Off the Registry: Baby Essentials You Really (Really!) Need


Having a new baby is such an adventure of excitement and anticipation! I remember walking the aisles with stars in my eyes as my husband and I chose the perfect baby registry items for our little bundle of joy. We picked a pack-and-play with a cute little monkey mobile. The diaper bag of choice could double as checked baggage in case of emergency. These items are definitely baby essentials (even though my choices weren’t exactly practical). But, as new parents, we had no idea what we were actually doing — or what we would actually need. 

After three rounds of the baby days, I feel like I have finally have this “how to handle a baby” thing figured out… and now I might not ever do it again.

My third baby isn’t a baby anymore, and I have to say that I’m pretty sad about it. It’s been a blessing and a joy to watch all of our kids grow. I love the little baby days (at least, I do in retrospect). And I don’t take it lightly that I now regularly enjoy a full night’s sleep and have certain … ahem … body parts back.

Our first bundle of joy gave us quite a run for our money. I distinctly remember, about three weeks in, my exasperated husband asking, “Why does anyone ever do this again?” We didn’t have a clue how to care for our tiny infant. Adding in an amateur knowledge of nursing, a whole lot of colic, and pure exhaustion didn’t help the equation.

Thank goodness we’ve gotten better as a parents as time has gone by! We’ve gotten smarter, too. So, I’d like to share a short list of items that I didn’t discover until baby #2 and baby #3 that have made all the difference. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, and I know that everyone has their own must-haves. But here are a few that, for me, are Baby Registry Essentials. 

Off the Registry: New Baby Essentials for Real Life

Gripe Water

baby registryFor real, where was this magical ginger-ale-for-babies when I was a first-time mom with a fussy, gassy, screaming newborn? I’m sure it was right there on the shelves of H-E-B, but I didn’t know its potential for baby tummy transformation.

With time comes wisdom, or maybe just my “I’ve got this” attitude went out the window. So, with baby #3, I used the registry coupon and figured it couldn’t hurt. I was so impressed with the results that I should be a paid spokeswoman. We went on a big family vacation this summer, and gripe water was a lifesaver. My babies haven’t ever slept well when we aren’t home, and vacation was no exception. We would strap our 6-month-old in the stroller, slip him a little gripe water, and it was off to dream-land. 

Bottle Drying Rack

Bottle Drying RackThis little plastic wonderland revolutionized my life (and my sink) with baby #2. As a foster baby, she was totally formula-fed and arrived with the Dr. Brown’s bottles that have a million pieces. I felt like I could never get all of the pieces sitting up so that they could drain and dry. On top of that, I couldn’t fit anything else in the dish drainer with all of the bottle and other baby paraphernalia I had crammed in there.

Bottle drying rack to the rescue! It sits on the counter beside the sink and is slightly angled so that the water drains off and into the sink. The wider part has places to prop bottles and sippy cups, and the little baskets and hooks are perfect for rings, nipples, and pacifiers. And you can throw it in the dishwasher when it gets grimy.



Muslin Swaddle Blankets

Muslin Swaddle BlanketsThese are the best. And I really mean it. I only had the flannel receiving blankets with my first, and I was too cheap to try these out. But the benefits far exceed the cost. They’re big enough to make swaddling a piece of cake, and they’re light and breathable, which is perfect for the Valley heat.

I used these blankets as a cover when I was nursing, as a burp rag for spit up, and they’re pretty handy for wiping a snotty nose as well! It’s become kind of a comfort object for my littlest, and a signal to calm down when he gets worked up. I am in love with muslin. So soft and comfy and airy. I’m wondering if they make mom clothes out of muslin…


Sound Machine

Sound MachineI resisted this one, and I resisted it hard. My friends told me that it was a must-have, and they were so right! Unfortunately I didn’t get on the sound machine train until baby #3, but that thing is a beauty! It’s soothing for me to hear through the baby monitor, unlike the super annoying lullaby CD that I used with babies #1 & #2. And with two other little ones who don’t know the concept of using their “inside voices,” I can crank up the ocean waves and drown out whatever other craziness is happening in the rest of the house. Sound machine + special blanket (see above) + dark room = nap time success!


As the baby days are wrapping up, I’m starting to say goodbye to some of these essentials, and it’s bittersweet. I love to give these items at baby showers, especially to first-time moms, whether they are on their registry or not. And, if we ever enter the baby stage again, you know I’ll be pulling them out with a smile on my face! 

What are the baby essentials you wish you had registered for?

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