Build a Better Baby Registry

Our James arrived a bit early (January 27th!) and I’ve been too occupied with my snuggly little bug to do much writing. That first week with a newborn was a whirlwind, full of joy, tears and soft baby nuzzles. Tim and I learned a ton in those first couple of weeks with James. Part of what we learned was that we weren’t fully prepared.

I’m not talking mentally or emotionally prepared (because who can really be that kind of prepared for the arrival of a child?), but materially prepared. As a first time parent, it’s difficult to know what you’ll need. And good heavens, there are so many options! Stepping into Babies R Us was beyond overwhelming. We tried to create a baby registry with simplicity in mind even though we were starting from absolute scratch in the baby stuff department. My lovely baby shower was the day before I went into labor and we still sent family members off to the store at all hours for things we didn’t have or had forgotten. After a month with James at home, we have discovered where we succeeded and where we struck out in building a good baby registry.

Here are some tips for building a better baby registry (which I will absolutely need to review whenever we have number two). Keep in mind that every baby is different, so not all of these suggestions will be applicable to your family, but I hope you get some good ideas.

This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

How to Build A Better Baby Registry

General Suggestions:

Our baby registry philosophy was two-fold: simplicity and organization.

  • Simplicity – I’m increasingly anti-accumulation and our house is small. I didn’t want to fall victim to excessive gadgetry and toys that would either be used for a very limited time or would do something that I could do myself.
  • Organization – Tim and I used our registry less as a gift guide and more as a way to catalogue everything we needed. Even if we knew we would be purchasing the item ourselves, we put it on our registry. That way, we could easily keep track of what we still needed to purchase in order to feel ready for James’ arrival.

Don’t register for clothes. The majority of our gifts were clothes – because who doesn’t love to pick out adorable pint-sized outfits? My only caveat to this is if you are using your registry, like we did, as a way to keep track of everything you need to still purchase. We registered for onesies, sleep and plays, and the like as a reminder to ourselves that we needed them.

Get a baby carrier. Having a baby is limiting to one’s mobility. Add Winter into the mix (oh how I long for warmer weather and sunshine…) and it’s possible to feel trapped in your own house. The ability to wear your baby is beyond freeing. I registered for a Moby Wrap because that’s the only baby carrier they had at Babies R Us. Though I enjoy having a Moby Wrap, I’m spatially challenged so it’s a bit high maintenance for every day use. When I was beginning to feel hemmed in on all sides by our house, Tim and I decided a different carrier would be beneficial (for everyone’s sanity). We went to a shop where you can try different ones on, stuffing a very patient James into several until we agreed on an Ergo Performance carrier. If there isn’t a shop that allows you try them on, ask near by mommas if you can borrow theirs to test them out, preferably after your little one arrives.

Consider registering on Amazon. Products are cheaper and everything can be on one registry.

Must Haves: These are must haves for the first few months. We registered for things that we wanted down the road, too, like a Bumbo seat and a Baby Bullet. But we haven’t needed them yet.

Must Haves.jpg

A cute diaper bag. Whether it’s a large purse (find inexpensive ones at TJ Maxx or Ross) or an actual diaper bag, you need a receptacle for all the baby paraphernalia you will end up carrying around every time you leave the house. I love mine from Thirty One.

Arm & Hammer Diaper PailWe didn’t register for this, but we should have. My sister-in-law and her husband went and got us one a couple days after bringing James home. It’s nice to have diapers (and pads!) corralled into one spot that’s smell free and compact.

Stroller. Again, this helps with the mobility factor. I wanted one I could jog with, so we settled on a Graco Fast Action Fold Jogger Click Connect Travel System (includes infant car seat). The Click Connect system makes transferring the car seat from stroller to car a cinch. The height of the stroller and stroller handle is perfect for tall people. The wheels are sturdy and move smoothly.

Auto Mirror. Potentially one of those excessive gadgets, but I LOVE being able to see James’ face while we’re driving. Makes obsessively checking to see if he’s breathing so much easier…

Bouncer. Baby snuggles are the best, but you can’t hold your baby all the time. Bouncers keep baby content when they’re not sleeping and you need to get stuff done – like peeing…

Swaddlers. James is the king of the Moro Reflex and startles himself awake endlessly. He sleeps soundly when all his appendages are wrapped snuggly. Swaddle blankets or a SwaddleMe is a nightly necessity. Swaddlers were a popular gift, but before I had time to return some, I discovered having multiple (3 in the size you’re on) is helpful for when your baby’s diaper leaks on several in one night.

The First Years Infant to Toddler TubAnother thing I wasn’t sure we needed but love having. The whole contraption is pretty small and the infant sling increases its longevity.

Blankets. We have 7ish baby blankets, which I thought was excessive until we used them so often. For changing, sleeping on the floor, covering the car seat, warmth while in bouncer, general snuggling, etc.

Nursing Pillow. I don’t always use mine, but I’m glad I have it. The lactation consultant recommended a Bosom Baby nursing pillow over a Boppy because the curved sides of a Boppy make nursing an infant, who doesn’t have head control quite yet, more difficult. When I’m not using mine to nurse, I use it to prop James upright.

Product Recommendations:

product recommendations.jpg

I prefer Lansinoh Lanolin (nipple cream) over the Medela I got in the hospital. The consistency is easier to spread.

Lansinoh also makes superb nursing pads. I went cheap after I ran out of my original Lansinoh pack and have had lumpy looking boobs ever since.

Pampers Swaddlers are the only diaper (we’ve tried Huggies and Parent’s Choice, too) that fit James properly and don’t leak immediately.

Our pediatrician recommended Bag Balm for diaper rash. It’s inexpensive and works well. Plus, it can be used for circumcision care and comes in a cute 1oz size for your diaper bag.

We held off on using a pacifier until James was well established with nursing. That being said, we are thankful for the calming effect of his “Bunny Button” (what we have dubbed his MAM pacifier). MAM pacifiers are minimalistic and come in a cool case that doubles as a sterilizer.

Good Things (unrelated to registry):

care package.jpgPostpartum Care Package – Your body takes a beating giving birth. It deserves some special attention. My sister sent me a thoughtful package with things I (didn’t know) would need to care for my postpartum body. I got some of these things from the hospital, but certainly not enough.

  • Tucks – I know some people keep them in the fridge for maximum cool relief
  • Dermoplast – an aerosol analgesic
  • Colace – never thought I would need a stool softener…
  • Pads – You can never have enough. Kotex U makes thin overnight pads that have colorful packaging which is a refreshing change from the diaperish ones I took home from the hospital.

I would absolutely do this for a pregnant friend, especially for their first round of giving birth.

Mommy Time: 90 Devotions for New Moms by Sarah Arthur – A devotional memoir (I thought I came up with that genre name until I visited Sarah’s website) that’s honest and humorous. It’s difficult to do anything but eat, sleep, and feed your baby during those first few weeks, but the short devos are relatable and encouraging.

Is Baby Gardner a Boy or a Girl?

Tim + Emily Gender Announcement 018It’s a BOY!

Tim and I are so excited about welcoming James into our home (he is already firmly planted in our hearts) in February.

Here’s a few of my favorites from the photo shoot we did this afternoon. Major thanks to my siblings-in-law, David and Holly, for braving the wind and cold to take these photos!!

Tim + Emily Gender Announcement 008Tim + Emily Gender Announcement 010 Tim + Emily Gender Announcement 024 Tim + Emily Gender Announcement 026

Primitive Pleasures: July


Between house guests and getting past first trimester nausea, there hasn’t been much interwebbing for me (aside from Pinterest) this month. Despite the brevity of my list, I hope you find something enjoyable.

Happy Summer!


One benefit of feeling less than perky is that I’ve had tons of time to read. I decided to reread the Harry Potter series and am now on book 6. One of my favorite bloggers (Katie from Cardigan Way) shares my affinity for Harry Potter and created one of her Lovely Lines with a quote from HP and the Order Of the Phoenix which I just finished.

I also read all three of Tessa Afshar’s novels. So good. I explain why here.


Tim (my youth pastor hubs) preached in main service a couple weeks ago on Psalm 13. He weaves much of our personal journey into David’s own lament. I may be biased, but it’s well worth a listen. You can also watch it on CDA Bible Church’s Vimeo account.


Berry picking is one of my favorite summer activities. A couple weeks ago I got to add strawberries to my list of berries picked. Some wonderful friends took me to Carver Farms and we picked over 60 pounds of strawberries. We made several batches of freezer jam (with the trusty recipe found inside boxes of Sure Jell pectin).


Three delicious ways to use extra strawberries:

  • Fresh Strawberry Bars I clipped this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens a few years ago. The base is a dense peanut buttery bar topped with strawberry jam and fresh strawberries.
  • You can’t go wrong with classic Strawberry Shortcake. My mom’s a wizard with biscuits and generally whips up a batch of lightly sweetened cream biscuits for the shortcake part. Martha Stewart has a good video tutorial on sweet biscuits. When I studied abroad in Italy, my host mom served strawberries macerated in both sugar AND a bit of lemon juice. Heavenly. The crowning glory of any strawberry shortcake is the whipped cream. Clouds of REAL whipped cream – heavy cream whipped with a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar.
  • Strawberry Shortcake Cake Yes, I’ve mentioned this Pioneer Woman recipe before. It’s that good.

For Fun

This could be the burrito I ate for dinner, but I’d like to think Baby Gardner is beginning to make an appearance.