The registry...exciting and oh-so-overwhelming, right?
We hear ya, and we’ve been there.
AMMA is run by mamas and between us there are lots of kids, which meant we got a LOT of baby gear! Honestly, for tiny humans it’s kind of incredible how much clutter they come with. However, as our babes grew, we realized how much of the “stuff” we didn’t need.
But how to define what is essential when you haven’t even had your baby yet?
Lucky for you, we’ve done the heavy lifting (and major decluttering) so you don’t have to...here is our tried-and-true list of must-have items for your minimalist baby registry (plus 4 things you really don’t need).
- Swaddle blankets - Mushie swaddle blankets are extra large, made from super soft organic cotton, and come in a variety of attractive muted colors.
- Why AMMA recommends: Beyond swaddling, these blankets are great as burp cloths, lightweight stroller blankets, sensory toys, and lovies as baby grows.
- Sleep swaddle - My babes both preferred sleeping with their hands by their faces and never took to being conventionally swaddled in a muslin for bedtime. I found the Love to Dream swaddle and it made a HUGE difference in their sleep!
- Why AMMA recommends: These size from newborn up, come with removable “sleeves” to easily transition out of swaddling once baby starts to roll, and have a two-way quiet zipper for midnight diaper changes
Mama Pro-Tip → No matter what swaddle option you go with, do not get anything made with velcro...nothing, I repeat NOTHING, is noisier than velcro when you’re trying to change a sleeping baby
- Diapers - Whether you opt for cloth or disposables, be prepared to go through a LOT of diapers in those first months especially. Choosing cloth? Get enough of the liners and/or shells to go 2-3 days without having to do laundry (this is about 24-36 diapers total for a newborn, for those keeping score at home). Going for ‘sposies? A Hello Bello diaper subscription service makes this unavoidable part of parenthood much easier.
- Why AMMA recommends: Hello Bello diapers are hypoallergenic and eco-friendly, plus it’s one less thing to worry about when you know you’ll have a steady supply of clean dipes on your doorstep every few weeks.
- Wet wipes - Those wet and poopy baby butts won’t clean themselves...these are a universal favorite for the clean ingredients and gentle texture. If you want to make your own baby wipes, you can pour a DIY wipes solution over cloth wipes in a sealable container...a little more work but much less waste.
Mama Pro-Tip → Get extra cloth wipes and keep a stack of dry ones near the changing area to dry baby’s bum before the new diaper goes on...moist non-dried bums = diaper rash
- Coconut oil - Ok, maybe a silly thing to put on a registry, but seriously...coconut oil does everything.
- Why AMMA recommends: It’s naturally antimicrobial and antifungal so it’s great for diaper rash and irritated breast tissue, and is an excellent all-purpose moisturizer. It also helps get rid of cradle cap and soothes flaky peely newborn skin.
- Burp cloths - We like to go simple with this baby essential. They can also moonlight as liners for a changing pad...plus when you’re out of the spit-up phase they turn into dusting rags!
- Bottles - This one’s tricky, because you won’t know what your baby will take to (or flat-out reject) until you try. Your best bet is to get one bottle from three or four brands and then stock up on the ones that work out the best (here is where registering for a gift card will be your friend).
- Pacifiers - Same deal as with bottles; have a few on hand from different brands and see what your baby will take...or they may end up preferring their thumb or fist and save you some money! Natursutten, WubbaNub, and Ryan & Rose are all great choices.
- Crib - We love the options from Nestig...they are made sustainably and get all the gold stars in terms of safety standards. This one from IKEA is a favorite of minimalist moms, and comes with an incredibly affordable price tag and a nice simple design.
- Why AMMA recommends: Getting a crib that can transition into a toddler bed and offers several height settings for the mattress is ideal; thankfully many offer these features so it really comes down to your design preference.
Mama Pro-Tip → If your crib requires an adapter kit to convert into a toddler bed, add it to your registry now in case it’s discontinued before your kiddo reaches toddler age.
- Crib mattress - The Newton Baby crib mattress is our pick for best crib mattress on the market, and they offer a 100 night trial so you can make sure your little loves it. The Safety 1st crib mattress is a super affordable option and comes highly recommended, though it lacks some of the features of the Newton.
- Why AMMA recommends: Babies need a firm place to sleep safely, and once they start to roll onto their tummies it would be great if their mattress is breathable as well! The Newton Baby crib mattress ticks both those boxes, as well as being 100% washable (yes, the WHOLE mattress).
- Crib sheets - We’re fond of the crib sheets from Solly Baby, which all fit a standard 28”x52” mattress.
- Why AMMA recommends: The buttery softness of a Solly wrap translated into a crib sheet, plus the beautiful neutral designs, basically mean we’re lowkey jealous that they don’t come to fit larger mattress sizes.
- Bassinet - This style sidecars to the bed so baby is within arms’ reach, and this option swivels so you can bring baby close but not have to attach anything to your bed frame. If budget isn’t a limitation, the smart Snoo bassinet (designed by Dr. Harvey Karp) is the gold standard in infant sleep; it has a built-in swaddle and automatically adjusts motion and sound when it detects a fussy baby. Minimalist Mama Bonus: Snoo offers a rental option as well if the price tag is too steep, so when your baby is ready to transition to a big crib you can easily say adios to this larger furniture item!
- Why AMMA recommends: AAP recommendations suggest having babies share a room with their primary caregiver for at least 6 months and up to a year. If you can fit a full size crib in your bedroom that’s fantastic, but if your room is on the smaller side or if you want baby to be easily accessible for those late-night feedings, a co-sleeper or bassinet can be a lifesaver.
- Infant lounger - Our favorite loungers are the Snuggle Me or the Dockatot; they vary a bit in their design but both come in a variety of colors to suit your style and also offer larger sizes for when that teeny newborn becomes a toddler (way too fast, trust us)!
- Why AMMA recommends: Babies need lots of quiet but alert time to learn and process the world around them, and YOU need both sets of hands (at least occasionally!) Having an infant lounger to safely rest your baby in is a great option for busy mamas and overstimulated babes to both get a little peace.
- Bouncer - We love the Baby Bjorn bouncer and the Bloom Bouncer for simple yet effective design and function.
- Why AMMA recommends: A bouncer relies on baby’s movements for motion so you avoid overstimulation and too many bells and whistles. Even if you get a lounger and bassinet, having a bouncer lets babe have some fun with the movement (and if your baby has severe FOMO, they love to sit up a bit sometimes and see the world around them from a different angle!)
- White noise machine - Touted as “the sleep device that does it all,” we love the Hatch Rest+...a sound machine, night light, two-way audio monitor, and time-to-wake clock all in one sleek package.
- Why AMMA recommends: You can control it via an app or an Alexa, it’s WiFi-enabled and has backup battery power, and contains a library of noise and color options for ultimate customizability. It basically multitasks *almost* as much as you do.
- Onesies/footies - Our faves are the L’oved Baby zippered footies and kimono-style onesies...organic, soft, and pretty! Kyte Baby also makes lighter weight supersoft bamboo baby apparel that’s lovely and great for warmer climates.
- Why AMMA recommends: Babies grow pretty fast, so you don’t need a ton of options in each size, but having high quality and gender neutral options means you’ll get the most bang for your buck (especially if you plan to have more kids). Depending how often you want to do laundry (and how prone your baby is to spitting up and pooping out the back of their diaper), 10-15 items in newborn and 0-3 months is probably plenty to start with.
- Pump - Depending on your healthcare coverage, you should be able to get a pump for free or at a steep discount, but you might be limited in your choices (sites like Aeroflow make the eligibility and selection process super easy). We like the ease and convenience of closed systems like the Spectra S1 or Luna Motif, or hands-free options like Elvie and Willow.
- Haakaa - Catch letdowns, relieve engorgement, unclog ducts...the Haakaa is a mama must-have for sure! The suction cup base helps to avoid spills, and the flexible spout makes it easy to pour into storage bags. Honestly, this one is so good you might want to register for two so you always have a clean one handy.
Mama Pro-Tip → Pumping or saving your milk? Freeze the storage bags flat and then “file” them in empty shoeboxes or acrylic bins labeled by month...they take up WAY less space!
- Postpartum clothing - No one will judge you for staying in your pajamas during your entire fourth trimester, but if you want to (slightly) step it up, opt for high-waisted leggings, comfy and supportive nursing tanks, and a drapey cardigan or your Cocoon...cozy, comfortable, functional, and easy access to boobs!
- Water bottle with straw - You’ll be learning how to do many things one-handed, including eating and drinking; a good water bottle with a straw makes it easier to stay hydrated (a crucial part of postpartum recovery and milk production).
Mama Pro-Tip → Consider also registering for massage gift certificates, a soft eye mask, a meal kit subscription service, or any other nontraditional registry items that will make your postpartum life easier, less stressful, and a little more pampered.
- Cocoon - Nursing cover, pumping cover, chic wrap, baby blanket, stroller cover, scarf, poncho, cape...it doesn’t really get more minimalist-mama-friendly than the Cocoon.
- New Mama Bundle - Set yourself up for postpartum success with a gorgeous gift bundle designed with a mama’s fourth trimester in mind...lactation tea, yoni oil, soothing sitz bath, and more! All the products in the box are conceived by diverse women and mamas in the US, and each item comes with a ritual to help you make the most of your self-care time.
- Carrier - Babywearing has myriad proven benefits and makes life easier, so invest in a carrier (or carriers) you and your partner are comfortable with!
- Wraps: Solly Baby stretchy wraps are great for the first year with your babe (the weight limit caps out at 25 lbs, so if your squish is extra squishy you might want another option on hand as well).
- Ring slings: If you’re ok with a bit of a learning curve, a Wildbird ring sling is a total workhorse that can last from newborn into toddler years...some textile choices are more supportive than others but Wildbird recommends carrying up to 35 lbs (typically ages 3-5).
- Soft structured carriers: It’s a good idea to have a soft structured carrier on hand for ease...although these don’t fit as easily as wraps/slings in a diaper bag, they are super easy to use and have really high weight limits so you can use them for years. The ErgoBaby 360, which can carry up to 45 lbs, was a favorite with both Emily Baldoni and Satya Twena for their babes...and if you really want to get the max amount of mileage from your carrier, this LÍLLÉbaby carrier has a 60 lb weight limit (the size of the average 8 year old)!
- Diaper bag - Look for something that you and your partner can both comfortably use, as well as something that fits your lifestyle (do you need a laptop pocket, room for your pump, extra space for bottles, etc.) Look for a roomy but still stylish backpack-style or tote-style bag like these from Freshly Picked...or think outside the box and don’t get a standard diaper bag at all: Satya and her husband got a lot of use out of this backpack!
Mama Pro-Tip → Many diaper bags come with a foldable travel changing pad, but if yours doesn’t or if you opt for a nontraditional bag option, the Gathre micro mat is perfect for on-the-go diaper duty.
- Car seat and stroller - You have a few options here: you could purchase a convertible car seat and a separate stroller (keeping in mind that unless you have a bassinet attachment for the stroller you can’t use it until babe is sitting up unassisted or around 6 months old), you could purchase a travel system where the infant car seat clicks into the stroller (but you’ll need another car seat when baby outgrows the infant one), or you can skip the stroller entirely, get a convertible car seat that is usable from birth, and plan to exclusively babywear on outings. We’ve gone into more detail on your choices below:
- Travel system: This affordable option is highly rated and pretty swanky for the price, while this Britax one stands out for its higher stroller weight limit (read: you can use it way longer than other strollers on the market). On the luxury end, the UPPAbaby Vista V2 system and Mesa car seat come packed with features including a flat infant bassinet and options for add-ons to accommodate bigger kids (you can also get the slightly more affordable UPPAbaby Cruz and Mesa which skips the bassinet and just uses the car seat for infant age).
- Convertible car seat: The Nuna Rava and the Clek Foonf seats get high marks for their extended rear-facing weight limit and their safety ratings (the Clek requires an adapter called the Infant Thingy to use for newborns, FYI). The Diono Radian 3RXT is usable from birth, converts into a booster seat for older kiddos, and has a nice slim fit if you need to fit multiple car seats in the back (I see you, parents of multiples). Convertible seats tend to be heavy and more involved to install, so if you are a multi-car household you might consider going against the 100% minimalist grain and getting one for each vehicle.
Mama Pro-Tip → You might not need the convertible car seat right away if you also get a travel system...but go ahead and register for it anyway, while people are in the mood to get you presents!)
- Stroller: The perfect stroller for you will depend a lot on your lifestyle; if you are a city dweller and navigate a lot of stairs/public transit every day you will have different needs than someone who has a sprawling rural farmhouse or goes on lots of trail walks. The Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 is a great all-purpose option, though the storage is a little lacking. If you want something lightweight, travel-ready, good in crowds, and super customizable, the Babyzen YOYO2 6+ is ideal. And for a luxury feel, luxury features, but a totally non-luxury price tag, the Mockingbird is awesome, can be adapted to use from birth, comes in a double option for mamas of multiples, and (my fave feature) folds down with one hand to a freestanding compact size...helloooo, easier errands.
FOR THE HOME
- Playard with bassinet - If you plan to have babe go anywhere besides your house, you will want a travel crib. Our top rec is the Lotus Travel Crib set from Guava; it’s usable from birth, super compact and lightweight for travel, and (best part) doesn’t have a weight limit so you can use it for your kiddo well into toddlerhood...well worth the slightly higher price tag.
- Bottle/pump cleaning supplies - A dedicated drying rack, a good bottle brush, and special soap to cut through milk film are all good and inexpensive items to have on hand (sorry, we tried to register for someone to always do the dishes too, but they were sold out).
- Puppy pads - Baby should have diaper-free time every day to prevent diaper rash and help their sensory development...but you might want to put a puppy pad under your newborn to keep your floors pee-free.
- Baby towels - While you can absolutely use a regular soft bath towel to dry baby, we like these simple muslin ones for extra softness.
- Baby monitor - A video monitor is useful for when babe is sleeping in another room or transitions to their own nursery; this simple one can connect up to 4 cameras so you always have an eye on the sleeping sitch. If you want more features, the Google Nest has a 24/7 high-definition video feed, extra-secure WiFi connectivity, and the ability to check in on your sleeping kiddo from anywhere.
- Baby first aid kit - FridaBaby Snotsucker, a good diaper rash cream, gas drops or FridaBaby Windi, nail file set, thermometer, saline drops
Mama Pro-Tip → if you need to take baby’s temp, rectal is the most accurate reading...lubricate with a little coconut oil to make it more comfortable.
5 Things to Skip If You are Extra Minimal
1. Changing table - It’s bulky and single-function, so if you’re short on space or looking to pare down this is an easy one to skip...just get a Keekaroo Peanut pad or even an adapter kit with a pad for the top of your dresser.
2. Stroller - This comes down to your lifestyle and where you live (strollers are beasts to haul to/from a 5th floor NYC walkup…), but we found that we ended up babywearing for most outings while our kids were infants. If you want a set of wheels just in case, check out this space-saving option, this clever carseat/stroller hybrid, or see our recs for strollers above.
3. Books - Full disclosure: I (Rachel) have a stupid amount of children’s books. I’m not extra minimal in this regard at all...don’t be like me lol. But board books and large-format illustrated books take up a TON of room, so support your local library instead (or form a little lending library co-op with other mama friends so you can constantly rotate your collection).
4. High chair - Another bulky and single-function item you can skip, provided you are ok holding your babe when you start introducing solids (NOTE: if you plan to do baby-led weaning, you will need some kind of chair, but something small and easy to clean is perfect!) If you decide you want a high chair, the collapsible Peg Perego Siesta is great for small spaces and is usable from infancy; the Stokke Tripp Trapp is a pricey option but has accessories that make it usable from birth and a clever design that transitions into a regular dining chair when your child is older.
5. Infant bath tub - To be honest, newborns don’t need much bathing anyway (I can count on one hand the number of times my 4-month old has gotten a bath!), and when they do a sponge bath is more than sufficient. Once babe gets a little older? Two words: sink bath. If you’re set on an infant tub, opt for a collapsible version since they tend to be space hogs.
A Few Things You Don’t Really Need1. Toys - Obviously NOT suggesting you don’t play with your baby! But they are entertained by the most basic things that you already have around your house for free: their fingers (or yours!), your cool black-and-white graphic scarf, the light shining through the leaves of your trees outside. You’ll eventually be inundated with kids’ toys, and even then, they tend to be more intrigued by the box the toy came in...so savor the lack of clutter while you can.
Mama Pro-Tip → If you are mad at this advice ;) and want baby toys anyway, try a subscription box...they are tailored to your kiddo’s age and take the guesswork out of developmentally appropriate play.
2. Wipe warmer - You do not want your baby to get used to their bum being wiped with a nice toasty cloth, and then have to deal with the fallout when you need to use a cold one. Plus they never work right and they dry out your wipes. Your hands are more than sufficient as wipe warmers if you just hold the wipe for a few seconds!
3. Breastfeeding pillow - This is divisive, because some women swear by them. I used the Brest Friend for my first after being disappointed with another popular brand, and it was great, but I never used it with my second and ended up giving it away. Bulky. Single-function. Regular firm pillows work just fine.
4. Sterilizers - You want things like your pump parts and bottles to be germ-free, but washing in hot soapy water is more than sufficient (you should sterilize new items before use, but a 5-minute dip in boiling water is plenty sterile). Oversterilizing is unnecessary and time-consuming, and does no favors to your baby’s developing immune system. Single-function. Buh-bye. (Mama Pro-Tip → there are instances where you will want to sterilize bottles and pump parts beyond that first use; check out this article for the key exceptions)
Mama Pro-Tip → When you know you’re done having babies, check out resale or consignment options in your area for all the gear/furniture/clothing...you’ll get the clutter out of your house and make a little cash in the process!