When I set out to build our baby registry, it was overwhelming. In fact, I found it so overwhelming I outsourced the entire process to my husband — which is a great life hack if you don’t care what color onesies your husband picks out (I didn’t, and to this day he’s still the far more economical baby shopper between the two of us).
Our guiding principle for our registry was to not register for anything that we didn’t absolutely need. At the time, we were living in Boston in a 700-square-foot third-floor walk-up that was already crammed full of our own lives from the previous four years. It was important to us to not overshoot on the baby gear.
We didn’t quite make it out of the infant stage as minimalists, but as I approach the one-year mark of motherhood, I find there are five items that I not only recommend over and over again without hesitation but also gift to any moms-to-be I know.
1. Portable sound machine
This little powerhouse of a sound machine was the star of our sleep training show. Whether you subscribe to a sleep training method that uses white noise as a tool or just need some extra support in the car, this on-the-go sound machine does the trick. It has a USB charger, which saves you from lugging batteries around, and it can make it through the night before needing to be recharged. When our daughter was very small and still swaddled, the ability to move the sound machine closer to her to help her stay asleep without turning up the volume was critical for our sleep and sanity. This sound machine has accompanied us on every single trip we’ve made in the last year and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
2. Electric nail trimmer
Recommended by a friend with rave reviews, I loved and still love this nail trimmer. It’s simple to use, grows as your baby grows with several different nail pads, and has safety mechanisms to stop moving if too much pressure is applied. I can easily use this tool on my own, even as my daughter has gotten older and more squirmy. I was incredibly grateful to alleviate all worry of cutting tiny, shockingly sharp baby nails, especially in the early days when just about everything about being a new mom can be stressful!
3. Milk collector
Whether you plan to breastfeed or exclusively pump, I recommend one of two products from the same company. I registered for the Haakaa manual breast pump,* which many moms recommended for the purpose of collecting let down while breastfeeding. It didn’t work for me for a few reasons. First, the pump design was bulky and cumbersome to try to manage while attempting to get a newborn to latch. Second, my baby didn’t enjoy nursing, so the utility of catching excess milk was less useful. However, the manual breast pump was a lifesaver when trying to regulate my supply overnight. Rather than doing a full pump in the middle of the night, I would wake up and use the Haakaa to provide a bit of relief until I pumped again in the morning. After one or two weeks I was able to drop the night pump altogether. Also, pro tip: The Haakaa can be used to help with plugged milk ducts. Win/win.
For moms who are breastfeeding, I would absolutely recommend the Haakaa milk collector for exactly the purpose I originally bought my manual pump — catching let down. This sleek little cup is unobtrusive while nursing, allows you to collect extra milk, and saves you from having to change or walk around with a soaked-through top!
*OK, this one is a little over $25, but I promise it’s worth it!
4. Bear suit
For any baby born in the winter, warm layers are key. But I’m also a big proponent for working smarter and not harder. This bear suit (or many others on the market) checks all the boxes: keeps baby warm, easy to put on, and does not require additional layers. Plus, it’s cute as a button. This bear suit works so well, my friend’s son refused to sleep unless he was snug as a bug in his bear suit. (Don’t worry, she figured out how to get him to sleep without it before summer came!)
Along the same vein of winter babies, when I asked my friends if infants need socks I received a resounding and adamant “NO SOCKS” from all of them. Normal adult size socks disappear in the laundry on the regular, and baby socks don’t even make it to the laundry before they get lost. Instead, the recommendation was for these adorable booties. The elastic and two-position snap keep the booties in place and help keep baby’s feet warm. We loved them when our daughter was a newborn and continue to use them as she has learned to walk (winter baby problems). The website usually has sales to make the price per pair a bit more appealing.