Researching the best items to include on my #lowwastebaby registry was almost as much work as planning our wedding.
I was looking at example registries, looking up reviews, trying to make sure I picked the right sound machine, the right jogging stroller, and the right cloth diapers. It was overwhelming considering I had never thought so much about all the things you "need" in a baby's first year of life.
There are so many guides out there, but the ones I gravitated toward were ones that focused on environmentally conscious baby items, minimalism, and simplicity.
I don't like clutter. I didn't want my house to look like it revolved around our baby with a baby seat of some sort in every room. I don't like a lot of plastic or battery operated products. I wanted to have essentials only because I don't believe it's necessary to have a specialized tool for every little thing! That's just not my style.
So, if you're nodding your head and thinking, "yes. yes. yes. that's the kind of registry I want to create", then this is the sample baby registry for you! I will talk about Brands that I especially like, but I'm not including specific strollers, bottle warmers, or toys because things are changing so rapidly and I wanted this list to stay relevant for a while.
Let's start with the most important category: SLEEP
A wooden crib that converts into a toddler bed (bonus points for beds that can be converted into a full sized bed too!)
Crib Mattress that is Eco-Friendly (Avocado has a some great options)
Two sets of Crib Sheets
Waterproof Crib Mattress cover
Crib mobile - this kept my newborn entertained and engaged as she fell asleep and again when she woke up! She got to practice her hand-eye coordination and motor skills by waving her arms at it.
Blackout curtains - I was against this at first because I am a photographer and I LOVE lots of light. My daughter slept fine in a bright room, but she took longer naps/went back to sleep more easily when I finally gave in a created a darker environment for her to nap!
Hatch Rest Plus - I'm a minimalist so instead of getting a sound machine, night light, and audio monitor, I recommend getting one machine that does it all. We have two dogs that like to bark, so having something to drown out the noise was essential for us. I think babies can get used to sleeping through lots of noise, though so having a machine that has many purposes makes this a good choice. Once your little one is a toddler, having a light that indicates it time to get up is a great tool!
Ergo Baby Swaddlers - Ergo Baby has hands-down the best sleep sacks IMO. Even if you don't intend to swaddle, it's good to have one on hand in case you find yourself in a desperate situation and nothing else is working. No sleep deprived dad wants to run around town in the middle of the night looking for something to make the baby sleep! You can choose the weight of the suit depending on the climate you're in which was so nice for us since we live in the frigid cold Minnesota!
Ergo Baby On the Move Sleep Bags - Once we were done with swaddling, we transitioned into these convertible sleep bags. It's not recommended to let babies sleep with a blanket, so having something a little extra to keep their bodies and legs warm is so helpful. The On the Move bags are so nice because you can let the feet out and snap up the extra material when they're running around the house before bedtime or in the morning.
Sleep is important for the whole family. It doesn't have to be complicated to get the baby to sleep well, but having a few helpful things to make it work can make your life so much easier in the first year. It gets easier the older they get! Now that my daughter is nearing two years old, she just wears jammies, cuddles with her stuffed dolls and blankets and puts herself to sleep!
FEEDING - a lot of these have to do with nursing because nursing is quite a task! I had no idea how much work it would be before my daughter was born. If you're exclusively bottle feeding, the first four items are relevant to you!
3 Glass Baby Bottles - Yes, when they drop on the floor it's loud. Some people can't stand this, but I personally think it's worth it because it's not plastic and it's environmentally friendly. Seems like a small price to pay to reduce waste so our children can have a beautiful world to enjoy when they grow up! Dr. Browns are our favorite anti-colic glass bottles HOWEVER if you're going for a more stylish glass bottle Baby Quoddle glass bottles are so cute that it makes me wish I had a second baby.
Every Stage of Bottle Nipples - I ended up going out three individual times to find the right stage flow every time we needed to go up and it would have been much easier to just register for all of them and have them on hand.
12-18 Burp cloths - Whether you're nursing or bottle feeding, either way, newborns don't know what they're doing, they're twitching all over, and milk just gets all over. If you're not familiar with "the let-down reflex" of nursing...I recommend learning about that :) Having some cloths near all of your feeding spots is a good idea.
Bottle Brush - It's more sanitary to keep the brush that touches all the other food items separate from the one that goes in the bottle. We didn't use a bottle sterilizer because the glass bottles were sterilized in the dish washer. Never had a mold issue.
Snacks - If you're nursing, have snacks nearby. It can help production to keep yourself well-fed!
At least 12 sets of Eco-Friendly Reusable Nursing Pads - There are disposables, but as you know, single-use items are convenient for us, not so convenient for the condition of our planet. Tossing them into the laundry instead of the trash is really not any less convenient! At some point early on I went through like 6 sets a day so having at least that many for each day between laundry days is smart.
Nursing Tops and Dresses - If you're nursing, you basically need a whole different Nursing wardrobe. In the early months you'll be whipping open your shirt about 10 times a day and nursing is already a challenge so...it's worth it to have a few tops that makes this easier.
Breast Pump - some say this helps increase production, and it's also a great idea to store up some extra milk for when you just need a break and your partner can bottle feed the baby. There are hands free pumps that are very discreet so you can pump while you work! I recommend a double pump to save time.
Breast Milk Storage - there are so many different kinds out there, most of which are plastic single-use bags, but there actually are options for a plastic-free breast milk storage system! Silicone bags like Ziptop or 4-6 oz glass mason jars are just as effective as the plastic bags but much better for baby and planet. I love this article that goes more in-depth on this subject.
Thoughts on a Bottle Warmer - Honestly I found it just as useful to put water straight from the faucet into a bowl. The bottle warmer can be useful for the first weeks when you have night feedings because you can keep a bottle warm during the night, but I nursed my daughter so I really didn't end up using ours much. If you're not nursing and you're sure you'll want a bottle ready to go, a simple bottle warmer will do the trick.
12-20 Cloth Diaper Covers - If you're lucky, you'll be able to figure out how to avoid getting the cover soiled so you can use the same one twice in a row and just switch out the inserts! Some days are better than others...
16-24 Cloth Diaper Inserts - This was the most difficult decision for me when choosing which kind of inserts to buy. In hinds sight, I would have bought about 10-12 fitted newborn size inserts from Nicki's Diapers or something similar and then 10-12 one-size-fits all later. I start with one-size fits all and about three different kinds of inserts and they were all way too bulky for the first 4 months. The fitted style is the only thing that completely prevented soil escaping the diaper. The downside is that with cloth, there's going to be wet cloth against your baby's skin, so you want to keep on top of diaper changes and it really doesn't work well at night. I tried very hard to make it work, spent all kinds of money on overnight inserts and solutions, but in the end decided one box of overnight diapers every 2 months was acceptable in exchange for keeping the baby asleep and dry all night. If your baby has to lay in a puddle of their pee at night, they're not going to sleep well, and neither will you! If you find something that works though, let me know!
At least 20 cloth wipes and solution - Cloth wipes are a great idea even if you go with single-use diapers. Just toss them in the wash with the rest of the dirties and reuse over and over!
Diaper Pail with Cloth Diaper Laundry Bags and Biodegradable Bags - We have two pails. One for cloth has the laundry bags and one for disposables has the biodegradable bags. I love the Dekor Pail.
Diaper Sprayer for Toilet - Spray the solids off the diaper into the toilet and then toss in the pail. Easy!
Overnight Disposable Diapers - As mentioned above, I tried to make cloth work over night but having a puddle of pee several nights in a row convinced me that gravity and liquid can't be beat.
Non-Toxic Baby Powder - Keep that bum dry to avoid diaper rash!
Natural Diaper Rash Ointment/Cream - You want it dry...but not too dry!
Eco-Friendly Changing Pad
2 Changing Pad covers
Cloth and Wood Mobile above Changing Table - I didn't see this on any other baby registry, but having a colorful cloth baby toy dangling over my baby was genius. Diaper changes were so easy and she stayed entertained the whole time. Another opportunity to practice her motor skills!
Travel. Honestly, I don't think I have anything new to say about travel that a million other baby lists don't say, so I will skip this one. Everyone has a different arrangement with how many car seats and strollers they need and we all know the safer the better! Personally, I wish I'd registered for a travel friendly carseat stroller combo but I had a #COVIDbaby and barely went anywhere the first year anyway!
So what are the 6 Surprising Items to Include? I'll tell you.
Gently Used Baby Clothing - Reduce how much new baby clothing is in demand, Reuse items that some other baby wore probably once before they outgrew it, and then pass it on to someone else. Before babies can crawl or walk, they do not put much wear and tear on their clothing. I find that used newborn clothing is in amazing shape. It wasn't until my daughter was over a year old that I started having to buy her brand new footie pajamas because any kid that age wears out the footies!
A House Cleaning Service - Major points for the person who gifts this to the New Parents!
Dog Walking - Whether it's a friend offering to talk your dog(s) or a dog walking service, this is such a huge help especially in the first 2-4 weeks post-partum.
Prenatal or Postnatal Massage - I had a prenatal massage prior to having my daughter and it was the best massage I have had in my life. I was so uncomfortable and thought nothing would make me feel good except having the baby. Wrong. If you're already comfortable with massages, this is a must have on your registry! If you're lucky, you'll get both!
Cloth Diaper Laundering Service - Yes. There is such a thing as someone else picking up your poopy diapers, washing them, and also dropping off clean ones for you to use! In the Twin Cities, you can check out Do Good Diapers or Mother Earth Baby.
Maternity and Newborn Photo Session - aaaaand that's where I do a shameless plug for myself! Who wouldn't want an amazing photographer booked without having to foot the bill? This is one must-have item I think everyone deserves. Submit a contact form here!