Creating a baby registry is both exciting and overwhelming. It’s so fun to choose items you imagine your new arrival using or wearing—onesies, tiny sweaters and minuscule socks get you right in the feels as the bump grows—but for parents expecting their first child especially, there is also an element of, “What do I actually need?” We’ve got the goods on the must-haves and nice-to-haves (because we’re sure you’ve got the cute stuff covered!). We also checked in with mom-to-be Nicole Dalton, Director of Marketing, Brand & Loyalty for Babies “R” Us and Toys “R” Us, for the tips and tricks she learned while building her registry in preparation for her own impending arrival.
For Dalton, she started with top registry lists she found online, to make sure she had the basics covered. She also asked friends and family for recommendations on items that were super useful with their own children:
“I had a couple of friends proof my registry to make sure there wasn’t anything missing. That was really helpful. So I think starting with the research is great, but it’s a good idea to have someone spot-check it for you, too.”
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Our favourite tip for building your registry is to think in categories. Not sure what this means? Consider how the days will be broken up when you bring your new bundle of joy home:
In the early days, your baby likely won’t use many products—but that doesn’t mean you won’t. For breastfeeding moms, you’ll probably want to research breast pumps and compatible storage bags and bottles. For formula-fed babies, a bottle system that can age up as your little one grows will be important. You may also want to think about sterilizing products—either a stand-alone sterilizer, or if you plan to wash by hand, a drying mat made for bottles and nipples. You’ll also want to add a nursing pillow (regardless of breast- or bottle-feeding, this is a nice-to-have for support); lots of burp clothes and/or bibs; nipple cream; nursing pads; and pacifiers. You can also add a high chair in preparation for introducing solids, a few months down the road. Dalton says this is a good rule in general.
“Think about the whole year of your mat leave, not just the first few months,” she says. “Then you’ll be ready for upcoming stages.”
A note on pacifiers: You may have to try different brands before you land on one your baby likes. Considering adding a few different options to your registry so you have them on hand when you need them.
Feeding items we love:
Contrary to popular belief, babies do sleep (just not always at the most opportune times). You likely already know the big ticket items you need in this category—a crib and/or bassinet with a firm mattress, and a baby monitor—but there are other items to consider. A rocking chair or glider can come in handy for nighttime feeding or soothing fussy babies; a cool mist humidifier is great for congested kiddos; and a nightlight for the nursery so you stub fewer toes when you stumble in at 3 a.m.
You’ll also want to add linens: at least four or five fitted sheets, a number of swaddle blankets and even a few sleep sacks in seasonally appropriate weights and sizes.
Sleeping items we love:
Bath time can be really fun, but it’s also stressful. You can ease the stress by having the right gear on hand. For the first couple of months, a baby bathtub is a great, portable item that makes bath time a breeze. You can also look at baby seats that can be used in your regular tub, to help you wash your babe more easily. Don’t forget two or three soft, hooded towels; soft washcloths; a soft-bristle baby hair brush or comb; infant-formulated shampoo and soap; and baby nail clippers.
Bathing items we love:
The most obvious item is a change table or hard-backed changing pad. (You can use a soft surface to change baby, but it’s safer to diaper somewhere they are less likely to roll.) Other items you’ll want to consider include diapers in the first two sizes; a good quality barrier cream; unscented baby wipes; a diaper pail with liners; and a comfortable diaper bag in a style you like (because you’re going to be carrying it a lot!).
Diapering items we love:
Play time is where you really start to see your wee one’s personality emerge! In addition to a swing or bouncer, look for toys with different, contrasting colours, textures and sounds. You can also add books to your registry, or just ask friends and family to gift their favourite childhood books, for a more sentimental approach to building your baby’s library. A play mat is also great for tummy time, and an activity centre will be a lifesaver when your little one is a bit bigger.
Playing items we love:
A car seat is the obvious must-have in this category, but there are decisions to make: Will you select a bucket-style infant seat that goes in and out of the car? Or will you look at a convertible seat that grows with your child? Strollers and portable playards are also big purchases, with many options to consider. Just remember—there is no wrong answer. As long as your choices have the necessary safety endorsements, you’re good to go (literally).
Other items to add in the travel category include a baby carrier or wrap and a rain cover for the stroller. “Car-related accessories are good to have, too,” says Dalton.
“Add sunshades for the windows, and a mirror so you can keep an eye on your rear-facing baby.”
Don’t forget to add one or two items that you don’t need but just have to have. You’ve carried a watermelon around in your belly for weeks (or Dads, you supported the watermelon!), so we say it’s your prerogative—add the ridiculously cute ruffled dress even though you know it’s impractical, or those tiny, adorable running shoes they won’t wear for a year. You’ve earned it.
Travel items we love:
Pregnant during the pandemic?
Pregnancy is already a nerve-wracking experience, but when you add a global pandemic to the mix? Some parents-to-be are more anxious than ever about welcoming a new baby. Here are some things to know:
- Your appointments with your care provider may be virtual, or a hybrid of online and in-person. Either way, write down all of your questions so you can be prepared to get the answers you need in the time you have allotted with the doctor or midwife.
- You may have fewer appointments or ultrasounds than you would in a non-COVID world. Many obstetrical and midwifery practices have scaled back to just the minimum number of visits and tests. (That said, if you’re concerned about anything, reach out to your care team—offices and testing facilities are open with precautions, so you do have access to any test or procedure you might need.)
- You may not be permitted to bring your partner or support person to appointments or ultrasounds. Ask for printouts of your ultrasound so you care share with loved ones, or see if you can call your partner and have them on speakerphone for a gender reveal. (This will depend on your care provider’s rules.)
- Be sure you know the social distancing and admission regulations at your hospital. You don’t want to arrive unprepared. You will likely only be permitted one support person, and you will not have in and out privileges. That means double-checking to make sure you have everything you need when you arrive.
- The level of care you will receive during the pandemic is the same (if not better, with all of the precautions taken in light of the pandemic) than you would have received before COVID-19. Try not to stress, and remember that your doctor or midwife is taking all of the necessary steps to keep you and your baby safe.