Hey parents to be!

When you’re expecting, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement and the overwhelming amount of baby products out there. But here’s a little secret: you don’t need all the bells and whistles. A huge consumer approach to having a baby isn’t necessary. Instead, focus on what will truly make your life easier and more joyful during those precious early days.

I reached out to my friends and clients to ask them what items were the real game-changers on their baby registries. Here are the top recommendations from real moms who’ve been there.

One: A Meal Train or Meal Prep Service

Bringing a baby home is magical, but it can also be exhausting. Having meals taken care of is a lifesaver. Whether it’s a meal train organized by friends and family or a meal prep service, knowing that dinner is sorted gives you one less thing to worry about. Trust me, you’ll be grateful for those pre-prepared meals when you’re busy feeding, changing, and bonding with your little one.

Two: Diapers or a Diaper Service

Babies go through a lot of diapers—more than you might think! Having a good stockpile of diapers or signing up for a diaper service can be incredibly helpful. A diaper service that delivers fresh, clean diapers and takes away the dirty ones can save you a ton of time and hassle. Plus, it’s a more eco-friendly option if you choose cloth diapers. We did mostly cloth diapers for my kids and the first time around we did it all ourself. The second time I got the gift of a diaper service for the whole first year, which was the biggest game changer! And the delivery guy was so friendly and I actually looked forward to chatting with him. Broke up the monotony of being home with baby in those early weeks.

Three: A Cleaning Service

Another popular suggestions was a cleaning service. After bringing your baby home, keeping the house clean can feel like an insurmountable task. Having a cleaning service come in, even just once a week, can make a world of difference. It allows you to focus on what’s most important—your new baby.

Four: Donations for a Postpartum Doula

A postpartum doula can provide much-needed support in the weeks after your baby is born. They help with everything from breastfeeding advice to newborn care, allowing you to rest and recover. Asking for donations toward a postpartum doula can be an excellent addition to your registry. It’s an investment in your well-being and peace of mind during a time when you need it most. Maybe you're like me and have been focusing more on what the labor and delivery will be like and not on what is needed once baby is here. I wish I had known about this opportunity. Sometimes you can connect with your hospital for support once baby arrives or find a local resource like Nurturing Expressions, yet sometimes you just need more support and a doula can be the perfect resource.

Five: Pacifiers with a Little Stuffed Animal Attached

These adorable pacifiers come with a small stuffed animal attached, making them easier for babies to hold onto and harder to lose. The moms I spoke with swore by these, saying they were a soothing tool for their babies and often became a comforting toy. My kids didn't really grow attached to pacifiers, yet I know a lot of kids that do. These are fun options!

Six: A Good Diaper Pail

A good diaper pail is a must for keeping odors at bay. Look for one that has a strong seal and easy-to-use design like this Ubbi Steel one. You’ll be changing a lot of diapers, and having a reliable place to dispose of them without stinking up your nursery is key.

Seven: A Good Chest Carrier

Hands-free babywearing is a game-changer. A good chest carrier like the Ergo Baby allows you to keep your baby close while having your hands free to do other things. It’s perfect for soothing a fussy baby, going for walks, or getting things done around the house. The moms I spoke with praised the comfort and convenience of a high-quality carrier.

Eight: Safe Places to Put Baby While You Get things done!

You are going to want to have some time to get things done or just get a physical break from baby. A lot of recommendations for registries include a fancy electronic rocker or swing like the Mamaroo, yet in my experience they are a bit over rated. Mama Annie suggest bouncers or jumpers that baby can move just by the natural movement of their little legs to get them to begin to self sooth. Her kids both loved the Baby Bjorn Bouncer.

A safe spot for baby to sleep is great too. One of my kiddo loved to sleep as close as possible to another human and the other needed to be away from us. With both, we loved the Dock-a-tot for a safe and comforting sleep option. I had a lot of friends and clients who loved them too.

Nine: A Gift Certificate for Newborn Photos

You knew I wouldn't skip adding this one to the list! Documenting those precious early moments with your newborn is something you’ll cherish forever. A gift certificate for a newborn photo session allows you to have beautiful, professional photos of your little one. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, as you’ll have these memories preserved for years to come. Many of the moms I talked to said that having professional photos taken was one of the best decisions they made, and they treasure those images deeply. I know that I didn't have them done for my kiddos and I really regret that!