Many first-time parents spend hours crafting their perfect baby registry list. They read reviews, ask for advice, and accidentally hurl strollers across narrow store aisles while trying to fold them. We all want to have the perfect products for our soon-to-be perfect baby, but it’s hard to know what you really need until you spend a sleepless night cleaning up spit up, refilling a diaper pail bag and getting a crying baby to sleep—all at the same time.
We cut through the perfect baby fantasies—and stuff that might look beautiful in a gift box—to find the baby shower gifts that new parents will find most useful.
1. A great bassinet
Skip the idea of co-sleeping—it can raise an infant’s risk of SIDS—and invest in one of our favorite bassinets instead. A bassinet provides a safe sleeping environment while also enabling anxious new parents to keep their baby close by.
Best Overall: Guava Family Lotus Bassinet Kit & Crib
The Guava Family Lotus Bassinet Kit & Crib is our top pick because it pulls triple duty as an infant bassinet, a convertible crib, and pack-and-play for an older baby. Not only are there three items in one, the Guava Family Lotus folds up and fits into a backpack, which makes it perfect for travel. A conversion kit and two fitted bassinet and crib sheets are included. Sitting at bed height, this breathable, lightweight, portable bassinet is perfect for home and away.
Best Value: Chico LullaGo Portable Bassinet
The Chico LullaGo Portable Bassinet is a less expensive option than the Guava Family Lotus. It’s also lightweight, portable, and washable, and it folds easily to fit into a carry-on bag. Unlike the Guava Lotus, it does not convert into a crib or pack-and-play.
2. A really good stroller
Whatever you do, don’t forget to put one of our top-rated strollers on your baby registry. If you’re concerned about the higher price point—our top pick rings up at $339.99—you can always encourage friends to chip in together, or just ask that guests contribute a small amount toward the larger gift.
Best Overall: Baby Jogger City Mini GT2
Built to handle smooth and rough terrain, the Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 is a versatile stroller for city and suburban families. Weighing only 21 pounds, this stroller effortlessly folds with a single pull with one hand. It easily assembles by snapping in the front wheel and can hold up to 65 pounds. Adapters are available for many brands of car seats. Just note that despite its athletic name, the Baby Jogger isn’t actually a jogging stroller.
Best Value: Born Free Liva
Priced under $200, the Born Free Liva is an affordable alternative to the Baby Jogger City Mini GT2. Weighing 16 pounds, it is lightweight and easy to fold, making it a perfect choice for city living and public transit. However, the small wheels do not navigate rough or uneven terrain well and the beverage holder attachment does have a tendency to fall off.
3. Lots (and lots) of swaddles
Take it from us seasoned parents: It is not possible to have too many swaddles. Swaddles help calm a baby’s startle (or Moro) reflex, which, in turn, can help them sleep for longer periods of time—a major selling point for exhausted new parents.
Best Overall: Happiest Baby Sleepea 5-Second Baby Swaddle
When you’re a new parent, every second of possible sleep counts. We love that the Happiest Baby Sleepea 5-Second Baby Swaddle only takes five seconds to fasten. It features a double zipper, inner arm wrap with super-quiet Velcro, and breathable mesh.
Best Value: Summer Infant SwaddleMe Natural Position 2-in-1 Swaddle with Easy Change
The Summer Infant SwaddleMe is a versatile swaddle that offers different arm position options and durable, soft materials. With two swaddles per pack and a variety of design options, the Summer Infant SwaddleMe is a great value.
4. A few good bibs
While you won’t technically need bibs until your baby starts eating solids around the six-month mark, they’re a good thing to add to your registry so you have them on hand. They’re also practical for catching spills and spit-up when your little one is still just eating breastmilk or formula.
Best Overall: OXO Tot Roll Up Bib
With a strong Velcro closure and soft fabric that transitions to a wide rubber pocket that catches the remnants of every meal, the OXO Tot Roll Up Bib is a favorite among parents. It’s easy to roll and store for travel, machine-washable, and BPA- and PVC-free. The OXO Tot Roll Up Bib saves a lot of wardrobe changes, which you’ll appreciate immensely.
Best Value: BabyToLove Full Body Smock
A bib that goes full-throttle and offers 100% coverage, the BabyToLove Full Body Smock guarantees that food and clothes will never meet. This smock is not only perfect for spaghetti dinners, but for messy finger painting and craft sessions.
5. A video baby monitor
You’re definitely going to want a good baby monitor, even if you plan to have your little one sleep in your room at first. Once you move the baby to their nursery, a long-range video baby monitor can help provide safety and peace of mind.
Best Overall: Panasonic Video Baby Monitor KX-HN3001W
Our favorite video baby monitor, the Panasonic Video Baby Monitor, offers a wide array of smart features, including long range audio and video and alerts for sound and movement. The long battery life includes five hours of continuous use and 13 hours of standby time. The monitor and parent unit also has two-way talk and a library of soothing sounds including a range of white noise option and lullabies.
Best Value: Safety 1st WiFi HD Baby Monitor
The Safety 1st WiFi HD Camera is the only baby monitor on the market that also has a separate audio unit that can be activated when it senses both sound and motion in the crib. A blue light ring shines around the audio unit when sound or motion are detected. This WiFi-enabled monitor also sends alerts to a phone app. The versatile app offers temporary access to a grandparent or sitter, a 24-hour timeline, and the option to capture and share images and videos.
6. A diaper bag that holds everything
Babies may be small, but they require a lot of stuff every time you leave the house. While it can be tempting to simply repurpose an old tote bag as a diaper bag, you’ll quickly find that your supplies get all jumbled up and it’s often hard to locate the essentials quickly. Our top-rated diaper bags have pockets for everything that baby needs, making life on the go much easier.
Best Overall: JuJuBe Legacy Collection B.F.F. Convertible Diaper Bag
The JuJuBe B.F.F. is the Porsche of diaper bags. It sits upright like luggage so bottles and diapers won’t spill out the moment you place it on the ground. It also features metal hardware and stain-repellent fabric. Since your diaper bag very quickly becomes your own bag, there’s a great “mommy pocket” for keys, cards, phone and a lens cleaning sunglass compartment. The B.F.F. has a memory foam changing pad and insulated side pockets to keep bottles cool.
Best Value: HaloVa backpack-style diaper bag
The HaloVa does a perfect job staying upright and offers many specialized pockets, including one that tissues or wraps can be easily pulled out of, three insulated pockets for bottles, and a waterproof compartment complete with a wet bag. It can be difficult to find items in a backpack diaper bag, but the HaloVa remedies that by offering a separate zippered bottom compartment. HaloVa appears compact, but has a lot of room inside to fit items for both baby and parent.
7. A comfortable baby carrier
Even if you’re not completely sold on the idea of baby-wearing, it’s a good idea to register for a baby carrier so that you always have the option. If you end up having a fussy newborn, putting them in a carrier can be a great way to soothe their complaints—and to free up your arms to cook meals or work on the computer.
Best Overall: Lillebaby Complete
The Lillebaby Complete offers highly detailed support including padded straps, a supportive waistband, adjustable seat for baby, and even a removable lumbar support pad. The shoulder straps can be worn criss-crossed or backpack-style and are comfortable for both narrow and broad shoulders. Our testers have found that the shoulder straps and waistband can be difficult to adjust while wearing it, but Lillebaby Complete features so many other design details that these drawbacks are relatively minor. Suitable for babies and toddlers weighing 7 to 45 pounds, the LILLEbaby Complete can be worn with baby facing in, out, or at the side or back.
Best Value: Infantino CuddleUp
The Infantino CuddleUp is a cozy carrier for both baby and parent. It features soft fabric, a front hoodie-style pocket for the parent, and a detachable hood for baby. It’s pliable and rolls up well, but at the expense of the waistband, which isn’t supportive. The carrier is suitable for babies over 12 pounds and can they can be worn facing in or in the back. Priced at only $35, this best seller is an affordable option for keeping babies warm.
8. A white noise machine
Make it easier for your baby to sleep with the addition of an effective white noise machine. Even if you don’t live in a busy city, a white noise machine can neutralize any potentially sleep-disrupting noises inside your house, and help your baby sleep longer and more deeply.
Best Overall: Sound + Sleep
The Sound + Sleep not only plays white noise, it also completely blocks out all other sounds. Its internal microphone allows the machine to adjust its own volume based on the ambient sound in the room. With 10 distinct sounds at three adjustable richness levels, this machine offers 30 sounds that can weave together unique soundscapes. This sleek, portable machine weighs only two pounds and is perfect for all ages.
Best for Babies: Homedics MyBaby Deep Sleep SoundSpa
The Homedics is an affordable sound machine geared specifically toward babies. The lullaby feature plays classics like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and a heartbeat sound. The white noise function offers a variety of tones and an ocean wave sound. Though it is not the loudest of machines, it does an effective job of blocking outside noise, plus its lightweight and durable design fits in perfectly in a baby’s room.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.