Life With Baby: The Reality of the Registry

day-to-day. the little one.

I know I’m not alone in this. Up at 1:00am, awoken by newborn cries, hobbling out of bed and rubbing my eyes to force them awake. Balancing my newborn in one arm and Googling with my free hand about how often he should be eating. Or how long he should be eating. Or am I holding him properly. Or how many diaper changes in a day is normal. Or when will he sleep longer. Or dear God, how long until he can do this all on his own?!

It seems every new parent has the same questions and Google was my very best friend in those early morning hours. Middle-of-the-night feedings are filled with questions, answers, loneliness, excitement, apprehension, love… but mostly questions. “What am I doing?” and “Am I doing this right?” were on a continuous loop in my head. Searching the internet was like having my mom or my friends in the room with me. It was where I could find sanity when I felt lost, but equally made me second-guess everything I was doing. It’s overwhelming the amount of information there is out there and you don’t know who’s doing it right. Or if any of them are!

It took me about five months after having our son, Theo, to realize that what other people tell you to do/think/buy/follow as a parent really doesn’t matter. You’ve received unsolicited advice from the moment you announced you’re pregnant and before baby even arrives you’re scouring the internet and talking to fellow parents in order to fill out your baby registry. You’re told what you need before you can decide for yourself.  It seems backwards!  I do understand we need guidance in the beginning. A LOT of it.  Because as first-time moms, how could we possibly know what we need??  I’m not saying don’t take the advice – – we need to rely on family and friends who have been there.  What I am saying is, it would have been nice to find a “critical” versus “convenient” list of things you need. I scoured the internet and followed a minimalist’s guide on Pinterest and was SO sure we would use everything because we’d only have the bare necessities.

But, we aren’t. Some items were only used for a few days, and some are still sitting in their packaging. This is the reality of new parenting and it’s a hard, frustrating pill to swallow. Most of the items seem like a good idea in the beginning (i.e. endless pacifiers, blankets, swaddles, etc.), but then you remember that your baby isn’t like all other babies. And you’re not like other parents! The babe will decide what works for him or her and you will too. But as new mamas we want to be prepared so we can enjoy those early weeks as much as possible, without panicking that we didn’t have enough of this or didn’t get that.

Below are some of our basic newborn must-haves.  Of course this will be different for every family, but it was lists like these I was hoping to find more of in those early days.   {Note:  I do not have a paid sponsorship with any of these companies.  These are truly what we’re using day-to-day.}

  • CARSEAT/STROLLER:  To take baby home in!  We found this Chicco BRAVO Travel System and it’s incredibly convenient and versatile.  For under $400 total, you get the carseat (with infant insert), carseat base, and stroller.  The carseat snaps out of the car right onto the stroller, which converts to an umbrella stroller when baby is a bit older.  It’s fairly lightweight* and breaks down for easy travel.
  • Chicco Travel SystemChicco stroller*I’m 5’3″ and can break this down and load into the car with one hand, if necessary!


  • CRIB:  Some prefer a bassinet or co-sleeper in the early months, but for budget and future storage reasons, I registered for a Graco Pack ‘n Play with a newborn napper attachment to use as our bassinet.  But a house move in my third trimester didn’t allow for the PNP in our new bedroom, so Theo began sleeping in his crib the first night we got home.  We did, however, sleep in our guest bed in the same room for his first 3 months.

And the PNP has been used countless times for traveling or just being away from home for the day.  It’s easy to assemble/disassemble for baby naps when we’re spending time with friends and family.

Graco Pack ‘n Play Yard with Newborn Napper Station
Babyletto “Scoot” Crib


  • CHANGING TABLE:  We bought a changing pad and used an existing dresser from Ikea.  I put a no-slip mat underneath the changing pad and the length of the dresser allows for all the diaper/wipes/baby care storage we need!
Changing Pad
Summer Infant Contour Changing Pad ($14.99 on Amazon)
IKEA Hemnes Dresser


  • BABY MONITOR:  We registered for the Summer Infant Wide View Digital Color Baby Monitor.  Love the big screen and it holds battery life pretty well.  It has volume control and a zoom feature.

More expensive versions come with movement and breathing sensors, but we opted not to get those.  For no other reason than we thought video and sound monitoring were enough for our family.

baby monitor
Summer Infant Wide View Baby Monitor ($80-$100)


  • SWADDLES:  4-6 quantity.  It’s excess to have and store any more.  Assuming you can do laundry once a week, this covers what you need daily and extras for any baby blowouts.

We used the traditional Aden & Anais muslin swaddles.  Theo muscled his way out of most swaddles, even the velcro kind.  At about two (2) months old, he started to sleep better with one arm out of the swaddle, so we tried not to restrain him too much.

swaddles 1


  • NURSING PILLOW:  There are a variety of breastfeeding pillows out there, but I love my Boppy.  It offers plenty of support and is easy to move and adjust while using.  Aside from nursing it became a resting spot for Theo after about 3 months and he now, at almost 9 months, loves to crawl all over it 🙂



  • ORTHODONTIC PACIFIERS:  We used the NUK brand pacifiers, 0-6 months.  More prominent in the market nowadays are the Avent “Soothies” which are also attached to the cute little WubbaNub animal pacifiers.  We registered for multiples of these (Ugh!), but Theo never took to them.  Our pediatrician also said they can potentially cause teeth alignment issues down the line, so orthodontic is the way to go.
NUK Ortho Pacifiers
NUK Orthodontic Pacifers
Avent Soothie
Avent “Soothies” – Not orthodontic.


Full Disclosure:  The NUK pacifiers saved us on many fussy occasions and helped put Theo to sleep in the early months, but it got to a point where he would wake once it fell out of his mouth.  So we had to cut it off, cold-turkey.  It was tough for 3-4 nights, but he eventually learned to self-soothe and stayed asleep for longer periods afterward.

  • ONESIES/PAJAMAS WITH HAND COVERS:  Theo was notorious for scratching his face and ears, so these were a lifesaver!  You can fold the covers back to expose baby’s hands when he/she isn’t sleeping.

PJs with hand covers


  • BOUNCER:  This thing was perfect when we needed to do things around the house and/or give our arms a break.  Pretty inexpensive compared to others like it and has an automatic rocking feature.


Ingenuity SmartBounce Automatic Bouncer ($59.99 on Amazon)


  • PORTABLE DIAPER CHANGING STATION – This Skip*Hop diaper changing station saves us when we’re on the go!  A definite must-have when you’re having to change in public restrooms and/or your car.

changing station.jpg

Additional favorites:

  • Skip*Hop Activity Gym – For tummy time!
  • K’tan Baby Carrier – An easy to wear wrap-style baby carrier when you need your hands free.  We also have an Ergobaby All Position 360 carrier we use now that Theo’s bigger (aka heavier).
  • Diaper Genie Diaper Pail – We were skeptical about diaper pails at first, but once the babe starts eating solids, you NEED one to control the smell!  You can also save money by purchasing the Targetbrand Up&Up trash bag refills versus the Diaper Genie brand.  They work just as well at a fraction of the cost.

Things we could have skipped:

  • DIAPER BAG – Until Theo was about 6 months old I was just using one of my extra large purses!  We have a diaper backpack which we use now that Theo requires more when we’re out:  snacks, toys, sippy cup, etc.  But in the early days, it was all pretty compact:  diapers/wipes, burp cloth, change of clothes, pacifier.  Honestly, any bag or backpack with compartments will work just fine.
  • DEHUMIDIFIER – Theo didn’t suffer from any respiratory challenges, so ours is still sitting in the box…
  • DISHWASHER BASKET – For bottles and nipples.  I’m exclusively breastfeeding and am fortunate enough to be home with Theo, so we rarely use bottles.  When we do, I typically hand wash them.
  • FOREHEAD/INNER EAR THERMOMETERS – We use a regular digital thermometer to take rectal temperatures.  I know… not the most pleasant way to take a temp, but once you learn how to do it properly, it’s no big deal.  I promise.  It’s also the most accurate way to take a temperature reading for newborns and infants.
  • FANCY BURP CLOTHS – My brother and SIL recommended using Gerber Birdseye Organic Cloth Diapers ($14.99 on Amazon for a pack of 10!) as burp cloths and they work like a charm.

Moral of the story is, you’ll probably end up in the same boat – – with registry items you wish you had more of and some you didn’t need at all.  It’s bound to happen.  But with a little time you’ll find what works for your family.  It can be frustrating and overwhelming at first (the hormones don’t help!), but remember to take some deep breaths and enjoy the time with your little one.  They’re only little for so long.  And it’s true; they grow SO fast.

Theo at 2 Months Old
Resting in his Boppy at almost 3 months old
Smiling and laughing at his baby monitor camera 🙂