Here are some things of the big things you really should have on your registry. These are just the highlights I feel are worth mentioning, so this is not an exhaustive list.:
Car seat. Crib. Mattress. Changing table/pad. Etc. etc. etc. You know, the basic 'keeping a person alive' stuff.
Stroller. Just a normal fold-up one that accommodates a carseat and fits in the back of your van when not in use. Just ONE. Not a jogging stroller - unless you're an actual jogger, and not just a person with good intentions of one day becoming a jogger. You will not suddenly become more athletically ambitious once you have a stroller-aged baby. Let's be realistic.
Pack and play. NOT a Moses basket and a bassinet and a pack and play. Pick one. ONE. Of the three, I vote for the pack and play (with a bassinet insert) because it's portable, small to store, and accommodates kiddos up through toddler age. Don't forget to throw some sheets and waterproof pads for this on the registry, too.
Glider rocker and ottoman. I am on my sixth pregnancy and still dream of the perfect glider. I don't care if it's ugly. I don't care if I will never want to put it in my living room as regular furniture after I'm done nursing babies. So. Many. Hours. are logged nursing that this is really necessary.
Nursing pillow. I was at a garage sale with a friend when I was pregnant with Atticus, and she found a Boppy pillow for five bucks and was like, "OH! You NEED this!" And I was like, "Great! I'll take it! What is it?" It's basically like a pillow-shelf to put your baby on while you nurse so that you don't get Hunchback. Register for a cover, too, since it will definitely get covered in baby barf and you'll need a quick way to erase all evidence of the carnage that just came out of your baby's stomach.
Burp cloths (like a million). Hooded towels and baby washcloths, if you're into that. (Although normal-people towels and washcloths work just fine, too.) Crib sheets and waterproof pads. You know, baby linens. You may be tempted to lump in receiving blankets or crib quilts with this set, but don't bother registering for those. You will get so many unsolicited blankets that don't match anything else you've registered for. You will have blankets coming out your ears. Don't enable people by putting more on your list.
Muslin swaddling blankets. Yeah, the really spendy ones. They're that much better. You need these.
One of those swaddly-wraps. I like the SwaddleMe brand because the straightjacket arms are wide enough to keep those flailers in place, and the Velcro is seriously heavy duty. I've heard Halo brand is good, too. DO NOT GO WITH AN OFF-BRAND. I made this mistake and they're absolute garbage. And you might think you can get away with just the swaddle blankets OR the swaddle wraps, but this is false. Babies have very specific opinions on how they like to be swaddled. And they usually voice them in the middle of the night. Don't be caught underprepared.
High chair. The kind that straps to a chair you already own, not one that takes up its own valuable floor real estate.
Bottles of your choice. Bottle brush. Breastmilk bags.
Baby gates. Baby monitor. Outlet plugs so Baby doesn't end up crispy fried. Cabinet locks are your choice - I'm more of the camp that would rather just train them to not dig through my cupboards than have to remember to 'unlock' my pans every time I need one. But I also am of the camp that doesn't want to walk in and find my kitchen items strewn around, so I have gone both ways in the various houses we've lived in.
Thermometer. Tylenol, or whatever homeopathic incense your personal healer suggests. Nail clippers. (The kind with the bulby end. Don't settle for anything other than the kind with the bulbous handle.)
Baby holding cells. I mean... A swing. An exersaucer OR a jumper-thing. A bouncy seat. I regularly use all three of these things with my kids, so this is a case where I think having 'more' can be justified. Consider the footprint of each of these - they're all massive, so the smaller you can find, the better. Also, one of those activity mat things - and make sure it's the kind that folds up and stores flat under the couch.
Clothing: The thing I will say about clothing is that people will pick whatever the heck cutesy outfits they feel like picking. They will not care one iota about the specific jeans-and-sweater set you picked out. They will get whatever catches their own fancy. (Plus, seasons change so quickly that usually your registry picks aren't still available by the time someone's buying stuff for your shower anyway.) So skip registering for too many actual 'outfit'-type outfits: jeans, dresses, sweaters, etc. If it has suspenders or a bow tie, it fits under this category. Save the registry for necessary clothing, and trust that people will fill in the gaps on their own - people love buying baby outfits.
Okay, so what is necessary?
- At least two packs of white or patterned onesies in each of the following sizes: 0-3 months, 3-6 months, and 6-9 months.
- Tiny pants in the same sizes.
- Sleep suits or whatever they're called - those long sleeve, long pants onesie things. The kind that ZIP from the foot to the neck, NOT the kind that button. If there's one thing a new baby doesn't tolerate, it's you trying to snap twenty individual buttons while begging the baby to hold still.
- Those blanket-bag jammies that zip over their normal clothes to keep them warm once they're done being swaddled. Just like two of these to alternate between.
- Heavy duty elasticized socks. The kind that will stay glued to their tiny feet.