*This page is under construction! There are lists below, but I’m in the process of making this a more thorough registry guide. If you want to know when it’s done, sign up for my free mom life email course and you’ll hear about the completely registry as soon as it’s done! Sorry for the delay!
You’re glowing with excitement about a new baby, so naturally, you walk into Babies R Us, or hop on to Amazon, or Google “must haves for new baby,” because you’re going to channel all of your desires to be prepared into that darn baby registry. And the stores and websites tell you that YOUR BABY NEEDS ALL THE THINGS. It’s understandably overwhelming to do a baby registry, because it’s so hard to know what you’re really going to need or want.
After having 3 babies in under 4 years, we decided we were done. To help my emotions move past the baby stage, I got rid of most baby things. Then, we changed our minds and decided to go for a 4th 🙂 (Let that be a lesson to you… LOL) So, we had to reacquire a lot of baby items.
All that to say, we quickly figured out what the must haves for new baby are and what you really don’t need.
This list won’t be the universal must-have list for every parent because everyone has different preferences. Although we are not hard-core minimalists, we’ve lived in a relatively small space with all our kiddos & just had to keep baby stuff to a minimum. #tinyclosetproblems Plus, there is so much out there, it’s just silly. That’s why I stuck to creating a minimalist baby registry guide.
The categories in this minimalist baby registry are:
- Snuggle, Sleep & Clean
- Toys & Play
(Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You can read what I do and don’t promote here.)
Where to register?
I would do something like Amazon or Babylist. It would be fun to walk through Babies R Us or Buy Buy baby to see things in person, but their prices are almost ALWAYS more expensive than online options, and their selection is more limited.
Online baby registries are just easier for most people.
Don’t forget to budget
While all the tiny things are so fun to look at, it’s so important to budget for all the upcoming expenses! Click here to read my how-to-budget-for-baby guide that includes a price list & free downloadable spreadsheet for you to calculate expenses in.
If you keep an eye on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace, you can find a lot of things for over 50% less than buying new.* We’ve used a buy and resell strategy for most big ticket items instead of storing stuff. For example, we bought a nice fisher price swing for $50, then sold it for $50 4 months later when baby outgrew it.
Don’t forget to take stuff you buy used off your registry.
*I’d buy anything used except a carseat!
MINIMALIST BABY REGISTRY: GEAR
- Bassinet/ portable bed. We used this on the floor at night, moved baby around for naps, brought it outside for baby to sleep while the toddler played, or put it up on a table during the day so toddler couldn’t attack. These old fashioned moses baskets are cute too. (If you live in an urban area and will be walking a LOT, it might make more sense to get a bassinet that clips in and out of your stroller like this City Select one or this Phil & Ted’s one.)
- Crib, mattress & cover. Obviously the baby will grow out of a bassinet. We’ve had 4 kids in 5 years and only ever used one crib. (We always had the baby in a pack n play until the big kid was ready to transition out of the crib.) These colorful Jenny Lind cribs are under $200 now, and these more modern looking ones are only $105! Don’t forget a mattress & waterproof mattress cover if your crib doesn’t come with them. We have cheap-ish ones and they work fine.
- Stroller. Having lived in city and suburbs with various aged babes, we’ve learned a stroller really depends on your lifestyle. Of everything we’ve tried, I think the Phil & Ted’s is most flexible and best value for the price.
- Swing. Or one other ‘big’ item for baby to rest in. The one pictured is flexible and the seat can be taken out to function like a bouncer. I preferred the higher up swing (pictured) so that the older siblings were less tempted to sit in it than the ultra portable ones that sit really close to the floor.Other people swear by their rock n plays or bouncers. I’d wait until the last minute to buy a swing because you don’t want to buy a $150 swing only to find out your baby hates it and you’re past the return date. If you buy it right before baby arrives and baby hates it after a couple tries, you’ll likely be able to return it for at least store credit.
- Carrier. I’m not a hard-core baby wearing momma, but we’ve used our Ergo for travel, walks, hiking, and the occasional fussy evening. The new Ergo is super comfortable from newborn up to about 30 lbs, and super flexible for baby positions, size of grownup, etc… People swear by their various wraps, but I never got the hang of them. The Ergo is pricey, but you can likely find one gently used. It will work for every stage of baby, and last through all your kiddos.
- Seat. This is my favorite baby seat. We use this one baby seat as a bumbo, highchair, booster, etc. If I could go back in time, I might invest in a Stokke chair (or this highly rated knockoff) knowing that we’d have so many kids who could use it for so long. But I love that our baby seat is small, portable, and multipurpose!
- Carseat. Most people will be well-served by an infant carrier carseat with a base for easy snapping in. We’ve always just used one base, but if you’re juggling daycare pickup with someone else, 2 bases is probably worth it because they’re so darn easy and secure. We have a Chicco Keyfit but it’s super heavy. If I were buying again, I’d get a Graco. It’s just as safe and a little cheaper. (Don’t pay extra for the 35-pound Graco one, you won’t need it.)
- Convertible carseat. Your baby will likely grow out of the infant carrier carseat in height before s/he reaches the 25-35 pound weight limit. Then, you’ll need a “convertible carseat.” (For our chubby 90%th percentile babies, it’s around 6-10 months.) Your baby will start out facing backwards in it, then turn around to be forwards in it eventually. That’s why it’s called “convertible infant seat.” We’ve tried a bunch of carseats, and I really wish I would have bought this Diono Radian RXT the first time. It’s ultra safe, easy to install, has a cup holder, and can go from newborn all the way until your 8 year old needs it as a booster with the regular car seat buckle.
MINIMALIST BABY REGISTRY: CLOTHES
Technically, you can get by with a pack of onesies and a blanket. BUT, a little more than that is nice.
- Short sleeve onesies. 4-6 because they’re amazing.
- Long sleeve onesies. 4-6 because they’re also amazing.
- Zip up footie jammies. 3-5 in either cotton or fleece, depending on what season baby will arrive in. Skip the snaps. I repeat, no snaps. If you use snaps, you may find yourself crying in the middle of the night because you’re so tired and you did 14 snaps only to find at the 15th one you were off by one. Not that I speak from experience… 😉
- Magnetic jammies. What the what!? Technology is amazing. If you can afford exclusively magnetic footie jammies, buy 8-10 of these in each size and skip all other clothing. Ha! They are a total luxury, not a necessity. But, if I knew I’d get 4 kids’ use out of these, I’d totally have bought a couple gender neutral ones in each size with the first babe. Because they make middle of the night feedings & diaper changes that much easier.
- Socks. 1 multi pack of 4-6 should do it because they don’t get dirty. We use them as mittens too as some babies are prone to spontaneously scratching their eyes out.
- Hat. 1 is enough because they won’t really get dirty and you just use it early on to keep baby warm. The 2-pks from h&m are cheap and cute.
- Pants. 4-6 to go with the onesies. It’s much more economical to buy a 5-pack of onesies & two 2-packs of pant than to buy 5 or 6 separate “outfits.”
- Bonus outfit. 1-2 at most. Let’s be honest, babies are tiny and adorable and fun to dress. We always ended up being gifted extra totally unnecessary outfits like tiny dresses, cardigans, and blazers that were ridiculously cute. These are fun & definitely not a necessity.
Buy first 2 sizes right before baby arrives
If you don’t get gifted what you need, I’d buy everything pictured above in sizes newborn & 0-3 months (labeled just 3 months at some stores). Buy it close to when baby comes and keep the tags on most things so that you can return newborn sizes if you don’t need them. As baby grows, you can order what you need in size 3-6 month (6mos).
Also, check a local kids’ resale store if you’re up for it. I snagged 5 packs of onesies for $3.50 and zip up fleece jammies for $1.50 each. They look brand new because most babies are in these first couple sizes for less than 4 months.
Basically you need 4-6 of each item. Sometimes that’ll get you through a week, and sometimes baby will explode so much bodily fluid you’ll go through 5 outfits in a day. (Side note: we’ve tried all the brands of newborn diapers because I’m all about cheap diapers. But pampers swaddlers holds everything the best. That’s always what I get for NB & size 1, then I switch over to costco, target, or huggies brands.)
MINIMALIST BABY REGISTRY: Snuggle, Sleep, & Clean
- Pacifier. I like the nuk brand because they have a little curve that I think helps baby hold on to them better. (Double check age/size of what you buy!) Some babies have a stronger urge to suck than others. I couldn’t figure out why my 1st little one seemed to NEED to be attached to my boob all the time. Then a seasoned mom friend suggested a paci to soothe her suck urge. Turns out she did have a strong urge because she still sucks her thumb at almost 5! And yes, your baby can nurse & have a paci. All 3 of ours have so far.
- Sound Machine. At first I was anti sleep-crutch. Then I had kids and realized white noise makes a load of difference. They are way less likely to startle awake with some white noise in the background. Any sound machine is fine. We have the one pictured and it works great… until your 1 year old figures out how to turn it on and off, unplug it, & drag it all over the house.
- Velcro Swaddlers. Get a 2-3 pack in size small. (We didn’t like the “pod” one as much.) We have LOVED these with all of our kids. I never could quite figure out how to swaddle a baby tight enough with a blanket, but the velcro makes it easy. All our kids ended up sleeping in one until they learned to roll. They would squirm in it and grunt and wiggle, then suddenly give into the straight jacket baby burrito vibe and end up sleeping so much more soundly.
- Blankets. The quantity that will be useful is 3-4 soft muslin swaddle blankets, 1 “favorite” blanket, and 1 baby quilt. Granted, if you get gifted more or just love blankets like I do, you might end up with more 😉
- Crib sheets. 4 sheets have served us well. For a long time we had only 2… then we had a massive stomach flu virus run through our house. Ha! Minimalist Fail! From then on, we’ve always had at least four. Any cheap sheets will do. I like the jersey material like Burt’s Bees makes because they’re easier to get on the mattress and super soft.
- Nail Clippers. We’re weird and like grownup nail clippers for babies… the baby specific nail clippers feel like trying to cut with dull knives. Maybe that’s just me.
- Thermometer. We’ve tried several including the forehead beeping one. It stunk. The ear one is the best and super fast!
- Sleep Book. I talk more about sleep training in my “7 tips to prepare for baby” post, but I wrote a short ebook on sleep training. You can snag the first 3 chapters for free here.
- Soap & Lotion. We’ve often use generic brand and our kids turned out ok 😉 I love that yellow bottle johnson & johnson smell too.
- Soft wash cloths. The tiny patterned baby ones in the baby aisle usually don’t wash/ absorb anything. Really, you can just use your own wash cloths, but I like muslin ones because they double as burp cloths.
- Infant Tylenol. You’ll need this sometime in the first few months for ear infection or teething or something! Generic brand is fine. Pro tip: they sell “infant” tylenol and “children’s” tylenol. It used to be different concentrations and now it’s the same. But they still sell the infant stuff for 4x the cost. As long as the container says 160mg per 5mL you’re good to go. Verify the dosage with your pediatrician obviously.
OPTIONAL snuggle, sleep & clean stuff
Baby Bath. We didn’t use a baby bathtub for our first because we both were free to be on baby bath duty. Ben would hold her with two hands and I’d wash. As we’ve added to our crew, we’ve found the tub to come in handy because whoever is bathing the baby is often working solo. Here’s the baby bath tub we have, and here’s a cool space-saving one that we probably should have since all of us share one bathroom!
Snot Sucker. aka: Nose Frida. We never used one, but some moms swear by it. They’ll send you home from the hospital with the little blue nasal aspirator if you want, but generally, they’re not super useful.