When I found out I was pregnant with twins and my friends were graciously throwing me a shower, I was pumped to waddle to the store and start scanning things for my baby registry. But between well-meaning friends telling me about the baby gear I absolutely had to get, the pushy sales associate, and reading far too many maternity magazines filled with ads that convinced me my child would be raised an outcast without their products, I wound up registering for lots of things I really didn’t need.
My baby-making days are over, but if I could go back and do it again, here’s a list of things I would have left off my registry to make room for far more important items, like coffee.
Toys That Make Noise
Don’t be fooled by packaging claiming these toys are educational, or your cousin’s bestie who swears her baby learned the ABCs from an electronic dog. There’s no special learning to be had from noisy toys, only the potential for a migraine and a sleepless night when you accidentally set one off on the way to the bathroom and wake the baby.
I remember the terror I felt once after the kids had done to sleep and I heard giggling coming from the basement, only to realize it was their stupid activity table going off on its own. And when I was sailing on a sea of postpartum hormones, I burst into tears when the play remote control sang Mary Had a Little Lamb — not because I was so moved by the performance, but because I realized recording that little ditty was probably the highlight of that woman’s career, and I felt bad for her.
Besides, as a new parent you’ll have enough things to keep track of, why add having to stock up on batteries to the list?
Things Designed To Protect Your Baby From Ever Being Exposed To Germs
Sure, those shopping cart covers are super cute with their bright patterns and cartoon animals, and I got sucked into getting two of them, complete with adorable owls and a zip pouch to store toys. But when you’re trying to juggle your keys, purse, diaper bag, and baby or two into the store, odds are you’ll do what I did and completely forget to grab the cover out of the trunk 95 percent of the time. And let’s get real: You’ll be lucky if you find the time to wash your own clothes, let alone remember to clean the shopping cart cover between uses, too. Lots of places where you’ll take the cart, like grocery stores or Target, have free anti-bacterial wipes at the door, so you can swipe the cart down before you head off to the Dollar Spot. Typing this just reminded me that those cart covers are rolling around in the bottom of my trunk somewhere, and my kids are nearly 3.
The same goes for the pacifier pods meant to keep the pacifier clean in your bag and disposable changing table pads. I thought they were must-haves, and not getting them would mean I was destined to be a crappy mom, but while they’re a great idea in theory, germs won’t be deterred that easily. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve grabbed a fallen pacifier off the floor and wiped it on my sleeve before giving it back to a baby, making that special case completely useless.
And after a few months of parenting, I was a diaper changing ninja — able to change a diaper on the side of the road in twilight using only one hand, no changing pad necessary. Best to stick to your pediatrician’s recommended course of vaccinations, plenty of hand-washing and avoiding people who have the sniffles as your main way of protecting your baby from germs.
Everyone told me I must get a diaper pail for every floor in the house, and like a good little lemming, I listened to them. Having purchasing three of these, plus two replacements, I feel confident is saying diaper pails are a good place to throw away both soiled diapers and your hard-earned cash. Not only are the pails expensive, the specialty bags they required also cost a pretty penny -- all for something you’re going to toss out anyway. Plus, no matter how often you clean it, it will get smelly and moldy, and if you’re lazy like me, the odds are high you’ll accidentally break it trying to cram another stink bomb into an already full container.
Unless you have a multi-story walk up, tie your baby’s gifts in a plastic bag and take the trash out regularly, or even better, get a short break by handing the baby off and walking the stinky package out to the dumpster by yourself.
Yes, even my icy heart melted the first time I saw a pair of baby Converse, but really, baby shoes are a completely unnecessary item for a baby who’s too young to walk. I soon learned it’s just one more thing to go missing while you’re out with the stroller or get covered in poop during a diaper disaster. We lost one on a ride at Disney World when my sons were 7 months old and I was furious at myself for losing track of it until a cast member chased us down and gave us our very own Cinderella moment as he slid the shoe back on my baby’s foot.
Stick to socks, or if you simply must have them, aim for just a couple pairs you can hang on to as keepsakes.
Extra Nursery Decor
Sure, it’s fun and exciting to decorate a nursery, and it can help pass the time as you impatiently wait to meet that gremlin in your stomach, but nursery decor is more for mom and dad than the baby. I spent weeks agonizing over the perfect shade of pale green to paint the walls of my babies’ room and even constructed an elaborate melted crayon art mural for their wall from Pinterest.
But thanks to nighttime feedings the boys spent the first year of their life sleeping in bassinets in my room and the only time I used the nursery was to show it off to visitors. By the time they were settled on their own, much of the decor felt too infantile for them, and I had to swap it out for things they wanted to see, like Mickey Mouse and cars.
Baby Food-Making Supplies
So you want to make your own baby food? Great! Here’s what you need: fresh fruit or veggies, some free time, and things that are probably already in your kitchen. I was convinced the only way to make sure my babies were getting quality food was with one of those fancy steamer/blenders and the matching containers to freeze and store the food, but really I didn’t need any of it. That precious cabinet space would have been much better used to store a fondue pot.
If you have a stove or microwave and a blender, you can make baby food. And ice cube trays covered in foil work just as well for freezing portions, and they’re perfectly portioned one-ounce servings.
You don’t need to register for receiving blankets, and that’s because you’re going to get a ton of them no matter what. Between the ones the hospital sent home with us, the ones my hipster friends knitted, and the beautiful lace ones made by grandmother that went directly into a keepsake box to protect it from spit-up, I had more of these tiny blankets than I knew what to do with.
And they seem to multiply — I swear I’d place one in a drawer and go back to find three more tucked in there. If I could go back to when I was registering, I would’ve saved myself the time I spent agonizing between polka dots and teddy bears and got some fro-yo from next door instead.
Does your house or apartment currently have a floor? If so, congratulations! You have a giant changing table readily available, so go ahead and cross that off your registry list. Traditional changing tables are a huge safety risk. Even if you promise yourself you’ll never take your hand off the baby, it can be hard to remember that oath at 2:37 a.m. when the baby is up for the fifth time that night. All it took was one close call and I gave up on the changing table in favor of swapping out diapers right on the floor. And I learned the hard way that a changing table isn’t really useful unless you have a single story home. Making the trek all the way to the nursery every time one of the babies needed to be changed got old very quickly.
Instead, I stashed a basket with changing supplies in the rooms I spent the most time in (living room, your bedroom) and sold the changing table to enjoy the extra square footage in the nursery.
Images: Courtesy of Megan Zander (5); Giphy (3)