When I was pregnant with my twins, one of the more daunting tasks was building my baby registry. I was overwhelmed with trying to figure out what I really needed. I would see certain products and wonder how much companies were preying on my emotions as an expectant new mother!

Do I really need a baby food blender? How is it different than an adult food blender? Do babies really wear bathrobes? Why would my babies need kneepads? Can my wrist really not determine sufficient bath water temperature?

I swear I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I really tried to be mindful of how much stuff I really needed. Part of this is my wanting to be more of a minimalist–this is a work in progress. Ultimately, with a little help from friends, Pinterest, and my frugalista instinct, I made a conservative baby registry.

In the process, I learned that there were many things I already owned that were perfect baby care items.

1 — Crockpot / Slow-Cooker

A slow-cooker is the perfect alternative to a bottle warmer. When my babies came home from the hospital, they were both receiving formula and pumped breast milk. I had extremely high hopes of exclusively breastfeeding, but that wasn’t in the cards for me. Since I had planned to nurse, I had not registered for any bottle feeding supplies.

As I scrambled to buy the things I now needed, I considered a bottle warmer, since their bottles were warmed while in the NICU. I was so excited to discover this genius alternative. Rather than needing two unitasker bottle warmers, a few inches of water in a slow-cooker set on “low” did the trick. Set the bottles in the slow-cooker, set the microwave timer for 3 minutes, and you’re good to go.

2 — Nalgene / Smoothie Shaker bottles

As I mentioned above, my girls came home on two different formulas. I will tell you right now that the only thing worse than scrambling to make a bottle while a baby is screaming is trying to make two bottles while two babies are screaming.

The best solution I discovered was to pre-make formula for the day and keep it in the fridge. I calculated out the batch recipe and wrote the grams in sharpie on the formula containers. Whoever was not on diaper duty in the morning was in charge of making the day’s formula.

The result was two different color Nalgene bottles, one for each baby. When I was really ambitious I even poured out pre-measured bottles for the day!

When it was feeding time, I could just take the bottles out, pop them in my make-shift bottle warmer (see above), and get the girls ready for their feeding.

3 — Travel Toiletry Bag

Oh, the days before children when we went on vacation every 6 months for 10 days at a time…

Sorry! Oops, you caught me daydreaming right there.

Okay, since you will never go on vacation again (kidding! I swear! You will!), I have a brilliant use for your travel toiletry bag.

With some diapers on one side, wipes on another, and bum cream and hand sanitizer in the middle, you’ve got yourself a diaper caddy! This has been a lifesaver for me, especially on the few road trips we’ve taken with the girls. When you venture into a public restroom, it is very inconvenient to be fumbling with a baby and also fishing through your diaper bag for your supplies. I just leave the diaper bag with my hubby and take this caddy plus a changing pad to the restroom. My husband likes it too, since he doesn’t always like to be seen going in and out of the men’s room with a baby and a girly diaper bag. Wait until the girls make him play dress up…

Anyway, I’ve got a few of these awesome bags from thirty-one and my next weekend project is to whip up a perma-diaper bag for my car. I plan to include a healthy stash of diapers, wipes, cream, blankets, and toys, as well as one of these toiletry bag caddies. I’m always a wreck leaving the house since I’m paranoid I’ve forgotten something. The easy solution is to just keep duplicates of everything in the car.

4 — Baskets

It goes without saying that when you have a baby (or two), you’re going to need access to a lot of stuff. Ideally, it’s a good idea to set up a command station in each main room of your house, to avoid having to go up and down stairs frequently or leave the baby unattended.

If you’re like me, you will have plenty of baskets just for this purpose! I set one up on each floor’s living spaces.

My favorite basket set up is on the girls’ dresser/changing table. It houses two rows of diapers beautifully (day diapers and overnights).

5 — Food processor & ice cube tray

Please. Do not register for a baby food maker. Your desire to register for this is purely a social and emotional construct. I know it’s cute, with that little smiley face sticker on it. But trust me. Back away.

If you do any sort of cooking, you likely have a food processor or fancy multi-speed blender. [I have the older version of this, but I hear lots of good things about this one too] If you don’t, you probably aren’t the type to want to make baby food anyway, so feel free to buy baby food pouches on sale at Target (and use your Cartwheel app) and skip this section!

But if you fall into the former category, you are going to learn to get your money’s worth outta that darn thing! Steamed/cooked veggies plus water/formula/breastmilk = baby puree goodness. Once your little is ready for solids (your decision to make, though most start around 6 months), get ready to whip up some deliciously homemade sweet potatoes, peas, avocados, bananas, and more.

Homemade baby food is a wholesome & frugal mama’s dream. Plus, you can easily freeze them in baby portion sizes using an ice cube tray (though to be honest, this was my favorite registry item that gets a ridiculous amount of use to this day!).

Once your baby has a few foods in his repertoire, batch cook a bunch of his favorites and store them in the fridge for up to three months. Take them out as needed and enjoy only cooking baby food once a week or so.

6 — Command Hooks

When you have a baby, there will be bibs. Lots of bibs. Do yourself a favor and stick a command hook on the back of baby’s high chair. Voila! Instant bib storage!

7 — Laundry Basket

So, you may have registered for a fancy baby bathtub that you can use up until your child is 2+ years old. But, if you’re more of a wash-that-baby-in-the-sink kinda mom (no judgment here! I’m right there with you!), might I introduce you to the laundry basket bathtub.

The idea is simple. Put the basket in the tub. Fill up the basket with water. Add bath toys. Add baby. Wash, rinse, repeat (if you have twins).

The benefits of this trick include: bath toys stay close, the water level is low, and the surface is preferable to porcelain or fiberglass. [Do not leave baby unattended, of course. She will likely try to stand, and if her hands are on the edge, she may topple the basket if she leans too far over.]

Do yourself a favor…

And do your best to use what you already have to create a set up that you love and that works for you. Sometimes it takes some time home with baby to figure out what you really need, and that’s okay! Some of the things I use on a daily basis with my one-year-olds are things that I repurposed from elsewhere in my home. As a result, I’m able to use the things I love, decrease clutter, and keep a consistent decor theme! It’s a win, win, win!

Let me know your unexpected baby items in the comments 🙂

7 Baby Essentials You Already Own

7 Baby Essentials You Already Own

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