Baby Must-Haves (and Don't-Needs) for Your Registry

Shop smart for your new baby with this checklist of infant necessities, nice-to-haves, and baby items you don't need to spend money on.

If you're registering for your baby shower, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Both online and brick-and-mortar retailers may have you convinced that you need everything they have to sell.

Try to keep in mind that the list of basics your baby actually needs after birth is a pretty short list. Of course, there are things that—while not essential—can make your job as a parent easier, which is why we've compiled this baby registry checklist as your guide to all things baby gear.

We've categorized must-have baby items as "necessities." Other baby things that you might appreciate (but some parents find to be a waste of money) are listed as "nice-to-haves." We also mention unsafe products that you should avoid.

Using this checklist as a guide, you'll be able to discern between baby essentials and needless items, saving time and money as you prepare for parenthood. But keep in mind that every family's needs are different, so this list can (and should!) be modified as needed.

Nursery Furniture

The necessities:

  • Crib
  • Crib mattress

The nice-to-haves:

  • Changing table
  • Bassinet (though it's only safe until 3 to 6 months or 15 pounds)
  • Rocking chair or glider
  • Humidifier or vaporizer
  • Dresser/chest
  • Hamper
  • Baby monitor, if you have a big house

What you don't need: A secondhand crib. Get a new one for safety purposes instead.

Baby Linens

The necessities:

  • 2 fitted crib sheets
  • Several thin cotton receiving blankets
  • 1 or 2 waterproof mattress protectors
  • Swaddle or wearable sleep sack

The nice-to-haves:

  • Matching quilt or a crib skirt (they're only decorative)

What you don't need: Pillows, sleep positioners, bumper pads, or mattress padding. All of these items increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and they should be kept out of the crib.

Babyproofing Gear

The necessities (after 4 months):

  • Gates at the top and bottom of all stairs
  • Cabinet latches
  • Drawer latches
  • Outlet covers
  • Furniture anchors

The nice-to-haves:

  • Toilet lock
  • Corner guards for low tables
  • Fireplace bumper

Formula-Feeding Gear

The necessities

  • About 8 bottles with newborn nipples (try several brands to find the one your baby prefers)
  • Bottle-cleaning brush or a dishwasher basket
  • Bottle-drying rack
  • Several weeks' worth of baby formula to start
  • 6 or more cotton bibs
  • 6 or more burp cloths (cloth diapers do the job)
  • Insulated cooler/carrier for outings

The nice-to-haves:

  • Dry formula dispenser
  • Bottle sterilizer

What you don't need: A bottle warmer (heating in hot water takes the same amount of time) or a bottle proper (unless you have multiples; use it sparingly when you can't otherwise feed all the babies at once)

Breastfeeding Gear

The necessities:

  • Nursing pillow
  • 2-3 nursing bras
  • 2-3 boxes of nursing pads or a set of reusable pads
  • 6 or more burp cloths (cloth diapers do the job)
  • Freezer-safe breast milk storage bags or containers

The nice-to-haves:

  • Breast pump (a double electric pump offers the most convenience, but some parents prefer hand pumps)
  • Several bottles and nipples, if someone else will be feeding your baby pumped breast milk
  • Nipple cream for the first few weeks

RELATED: How to Breastfeed Your Baby: Nursing 101

Solid Food Feeding Gear

The necessities (not needed until 4 to 6 months):

  • High chair
  • Bibs
  • Infant feeding silverware
  • Infant bowl

The nice-to-haves:

RELATED: Baby's First Foods: How to Introduce Solids

Diapering Gear

The necessities:

  • 2 packs of newborn diapers to start
  • Wipes
  • Diaper rash ointment
  • Waterproof changing table pad
  • 2-3 changing table pad covers (usually cotton or terry cloth)
  • Diaper pail or trash can with a lid

If you're cloth diapering, you'll want to check out our full guide to cloth diapering.

The nice-to-haves:

  • 4-5 waterproof square or rectangular pads for under your baby's bottom (these will protect the cover that's protecting the pad—you can also use a towel)
  • Baby cream, if your baby has dry skin

What you don't need: A wipe warmer or a diaper stacker (though they're pretty)

chicco bravo trio travel system on colored background
Courtesy of Chicco

Bathing and Grooming Gear

The necessities:

  • 2 hooded towels
  • 4 washcloths
  • Infant tub (for after the umbilical cord falls off)
  • Bath seat or inflatable tub-within-a-tub (for after 6 months)
  • Baby bath wash
  • Baby shampoo
  • Baby comb and brush set
  • Nail scissors/nail clippers/nail file set
  • A rinse cup

The nice-to-haves:

  • Bath toys
  • Mesh bag to store bath toys
  • Bath thermometer
  • Faucet guard

What you don't need: A baby-size robe. It's hard enough to get your baby dressed in their real clothes!

Baby Clothing

The necessities:

  • 7 or more snap-crotch bodysuits/onesies
  • 3-4 T-shirts and/or side-snap shirts
  • Several snap-up or zippered rompers
  • Several shirt-and-pant sets
  • 7 pairs of pajamas and/or sleeping gowns
  • Sun hat
  • Cold-weather hat
  • Bunting or snowsuit if it gets cold
  • 6 pairs of booties and/or socks
  • Baby hangers for the closet

The nice-to-haves:

  • A special outfit for bringing your baby home and/or showing them off
  • Cardigan sweater

What you don't need: Shoes. Wait until your baby is walking outside (i.e., the toddler years).

Baby Travel Gear

The necessities:

  • Convertible car seat that fits a newborn
  • Stroller that accommodates a newborn
  • Diaper bag filled with diapers, wipes, and a spare outfit
  • Baby carrier that can accommodate a newborn

The nice-to-haves:

  • Infant car seat and base
  • Baby wrap or sling for newborns and lighter infants
  • Baby hiking backpack (for after 6 months)
  • Stroller that your car seat fits onto
  • Rain cover for the stroller
  • Warm blanket or "boot" to wrap your baby in during winter strolls
  • Sunshades for the car windows
  • Big diaper bag for overnight trips

What you don't need: A mirror to see your baby in the car; these can be a hazard if there's an accident. Also, avoid secondhand car seats for safety reasons.

First Baby Toys

No necessities, but these baby items are nice-to-haves:

  • Soft books and board books
  • Rattles
  • Soft blocks
  • Activity gym/play mat
  • Toys that attach to the stroller
  • Something plush that crinkles, rattles, and squeaks
  • Baskets to store toys in all the key places, like your baby's room, the living room, and the kitchen

What you don't need: Car seat toy bars. These are an added risk if there's an accident.

Baby Seats

The necessities:

  • Bouncer seat or infant seat
  • Stationary activity center (once baby is 4 months old)
  • Playmat

The nice-to-haves:

  • Swing
  • Moses basket (though only usable until baby reaches 3 months)
  • Portable play yard

What you don't need: A walker or a jumper. Get a stationary center instead, for safety reasons.

Baby Care Basics

The necessities:

  • Several pacifiers (try different brands to see which one your baby prefers)
  • Thermometer
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Infant Tylenol
  • Nasal aspirator
  • Electrolyte drink, such as Pedialyte, to treat dehydration

The nice-to-haves:

  • Teether
  • Vapor cream and/or vapor bath
  • Saline nose drops
  • Antigas medicine or gripe water
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