Building my baby registry was something into which I put a lot of thought and work. It was fun for me and worth it, because having a cool, yet safe environment for my newborn is important to me. But as a first time mom-to-be, it has certainly been a learning process. First of all, there is soooo much out there with regard to baby stuff. What a market they have created! It can be overwhelming if you let it be. But I tried to stay focused and hone in on what was necessary vs. what wasn't. Our ancestors certainly didn't have all of these little tools we have for baby, and while most of them have been incredibly helpful in the advancement of safety and baby care, some will just add clutter and chaos to your life. So I tried to simplify. Another issue I came across was a lot of "green-washing," or labeling of things as natural or eco-friendly, when they really aren't. I would find the perfect breathable "organic" bed and then come across one layer of synthetic, chemical-laden material, that would render the investment pointless. I'm not even a purist when it comes to this stuff-- I do what I can to create a safe, organic environment for my baby-- while still having to live on a budget, and live in the modern world. All of this is honest and no one has paid me to promote anything on this list. All of the items on here come from my crazy OCD-like research-- from mommy blogs, to online reviews of users, to safety certifications, to investigations of non-toxic elements and materials. I was looking for the perfect meeting point between function, safety, cost and great design. Each of these four elements was important to me. Here are the items that I believe achieve this balance...
**I WROTE THIS WHILE PREGNANT AND HAVE INCLUDED "MOM UPDATES" BELOW
On Choosing the Registry Source:
There are lots of amazing and modern registries out there. Of course the new generation of registries allow you to pull items from different websites and organize everything in one place. I happened to pick Babylist, and I loved it. It's super user-friendly, you can edit and reorganize categories online, you can download an app for your phone and you can add an "add" button to your browser window that automatically links you to the Babylist site for items you love. So because I used Babylist, I'm just going to break down the items organized by how I have it on my online registry.
Pacifiers, like the Natursutten BPA-Free Natural Rubber Ones.
Optional pacifier clip, like this wooden one by NomiLu on Etsy, that doubles as a teether later on.
General Store also sells some lovely natural pacifiers tied to bandanas, by a cool French company called Mister Bandit. I actually ended up getting inspired by that and making my own. We tied a vintage bandana to ours and it allows the pacifier to go everywhere with us, like a second child.
MOM UPDATE: We only use one pacifier the majority of the time, and just wash it all the time when it falls on the floor. This is the one we attach to his hanky. You don't need a dozen.
Burp/ everything cloths. Cloth diaper inserts are pretty much the best all-in-one cloths for burping, cleaning, diapering, feeding-- everything! I love these larger ones from Green Mountain Diapers, and this company also sells smaller ones for diaper inserts and smaller messes.
Bottles. Even if you are breastfeeding (which I am), bottles come in handy for breast pumping and having some milk ready for all occasions (i.e. date night, as well as late night feedings your partner can do while you sleep.) My mom used these glass ones when I was a baby and they still make these simple, effective safe bottles today. You really only need one pack of small and one pack of large. If you're going to pump, the Medela pump is most common, and most insurance will cover those completely now. MOM UPDATE: Love these! And the amount we got is perfect.
Bottle Brush. You don't need a new bottle drying rack if you already have a dish rack (or a towel) but you will need a bottle brush cleaner if you don't have a long narrow brush. I like this brand.
Crib. There are so many options for cribs out there. If you want the cheapest, safest crib, you can buy the all-natural wood one from Ikea at $89. I went with this one from Walmart by Baby Mod, because it was made of wood, finished with non-toxic paint, had a cool mid-century aesthetic and was budget-friendly. I don't usually buy things from big companies like Walmart, but they are making an effort to make green and safe baby products more widely available and affordable, so that is a mission I can stand behind.
A real organic crib mattress. In researching crib mattresses, I found that I really had to sift through a lot of junk that was greenwashed, or inappropriately labeled as "organic." After all of my research it came down somewhat to personal opinion and budget. There really are a few solid brands of organic baby mattresses out there. There are even some cool ones made of coconut coir which I thought was super cool, but after reading some reviews about sagging, I couldn't get myself to buy one. What I ended up going with was this mattress from a little northern California shop called Organic Grace. The woman who owns this store opened it because of her desire for a more natural home when she had a baby. She will get on the phone with you and answer any and all questions you have about anything organic regarding baby or your home. In other words, she's awesome. So I was going to go with the innerspring mattress wrapped in organic cotton and free-range sheep's wool, but after hearing of the best-selling mold-repelling natural latex mattress (also wrapped in organic cotton and organic sheep's wool) I decided to go with this one since I live in a more humid climate.
Wool puddle pads + waterproofing. If you spend money on an organic mattress, it is an absolute waste to get a waterproof mattress cover. It will render the mattress unbreathable, and defeat the purpose of having something all-natural and safe for your baby. The handy solution to this is something called a wool puddle pad. Organic Grace sells these as well, as does Holy Lamb Organics, The Natural Sleep Store and Purerest Organics. These wool puddle pads come in crib size and all you have to do is lay them flat on your crib mattress, then put a cotton cover on top. The cotton quickly absorbs wet accidents, while the wool underneath acts as a shield from the liquid getting into the actual mattress. You can was the cotton toppers as normal, and then the wool puddle pads, according to wool washing instructions. Organic Grace sells a lovely wool wash that is made by a husband and wife team called Freaky Farms wool wash and its essential oil blend smells amazing. The natural lanolin inside will keep your woolens soft and lovely.
A good baby blanket or two. This comes down to personal choice here, but I like this heirloom organic baby blanket from Willabyshop. It is simple and plain, with layers of organic soft gauze and comes with choices of different lace trims. You can hang it on the crib or you can take it with you as a stroller blanket. For his crib and playtime, I found a cute patchwork Ace & Jig quilt that was on sale. I already had a nice small wool blanket that will work well for colder months.
Swaddle Blankets. I'm actually not a fan of all of the ones that have become really popular with the cutsie little animals. I like these plain white bamboo ones by Willow Beans, or white cotton gauze ones by Aden + Anais. These are also cool muslin ones by Modern Burlap, that are more monochromatic modern fun. MOM UPDATE: we use the free ones from the hospital more than any other swaddle blanket (they seem to be the only ones our son can't do a Houdini twist out of.)
Moses basket + stand/ Bassinet. While a crib is a necessary staple over baby's growing years to come, the bassinet is that staple for the first few months. Having a bassinet by your bed eases the transition from sleeping to feeding. At 4am it becomes most excellent to have the baby within general height and arms distance from you so you can grab him and stick him on the boob. Even if you decide you will be late night bottle feeding, having a bassinet with your baby by you while you sleep will help you sync your rhythms to each other. So there are really three ways you can go here: you can get a bassinet, which is just a mini little baby crib, sometimes with a rocker as its feet. You can also choose a "co-sleeper" which is like a bassinet that opens up to the bed. Co-sleeping has its pros and cons, so I recommend researching it for more info. I got my moses basket and stand from Restoration Hardware Baby because they were having a sale, but you can find good ones from other places too. I then got a 100% cotton mattress pad to fit inside of it (plus wool puddle pads and linens) from this custom shop on Etsy that makes beds for different basket sizes. There are cute moses baskets everywhere and simple stands to go with them. You can even find them on Amazon.
Sound machine. So many people swear by these. Babies love white noise because it reminds them of the womb. If you have a smart phone that allows you to download sound apps, that may be enough for you. Or a simple fan. Another alternative is this Cloud B. Sleep Sheep that is pretty cute and comes in a large and small (travel) version. It has all different sounds and nursery rhyme songs, and the sheep "skin" is removable and machine washable. MOM UPDATE: Love the Cloud B. Sleep Sheep and love the white noise machine! Both are godsends to crying baby.
Baby rocker. I have yet to test this out. Some moms swear by the buzzing, rocking, musical, plastic fisher price type of rockers. I just couldn't bring myself to get one... at least yet (we'll see if I'm taking my words back when Baby won't go to sleep.) Again, I wanted something that would also have great design behind it, but also work. After reading many reviews and verifying the safety of both the function and materials of these products, the two that popped out to me were the Nuna Leaf and the Coco Stylewood Baby Bouncer by Bloom. I haven't bought either of them yet because I want to see if I need one first. But both of them have similar price points in the $200 range. MOM UPDATE: Still have not bought these and I don't think I will need to. I'm eating my words about the eyesore plastic swings because when our baby wouldn't stop crying in the first few weeks, Grandma ordered him one of these miracle-worker swings (for $70?) off Amazon and it has been a life saver! Soon you too will learn to love those tacky space stealers. The fact that your baby loves it is enough to make you fall in love with it too.
Baby gym. First of all, ever since discovering these things, I've loved that they call these "gyms." I wish all I had to do at the gym was lay on my back and laugh while pretty things hung above my face... But alas, these little pieces of equipment are supposed to be somewhat vital to entertaining the babe. And maybe occasionally working out his little arm muscles. So again, most of the varieties I came across here were bright, plastic scary versions of madness. I soon discovered the wonderful world of wooden baby gyms (of which there are many on Etsy, as well as many DIY building blogs that tell you how to make one.) I ended up picking this cute, modern one by Nin and June on Etsy. It is natural wood and you can buy a cute hanging garland for it separtely-- or choose your own little trinkets to hang down. I also got these cute horse ornaments for mine, from the online shop Darling Clementine. MOM UPDATE: We haven't used ours a ton because our baby is still young, but in the moments we do give him under his gym he starts to love it. I love how portable this one is too, because the wood is just two pieces that slide apart and fit snuggly behind our dresser when not in use.
Diaper bag. Here I just decided to go with something that I thought was practical for everyday use as both a purse and a diaper bag. This Mamuye Leather Tote is deep enough for a diaper bag, comes with a little pouch for your credit cards, and comes with a great mission behind it too, providing jobs for women in poverty, both locally in Nashville and globally, in small villages in Ethiopia. You can also have it personalized with a minimalist monogram stamp. MOM UPDATE: we love this bag and take it everywhere with us! I get compliments on it all the time, as it does not look like a diaper bag but holds everything.
Changing mat. You can use a portable changing mat like The Yucca Mat, which comes in rolled up styles of Native American blankets.. or you can go the traditional route and set up a changing station on a dresser. This all-wool changing pad comes with a steep price tag, but is a true all-organic version (but slightly larger than the standard size changing pad.) I'm kind of a believer in spending your money on some of the nicer things for sleeping, and going with a cheaper, standard changing pad for diaper changes (after all, it's getting pooped on everyday.) MOM UPDATE: We didn't end up getting any of these. I went with a cheep ($22) changing mat for the top of our mid century dresser (voila, changing station!) and these great bamboo changing pad liners I found on Amazon. I believe it's $20 for three of them. I line one with a muslin cloth, roll it up like a fruit roll up and toss in my diaper bag and we are good to go! You can buy 1-3 packs of these and just cycle them out through washes. Best simple changing pad set up ever. I got everything in white to keep it clean.
Diapers. We got him some cloth diapers for overnight diapers and we have some back up diapers from Honest Co. in case this proves to be a disaster. But we found all of our diaper needs at Green Mountain Diapers, as well as Organic Grace. MOM UPDATE: We like Seventh Generation diapers for daytime use. Our baby destroyed all cloth diapers within hours of use. For us, having a broken washing machine and not having a diaper laundering service in our area, means that cloth diapers are not realistic for us right now. For now we like the Seventh Gen ones because they are soft for baby's bottom, non-bleached, toxic-free diapers that are less harsh on the environment than standard diapers.
Wipes. These Water Wipes are lovely and safe for both baby bottoms and pacifiers. They are made of 99.9% water and .1% grape seed extract. It really doesn't get more pure than that for a wipe that comes in a package.
Travel crib/ play pen. This is not necessary for everyone, but we knew we would be taking road trips and visiting family a lot, so we wanted a travel crib. There are a few varities, but I ultimately chose the Nuna Sena Travel Crib, because it folds up nicely, is not an eyesore and is made from certified safe non-toxic fabric (all of Nuna's fabric is certified non-toxic and safe.)
Car seat. Again, I went with Nuna here. I read great things about the Pipa Car Seat and its safety. It also happens to be lightweight, cute and cool, and adaptable to a wide variety of strollers. MOM UPDATE: We love this carseat. The only downside is that when putting the baby in it, the straps sometimes get in the way, so I wish there were something to keep the straps on the side while we put baby into it.
Stroller. I originally had a stroller on my registry and then took it off, when I realized I can probably do without one for awhile. I realized that baby carriers are more my thing, and the summer Florida Heat will probably make stroller cruising a nightmare. But when I do get one at some point, the one I decided on after much research and "test driving" was the Nuna Mixx with all-terrain tires.
Baby Carriers. I went with the organic Ergo Baby carrier for some more sturdy carrying, as on hikes, etc. And then I also love the traditional wraps. I love these by Yoli & Otis, a mom-and-pop company based in Australia, that uses all natural plant dyes for their wraps. The Sakura Bloom Wraps are also lovely, as are Solly Wraps. MOM UPDATE: I haven't used my wraps much yet because it is just so hot outside in the summertime here. But my baby is starting to get super heavy to hold, so I'm looking forward to it!
Tub. The Puj soft tub conforms to most sinks for the newborn stage. MOM UPDATE: We haven't used this yet. I just get in the bathtub with my baby and hold him and wash him. He loves the freedom and space to be able to kick and move around in the water. I do want to start using this for quick sink baths too though.
FIRST AID KIT
Here are the essentials: We use my own (DANI KENNEY) brand baby products for diapering, we got this first aid kit, along with all of these little add-ons for safety (my husband's cousin is a pediatric nurse, and these all came highly recommended):
CLOTHES, BOOKS + TOYS
Onesies. These are pretty much what baby will live in in the first few months. It's best not to buy too much of any baby clothes that are newborn size, as baby will grow out of these very quickly. Buy a few newborn outfits/ onesies and swaddles for the first few months and then start to buy clothes past the 3 month mark, or it will be a waste of money. Also, remember to plan for weather/ travel around where baby will be when he/she is that size. (For instance if you're buying t-shirts for 6 mos old but you'll be visiting relatives in Maine during the holiday when your baby is 6 months old, you may want to opt for a baby jacket instead!) MOM UPDATE: My method for this was on point-- I didn't buy too many baby clothes and I'm glad, because he outgrows everything pretty fast. I find that the little Burts Bees plain white or grey onesies are great because they are made of organic cotton, they are affordable to keep replacing through growth and they are minimalist and simple. As my baby gets older I will incorporate more of the cute indie brands that I love.
Toys + baby books. Teethers are really the first toys the baby will start playing with. And rattles. You won't need complicated toys right away, and you won't even need books. However, I do believe that babies absorb so much so fast, so if you'd like to get a few simple books with good moral stories, you can start giving them good vibes via reading early on. Cuddle toys are one thing baby will love, and there are plenty of organic safe stuffed animals out there now. Organic Grace sells some, as do many of the stores listed on my resource page. Under the Nile makes lots of non-toxic organic toys. We got this organic "Lovie Bunny" toy from Bitte.
Things you don't need (or at least right away). You won't need a high chair right away, nor will you need a baby food maker ever (if you have a blender, a pot and a steaming basket, and mason jars, you're already good to go!) You won't need a bottle warmer, if you have a stove and a pot. You won't need a million bottles-- just a few will suffice if you can wash them regularly. You can use a nursing pillow, or a heavy duty wool pillow will suffice if you have one.
I hope this is helpful! I'm still a new mama and learning, so I welcome positive feedback if you have learned some things I don't yet know.