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Building a registry? I’d love to help!

Becoming a parent is a very special journey, but it’s no secret that it comes with its fair share of challenges. From sleepless nights to nursing/feeding struggles, the transition into parenthood is a whirlwind of emotions and adjustments. And while I expected those challenges, there’s one aspect that truly caught me off-guard: the overwhelming world of baby products!

The baby product market is flooded with a dizzying array of gear, all promising to make parenting easier and more convenient. And I truly mean the word dizzying, my head was spinning when I tried to build my registry. The sheer volume of options can leave even the most seasoned parents feeling completely overwhelmed, and the truth is that no product is going to take away the challenges of parenthood.

Furthermore, even when you do buy the best products available, there can be a huge learning curve when you actually put items to use! Anyone who has ever tried to read an instruction manual while completely sleep-deprived knows what I mean.

[Photo from a recent newborn session I photographed with the most gorgeous nursery!]

As a mom and a family/newborn photographer, I thought I would round up some of my favorite products that ACTUALLY came in handy for us when our daughter was born. I tried my best to strip away the fluff so new parents don’t get too overwhelmed sifting through things you don’t really need.

And while I provided the links below, I highly recommend searching your local BuyNothing Facebook groups and/or perusing Facebook Marketplace to see if you can find them second-hand. I can’t tell you how many baby products I purchased/received from local parents, and sometimes they were completely unused! I love passing these items onto other parents in my area when I’m done with them, too.

I hope this list helps any new parent navigate the overwhelming world of baby products and building a registry! But with all that said, all your baby truly needs is milk, diapers, and your love and devotion. Everything else is just extra.

Our Essentials:

Nanit Baby Monitor
There are so many amazing and high-tech baby monitors on the market, but we have really appreciated having the Nanit. We’re able to watch the baby monitor through an app on our phone, and we use a Nanit sleep sack so we can use their innovative breathing motion and monitoring tool.

As an anxious new mom, I can’t tell you how much peace it brought me to know my daughter’s breathing being tracked without my having to check, and I still use that tool as a helpful measurement to understand how deeply she’s sleeping. It also offers many other helpful insights, especially as your little one learns to sleep independently.

Independent sleeping isn’t for everyone (co-sleeping can be wonderful!) but the Nanit has been an incredible tool for me, and for many of my mom friends too. It’s so funny when we go out to dinner for a “mom’s night out,” and all pull up our Nanit app and marvel at our (hopefully) sleeping babies.

We used the monitor stand, but the wall mount monitor might work better for others! It really depends on your room and layout.

Nuna Pipa Lite Car Seat + Nuna TRVLR Stroller
I know it’s absolutely insane, but we took our daughter on 12 flights before she turned 10 months. Our families live on the east coast, and we had a lot of weddings and family events the year she was born.

For me, the Nuna system was immensely helpful for travel. We have the every day Nuna stroller too (Nuna Mixx Next), and having the whole Nuna system has very been worth it. It’s so seamless to place the infant car seat directly into either stroller, and you can even use the car seat without a base which is SO helpful for travel. We brought it with us in many Ubers/Lyfts and in only took a minute to install.

The car seat is also so light which is extremely helpful. Every pound matters when you’re carrying a baby in a car seat. It can get very heavy and cumbersome.

Baby Brezza Formula Maker

My breastfeeding journey concluded when my daughter was 6 months old, and while I wanted it to last longer, the Baby Brezza made that transition infinitely easier.

From the outside looking it, it seems relatively easy to mix and warm a bottle of formula. However, when you’re deeply sleep deprived and you have a screaming, hungry baby, having a bottle ready instantly can make a world of difference. Not to mention, it can be difficult to pour the proper ratio of water to formula in the dark and in the middle of the night. For this reason, the Baby Brezza became our best friend. Check your local groups or Facebook Marketplace for a second-hand machine!

Haaka Ladybug Milk Catchers

For those who are nursing, these “ladybugs” can be incredibly helpful in the early days! They’re small but mighty little “milk catchers” that help with leaking while feeding. You might be surprised by how much you can catch and use towards a future bottle, and it saves you from the frustration of feeling sticky and wet. If you know, you know.

I’m not kidding that I send this to every new mom friend if I find out that they’re breastfeeding. I had no idea what they were before I started breastfeeding, and then my sister sent them to me when my daughter was born and it changed my life. It feels like an underrated essential!

The NozeBot by Dr. Noze Best
I know this might sound like an unconventional necessity, but babies get colds all the time and sadly, there’s so little you can do to help them through it. While there are manual “snot suckers” out there, we find this one to be significantly more effective because it’s a hospital-grade device. It saves us when our daughter has a cold and really helps her breathe out of her nose more easily. Just be cautious not to overuse it as you may dry out their nose.

Fisher-Price Baby Playmat Kick & Play Piano Gym
If you only purchase one toy for the first 6 months of your child’s life, I recommend this one! We used this nearly every day for like 6 months straight. It’s an eyesore and the songs get stuck in your head but it grows and transforms with your baby and they find it very entertaining!

If you purchase two toys, I recommend the Skip Hop Activity Center or something similar like a bouncer. We used this toy every day for months, too. There are tons available on Facebook Marketplace at all times! My friends and I would jokingly call it their “baby office.”

Munchkin UV Diaper Pail

I know this is quite expensive for a diaper pail, but I actually bought an unopened older version of one from a local parent on Facebook Marketplace. The reason I recommend this pail is because I find it does the best job of keeping the odor out. I’ve used the Ubbi one when visiting family, and every time I’d open it during a diaper change, I would get hit with a horrible wave of stink.

You’ll need these specific garbage bags that go inside the pail, but they’re very easy to install. Some people like to use diaper pails that don’t require specific garbage bags because it can get costly. But for me, I’m really sensitive to smell and I really appreciate that I never smell anything from my daughter’s diaper pail! It’s been worth it.

Stokke Tripp Trapp High Chair

When I first had my daughter, I felt like it would be years before we needed a high chair. I heard so many people talk about the Stokke Tripp Trapp, but it seemed overpriced and unneccessary when you could just buy any old high chair online or on Facebook Marketplace. I didn’t think that much about the one we registered for because it felt like something we would use in the very distant future, and it felt like whatever we picked would be fine.

But before we knew it, our daughter was a few months old and we pulled our high chair out of storage. Within 2-3 uses, we realized how difficult it was to clean and started rethinking our choice. Our daughter is MESSY, and she was basically eating 3 meals a day by 6-months-old. Our high chair needed to be as easy to clean as humanly possible because there was little to no time in between meals to clean it.

Luckily our original high chair transformed into a toddler table, and she still uses it for snacks and play. But I quickly understood why everyone is obsessed with their Stokke Tripp Trapp. It takes up so little space at the table (it can be pushed right up to our table so there’s no need for a tray), it’s well-made, and it is SUPER easy to clean and get her in and out of.

I was excited to find one on Facebook marketplace that was never used because the seller received two. I can’t explain how relieved we felt when we made the switch. Meal time cleanup is significantly easier and faster, and we aren’t tripping over the high chair legs by the table. 

A few other essentials that aren’t brand-specific:

Electric Nail Buffer

I know you can easily use a manual nail clipper, or even try to bite your child’s nails off if your heart desires! For us, the electric nail buffer makes trimming our daughter’s nails easier and faster, and we don’t worry about accidentally nicking her. You’d be shocked at how often you have to trim your little one’s nails. Their nails grow SO quickly and it’s so sad how much they scratch up their little faces with their nails.

Blackout Window Covers

I bought “blackout curtains” for our nursery, but light still crept in around the sides and top. Instead of trying to reconfigure our curtains and curtain rods, we used these black out window covers with suction cups. This made a world of difference in keeping the light out and getting our daughter to sleep in later in the mornings.

You could use any brand, but these ones did the trick for us.

Sound Machine

Having a sound machine in our daughter’s room has also been incredibly helpful in getting her to sleep long stretches without disruption. There are so many sound machines on the market, but we were gifted the Hatch Rest which has many helpful features. We love it, but I also most sound traditional machines would get the job done. If you have a loud dog like we do, you’ll be very glad to have one.

You may also want a portable one for the car and for travel! This one has a great battery life.

Changing Pad

I found an unused/unopened Keekaroo Peanut Changing Pad on Facebook Marketplace, but I find it very easy to clean. However, there are many other non-fabric changing pads that would get the job done too. Some people prefer a fabric changing pad, but I hate laundry so this takes one thing off the list that I’d have to machine wash.


Baeba Steamer + Blender
If you’re someone who prefers “set it and forget it” kitchen tools, I highly recommend this food steamer and blender! I used it a lot when introducing my daughter to solid foods, and I still use it for my daughter to quickly make some of her favorite veggies (though the list is getting smaller, sadly!). You just put some veggies in the container, and they’ll be steamed and ready minutes later. You can also blend the foods in the container too, which makes it great for purees/mashes.

The Slumberpod
If you plan on traveling a lot with your baby or toddler, this is an extremely helpful tool. It’s a blackout tent that fits perfectly over a pack-and-play. If you’ve ever been in a hotel room with a baby, you know that it’s helpful to have the Slumberpod so you don’t have to walk around a pitch black room every time they nap or sleep!

Lovevery Subscription
Thought this would be overrated but it’s not. Viva is obsessed with everything they send; they’re always her favorite toys and I can literally tell that they help her development.
Wipe warmer
Any kind is probably fine! I was happy to have one.

Tushbaby Hip Carrier
We absolutely love this thing for around the house, running a quick errand, or getting in and out of the car, etc. They now have an add-on strap you can buy too which I’m definitely going to buy.
I thought I could only use this once she was a few months old but it turns out you can use it for newborns too: watch this helpful video

The Getaway Bag by No Reception Club
Amazing bag for travel

Items I would rethink:

Amma Cacoon Breastfeeding Cover

I’m torn about this one because it was a beautiful and well-made cover that looks like a nice sweater shall, but I wish it had more coverage. I felt exposed when using it sometimes because I wished it was longer. However, it was significantly nicer than the cheap one I initially bought on Amazon, and I liked that it was more breathable for baby.

I do recommend buying a nursing cover if you plan on breastfeeding a lot in public and you feel timid about it, but you also don’t need one. Sometimes I would just drape a muslin blanket over my daughter and it would essentially accomplish the same thing. I also had friends who didn’t feel shy about feeding in public and didn’t think twice about feeling exposed. I wish I could feel that way, but I didn’t. Everyone is different.

Ultimately, this was a beautiful and breathable nursing cover, but I didn’t feel it gave me enough coverage to justify the price.

Frida Baby 4-in-1 Grow-with-Me Bath Tub
I wish I had purchased a different baby bath because this one was kind of hard to clean and maintain because of the liner. I think I would have liked this Skiphop one slightly better.

Nestig Crib
This one is a big, fat NOPE for us. I thought it was so cute and clever, but we regularly regretted not getting a true basinet because the other ones on the market have way better features. For example, it would have been nice to have a more lightweight bassinet that had a storage basket, or one that manually rocked while the baby moved.

Worst of all, you have to rebuild the crib when you transition from the basinet to the crib. It was a horrible DIY project for a deeply sleep deprived family, and you also have to store all of the massive transitional parts.

Also, for what it’s worth, the railings are so cold and hard. My daughter used to wake up all the time because she’d bump her head on them. I would have preferred a crib with flat, wooden slats.

Dagne Dover Diaper Bag

Why on earth is this bag so popular? It’s a bottomless pit with no inner organization at all. The magnet compartments come apart so easily so every time you try to organize it, every section just spills into the other. I find it’s impossible to stay organized unless you use packing cubes inside.

I wish I had gotten a backpack that opens flat like this one(or something similar) so you can see everything in it.

Elvie Hands-free pump
For me, a hands-free pump was a MUST but the Elvies were SO finicky and unreliable. They would only work if they were in the perfect position and it was hard to tell if they were working, and one of mine completely broke altogether. I was ready to throw them out the window. I wish I would have tried the Madela Freestyle instead!

The BabyShusher
We had two and they both broke within a month. Just use a shushing sound on spotify

Items I wish I registered for:

Factor Meal Subscription (or something similar!)
This would have been invaluable in the beginning. We signed up on our own a few months into parenthood and used it for several months when I couldn’t possibly find time to cook regularly. They’re chef-made meals that are microwavable (but never frozen) and it’s been impossible for us to cook regularly so it’s incredibly helpful. You could manually add a gift card to a Babylist Registry.

At least 2-3 Little Sleepies Zippy Pajamas in every size
They are the best pajamas and they last so long because they’re so stretchy!

If I could have splurged on something… it would be the ArtiPoppe Baby Carrier
We have an Ergobaby carrier and it’s great; we’ve used it hundreds of times! However, I always found it a bit hard to put on by myself and I didn’t find it very comfortable. However, I once borrowed my friends ArtiPoppe carrier, I thought “damn it, I wish I had this one.” It just feels so much nicer and looks so much cuter too! It’s so pricy but if you use a baby carrier constantly, it would be great to have one you adore.

Momcozy makes a similar one and I’m curious how it compares! Maybe it’s just as great for a fraction of the price.

Note: I’m using affiliate links in this blog post, but I still highly encourage anyone to try to buy second-hand whenever possible 🙂

- Molly H.

She was so helpful in preparing us for the day and was amazing at keeping us relaxed at the shoot. Day of, she helped us find the best poses and enthusiastically incorporated our photo ideas. Though it felt like our son cried the entire time, she captured his best moments, and the final photos were precious :) Looking forward to working with her again!

"We worked with Taryn for newborn photos and couldn't have been happier with the decision. 

- jessica t.

Oh my goodness! We absolutely LOVE all the pictures you took! I feel like this gallery really captures us so well. And I can’t believe you managed to shoot all those smiles and funny faces of our son! He was playing super hard to get ;) You have a gift! I am so, so pleased with how they turned out, and how the actual photo shoot experience was. We had such a fun time. Thank you a million! You were the perfect person to capture these moments! So grateful for your talents and lovely personality."

"You were the perfect person to capture these moments! So grateful for your talents and lovely personality.

- liz m.

Taryn is such a joy to work with! She is so warm and easy going, it's very easy to feel comfortable around her. My husband hates taking photos but Taryn makes it so easy and carefree! She has a great eye for detail and can pick out photo spots that I would never think of. She is also so great with babies. She somehow made my 8 month old smile in nearly every shot. I highly recommend Taryn for family portraits, newborn shoots or anything you might need."

 “It’s very easy to feel comfortable around her...

My fiancé and I were lucky enough to have Taryn take our engagement photos, and everything about the experience was truly incredible. In the past, my fiancé and I had always felt a bit ‘awkward’ while posing together, but Taryn had a way of making us feel SO comfortable, at ease, natural, and confident as she took our photos. She hyped us up throughout the shoot - and it showed in the results. Not only did she capture our genuine smiles and laughs, but she *created* those smiles and laughs through her warmth and infectious excitement.

It’s evident how thoughtful Taryn is in capturing beautiful moments for her clients, and she goes above and beyond to do so. When we got the photos back, I immediately was brought to tears. Not only was I in awe of how stunning they were, but seeing the way my fiancé looked at me made me reflect on how thrilled I am to marry him (a heartwarming reminder that’s easy for a bride to forget during the wedding planning phase).  These images are more than just “engagement photos”, but these are sweet, special memories that will be used at our upcoming wedding, forever framed in our home, and shared with our future grandkids one day.

- Shay C.

“Taryn had a way of making us feel SO comfortable, at ease, natural, and confident as she took our photos...

- jen p.

All I can say is wow!! You are a miracle worker. The photos are beautiful and I can’t believe the turn around time. Not only are you incredibly talented, but you made the process fun. My kids had the best time!! You have clients for as long as you stay in California!!! The kids will be so thrilled when they see the photos. Thank you so much."

"You are a miracle worker. The photos are beautiful and I can’t believe the turn around time.

...and I can’t tell you how many compliments we’ve been getting on the pictures. Not only did Taryn make us feel so good about ourselves, but she knew exactly how to pose us and get the best shots. And I honestly can’t believe how much fun we had during the session. It’s going to be so hard to choose just one photo for our ‘Save the Dates.’ We’re obsessed with all of them!” 


“The whole experience was just magical...

don't just take my word for it.