Up until the mid-1900's all celebrations of new life took place after the baby was born, but in the 1950's there is a switch to have baby showers before the baby arrives. It is now common for the mothers best friend or family to host a baby shower between weeks 35-37 and more often than not gifts are bought from a baby registry.
For the convenience of you and your guests I recommend having an online registry for your gifts. If you register with Amazon you will get a 15% discount on any items on your registry that guests did not buy - this helped save one of my clients $300!
1) Car Seat
The hospital will require you to have a car seat installed properly before you discharge from the hospital.
My recommendations when looking for a car seat:
*Buy your car seat new unless you are certain there have been no recalls and the seat has never been in a car crash.
*Buy a convertible car seat which will accommodate your baby in the rear facing positing up to 22 lbs, and in the forward facing position up to age 4.
*Look for a car seat with a 5-point harness.
2) Crib and Crib Mattress
Ah the place where you hope your baby will peacefully sleep throughout the night!
My recommendations when looking for a crib and mattress:
*Find one that is JPMA certified (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association).
*Buy your crib new
*Look for a crib that has fixed sides (sides that do not drop down)
*Crib mattress should have fabric bindings and be triple laminated (three thick layers of material that are heat-welded together)
3) Sheets and Bedding
Remember that you will be changing these out more often than you change your own sheets, so having 3-4 on hand is a good idea. Also, please remember not to put fluffy blankets or quilt to put in the crib with your baby.
4) Bottles and Nipples
Bottles come in 4-oz and 8-oz sizes, and for the first few months of life a 4-oz size will work just fine. I recommend having at least 4 on hand for storing breast milk and formula.
My recommendations for buying bottles and nipples:
*Look for BPA-free plastic bottles with easy to read measurements
*Avoid oddly shaped bottles as they are harder to clean
*Buy silicone nipples and replace them every few months.
*Premies will need small nipples and the standard nipple size works well for most babies.
When it comes to baby clothes you get what you pay for. Cheaper clothes will likely be thin and poorer quality, and more "expensive" clothes will have a softer and thicker material. Because babies grow so quickly, and need to be changed multiple times a day, it will help save money to buy clothes at second-hand stores.
My recommendations for the minimum clothing to have on hand:
*6 baby t-shirts made of cotton with wide necks
*4 onesies made with wide necks and snaps at the crotch. Register for long-sleeves if your baby is due in the winter, and short sleeves if you are expecting in the summer. It isn't a bad idea to ask for 3-month and 6-month sizes as well.
*1 baby sleepsacks in the 6-month size.
*4 pairs of socks that are cotton knit with soft cuffs.
*2 baby sweaters for winter or air-conditioned buildings. Buy the 6-month size and make sure they zip or button in the front, and avoid scratchy materials or lace that could bother the skin.
*2 small, knitted hats. Babies usually don't like hats, but in the winter they can keep your baby warm, and in the summer they can prevent sunburn.
*5-6 Receiving blankets. Chose the 28-inch or the 36-inch size and remember that a soft and absorbent cotton flannel is best.
*1-2 dozen cheap washcloths to clean up baby messes.
6) Diapers and Wipes
Overtime diapers will become your biggest investment. In the early months expect to change around 60 diapers a week, and over the years you will likely go through 5,000-8,000 diapers. Whew! When considering what type of diaper to invest in (cloth or disposables) be sure to keep in mind fit, comfort, leak resistance, time, and money.
If you are interested in cloth diapers I recommend looking at www.verybaby.com and remember that cloth diapers are a bigger investment upfront but over time end up costing around $500 less than disposables.
If you are interested in disposable diapers Pampers and Huggies are your two diaper giants, but you can sometimes find better bargains with off-brand companies or buying at Costco.
Regardless of which type you chose, you will need a good supply before your baby arrives, so it's good to ask for some in your registry.
You know you want a stroller and it is possible you have already started searching online to find the best option. With so many designs and types available, where do you start? Here is a breakdown of the different stroller types out there:
*Lightweight and inexpensive - a good option for quick errands, but not sturdy enough for other activities, usually <$40
*Mid-priced and mid-weight - the mainstream option for pushing your baby around, and usually cost $40-150.
*Lightweight and costly - the sports cars of strollers that come with plush headrests, cup holders, and fancy folding techniques. They cost anywhere from $150-400.
*Heavy travel systems - Usually designed to support their own snap out car seats and they cost anywhere from $180+
*Carriage-stroller combination - they are big, fully reclining strollers and are often beautiful, but a bit pricey at $300+
*Jogging strollers - Bigger strollers with bike-style tires that are usually $300+
My recommendation for buying a stroller:
*Put off buying a jogger until your baby is at least 6-months and can manage the jostle of a run, and to see if you will have the time and energy to go out jogging
*Look for a mid-weight stroller that is easy to fold and has ample storage
8) Baby Monitor
These are two-piece electronic devices that help you keep watch on your baby while they're sleeping and you are in a different room. The part that goes in the baby's room is called a "transmitter" and that part you have is called a "receiver."
There are so many different kinds of baby monitors that encompass all price ranges.
My recommendations for buying a baby monitor:
*Look for one that is rechargeable (this can save you $50 a year on batteries)
*Buy one with a walkie-talkie feature that allows you to speak soothing sounds to your baby
9) Health Supplies
We always want our baby's to be healthy and comfortable and of course we hope that they never get sick. But the reality is they are human and they do get the occasional stomach bug, flu, or stuffy nose. When this happens it is best to be prepared already!
My recommendations for health supplies:
*Invest in a good thermometer that you can have for many years
*Avoid suction bulbs, and instead buy a nasal aspirator (they get much better suction!)
10) Baby Bathtub
While babies are not born dirty, they can certainly make a mess that will require some time in a tub.
My recommendations for a tub:
*Make sure it is made with thick, sturdy sides with smooth rims to avoid any scratching
*Bathtubs with slings put the baby at a comfortable angle and are slip resistant
*Buy a small tub for newborns, and avoid buying a bath seat that suctions to the tub as your baby grows
11) Rocking Chair
The most important thing with a rocking chair is that it is comfortable for mom and dad. Other considerations are the style of your nursery and special features that are important to you.
Features to consider
*Do you want one that rocks, or rocks and swivels?
*Would you like a reclining chair?
*Would a separate footstool get in the way or be helpful?
*Ease of washing the chair (it may get dirty)
12) Diaper Bag
This is a bag you will tote around with you for quite a while and will essentially become your "nursery to go" so it is good to chose one that makes sense for your lifestyle. There are many different kinds of diaper bags and each one comes with its own price range. Low cost bags usually start around $15, but remember, you will get what you pay for and with low cost bags you will likely need to replace them.
*Buy a mid-range diaper bag ($30-100)
*Make sure the straps are wide and comfortable, and if possible opt for a hands-free choice such as a backpack
*The fabric should be good quality, water resistant, and easy to wipe clean
*Plenty of storage for everything you will need
*Make sure the bag comes with a changing pad, and a bag with a separate pocket for the changing pad is a plus
13) Baby Swing
While not a necessity like some of the other registry must-haves, a swing can be one of the most helpful pieces of baby gear that you get, especially during their first six months. A baby swing provides a safe and cozy place which is much like the womb, it can position the baby in such a way that painful gas, acid reflux, or constipation can be worked out, and it can free up your hands when other responsibilities need attending to.
My recommendations when looking for a baby swing:
*Look for an electric instead of a manual swing
*The swing should have easy to remove fabric for washing
*Consider ease of use (size, portability, securing the baby inside, light up controls etc)
*Extra features (music, mobile, rattle)
14) Nursing Pillow
This is a must-have for any nursing mom because, oh boy, nursing is a workout! Newborn breastfeeding sessions last an average of 20-40 minutes, and your baby will need to eat 8-12 times in an 24 hour period; this means that you will be breastfeeding anywhere from 2 1/2 hours - 8 hours each day. While regular pillows can be used, a nursing pillow is specially designed to support the baby and your arms, and to keep your baby in optimal positioning for breastfeeding.
Things to consider:
*There are many different shapes available, go to a store and see which one is the most comfortable
*Consider how long you will be nursing for: if it is a long time I recommend investing in a very durable pillow
*Materials and how easy it is to clean
15) Newborn Photos
This is a nontraditional registry option, but one that new parents love to have! The two popular picture types are lifestyle pictures which are usually done in your home, and studio pictures which often have fun props.
*Find a photographer in your second trimester if possible
*Talk to them about the style you are hoping for
*Relax and enjoy the experience, the pictures will look amazing!