Making a baby registry or a pre-baby shopping list is no easy feat. There’s the decoding of things like sleep sacks versus swaddles, the deep-diving on every stroller model, the constant “Do I really need all this?” questioning. And even after all that, there’s that lingering feeling that maybe you’re simply unaware of some crucial items. Outside of biggies like a car seat or high chair, what are the lesser-considered game-changers that can make those early days (and beyond) way easier? We asked moms across Canada for the products they swear by. (A recurring response: “Wow, I didn’t realize I was so passionate about this!”)
Here, the baby registry must-haves they wish they’d thought of—and that they really, really want you to know about. You can add them to your list if you haven’t had a baby shower yet—or just treat yourself!
1. A *really* good mug
“After giving birth to my daughter, it took about two days of drinking cold coffee to convince me to get an insulated mug with a lid,” says Marissa, the mom of a two-year-old in Toronto. She swears by the Yeti for its double-walled insulation, minimalist design and easy-to-open magnet sliding lid. Want to level up? Ottawa-based mom-of-two Ashley vouches for the Ember Mug2 ($150, ca.ember.com), a battery-powered cup (with chargeable coaster). “You can set it to keep the exact temperature you like your coffee or tea at for 90 minutes,” she says. There’s even a phone app so you can adjust it when a certain someone has you stuck with coffee just out of arm’s reach.
Yeti Rambler 414 mL Mug in Nordic Purple, $40, yeti.ca
2. A quick-control nightlight
“For those middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper-changings, I found that my nightlight made my life so much easier, especially with the quick touch control—a few taps to turn on, dim or brighten,” says Kristina, a Montreal-based mom with a 19-month-old son and a baby on the way. With a quick tap, the MediAcous lamp she swears by emits a soft warm light for the ungodly hours or a brighter white light for bedtime reading. “I ended up buying one for my side of the bed, my husband’s and for the nursery,” says Kristina. “They’re also super easy to pack for trips. Honestly, a must-have!”
MediAcous Baby Night Light NL02, $30, amazon.ca
3. That Instagram-famous play gym
You’ve probably seen Montessori-inspired The Play Gym by Lovevery pop up in your social feed, along with its equally eye-catching price tag of US$140 (about $185 Canadian). But as Toronto mom Jennifer says, “not all baby toys are created equal.” She bought The Play Gym after trying and failing to thrill her then-three-month-old son Ozzy with several different play mats and educational toys. Even now eight months later, its five different learning sections and thoughtful accessories keep Ozzy engaged. “There are other perks, too, like how easy it is to put together and take apart to clean whenever your baby pukes on it, because they sure will,” she adds.
Lovevery The Play Gym, $184, lovevery.com
4. A weighted wet-wipe dispenser
We’re not talking about a wipe warmer, which is a surprisingly controversial product among parents. (Detractors, like the author of this story, say wipe warmers take up space, use electricity, and get your baby used to heated wipes, which you won’t have when you’re on the go.)
Here, we’re referring to a wipe dispenser. Breanna, the mom of a six-month-old in Peachland, B.C. swears by her wipes dispenser that features a weighted plate inside so that just one wipe comes out at a time. “Despite what you may have learned in your prenatal classes about changing a diaper, the whole game changes when you have a squirmy baby screaming like a banshee on the table,” she says. “And when you go to pull out a wet wipe and the entire package comes out with it, suddenly the baby isn’t the only one crying.” She describes her refillable weighted dispenser, which lets her grab a wipe with just one hand, as one of her “favourite baby purchases ever.”
Oxo Tot PerfectPull Wipes Dispenser in Gray, $29, amazon.ca
5. A cup holder for the stroller
Most strollers offer a cup holder attachment that you can purchase separately, and if not, you can opt for a generic model that attaches to almost all strollers. This item might sound like a nice-to-have, but it’s essential, says Eliza, the Toronto mom of a five-month-old. “Early wake-ups mean strolling around the neighbourhood until the earliest coffee shop opens, and the one-handed stroller push is harder than it looks,” she says. She loves her UPPAbaby’s plastic cup-holder attachment because it’s easy to remove and clean. If you’re looking for an option that doesn’t add width to your stroller, try a caddy that attaches to your handlebars, like the Jolly Jumper Deluxe Stroller Caddy, $27, babiesrus.ca. Eliza’s tip for avoiding hot spills while on a stroller walk (a very scary prospect, if you think about it): “Order your drink in a cup one size larger.”
UPPAbaby Cup Holder, $40, westcoastkids.ca
6. A nursery-ready humidifier
One of the very few items that Toronto mom Zoey put on her baby registry as she was planning for her second child? A humidifier. “I only learned this after having my first, but when babies are sick with a cold, there’s very little you can do for their symptoms,” she says. “A humidifier is something you can offer your babe for some relief from their congestion.” Even now that her kids are four and six, Zoey still leans on her humidifier as daycare and school bugs make their seemingly constant cycle through her home.
It’s worth noting that the Canadian Paediatric Society does not recommend humidifiers for a baby’s room, since both hot and cool mist humidifiers can breed mould and bacteria if they are not washed thoroughly every day, and hot mist humidifiers can be a burn hazard for small children. If you’d like one anyway, look for one with cool-mist settings to avoid burns and commit to cleaning it consistently. Consider Dyson’s asthma- and allergy-friendly model, which includes a UV light to kill off bacteria. (On that note: Never feel uncomfortable putting a big-ticket item on your registry! A group of your friends or family might like to go in on a larger gift.)
Dyson Humidifier AM10 in White/Silver, $600, dysoncanada.ca
7. Approximately a zillion tiny face cloths
Small but mighty, a generous stash of little 100 percent cotton face cloths is key to have on hand, says Jenna, a mom based in Charlottetown, PEI. “They’re the most used item I got from my baby shower and continue to use today, and my daughter is now three-and-a-half!” She uses them for everything from bathtime to post-meal cleanup to on-the-go messes. “They’re basically the wipe version of cloth diapers,” she says.
Kidiway KidiComfort 12 Supersoft Washcloths in Grey, $9, babiesrus.ca
8. The longest phone-charging cable imaginable
Whether you’re streaming a show while nursing or texting newborn questions to your group chat, your smartphone becomes (even more of) a lifeline during early parenthood. To make sure it always has enough power, Toronto mom-of-two Samantha recommends an “obscenely long” charging cable. We’re talking between six and ten feet long. “As a mom who was in and out of the hospital and on home bed rest for extended periods, I needed to charge electronics and stay connected with plugs in awkward spots,” she says. “I never had to worry about being out of touch during long snuggle sessions.”
Mophie USB-A Cable with Lightning Connector (3 m), $40, apple.com
9. A portable blackout curtain
“One of the best items I’ve discovered as a new mom is a portable blackout curtain,” says Michelle, the mom of a 14-month-old in Calgary. You can find options with holes to hang on a rod, but Michelle recommends getting one with suction cups so you can take it with you on the go. “Not only do we use it in our baby’s room on a daily basis, but it’s such a clutch item when travelling to Grandma’s house or the cottage.”
Amazon Basics Portable Window Blackout Curtain Shade with Suction Cups, $40, amazon.ca
10. A couple of manual breast pumps
If you plan to try body-feeding, it’s a good idea to have a non-electric pump or two. For collecting “let down” (the released milk) from the side you’re not using, Mary, mom to a 17-month-old in Picton, Ont., recommends the silicone suction of the Haakaa ($27, babiesrus.ca): “You can get up to three to four ounces per breast per feed, and can store that milk in the freezer for when your boobs need some alone time.” If you need a quick release when you’re out sans babe or are in weaning mode, try a hand-powered pump like the Medela Harmony Breast Pump, says Renée, a Hammond, Ont.-based toddler mom expecting her second. “I found it easier to use than setting up the electric pump,” she says. “It helped to avoid mastitis when my son was weaning.”
Medela Harmony Manual Breast Pump with PersonalFit Flex, $70, babiesrus.ca
11. A rolling cart
To make your sleep-deprived life a little easier, set yourself up with a mobile station that stores all your essentials for feeding and/or pumping, says Souzan, a Toronto-based mom of a one-year-old. “On the top shelf, I stored any nursing supplies I might need (pump parts, Haakaa, nipple cream, etc.); on another shelf I had a supply of snacks, tons of water, hand sanitizer, etc.; then on the bottom shelf, I kept my nursing pillow, phone charger and phone stand,” she says. Make sure the cart is fully stocked each night before you go to bed. (If you’re the one getting up at night and your partner isn’t, consider putting them in charge of keeping your cart filled.)
Ikea Raskog Utility Cart in White, $50, ikea.com
12. Postpartum underwear
When focused on planning for all of the baby’s needs, it’s easy to forget your own, but birthing parents are quick to point out the need for down-there care (and there’s no reason to feel the least bit embarrassed requesting these items as part of your baby registry). Michelle, a mom to a five-year-old in Toronto, highly recommends period underwear. “I hated the feeling of the XL pads the hospital gave me to wear postpartum,” says Michelle, who recommends getting at least three pairs, and swears by Knix’s leakproof styles ($38 for high-rise, knix.ca). Another popular option is disposable undies from Frida Mom. “They’re soft, stretchy and seamless, moving with you while still holding everything in place, including overnight pads,” says Mishal, a mom to an eight-month-old in Toronto. “They come in a few different styles, including a high-waist version designed for C-sections, which I could wear comfortably without irritating my incision.”
Frida Mom Disposable C-Section Postpartum Underwear, $25 for eight pairs, chapters.indigo.ca