The time leading up to having a baby, especially your first, is an exciting and sometimes scary time. There is a lot of preparation to do and things to buy for the new arrival. Thankfully (maybe) there is no end to the advice you can find for what you need to do, what baby registry items you need, and how much you should buy.

Between friends and family (not to mention perfect strangers who are all too willing to share just because you are pregnant), baby-centric websites, blogs, TV shows, social media, and baby stores, advice abounds, much of it differing. You can find advice on everything from the hotly debated vaccines to which sippy cup to use.

No matter what parenting choices you make, there are a few universal items every parent needs to buy. This list of what a baby “needs” will vary depending on who you ask.


Babies R Us Registry “must-haves” Click for a larger view

This is the list of “must-haves” items you need for your infant from Babies R Us from when I had my baby (because, sadly, Babies R Us is no longer with us). Let’s pause for a moment and think about “must-have.” Do you really absolutely need all these items to care for a baby?

As a mother of two children, I can tell you that is absolutely not true. As a marketer, I can understand why the store includes SO many items on the list. There are items you might want and hadn’t thought of, things a new mom might forget to register for. It is good to be presented with options. But to call the entire list essential? That is just wrong.

One might even go so far as to say that it takes advantage of young and naïve new mothers who don’t yet realize what items are truly essential, which are simply nice to have, and those that are luxury items. I mean who really needs a travel system and a standard stroller and a jogging stroller and an umbrella stroller and a “convenience” stroller (not even sure what that is), not to mention a sleep positioner an extra high chair pad (can’t you wash it between meals)?

Being a good marketer, I did a little market research on what is truly essential for a new baby. There were way too many things to put into the “luxury” category, so I just listed some I have heard people say the NEED, but I think a new mom could do without.

Here is what I found:


(You really can’t take care of a baby without these)

  • Diapers and wipes (either cloth or disposable)
  • Car seat (can’t go home from the hospital or to doctor appointments without one)
  • Bodysuits (aka onesies, which happens to be trademarked by Gerber)
  • Clothing of your choice (enough for one week at about two outfits per day)
  • Somewhere for baby to sleep (this may be your bed or a pack n play, crib, bassinet, etc.)
  • Baby Soap (for bath time, you gotta keep the kid clean. This could be homemade too)
  • Bottles and formula (unless you are breastfeeding, then this one can go, otherwise you must feed your child)
  • First aid kit (just in case, cause you have to be safe)

Nice to have

(May or may not fit your lifestyle)

  • Baby bathtub (baby could take a bath in the sink)
  • Separate baby blankets and burp clothes (dish towels, regular blankets, and mom’s shirt work in a pinch)
  • Diaper bag (you could use a really big purse or your old college backpack)
  • Swing or bouncy chair (I almost put this in the essential category, but this is really for mom more than it is for baby)
  • Changing table (I ended up using the floor, bed, back seat of the car, etc. more often than the actual changing table)
  • Diaper pail (you could walk that out to the garbage)
  • Breastfeeding cover (the ones made for this really do work better than just a blanket)
  • Stroller
  • Sling or carrier

Luxury Items

(Some of these are over the top, but we aren’t going to judge if you want them because they are still useful and sometimes cute)

  • Wipe warmer
  • Bottle warmer (a pan of water on the stove works just as well and almost as fast)
  • Nursing pillow (regular pillows will work too)
  • Sleep positioner (if your child has some medical issue that makes this necessary, then that is understandable, but for the rest of us, it’s not needed)
  • Shoes for any child under 6 months (they aren’t walking yet, so you know they are just for show)
  • Headbands with bows and flowers for girls
  • Sound machine

I know many of you will disagree with some of my choices in categorizing. Just because something is a luxury item does not mean it isn’t useful, only that you can raise a child perfectly well without it.

Infants and babies are too young to know how much stuff they have. But if this trend continues and we keep buying for our children in excess, what happens when they become toddlers? Too much stuff is becoming a problem. We are buying bigger houses just to hold it all. There are a plethora of articles and blog posts on how to organize or get rid of all this excess. But what about stopping it before it starts?

Can we as a group say enough is enough? With all the buying power we have, we should be able to have an influence on things like this. Or is it too much? What baby registry items do you think are important? Do you think we buy too much for our children? Is it spoiling them? Or is it okay?


  1. Totally agree! I was that naive first time mom that thought everything on the “must buy” list was crucial. Now that I’ve been there, done that, you just need that first bucket until they’re about 3 months old. 😉

    • JWil at 12:01 pm Reply

      And it is such a shame that stores take advantage of new moms’ naivety, then we have a closet full of stuff we don’t really need or use. Thanks for sharing Katie!

  2. Vanessa at 2:59 pm Reply

    This is an awesome resource for a new mom! I love the lists that you have put together and agree. 🙂 Great job!

    • JWil at 4:08 pm Reply

      Thanks Vanessa! Once you’ve been there and done that it is easier to see the real needs versus the wants.

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