A trip to a local baby megastore is enough to give any first-time parent heart palpitations. To help you wade through the overwhelming world of baby items, we asked veteran parents for their top-10 list of registry must-haves. This list goes beyond the standard items (crib or co-sleeper, car seat, pack 'n' play, highchair, changing table and pad, etc.) to provide a few key registry items that will help ease your transition from baby novice to parenting expert. And don’t worry, in a few months you’ll be navigating that megastore like a pro.
Newborns are used to tight quarters. Swaddling mimics the womb and calms baby by restricting his newly flailing limbs, helping him to sleep better and longer (what else could a new parent ask for?). The best swaddlers are those constructed to prevent baby from breaking free; one option is the Miracle Blanket. Swaddle blankets made of muslin are also a great investment, as they can double as lightweight blankets and nursing covers.
Stereo or Docking Station
Consider adding a docking station or stereo to your registry list. White noise — which can be downloaded to your MP3 player — will help calm your baby and stretch his sleep. During baby’s awake time, you’ll enjoy introducing him to your favorite music.
How do new moms ever manage to take a shower (or eat)? I have two words for you: bouncy seat. This bouncing, vibrating baby recliner is worth its weight in gold — and then some.
Sling or Baby Carrier
There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there when it comes to babies. One thing most people agree on? Babies like to be close. The trend toward “babywearing” (shown to have numerous health benefits) has resulted in a slew of products, from traditional slings to conventional baby carriers and improved sling designs that allow you to wear baby in various positions. Baby will appreciate the constant contact and you’ll appreciate the hands-free flexibility a sling can provide. Try out different types of slings and carriers to see which you like best.
Baby is about to rock your world. Return the favor. A quality glider is an investment that will pay you back (usually in the wee hours of the morning) for years to come. Be sure to get one that reclines (you’ll be glad you did) and has good back support. An ottoman with a pullout nursing stool is also a nice feature, particularly for those middle-of-the-night feedings.
From daytime outings and walks in the park to hurried errands, you’ll be logging countless miles on your stroller. And while there is no shortage of stylish prams out there, this is one area where practicality should override fashion. Make sure your stroller fits your locale and your lifestyle. Do you need a stroller with heavy-duty wheels and good shocks for riding over broken city sidewalks or will the stroller mostly be used in and out of your car? Do you have a garage or porch where you can store it or a one-bedroom apartment in a three-story walk-up? Choose a stroller with the weight, storage capacity and size that works for you.
This is not the sexiest of registry items but is a necessity for the breastfeeding mom. A breast pump offers you a little freedom, lets Dad get in on the feedings, and is a must for moms returning to work. From double to single, electric to manual, there are many styles to choose from. Because of the design of most breast pumps and the health risks involved, the FDA does not recommend them for use by more than one person (meaning you may want to think twice about buying that pump off of Craigslist). And, with many of the most popular pumps in the $200 to $400 range, it might be nice to let someone else foot the bill.
Whether you decide to breastfeed or bottle feed, a nursing pillow can help you position baby and give your arms a needed rest. Two of the most popular styles include the My Brest Friend, which provides back support and a handy storage pouch, and the Boppy® – which can be used later to help baby sit up on his own.
A baby monitor will allow you to relax while baby is sleeping, and give you the freedom to move from room to room. From basic analog models to two-way video monitors, there’s a range of products to choose from, and veteran parents swear a monitor is an item you can’t live without.
Katherine West Slevin is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.
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