A Baby Registry Guide for Suburban Moms
If you’re a mom-to-be living in the ’burbs, chances are you’ll be logging countless steps in your house and a lot of mileage in your car. While storage may not be an issue, lugging baby items up and down the stairs and from room to room likely will be. Your gear has to also withstand terrain beyond city sidewalks, such as grass paths, dirt roads and park meadows. So what are the baby registry must-haves that’ll meet your new mom needs and actually suit your lifestyle? Use The Bump guide to find everything you need for suburban living with baby—and which things you can safely skip.
• Travel system. A stroller/car seat combo lets you quickly get baby in and out of the car without the hassle of unstrapping them from the car seat. The best part: If baby’s asleep, they’ll likely keep on snoozing as you move them from car to stroller (and vice-versa).
• Video baby monitor. Sure, a video monitor typically costs two times more than a sound-only model, but getting a visual check on baby without crisscrossing the house to stop in the nursery every time you’re the slightest bit concerned is worth it. And when baby gets older, the monitor can be repurposed as a home security system.
• Bassinet. Yes, baby has a crib in their own room, but having your little one sleep in a bassinet alongside your bed (not in your bed) saves you from several back-and-forth trips during nighttime feedings. Plus, the American Academy of Pediatrics now says having baby sleep in your room until at least 6 months of age can help prevent SIDS.
• Travel crib/ playard. If you live in a split-level house, a playard is your go-to playpen, naptime space and safe zone for those times you need to quickly step away to answer the door or deal with the laundry.
• Glider or rocking chair. Since you’ve got the space for one, a glider can be your late-night feeding station, bedtime story zone and favorite cuddle destination all in one. You’ll probably use this seat more than any other in your home for the first year, or longer!
• Car sun shade or (legally) tinted windows. Some babies are particularly sensitive to the sun’s glare and can get pretty cranky about it while you’re driving. A peel-and-stick sun shade (instead of one that attaches by suction cups, which become a safety hazard if they come loose) provides baby some relief and, an added bonus, the shading keeps the car cooler, making it more comfortable when the weather heats up.
• Heavy or complicated stroller. You’ll be hoisting the stroller in and out of the car trunk daily, so the last thing you want is to spend a lot of time fumbling with a cumbersome stroller—or worse, risk throwing out your back.
• Baby tub thermometer. You can test the water temperature with the inside of your wrist. If it feels hot to that sensitive body part, it’s likely too hot for baby. No gadget needed.
• Bottle sterilizer. It’s just as effective to set your dishwasher to “sterilize,” or use the heated dry setting to kill germs.
• Mini anything. Go ahead and get the full-sized crib, playard, play mat, high chair and baby swing if you have the space for it. Full-size items are often less pricey than compact versions.
These moms have been there, done that. See what they wish they had known back when they were registering.
“You’ll want to carry your baby around the house and keep your hands free, so register for a sling! Don’t fall for elaborate models with straps and adjustments and Velcro. You’ll frustrate yourself (and your baby) to no end trying to get the contraption on and secure. I couldn’t get baby to hold still, and I couldn’t get my partner to figure it out! Go simple.” —Carrie Aulenbacher, mom from Erie, PA
“We could not live without our video baby monitor. We got one that has an app we downloaded on our phones and iPad. It’s great because we can move it all around the house and go outside. We wouldn’t have needed this in our old apartment.” —Maegan Watson, mom from Shorewood, IL
“Living in the suburbs and driving virtually everywhere in an SUV, I’ve really appreciated having click-in and -out infant car seats for my kids and a lightweight car seat frame stroller. I also like a car seat cover that keeps really ‘friendly’ people from touching baby while you’re in stores; it also keeps baby warm in winter when you’re getting in and out of cold vehicles.” —Anita Fowler, mom from Sandy, UT
“Since we live in a multi-level house, I love having changing tables on both floors. It saves us from schlepping up and down stairs with a baby in desperate need of a diaper change.” —Sara N., mom from Stoneham, MA
“The Baby Bjorn Bouncer is a great baby registry item for suburban moms. It’s a little pricey, but you can move it easily from room to room, unlike some of the other bouncers.” —Angela M., mom from Mohegan Lake, NY
Best Travel System: UppaBaby Vista With Mesa Car Seat
Versatility is key with the splurge-worthy and award-winning Vista stroller: Use it with the bassinet (with SPF 50+ adjustable sunshade) or your Mesa Infant Car Seat (sold separately but no adapters needed), and add a second child up to 50 pounds using the full-size toddler seat (included). Features you’ll love:
- The Vista’s reversible toddler seat can face forward or backward, and sit upright or recline partly or fully.
- An extra-large basket is roomy enough for a diaper bag and other gear.
- It stands when folded, so the fabric won’t hit the ground and get dirty when you need to stash it in the garage or at the park.
- The car seat weighs under 10 pounds, to make light work of moving a sleeping baby from the car to the stroller.
- A SmartSecure system makes it easy to install (it takes 10 seconds!), so you won’t hesitate to loan it to Grandma while she’s babysitting.
- The side impact protection of this seat ranks high for peace of mind.
Buy it: $1,249, Amazon.com
Best Umbrella Stroller: Maclaren Volo
Once baby is 6 months old, you’ll want to keep an umbrella stroller stashed in the trunk at all times so you’re ready for anything, like an impromptu trip to the supermarket or the long-awaited visit to the zoo. The Maclaren Volo is sturdy, durable and dependable, and comes with a lifetime warranty. Features you’ll love:
- Weighs a mere 9.5 pounds, so if your toddler wants to walk on their own, you can still carry it easily in case they change their mind.
- Folds down compactly using only one hand.
- Comes with a rain cover—keep that in the trunk too.
Buy it: $130, Amazon.com
Best Baby Monitor: Miku Smart Baby Monitor
Upstairs or downstairs, kitchen or living room—keep an eye on baby wherever you are. The Miku wifi-enabled HD camera monitor—which snagged a Best of Baby 2019 award—streams real-time scenes and audio from baby’s nursery directly to your phone, so you can check in on baby wherever you are. Features you’ll love:
- In addition to providing visual and audio feedback, the Miku tracks baby’s breathing and sleep patterns via its integrated sensors (no wires or wearables necessary) as well as room temperature and humidity levels.
- The HD camera offers a crystal-clear picture and excellent night vision, and the above-the-crib design gives you a full bird’s eye view of baby.
- A powerful processor works regardless of internet connection and a crypto chip keeps your data totally secure.
Buy it: $399, Amazon.com
Best Crib: Babyletto Sprout 4-in-1 Convertible Crb
Stylish modern cribs aren’t just for city living. The clean lines and natural color scheme of Babyletto’s Sprout crib lend a cool, Scandi-chic vibe to any nursery—all at an amazing price point. Features you’ll love:
- It’s four-in-one, meaning it converts from a crib to a toddler bed, daybed and even a full-size bed (via a separate conversion kit)—it’s the only bed your child will ever need!
- GREENGUARD Gold Certified, it’s screened for 360 VOCs and over 10,000 chemicals and made with sustainable New Zealand pine wood and non-toxic finish.
- The crib offers four adjustable mattress levels.
Buy it: $349, Amazon.com
Best Bassinet: The HALO Bassinest Swivel Sleeper
A bassinet is a great way to keep baby close and safe at night, but when baby cries or it’s time for a feeding, you still have to drag yourself out of bed. Not with the HALO. It’s unique drop-down wall lets you pick baby up without actually getting up. Features you’ll love:
- You can lift baby out while you’re still in bed, thanks to the lowering walls; when it’s time to get up, the rotating, swiveling base makes getting in and out hassle-free.
- The bassinet plays soothing songs and sounds, vibrates, shines a nightlight and even includes a back to bed reminder.
- Stable 4-point base adjusts to fit most bed heights; it’s rather heavy and wide, but most suburban parents have the space!
Buy it: $265, Amazon.com
Best Playard: Nuna Sena Aire
The playard is quintessential travel gear—but you don’t have to stray far from home to get plenty of use out of it. This one is compact and stylish enough not to overpower whatever space you find yourself in. Features you’ll love:
- The zigzag design allows you to open it in seconds. And you can fold it back up with one hand.
- It’s the only playard that can fold with the included upper cot for infants still attached.
- Away from home and in need of a changing table? A changer attachment can make it happen.
Buy it: $430, Amazon.com
Best High Chair: Boon Flair Highchair
This sleek, sophisticated design is a welcome contrast from all that cutesy baby gear, and caster wheels allow you to easily roll it from the kitchen to the dining room, and adjust the seat height to fit any table. Features you’ll love:
- The one-piece seat doesn’t have any cracks or crevices where food crumbs can hide.
- Thanks to its continuous height positioning with pneumatic lift, you can pick the exact height you want to fit your table.
- The dishwasher-safe tray cover is sized to actually fit in a dishwasher.
Buy it: $225, Amazon.com
Best Bouncer: 4moms mamaRoo
The 4moms Mamaroo (another Best of Baby winner!) looks like a little baby spaceship, and it’s kind of out of this world in how it can keep baby chilled out while you take a breather. That’s because it doesn’t vibrate or swing—it sways and gently bounces baby in ways that mimic the experience of being in a parent’s arms, on a car-ride or riding a wave. Features you’ll love:
- Bluetooth-enabled means you can control it from your phone. Baby falls asleep? Turn the motion and sound off without waking them
- It plays soothing sounds or The Beatles, Beyoncé or any tunes from your phone’s playlist
- You won’t also need a separate bouncy seat or swing—this is the best of both worlds!
Buy it: $220, Amazon.com
Best Bathtub: Skip Hop Moby Smart 3-Stage Tub
Sure, you could wash baby in your tub or the kitchen sink, but a baby bathtub prevents slipping and sliding, making the job easier. Plus, this one will last well through toddlerhood. Features you’ll love:
- The mesh sling cradles baby for the first three months of bathing and can be adjusted to help babies 3 to 6 months learn to sit upright.
- Once baby can sit unassisted, you can take out the sling altogether, using the tub through 25 pounds.
- All done? A drain plug allows for easy cleanup, and a hook lets you store it on a shower head or bar.
Buy it: $30, Amazon.com
Best Diaper Bag: Skip Hop Saffiano Diaper Backpack
A diaper bag is key for carting baby’s essentials around with you, but no one said it had to be frumpy. The Skip Hop Saffiano is made for stylish moms on the go. Features you’ll love:
- The backpack boasts two exterior zip pocks (including an insulated bottle pocket) and three interior wall pockets, offering plenty of storage
- You can wear it as a backpack with adjustable, padded straps; tote it around by the top carry handles; or hang it on the stroller using the attached stroller clips
- If something spills, no worries—the bag’s lining is wipe-clean
Buy it: $100, Nordstrom.com
Best Activity Mat: Skip Hop Camping Cubs Activity Gym
You may be stuck in the suburbs, but consider this baby’s foray into the great outdoors. Except without any dirt…or BPA, or PVC or phthalates. Features you’ll love:
- Those poles, dangling toys and mesh backdrop are all removable, so baby can enjoy overhead play, tummy time or seated play, all with one mat.
- Over 17 built-in activities encourage developmental milestones and sensory skills.
Buy it: $74, Amazon.com
Best Nursery Chair: Babyletto Kiwi Electronic Recliner and Swivel Glider
It will happen: You’ll soothe baby to sleep and then sit there, frozen, terrified of moving and waking them up. Luckily, you’ll never want to leave this chair, or really need to. Features you’ll love:
- A built-in USB port means you can charge your phone—and call for backup if you need it.
- At the push of a button, this seat silently reclines almost flat.
- It swivels 270 degrees and glides back and forth when in the upright position.
Buy it: $600, Amazon.com
The Bump Ultimate Stroller Guide:
Updated April 2019
Model Pictured: Christina Caruso / @christinacarusostyle