Recently I asked Cincinnati moms on Instagram about their favorite baby products. Hundreds of moms responded about what they loved, what they didn’t, and how they would develop their registry differently now that they’ve had one, two, or even more babies. Below is their advice on baby products, adjusting to being a new mom, and everything in between.
Besides being a Cincinnati newborn photographer, I am also a mom myself. I wanted to write out my guide to a local registry because I feel like I wasted so much money on my own registry and will be doing things differently when it’s time for baby #2. Below I’m sharing my guide to exactly what I’d do differently and the products most recommended by local moms.
Ok, this is my first (and biggest) piece of advice. When I made my baby registry, my goal was to register for everything I would need. The problem is that before your baby arrives, you have no idea what they’ll really need! For example, I had a swing, a bouncer, a crib, a bassinet, and a stroller…except my baby wouldn’t let me lay her down anywhere for the first several months. She wouldn’t even let me put her in the stroller on outings until she was eight months old! So all those things I registered for and filled my home were essentially unused. You’re going to be buying a lot of stuff after baby arrives and you figure out what you’ll actually need, so instead of registering for everything, register for the the things you really, really want. With Amazon Prime and Target curbside, you can have everything you may need within a few hours after you realize you need it, so save your registry items for the splurges.
I got more responses from moms on this than on any other topic. I see it all the time—moms ask anyone and everyone on Facebook forums or mommy blogs “what should I add to my baby registry?” To paraphrase Amy Poehler in Baby Mama…’“they don’t know your life.” Some parents are out shopping at Target or at the zoo within a week of giving birth, so a high-quality stroller is a must. Some don’t leave the couch for the first six weeks (that was me), so I just needed a really solid nursing pillow and a great baby wrap. Some parents plan to have baby sleep in their room for as long as possible, some start in the crib immediately. Some want a vitals tracker like an Owlet (I loved mine) and that helps with their anxiety, some feel that a device like that gives them more anxiety. The bottom line is this—there are a million options for baby products and some will be perfect for you, some won’t fit your parenting style at all. And that’s ok. Start by figuring out what you want your first few months of parenthood to look like and go from there, rather than adding every item the moms’ group says you should have. Some moms who responded on IG said this beautifully:
“Your motherhood experience is uniquely yours, and may be different from other mothers’” -Mary G.
“Let your baby guide you and trust your instincts. No one knows better than you.” -McK
I know what you’re thinking—WHAT?! How could I ever summarize everything I’ll need for a whole baby into ten items? You’ll definitely need more than that over time, but to avoid waste and struggling with decision fatigue (on top of the fatigue you’re already experiencing in pregnancy), I recommend starting with the following ten items and seeing what you actually need after that:
A high-quality travel system. This is the item that you want to last as your baby grows. The most frequently recommended brands from moms were the Uppababy, Baby Jogger, and Bugaboo. A tidbit of advice—look for one that will comfortably convert into a double stroller, if you think you want to have more than one baby.
A baby carrier. Having your baby attached to you is the best way to keep your baby calm and happy during those first few months. Personally, I love my Solly wrap and will buy another for future kiddos. Many people also recommended Hope & Plum, Wildbird, Mobey, Happy Baby, Tula, and the list goes on. My personal recommendation is to start with one carrier and see if baby wearing is something that fits into your parenting. You can always buy more. By the end of my daughter’s first year, we had six baby carriers we used all the time, but there was no way for us to know we’d like them so much until she was already here.
A crib and/or bassinet. I don’t include any other nursery décor on this list because generally I find expecting moms want to have all this stuff long before their baby shower, so they have plenty of time to order. I mostly find that a crib is a crib, so the main thing to decide on here is where you want baby to sleep (in your room or in their own). If you want them to start in your room, I recommend a bedside bassinet. I would never have considered it with my first, but I 100% plan to invest in a Snoo the second time around. Sleep is all that matters in those first few months!
A baby monitor. We didn’t get a video monitor until my daughter was a couple of months old, since she slept in our room. But we did get the Owlet smart sock right away to monitor vital signs overnight. Some other moms also recommended the Nanit for both video and vital-monitoring capabilities.
A first aid set. Boring, but there are some items that you won’t want to run for Target for if and when you need them. I recommend registering for a kit that includes Infant Tylenol (consult with your pediatrician about what they recommend for newborns), gas drops, a nose frieda, and a baby thermometer. These are all items that were essential to our survival at the beginning.
The best swaddle and noise machine you can find. Sleep is king. I ended up buying all the less expensive baby swaddles because I thought they would work the same as the higher-quality ones. They did not, and once I bought the Ollie swaddle, I immediately knew it was worth it. As far as a noise machine, you don’t necessarily need to buy one, but just have a plan for if you want to play white noise through an app or your phone. The combo of white noise + swaddle = a baby who will actually sleep for you.
Basic breastfeeding or bottle-feeding supplies. Like…three bottles. I’m serious. Don’t stock up because you never know what your baby will actually like. Buy one or two from a few different brands and then buy more after you see what they use. For breastfeeding, the brest friend pillow and a nursing bra are all you will really need at the beginning.
A few baby outfits you actually want. People want to buy really cute stuff for you, so I suggest putting a few outfits on there that you actually want to dress your baby in. My go-to items are Solly baby pajamas and Lou Lou and Company for neutral, gorgeous baby clothes that are also supremely soft.
An amazing diaper pail. Somehow we overlooked this item and within week one had ordered two (one for each level of our home). The ubbi is steel and keeps all smell in. You don’t realize how much you need it until you don’t have it.
Something you really, really want. We all have something we really want for our baby, even if we know we don’t need it. For me, this was a beautiful handmade Moses basket; I didn’t get it because it felt very frivolous in the moment. Now, I know for sure I’d get the same basket for baby #2 because it was just something I wanted so much; I would highly recommend putting something on your registry that just means so much to you. For a lot of my clients, this is their newborn photography session that they add to their registry.
You are going to end up buying new sleep swaddles, bottles, pacifiers, baby toys, clothes, etc. in the weeks and months following your baby’s birth. Those purchases are inevitable. But what you are less likely to treat yourself to is the really nice stroller or the baby monitor with all the bells and whistles. These are the items I recommend putting on your baby registry, over the hundreds of small items. I recommend using a baby registry that allows your friends and family contribute towards a larger gift, rather than having to purchase it outright.
One of the things my newborn clients love most is that they can actually add their newborn and maternity package with me to their registry, and friends and family are able to contribute towards their Little Bug newborn package. People love to gift experiences, instead of things, and this offers a unique way for families to contribute towards something that they know won’t end up being sold or donated.
If you’re expecting and want to chat more about a Cincinnati in-home newborn session, reach out here. This is the one thing I can guarantee that you’ll be happy you invested in for your growing family.