As soon as you find out you’re pregnant, the first thing you learn is that there is a lot to learn. And sorting out what to add to your baby registry, particularly as a first-time mom, can be both exciting and utterly overwhelming. Do you need a bassinet? What the heck is a baby lounger? How many onesies does a baby go through? How in the world do you decide on a stroller?
To simplify things, here’s a roundup of 8 tried and true items to consider adding to your list. Before you get overwhelmed, note that there is no one-size-fits all registry. Tiny apartment? Skip the bassinet. Want to focus on newborn-only gear? Wait on the high chair. Whittle this list down to meet your needs.
Plus, the more work you do now to hone your registry, the better your odds are of receiving the gifts you really need at your baby shower—not a pile of almost-identical swaddling blankets.
You’ll want something cozy to wrap your little one in post-bath. And it doesn’t get much cuter than an animal-eared hooded towel. This adorable option can also be personalized.
The Land of Nod Petting Zoo bunny hooded towel, $45, landofnod.com
Snow or Sun Gear
Depending on when baby is born, you’ll want to have a few seasonally-specific pieces to be ready for the elements. For example: Have a soft-brimmed hat to keep the sun off of baby’s face in the summer. And in the winter, a snuggly one-piece snowsuit or coverall will keep baby toasty.
Florence Eiseman seersucker bucket hat, $19, saksfifthavenue.com; L.L. Bean Hi-Loft infant’s fleece coveralls, $50, llbean.com
Portable Changing Pad
These little mats look incredibly chic—not at all like baby gear. They’re compact, made from bonded leather in a number of cool colors, and wipe clean easily. This 15- by 20-inch size is great as a changing mat, but could also be an on-the-go placemat. Gathre offers multiple sizes, up to an 81- by 81-inch Maxi that’s great for a play mat, a trip to the beach, or even a picnic blanket.
Gathre Micro Collection pad, $20, gathre.com
Baby Video Monitor
A five-inch video monitor makes it easy to see what baby is up to (with a clear enough picture so that you can watch her chest rise and fall while she sleeps). It comes with a separate mini-monitor that’s easier to carry while you’re doing things around the house. It’s also easy to tilt and pan the camera for different angles. And yes, it can record video (if you add an SD card) and has talk capabilities.
Project Nursery five-inch HD baby monitor system, $300, projectnursery.com
This cute little teether has been a parent favorite for generations. The shape makes it easy for baby to grasp, while the natural rubber and non-toxic coloring means it’s safe.
Sophie the Giraffe teether, $24, giggle.com
This contraption has quickly become a must-have for new moms. Rather than just bouncing up and down like the old-school baby bouncers, this has five motions and five speeds to better mimic being in mom and dad’s arms. It can also be controlled from the base or from an app on your phone.
4Moms MamaRoo bouncer, $240, 4moms.com
Baby Activity Gym
Much like the mobile, an activity gym is all about stimulating baby—not necessarily making a décor statement. But there are some that do both. This high-contrast option from Land of Nod is also surprisingly design-y. But it will also keep baby busy during tummy and play time.
The Land of Nod Ringmaster baby activity gym, $89, landofnod.com
The system grows with your baby from birth, when you’ll be using the Mesa car seat or bassinet, to three months on—when toddlers can use the RumbleSeat (which can rear- or front-face). And when baby number two comes along, it’s easy to add a second seat to the existing frame—no need for a new stroller. It’s also simple to fold up and it has one of the largest under-seat baskets in the category—perfect for stowing a diaper bag, groceries, you name it. And do yourself a favor and buy the “parent organizer,” a neoprene strap that attaches to the stroller handles and has pouches and pockets for your daily needs (such as coffee, phone, keys, and more.)
Uppababy Vista stroller, from $840, uppababy.com