Congratulations, you’re having a baby! Get ready to be overwhelmed with the hundreds and hundreds of baby products that you may never use. It can be very difficult, especially for a first-time parent, to decide which items are necessary. As a mom of two, here are a few of my personal recommendations and tips that I wish I knew when I was preparing my baby registry.
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1. Baby Bottles
Breastfeeding can come with its challenges and for most women, the first few weeks are very exhausting. I promise it gets easier with practice. Breastfeeding does not create any waste and can be very beneficial to your baby. However, in case you need to introduce bottle feeding, consider registering for glass bottles. Glass bottles are BPA-free, nontoxic, and will last for several children without needing to be replaced.
2. Gentle Skin Care
This one seems like an easy one, but even baby products labeled as “natural” can contain ingredients you may not want on new baby skin. These include parabens, 1,4-Dioxane, ceteareth-20, DEA, MEA, sodium lauryl sulfate, and artificial fragrances. Make yourself familiar with those “hidden” toxins and start reading labels. Sometimes the best skincare products may be found in your kitchen, like coconut oil. Did you know that coconut oil can be used for diaper rash, dry skin, and will keep baby’s skin nice and soft?
Tip: Don’t over-wash or apply too many products to your baby’s skin.
3. Baby Carriers & Wraps
Did you know that babies love to be held? They live securely within the mother’s body for 9 months and the outside world can be very scary. Bright lights, loud sounds, dirt, and germs are everywhere! A soft structured baby carrier (like Onya Baby, Tula, and LÍLLÉbaby) can be worn on your front, hip, or back and often have infant inserts that make them safe to wear from birth. Stretchy and woven wraps take a little more practice but work great for newborns and infants. Babywearing can be very beneficial for babies and can help you get things done around the house while still holding the baby. They also take up much less space than strollers do and are more eco-friendly.
4. Natural Laundry Products
Just like skincare products, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and dryer sheets can contain “hidden” toxins that can cause skin irritations for your baby. Look for plant-based detergents with natural fragrances (or completely unscented) like Molly’s Suds, Charlie’s Soap, and Biokleen. Skip the fabric softener and dryer sheets and switch to wool dryer balls instead. Dryer balls naturally speed up the drying time and soften your clothes without adding any chemicals that will be left on your baby’s clothing. Just toss three to six dryer balls in the dryer with your laundry and let them tumble.
5. Cloth Diapers & Wipes
Babies will go through roughly 10 to 12 diapers each day for the first two to three years of their lives. That’s a LOT of diapers and a lot of waste if you’re using disposable diapers. Did you know that disposable diapers take upwards of 500 years to decompose in a traditional landfill? Cloth diapers have been around for hundreds of years, but they are much more modern these days. They no longer need rubber pants and safety pins and come in some really fun prints and colors. They are just as easy to use as disposables and only require a few extra loads of laundry each week.
But what about the poop? There are little handheld sprayers that can attach to your toilet that spray the poop down the toilet! Another great benefit of using cloth diapers is that you can reuse them for future children or resell them once your child has potty trained. Learn more about cloth diapers.
6. Organic & Natural Bedding
If you’re going for a truly green nursery, you’ll want to consider adding organic and natural fiber blankets and crib sheets. Organic bedding manufacturers typically avoid bleaching and use natural fabric dyes for coloring. In addition to the crib sheets, you may want to research organic mattresses and/or co-sleepers.
7. Organic & Natural Baby Clothing
Your baby is going to be swaddled in clothing for a while, be sure you’re swaddling them with the most natural and chemical-free clothing possible. Organic cotton, hemp, and bamboo fabric can all be incredibly soft and comfortable for your baby.
8. Cleaning Products
Babies can make a lot of messes. Be sure that you are cleaning up those messes with gentle cleaning products that aren’t loaded with chemicals. Babies put everything in their mouth, even your dirtiest shoe or dog toy can become a teething toy for a baby. Vinegar can be a great natural cleaner to use around the home and will kill most germs easily. Hydrogen peroxide has similar capabilities as bleach without toxic fumes. In fact, you can easily make your own nontoxic, zero-waste cleaning products. And if you don’t want to make your own, a variety of eco-friendly cleaners and laundry detergents are on the market.
9. Postpartum Pads
This one is just for mom. No one prepares you for the first few days after giving birth and all the care that is required for your own body. The hospital or birth center will probably hand you a stack of disposable postpartum pads and send you on your way. You will feel like you are wearing a disposable diaper and only then will you realize why cloth diapers are more comfortable for your baby. Did you know that there are reusable cloth postpartum pads available? They are super soft and can be made of many different fabrics like organic bamboo or hemp. Recovery will be much more pleasant if you are comfortable. You’ll want about six to eight cloth pads and may need to do laundry in the evening to have more for the next day. The good news is you’ll only need these for a short time following birth.
Keep It Simple
Keep your baby registry simple and think about the essential needs of a baby. While some of the products you can find on other registry lists are fun to have, you may not need them. Having a baby doesn’t mean you need to acquire cheap plastic toys and disposable products. The most important thing you can give your child is love!
Feature image courtesy of Vinoth Chandar. Originally published on October 16, 2015, this article was updated in October 2021.