The first time I went into a baby supply store when I was pregnant I made it about 30 feet in before I became completely overwhelmed, turned right back around, and made a beeline for the nearest ice cream shop to calm myself down. (Ice cream was the next best option for the wine I couldn’t have, but would’ve been my go-to pre-pregnancy days.)
I knew the baby needed “things” but I naïvely had no idea just how many “things” were available to parents. There are now extra devices, gadgets, monitors, doodads, and widgets for literally every moment of a baby’s day and night. But what was necessary and what would simply be a waste of valuable space in our apartment and – more importantly – money?
These were the insights I wish I had known back then. Of course, there were the “big ticket” items at the store I immediately associated with babies: stroller, car seats, crib and mattress, high chairs, etc. But what about the other stuff? What could possibly fill this entire store I was waddling away from as fast as my pregnant legs could carry me?
Two babies later I have gained some valuable hindsight and learned there is no reason to buy up the entire baby supply store when you’re welcoming a new little one into your home. In fact, there are items marketed to moms that frankly border on predatory; they play into every parent’s worst fears that without the special device they are putting their baby in peril, or potentially worse in some parents’ minds, that they won’t get into an Ivy League college 18 years down the road.
It is with this first experience in mind I would like to compile the list of registry musts and registry busts. These items purposefully skip over many of the “big ticket” items mentioned earlier and focus instead on the items you might either pass over or wonder if you’re putting your baby in danger without. (Spoiler/reassurance alert: you’re not. You’ve got this parenting thing on lock!)
Diapering the baby
Diaper pail and associated liners
I’m not going to mince words here: babies poop. A lot. And those diaper pails really do help contain the smells. My real suggestion is to invest in a brand where the bags are sold in easily accessible places like the grocery or drug store. You never know when you might need to make a quick dash out to buy more.
A wipes dispenser is a deceivingly simple device that keeps your wipes nice and wet without needing the special (more expensive) plastic closures on the wipes packs, which allows you to buy in bulk.
I’ve heard a lot of theories behind the mythical wipes warmers, and I have yet to find one where my eyes don’t practically fall out of my head from how hard my eyes roll into the back of my head.
“It will help keep the baby asleep if you change them in the middle of the night because the wipes won’t be such a shock to their bums!” Interesting that it’s the wipes piece that shocks them, and not the waking up, crying, being carried to a changing pad, being stripped naked from the waist down, and having their diaper changed, and then being re-dressed. But surely, it’s the wipes that keep them awake at night. (Please do not trip over my sarcasm I keep dripping onto the floor here.)
“It keeps the wipes wet!” So do the plain old-fashioned wipes dispensers and holders (see above in diapering musts). Bonus: those add 0 dollars to your energy bill.
“My baby will need to feel loved and warm wipes will help them.” Your baby will feel loved because you love them. Your baby will not care if this messy business is taken care of with a warm wipe or not. Plus, if you’re out and about, your little angel’s bum is bound to feel the atrocity of a room-temperature wipe. My guess is they’ll survive, and so will you, except for if you’ve purchased a wipes warmer and have to live with the massive waste of money and energy sitting in your house.
It’ll be literal years before you need one of these. Hold off until then.
Huge supply of newborn diapers
“My baby will be a newborn! Surely they will need all the newborn-size diapers forever!” This is a thought you are bound to have. Sadly, the truth is that newborn diapers may last you a month, or your baby may never need them at all. Don’t stock up too many of them if you can avoid it. If you register for diapers, ask for size 1 instead.
Cleaning the baby’s stuff
Microwavable steam sterilizer bags
Sometimes I get sad about the fact that it’s been 45 years since we went to the moon. I wonder why we haven’t gone back. What have scientists been doing instead? It wasn’t until recently I understood: our country’s greatest scientific minds have done all parents a favor in the form of microwaveable sterilizer bags.
Most of the time your dishwasher will get your baby’s stuff like bottles, nipples, pacifiers, etc. plenty clean. Other times (a cold being passed around the family, pacifiers falling down onto the floor of the subway, etc.) you might need a little extra help in the cleaning department. Sterilizer bags are reusable (up to 20 times) devices where you put in half a cup of water, whatever you’d like to sterilize, microwave for 2 minutes, and poof! Sterilized baby stuff. Science. Is. So. Cool.
Dishwasher basket for baby stuff
Babies are small, and so are their things. Nipples, pacifiers, breastfeeding parts, and various other doo-dads all need to be cleaned, and if you have a dishwasher you’ll need something to hold them all safely on the top rack. Dishwasher baskets might seem trivial, but it’s something you will use quite literally every single day of your life when you have babies.
Countertop drying rack
A good countertop drying rack that can hold the little items mentioned above after their stint in the dishwasher is almost as important as the dishwasher basket itself. I’m partial to the “grass” type that doesn’t let anything fall down and still looks cute. Bonus: it also dries wine glasses really well. (But you didn’t hear that from me.)
Countertop sterilizer appliance
I fell victim to the “this is a classic thing to have when you have a baby, so I shall register for this” trap. Countertop sterilizers take up a lot of valuable counter or storage space, need to be descaled regularly, and, as discussed above, can be replaced by the microwaveable steam sterilizer bags.
Cleaning the baby
Go for one that is easily cleaned and can grow with the baby. If the bathtub can only be used for a few months or in the bathroom sink, move on and pick a longer-term option.
Baby nail scissors
Nail clippers might come in every newborn bathroom bundle around, but be sure to nab a pair of mini nail scissors, too. These will make trimming your baby’s nails go from “the single most terrifying thing I’ve done since giving birth” to “sort-of terrifying,” which in the parenting world is about as good an improvement as you’re bound to find.
Pediatricians don’t generally recommend putting kids in bubble bath until age 3, and while we know that’s a little extreme, you won’t need the bubble bath for a long, long time. Your newborn registry will thank you for it.
Feeding the baby
If you are planning on nursing, an awesome breastfeeding pillow is a must!
Breastfeeding can be a challenge when you’re just starting out and a good breastfeeding pillow can make your journey that much more comfortable. My suggestion is to find one the baby can comfortably lie down on without rolling in or off you; look for a solid, flatter surface for baby to rest on. Register for an extra cover, as well. My breastfeeding pillow is still being used on my 8-month-old after a year of breastfeeding my first. I took it to the hospital with me for both deliveries and used it all the way through my entire nursing journey.
Expensive baby spoons
If your child is hungry, they will eat, whether it’s off a $5 spoon or a fifty-cent one. They will never know the difference.
As of now in America, your health insurance must cover the cost of a breast pump for new mothers. Be sure to check with your insurance company before adding a breast pump you can get for free.
Sleeping the baby
Multiple waterproof crib mattress pads
You’ll thank me for reminding you of this. That’s all I can probably say here in polite company.
Continuous monitoring devices
There are companies that sell devices you can strap onto your baby now that will give you continuous monitoring of their vitals, oxygen levels, heart rates, sleep cycles, and any other amount of information you could ever wonder about. These devices tout they will give you peace of mind and allow you to sleep. The problem, of course, is that if the device is somehow kicked off or moved you will be awoken in the middle of the night to blaring alarms that your child’s device has no movement and you will think your baby has ceased to exist. This pattern does not a good night’s sleep make.
Pediatricians almost unanimously warn that if you need a continuous monitoring device, they will let you know. And, most of the time, if your baby needs to be continuously monitored, they will be in the hospital. Of course, we want to do everything we can to know our babies are healthy and happy, but this simply isn’t one of them.
Taylor Wood is making it through motherhood with the grace of a camel on ice skates. Follow her journey at Motherhood – WHAT?!