas, because trying to line up snaps in the middle of the night with a crying baby is the last thing you want to worry about. This Gerber Baby Girls 2 Pack Footed Sleeper zips up and is adorable. Just make sure to grab at least 10 pairs of footed pajamas, and you should be set.

28. Bodysuits

Baby bodysuits will be yet another staple in your little one’s wardrobe. They work well for layering or on their own if you’re just hanging out at home. Pair them with some jeans or stretchy pants and you’ve got an outfit! Bodysuits make for easy access for diaper changes, and they can be pulled down and over your baby’s hips in the event of a diaper blowout so you don’t have to pull the dirty garment off over their head. This Carter's Unisex-Baby 4-Pack Long Sleeve Bodysuit set will help you get started on your baby bodysuit stash.

29. Two-piece outfits

Bodysuits are great and all, but sometimes you’ll want something a bit heavier, so having some two-piece outfits is always a good idea. This $17.99 Carter's Baby Boys' Bodysuit Pant Set is just one seriously adorable option to consider.

30. Socks

You need to keep those little toes warm, too! For some reason, baby socks tend to disappear at roughly twice the rate of normal socks, so you’ll want to have plenty on hand. This six-pack of Luvable Friends Newborn Baby Terry Socks for $7.97 is a good starter option. Pro tip: They may be cute and teeny-tiny, but babies don’t actually need shoes... unless you want them for photos — then, by all means, go for it!

31. Bibs

Although young infants don't eat solid food, bibs are handy for saving adorable outfits (yours and your baby's) from spilled milk during feedings, spit-up, and drool. There are so many cute designs from which to choose! This seven-pack of Simple Joys by Carter's Baby Boys’ Teething Bibs for $18.99 is a fun purchase for any baby registry.

32. Hats and mittens

Keep that new baby's head warm — especially if it’s a bit chilly outside — with some cute hats. Baby mittens can also help with warmth. If nothing else, they help prevent your little one from scratching her face with those razor-sharp baby fingernails. Pick up this Gerber Baby Girls' 5 Pack Cap and 4 Pack Mitten Bundle on Amazon for $15.49.

33. Grooming kit

Speaking of razor-sharp baby fingernails, you’ll definitely want to include a pair of baby nail clippers on your registry. This $11.99 baby grooming kit also comes with a baby brush, comb, and nasal aspirator — everything you need to keep your baby’s nails trimmed, hair looking sharp, and nose clear.

34. Pacifiers

You won’t know until after your baby is born if she’ll willingly take a pacifier, but it’s always a good idea to have some ready to go. So far, only one of my babies has used a pacifier (and for the record, she was by far the best sleeper of the three I have now). There are many different styles from which to choose, but the going rate for this two-pack of Philips AVENT Soothie Pacifiers (for ages newborn to three months) is less than four bucks. So why not give them a try?

35. White noise machine

A newborn is used to the sounds they heard from inside the womb — like mom’s heartbeat, other muffled whooshing sounds, and breathing — so expecting them to sleep in complete silence once they’re born may not be realistic. This is why a white noise machine can be so useful. This $34.95 Bubzi Co White Noise Sound Machine not only offers a variety of lullabies for your little one, it also plays a heartbeat sound and has a built-in night light. So cute!

36. Board books

Aside from catering to my baby's basic needs and supervising tummy time, as a new mom, I was at a loss when it came to figuring out how to spend my days with a young infant. One activity that can help pass the time — and that offers a number of benefits for your child — is reading aloud to them. Honestly, you could probably read anything, but having some board books is always a good idea. Point to objects on the page and allow your baby to touch and hold the book as you read along. This $14.94 set of Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse board books will help you build your child’s library.

37. Teething toys

I hate to break it to you, but your baby will probably start teething sooner than you think. For some infants, it can be a particularly rough time, so it’s smart to have some teething options in your arsenal to help with your little one’s discomfort (and desire to chomp down on something). This $15.87 set of Ike & Leo Teething Toys is both dishwasher and freezer safe, and perfect for an infant with the impulse to chew, chew, chew.

38. Baby gates/safety gear

At this point, it’s probably hard to imagine having a newborn, let alone a mobile infant. Believe me, your little one will be crawling (and then climbing and walking) before you know it. Your best bet is to beat them to the punch and have a few quality baby gates on hand to keep your curious little one out of harm’s way. This Evenflo Position and Lock Wood Gate is a budget-friendly option for standard doorways (just make sure not to use a pressure-mounted gate at the top of stairways). While you're at it, include a set of baby-proofing tools — such as outlet plugs, cabinet locks, corner covers, and more — on your baby registry.

And there you have it! Look, I know this seems like a lot — babies do require many special products and gadgets. But trust me, there are so many other baby gear possibilities out there that I've purposefully left off this must-have baby registry list. You don't really need a wipes warmer. Plus, baby shoes are just for show, anyway. And piles of stuffed animals? Hard pass. Check off this list, and you'll be good to go. I wish you the best of luck as you tackle your baby registry and embark on the crazy experience that is parenthood. Honestly, there's nothing quite like it.

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