Baby Registry Must Haves to Survive Life with a Newborn

by Meghan Yost

As my husband and I recently learned, caring for a newborn is no joke. It is HARD. WORK. We also recently learned there are several baby registry must haves to help you survive those first few months with a baby.

Becoming first-time parents was so much more difficult than we ever anticipated —  i.e. trying to function non-stop on extremely minimal sleep, if any sleep at all, and barely having time to eat, let alone shower.

I thought we were well prepared since I had spent a lot of time researching items for my baby registry, wanting only the safest yet most useful products (I’m sort of a minimalist and hate having extraneous “stuff” lying around).

We soon found out there were several key items we received that really came in handy during the newborn phase … and there were other items I should have put on my registry that we ended up buying later (as I kicked myself for not putting them on my registry in the first place).

So from one newbie parent to another, here are some baby registry must haves.


Baby Registry Must Haves Sleepea Swaddle

Why swaddle a baby? Bottom line is it helps them sleep. Swaddling mimics the way they felt in the womb and helps their arms stay nice and snug against their body. This prevents the moro reflex (when their arms shoot straight up) from startling them awake (if you’re lucky enough to get them to go down in the first place!)

Basically, the Moro reflex makes babies feel like they’re falling, which is no bueno for the parent who is trying to get at least a little shut eye here and there.

While swaddling is great for baby, it’s not always so great for mom and dad. That’s because swaddling with a blanket is so much harder than it looks. There were several times I felt like a failure as a parent because my baby “burrito” ended up looking more like a baby “taco.”

Every time I did manage to get my daughter decently swaddled with a blanket, I feared it would come loose while she slept and cover her face (our pediatrician said I didn’t need to worry about that, but I still did).

So that’s why swaddle sacks are baby registry must haves. By incorporating velcro and zippers, these smartly designed suits take the guesswork out of swaddling. My favorites are the Happiest Baby 5-Second Swaddle and the Ollie Swaddle.


Baby Registry Must Haves Dock a TotI did not put a Dock a Tot on my baby registry and in hindsight, wish I had. Yes, the Dock a Tot may be pricy (they range from $175 to $300), but they provide a great place for baby to nap or hang out in during the day. It’s also lightweight and can be easily moved throughout your home. You can also purchase an adorable toy arch to go over it.

I especially love Dock a Tot’s new Seascapes collection. It wasn’t released yet when I purchased mine, but I wish it were!

I bought a Dock a Tot after the Fisher Price Rock N Play was recalled, which is where I was planning on putting baby for supervised daytime naps. Some parents use the Dock a Tot so their babies can co-sleep in bed with them, while others put it in a crib or bassinet for their babies to sleep in overnight. I only use it during the day when I’ve got eagle eyes on my baby.


While we have a crib, our baby has yet to doze in it. Instead, she sleeps alongside our bed in a Snoo smart bassinet bassinet.

Baby Registry Must Haves The SnooI know it’s expensive, but if a group of family or friends are looking to go in on a big ticket item, the Snoo is absolutely worth it. The high tech device is the brainchild of Dr. Harvey Karp, a leading pediatrician who coined the 5 Ss to calm a fussy baby (swaddle, side or stomach position, shush, swing and suck).

The Snoo rocks your baby to sleep using different levels of movement and white noise. It automatically responds to a baby’s cries and adjusts the rocking and noise as needed.

As a new mom, I didn’t quite understand how sleep deprived I would be with a newborn, so anything to help your baby catch a few more ZZZs (and you) is incredibly invaluable. I cannot stress that enough.

The Snoo is recommended for baby’s from birth to six months old, or until they can get up on their hands and knees (the weight limit is 25 pounds). I didn’t get the Snoo until my daughter was seven weeks old, but it was still worth it at that point. This is one of best baby registry must haves for keeping yourself sane as a new parent!


Baby Registry Must Haves Hatch Sound MachineThink a quiet room is best for a sleeping baby? Think again. Babies hate the quiet (because the womb is anything but quiet). The Hatch Sound Machine is a great way to add soothing white noise to whatever space your little nugget is sleeping in.

From rain showers to gentle lullabies, there’s a selection of sounds to choose from. You can also adjust the color and brightness of the light, and you can control everything from your smartphone app, which is so convenient when you need to get a little light for a middle-of-the-night feeding.

One of my most used baby registry must haves, the Hatch Sound Machine offers just enough light to change or feed your baby, but not too much to where it will over-wake them. Also, a helpful tip is to use the red light which is less stimulating than other colors.

Baby Registry Must Haves Shusher


Apparently shushing a baby is an ancient way of putting them to sleep (hence why shushing is one of Dr. Harvey Karp’s 5 Ss to calm a fussy baby). But in the middle of the night, when you’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open, shushing feels like an exhaustive task. That’s where this gadget comes in. It offers a repetitive human “shushing” noise timed from 15 to 30 minute increments. It’s also portable so you can use it on the go. I use it in the car if baby girl starts fussing.


Baby Registry Must Haves Solly Baby WrapThis wrap is awesome. It’s one of my top baby registry must haves. The Solly Baby wrap is basically a very long and narrow lightweight piece of fabric that you wrap around your body and tie to hold your baby snug to your chest.

On the first day my husband went back to work, I called him crying. I felt paralyzed because I couldn’t put Grace down. If I did, she’d cry. My husband came home during his lunch break that day and during that time I quickly figured out how to use my wrap. It worked like a charm.

Grace was snug as a bug and sleeping soundly and I was able to get some stuff done around the house (although bending down to unload the dishwasher is not the easiest thing to do when you’re wearing it, but it is possible). I also use the wrap to take Grace out on walks and she sleeps peacefully the whole time.


Everyone says all newborns do is sleep all day. But that’s not always the case, especially if you can’t hold them all of the time because you need to get a few things done (like shower and go to the bathroom … Oh, and maybe eat those questionable leftovers in your fridge). Whether it’s during the day or at night, not all newborns like going to sleep on their own. Sometimes they need a little help lulling themselves off to sleepy land.

Baby Registry Must Haves Taking Cara Babies

That’s where the “Taking Cara Babies” class comes in. Cara is a neonatal nurse, wife of a pediatrician, and mom, so she has quite a bit of experience with babies. She has a wealth of tips to help babies learn how to fall asleep on their own and extend the amount of time they stay down. She also provides a nap schedule to try and follow during the day to encourage baby to sleep better at night.

For a sleep-deprived parent, a snoozing baby is music to their ears. The classes come in video form with helpful informational sheets you can download.


Baby Registry Must Haves HaakaaIf you are planning on breastfeeding, a Haakaa is so incredibly helpful. The silicone breast pump suctions to your breast and draws out milk. In the early weeks, I used it almost every time I breastfed. I typically alternate breasts with each feed, so whatever breast my baby isn’t nursing from, I attach the Haakaa to (TIP: If using it while breastfeeding in a cross cradle hold, attach it sideways so it doesn’t get in the way of the baby).

The Haakaa helps me collect a good amount of milk without having to deal with the hassle of setting up my pump and washing all of the parts. My husband then uses that milk to bottle feed my baby when we’re on the go, to top her off before bed, or our parents use it if I run out for a quick errand.

The Haakaa also helps relieve the uncomfortable engorgement you can experience in the middle of the night once baby starts sleeping longer stretches (hallelujah!). That’s why this makes my baby registry must haves list.


Baby Registry Must Haves Nursing PadsIf you’re breastfeeding, your boobs will most likely leak … at least they did for me. Nursing pads can help you avoid embarrassing wet marks on the front of your shirt. You place them inside your bra and voila! While the Kindred Bravely Nursing Pads aren’t as discreet from the outside of your shirt as Bamboobies, I’ve found that they are super absorbent and also super soft. That’s key because putting fabric against your nipples when you’re nursing can hurt like a b. These pads also come in a cute little storage bag.


Baby Registry Must Haves Nursing CoverNeed a little privacy when breastfeeding your little one in public? Check. Want to protect your baby from the sun? Check. How about distractions while they nap? Check. Oh and what about a cute infinity scarf you can wear around your neck? Quadruple check. The Copper Pear Multi-Use Covers are very handy and come in the cutest patterns. My favorite is the peachy Caroline style.

My only complaints are that it’s hard to wriggle the whole thing down around the back of your body, and during the summer it can get hot.  I don’t like the thought of my baby being uncomfortable, so I also invested in this wrap by Bebe Au Lait.

The muslin material is much lighter (it’s actually almost see-through) and in the shape of a cape with an open back. Also, the neckline has wire it in so you can look down and see baby as well as readjust her as needed.


While I don’t use it all of the time, a Boppy pillow has come in handy during breastfeeding. The half-round pillow hugs your tummy so you can prop baby on top, bringing them closer to your breast. It’s also a great pillow to sit on right after labor, especially in the car! Here’s a tip: You can find a bunch of cute covers on Etsy.

Baby Registry Must Haves Footies


My friends all told me to get zipper footies (also known as “sleep n plays”) because they make those middle-of-the-night diaper changes so much easier … They were right. Zipping is so much quicker than snapping buttons together.

Our baby girl doesn’t just wear her footies at night. In the early days, she pretty much lived in them all day.

My favorites are from Carter’s. They have a cute selection of more subtly designed styles like this pair (I’m not into bright, graphic designs but they have those too).


Even if you don’t swaddle your baby in them, a set of muslin blankets are good to have. My baby was born in the spring, so we’ve used them as more of a light weight blanket when venturing outside, or driving in the car. My favorite set is the Peach Rose trio by Spearmint Love.


Baby Registry Must Haves Burt's Bees Burp ClothsBurp cloths are essential for collecting drool or spit up. I especially love this 5-pack from Burt’s Bees, which is made of 100 percent organic cotton and also super cute. I use them all day/every day and since they come with so many, I constantly get a new one and throw the used one in the wash.


I use three washcloths every time I wash my baby. Two to keep her body warm and one to wash it (starting with her face). So it’s definitely a good idea to stock up on washcloths. These ones from Burt’s Bees come in a pack of three and are made from 100 percent organic cotton.


These animal towel & washcloth sets from Pottery Barn Kids are both adorable and plush. My daughter looks so cute and snuggly in hers after she gets out of the bath. They come in blush bunny (my fav), white panda and grey elephant. I’d recommend getting multiple bath towels so you don’t have to do laundry as often. This is one of the cutest items on my list of baby registry must haves!


Baby Registry Must Haves Fisher Price Soothing River Baby BathGiving your first bath to a baby is a very scary thing, so you’ll want a good infant bath tub to help you get the job done safely. We received the Fisher-Price Soothing River Luxury Calming Vibrations Tub and have liked it so far. You can use it within a full size bath tub, large sink, or on it’s own. It has different configurations so you can use it with a newborn all the way up to a toddler.

The tub also features a vibrating unit to help calm baby during bath time (to be honest, we don’t often use that feature). It comes with a whale scoop and rinsing bottle that are super helpful when washing up your little one. When you’re done using the tub, you can also hang it to dry on your shower curtain rod using the convenient built-in hook.


Baby Registry Must Haves BabyganicsI love the entire line of Babyganics products: The laundry detergent, shampoo/body wash, sunscreen (which I use myself), baby lotion and bottle cleaner (which also doubles as a great cleaner for invisible braces). The line of products is made from plant-derived ingredients that are not only safe for baby, but also for you.

I recommend stocking up on all of these products. Don’t just request one item of each on your registry … Request a lot , especially the laundry detergent and bottle cleaner, which we go through fast.


If you’re concerned with extraneous ingredients and chemicals in baby products, then these wipes are for you. They contain only water and a drop of fruit extract. The tagline says it all: “The world’s purest baby wipe.” Nuff said.


Baby Registry Must Haves Boppy LinersYou’ve got the changing pad and pretty changing pad cover. Now all you need are some Boppy changing pad liners. That’s because babies like to make a mess. These liners are so helpful. Instead of having to wash your changing pad cover every time your baby surprises you with some pee or poo mid-change, you can just throw these liners into the washing machine and grab a new one.


During my baby’s second week home from the hospital, she caught a cold. It was horrible. She was struggling to breathe at night. I was so happy I had put the VAVA humidifier on my registry. I ran it nonstop to try to ease her congestion. It’s not bulky like other humidifiers and it’s quiet and easy to fill.


Baby Registry Must Haves - Electric Nail FileI don’t know about you, but the thought of cutting my baby’s nails is terrifying. Her fingers are so itty bitty and I’m afraid of hurting her. Thankfully, this electric nail trimmer gently files your little one’s nails.

It comes with interchangeable files that can be used for different age groups. While it is at times a bit of a struggle to get my baby to sit still long enough to file her nails, I’ve had better luck after bath time or after a feeding when she is more relaxed. That said, she has never fussed once while I use it on her.


This also came in handy during that week my baby was suffering from a cold. We sprayed some saline in her nostril and then used the NoseFrida Snotsucker to suck the mucus out.

Baby Registry Must Haves Ingenuity Bouncer


I didn’t use a lounge chair during the first few weeks of my baby’s life … She just seemed too little to put her in one and would also cry when we put her down. But as she got a bit older, I began to use this chair more and more. It’s great for when I’m in the kitchen trying to cook. She hangs out for a bit until she fusses and have to pick her up again. My mom got the Ingenuity InLighten Twinkle Tails Bouncer chair at Target and it is absolutely adorable. It’s super soft and I like that it’s a nice neutral color.


Baby Registry Must Haves Freshly Picked Diaper BagI toiled for a long time over which diaper bag to put on my registry. My goal was to find something stylish and cute because I knew I’d be using it on a daily basis.

I fell in love with a butterscotch bag from Freshly Picked, which is both adorable and useful. You can wear it as a backpack or as an over-the-shoulder bag.

It has a lot of space and compartments, including an insulated one for bottles. It also comes with a changing pad inside.

Another cute new color they now offer is “fig,” which is a blush hue (see picture on right).


Baby Registry Must Haves Uppa Baby Travel SystemThis is another big-ticket item on my baby registry must haves list that perhaps multiple people would go in on. Uppa Baby offers the Mesa car seat and Vista stroller in a package and it has been wonderful for our family. The car seat keeps our baby safe and secure with it’s side impact protection, and the stroller is easily collapsible and transportable.

While Uppa Baby offers a different, less expensive stroller, we opted for the Vista because it can grow with your family. If you have a second child, you can use the toddler seat with a car seat, or two toddler seats, etc.

It also comes with both a bassinet and a toddler seat, which you can switch out in addition to the car seat. And the base of the stroller is very large, so you can put your diaper bag there, or fill it when you go grocery shopping.


Baby Registry Must Haves So Peep Car MirrorAs a first-time parent, I spend a lot of time looking at my daughter to make sure she’s okay … I literally stare at her when she sleeps to make sure she’s still breathing. It’s hard any time she’s not in my line of sight. So as you can imagine, the idea of her sitting in the backseat of my car while I drive was terrifying.

So when it comes to baby registry must haves, a great mirror is key because it allows you to check in on your little one periodically as you’re on the road. The one by So Peep straps onto the headrest of your backseat and features shatterproof acrylic glass.


I have the Lovevery Play Gym and love it. Pun intended. It’s designed by child development experts and features activities to help babies learn to focus, bat toys, and assist them through teething. As an added bonus, it’s also super cute.


I didn’t learn about subscription play kits until after Grace was born. In hindsight, it would have been a great thing to register for. The Lovevery Play Kits offer a selection of Monessori-based toys appropriate for your child’s age. The toys ship directly to you every two to three months depending on what stage your child is in, and they’re made from sustainably sourced wood and organic cotton.


When it comes to baby registry must haves, gift cards are so useful, especially those to Amazon, Target and Buy Buy Baby. There will be stuff you’ll find you’ll need once baby arrives, whether it’s more wipes or diapers, gadgets or gizmos. So it’s great to have money to spend on those items.


Baby Registry Must Haves Purple CarrotMaybe it’s just me, but I find it virtually impossible to get out of the house with a baby in tow, let alone go grocery shopping. Who wants to spend any spare time they have perusing the aisles of a grocery store? That’s especially true when you can just as easily order necessities online.

Between my parents and my husband’s, we’ve been able to do minimal grocery shopping thus far, but when I do need something they haven’t been able to get, I use a service like Stop & Shop’s Peapod. That way the groceries magically appear at my front door.

I also find with a new baby that meal subscription services are key … because ordering delivery gets old after a while. My favorite is Purple Carrot, which offers plant-based dishes that have no meat and no dairy. I like that the meals are healthy and, for the most part, easy to cook.

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