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Baby showers are traditionally held around week 36, and you may have already gotten everything you’ll need for baby by then. If not, having a shower hosted on your behalf will let your friends and family help you finish any stocking up.
Registering for gifts for people to shower you with might come off as a little grabby to a first-time mom-to-be, but people really do want to know what to you need, don’t want to burden you with stuff that you don’t, and want to be able to share in your happiness with you. For more on shower etiquette and games, see this article.
That said, what should you register for and what do you really need? Registering for a crib seems a little excessive, but there’s no harm in using your registry list as your to-buy list, so long as you’re sure to include items from all price ranges on your list.
We suggest printing out the charts of baby clothes and gear below to take to the store with you or to refer to as you register online. There are also apps and sites such as babyli.st that let you add items from any store and combine online registries from different sites into one place.
Before you add a big-ticket item like a car seat, crib, stroller, swing or high chair, or begin to use a hand-me-down item, check product reviews and specific brand and model recalls on the CPSC web site.
Just the must-havesThere's so much baby gear out there, what do you really need to buy? Here's a quick chart of stuff that's essential, with minimum amounts.
|Diapers||at least one package of size one diapers (10+ pounds).||You'll probably be given newborn diapers at the hospital, so don't buy more than a small package of them (if any).|
|Clothes (see our article, "How Many Onesies?")||Bodysuits (10), nightgowns (6), socks (a lot), sweaters, a few hats, some bibs, and a coat for cold weather.||It's not a bad idea to buy a few different brands of bodysuits (onesies) to see what kind fits your baby best.|
|A car seat||1||Consider skipping the "baby bucket" for a seat with a large size range (some go from 6-to 70 pounds!)|
|Crib, Crib Mattress, cover,sheets (see article, "Crib-Shopping Tips"||1 crib, 1 mattress (see this article on picking a mattress), 2 or more fitted sheets, one mattress-protecting cover (optional)||Note your crib mattress can also be used for a toddler bed, so expect to keep the mattress until your future child is ready for a twin bed or larger.|
|Chair for baby's room||1||It's optional, but it's very nice to have a rocking chair in the baby's room for rocking baby or keeping him or her company in the bed or crib.|
|Changing table/table pad/pad cover(s)||1 table and pad, one or more covers||Go for a changing table with rails, a durable-looking pad that will last two years or more, washable covers in any color but white.|
|Soft carrier||1||Your baby will go through a stage of wanting to be held all the time. You'll appreciate a carrier that distributes baby's weight evenly onto your shoulders and hips and lets you keep your hands free.|
|Bassinet or co-sleeper||1||It's optional, but a lot of parents appreciate being able to keep a newborn close at hand in the bedroom. Note that a *lot* of bassinets and sleepers have been recalled; search online for recalls before buying any model or using a secondhand bassinet or sleeper.|
|Feeding supplies: bottles, nipples, a bottle brush, and/or breastfeeding and/or bottlefeeding supplies||at least 6 bottles and nipples for storing/feeding pumped milk or formula, one bottle brush and (optional) a drying rack and/or ring-and-nipple "cage" for the dishwasher.||If you know you're going to formula feed you'll need formula, of course, see this article, "How Much Formula Can I Expect to Buy?"
If you plan to breastfeed, here's a list of recommended breastfeeding supplies.
|Fan||1||Studies have found that having a fan in the baby's room reduces the risk of SIDS by 72 % (see this article on safe sleep). If you have a ceiling fan just set it to low to keep air moving. If not, a simple desk fan will do to help eliminate the pockets of CO2 that are thought to contribute to baby deaths from SIDS.|
The clothes you'll needThe minimum recommended number of clothing items to have on hand before baby.
|Type of garment||Number you'll need||Description/notes|
|Baby onesies||6-10||A "onesie" is a snap-crotch baby bodysuit. Buy two in the newborn size just to have something that fits perfectly, but buy the rest in the 6-month size, or larger. Get short sleeves for warm weather and long sleeves for winter, or a combination of the two, and use the short-sleeve versions for undershirts. Check for soft inside seams, and inspect for loose strings after every laundering.|
|Nightgowns, footed sleepers or sleep sacks||6||Since you're not supposed to put blankets in a newborn's crib, her nightgowns should be warm enough for her to not need one. Pick more thermal sleep sacks for cold weather, a simple diaper and a onesie may be plenty in summer. Though baby can't regulate her temperature she's still comfortable at the same temperature as adults. Make sure her crib is not positioned directly under a heating or a/c vent.|
|Socks||8-10 pair||Babies are notorious for losing socks, so get a single color or design. Extra elastic to help them stay on is a plus. Wash them in a lingerie bag to keep them from getting lost in the laundry.|
|Baby sweaters or fleece pullovers||2-3 (depending on your climate and season)||Buy a 3-6 month size, then roll up the sleeves. Make sure they are machine-washable. Go for zip-front cardigans or a snap-neckline, avoid anything with more than a couple of buttons.|
|Hat||2||Most babies don't seem to like hats, but they can help keep baby warm in winter and shielded from sun in the summer. Expect to lose one.|
|Bibs||around 4||All babies go through a phase of being massively drooly before their teeth come in. Some terry-cloth bibs can help save clothing and soft carriers from needing excessive washing. Once baby starts solids at around six months you'll also want some waterproof, heavier-duty bibs.|
|Receiving blankets||around 4||Useful for swaddling a newborn or protecting clothes and shoulders for spit-ups. Choose the 28-inch or 36-inch size in a soft, absorbent cotton flannel or a waffle weave.|
|Reusable diapers||2 - 12, plus 2-6 diaper covers||Even if you don't plan to use cloth diapers it's a good idea to have a couple of reusables on hand in case you run out of disposables. If you are considering cloth diapering, get a few different brands and types before buying several days' worth at once. You can expect to change your baby's diaper about 8-10 times a day (less often as she grows).|
|Coat or snowsuit||1-2||If your baby is due in the late summer or fall you'll need a coat or bunting for going out. When it rains you can keep baby in a soft carrier with a poncho over both of you or hold an umbrella over baby. Some strollers also offer a rain cover, which might be useful if you live in the Pacific Northwest, Ireland or the UK. If you're due in spring, just get a light coat or a few sweaters and take the baby shopping for cold-weather clothes after s/he arrives.|
Gear: nice-to-havesIn the world of baby gear there are scores of convenience items. For the need-to-have essentials, see this article, and for a list of clothing items see this article. You'll have real new needs as a new mom: you need a place to hold the baby while you're cooking dinner or taking a shower, you need a way to get your baby around because you can't carry him everywhere. Some products are nice to have: your baby might like tummy time with a squish mat, but you can also just put baby on your chest. Here we have a list of common products and alternative solutions.
|The Product||The Problem(s) it Solve(s)||Alternatives||Recommendation|
|High chair||Place to put baby in the kitchen or dining room, place for baby to eat after s/he can hold their own bottle and eat solids.||Cooking with baby in a soft carrier or backpack, feeding baby from your lap.||If you have the space, you'll appreciate a high chair that reclines and will grow with baby from newborn to toddler. Even before baby can be fed in the chair s/he'll love sitting up high and watching you or looking outside. Look for a lightweight , easy-clean model with a tray you can put on and take off one-handed.|
|Soft or hard carrier||Getting baby short distances with at least one hand free.||Alternatives to carrying the baby in your arms are a "baby bucket" car seat and/or a soft carrier.||Your best bet is both a soft carrier and a car seat with a wide size range, and/but for a little more you can get a baby travel system with an infant car seat, stroller base and detachable infant seat, plus a soft carrier for around the house.|
|Stroller||Taking baby on walks||Soft carrier or carrying baby in your arms||Not all strollers are suitable for newborns, and not all strollers can go everywhere. Here's an article on types and uses of strollers.|
|Rocking chair||Soothing, feeding baby||Walking baby, snuggling or feeding baby on a couch, your bed chair or the floor||If you have the space and can afford to, invest in an easy-to-clean chair to nurse, rock sing and read books with baby in. You'll also appreciate a side table for drinks, bottles, pacifiers, magazines, etc.|
|Baby swing||Place to put the baby when you need to do chores around the house, soothes baby||High chair, bouncy chair or activity center||A high chair makes a better place to feed baby, but some babies are soothed by swinging action. And not all bouncy centers and activity centers are safe for newborns. We suggest just getting a high chair before baby's born, then shopping for swings and activity centers with the baby, when you'll have a better idea of what your baby likes.|
|Activity mat||Makes tummy time more fun||Tummy time on your chest, putting a blanket and toys on the floor||Not all babies like activity centers, most would rather have a parent entertaining them for tummy time. But as baby gets to about 3-4 months activity centers can give them motivation to practice push-ups and reaches.|
|Stroller- and high-chair toys||Entertaining baby in stroller, high chair or on the changing table||Wooden spoons, socks, a parent's keys or phone||There are tons of little plastic and fabric toys made for babies that can be linked to stroller bars and activity mats. It's not safe to let your baby mouth your keys or phone, but your baby will find these items entrancing-- if your baby is one of them try the toy versions.|
|Playpens||Keeps baby out of the way, a safe place to put baby if you have to take your eyes off of her for a shower, cook, or to step outside during a crazymaking crying session. Portable playpens can also double as travel cribs.||A high chair, crib or blanket on the floor||Most babies consider playpens baby jails, making them good places for a time out if baby hits or bites. The difficulty getting baby in and out of them make them not good for nightly use as a bassinet.|
|Diaper Bag||Carrying diapers, wipes, bibs, changes of clothes, etc.||A large purse||Diaper bags have come a long way and come in designer stylings with many conveniences, like light-colored interiors with dividers built-in changing pads and special pockets. You can also just throw diapers, wipes, clothes and a changing pad in a regular purse.|