When I was expecting my first child, I curated my registry up until my baby shower. I read through entire books about which was the best stroller, diaper bag, pacifier, and burp cloth. There is just so much gear to wade through, and I wanted to make sure I did it right. Plus, having never been a mother before, I really wanted to be prepared. In my mind, I figured it was better to have more than not enough. (For some reason, it didn't occur to me that I would be able to shop after the baby arrived.) If you're lost in the ocean of options available for baby, you are not alone. I—along with other been-there-done-that moms—have some advice for when you're coming up with your registry:
Don't insist on everything new. Your baby is new, but that doesn't mean all her gear has to be. If you have friends who are willing to give you hand-me-downs, take them with pride (unless they're stained, stinky, or on a recall list. In that case, politely decline.) Here's what you might not realize: Used sheets and pjs are often super-soft from lots of washes. Nothing new will even come close to being as soft on your babe's skin. Paige Wolf, mom to two and author of upcoming book Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt concurs: "It's pretty easy to get bags of newborn clothing that haven barely been worn," she says. Friends, relatives, and online groups often offer clothing they are happy to purge. "Plus whether you register for fancy little layettes or not, your mom's friends and your friend's moms will undoubtedly buy your baby monogrammed onesies," she says.
Don't go overboard. I don't know what happens, but you see these three and five packs of newborn bibs and you just can't help but put a ton on your list. "We registered for something like 20 white newborn onesies," says Anne Fritz, a mom of two. "We could—and did—make it through easily with half that." Ditto for bibs, socks, and other multipack items.
Don't just register for infant gear. Believe me when I tell you, babies grow faster than you can imagine. You don't need so many clothes in newborn or 0-3 months sizes. Make sure you get in some pajamas and play clothes in bigger sizes (I'm talking about the sizes that have a "T" in them). And look for items that will grow with your child, such as a high chair that evolves into a booster seat or bottles that come with a convertible sippy attachment.
Don't register for items you "think" you might need. Because guess what? You probably won't need them. Among the skippable items often cited by veteran moms: Bottle warmers, wipe warmers, fancy nursing capes, and pacifier holders. More than likely you will never use these things. "The most useless thing ever is a wipe warmer," says Anita Belle, an event planner and mom of two boys. "It drys out the wipes and you will go through wipes quicker." Plus, a plastic wipes container comes in practically every box of wipes. Take it from me—you'll have more plastic wipes holders than you know what to do with in about six months. Don't waste your money on another one.
Don't register for expensive essentials. Hoping someone is going to buy you your crib and mattress? You might just end up disappointed. "Definately purchase the crib and mattress, car seat, and stroller so that you're not dependent on someone purchasing it for you," says pregnant mom-to-one and celebrity stylist Pilar Scratch. I totally agree: When I picked out my crib, I discovered it was back ordered and I wouldn't get it for more than six weeks. I was glad that I knew and was able to better prepare. Still, you should absolutely register for less pricey essentials: diapers, formula, and a Nosefrida, a snot-sucking device that you don't know you need until you absolutely need it. Which is usually around 3 AM.
Don't register for a breast pump. This does not mean that you shouldn't buy a breast pump. But you probably don't need to register for one because the Affordable Care Act offers free high-end breast pumps to all mothers. "You just need to call your insurance company and they will point you in the right direction," says Wolf.
Don't register for gender-exclusive colors. Somehow, I had the forethought to avoid getting a pink stroller, a pink car seat and pink high chair when I found out I was expecting my daughter. Instead, I opted for neutral tones—a tan high chair, red stroller, and black car seat. And when I found out that I was having a boy three years later, I sighed a breath of relief knowing he wouldn't be stuck in a magenta princess-themed exersaucer.
Don't forget about you. "People skimp out on registering for anything for themselves, but you can—and should—register for Netflix accounts, food delivery, and even housecleaning services," says Olivia Howell, editor in chief of Gugu Guru, a universal baby registry site. "Having a newborn is so hard, you're allowed to ask people to make it easy for you!" I. So. Wish. I. Did. This.
Don't get sucked into the "latest and greatest." While it might seem awesome to get a swing that moves in 17 different directions and plays a steady stream of nursery ballads, it's important not to get overwhelmed by the shiniest newfangled gadgets offered in the shade du jour. "Don't neglect the products that may be more essential (we're talking bottles, burp clothes, and diapers—lots of diapers) and ultimately more valuable," says Ericka Perry, owner and CEO of The Stork Bag. Keep in mind that moms have been raising babies for millennial without the aid of infrared night vision baby monitors and the like. In fact the latest and greatest thing that your baby will adore more than anything else isn't even on your registry—it's you.