Drawn like a moth to the flame. That’s me when it comes to baby registries. I love researching baby products. I might even call it a hobby of mine. So when it came to registering for each of my four pregnancies, I have truly loved cultivating the perfect list of exactly what my baby needed—and what my mama heart desired. With my first baby, we needed everything, obviously. My husband and I decided to keep our first baby’s gender a surprise, so much of what we registered for was basic and gender neutral: a black car seat, a red stroller, lots of solid-colored onesies, and simple swaddles. When our daughter was born (surprise!), I put the gift cards we received to use and added headbands and other pretties to her collection. Three baby boys followed over the coming years, and with each one, my registry became more and more specific. We needed less (since many baby items can thankfully be re-used) and knew more (since I had learned what was and wasn’t actually useful during the baby days). Here’s what I, and many other moms, have learned: Some items marketed to parents and their little ones sound amazing, especially to newbies, but in the end, they turn out to be a complete waste of space and money. Luckily, a bevy of real moms are ready to give you the scoop on what purchases fall in to the useless category and what you should buy instead. So, pay attention and adjust your registry accordingly! Delete those useless items and prepare to invest in the things real moms love, use, and swear by.
First up, the useless items:
The pointless companion for diaper changes.
No fewer than 10 moms I talked to said that a wipe warmer is 100 percent useless. In the beginning they all thought it was a good idea—after all, who wants to shock their baby’s bum with a cold wipe? But in reality, the wipe warmer takes up space and doesn’t work as effectively as promised. Krystle, a mom of two, says that “as soon as you take them out, they are already cold again!”
The gift that piles up quickly.
You think you might need 10 baby blankets, but you don’t. Even if they’re really cute, soft, or sentimental. Jeanette, a mom of one, says she received at least eight blankets at her shower, but she really only uses three. So be selective and know that the ones you get and use will become the favorites!
The item that’s actually dangerous.
As more information about crib bumpers’ dangers has come out—27 accidental deaths related to them occurred between the 1985 and 2005—the American Association of Pediatrics now warns parents against using them. Yes, without one, your crib might look bare, but bare is the safest option. When it comes to crib prep, just buy a quality mattress, a fitted waterproof pad to make middle of the night leaks easy to remedy, and a handful of fitted sheets.
The foam you should forget.
Erika, a mom of three: “My kiddos didn’t like the Bumbo, and their thighs were so chubby they couldn’t have used it more than a few weeks at best anyway.” “It’s just not ideal to try to make babies sit up before they’re ready,” says Jeanette, and physical therapists agree, stating that there are no developmental benefits.
The bath time non-essential.
“The little kneeling pad for bath time was useless,” says Tasha, a mom of two. “I have never used it, ever.” While it might be convenient, it’s certainly not essential. Skip that and invest in quality bath toys (which can really grow with your baby over the years) and a compact baby bath tub.
The stuff that fills the drawers.
Last but not least, the biggest temptation when it comes to tiny babies are all the precious little outfits! But, consider following Kari’s advice when you are browsing clothes for your registry. As a mom of four, she knows what she is talking about! “… we got so many clothes with our first that it honestly made life more complicated. By baby boy number three, we had it down to a small capsule wardrobe—with the exception of enough good onesies for potential blow outs.” That’s right, capsule your kid’s wardrobe and embrace the ease and simplicity of less in the laundry department. Babies really don’t need much!
Now, what you should buy instead:
A diaper bag with specific features.
Lots of baby gear means you need a place to put it when you’re on the go, but not just any diaper bag will do. Some mamas want a specific color or material, others are on the lookout for something that looks more like a purse than a baby bag. According to Rose, a mom of four, every mom needs to look for one specific feature in her diaper bag: backpack straps. You want a bag that will allow you to be hands free, she says, and the ability to be worn like a backpack makes that happen.
The absolute must!
Babies love to be close—they’ve been cozy and warm inside mama’s womb for months, after all! That’s why a baby carrier is a must have on your registry. In fact, Jeannette, a mom of two, said “the only thing I couldn’t live without is my carrier(s)!” When it comes to carriers, there are quite a few to choose from. It can be overwhelming, so consider registering for a couple of these top picks from seasoned moms who’ve tested many throughout their mothering years: Boba Baby Wrap, Moby Ring Sling, Ergobaby 360 carrier, Tula Free-to-Grow carrier, and Lillebaby wrap or carrier. Bottom line, whatever you choose, make sure it’s an ergonomic carrier that supports your baby’s development.
All the things that disappear.
If you’re aiming to fill your registry with a variety of useful items, think consumables! Between mom and baby, you’re going to go through lots of diapers, nursing pads, wipes, baby soap, and lotion. Add large quantities of each to your registry, and all the wise gift givers will help you stock up with these less fun, but definitely essential items.
Not just any car seat.
When it comes to choosing a car seat, The Car Seat Lady cites four sources—the American Academy of Pediatrics and peer-reviewed articles in Injury Prevention, Pediatrics, and British Medical Journal—that say rear facing are safer than forward facing. In some states, it’s actually the law that car-traveling children face the rear for at least two years. That means you should register for a seat that can face the rear as long as possible. And by finding a rear-facing seat that has high height and weight limits, you won’t have to upgrade seats as often. The Graco 4Ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat will give you up to 10 years of use with its ability to transform from a rear-facing baby seat to a forward-facing toddler car seat…to a booster seat.
And, what you should consider borrowing:
The big stuff doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in your home.
So often, I see registries full of substantial baby “furniture.” Things like the widely loved and oft-recommended Rock ’n Play, swings, and bouncers. Each of these items have definitely earned their place as baby must, but do you really need to buy them? The answer is no, and the reason is that their lifespan is pretty short. Your little one will quickly reach the weight limit and outgrow them with their abilities. Sometimes by four months, sometimes by six, and for sure by eight or nine. That’s why I, and many of the moms I talked to, recommend borrowing these larger items from a family member or friend. Since they aren’t used for a long stretch of time, they’re often in great condition, and parents are happy to move those big items out of storage.
Back-ups, seconds, and extras.
Think you may want a carrier at grandma and grandpas? How about a car seat in dad’s car? Rather than register for doubles, consider asking friends if they have a spare that you can borrow or buy for less than full price.
When it comes to filling your baby registry, there is so much to consider.
As you curate your personal registry, be mindful and stick with the absolute essentials. The moms I talked to have been been through it, and some of them have been through it multiple times—they really know what they’re talking about when it comes to both useless and extremely useful baby registry items. Take their advice! And, hey, if you end up really needing or wanting something we deemed “useless,” there is always a Target close by or quick shipping with Amazon Prime. Now that you have a better idea of what you should and should not register for, check out these registry sites to get started: Amazon, Target, Buy Buy Baby and Babies “R” Us.