13 Baby Items You Don't Really Need to Buy

Woman shopping for stroller

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Finding out that you’re pregnant can be an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. This might especially be true for first-time parents, who are busy shopping for all the things their little one will need. And as fun as putting a registry together can be, it can also be stressful.

There are countless baby products on the market, and obviously, you don’t need them all. In fact, some registry “must-haves” can turn out to be impractical, time-consuming, unnecessary, and even unsafe.

We turned to experts and parents to find out what you don't really need. Ahead, check out our list of baby items that are totally okay to skip when building your registry.

Impractical Baby Items

There are some typical baby registry items that many parents never end up using at all, or might use for such a short amount of time, it's not worth it. See a few products below that you and your baby might be able to live without.

Diaper Genie

While those sleek diaper bins can look nice in a nursery, a regular trash can that you empty often will do just fine. And it turns out that they pretty much function in the same way. “Fancy trash cans with motors in them look very cool, but often are harder to clean, and don’t perform that much better than any trash can with a lid,” says Ancil Abney, MD a pediatrician at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. “Better to save the money to spend on actual diapers.”

Wipe Warmers

I never wanted to use warm wipes on my baby because I was nervous that if I ever left the house and had to change her with a room temp wipe—or worse, a cold one—she would freak out.

Luckily, experts agree that this gadget is not necessary. “It is unlikely to make a difference to your baby,” says Dr. Abney, noting that there is a safety concern as well. “Just remember that babies have very sensitive skin and if it’s hot to touch for you, it’s way too hot for a baby's skin. You will never have to worry about un-warmed wipes being too hot for your child’s skin.”

Sarah Huff, senior manager of customer and community and baby gear product expert at BabyQuip agrees. “Wipe warmers—no one has time for that!”

Pajamas With Snaps

In the interest of time, Huff offers another quick tip. “Don’t buy any pajamas without zippers—snaps take way too long,” she says, especially in the middle of the night. It's true—buttons or snaps are a parents' worst enemy, particularly when you're trying to quickly change a baby at 2 or 3 in the morning on very little sleep. Zippers make everything faster and easier.

Newborn-Only Items

Additionally, try not to load up on products that are specifically designed for newborns and can only be used for a short period of time. Once they grow out of a certain chair, car seat, or swing (and babies grow fast in the beginning), it will just be taking up space in your home. “There are a bunch of convertible car seats available that start at newborn size and last a lot longer,” says new mom Carol Flaster of Westport, Conn. “Had I known how little we would use the [infant] car seat outside of the car, I would’ve probably gone with one of the convertibles.”

Unsafe Baby Items

Some products, however trendy, might be simply unsafe for babies. This category includes fluffy bedding, which could be fatal to an infant, or heavily scented products, which can cause an allergic reaction or rash on your baby's sensitive skin. Although "unsafe" is a broad category, see below for some of our top items you can skip when shopping for baby.

Scented Laundry Detergent

Those specialty detergents that are made “just for baby” might smell nostalgic for you, but heavily perfumed items can irritate a baby’s sensitive skin. They also tend to be more expensive.

“Any brand that is free of dyes and fragrance is best,” says Leah Nolan, social media & influencer manager at BabyQuip. Look for “free and clear” options as well as hypoallergenic, fragrance-free formulas for sensitive skin. Major brands like Tide, All, Arm & Hammer, and even Kirkland at Costco produce these formulas.

Fluffy Bedding and Accessories

Another unsafe item on Nolan’s list is crib bumpers. They are not recommended for safe sleep.

Dr. Abney adds that thick, fluffy items in general are not advised for newborns. “Blankets, stuffed animals, and baby robes are unnecessary—they can also be downright dangerous,” he says. For infants, safe sleep is described as on their back, with nothing in the crib except a fitted sheet.

Fluffy items can also carry germs and allergens, and they can pose a suffocation risk for small babies under 4 months old. “Babies need to be able to turn over easily before any big fluffy items are used, or they may not be able to breathe if these things get in their face,” explains Dr. Abney.

He says to instead use thin swaddle blankets or sleep sacks, along with a firm infant mattress. “Remember to always put babies to bed on their back, by themselves, in a crib or a bassinet for the safest sleep,” adds Dr. Abney.

Apnea Monitors

Many parents have concerns when their baby goes to sleep, and have turned to apnea monitors to measure heart rate and breathing while their baby rests. According to Dr. Abney, this is unnecessary for most babies unless a pediatrician or neonatologist has prescribed the monitor.

“These monitors are rarely needed for healthy babies,” adds Dr. Abney. “They tend to have lots of false alarms, and every false alarm creates anxiety for a new parent who likely has enough on their plate with a newborn at home. If your pediatrician doesn’t recommend one, it’s probably better to leave it off the registry."

Baby Items No One Has Time For

In addition to unsafe or rarely-used products, there are others that are meant to make life easier, yet sometimes take even longer to figure out.

Wrap Carriers

Baby carriers can help keep a parent "hands-free," but many of them are incredibly tricky to set up, especially if you're by yourself. Although a wrap carrier appears to have limitless ways of holding your baby, sometimes it's easier (and more time efficient) to literally just hold them. “Name-brand baby wraps and harnesses are harmless, but they can have a steep learning curve and aren’t always very easy to use,” says Dr. Abney. “I would recommend borrowing one from a friend before purchasing your own to see if they work for you.”

Formula Dispenser

A formula dispenser may seem great in theory, but take into consideration the time spent making sure the machine is clean. There have also been concerns that the amount dispensed is not always accurate, which can lead to safety issues. Making a bottle of formula by hand is sometimes more efficient, plus it will give you peace of mind that you’re using the correct desired amount.

Frilly, Hard-to-Clean Outfits

Unless you have a specific formal event planned, those delicate, expensive, and dry-clean-only outfits will most likely stay hanging in your closet. “You’re likely going to want to keep your baby in something soft and simple,” says Lisa Holmes, recruiting & onboarding manager at BabyQuip.

Personally speaking, I was too nervous to dress my baby in anything too “nice” or expensive knowing she would almost definitely either spit up or have a blowout, and in the meantime, she outgrew many very cute outfits I had hopes of dressing her in.

Baby Products You Actually Need

It’s the obvious basics you will use the most: a stroller, a car seat, a crib, diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, bottles, and clothing.

Another piece of advice is to not beat yourself up about things you don’t already own for someone you have never met! “Shopping for a baby on the way can be tricky because, despite all of the advice and recommendations available, the reality is you are buying for a baby you have not met and you don’t know what you don’t know!” says Emily Hosie, CEO and founder of Rebelstork. 

“There is no registry for a perfect transition into parenthood,” says Hosie. “But, as a mom of two—I suggest building the 'must-have' items list, delivering that beautiful baby, and then seeing what 'nice to have products' are needed, once you have spent time getting to know each other.”

A Word From Verywell

Building a registry and buying things for your baby can be overwhelming, but it doesn't need to be stressful. Many stores have great return policies on baby items, or you can resell things you don’t need on sites like Poshmark, Rebelstork, or Facebook Marketplace. Keep in mind that every baby is different and just because something was a “must-have” for your best friend doesn’t mean it will work for your baby.

As always, watch the news for recalls, as there have been some high-profile ones in the last few years with rockers and swings, especially. If you have any doubts or concerns about the safety of baby products, be sure to reach out to your OB/GYN, your baby's pediatrician, or healthcare provider.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Moon RY, Carlin RF, Hand I, THE TASK FORCE ON SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME AND THE COMMITTEE ON FETUS AND NEWBORN. Sleep-related infant deaths: updated 2022 recommendations for reducing infant deaths in the sleep environment. Pediatrics. 2022;150(1):e2022057990. doi:10.1542/peds.2022-057990

  2. Bonafide CP, Jamison DT, Foglia EE. The emerging market of smartphone-integrated infant physiologic monitorsJAMA. 2017;317(4):353–354. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19137

By Dory Zayas
Dory Zayas is a freelance beauty, fashion, and parenting writer. She spent over a decade writing for celebrity publications and since having her daughter in 2019, has been published on sites including INSIDER and Well+Good.