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How To Build a Baby Registry

Part I: A Minimalist Baby Registry

Your Mission Critical Guide for Baby's First Days Home

When you have a babe on the way, literally every person on the planet (or so it feels) will regale you with item after item that you simply must purchase. All necessities, they’ll insist. Still others will tell you about all of the things you really don’t need. As it turns out, both are right. You will need some things and not others, and the thing-gathering process is actually quite personal to you, how your family likes to live, and your baby’s needs. The frustrating reality for even the most committed of minimalists is that you will definitely want a few new (to you) things.

The following is a list of what we feel are the core essentials for life a new baby. It’s a catch-22, you see, because if we neglect to bring up a possible essential then you will be totally unprepared but if we throw in way too much you’ll be overwhelmed with piles of stuff that end up gathering dust. The things on this list will probably not be all you’ll have on hand when the babe comes, but if you happen to have only these things you will totally survive. You’ll probably realize that most of the tools you need come from your own self and good old fashioned human intuition.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. Take it easy. You do not need to get everything all at once, you can most definitely gather stuff as needed. Amazon Prime is your friend.

2. Don’t go overboard. Do not buy deep on anything until you make sure it works for you. For example, some babes skip right over newborn sizes whereas other babes wear newborn clothes for a few months.

3. Be resourceful. Borrowing from friends, searching Craigslist and your local online parent groups are all solid resources. Most stuff parents buy gets used so briefly and sometimes not at all, so be sure to check out your non-brand new options first.



  • Formula (if formula feeding)

  • Bottles

  • Pump and pumping supplies (if pumping)


  • Bassinet

  • Mattress

  • Sheets

  • Swaddle Blanket


  • Diapers

  • Wipes

  • Changing Mat

Grooming & Bathing

  • Tear-free soap

Getting Dressed

  • Onesies

  • Hat

Soothing & Playing

  • Pacifier


  • First Aid Kit

  • Thermometer


  • Car Seat

  • Carrier

  • Stroller


  • Baby Monitor

Scene: You’re home alone with baby for the first time and have to figure out how this whole nurturing a human life thing actually works


When you need to feed your baby and your body might be producing the food and whether you're breastfeeding or not it's all very stressful.

What you'll definitely need: 
If you’re breastfeeding: Boobs, Patience. Patience being as important as bosoms. For those of us for whom it comes easily and for those of us for whom it comes with tongue tie or any number of latch-inhibiting issues, or pain, soreness, clogged ducts, over supply, under supply, mastitis, etc. Be patient with yourself and your little ones, and seek help if you suspect you need it.
If you’re not breastfeeding: Formula, Bottles, Patience.

What You May Need:
Nipple Cream, Balm or Salve.
Nipple Shields.
Breastfeeding Pillow.
If you’re pumping, a Breast Pump, the correct size Flange, more Patience.

P.S. Need help finding your spirit Flange? Welcome to the weird and not all that wonderful world of nipple calipers. 


When baby really needs quite a lot of sleep but bizarrely doesn’t always seem to know or accept that this is the case.

What You’ll Definitely Need:
A place for baby to sleep. Our vote is a Bassinet (especially if you have pets).
A Mattress.
A Fitted Sheet.
Swaddle Blanket.
A Moses Basket (plus mattress and sheets) or a Crib (plus mattress and sheets) are also good first sleeping zone options.

What You May Need:
Sound machine.
Or, if you can spare a phone during sleep hours, there are about 800 apps for that.


When baby needs to be changed and you discover you have a slightly uncomfortable comfort level with scatalogical banter.

Changing Mat.

What You May Need:
Changing Pad.
Diaper Rash Cream.


When you need to bathe your baby and clip his little fingernails but everything is so tiny and you are justifiably freaked out.

What You’ll Definitely Need:
Tear-Free Soap.

What You May Need:
A Baby Tub.
A Hooded Towel.
Wash Cloths.
Nail Clippers.


When you need to make the baby presentable aka parents are coming over and would like to take pictures so everyone must get dressed.

What You’ll Definitely Need:

What You May Need:
Depending on where you live, Warmer Layers.


When you want to put your baby down because your arms and boobs are dog tired (and your dog’s tired too).

What You’ll Definitely Need:
Somewhere soft to lay your baby down. Got a blanket to put on the floor? That’ll work. Newborns don't roll over (aka potentially off the couch) until around 4 months, so you can place them safely on the bed or sofa when they first arrive home.

What You May Need:
Bouncer Seat or Swing.
Books. It can’t hurt to have some books around on day one. On the other hand, you could literally read the phone book to your baby. The baby does not know from books and the early days are about bonding and the sound of your voice. After a couple of months, the images and words start to coalesce and real books become more useful. Here are some of our favorites.


When baby isn’t well and you know that the emergency room is not required for a little snot but you are still fighting the urge.

What You’ll Definitely Need:
First Aid Kit.
Nasal Aspirator.

What You May Need:
Infant Tylenol. When baby first comes home you may not feel totally comfortable administering medicine to such a wee little being, and off to the doctor you will go. But they'll get a little bigger and get a fever or start teething or both and you'll want to have a baby pain reliever option nearby.

Those devices that clear your baby’s nose and butt.


When you need to take your precious delicate newborn baby out into the world for her big debut, er, doctor’s visit (for airplane travel, check out How To Travel With a New Babe).

What You’ll Need:
Car seat.
Carrier. Soft and/or Structured.
Portable Changing Station.

What You May Need:
Sundry Stroller Accessories.
If you live in a cold climate, something to keep baby warm. A blanket works.


When you want to be in the other room re-watching GoT but still hear any baby distress over the roaring of dragons.

What You’ll Need:

What You May Need:
A Baby Monitor.

Not feeling minimal today or any day? That’s ok, too. Here’s a link to a carefully researched, robust Google Doc that we share with all the expecting mamas in our lives. In the event that you have throngs of loving friends and family looking desperately for things to gift you, it’s an excellent and comprehensive resource for your grander registry-building needs

If You Read One More Thing

Fear not, your birth won't be ruined because you forgot the curling iron. ps save some room in there for mesh underwear.

For women giving birth in a hospital or birthing center, here’s the sum total of our knowledge on the subject. For those giving birth at home, you may choose to pack a bag as well just in case, but many of the things listed here are non-hospital specific and are nice to have around either way once the babe arrives.

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