now that i know better

How I’d Redo My Baby Registry: With a Beautiful Bouncer and No Trendy Pacifiers

Photo: Retailers

Registries are often wasted on soon-to-be-parents. In this series, cool new(-ish) moms and dads tell us about the stuff that’s actually worked for them in the time since they had a kid. In other words: If they could do their baby registry all over again, here are the items that would top the list.

If you are Kelsey Keith, the former editor of Curbed and current editorial director at Herman Miller, having a baby means building a highly particular registry. “I’m picky,” says Keith, who gave birth to her daughter, Leo, in November 2019. She wanted products that appealed to her on three levels, she says: “price, looks, and function.” Which is a tricky Venn diagram to pull off. For one thing, generally speaking, “babies like bright plastic toys,” as Keith notes, and you can only do so much to avoid them. But also, at the same time, who really knows what they’ll like (until they’re born, that is)? The on-trend Bibs pacifiers she was gifted, for instance, may be a sure thing for many infants, but “Leo would never even put that pacifier in her mouth,” Keith says.

Because she was aware of this inherent variability even before the baby came along, she didn’t rely verbatim on other people’s registry spreadsheets for product recommendations. But she still did find solid advice in those Google docs, like a repeated warning about dehydration while breastfeeding. Consequently, “I got a sport top for my gigantic matte black Klean Kanteen,” says Keith, “and it really upped my ability to chug water.” Read on for six more of her favorite items from Leo’s first 16 months.

Dimmable, portable, rechargeable, and relatively cheap. This night-light didn’t sear my eyeballs during bleary-eyed night feedings, and now that my daughter is a little over a year old, she is completely entranced by it as a toy.

I was thrilled when my favorite before-pregnancy underwear company introduced a clip-down bra for nursing. True to form for the brand, it’s not armored with padding or underwire, but it still works for a larger bust. (I had such a hard time with bras, between cup size changes and nursing needs. No one tells you you have to buy and try like a dozen to find the ones that work for you.) It was a very tasteful friend who first recommended it to me, and the bra — it gets the job done.

The infant car seat we bought ended up being more trouble than it was worth. It was hard operate, and it never felt like I was doing it correctly. My in-laws got this convertible seat for their car and I much prefer it to ours! It fits infants sizes 4 to 50 lbs and is easy to get them into and out of.

I think new parents tend to be carrier people or stroller people — you may not know which one you’re going to be before you have the baby, but figuring it out could probably help minimize the amount of stuff that you end up buying. We didn’t ever take our daughter out in the stroller; we started using this carrier when she was 3 weeks old and have worn it into the ground. It’s filthy by now, so my only advice here is to get one carrier for each parent, or one for the car and one for the house, just to make them last longer. The structured ones, like this one from Beco, are great for dads, too — they accommodate a forward carry (or even a back carry!) once the baby can hold its head up.

Baby washcloths may seem unnecessary because of course you already have washcloths. I soon realized that standard washcloths — which are thicker and coarser — weren’t able to get into baby rolls and crevices very well. These are extremely soft, small enough for a smol baby, and plentiful. As for baby soap, I like buying in bulk so I don’t have to constantly think about replacing things. Someone gave us California Baby calendula shampoo as a gift, and when it ran out, I ordered the half-gallon size, which I estimate will last our daughter until pre-K.

When your baby is too small to sit up or crawl, and you need to put them down for a minute, you’re going to need a bouncer seat. This seat helped my husband and I make time for adult dinner — we’d just plop her in it with a blanket and a stuffed animal and sit her near our feet, beside the kitchen table. It was also featured heavily on my finsta since she looked so cute in it. (FYI, the seat color I have is beige, which they don’t stock any longer.) Most baby stuff isn’t so nice looking, and you just have to get over yourself. But I think this bouncer is beautiful; it’s nice to look at them in something that looks so cozy and something you don’t hate.

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How I’d Redo My Baby Registry: With a Beautiful Bouncer Seat