So many baby items are pushed and stressed as totally necessary. I’ve compiled a list of 15 baby “essentials” that were actually a total waste for me to save you some serious time and money.
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15 Baby Essentials: How Do I Plan Baby Essentials?
When it comes to planning for the arrival of your new baby, deciding which baby items you should add to your baby registry or buy for baby can quickly become overwhelming.
Where do you start? What do you really need?
First of all, you need a registry. Take my advice and go with an Amazon Registry. It’s way less hassle and easier for everyone, especially distant family and friends.
Read about how I learned this the hard way in The Ugly Truth About Baby Registries.
Or just take my word for it and do the smart thing by setting up your Amazon Registry real quick. It’s okay. I’ll wait here. This post will be right where you left it.
Before we get started, you might want to pin this for later!
Welcome Back! Glad you did the smart thing! (You were wiser than me 🙂 )
Baby essentials are basically items you feel you can’t live without. Here’s the deal: baby essentials are pretty relative.
That means what I think is an essential (or not) may be the exact opposite to you.
So why have baby essentials lists at all?
Reading through baby essentials lists helps you decide if you agree or disagree, and that helps you build your own list of essentials. So it actually works!
Back to 15 Baby Essentials That Are Actually Not Baby Essentials
This is my experience with these particular 15 baby essentials. You can obviously decide for yourself if they’re essential to you, but at least you’ll have some super helpful information and another perspective.
The idea that I would decide I didn’t need a particular item and exclude it from my baby registry or return it if I received it only to regret it later was a serious issue for my type-A personality.
I hunted for baby “must-have” lists, ranging from urban glamour to the mid-western minimalist.
What were other moms out there were doing?
I wanted to know what they originally thought they needed and what they ended up actually using in the long run.
15 Baby Essentials Depends On YOU, Mama!
My discovery was that the list of needed items varied greatly depending on lifestyle, values, and personality.
There is no real answer.
But it ended up being a good thing after all because it taught me something about planning baby items. It made me stop and analyze my parenting style and how I planned on using baby items.
This list is based on the following style:
- Not a super minimalist-mama, but don’t like having “stuff” everywhere, either. Multi-purpose speaks loudly
- Items that can be stored away easily are a really big deal
- Organic is preferred but not required
- Cute matters… functionality matters even more
- If it’s not needed, don’t keep it for “just-in-case”.
- Willing to pay extra if it ticks every box, otherwise looking for the deal
In a nut-shell, this list will appeal to the functional, no-nonsense mama who prefers clean, cute and organized. The rest of this article is based off this premise, so this list will be most helpful if you’re mama style is similar.
Coming up next is the list of baby items that I thought I needed and ended up exasperated and rolling my eyes, wishing I hadn’t wasted my energy… 15 baby essentials that were not really essential.
15 Baby Essentials That Were Not Baby Essentials
#1: Receiving Blankets
What a serious waste of time. Receiving blankets are those flannel things they sell everywhere. They’re not badly priced so your first inclination is to grab a bunch.
I put a few packs on my registry and ended up with several packs of receiving blankets.
To date (my son is 8 months old), I’ve used a total of… ZERO receiving blankets.
What’s worse is that I pulled them all out of the packaging and washed them all in my type-A prep, so now I can’t return them.
Why Receiving Blankets Are Not Baby Essentials
First, they are too small to wrap a baby up well. Second, they’re stuffy and don’t breathe well.
If you live in a really cold area, I can see justifying maybe one or two, but honestly, there are a lot of better, multi-functional options out there.
Receiving blankets can get pretty linty and some brands are worse than others. I personally didn’t like using them because I was nervous about lint getting in my newborn’s eyes or mouth.
I now have a drawer-full of neatly folded receiving blankets that will sit there until I can think of something creative to do with them.
I found muslin blankets to be a much better option. They’re quite a bit larger so you can wrap baby up nicely. They’re airy and breathable, and virtually fuzz-less.
They also make great nursing covers and drape nicely over a baby carrier or stroller for shade. And, let’s just be honest, they’re way cuter.
Word of advice: Don’t even bother with receiving blankets.
2020 Update: My son is now 19 months old and I still have not used a single receiving blanket up to this point.
2021 Update: My second son is now a year old, and I still never used receiving blankets as intended. I sold most of them and used a few as burb cloths once baby was older. I still don’t recommend them.
#2: Patterned Socks Are Not Baby Essentials
They’re just so cute! They are so tiny and you can so easily imagine baby’s itty-bitty feet in them! All those shapes, patterns and color combos are just too tempting to pass up!
The truth is that your baby’s feet are going to grow way faster than you think–that’s what I discovered, anyway. I ended up with so many patterned socks it was unreal.
I carefully cut all those plastic connectors off and put them dutifully in the garbage to avoid any choking hazards. It took forever.
And all that effort was wasted because not only did I not have enough time for baby to wear them all before his feet outgrew them, the color combos were unrealistic and hardly matched my baby’s outfits.
You may be different, but I like my baby’s socks to match his outfits. Most of my baby’s shirts had a pattern going on, then I’d pair it with some pants, and then I’d rummage through all those pairs of socks to find a matching set.
I’d end up opting for solids or simple colors every time. All those other pairs of socks wound up falling out onto the floor during my search, so then I had to stoop down and pick up uselessly patterned socks and shove them back into the container.
In the long run, making the effort to sort the socks and put them away wasn’t worth my time.
I found that solids worked so much better–they match multiple outfits and are way easier to maintain.
Another word of advice: Choose taller socks instead of the short ankle sock. The taller ones don’t fall off as easily. The shorter socks tend to slip off all the time.
#3: Boon Grass Twig
This one makes me sad. I love the Boon Grass counter top drying rack. It’s really useful and I love having a designated spot to put Kai’s dishes and toys once they’re washed. Getting the Boon Grass rack was a no-brainer and the twig was easily lumped in. It’s just so cute!
And so useless.
I wanted to like it–I really did, but after months of trying to justify it, I couldn’t do it. The idea of having the twig is to hang pacifiers, bottle nipples and other, smaller items from the branches.
Sounds great and inventive, right?
The reality is that there isn’t anything the twig offers that you can’t get out of the Boon Grass rack itself. Boon Grass has little “grass blades” that keep the baby items suspended, allowing them to air dry.
The twig is the exact same concept, only more limited on what it can hold.
It’s really just a super cute up-sell.
If you can’t resist, it’s not a terrible thing to have around. Just bear in mind you could probably save the expense and use the money for more baby hangers (you’ll probably need more of those).
#4: Newborn Mittens
These things are adorable, and the proposed purpose is super useful. I fell in love with the idea, I’ve seen them on babies everywhere, so I just had to have a pair–or ten.
I used the baby mittens on Kai for about 2 weeks. After that, he outgrew them. They went from an adorable and protective item to a source of complete frustration.
I was forever searching for the “lost mitten”.
I ended up using only 2 pairs out of the many I’d purchased and received as gifts.
Yes, they help keep baby from scratching his face. Babies have a natural flailing reflex and they tend to rub their arms and hands on their faces and heads.
While that is the reason we put mittens on babies, it’s also the reason the mittens are constantly coming off.
As baby gets bigger and stronger, the mittens come off after just one or two passes over the face.
They do serve a purpose, but I promise you don’t need as many as you think you do. You need 1 pair of baby mittens.
Okay, maybe 2, so that WHEN you lose one, you have a backup pair, because you will lose one.
HACK: If baby is particularly prone to flailing and scratching his face, use a pair of socks over his hands. The socks go up baby’s arms and stay in place better. Use a larger pair of socks that aren’t tight on baby’s arms. It’s not as attractive as those darling mittens, but at least baby will be able to keep them on.
2021 Update: After having two babies, I’ve found the best thing to use are the zip-up jammies with built-in mittens. They are cute and the mittens work amazing! No need to use the sock hack unless you’re in a pinch!
#5: Heavy-Weight Sleep Sacks
The concept of sleep sacks is to provide extra warmth to your baby without the hazard of them smothering.
Essentially, a sleep sack is a wearable blanket, zipping up and enclosing baby snugly inside.
Most have arm holes for baby’s arms to be free and open. The concept behind this is to lower the risk of smothering or SIDS–Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Something to consider is that a baby overheating can also raise the risk of SIDS, which makes me scratch my head when I think about the thick, heavy sleep sacks on the market.
As far as my son goes, Kai tends to grow rather warm while he sleeps–especially his feet. I’ve checked on him to find his feet sweating from being enclosed in footed pajamas–even lightweight ones.
For that reason, I never once used the heavy-weight sleep sacks–and here’s why.
You Have to Double Up
Most of them have no sleeves, which means baby’s arms will grow quite cold in the night without a long-sleeved onesie or pajamas under the sleep sack. Combining that with a heavy-weight sleep sack is going to make things hot and uncomfortable for baby.
I used the light-weight, muslin or 100% cotton sleep sacks over a cotton, long-sleeved onesie in the beginning. Now, Kai doesn’t really prefer sleep sacks at all.
If you’re planning on using sleep sacks, start with the lightweight options first.
Another bit of advice: start with only one and see how you like it. You may decide to forego sleep sacks completely.
These next 15 baby essentials that aren’t really baby essentials are items I’ve added to this list since having by second son. I hope it helps you mamas out!
6: Wipe Warmer
A wipe warmers is exactly that–it warms the wipes before diaper changes so you’re not putting a cold wipe on baby’s bottom.
I had two babies and never once used a wipe warmer–I never even purchased one!
Yes, the idea of a wipe warmer is nice, but here’s the honest truth: it’s just another gadget sitting around. When it comes to diaper changes, you just get it done in 30 seconds. You most likely won’t want to fiddle with a wipe warmer.
7: Fancy Diaper Pail
You technically don’t need a diaper pail at all. But the reason diaper pails made my baby essentials list is because they contain the smell.
Just trust me on that one.
We went through a few diaper pails between our two babies, and the one we ended up with was the most basic Diaper Genie.
We discovered all the fancy, foot-operated pails broke after a month or so. The basic, hand-operated Diaper Genie has lasted by far the longest.
When it comes to your diaper pail, just keep it simple. The fancy ones end up being more hassle, and they’re more expensive.
8: Newborn Shoes
You. Don’t. Need. Newborn. Shoes.
- They’re super cute but a complete waste. For the first several weeks, baby will be wearing jammies and socks.
- Your baby’s feet will grow super fast… so have fun trying to have shoes on hand to keep up (spoken from experience 🙂 )
- You have to store so much already. Why have extra stuff on hand that you won’t use? (Trust me, you won’t use them)
9: A Lot of Newborn Toys
Newborns do three things for the first three months.
No toys necessary for that!
But seriously, though, having a couple of little things for baby to play with as their world expands is super sweet. But that’s all you need–a couple.
10: Hooded Baby Towels
They’re super cute! But you don’t need them. Regular towels work perfectly fine.
Here’s my honest experience: we used baby towels when our boys were tiny (as in, 3 months and younger). Once they grew bigger, we found the baby towels soaked through way too easily and weren’t all that warm and cozy.
We ended up using regular towels for our kids.
The hooded towels gave us some pretty adorable photos, but one or two hooded towels would have worked for that.
We didn’t need twelve.
11: Crib Pillows and Plush Toys
Pediatricians don’t recommend anything in the baby crib to protect baby.
I’m not a pediatrician, but we followed their advice to keep our babies safe from smothering.
As much as those stuffed animals and adorable pillows make cute pictures, they’re definitely not a baby essential at all.
Tip: Place your favorite plush toys on a decorative shelf in the baby’s room.
12: Changing Pad Covers
This one makes me chuckle. Here’s the logic behind changing pad covers:
You get a waterproof changing pad. Then, you cover the waterproof changing pad with a non-waterproof changing pad cover (but it’s so cute!) that cost extra.
Then, you use the changing pad, and the cover gets soiled (it will get soiled) so you wash the changing pad cover (one thousand times) until it’s no longer cute.
I totally get it–a white or solid-color changing pad is not nearly as cute as those adorable changing pad covers. But all you have to do is wipe the waterproof changing pad down.
Changing pad? Essential. Changing pad covers? Eh… not so much.
13: Baby Robe
This is another baby item that is adorable. Hanging on the hanger it is possible the cutest thing you’ve ever seen.
But here’s my experience: it will always be the cutest thing you’ve ever seen, hanging on the hanger… always hanging on the hanger…
Because you’ll never actually use it.
It easily makes the top 5 of 15 baby essentials that are not essential.
14: Baby Slippers
Baby slippers are a thing?
Yep! And you’ll probably get a pair or two. A lot of baby slippers come attached to outfits sets.
I lump these in with those pesky baby socks. Most of them aren’t designed all that great, so they slip off baby’s feet all the time.
15: A Bunch of Different Styles of Bottles
You’ve probably read where your baby may not take the first style of bottle that you try. That is absolutely true.
To save your sanity, don’t go and buy ten different styles of bottles right from the start. Start with two styles first and try them. If baby doesn’t like them, try one at a time.
Trust me–bottles add up quick! Before you know it, you’ll have a cabinet full of bottles and they’re not really anything you can sell unless they’re unused in the box.
I used the Avent brand baby bottles for my second son and they were absolutely amazing. Once I found these bottles, I never had to search again.
Once you find your best brand, stick to it!
That’s My List of 15 Baby Must-Haves That Were Actually Must-Not’s
I hope this list saves you some frustration, time, effort and money in the long run. Keep in mind there is no one-list-fits-all when it comes to baby items. Every mama is going to make small changes as she goes.
But if you’re like me, you may find that having these suggestions to draw from will give some peace of mind and another perspective to help you out.
Much support to you, Mama!