When I was creating a baby registry in anticipation of Muffin Man, I was completely overwhelmed! There were so many options and so many conflicting reviews! What did I really need? What was just going to take up space? How was I supposed to know these things when I didn’t have a baby yet?!
Did I mention that my hubs and I lived in a tiny studio apartment with our sweet pup at the time? We definitely did not have room for anything that would not get good use! Unfortunately we ended up with a lot of those things because (a) baby things are so cute that I couldn’t resist registering for all-of-the-things, and (b) parenthood is a learning experience!
Below is a list of my Top Twelve registry faves. I would buy these products again, and again, and again! Of course this is not an exhaustive list but it’s a start! Please also keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, newborns do not require all-of-the-things. They mostly require love, attention, nutrition, and a safe place to sleep – you have time to figure out the rest! What were your must-haves? Leave a comment below!
Top Pick: Boppy Newborn Lounger
Confession time: I totally thought an infant lounger was a waste of money. In fact, I added and removed the Boppy Newborn Lounger from my registry several times. Let me tell you, I could not have been more wrong! We got so much use out of this during the first few months that I really can’t imagine the early days without it! This was one of the only places our colicky baby was happy and I loved that it was easy to move around.
2. Swaddlers & Sleep Sacks
Top Pick 1: Swaddle Me Original Swaddlers
Top Pick 2: Carter’s Sleep Sacks
If you, like me, are not fantastic at swaddling with a standard blanket or if you, also like me, are paranoid that a blanket will somehow unravel and become a safety hazard, velcro swaddlers may be for you. Several brands create similar products but we wound up using and loving the Swaddle Me Original Swaddlers. They come in a variety of patterns (even an organic fabric option) and in multiple sizes. Learn from my mistake and pick up some washer bags so that the velcro doesn’t damage other items in the wash or collect lint.
We switched over to sleep sacks around 2-3 months, when Muffin Man managed to flip himself over. There are lots of wonderful sleep sack options out there (and we had many of them!) but my favorites were made by Carter’s. We have these light-weight, sleeveless models as well as these micro-fleece, long-sleeved sacks. We’re still using them (in larger sizes) at 14 months!
People have asked me why I prefer these sleep sacks over some of the other brands, particularly when some other brands offer a higher material quality. The main reason is that I like the design and fit of the neckline. As a nervous new mommy, I was anxious about anything that might be loose around baby’s neck and could potentially get pulled over his face. Paranoid? Maybe. I’m okay with that. These sleep sacks have a higher neckline than some others and fit more snuggly (but not too snuggly) around my guy’s neck.
3. Specialized Bottles
Top Pick: Dr. Brown’s Options Bottles
Oh, the wonderful world of bottles. This is one that really made my head spin. A good friend gave me some great advice (that I did not take but will now share with you): instead of buying one type of bottle in bulk (oops!), try purchasing a few different types of bottles in smaller quantities. This allows you to test out what works best for your babe before heavily investing in one brand or model.
Our little guy suffered from acid reflux and lots of stomach upset, so we wound up trying a variety of products in an effort to bring him comfort. You know what saved the day? Dr. Brown’s Options Bottles. In all seriousness, these bottles were life-changing for us. We saw improvement (e.g. less crying, reduced spit-up and reflux, sleeping for longer stretches) as soon as we switched to these bottles. Yes, it’s true that they have lots of parts to clean, but that was a small price to pay for our little guy to be happy and for all of us to get some sleep!
As he got a little older, we also began using Comotomo Baby Bottles, which I liked because their design is quite similar to the real deal, if you know what I mean. You can also purchase attachable handles to help your little one hold more independently.
4. Bibs & Burp Cloths
Top Pick 1: Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs
Top Pick 2: Bumkins Waterproof Starter Bibs
Some of my favorite products in this area are the Aden + Anais Burpy Bibs. As the name implies, they function as both a bib and a burp cloth. I tried similar products from other brands but have found that these have best withstood the test of time.
For those extra drooly days, check out some cute and stylish handkerchief bibs.
When introducing solids, my favorite mealtime bibs have been the Bumkins Waterproof Starter Bibs. Don’t let the name mislead you – we are still using these bibs at 1 year + with no issues. This brand offers lots of pattern options as well as additional design choices as your child ages. They are comfortable and easily washable. My second-favorite mealtime bib is the Baby Bjorn Soft Bib but, again, don’t let the name mislead you. These bibs aren’t really all that soft and, while they do a great job of catching food, my little guy looks less comfortable in them. I think they may be a better fit as he gets taller.
5. Nursing Pillow
Top Pick: Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner
It seems that the two most popular nursing pillows on the market are the Boppy Nursing Pillow and Positioner and the My Breast Friend Nursing Pillow. I had both and personally preferred the Boppy pillow but I have several friends who prefer the My Breast Friend, so this is really a personal preference. One thing I like about the Boppy pillow is that it can be used beyond breast feeding (Muffin Man still uses it to lay back and look at books).
6. Baby Mittens
Top Pick: Crummy Bunny Baby Mittens
People warned me that babies scratch themselves but WOW! Babies really scratch themselves! Those tiny little finger nails are surprisingly sharp and terrifying to cut. Baby mittens were a necessity in protecting Muffin Man from himself.
A word of wisdom: look for mittens that have more substantial elastic around the wrist, like the Crummy Bunny Baby Mittens. Weak elasticity results in the mittens falling off – all the time!
7. Footed Pajamas
Top Pick: Carter’s Zippered Pajamas
While the adorable newborn clothing options seem endless, footed pajamas were by far our most-used clothing items during the first few months (especially because we had a Winter baby). Most of the other baby clothes got little or no use. Our peanut basically lived in footed pajamas until he was at least 4 months old. A little insider info: I suggest avoiding pajamas with snaps and buttons. They may seem cute now but they will not seem cute when changing an explosive diaper at 3am. We swore by zippered pajamas like these (they are also a great value). We’ve also been pleased with the pajamas from Baby Gap (a slightly higher price point).
Top Pick: Comotomo Silicone Baby Teethers
There are so many darn teethers on the market. I had no idea what I was doing and wound up registering for whatever looked cute and seemed safe. At the end of the day, finding the right teether(s) is mostly trial-and-error. I suggest registering for a few different brands/models and testing them out with your little one.
Muffin Man’s personal favorites were the Comotomo Silicone Baby Teethers. Unlike many other models, these teethers have long arms that reach all the way to the back of baby’s mouth, making them effective for any new teeth coming in.
These were also my personal favorites because they: (a) are easily washable, (b) do not have hollow insides to collect mold, and (c) have a circular handle that allowed me to attach them to pacifier clips (saving them from touching dirty NYC sidewalks!)
9. Play Mat/Gym
We had and loved the Fisher-Price Rainforest Music & Lights Deluxe Gym (this link is to a newer model than what we had). Although it was not my favorite in terms of aesthetics, it did a wonderful job of holding Muffin Man’s attention and encouraging gross motor development.
Here’s why: (1) the bright and contrasting colors were visually-appealing for him, (2) the lights and music captured his interest, and (3) there is a feature that allows you to link the lights and music to movement.
How does #3 work? Baby grabs or kicks the frame/toys and the lights and music are automatically (and temporarily) activated. Why do I love this feature so much? It functioned as built-in reinforcement and encouraged gross motor development! Peanut moved his arms and legs to make contact with the gym; the lights and music turned on briefly and then deactivated again. What did he want next? He wanted more lights and music! So, he began moving his arms and legs again. Voila! Encouraging gross motor development via positive reinforcement! Two thumbs up from me.
An automatic swing was a life-saver for us and was one of the few places Muffin Man was content (other than in someone’s arms). We used the Fisher-Price Moonlight Meadow Cradle ‘n Swing. We loved this swing and would buy it again without question! In full disclosure, I should mention that the first swing we received had a faulty motor. I then did a little research and found many other consumers complaining of the same problem. It was a bit of a hassle to disassemble and return the original but we quickly received a replacement that worked perfectly. If you purchase this swing, do yourself a favor and test out the motor before assembling the entire product. Although the motor issue was a bummer, this swing still seems to be one of the best available (based on my experience, feedback from friends, and consumer reviews). The cover can be removed for washing, the cradle can be rotated to change the swing direction, and it has a moving mobile that plays audio. This swing has a bit of a large foot print (especially in our tiny NYC apartment) but it was well-worth the lost square footage!
We also had the Mamaroo which is high-quality but just wasn’t Muffin Man’s cup of tea. Based on feedback from other parents, it seems this item is hit or miss.
11. Bouncer Chair
There are plenty of bouncer chair options on the market and I don’t have a strong preference for any one in particular, but having one was definitely crucial for us! Without this chair, I would have taken far fewer showers (and as a new mom, I already wasn’t getting enough!) I would plop little man in his bouncer chair just outside of the shower so that I could supervise and talk to him while I washed up. I also set this up outside of the kitchen while cooking (at a safe distance from any safety hazards). We used a Bright Starts bouncer similar to this one. I liked that it was light-weight (easy to move), offered music and vibration settings, and that it was equipped with an activity bar. Some friends of mine have been happy with the Baby Bjorn Bouncer but I personally prefer one that offers baby more play/entertainment options.
12. Nasal Aspirator
Top Pick: NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator
Oh how I love the NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator! It is simple yet genius. This is the perfect way to reduce nasal congestion for babes who are too young to blow their noses. It’s highly effective (much more so than the more traditional bulb aspirators) and easy to clean. It may initially feel a little funny to literally suck snot out of your baby’s nose but, I assure you, it is oddly rewarding! My son actually loves when I use this device and it helps to keep him breathing easily! This is an absolute must-have!
You may notice that I have left off a few big items, such as strollers and car seats. Of course these are necessities. In fact, they are so important that I think they deserve their own posts – stay tuned!