20+ Items Must Haves (+15 Must NOT) for a Minimalist Eco Friendly Baby Registry
Updated: Sep 13
Are you expecting a baby and thinking about what to add to your baby registry? Creating a baby registry can be overwhelming because there are so many “baby essentials” that people suggest and swear by. But is it something that you absolutely must have? It’s tempting to throw anything and everything on there “just in case,” but after a certain point it can accumulate as general clutter. And managing clutter is one of the last things you need when you’re learning how to care for a newborn. As a good rule of thumb, consider this question, “will your baby use this item long enough to justify the price?” If the answer is no, Marie Kondo-it and leave it off the baby registry. However, there are some things that are recommended when you have a newborn. Therefore, I have made a list of 20 items that are a must-have for a minimalist and eco-friendly mom-to-be.
What should you put on your list?
Everyone is different and every baby is different therefore the products mentioned in this list might not be for you. This list contains products that fit my kids, my lifestyle, my budget, my tastes, my boobs and are probably different from yours and that's okay. If you find only 10% of this advice useful, that's awesome.
Your hormones are incredibly strong at this moment in your life and I have found it is best to just go with it and give you peace of mind instead of forcing yourself into something.
Keeping your baby safe when you are out of the house is a must but there are several options to do this. It all depends on the mode of transportation you choose.
A car seat is a must when you have a car and you are planning to transport your baby in it. It is the only way to transport your baby safely by car. In a car seat, your baby is best protected when you find yourself in an accident. I love buying secondhand but a car seat I would always purchase new. This is because just like a helmet for a motorbike, once you had an accident with it, you can no longer use it. Whether or not something happed with a car seat is not always visible when you purchase secondhand. Only when you purchase the car seat for your baby now you know for sure that nothing has ever happened to it.
Now, I have to be honest, I am not a fan of a stroller but I have one. This is because it turned out I preferred to wear my baby. However, I know this is not for everyone so they may want a stroller. A stroller is a pretty big investment so I recommend trying out several in a big baby store to see which one you like best. Also, check online to see which are the safest as the ones that you like best might not always be the safest to use. When you know which stroller you like best, you can look for a second-hand version. I recommend purchasing a stroller secondhand as this is a more eco-friendly option and it saves a lot of money.
I have said it before, I love wearing my baby. I prefer wearing with a babywearing wrap but for some parents, this is too much of a hassle and not quick enough. For those parents, a baby carrier might just be what they are looking for. Please choose an ergonomic carrier for you and your baby. An ergonomic carrier comes with a wide, comfortable base that supports your baby's weight from knee to knee rather than just the crotch area. An ergonomic carrier holds your baby's hips and legs in a frog leg or M shape for optimal comfort and hip development.
Unless you are doing baby elimination communication where you forgo the use of diapers all together, you need to use diapers for your baby. They were just not born potty trained. However, when you are diapering a baby there are a few more items you might need.
A changing pad it the perfect place the change the diaper of your baby. The elevated side prevent your baby from rolling over (although then might find a way to turn over on the pad when they are a little older) and the anti-slip bottom of the pad helps you turn any surface into a diaper changing place. A changing pad cover is great for those accidents and you want to quickly clean up everything. Just remove the cover and put on a new one. We have 2 changing pads, one downstairs and one upstairs, which means we have 2 places to put on clean diapers.
I love my cloth diapers and I recommend then to anyone. They not only look adorable but they are also much better for the planet. Only natural resources are used for the production of the diaper so they are completely free from chemicals. However, some moms are not comfortable with all the laundry. To those moms I recommend eco-friendly diapers. Also in this case the diaper is mostly made from natural resources and the absorbent core often doesn’t contain any chemicals that could harm your baby. As eco-friendly diapers often don’t contain any plastic the disposable process is less harmful for our planet. A disposable diaper on average takes 500 years to decompose while a biodegradable eco-friendly diaper takes about 50 years to decompose.
Also for baby wipes my first choice is to use reusables. That way I am in complete control of the products I put on my babies bum. I often choose to use only water with these wipes but some prefer to make their own solution to wet the baby wipes in. Either way you know exactly what is in the wipes. When reusables are not for you, go for eco-friendly baby wipes. These have fewer chemicals then their regular counterpart and are often made from natural recourses. Regular wipes are often made with plastic (to prevent tearing) while for biodegradable wipes often only natural resources are used like wood, cotton and bamboo.
Diaper cream / Healing wool
Even when choosing only eco-friendly items near your babies delicate it is still possible for a rash to occur around the bum area. If you want to use a diaper cream choose one with as few ingredients as possible to prevent a reaction with the skin. I am allergic to beeswax so I choose something without it (which can be quite a challenge). I love the diaper cream from Pipette as it is really vegan (lots of companies claim to be vegan while using beeswax…). It has amazing moisturizing ingredients like glycerin and squalane. While the shea butter protects the skin.
If you want to use something that is not a cream you could use healing wool. I know this is not vegan but I purchased a bag 5 years ago (when my values were different) that is still going strong. Place a small layer of the untreated organic lambs wool into the diaper where it should create a protective layer between your babies skin and the diaper. We alternated between cream and wool when my daughter had a rash on her bum.
If you prefer to bed share with your baby your won’t need a bed until later but for most of us their baby will need their own place to sleep.
I wanted to keep my baby as close as possible but when she slept in my bed I found I was to scared to maybe roll on top of her. So a co-sleeper is a nice solution. This way the baby has its own place to sleep while also being very close by. Make sure you choose a co-sleeper that has an open or mesh side for maximal ventilation. It might also be convenient to have a co-sleeper that can be turned into a bassinet if that is needed.
Baby sleeping bag
A baby blanket is recommended for newborn babies. However, if you have an active baby, this might not stay in place and you find yourself looking for something else. A baby sleeping bag might be the solution. Choose one that is made from either organic cotton or bamboo like this one to prevent chemicals that are used on regular cotton, near your baby's skin as much as possible.
If the baby gets older and learns to undo the zipper, put on the sleeping bag backward. This way they can still undo the zipper but not completely.
Breastfeeding a baby is the most zero waste way of feeding your baby but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need some things to do it.
Ok, this first one is not for the baby but for you. When you are breastfeeding you need to drink a lot because your baby is literally taking moisture from your body which you need to replenish. So, keep your water bottle close to you at all times. Especially when you are on the go you need to fill your cup first before you can feed your baby. Just like when you were pregnant, your body will take priority for the baby so you need to take care of it properly before feeding your baby so, drink lots of water.
When you are breastfeeding your nipples suffer… a lot. In order to give them some relief, a good nipple cream is recommended. Again I want something vegan, free from beeswax and this nipple cream was just what I was looking for. The ingredient list is nice and short with only 6 ingredients which are all soothing and nourishing for the sensitive and affected skin of your nipples. This cream is safe while breastfeeding as only plant-based ingredients are chosen that are safe for both you and your baby.
When you are breastfeeding your baby there might come a time when you have to get back to work or are simply out with friends while your partner takes care of your baby. In order for the milk supply to continue you need to pump out the milk, your body is producing. You could go for a hand pump but I found an electric pump much more convenient. I choose one that has a closed system for hygienic reasons that was also easy to sterilize. A rechargeable pump is great when you go out to places where you are unsure whether or not there is an outlet available.
Mason jars to store breastmilk
When you have milk pumped, you need a place to store it. Breast milk bags are convenient but having my breast milk in plastic for such a long time doesn’t appeal to me due to the release of microplastics. So, what to do? Store your breastmilk in glass containers. This is perfectly safe to do, you just need a few pointers to prevent the glass from breaking. This is because moisture expands when frozen which could result in the breaking of the glass. Here you can read all about how to safely freeze anything in glass.
The next topics are for when you are bottle-feeding your baby whether it is formula or breastmilk as some supplies overlap.
Glass baby bottles
Go for baby bottles that are made from glass. Research has shown that parents who prepare baby formula by shaking it up in hot water inside a plastic bottle, their infant might end up swallowing more than one million microplastic particles each day. They don’t know yet if this is dangerous as most of it just passes through to the other end but I would rather be safe than sorry and go for glass bottles for bottle feeding your baby.
To properly clean baby bottles you could use your regular dishwashing brush but I wanted to use something separate for the baby bottles for hygienic purposes. I choose a silicon one as those are easily sterilized in boiling water. This one is great because it has a backside that can be used to clean the inside of the nipples from the bottles.
There is no denying that your baby needs some clothes but please don’t overdo it. A baby grows extremely fast so there is no need for 30 onesies in size newborn when they only need this size a couple of weeks. Even better is to shop for baby clothes secondhand as other babies also grow very fast and have worn those clothes for only a very short time. Most clothes are still good for a second, third or even a fourth baby to wear.
Large organic muslin cloth
These are amazing for everything. I have several and I still use them today on my almost 5-year-old. Mostly for drying after a shower. When your baby is smaller they are also great for swaddling, a large bib, burp cloth, or even a light blanket in the summer. In short, you can use them for lots of things and they dry extremely fast. Choose something organic to prevent chemicals near your baby's delicate skin.
This is a lifesaver for me but I think it is a Dutch thing because I have never seen one like the one we have in a foreign household. Amazon only shows me playpens that look like the ones you would use for a dog while the one we have in our home looks much more kid-friendly. It also serves more purposes than just playing. When the baby is small it serves as a second bassinette downstairs so the parents can do their own thing while keeping a close eye on the baby. Sometimes a baby just wants to be close to one of their parents and putting them in their bed is not an option. When the baby gets older, the extra plateau can be removed so the child can play in it. Most babies in the Netherlands have learned to stand up in one of these.
Natural rubber pacifier
A baby has a natural need to suck. It is how they survive, by sucking milk from your breast but sometimes their need to suck exceeds the hunger. To help these babies a pacifier is a great tool but we want something that is safe for our babies and does not harm our planet so we choose a natural rubber pacifier. These simulate the breastfeeding experience and are made out of one piece of rubber so there are no cracks or joints for dirty to accumulate.
Digital Ear thermometer
Keeping a close eye on your baby's body temperature is important, especially in the early days. A rectale thermometer is one of the options to use but my girl didn’t like it and I felt uncomfortable when I had to use one because she didn’t like it. So we choose to go for another option. A digital ear thermometer is much less invasive and just as accurate as a rectale one. Besides, it is much easier to use on yourself.
Keeping an eye on your baby while they are sleeping is important but you can’t be with your baby at all times therefore we have a baby monitor. There are so many options out there to suit every parent's need but we choose a very simple one with only sounds. This gave us enough peace to have our girl sleep in a room alone for a while, while we could still hear her.
Beyond baby stuff
A cleaning service
With a newborn, the cleanliness of your home is not a priority but you still would like a clean home therefore a cleaning service is recommended for the first few weeks after you have given birth. They can help you with keeping your home clean and even with the laundry if that is what you would like. This way you can spend more precious time with your baby and give your body more time to rest and heal.
A check-up with a pelvic floor physiotherapist
When you had a natural birth, your body has demanded a lot from you, and even while you were pregnant your pelvic floor might have suffered (this differs a lot between women) due to all the changes in your body. To make sure your body is healing properly after you have given birth, it is a good idea to have a pelvic floor physiotherapist check up on you. They may give you tips and exercises to heal your body properly after birth and it may help against pain and even incontinence.
I purchased a few of these before the birth of my baby to protect the mattress. If my water would break in the middle of the night but they have so many more purposes. You might also need them after you have given birth to protect the mattress from leaks during the weeks of blood loss afterward.
You might even become incontinent for a while as all the organs down there have suffered a lot and need some time to properly heal.
These pads are also great when your kids start potty training and you need some extra protection on the mattress. Just in case.
Plus 15+ items you don’t need for your baby
For our second baby will not make a nursery. This is because our oldest slept in our room until she was almost 3 years old. First, she slept in the co-sleeper attached to our bed and later she slept in her crib that was in our room. So creating a special room for baby #2 seems pointless when I know this baby will also sleep in our room for the next few years.
I know you need a specific place for changing your baby but that does not have to be a changing table that serves no use when you have is no longer in diapers. We purchased a nice dresser and placed a changing pad on top. 2 boxes next to the changing pads for reusable wipes (one for clean and one for dirty) and we were good to go. By now my oldest is potty trained and that same dresser is now her closet that holds her clothes and lots of her toys.
Don’t put anything in your baby's bed. No pillows, toys, stuffed animals. A bed is a place for sleeping only and other things might be a choking hazard or get strangled in it. So keeping the bed or crib free from stuff that has no purpose in bed is both the cheapest and the safest option.
New newborn cloths
Your baby needs clothes, there is no denying that but do those really have to be new? Babies grow extremely fast. Sometimes they need a new size each month. By purchasing new clothes each month you are not only wasting lots of money because your baby will wear them once or twice (as they grow so fast). It will also result in a huge carbon footprint for your baby as the production of cotton is quite demanding on our planet. At this moment I have purchased no new clothes for my second baby. I did purchase several cute outfits from our local thrift store.
Let me ask you this. Is your baby walking? No? Then there is no need for shoes. Socks are a little more useful as they keep feet warm but once a baby learns to grab onto things, the socks are the first to go. Opt to go for leggings that are booted.
Baby wipe warmer
My baby loved the cold wet (reusable) wipe on her bum. I think it made her feel fresh and clean so a baby wipes warmer seems pointless to me. Besides, it is a waste of energy as you either need to keep it on 24/7 to make sure the wipes are always warm or you need to wait for the wipes to become warm when you change a diaper. Neither option sound very appealing to me.
I cloth diaper so I didn’t need one but even if you use disposables you can just use a regular trash can and change it frequently to avoid unnecessary plastic waste around each diaper. In order to prevent smell, which is what a diaper genie is for, you just need to change your regular trash can more frequently.
Yes, I have one but I hardly used it when my daughter was a baby. The first time we used it, it was cute but later on, it became more of a hassle to use, and after a few uses, we stopped using it and just held her under the shower. Now the babytub is great fun on warm summer days so she can play with a little water in that tub in our yard. Could I have gone without one? Definitely.
Baby shampoo and wash
I am not saying you should bathe your baby. I am saying you don’t need a shampoo or body wash for your baby to get clean. A baby doesn’t get dirty as it doesn’t sweat or play outside yet. Also, my girl didn’t have any hair until she was 3 years old so using shampoo was pointless. Rinsing a baby with water only is sufficient to get your baby clean. Besides, shampoos and body washes contain chemicals that might not be so nice for your baby. In my opinion, the fewer chemicals I used on my baby the lower the risk of certain rashes occurring so I recommend using only water to wash your baby.
Most baby skins don’t need a baby oil or moisturizer (there are exceptions of course). So just like for baby shampoo and baby body wash, I prefer to use a few chemicals as possible on my baby's skin so whenever possible I forgo the use of an oil or moisturizer.
Babies are entertained easily. A piece of crinkling paper. A wooden spoon. Their own feet. Toys are really not necessary until your baby is a little older. Plus you'll probably receive lots of them as gifts anyway because they are fun to give to your friends and family.
Anything with buttons or beads
On clothes, a button just takes too much time especially when a baby is fussy. Plus they can pop off and become a choking hazard. I am also against amber bead necklaces (these are used for pain relief) for the same reasons. Amber may be soothing but your baby will be safer without the potential choking and strangulation hazard of wearing a necklace.
I am not saying you don’t need to sterilize baby bottles. I am saying you don’t need a specific device to sterilize your baby bottles. I think all of us have plenty of large pans we can boil water in. This also works great to sterilize baby bottles and will save you from another purchase.
Baby food processor
I never fed my baby purees as I did baby-led weaning but I know not all moms are comfortable with this. So, if baby-led weaning is not for you and you want to make purees by yourself instead of buying them, you could go for a regular food processor. This works just as well as a baby food processor and you will be able to use it for more purposes once your baby is that you might already have works just fine. You don’t feed one for baby food specifically.
Baby seats and other baby holders
Having your baby, sit at the table with you might sound nice however, these big plastic item forces your baby into a position it might not be ready for. Your baby is only ready to sit up when it can get itself into that position by itself. Only then, the body is strong enough to keep itself upright. Besides, you only use them for a very short time anyway so it is better to forgo them.
There might be even more items that you don’t need like anything your baby might need when it grows like food-related items or potty training gear. Stuff you don’t need with a newborn. Also, when it is not on the list above, you might not need it and you could go without it just fine.
Where to buy the items for your registry.
I know that the most obvious place to purchase items on your baby registry is Amazon. However, is it the most eco-friendly place to shop stuff for your baby? I don’t think so.
The best way to reduce the impact your baby has on our dear planet is to use stuff that already has been used. The cheapest way to do this is asking around if others still have some baby-related items they are no longer using. Don’t be afraid to ask for hand-me-downs as most people know someone who recently had a baby and now has bags full of maternity clothes to get rid of. The same goes for newborn clothes as babies grow extremely fast, most parents only use these sizes for a couple of weeks.
You can do the same when you no longer have a need for certain items. Give them away on craigslist or Facebook and help another soon-to-be mom out (while also helping the planet).
For all those other items that you were unable to get from friends or family, first check if secondhand is an option. This is not always an option due to safety or hygienic reasons but most of the time it is. Other people also use baby items for a rather short period of time because babies grow so fast and then they no longer have a need for them. Therefore it is better for our planet and your wallet to look for baby items second-hand.
And then there are the items you don’t want to purchase secondhand. Luckily there are also people who love to give new parents gifts. Usually, the grandparents to be. For all the other items, ask those from your parents or in-laws when you plan your baby shower.
It is also an option to request secondhand gifts for your baby shower if that is something you want.