The Shortest “Newborn Baby Registry” Checklist, Plus Baby Gear You Probably Already Own

August 18th, 2011 by Dionna | 13 Comments
Posted in Compassionate Advocacy, Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature, Ensure Safe Sleep, Environmentalism, Feed with Love and Respect, natural parenting, Pregnancy and Birth, Use Nurturing Touch

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When we were preparing for Kieran’s birth, I started with the traditional baby registry route. I looked up all of those “what to buy” lists, registered at a big chain store, and waited for the barrage of infant bath tubs and crib sheets to arrive.

And then I discovered that there was no need for all of that crap.

Most parents who lean toward attachment parenting/natural family living (aka “natural parenting“) are pretty minimalist when it comes to baby gear. As long as you have a breast and some way to hold the baby, you’re usually going to be ok. Keeping your baby shopping list short can save your wallet and your patience. The best things about not buying into the traditional baby shopping lists? I can think of three big ones:

1) You’re saving money by not buying items that you will use infrequently;
2) You’re saving the environment by not buying new products (with the accompanying packaging) that are often unnecessary; and
3) You’re saving space by not filling your house with useless stuff.

So what would an NP parent put on her “newborn baby must-have” checklist? I polled my readers, and this is the list we came up with. Of course every family will be different, but I think this list will cover the basics.1 And where possible, consider buying used or asking friends and family for hand-me-downs to further reduce your environmental impact (and further increase your budget for other necessities).

A “Newborn Baby Registry” Checklist for Natural-Minded Parents

  1. Breastfeeding gear: For mamas returning to work, invest in a good pump and quality bottles or cups. You may need nursing pads while your baby establishes a good milk supply – try cloth ones instead of disposable to lessen the amount of packaging and waste.
  2. A baby carrier: some parents prefer a stretchy wrap like the Moby, others like the continuing usefulness of a soft-structured carrier like the Ergo. But most everyone agrees, it is so nice to have the ability to carry baby and have your hands free to do other things.
  3. A car seat: if you drive, then you’ll need a good car seat. Check the following sites for information on car seat safety ratings, and be sure to have your seat installed properly and learn how to position your baby in it correctly: NHTSA Child Safety Seat Ease of Use Ratings,NHTSA Child Safety, Car-Seat.org.
  4. Diapers: whether you decide to go with cloth diapers or ecologically friendly disposable ones, you’ll need something to catch urine and poo – even if you’re doing elimination communication! If you’re not sure what type of cloth diapers are right for your family, check out these posts on Natural Parents Network: Choosing the Right Cloth Diaper: So Many Diapers, One Tiny Bum and The Ultimate Cloth Diapering Shopping List.
  5. Diapering gear: to maximize your earth-friendliness, consider cloth wipes and wet bags/cloth diaper pail liners. You will want something to wipe baby’s bottom and put the dirties in (washing the diaper pail after each use is not very fun). And as you’ll read in the list below, you probably already own all you need for cloth wipes, wipe spray, and a diaper pail!
  6. Baby clothes: while your little nakey baby will be the cutest thing you have ever, ever seen, chances are you’ll need to dress him at some point. We found that infant gowns were the easiest thing to get our babe in and out of, and they give easy access for diaper changes.
  7. A good thermometer: preferences vary on what kind of thermometer is “best,” but many parents like temporal read thermometers because they are easy to use and accurate.
  8. Baby nail clippers: my son is three years old, and his fingers are still too small for adult nail clippers. Baby nail clippers are definitely on my must-have list, although one mama on my Facebook page said adult clippers worked fine for her.
  9. A snot sucker: this would probably not be on everyone’s must-have list, but it’s on mine. We got a Nosefrida when Kieran was a wee babe, and it is amazing. It is gentler on baby’s nose than your typical nasal bulb (it doesn’t go inside or damage the sensitive skin in the nostrils), and it is more effective.

Baby Gear that You Probably Already Own (So Psst . . . Don’t Buy It!)

  1. A carry-all/diaper bag: we didn’t buy anything special for Kieran – we just used an old backpack. The dividers were great for carrying my things and baby’s things, and it was useful for those early days when Kieran was constantly in a front carry in either the Moby or the ring sling – I didn’t have to fiddle with keeping a bag over my shoulder.
  2. Diapering gear: as I mentioned above, you probably already own much of the diapering gear you’ll need. For cloth wipes, simply cut up excess flannel receiving blankets, discarded flannel sewing material, or old t-shirts (these are also all good materials to use for burp cloths). For a diaper pail, all you really need is a trash can with a well-fitting lid, no need to buy something fancy. For wipe spray, I use a solution of water (about 3 cups), a couple drops of tea tree oil and a few drops of lavender oil. I have a few reusable spray bottles – one to carry in the backpack, one to use at home, and one for back-up. Many mamas just wet their wipes with water – no essential oils needed, and no wipe warmer needed if you use warm water.
  3. Breastfeeding gear: if you find yourself in need of cloth nursing pads, Hobo Mama has a tutorial for making your own from fabric you have at home. For nursing help, many mamas are content using a regular pillow instead of buying a special nursing pillow – it depends a lot on your body and your back. And if you’re still feeling shy about nursing in public, there’s no need to buy nursing covers: just use a soft blanket (receiving blankets work well) until you gain confidence and baby perfects her latch. Many mamas swear by commercially made breastfeeding salves and creams, but you can also research more natural remedies for sore, cracked nipples, like homemade rice packs you can pop in the microwave.
  4. A place for baby to sleep: have you researched the benefits of cosleeping? There’s really no need for a fancy crib if you can safely keep baby in your own bed. Check out Natural Parents Network’s “Ensure Safe Sleep” resource page for more information.

Practical Things to “Register” for Instead

  1. Frozen meals: ask your friends and family to donate to your deep freeze, because you will not feel like cooking for awhile. Have a variety of healthy and easy to prepare frozen dinners available for the first two to three weeks.
  2. Help around the house: if someone wants to visit you and the baby and asks you what she can bring, tell her that you’d love help with laundry. Or vacuuming. Or whatever other chore you cannot get to with a baby who nurses around the clock. Your friends will be glad to lend a hand in exchange for snuggle time!
  3. A few hours of childcare: if you have older children, ask some of the parents of your children’s friends if they’d be willing to host a play date for a couple of hours once a week after baby arrives. Your older children will benefit from time with their friends, and it will give you some much needed rest.
  4. A childbirth education class: especially for first time parents, it can help to be exposed to the natural process of labor and birth so that you have an idea of what to expect. There are some amazing childbirth education classes available: Hypnobabies, Bradley, and others will prepare you emotionally while your body prepares itself physically.
  5. A doula: whether you opt for a doula who can help you during labor or one who is available after your birth for help with post-partum necessities, doulas can be lifesavers!

What would you include in your “newborn must-have” list? What things could you repurpose from items you already owned? And what items did you think you’d need, but didn’t?

Photo Credit: Stephen Cummings/Flickr

  1. This list does not cover things like teething tablets or toddler shoes, because I’m focusing on the newborn stage.

13 Responses to:
"The Shortest “Newborn Baby Registry” Checklist, Plus Baby Gear You Probably Already Own"

  1. Melissa   vibreantwanderer

    This is marvelous, marvelous advice! I thought I was being so very “natural” and “green” by avoiding the crib, bouncer, and all manner of other things when I was preparing my daughter, but I still ended up with so much useless stuff! In fact, my dining room table is currently piled with things I need to sort and sell or donate, because I never used them and never will.

    The only thing not on your list that I personally felt was a *must* have fits in the breastfeeding gear category, and that is lanolin. I can’t imagine life without it. I’m really glad to know about the nosefrida, too! I despise the aspirator, but have definitely had times when I could have used some snot-sucking action for my babe. ;) Thanks for this, Dionna!

  2. Caela

    Great list! I would add to this list three things:
    – excellent childbirth education classes
    – an awesome IBCLC on speed dial
    – a birth doula

    Those are all things that we felt comfortable “splurging” on because we didn’t spend a million dollars on a crib, two different strollers, a video monitor, a bouncer, a swing, etc., etc. And they were way more useful.

    The other thing that I think is hugely important is finding a group of like-minded parents in your community. Whether it be through birth classes, a meetup group, a church or synagogue, the local community center, LLL meetings…SOMETHING. Because SO much of this stuff you can just borrow. We were able to use a great bouncer, a door-frame jumper, a Bumbo and lots of other cool baby gear just by borrowing it from friends. You only use stuff for a few months anyway, so this is way better on your wallet and the environment.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I should *totally* add those things to the “what to ask for instead” list. In fact, as soon as we get back from our library trip, I will ;) I wasn’t thinking about the more intangible must haves – just the throwaway stuff. Thanks for the reminder!!

  3. I wish I had thought of those “practical things to register for” b4 my baby shower. Oh, well. At least I didn’t spend unnecessary money. I can’t BELIEVE the things – on the other hand, yes I can. We have become a “thing” society.

  4. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    Great list! I just passed it along to my pregnant friends.

  5. giggly   giggly_kerri

    I found our infant rocking chair a life saver. It enables me to shower and have a safe place for baby to be in my sight.

  6. Fabulous list!

    I would argue just a couple of points though… I’ve managed pretty well without any sized nail clippers. I felt way too nervous using clippers or scissors on my babies’ fingers- just to easy to cut them. I just nibble them off. Its much safer and so easy.

    I would also argue that you don’t need a baby bath. We used our once but the I realised it was much MUCH easier to just get in the bath with him (first child). Now we have two we all have a bath together with my husband ready to take the baby when she’s clean, while I stay and get the older one finished up. In this hot weather its a great excuse to enjoy a cool bath as well!!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Tami – I don’t nibble, because I bite my own nails and know how easy they are to tear – it scares me to bite Kieran’s! But you’re not the only one who doesn’t always use clippers.
      And there is definitely no baby bath on my list – we didn’t have one, and I have fond memories of bathing with Kieran :)

  7. Alexandra   AlexandraVirgo

    Great list! I also would add Lanolin – was a lifesaver for me. I have never used the last 3 items – thermometer, nail clippers or snot sucker so would take them off my list. You’re absolutely right about not wanting to waste money on other things though… we were given a bassinet and it has been sitting in the corner of our bedroom ever since. It is great for storing baby’s clothes/bibs/nappies/etc :)

  8. Jinnie

    I think baby towels are unnecessary. I use washcloths constantly but they are just regular. I agree that an infant bath isn’t needed. My random must-have was a musical mobile. I avoided it at first but found it to be an amazing distraction for the car and for my shower time.

  9. mamapoekie   mamapoekie

    love this list. Will be sharing on the Surf. I had been thinking of doing something similar too, you beat me to it ;) I went quite the same path, except I couldn’t register bc we were abroad and everything had to be shipped in advance, so we ended up buying everything ourselves, lots of stuff in double, bc we needed the backup in Belgium. And then didn’t use most of it. Now I find myself trying to get rid of all this on ebay and via friends. SIgh. If I think of all the money that went into it.
    And the fun thing is that the things we actually needed, we find ourselves buying now for baby2 (seriously, 1 carrier is not enough, or you can never wash them and I only discovered the fun of AIO diapers towards the end of DD’s diapering)

  10. I wish we had a list like this when we had our first child. When number 2 came along we realized just how much baby junk we had accumulated.

  11. I’m working on a registry now and it is so odd to skip SO many things! Between my minimalist kick and these suggestions… I was having a hard time picking things to add.

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