10 Things You Don't Actually Need to Buy for Your New Baby (Plus 5 You Must)

By Ashley Marcin on 9 October 2014 2 comments

You're pregnant. Congratulations! You're probably making a lot of big decisions right now between what to name your kid, what to eat to ward off morning sickness, and what kind of stroller might best suit your family's needs.

If you haven't registered already, you might find the whole thing a rather daunting task. There are (too) many choices these days, so make it easy for yourself by crossing these 10 items off your list before you even head to the store. (See also: Take These 10 Things of Your Wedding Registry Immediately)

Remove From Your List

Many of these things for baby make it onto every list, which is unfortunate, because they just add to the clutter a new baby brings into the house.

Changing Table

We never registered for or purchased a changing table, and we did just fine. If you live in a small place, like an apartment, space might also be an issue. Instead, we got a long dresser that we used for both changing diapers and storing clothing. You can also change your child on the floor (lay down a soft blanket or pad) or on your bed. And by the time your child is, say, a two-year-old, you'll have changed him or her in some wild spots regardless, I promise.

Wipe Warmer

My daughter was born at the start of winter, and we received a wipe warmer as a gift (it wasn't on our list). We're almost to her third birthday and still haven't opened the box to use the thing. Yes, it will warm wipes before you use them on your child. No, it's not worth the hassle and extra energy costs — however minute — to keep it running.

Bassinet

Whatever sleep situation you choose, you might want your baby to snooze in a cozy space for the first few months within arm's reach of your bed. Resist the urge to purchase a bassinet for this purpose, as it will collect dust after not terribly long. A Pack 'n Play is a good alternative if you eventually plan to travel. My daughter slept in hers from the start (it has a newborn sleep attachment) and still sleeps in it to this day on vacations, camping, etc.

Bottles

If you plan to serve breastmilk or formula from a bottle, you don't want to stock up on just one kind before you know what works the best for you and baby. Get a few varieties to start with, see what wins over the others, and use gift cards or any cash you might receive after the baby is born to add to the collection.

Swaddle Sacks

There are lots of adorable swaddling sacks in different fabrics and colors out there promising a good night's sleep to anyone who chooses to use them. Unfortunately, your child might not like having his or her arms tethered down, even from day one. Try simple swaddling blankets and wrapping your baby manually for the same effect. They are cheaper and more versatile.

Crib Bedding

I love all those beautiful crib bedding sets I see in catalogs and online. The American Academy of Pediatrics, however, does not recommend crib bumpers, blankets, quilts, stuffed animals, or pillows as these items increase the risk of SIDS. Stick with fitted sheets instead for both safety and frugality. Oh, and you can skip the crib mobile too!

Newborn Fashions

It's tempting to dress up your little one in adorable outfits and accessories. We had lots of dresses, headbands, and even little jeans — and we never used any of them. Collect a nice set of soft, plain clothes — onesies and those snap pajamas work great — for comfort and easy cleaning (spit-up!). Get a nice set of socks and leave the extras, like tiny shoes, for when he or she is up and walking.

Baby Food Maker

In the nesting period, we all get those visions of hand milling the finest organic baby food from scratch. If you make this dream a reality, good for you. Still, you don't need a fancy machine to do the work. Simply steam and puree veggies using a pot, some water, and a standard blender. Freeze portions in an ice tray, which is usually divided into one-ounce cubes.

Big Ticket Items

Before you fill your registry with high chairs, infant seats, swings, and other expensive items — check around. Your friends with older kids might have these things sitting in their basements in near-new condition. Or you can search sites like Craigslist to find great deals. Just be careful with car seats, cribs, or anything else you suspect might have a recall, as safety standards routinely change.

Random Gadgets

There are pacifier and boogie wipes, pee tee-pees, and all other sorts of things you'll think you need to stash in your diaper bag. My rule of thumb: If your mother didn't have it to use with you, then there's a good chance you don't need it either. It's cool that people have thought of products to help ease the first year, but parenting is hard work no matter how many gadgets you have in your closets and drawers.

Stuff to Add to Your List

When you're done culling, add a few things that really will help you get through baby's first year.

Burp Cloths

Our daughter ended up having reflux, so we went through gazillions of burp cloths each day. We also found these towels helpful after the baby stage for use in the kitchen or other cleaning purposes. You don't even need baby-specific cloths — soft tea towels work well. My favorite kind, though, are actually those packs of prefold cloth diapers. Super absorbent and inexpensive.

Jogging Stroller

Even if you're not a runner, I highly recommend a sporty 3-wheeled stroller because you'll use it — almost every day — for years and years. We have an umbrella stroller, but it just doesn't measure up when it comes to sun coverage, maneuverability, durability, or versatility. Think of all those trips to the beach and strolls through your local park. Plus, you can walk or jog to get good exercise without paying a sitter!

Diapers

It doesn't matter if you're choosing cloth or disposable diapers — you need to add whatever you pick to your registry. You'll want quite a few in different sizes to help you start out. I personally love the idea of a cloth diapering service, which costs around the same price as disposable diapers each week, just with an eco-friendly touch. The best part? They do the laundry for you! Check around for services offered in your area.

Baby Carrier

You don't need to be into attachment parenting to benefit from babywearing. Your infant will be snug as a bug against your chest and you'll be able to get some stuff done — hands-free — while he or she is resting. Baby carriers are also convenient for travel, allowing you to move around freely and even let your kid nap on the go. There are lots of choices, including long fabric wraps and backpack-like carriers, so investigate the options and choose one that fits your family's needs.

Sound Machine

I am a pro-sound machine kind of gal. Our daughter wakes easily, just like mommy. When we brought her home from the hospital, we lived in a house around 1,000 square feet where sound traveled easily. A continuous noise machine helps buff out those noises that might otherwise stir or awaken your baby. You can even find versions that travel easily for on-the-go protection. Ours is actually a sound machine and humidifier in one, so multipurpose!

Are there any baby items you found particularly vital? Or utterly unnecessary? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Guest

These suggestions are idiosyncratic at best. A few lowlights:

1. Both of my children loved sleep sacks. They are a lot easier to swaddle correctly than a blanket, particularly for slightly older babies who can move around a bit more.

2. As to a jogging stroller being the best and only kind of stroller someone will need? This is highly individual. We have a BOB Revolution jogging stroller that we use for walking around our neighborhood, which is hilly. But the BOB is big and bulky - not great for keeping in the car or maneuvering in stores. Something like a B-Agile or City Mini might be the best all-purpose stroller for most people

3. Sound machines have been shown to be possibly detrimental to hearing development in babies. Certainly not a must have.

Ashley Marcin's picture

Thanks for your input!