Lerin’s Recommended Baby Registry Items, Part One

A couple of my favorite Mama-bloggers have agreed to share their thoughts with y’all this month while I’m spending some extra time with my family on these beautiful May weekends. This week and next, my sweet, precious, WISE friend Lerin will be providing you with her own insights on which items a family REALLY needs (and doesn’t need) when bringing home a newborn. Even if you’ve had a baby or two and you’re expecting or planning for additional babies, take a look at the list – there are always nifty new products on the market and Lerin’s showcasing a few of the favorite things I’ve used with Peabody that didn’t even exist when Bean was born.

These, of course, are Lerin’s picks based on her own experiences. We all have our own favorites must-haves and don’t-waste-your-money-ons, don’t we? And we’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Lerin also blogs about her life as a Catholic wife and mother to three (with a fourth due any day now) at Beautiful Chaos and takes some of the most lovely pictures of children and families (including her own) I’ve ever seen.

Lerin’s Guide to Baby Registry:

Before I ever had children of my own, I used to work as a baby registry consultant. I’d demonstrate how to use the scanner, and then give my client a HUGE list of “must-haves” that would make even the wealthiest expecting mommy nervous. When the time came for these mothers’ baby showers, I printed out their mammoth registries for the party guests. The lists were usually 8-10 pages long!

But let me assure you the absolute bare minimum is very attainable. All you REALLY need are your breasts or bottles/formula, your arms, a car seat, a safe place for baby to sleep, diapers/wipes, a few blankets, and a few sleepers. Honestly, everything else is optional!

Hunt for bargains! You can find so many gently-used baby items on Craigslist and at children’s resale shops. There are many quality children’s resale and consignment shops in most major cities. Generally these specialty shops only accept items in very good condition, so it is not like having to sort through piles of stained or worn-out items at a thrift store. You can also find some steals at garage sales, when many parents are practically giving away their baby items! With a little effort, research, and patience, there is no reason to pay full price for the big-ticket items.

I am going to give you a list of my personal MUST-HAVES. If I were bringing home a new baby today, these are the items I would not want to be without! No, I’m not getting commission. I am only motivated by wanting to share information with other moms.

The following is a list of my personal MUST-HAVES. This list consists of the items I can’t imagine going without if I were to bring home a newborn today.

My Must-Haves for Newborns:

My number ONE recommendation for ANY parent, whether this is your first baby or not, is “The Happiest Baby on the Block” DVD by Dr Harvey Karp. I didn’t know about Dr. Karp’s method of baby-soothing until my third child came along. I know that my experiences with newborn Madeleine and newborn Isabella would have been much more positive had I known these things back then! Benedict has been the most AMAZINGLY content baby, and I think it is because he had a smooth transition from my womb to the world. Please get this DVD! I’d buy it for every new parent in the world if I could. That’s how wonderful I think it is.

Clothing and Layette

Baby clothing comes in many varieties. My philosophy for dressing a newborn is: the simpler the better! Trust me, you will be changing this newborn baby’s diaper at least 8-10 times per day, and you don’t want to fuss with a lot of snaps and silliness.

Get a couple of really precious, frivolous outfits for special occasions, church, or photography sessions. If you are only buying a couple of these outfits, you (or Grandma) can better afford to go all out and buy all the little matching accessories. Other than those two outfits, please do yourself a favor – stick to simplicity and frugality.

I like to have several packs of onesies (also known as bodysuits) on hand. Onesies are the simplest type of baby wear, just like a t-shirt with snaps at the diaper area. I would have at least a dozen of them on hand.

If you live in a cooler area, or if the season is chilly, you can pick up several packs of footed sleepers. Babies constantly kick off their little socks, so just save yourself the trouble and get an outfit that is all-in-one. I suggest zippered sleepers. It is much quicker to zip a sleeper than to fuss with a million snaps, especially when an impatient baby is kicking and crying to be dressed and swaddled again!

Having about a dozen onesies and/or sleepers may sound excessive, but trust me, this precious baby will go though several outfits per day. You will be doing constant loads of laundry! This is a natural segue to my next must-have… SHOUT stain remover. No matter what brand or type of diapering method you use, the baby will inevitably “explode” out of diapers occasionally. As a mother with many a ruined outfit can attest to, unless you treat the stain right away, it may set! As soon as baby is clean and dressed in a fresh outfit, rush the stained article of clothing to the laundry room and spray away.

As I’ve mentioned more than once… you’ll be swaddling the baby quite a bit. I’ve tried just about every kind of blanket out there and my favorite are the Carter’s 4-Pack Flannel Receiving Blankets. I suggest picking up two or three of these packs.

You will need Gerber cloth diapers, but NOT for diapering. You need them for burp cloths! Every baby I have ever brought into the world or provided childcare for has had their fair share of spit-up and drooling. Baby stores sell the CUTEST little embroidered burp cloths… so cute, in fact, that I never wanted to wipe baby puke on them. Gerber cloth diapers are great because they are cheap, highly absorbent, and best of all: they’re white, which means they can be bleached!

Baby Gear:

This is one item you absolutely can’t leave the hospital without! An infant car seat is so essential that the nurses will check to see the baby is properly secured before you drive away. Do not buy a used car seat; for safety reasons, this is one item that you should always buy brand-new. My favorite infant car seats are by Graco. You leave the “base” of the seat in your car, and you can use the car seat as an infant carrier when you are out and about… you’ve seen them, I’m sure, attached to grocery store carts. The nice thing about this type of car seat is that you don’t have to wake baby to get him out of the car. Just tote baby around (they’re heavier than you think, expect to see a bicep and tricep emerge soon!) and then simply click it back into the base when it’s time to head home again.

These strollers are SUCH a great invention! This is a super light-weight, very easy-to-use stroller. You simply click the infant carrier into the stroller frame. As I mentioned above, the infant car seats can be heavy, especially as baby grows. I bought one of these when I had Isabella. They were a new product then, and so much better than the bulky travel system model!

May I introduce THE BEST SWING EVER? I have been through several swings in my mothering and nannnying days, and this is THE magic swing! It swings from side-to-side in a cradle motion, which all of my children have preferred. It is padded and comfy for a newborn, just like Mommy’s arms. It also has white-noise capabilities (ocean sounds, brooks, etc) and music. Don’t forget the batteries!

This is called a Travel Lite Crib. It acts as a bassinet for newborns, and then as a travel crib for older infants. I recommend this above ANY other bassinet for one simple reason. It collapses! And that means it is portable! At home, I keep it set up next to my bed for easy breastfeeding in the middle of the night. Buy a couple of extra sheets and a couple of waterproof pads, too.

I tried a HOST of different carriers and two different slings. None ever seemed comfortable for me or for my baby. I was always trying to avoid the Baby Bjorn because of the cost, but the five carriers I went through before would have paid for it a couple of times over! I am telling you: buy or register for this item. The Baby Bjorn was so comfortable and it helped me carry my babies around all day (like they wanted!) while also having free hands for my older children and daily chores. It’s great for around the house or for a long day out and about, and my husband will also wear it.


I have mixed feelings about baby bathtubs. I much prefer bathing WITH my babies until they can safely sit in the kitchen sink. However, with older children in the house, I couldn’t climb into the bathtub with my newborn and supervise the big kids at the same time. I found that the baby tub was useful for these times!

I love, love, love Johnson’s baby products. Their shampoo and lotion smells SO good to me, and I never had any problems with baby’s sensitive skin. This kit includes baby cotton swabs which you ALSO need… Adult Q-tips are small enough to slip inside the ear canal and can easily cause an injury. The baby cotton swabs have an extra big tip to prevent such an accident. Desitin is also my favorite diaper rash ointment. I usually slather it on thick at night, to help provide an extra barrier of protection for baby. The baby oil definitely comes in handy as well as I’ll explain next.

If your babies are anything like mine, you will use the baby oil and comb! All three of my children have had “cradle cap” which consists of dry scaly skin on the scalp. I had tried the doctor-recommended baby shampoo scrub brush and Head and Shoulders dandruff shampoo, to no avail. What works for us was an internet-advice find and I am passing it to you. COVER baby’s scalp in baby oil and let it sit for awhile, until the scales get softer. Then comb and comb and comb them out. It worked for us!

Baby fingernails grow so fast, and they end up scratching their sweet little faces if you don’t stay on top of them. Make sure you have all the tools… a tiny set of nail clippers (the adult size can cut more than baby’s fingernail!), a tiny set of nail scissors and a file. Carefully cut the nails with the clippers, and then take sharp edges down with the scissors or file.


I’ll start with my recommendations for Disposable Diapers.

Before you bring baby home, be sure that you stock up on diapers. When you think you have enough, buy some more. And then, some more. You won’t believe how quickly baby dirties them! If you are planning to use disposable diapers, my recommendation may surprise you. I’ve tried lots of different brands (and off-brands) of diapers, and I have become a diaper snob. I am a Pampers Mama, all the way! They don’t leak! We always stock up on Pampers Newborn Swaddlers for our new babies, and we like the Pampers Baby-Dry for our older babies.

For some reason, diaper packaging makes a difference on the price. If you buy diapers in a plastic package, expect to pay $3-$4 more! Look on the bottom of the shelf for the diapers packed in cardboard boxes and that will save you money. I re-use the boxes for packing away baby items and clothes that we aren’t currently using. Same diapers, same brand, just a cheaper price tag. Be a smart shopper! You can also sign up online for coupons.

As for baby wipes, I’ve found that they are all pretty much the same. I still like to use scented wipes, because I love the sweet smell! I usually buy Target brand or Pampers Lavender scent.

TIP: DON’T buy one of those stinky diaper pails. Really, they stink. I had a Diaper Genie and I’ve had a Diaper Champ, and they both stunk. Taking the trash out daily didn’t help. The plastic stunk, as it retained all of the unpleasant odors from the diapers. I have talked to many other Moms and Dads and they all agree, DIAPER PAILS STINK! So why waste the money? And why spend money on the plastic “refills” every couple of weeks?

Do you know what I do? I tie the dirty diaper in a plastic grocery sack, and toss it in the garbage can that we keep in the garage. My house doesn’t stink. Problem solved.


Here are my recommendations for Cloth Diapering.

As my regular readers know, we made the switch to cloth-diapering with our third child. I still use disposables for overnights, travelling, and when we are out of the house though! It really isn’t that difficult, or time-consuming. It just becomes part of the routine.

I was lucky enough to have a very practical, thrifty older sister who had tried various brands of cloth diapers before settling on Mother-Ease cloth diapers. My sister endorses their ability to go through multiple children, as she has taken two boys through the diapers and plans to use them for her third baby as well. The complete kit costs about $340, but when you stop to think that it is only about 15 packages of disposable diapers, the cost doesn’t seem so bad. You’re just buying the diapers all at once instead of having to buy more every week at the grocery store! To clean them, we simply have a bucket with a lid in top of the laundry machine. We put warm water and a scoop of Biz in it. Whenever we change the baby, we just put the diaper in the bucket instead of the trash can. On washing day, we dump the diapers in the laundry machine with All Free and Clear, and run a couple of cycles.

We are currently expecting our fourth child, and have registered for One-Size, All-In-One BumGenius 3.0 diapers this time around. Since the diapers are adjustable, you can use the diaper from newborn size all the way to potty-training time. There is no need to buy separate covers, since the diaper is all-in-one. Another appealing feature is that these diapers close with velcro tabs, just like disposable diapers instead of many little snaps.



One of the practical benefits to nursing is, you don’t HAVE to buy anything at all! However, if you experience as much pain and discomfort during the first couple of weeks as I do, then you should be aware of some products that may help ease that transition. It doesn’t last forever, and the benefits of hanging in there through the discomfort are definitely worth it!

My first recommendation is to have some Soothies gel pads on hand. You keep them in the refrigerator, and put them on when you’ve finished feeding baby. They gave me so much relief! If you even think you may breastfeed, pick some of these up. You use them over and over, they’re not disposable.

Another thing I recommend for at least the first two weeks are Medela’s disposable breast pads. You simply tuck them in your bra to protect your clothes from breast-milk leakage.

I changed from a 34B pre-pregnancy, to a 36C during pregnancy, to a 36DD while nursing! Take your measurement at the end of your pregnancy and add a cup size. I found that these lightly padded bras concealed the circle of the breastpad. I picked these bras up at Motherhood Maternity.

I also bought a few “sleeping” bras.

Friends introduced me to these Bebe Au Lait covers, and they’re amazing! They come in lots of really cute fabrics. They are basically a nursing apron, with a stiff wire top so you can continue making eye contact with baby while you nurse discreetly.

For Pumping Moms:

Sometimes, you have to be away from baby, especially in the case of working mothers. Having to work does NOT mean that you cannot breastfeed, but you do need products to support continuing to nurse even if you are keeping to a 40-hour work week.

I have used several different breast pumps in the past. I’ve used the Gerber brand single electric, the Medela single electric, and the Medela hand pump. Then when we had Isabella, our jaundiced baby with gastrointestinal issues and severe reflux, we bought the BEST breastpump ever, the Medela Pump-In-Style double electric breast pump. Wow, it doesn’t even compare to the other types and brands available. This pump allowed me to continue giving breast milk to a baby who was too sick to nurse for some time, and I will forever be grateful for that.

The Pump-In-Style pump comes with a few breastmilk storage containers and an insulated tote. Once you get home, you’ll probably want to transfer the milk to storage bags. These Lansinoh bags are my favorite, mostly because they have a “ziplock” seal like a sandwich bag instead of having to mess with other brands’ twist-ties. There is also a “cute” factor – the bags say, “My Mommy’s Milk.”

Never, ever, ever warm breastmilk in the microwave. Or on the stove in boiling water. You will destroy some of the delicate proteins in the milk, as well as potentially burn baby’s mouth. I loved using this bottle-warmer to heat my frozen milk AND to heat baby food jars. It worked quickly, and I could adjust the heat settings according to our needs.

For Bottle-feeding (Pumped Milk OR Formula):

I’ve been told that Avent bottles are the best. I don’t have other bottles to compare them to, but this is what we used for Isabella for a full year, and I liked them. No dripping, she didn’t seem unusually gassy.


AND FINALLY, don’t be without a digital camera with a video mode to capture all of those precious, fleeting memories. You will want to email pictures and video of your sweet beautiful baby to all of your family and friends.


That does it for Part One of my Baby Registry Checklist! Check back next week for Part Two. My second installment will cover Essentials As Baby Grows, “Luxury” Items to Get If You Possibly Can, and a list of Items NOT to Buy.

Fellow experienced moms, please leave your thoughts in the comments section. Different items work for different parents, and your personal experience is just as valuable as mine.

25 Responses to Lerin’s Recommended Baby Registry Items, Part One
  1. Elisa
    May 4, 2009 | 4:58 am

    What a great list! I’m expecting my 3rd in August so I’ve been thinking about this as well… what do I need this time around?

    For cradle cap, an easy option is to use olive oil instead of buying baby oil.

    For nursing, I really love something that covers my midriff and allows me to wear normal shirts. Favorites are by Glamourmom.com (nursing tank top you can wear alone or under another shirt). Also, I’m considering a MultiTube by MaM (http://www.mamdesign.net/mommy/multitube.html) as another cute option.

    I’m glad you’ve had such great success with your Baby Bjorn. I personally prefer a ring sling (you can make your own or buy one – just google “ring sling”) or an adjustable pouch, which is super simple and chic. My favorite pouch is by MamasMilk.com, and celebrities agree! People always ask me about it as well – lots of ooohs and aaahs over cute kiddo in the pouch.

    Totally agree with you about using a portable/collapsible travel crib – with the mesh sides I think they are safer than traditional cribs with rails. Definitely less of a climbing hazard as they get older.

    Looking forward to the next installments in your baby registry lineup!

  2. TeacherMommy
    May 4, 2009 | 8:35 am

    That swing is the one we had, and it was wonderful. In fact, it’s the one big item that I am NOT selling off this weekend at a Mom to Mom sale, because I’m saving it for my sister for when she has babies.

  3. Carrie
    May 4, 2009 | 9:53 am

    Thanks for your recommendations- I’m hoping to look into the Karp method – my cousin recommended it to me as well. I have that swing, too, it was given to us, and I love it. 🙂

    I would echo Elisa’s recommendation to choose a ring sling or a Moby wrap over a Baby Bjorn- better on Mama’s back & on baby’s hips! 🙂

  4. Kelly
    May 4, 2009 | 11:05 am

    I’m e-mailing this post to a few moms I know who are expecting their first babies soon. Great list.

    And just to prove that everyone’s different — I could never make the slings work for me (and I tried many different models), so I’m echoing your comment about the Baby Bjorn. It’s the only one I could use and still be mobile.

    Too bad there isn’t a trial program for baby-wearing gear, because it does seem very person specific.

  5. Lerin
    May 4, 2009 | 11:54 am

    Thank you for all of the input and the comments so far! 🙂

    We have purchased a Moby wrap for baby four this time, and I’ll see what I think. I never found the ring-slings comfortable for me or my babies! It put a lot of pressure on my shoulder and bothered my bad hips.

    I agree it would be VERY nice to have a 30-day trial with baby gear… what works well for one mom may be a nightmare for another! I’m so glad we’re all sharing our experiences. 🙂

    God bless you and your babies!

  6. Krista
    May 5, 2009 | 7:26 pm

    Well, I definitely agree with you on the pamper’s diapers! They are the softest and don’t leak as bad as some. For awhile we used target brand and they were good until my son got to the top end of the weight range, then they leaked. Now we only use them on vacations as we do cloth. I love Happy Heiny’s because of the velcro. Not a fan of the one-size cloth diapers since there’s so much extra fabric wadded up when they’re small.

    Baby carriers: We needed one that would fit me and my 6’6″ hubby so the Baby Bjorn was out. I needed one with a waist strap to protect my back and we got and ERGO. LOVE IT! We’re still using it and our son is 2. The problem with the Baby Bjorn is that all the baby’s weight is concentrated right on their crotch. Especially bad for little boys.

    Shampoo and diaper creme: I swear by Burt’s Bees. Their stuff is so much more natural and just smells better! Johnson and Johnson’s I always thought my son’s hair smelled like wet dog even when it was dry. Gross!

    Just my ideas!

  7. Stephanie
    May 11, 2009 | 12:32 am

    This is an excellent list, Lerin! I wrote something similar to this a few weeks ago: http://metropolitanmama.net/2009/04/15-newborn-necessities/.

    I totally agree about onesies. They’re the easiest thing for itty bitty babies.

    And receiving blankets are incredibly useful. I highly recommend the aden + anais brand.

    As far as carriers go, I’m a big fan of the BabyHawk Mei Tai. It’s comfortable, stylish, and easy to use. LOVE it.

    I agree with you about Pampers diapers. They’re soft and stretchable and great at containing leaks. For wipes, we really like the Kirkland Signature brand @ Costco. They’re soft and they smell good and they come in great “individual” containers.

    I would advise moms to put breast pumps, bottles, and swings on a “wait and see” list because not all moms use those items. I know they’re definitely not necessities for me. But every mom is different…

    Thanks again for this useful post. I’ll look forward to your next installment.

  8. Melissa
    May 11, 2009 | 1:42 pm

    Hi moms, I bought a maya ring sling and I simply find it great. Also my baby sleeps happily for hours in it and when he is awake he stays looking quietly around no fuss. I agree with the body suits and sleepers they are best for newborns. As for diapers, we use huggies in Malta don’t know if u get them over there. We also get pampers but huggies are cheaper and as effective! BTw I am looking to buy a swing what brand is that pls?

  9. Lerin
    May 11, 2009 | 1:45 pm

    That’s a Fisher Price, Baby Papasan, Cradle Swing. Here is the product link: http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?e=product&pid=30548&st=2002


  10. Melissa
    May 12, 2009 | 6:55 am

    thanks Lerin & wish you all God’s blessings with your soon to be newborn

  11. Say What? « Miss Priss Does a Blog
    May 12, 2009 | 12:09 pm

    […] now for the fun stuff: We’re registering this weekend. I’ll be usingLerin’s Guide to Baby Registry Items and some advice from a couple of other girlfriends. We have to register so quickly because our […]

  12. a
    June 25, 2009 | 4:22 pm

    Great article!! Many thanks.

    I was wondering, which swing were you referring to as the BEST SWING EVER?
    I don’t think you mention the brand.

  13. Lerin
    June 25, 2009 | 4:25 pm

    Hi Anca,

    Oops! So sorry about that.

    The best swing ever, in my opinion, is the Fisher Price Papasan Swing. Here is a link to the one I have: http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?e=product&pid=30548&st=2002

    Best wishes!

  14. a
    June 25, 2009 | 4:36 pm

    thank you!!
    very very helpful advice as I am expecting my first and trying to make sense of “what is needed” vs the rest…. we live in a 1 bdrm apt.

    i wonder how long the baby could “share” the bedroom with us before we will have to move – it will have a crib and we plan on having a screen for some privacy..

    • 6 Pack Abs
      August 20, 2013 | 10:24 pm

      Touche. Sound arguments. Keep up the amazing effort.

  15. Kate
    September 15, 2009 | 3:42 pm

    Thank you so much for this and the follow-up! I am trying to put together a registry now, but being pregnant for the first time and having no friends with babies, it can be a bit overwhelming and confusing. I really appreciate that you took the time to list all of this!

    As for the bjorn, I used one with an infant I babysat for back in the day. She and I both thought it was a great help! I’ve never used a sling, but I will register for one, and if I get it, I can compare.

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