Build Your Dream Nursery: The Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist

Woman building baby registry

Getty Images / Kelvin Murray

Finding out you are expecting can be a happy and joyous time, but then reality sets in. You’ll likely need a lot of new things, especially if this is your first baby. Although the number of items marketed towards new parents seems endless, you won’t need everything. There are so many brands, products, and choices, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. We’re here to help you with the ultimate guide on putting a registry together so you can get exactly what you need and nothing you don’t.

What Is a Baby Registry?

A baby registry is a list made by expecting parents of things they will need when a baby or child comes into their house. There are many baby-specific things, that unlike a wedding registry, you likely don’t already have.

There are different places and ways to build a registry, and many of the gifts from the registry will be presented to the pregnant person at the baby shower.

When Should I Start My Baby Registry?

You can build your registry whenever you want. Some say the sooner the better, since it can be an arduous task. It’s helpful to look up reviews of certain things like strollers or monitors, and ask friends with kids if they have any favorite brands or items. It is also okay to wait to build one if you're feeling superstitious.

If you’re planning on buying items according to the baby’s assigned sex at birth, waiting until you know (which can be anywhere between 12 and 20 weeks) is a good place to start.

“Leaning on the earlier side is always best in case items are back-ordered. This way you have time to fully unpack everything and nest,” says Jamie Hord, the founder of Horderly Professional Organizing, who welcomed her first child in May 2022.

The best time to build a registry is in the second trimester of pregnancy, says Ambar Hanesty, a mom of one who runs Socialhaus PR in Miami. “Unlike the first trimester, you aren't struggling with morning sickness and unlike the third, you still have a lot of energy and excitement to shop around. Talk to other moms, and really think through what we might need.”

Some moms say the earlier the better if you’re planning on quizzing friends and family who have had children. “Almost immediately after finding out I was pregnant, I started asking my parent friends for their suggestions on what was essential for building a registry,” says Erin Thorpe, a public relations consultant and the mother of 5 and 3-year-old daughters in New York City. “I had a draft going months ahead of my due date and would revise frequently as I took in more advice or saw things in practice when visiting friends.”

It's also helpful to add and revise your list during your pregnancy. “If you are taking classes to prep, like childbirth education or prenatal lactation courses, I always say to write down interesting key learnings of items you may need and add them to your registry,” says Cristina Gordon, the founder and president of CB Communications, and a certified lactation consultant at Baebee Mama. 

Yes, that baby blanket is adorable, but you may find out you have more need for breast shells, nipple butter, a silicone pump, and a snot sucker. Be sure to register for the items that seem less glamorous but come in handy when you need them,” adds Gordon.

What Resources Are Available to Build a Baby Registry?

It can be easy and fast to set up a baby registry online, like at Amazon, or Babylist, which helps you combine many different retailers.

“The best place to register is an all-in-one registry like Babylist,” says Hord. “You can put any item from any store on your list, which makes it easy and convenient! They also show you price comparisons.”

“I had registries listed on buybuy Baby, Babylist, and Amazon,” says Thorpe. “As someone who had purchased many gifts from registries, I always appreciated choice. Some retailers and sites might have a better price, some might be out of stock, and shoppers might earn reward points at one site or get free shipping.”

Many stores offer you “completion discounts” at the end of your pregnancy, meaning you’ll save up to 20% to buy items “leftover” on your registry—that’s where multiple stores might come in handy. Many diaper companies also offer a "subscribe and save" model to cut costs on diapers and wipes.

Although online is convenient, seeing items in person can be valuable for first-time parents, and you’re able to do that at stores like Target, Walmart, buybuy Baby, Pottery Barn Kids, and Crate & Barrel (Crate & Kids). Stores also usually have staff who can help guide you, as well as provide a checklist for things you may need.

Think outside the box when it comes to things you’ll need, just as some newlyweds register for things like experiences on their honeymoon rather than physical items.

“The most important thing I recommend is to register for services,” says Gordon. “The best gift you can give a first-time parent is the gift of knowledge and preparedness. There are amazing registries where you can register for lactation services, childbirth courses, prenatal, and postpartum doulas.”

Little Honey Money is one service that offers child care, doula support, meal deliveries, and more to help out new parents. “Going into parenthood with confidence is completely priceless. These services can get costly, so registering for those is an amazing way to not have the financial burden,” adds Gordon.

What to Put on a Baby Registry if It's Your First Child

“Ask friends and family that have babies what their biggest ‘can't live without’ items were,” says Hord. “Think of essentials like a stroller, car seat, crib and mattress, changing pad, etc. People usually give diapers and clothes no matter what, so those items could always go on your registry last.”

Consider your lifestyle. If you live in the city, you may not need a car seat, but you’ll definitely need a great stroller. If you live in the suburbs and drive everywhere, you’ll definitely want a car seat that can grow with your baby.

“Create a secondary list of items you are interested in but maybe want to try without first. You can always decide to get something later on but seeing if you can live without it first could save you money, space, and clutter. As we say at Horderly, think function first—before beauty,” says Hord.

If it’s your first child and you’re planning to have more, think about getting more unisex/neutral colors so items can be passed down when the time comes.

“Another thing to consider is how these new items, especially furniture and gear, will fit in your home aesthetic,” says Hanesty. “I'd encourage moms to consider the dimensions, color, and wood finish to avoid clutter and a hodgepodge of colors at home.”

What to Put on a Baby Registry If It's Your Second (or Third!) Baby

You won’t need everything as you did with your first child, but you might need more baby shampoo and soap, definitely more laundry detergent, smaller-sized diapers, and either a double stroller or a second convertible seat for your current stroller.

Car seats, strollers, cribs, and high chairs do have safety measures in place. Some expire after a certain amount of time, and others simply have different federal regulations from year to year, so it’s best to check manufacture dates and recall lists.

“For my second child, I had a good handle on what was absolutely essential and what had been underused, so my registry was scaled down,” says Thorpe. “Plus, I was able to reuse a lot of what we had for the first child.”

One tip is that there may be a little less excitement for a second child (especially if you only have a “sprinkle” versus a “shower) and some more personal items, like personalized blankets or frames, might be forgotten.

“We received many gifts with our first daughter that were personalized,” says Thorpe. “My second child didn’t receive any personalized gifts, so I ordered some out of worry she would feel left out once she was old enough to recognize her name. You might consider registering for a few personalized gifts if your baby’s name isn’t a secret.”

Gordon offers the advice that registering for your first baby typically consists of items needed for the first year. “We often get enough baby clothes to clothe them three times a day throughout the first year, then have nothing after that,” says Gordon. That’s why this second registry ends up being a little more practical.”

She recommends registering for bigger clothing, like 12-24 months or beyond, as well as new cups, bowls, cutlery, and baby food containers.

Parents should also ask themselves questions about what may have changed in terms of technology since their first baby. “Is there a new monitor or new tech that could be useful to you? If so, do your research and see if it’s something that may help your lifestyle,” says Gordon.

Things to Think About When Building A Registry

There are certain items that you will use daily for many years. Those are things that should be researched and seen as an investment. These items can include a monitor, crib, car seat, and stroller.

“I regret getting a random baby monitor just because it looked cute and was cost-effective,” says Hanesty. “It ended up breaking on day one! Invest in a good product. You will be looking at your baby every night for hundreds of days, so you want a high-quality product with good video quality and an easy-to-use, highly secure, good functioning app.”

You’ll also probably hear (a lot) that every baby is different. For that reason, do not register for hundreds of the same diapers or wipes, or limit yourself to one bottle brand. Babies have sensitive skin and have different bodies, so one diaper brand may cause a reaction or not fit as well as another.

“I highly recommend registering for smaller packs of multiple brands in the beginning until you find your best solution,” says Thorpe. “The same is true for pacifiers and bottles and nipples. Your baby might take to one better than another.”

Gordon says she loves to host pregnant friends and family at her house to look at the items she has and to see how they work. “That way they can understand it all and see if it’s a fit for their lifestyle,” says Gordon. “Of course, you need a baby monitor and a baby carrier, but the brand and style really need to suit your preference and lifestyle, so it’s nice to show people options.”

How to Organize All Your New Baby Items

The way you organize your baby's gear can help you go into the birth feeling more clear-headed and prepared. “Create a proper home for everything,” says Hord. “Carve out a space (like a closet) that is easily flexible, so that it can adjust over time as baby items change and baby grows. Use bins to contain items like clothes that are too small or too big, backstock wipes, and diapers. You'll need proper storage, not only in the baby's room, but also the kitchen and main level of your home.”

What You Don’t Need

Crib bumpers, blankets, or pillows: These items are not recommended for infant sleep. Babies should be on their back, alone in their crib with a tightly fitted mattress sheet and nothing else.

An abundance of dressy or difficult-to-put-on outfits: Expect these pieces to be shoved to the back of the closet and never worn in the early days of spit-up and sleepless nights. “Excited about being a first-time mom, I registered for so many ‘cute’ things we just didn’t use,” says Thorpe. “Outfits with complicated closures were sweet to look at but hell to get on and off. They quickly got shoved to the back of the drawer in favor of easy, comfortable, machine-washable onesies with busy prints to mask all the baby mess.”

Nice-to-haves: In the same vein as fussy clothes, you don't need certain luxuries (though we won't judge you for buying them!). For example, if you get a wipe warmer, then you risk your baby potentially fussing if you’re unable to warm their wipes once you leave the house. You can also possibly skip a sterilizer and just boil pump parts and bottle pieces in a hot pot of water. For those breastfeeding, you likely will need a pump—but it's up to you if you also get a portable breast pump in addition to a hospital-grade one.

Baby shoes: Most babies don't start walking until around or after their first birthday, and shoes are just for show until that time.

 Your Baby Registry Checklist

“Think ahead about your lifestyle and your needs,” says Hanesty. “For example, we visited grandma's house every weekend, so we needed a lot of duplicate things at her place like a second pack and play, extra diaper pail, and an extra booster seat for mealtime,” says Hanesty.

Here is a starting list for your best baby registry:


  • 3-Tier Rolling Cart: “A rolling cart is a great way to stay organized, especially if you live in a studio or one-level home,” says Hord. “This way it can go with you anywhere and your essentials will always be by your side.”
  • Everyday stroller
  • Travel stroller
  • Car seat suitable for infant
  • Pack and play or playard
  • Diaper bag
  • Carrier


  • Tummy-time mat
  • Bouncer or swing (check recent recall lists)
  • Teethers
  • Rattles
  • Soft blankets
  • Stuffed animals
  • Milestone blanket, stickers, or blocks



  • Nail trimmer
  • Thermometer
  • Suction bulb
  • Saline spray
  • Vaseline
  • Cotton pads
  • Diaper cream
  • Baby bathtub
  • Two soft towels with hoods
  • Four washcloths
  • Gentle baby shampoo
  • Gentle baby body wash
  • Gentle baby lotion
  • Faucet cover
  • Knee or elbow pad for parents leaning over the tub
  • Infant toothbrush
  • Nasal aspirator


  • Baby wipes
  • Diapers
  • Baby-safe laundry detergent
  • Laundry stain remover
  • High chair
  • Pacifiers



  • Eight-to-ten footed pajamas with zippers (most parents prefer zippers over snaps)
  • Ten pairs of Socks
  • Three mittens to keep baby’s nails from scratching
  • Eight elastic waist pants
  • Six-to-eight short-sleeve shirts with side snaps
  • Six-to-eight long-sleeve shirts with side snaps
  • Ten-to-12 onesies (short and long sleeves)
  • Five-to-ten burp cloths
  • Ten-to-12 bibs
  • Two-to-three sweater or zip-up hoodies
  • Three-to-five sleep sacks or swaddles
  • One or two sun hats and bathing suits (seasonal)
  • One jacket (seasonal)
  • One special outfit to wear coming home from the hospital
  • One hat and a pair of mittens (winter baby)
  • One-to-two special occasion outfits
  • One-to-two warmer booties (shoes aren’t really needed until baby can walk)

For Parents

  • Homemade meals or take-out gift cards
  • Time: Friends/family watching the baby so you can eat/shower/sleep, etc
  • Services like a doula, lactation consultant, or night nurse
  • Postpartum kit for the birthing parent, like ice packs, nursing nightgowns, peri bottle

By Dory Zayas
Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.