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What NOT to Buy for Baby

10 items you can take off your registry

By Erin Behan |

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    What NOT to Buy for Baby When you are preparing for a baby — especially a first baby — the urge to buy everything everyone says you’ll need is almost too much to resist. But for your sake — resist. Many baby products have an extremely limited lifespan or are completely unnecessary. For the low-down on what you don’t need when shopping for a baby, check out our list of 10 baby products that you should never put on your baby registry, buy for yourself, or give as a present.

  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    A bassinet

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: A bassinette Yes, you will probably want something smaller than a crib near your bed for the first three months or so of your baby’s life for easy night feeding, but skip the expensive, bulky bassinet — especially if you’re short on space or cash. A Moses basket on a rocking stand has a much smaller footprint, and the basket easily travels from room to room. Keep in mind that neither a bassinet nor Moses basket should be used past its weight limit or once the baby can push up or roll over — three months is a general guideline.

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    Expensive crib bedding packages

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: Expensive crib bedding packages The crib is the piece de resistance in the modern nursery, and the bedding sets the tone for the room, but those $300 packages often include unnecessary bumpers, blankets, and pillows — none of which are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics due to SIDS concerns. Find a couple of cute, decor-pleasing fitted sheets, and you’re good to go, with plenty of cash to spare.

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    Shoes for newborns

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: Shoes for newborns This one is hard to resist. There’s possibly nothing cuter in newborn fashion than the world’s tiniest baby shoes. There’s also nothing more pointless. Newborns are barely even aware they have feet, let alone concerned with what they’ll eventually use them for. To keep toes toasty, opt for warm baby booties or socks, depending on the season. Even the most ambitious baby won’t start to walk until 9 months old.

    Top 10 shoes for new walkers

  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    A sleep positioner

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: A sleep positioner Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have warned that infant sleep positioners are dangerous and should not be used. Babies should fall asleep on their backs until they are old enough to roll themselves over. If you want to keep your baby in place, try a swaddling blanket or a “cheater” swaddling blanket, such as the Miracle Blanket. They keep babies feeling secure — and limbs from flailing — safely.

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    A changing table

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: A changing table The best way to optimize space — and purchases — is to make items do double-duty. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the changing table/dresser combination. Buy a dresser that tops out at about waist height, put a changing pad on top, and voila, you have also just created the perfect changing table — two necessary baby units in one. Adhere the pad with stick-on Velcro if you’re really worried about it slipping, and you can stash diapers and supplies in the top drawers, while using the rest for all those adorable baby clothes.

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    Baby bucket or tummy tub

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: Baby bucket or tummy tub When babies are very small, they don’t need baths — a simple warm washrag will do just fine. And by the time you really do need to dunk them, most won’t enjoy being stuffed into an expensive bucket. One caveat: If reviewers are to be believed, babies with colic do like the tub — but then, do you really want to bet that you’re going to be birthing a colic-y baby? Get a simple, inexpensive bath seat (one that works in the sink does double-duty), and pass it to a friend when your baby graduates to the tub.

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    Bottle warmers

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: Bottle warmers Going without this item saves you time, money, and effort. Room temperature milk (breast or formula) is the way to go from the beginning. If your darling son or daughter insists on warm liquids, put your cold bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and then do a quick liquid-on-the-wrist test to check temperature. Take the money you saved and put it toward BPA-free bottles and, for picky eaters, a variety of different nipple flow types.

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    Wipe warmer

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: Wipe warmer Another thing that doesn’t need to be warmed? Baby wipes. After all, they shouldn’t be that cold if you live in a heated home, and do you really want get your child used to warm wipes when you won’t always be in changing distance of your warmer? Not to mention the electricity waste. Just buy lots of wipes, and if you end up with a screamer at diaper time, re-evaluate your options from there.

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  • What NOT to Buy for Baby


    What NOT to Buy for Baby: Cashmere Babies don’t appreciate fine fabrics, and whatever you buy for them will be spit-up on, peed on, and, occasionally, pooped on in a most unpleasant way. Throw cashmere out the window (do you really want to be hand-washing a $200 cashmere baby sweater praying that the stains come out?) and embrace cotton. Many companies now have soft organic cottons that rival cashmere in softness while faring much better in the washing machine. Use the money you saved on a new outfit for yourself.

    Cashmere baby blankets — worth the luxury?

  • What NOT to Buy for Baby

    Anything new that you can get used

    What NOT to Buy for Baby: Anything new that you can get used New parents often assume they’re doing their children a disservice by picking up used baby goods. Parents who’ve been around the block, however, know to scour garage sales, Craigslist, eBay, and the like to score perfectly good gear at a small fraction of the original cost. If you’re a design-hound, think of it this way: buying used is a great way to score designer goods at prices well below retail of even the ugliest plastic baby gear. And you’re doing the environment a favor, as well. Just make sure to check expiration dates on car seats and recall notices on items such as cribs and baby jumpers.

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About Erin Behan


Erin Behan

Erin Behan is a freelance writer and editor living in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son. She founded soon after moving to New York as a way of connecting to her new neighborhood and has been loving the urban life ever since.

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52 thoughts on “What NOT to Buy for Baby

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t care how pointless newborn shoes are I’m still going to buy them. I’m a shoe-addict. I can’t resist.

  2. Kari says:

    I know, right? And the cute shoes keep those darn socks on!!

  3. Kari says:

    And I have to disagree with the wipe warmer too. I live in MN and both my babies were born in the dead of winter. Before the wipe warmer, I would throw the wipes in the microwave for 3 or 4 secs. When the wipes are cold, it hurts them! Yes, my house was a warm 68, but the wipes are wet and cold to the touch.

  4. Katie says:

    A $5 sponge “bath positioner” from target is worth every penny…but that’s all you need for an infant bath.

    If you’re cloth diapering, though, I have to disagree on the wipes warmer…it gives you the convenience of disposable wipes, but you can use your own cloth ones.

  5. HeyJude404 says:

    When my granddaughter was tiny, the first thing she did when a cold wipe was used on her was to promptly urinate again, frequently on the fresh diaper. I tried warming wipes just a little in the microwave and Voila!; the problem stopped immediately. I plugged in a diaper warmer that had been received as a shower gift and we only needed one diaper per change after that. No matter how warm the house, wipes are cold when removed from their container, not a pleasant feel on a little bum.

  6. Meagan H says:

    One advantage actually baby shoes have is they come off less easily its amazing how much time your waste looking for those little booties and slippers.

  7. the original Sarah says:

    I’d say that if you know lots of people or have a lot of family members, or if your friends you do have are crafty to take any kind of blanket off you list. Between the homemade ones, the non-registry ones and the registry ones, I think we got about 20. Way more than anyone needs!

  8. Mom22 says:

    I never warmed anything (my kids drank every possible temperature of milk from about day 4), and we did, and still do, frequent garage sales, but the one thing I found we had way too much of was clothes. My kids practically lived in “pajama” type clothes for the first year, and many of the cute outfits were barely worn once. I now buy my friends baby sleep sacks, and no cute dress-up clothes.

  9. Erin says:

    Never buy a used car seat. You don’t know the history of the seat and therefore cannot possibly know if there are any weaknesses in it. Just because it isn’t expired doesn’t mean it hasn’t been compromised. There are a variety of highly rated low cost car seats that can carry your child into toddler hood. If there is one thing that I WOULD NOT skimp on, it’s a car seat.

  10. cbickell says:

    I disagree with the bottle warmer, I bought one and it was the best thing for us. After I couldn’t breast feed I had to pump. I put the milk in the fridge and then put in the warmer at 3am when she would wake up. Buying used baby goods is good as long as the items are in good condition except for car seats because you don’t know if they have been in an accident.

  11. Snakecharmer says:

    I basically kept my daughter in sleepers for the first three months. Outfits, while cute, required far more effort in taking on and off for frequent diaper changes and she slept so much anyways. Plus no need to worry about foot attire…they come attached to the sleeper! I never used a wipe warmer (I live in Canada and dd was born in late October) and I bathed her in the kitchen sink (cleaned of course) with a small towel lining the bottom to help prevent slipping. I just tried to keep things super simple and save the money for when she’s older.

  12. ladeda says:

    I am a little shocked they reccomend use car seats. This is a huge NO. Anyone can tell you it’s never been in an accident or that it’s “like new” and be lying. NEVER EVER buy used car seats. Those little ones are too precious to take a gamble that it “might still be OK”. Other things you never buy second hand: any product that goes in the mouth or on the bottom (such as cloth diapers, swim wear) or socks and shoes (which will have conformed to the previous owners foot and arch and can be bad on your child’s feet and cause them issues walking later). I’m amazed even that some second had sales will put potty chairs in the offering. People, think. This is a health issue. Stores won’t even take them back by law if they’ve been opened or out of the packaging and they sight sanitary issues in doing so. Mattresses are also another one to pass on because the history or where they came from is too much of a risk. You really want to risk body lice? bed bugs? other issues buying that kind of thing second hand… ew. No thanks. Clothes are one thing (pants, shirts, sweaters, dresses, sleepers) but there are some things that are better left to be bought new for your child for sanitary and safety reasons.

  13. BentleyElmer says:

    my roomate’s aunt makes $78/hour on the internet. She has been out of work for 8 months but last month her check was $8414 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read this site

  14. Snakecharmer says:

    ladeda: while I agree with some of your concern, second hand baby shoes aren’t such an issue. They aren’t walking yet! No need to worry about conforming to the previous owner’s foot…because they weren’t walking either. Once they’re walking, then yes, of course it becomes a concern unless you know the person who is passing it on to you and trust their word that they were never worn. Cloth diapers are the same. As long as they’ve been properly washed (and it doesn’t hurt to wash them yourself once you’ve received them) then they are good to go..otherwise parents wouldn’t reuse them through multiple children. Potty chairs should be fine, again making sure that they’ve been properly cleaned with a disinfectant.

  15. Hollie says:

    For people who are skeeved at the idea of used baby stuff, this is what got me to change my mind: am I going to buy all new gear for my second child? No. So who cares if the exersaucer was once used by a stranger-baby before my kid sat in it? If you can clean it, second-hand is the way to go! (Obvs not on the potentially dangerous stuff, like car seats and cribs)

  16. Gwyn says:

    I’m totally on board with “babies don’t require much.” I co-slept with my two children and don’t have a swing/exersaucer/crib/bouncy chair, etc. But with baby #2 i did get a good Moses basket. It’s a luxury as it was only used for the first few months, it was a super good snuggly spot for naps, easy to transport from place to place in the house, and great to take on weekend excursions. Now, while waiting for baby #3, it corrals the two toddler’s stuffed animals.

  17. sweetpea88 says:

    Both of my kids slept in a bassinet and I loved it. And though I bought a new crib for my second born, he is using all his older brother’s stuff with few exceptions. Though I buy all my family’s clothes second hand except shoes and underthings. Why drop $40-$100 on a coat that wonn’t fit next year?

  18. Lori C says:

    How on earth are used potty seats a health issue? They’re made out of hard plastic – you Clorox it and move on, they’re cleaner/safer then the public changing tables you’d have been using.

  19. ComptonKathrine says:

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  20. KristinaS says:

    I disagree with the bottle warmer. I have been pumping and freezing so the bottle warmer has been a life saver.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I’m using a Arm’s Reach Cosleeper bassinet and I absolutely love it. The same with a bottle warmer. I’ve had to pump in addition to nursing because of overactive letdown issues, so some bottles are refrigerated/frozen. The bottle warmer is awesome.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Loved my bassinet. No, its not necessary but it was nice to have in our room.

  23. Anonymous says:

    wow! i loved my wipe warmer, my bottle warmer and yes, my son loved i mean loved the sleep positioner (he’s almost 2 now so they were ok then) and we loved our bassinet. i buy lots of stuff from friends too. now what i think is stupid are the new slip on diapers… whose baby runs around in just a diaper all the time? other wise you have to pretty much undress them to change them.

  24. Katt says:

    Im going to have to disagree with alot of items on this list. I absolutely LOVED my bassinett, wipe warmer, bottle warmer and i couldnt possibly imagine taking some other childs clothing when i could go buy brand new in season and fashion stuff. Im not all about materialistic things but if you cant afford to buy some things for a child, I dont think you should be having them! Im not saying go and buy absolutely everything brand new, but i wouldnt be shopping at value village for my childrens clothes. Shop smart on these items and you wont break the bank!!

  25. Anon says:

    Wow… I thought a lot of these were totally wrong!! The changing table?! That was probably the one thing that came with our nursery set that we have used more than any other. We have used it more than the crib!! They were totally off on a lot of these things… Almost to the point of being irritating!

  26. Anonymous says:

    This was way off!!!!!

  27. Dteslevich says:

    A lot of things can be reused with second babies, or reused from friends and garage sales. Not only does it save money, but think about the environment! Kids grow so fast in the first year it’s such a waste to buy all new clothes. Sure a few cute things for holidays or pictures are nice, but save $ while you can! Even cloth diapers can be washed, even in bleach if you prefer…and potty seats or any other baby item made from hard plastic can be cleaned and sanitized. Why waste money and add more to landfills by buying EVERYTHING new!? I do agree that car seats shouldn’t be bought used, but we did use one from a friend in the beginning since we knew it’s history :)

  28. Anonymous says:

    Hit it on the nose on everything…my son was to big for a
    bassinette. I used a cradle. It worked wonderfully

  29. Anonymous says:

    I am 75. My sons wore only cloth birdseye diapers. I had heavy washable pads that I put on a small desk to change my boys on. I kept toilet tissue, papertowels and wash cloths in the drawer. I had a basenett that each boy used until he was eight months old. It sat next to my side of the bed. I had a metel chair that hung on the back of a dining room chair. When I bathed the boys together I straped the younger boy in the little steel chair so he could not fall over while I cared for the older one. I bought disposable diapers to use on trains and plains but they seemrd to cause a rash. Warm water and mild soap. One basinette, one crib and one high chair were the other baby things we used. They were before car seats. They were taught to sit in the back seat and sit still. No standing and no fighting. They are now loving grandfathers.

  30. ComptonJolene says:

    my neighbor’s step-aunt makes $81 an hour on the internet. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $7805 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read about it on this web site

  31. TNMom says:

    I never used my changing table. I never bought a bassinet. The baby items I used the most were receiving blankets, a breast pump, and an Eddie Bauer travel bed. They really made it easy to visit friends and family when I needed a break from being at home alone while on maternity leave. All in all, I thought the list was pretty good. I guess it just depends on the individual.

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  35. Shellbell says:

    I disagree with the statement that “Even the most ambitious baby wont start to walk until 9 months old”. May babies in my family, including myself, walked as early as 7 months. Just saying…

  36. licialee says:

    I disagree with several of these, and don’t get why you make these lists like they are absolute. I LOVED my bassinet for my daughters first few months. It had wheels and I could roll her from room to room when she slept and keep her right by my bed. I have it in our guest room to use with future babies. My changing table? I use it EVERY SINGLE DIAPER CHANGE if we are home. The bottom shelf holds some of her toys, the second shelf holds baskets of wipes and diapers and other diapering necessities. And I am also horrified you would propose someone buy a CARSEAT on craigslist. You should never use a used carseat unless you know with CERTAINTY it has never been in any kind of accident or had any other damage.

  37. Anonymous says:

    This is totally making me want to go baby shopping!! Not for me, since my husband and are probably too frugal for most of these suggestions, but I can buy baby shoes for my friends babies right?? :)

  38. I can read says:

    gawd, some people….. of course if you HAVE a changing table you’re going to use it, A LOT, but all the list said was that it isn’t necessary if you have a waist-high dresser and a changing pad. It’s about space…. duh. If you’re short on space, you don’t have room for a changing table and a dresser. So put a changing pad ON THE DRESSER! wow. amazing. That’s what the list said.

  39. Anonymous says:

    This was rather comforting to read as my husband and I am expecting my first child and I have felt for years that so many baby things are just unnecessary. I wish I could send this to my mother-in-law but she is computer illiterate. The only furniture we are buying for the child is a crib that converts to a toddler bed and a dresser with a detachable changing table. I don’t want to buy anything that won’t grow with the child, at least for a couple years. And my sister-in-law is giving us her daughter’s car seat that she has since outgrown. If you’re ok with buying used, there are stores just for things for tots like Once Upon a Child. We visited one this week to look around and it was pretty nice!

  40. MamaBear says:

    I agree with almost everything you’ve got here, with two caveats:

    - We have strollers with bassinets, and used those bassinets in our room for the first few months. Two birds, one stone :-)

    - I bought a Tummy Tub for my second and loved it. He stayed warm and cosy in there during his baths, far better than his big brother did in the regular newborn tub we had for him. Could help that I bought it in Europe, where it was a quarter of the price :-)

  41. kesuberb says:

    my dtr and I LOVE her tummy tub!!!!!! it is the one baby product I recomend to everyone. I absolutely dreaded giving her baths before the tummy tub because she would scream. The tummy tub makes bath time a joy.

  42. Anonymous says:

    Wipe warmers are an absolute essential if you are using cloth wipes. They provide a nice, clean place to store the wipes, and those can get really, really cold!

  43. Anonymous says:

    No wipes are totally cold no matter how warm your house is. This is a must have, my son started telling me at a year and half “cold…cold” boy did I feel bad, now I know all that time it was too cold!

  44. tigerlily says:

    disagree i would try and get it cheap or used but these are great for the delicate newborn and yes in a heated home they might be warm but babies are born in summer too. You cna always hold it in your hand if you really cant afford one ..

  45. tigerlily says:

    Diasagree.. wait a few minutes to warm a bottle ?? Did the person who wrote this ever have a baby..??? You try and wait a few mintues for a bottle to warm in a bowl of water while your newborn is screaming hystericaly to eat at 3 am.

  46. mom 2 6 boys says:

    I never had a bottle warmer – never needed one. I’ve always had a small crockpot (the 1.5 quart size) that worked perfectly. I’d fill it 1/2 way with water & turn it on low to heat the water. Then turned it to “keep warm” all day/night. It didn’t take long at all for bottles to warm to the perfect temperature.

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  48. Gina says:

    NEVER buy a used car seat! That is awful advice! ALWAYS buy a new car seat. You never know if a car seat has been in an accident, and as soon as one is it should be thrown away. Miniscule cracks in the plastic could mean serious injuries if you get in another car accident with that damaged seat.

  49. anonymous says:

    Completely off base on most of these. Loved my wipes warmer, and babies do need baths. My son loves bathing in his tub, but cryed when we did it in the sink before he could sit. I don’t think the author has had a child, b/c they would have seen that most changing tables are dressers now, there is no difference. Car seats have expiration dates, but the crash thing you have no idea on and if you look into car seats at all you will learn that the grade of plastic, ie how long it will last is what effects the price. In the future consider reseaching what you are writing about before making uneducated assumputions.

  50. sawyerhillbirth says:

    I also strongly disagree with the advice to find used car seats of unknown provenance, but pretty much agree with the rest (though we did find a changing table handy with our secondborn — neither child had his own dresser until moving out of our room in preschool.

    My firstborn, though, walked at *eight* months.

  51. MM says:

    We thought a wipe warmer was silly too…till our screaming bundle of joy was born. That poor kid had discomfort/tummy issues from the get go. He had the worst bleeding diaper rash ever. I would leave him undiapered on a towel just to air his little bum. We finally bought a wipe warmer and it made cleaning his rashy little bum so much better. He went from screaming for dear life during diaper changes to just fussing. Worth. Every. Cent. He has food/digestion problems to this day…
    A cradle next to the bed is SO much better than a bassinet or moses basket or co-sleeping, as it accommodates a baby for longer and, as an added bonus, you won’t smother them while sleeping in bed together.
    No used carseats ever unless you personally know the previous owner and the seat’s history.

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