10 Baby Registry Must-Haves...A Baby Doc's Take
As you create your baby registry, it’s tempting to add every cute little product you see…and feel overwhelmed by all the options. But does your baby really need all that stuff? Staying focused on must-haves that boost health, safety and sleep will help you make the perfect list!
1. Car Seat
Luckily, these have never been safer! All car seats must pass strict safety standards. So, picking a fave comes down to weight, style and compatibility with your car (read your owner’s manual).
The American Academy of Pediatrics says children should ride rear-facing as long as possible (that is until they hit the max weight recommended by the manufacturer). And, once switched to a forward-facing car seat, they should use that as long as possible, before moving to a booster seat.
To maximize value, some parents choose a convertible seat to use from day one until their child outgrows it at 4…or even, 5, 6 or 7 years of age!
Other parents choose a rear-facing infant seat for the first months and switch to a convertible car seat later. Why? Because infant seats are fairly lightweight and easily snap in and out of a base—making them portable with the baby strapped in. Many also conveniently clip into a stroller, which makes it easier to move your baby around and about town. (Note: Infants should never sleep unattended in a car seat. Sleeping seated is risky, because a baby’s heavy head can fall forward and make it hard to breathe.)
For thousands of years, moms have wrapped their babies to help them stay calm and happy. Young babies aren’t great at controlling their bodies. When trying to suck their fingers, they may whack themselves in the face. And, when they get fussy they often flail and startle…and cry even more!
Swaddled infants are less likely to upset themselves, and they also are better able to focus on other calming techniques, like shushing, the side or stomach position, swinging and sucking (which together with swaddling, are known as the 5 S’s.)
Check out Happiest Baby’s Sleepea, the 5-second swaddle. A parent fave, it’s easier and safer than other swaddles. Made with 100% organic cotton, it’s better for babies…and for the planet!
3. Baby Carrier
I highly recommend baby-wearing. Babies feel right at home in slings and carriers. They enjoy being snug against their parents’ chest and feeling the warmth and jiggly motion while being carried…much like the same happy feeling they enjoyed inside the womb. Slings also leave your hands free for the million other things you have to do!
To lower the risk of SIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises infants sleep alone, on the back, in their parents’ room. For most families, a bassinet is the best choice due to its compact size.
But, there is a problem with bassinets…they are too boring! They are really just immobile, silent little boxes meant to protect babies from intrusive siblings and family dogs. But, they do nothing to improve sleep. That is…until recently.
In 2016, my company debuted SNOO, a “smart” bassinet that uses the constant rumbly sound and gentle rocking babies loved in the womb. Those soothing rhythms can quickly settle fussing and add 1-2+ hours of sleep/night. As a bonus, SNOO is the only sleep solution with a special clip-in swaddle that keeps infants safely on the back—all naps/all night.
Extra sleep is one of the most precious gifts you can give to a new parent. So, it’s easy to see why PopSugar Moms, Women’s Health and New York Mag are all calling SNOO the new, must-have, “life-changing” baby registry item.
5. White noise
People used to say, Tip-toe, the baby is sleeping!, thinking infants needed quiet and stillness to sleep. Today, we know that still, quiet rooms are sensory depriving to new babies. In utero, your child heard the constant, whoosh of blood pulsing through the umbilical blood vessels. After birth, babies still crave womb-like sound—that’s why they love car rides, vacuum sounds and white noise. I suggest using our Happiest Baby White Noise for all naps and nights, as well as for calming your baby in the car. (You can get our specially engineered sounds on MP3 and CD)
Sooner or later all babies develop a fever. So, you’ll want to add a baby thermometer to your registry. You’re best off choosing a digital one because—if an old-fashioned thermometer breaks— your baby may be exposed to toxic mercury contained inside.
7. Nail file and mittens
For such tiny beings, babies have surprisingly sharp nails which get even sharper after cutting them. And, those sharp nails often lead to face scratches. So, it’s best to file the nails to create a smooth edge or even use mittens to keep your little one from hurting herself. (Always, check inside the mittens to remove any loose strings that might wrap around a finger and cause injury.)
8. Nose syringe
Babies are astonishingly cute, but they’re also famous for having tons of boogers. And, a stuffy nose can make it hard to sleep. You’ll want a nose syringe to clear congestion to help your baby breathe easily…and keep up appearances. This inexpensive little tool is an absolute must-have!
9. Breastfeeding magic
We all know that breastmilk is the amazing, nutrition-filled nectar of the breasts. In fact, there is a book called, “So That’s What They’re There For,” because feeding a baby is the #1 reason why the breasts exist.
You may know that this milk is a wonderful mix of protein + fat + a special brain-enhancing sugar + vitamins developed over the millennia and specifically to nurture tiny, growing humans (very different from the milk of a cow or mouse or whale).
But, you may not know that it is also enriched with generous amounts of healing antibodies, vitamins, enzymes and even white blood cells that give extra protection to our babies vulnerable, immature bodies.
And, breastfeeding is great for moms, too! It reduces the risk for breast and ovarian cancers, shrinks the uterus back to normal and releases a daily flow of prolactin and oxytocin, hormones that fill your heart with feelings of love, success and delight.
Nevertheless, many of us know women for whom nursing was not easy or automatic. If you cannot or choose not to breastfeed, there are several carefully developed artificial milks that can come to the rescue.
Fortunately, the vast majority of new moms find nursing simple and deeply meaningful. And, there are several smart steps you can take—beforehand—to help you land in that group who find breastfeeding bliss:
- Use a breast shield if you have flat or inverted nipples (ask your doctor to check)
- Buy or rent a great breast pump (health insurance plans usually help pay for these)
- Get a comfortable breastfeeding pillow (many moms find it easier to nurse when the baby is on a small pillow positioned closer to the nipple, which can help reduce neck and wrist strain)
- Note on your baby registry that you’d like a gift certificate to see a local lactation consultant (call La Leche League for help finding one)
Pacifiers have a gotten bad rap. Parents worry their baby might get so attached he will never give up the habit—but this doctor fully endorses them! Sucking is a natural soothing mechanism for babies (and one of the 5 S’s!). It lowers your baby’s heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels. I like soft silicone pacifiers, but babies often have their own specific paci-shape preference. If one type doesn’t work, you may want to try another. And, if your baby keeps spitting it out, try this simple trick to help your baby develop the ability to keep it in.
Although binkies have big benefits for the first 6 months—at least—it’s wise to avoid any nipple confusion by delaying the paci until breastfeeding is going well (usually a few days to a week). Finally, here are some tips for giving up the pacifier for when the time comes!
There you have ‘em—my top 10 baby registry essentials. Many of you will go way beyond my short list here. I’d love to hear what your must-have registry products are. Please share your suggestions in the comments below!