Having had a baby registry for two kids, I have wised up to the real needs of new moms and while no authority, relying purely on personal experience, can give you a darn good list of must-haves and do-not-bothers:
Check out my recommendations for a jogging stroller, car seat, and baby carrier here.
Must-haves for a first-time baby registry
A changing table is one of those things about which people have mixed opinions. I was one of those people. This was also one of the things that I thought I could do without until I got a hand-me-down from a colleague (the IKEA model above) and every day that I used it, I have been grateful for it. If you have the space to house a separate table as this one, I say just go for it. Not only is the table self-sufficient in how it houses a changing pad but the additional shelving provides great storage for diapers, wipes, and other baby stuff. If you don’t have the space, then you may just use a changing pad that you could place on a dresser or even simply on a bed. The potential problem with doing this is that it may not be friendly on your back and because dressers come in various heights, finding one that is just right for your changing needs may be a challenge.
Remember to put more than one changing pad cover on your registry.
Changing Pad Liners
These waterproof changing pad liners from Munchkin are among my favorite must-haves! These have saved me many a changing pad changes or stress over not having a clean one ready (especially necessary if you are having a boy). These are great for quick wipes of a sudden pee surprise or an unexpected poop spray. You can run them in the washer/dryer and they are good to go. Don’t even think it, just put it on that registry. Related, you also need these:
If you prefer, you may also buy a few Kushies changing pads like the ones on the right. They are more expensive than the Munchkin ones above and with good reason. They are made of better quality, are bigger, and because of these reasons may also be used on the baby’s bed under a sheet as protection against night time leaks. I remember going through one pretty much every night with J. Not so much with E though. Also, unlike the Munchkin covers, these last forever (I’ve had the plasticky sheet on the above come loose).
I didn’t find using these on a changing pad to be most useful because the same size that make it a charm for its other purposeful applications make it too large for the pad.
This is the crib that I placed on my registry for J, that served us great for the two years he used it and that we are looking forward to being used by E is a few months. It had some of the highest ratings on Consumer Reports and even though it is not a fancy looking crib (believe it or not, some cribs can run over $500 to the $1000s!!), I love it for the use we have been able to get out of it. I believe when J’s grandparents bought it for us, it cost a little over $200.
Some people I know have never used cribs for their kids. That is often the Indian way of doing things – kids sleep on the same bed as their parents so there is no need for a crib. When it is time, the kids are moved to a separate twin/full/queen size bed of their own. For us, a crib made sense. J slept with us for 5.5 months of his young life after which we transferred him to his own room (our den converted into his room) in his crib. Even within the 5.5 months that he was in our room, he slept in the crib for 2.5 months before and after we bought a smaller bassinet-like bed for him (see below). At the time, we had the crib in our room with one of the sides removed and pushed plush against our bed (which surprisingly was the same height as the crib’s highest setting). Whatever parenting sleeping philosophy you believe in, do so. Trust your instincts on this.
We first had the crib in our room for a few days. Right back from the hospital, given the length of the crib and because it was plush against my side of the bed, I had to kneel-crawl into bed and that was NOT comfortable for me given my post-partum recovery state. So we bought a bassinet-bed (see next) that J slept in for 3 months. After 3 months, when he outgrew the bassinet, we switched back to the crib for 2.5 months. For us, the crib was a definite must-have.
Crib Waterproof Mattress
I am so glad we got this. There were many a nights of leaky diapers but this thing provided great padding and protection. I used a regular crib mattress sheet over the protector. To minimize night time disturbances or late night crib sheet changes, I would layer the crib mattress with a less expensive waterproof protector, topped with a regular sheet, then I would place this waterproof protector, topped finally with another regular sheet on which J slept. This way, if I had to strip the mattress of a sheet and a protector, he still had the second set in tact without me trying to put on new sheets in the middle of the night or at a time during the day when I was in a hurry or had other things that needed attention.
We bought this for J when he was a few days old because we needed something close to my bedside and also something that was small enough for convenience, portablity, and more user friendly for the stage than a crib (see above). We loved using it even though it has a few kinks. I am not suggesting you put this exact one on your registry, just that you may want to consider something smaller than a crib for the first few months if you plan on placing the baby close to you in your room. Some people use a Moses basket and that may work too.
Pack n Play
I am so glad we have this. Ours was a hand-me-down from J and E’s Canadian cousins and we have used it so much! I know that owning one in addition to a crib may seem wasteful but it is worth it if you live in a split-level home or travel a lot or even temporarily if you haven’t yet made up your mind about a crib. Because we currently live in a split-level townhome, having our pack n play on the main floor living room where we spend most of our day is a great convenience. Although E does not nap in it (she naps in a swing), we do use the changing pad on it a lot and the sleeping platform functions as storage for extra diapers blankets and such.
The model I have is different from the one in the picture. It is an older model – over 10 years old and has side pockets to store diapers, wipes, and whatever else. We have used it extensively during our travels to India. We carried it both times we visited there with J, once when he was 9 months and the second time when he was 22 months.
Rocker Cradle Swing – Fisher-Price Spacesaver Cradle N Swing
This one or one like this is an absolute must! Now that I have this (not this exact one but one like it), I regret not getting one for J. In my defense, I had read that too much of sleeping in one of these may cause flat heads in babies which made me decide against getting one. So, to the extent that, that decision was an informed one, I am at peace with not having gotten one for J. Still, seeing how E absolutely loves her naps in her swing, I wonder if having one for J would have helped alleviate his gas/tummy issues those eventful first three months of his life.
This is also perfect for small spaces like condos and apartment living.