Learning from Others' Mistakes: Baby Edition
July 26, 2018 5:13 PM   Subscribe

What kinds of things did you receive or buy for your baby that you ended up not using, and why? What kinds of things did you not receive or buy that you had to scramble to obtain or wish you'd gotten, and why?
posted by juniperesque to Home & Garden (45 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Of course ymmv, but the following is based on our experiences:

Did not use:
-Magic bullet
-bottle warmer- totally useless !
-bumble seat- neither of our kids liked them at all and cried when put in
-baby monitor, you just went in and looked at them anyway

-breastfeeding pillow, so much more comfortable!
-rocking swing
-jolly jumper
-ergobaby (or similar carrying pouch)
-always wanted a chariot, that would have been amazing to have
-really comfy-to-carry and large diaper bag
posted by DTMFA at 5:50 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Did not use:
Baby jungle gym that dangles toys in baby’s face.

Used extensively:
Wind up swings. Now they have electric ones, I guess.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:00 PM on July 26, 2018

It's been 11 years since I first became a parent, but I most remember the feeling that we had acquired way too much stuff.

Thinking back to the barest of bones essentials, what we needed immediately was:
* diapers
* a car seat (if you use a car)
* a place for the baby to sleep (which for us was in our bed with us)
* a way to feed the baby (which for us was my spouse's mammary glands)

That's not to say you won't need other stuff, but I remember being surprised at how few items we needed immediately after our first child's arrival. Personally, I wouldn't worry about having to scramble for anything. You should have time to get what you need when you need it.
posted by mrbeefy at 6:05 PM on July 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

All kids are different, but...

Didn’t use or didn’t get around to buying:
Diaper bag (asked about it here, ended up using an old messenger bag)
Burp rags
Various wraps and slings
Fancy thing for washing bottles in the dishwasher
Video monitor
Crib shoes
Car seat cover
Special food-prep stuff

Did use, didn’t know we needed:
Many sets of pump parts
Bottle warmer with integrated cooler for night feeding by husband
Cloth diaper wipes
Ear thermometer

I have no regrets about anything we didn’t buy. We could have done it with much less.
posted by juliapangolin at 6:05 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nursing pillow (nice) is essential.

Newborn clothes are worthless. Get blankets to swaddle and a few 3m outfits.
posted by Kalmya at 6:06 PM on July 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have a 5 month old. I’ve used 4000 burp clothes per day (get gerber cloth diapers for this purpose), auto rock n play, swing, frame stroller that goes with the infant car seat, MAM pacifiers, bamboo wash cloths, skiphop activity mat/gym. I didn’t need the pack n play, lots of bottles, bottle warmer, my Brest friend breastfeeding pillow.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 6:26 PM on July 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Received and did not use:
Blanket warmer (??)
Pacifiers, baby did not want them
Scented baby lotion, caused skin irritation
Approximately 100 stuffed animals
Bumbo seat, baby used it a handful of times and then his thighs got too roly-poly to fit
Adorable fancy baby clothes with buttons and hats and pockets and other useless geegaws. Kid lived in onesies or pajamas. If it wasn’t a full body one-piece or didn’t snap under his crotch, it was worn maybe once.

Scrambled to buy:
Extra changing pads, cheap portable type
Ear thermometer
Gas drops
Extra baby gates, once he achieved crawling status
Sleep sacks
posted by castlebravo at 6:27 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

I got way too many newborn clothing, and not enough of other age stuff- but when you request bigger clothing think about what season your child will be- better to get layering items like teeshirts and leggings then full on winter or summer gear. I think nurseries are overrated- we had a pack and play with my first, and that was just fine. I had a simple "bouncy" seat for both of my kids- it was great to have another spot to put them in beyond the carseat. A snap and go is all you need for a stroller until you figure out what kind is really the best (and you do this by observing what other people have instead of going with what you see in the store- I am not a jogger, but when my kid was born 20 years ago, a jogging stroller ended up being a much better stroller than the fancy pants pram style one I chose while pregnant.)
posted by momochan at 6:39 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Did use, and got lots more:
Cloth rectangles. Flannel, muslin, flour sack cotton, etc.
Napkins, burp cloths, bibs, swaddles— these are all just pieces of cloth, so we enjoyed having lots on hand and put them to many uses. When your kid grows you then have lots of nice cloth napkins and dish towels and furushiki wraps, and muslin can be used as reusable cheesecloth.

The Timbuktu messenger bags that were trendy a long time ago make nice diaper bags, come in 3-4 sizes. You can often find used ones for sale cheap, or your friends may have one to pass down. Actually I like to run two diaper bags, a bag serious one for day trips or longer, and a small one for minor activities. I use a smaller thrift store purse for essentials (diaper, wipes, snack, toy, plus my own stuff)

Did not use in first year:
Rock-n-play type sleeper/mapper/rockers
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:43 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Several people told me they never used their changing table, so I didn’t get one. Then my recovery from birth was a wee bit complicated, and I really needed one. And we’ve used it for almost every diaper change in the sixteen months since then.

So that’s one that was essential for me, and useless for others. (Sorry!)
posted by ewok_academy at 6:53 PM on July 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

The most useless stuff was a bag of baby items that had been passed down through several different new babies without ever being used but no one wanted to throw away.
It included:
Magic bullet
A baby food mill (even if we had done purees, it didn't puree anything)
An egg shaped room thermometer with no numerical reading
Bottle warmer
A sound machine with little discs
Shopping cart seat cover

Stuff we ended up rushing around to get:
Nursing stool
Newborn and 3mo clothes (turns out some babies don't grow so fast they don't need them)
Car seat and stroller buntings
Hat that tied on
Slow flow bottles
Bottle dish drainer thing
posted by sputzie at 6:55 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

A baby monitor was essential for us, because we live in a three-floor row home, and the kiddo slept on the second floor, and for [REASONS], we slept on the third.

We found a yoga ball super useful for getting our guy to sleep, and ended up appropriating one from a friend when we realized that it was a miracle sleep machine for him.

Our kid also liked to sleep with his hands up by his face, so these were incredible. And he wanted to sleep at an incline that was not the angle of the baby bouncer, or the other baby bouncer, or the third baby bouncer, but was this godsend. I did not know either of those things existed before I found them at 3 am in the morning, sleepless and worn the fuck out from swaying a baby on my legs nonstop since midnight.

Our kid did NOT like the automated swing, especially because it meant that he was cruelly abandoned, alone and vulnerable to any passing wolf or rapacious dragon, while we, y'know. Ate a hot meal with two hands for the first time in three days.
posted by joyceanmachine at 7:04 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Surprisingly useful:
- We had an exercise ball that my wife got for labor, but it turned out to be indispensable for months to put baby to sleep -- she found the top-of-the-rollercoaster freefall effect very soothing, as I think many babies do, and sitting on the exercise ball saves your knees. Pick one up if you end up doing a lot of bouncing.
- Noise machine -- I started by just blasting 8-hour white noise videos on YouTube, but the dedicated box is easier.
- Pacifier clips! My cousin gave me one of hers out of pity after months of picking gross pacifiers up off the ground. So good.

I don't feel like we've really scrambled to obtain anything -- the things you need on short notice are exactly the ones stocked at drug stores, and the rest is just smoothing out rough edges as you go along.
posted by john hadron collider at 7:05 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

To our astonishment, the number one "we need more of these, these are SO USEFUL for EVERYTHING" item was those old-school Gerber prefold diapers. They're cheap, almost infinitely reusable, amazingly absorbent, easy to pack anywhere, and excellent at cleaning up spills and messes of all kinds.

Kiddo once had a massive diaper blow-out while we were on a roadtrip and we were probably 50 miles from anywhere to stop, so kiddo and his carseat got a roadside cleanup with wet and then dry prefolds (if anyone in rural Wyoming happened to be driving by and were traumatized by the sight of two desperately laughing parents giving their naked angry 1-year-old a sponge bath on the side of a state highway in 2014, we're sorry).

After kiddo outgrew the "potential for many liquid messes of various kinds a day" stage, I wound up using the prefolds as the best dust cloths ever, and my husband used them in his shop and for drying the car after he washed it.
posted by erst at 7:22 PM on July 26, 2018 [5 favorites]

This seems to be so different for everyone/every baby. I have an almost 7 week old - here’s my thoughts so far!

Have but don’t need:
- People got us way too much newborn/3 month clothing. My baby is already outgrowing the stuff that is sized as 3 months! This is the main one for us.
- We have way too many bottles (I’m breastfeeding and even when I start pumping when I go back to work I can’t see how I can possibly use them all).
- Wipes (turns out, baby gets diaper rash from wipes, we have to use paper towels and water only)
- The extra stuff that came with the pack n play (ours came with a changer thingy that goes on top, and some kind of rocker). We never use them.

Has been necessary/very useful:
- 8000 burp cloths
- Bouncy seat, and a swing (we have a fussy baby, these have been lifesavers)
- Diapers and cheap changing table from Ikea.
- Car seat
- Pack n play - we don’t have a crib. The pack n play has been great and we don’t plan on getting a crib anytime soon, maybe never. We also have a baby box that we got for free and we really love it. People think it’s dumb but we’ve put him in the box all over our apartment as it’s a safe space to sleep and it’s been so handy. For example, I love putting him down in the box in our office or living room, so he’s nearby when we’re doing other stuff!
- Desitin diaper rash cream
- We have two carriers - Moby wrap, and the Lillebaby, they’ve been great.
- The Brest Friend - I’ve really liked having this as a shelf for breastfeeding.
- Breast pump - I’ve gotten clogged ducts and needed to figure out how to pump early on to help fix this.
- Stuff for bath - baby friendly soap, hoody towels, and little washcloths. Granted, you could just use regular towels and stuff but we like having the baby ones!
- Baby nail clippers and a file - his claws are sharp and he was cutting me up! Needed to trim those back pretty quickly after he was born.
- Exercise ball for soothing. It’s been essential.
posted by FireFountain at 7:24 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh, and you will have way too many 0-3 and 3-6 month clothes (people love to give those as gifts and your kid will probably spend most of their time not wearing clothes) and not nearly enough after that.

Also, you will never, ever have too many baby socks. Baby socks disappear into alternate dimensions all the time, it's just the darndest thing. Get big packs of plain socks that are all the same, because I guarantee you if you get lots of cute pairs, you will wind up with a huge amount of cute single socks.
posted by erst at 7:27 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Never used:
bulb suction thing
any type of thermometer
nursing pads

Didn't know how much I needed it until I got one for my second baby: mei tai carrier

If I were doing it again, I might just hold off on getting a stroller until my baby was old enough for a cheap umbrella stroller. My babies weren't crazy about being in the stroller when they were little and it's actually kind of a pain to use one anywhere there are steps or crowds or narrow aisles or rough ground - practically everywhere, in other words. And it's even worse when the baby starts crying and you have to take her out and then you're trying to carry the baby and push the freaking stroller at the same time. I found a sling a lot more practical.
posted by Redstart at 7:29 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh here’s something else I forgot in my earlier comment- I had to actually quickly order breast pads to catch leaking milk. I really underestimated how much leaking would happen and ruined a few bras and shirts before I ordered the pads. YMMV.
posted by FireFountain at 7:31 PM on July 26, 2018

Agree on needing clothes in more sizes. Some kids skip newborn size entirely. If you leave tags on things, you can usually exchange them pretty easily. Carters is great for this.

We never used mitts, hats, or socks on any of our 3 kids. We tried with the hats and they were always too small or too big and all of the kids hated them from day 1. We used footed sleepers in lieu of socks. The mitts, eh, just more small things to get separated and roll under the couch.

Something I wish we’d had, and still don’t have, is a decent thermometer. Get the fastest one you can find.

Unlike another poster above, the playmat with dangly toys has been essential for us.
posted by cabingirl at 7:47 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not exactly a thing, but the baby gear mistake of mine you can learn from: I didn't know that all baby stuff is free. I almost guarantee that there is some group in your community that is circulating tons of used baby clothing and gear. Because, see above, someone's essential is someone else's "never used it," even the things you do use like crazy get outgrown in a matter of weeks or months during the first year, and people just want their outgrown stuff gone.

I get pretty much all my baby stuff from 1) my town's "buy nothing" Facebook group, 2) my town's "parents" Facebook group, 3) a city-wide monthly baby clothes/gear swap, and 4) my moms' group alumni Facebook group. When I'm done with it, or if it doesn't work out for my baby, it goes right back into those groups. (Off the top of my head, I've gotten/given: clothes, breastfeeding gear, a walker, a jumperoo, a baby gym/activity mat, toys, pacifiers, bottles/sippy cups, diapers, baby food, a rock'n'play, a baby bike seat, first birthday decorations.)

If I had it to do over again, I would only buy/register for things I knew I definitely wanted new or a particular version of.
posted by teditrix at 7:53 PM on July 26, 2018 [13 favorites]

Our daughter is a wee bit over 2 weeks old. We took the most minimal approach to baby stuff we possibly could.

Here are the things we use every day/consistently:
- Car seat (we were gifted one from a friend)
- Changing pad on a table, in lieu of a single-purpose changing table. It's perfect.
- Lansinoh "slow flow" Momma bottles
- Carter's onesies (Carter's for size consistency. We like sizes 3 months and up. They grow FAST.)
- Burp cloths (we like using terry hand towels - absorbent, long, cheap, and you can easily bleach them)
- Nursing pads
- Good quality breast pump - we got this free to borrow from hospital (breastfeeding was challenging for us; YMMV)
- Rock-N-Play (essential, for us - she likes being on an incline)
- For momma: mesh underwear. These are even better than the hospital's.
- For momma: pads with a cotton lining. Not plastic.
- Baby nail clippers and baby nail file
- My Brest Friend nursing pillow

- Socks (agree that white is best)
- Earth Mama diaper balm (cloth diaper friendly)
- Sleeper gowns (super comfy, easy to change diaper)
- Baby monitor (we chose one with audio only)
- Ergo carrier (haven't used this much, but probably will as she grows bigger)

Never use:
- Mittens
- Bibs
- Zip-up swaddlers (she hates having her arms restricted)
- Muslin blankets (though we live in a hot climate - these will likely be useful later in the year)
posted by onecircleaday at 8:05 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

boppy (nursing pillow)
baby shusher (they had these in the hospital nursery!)
Nose Freida (it's gross. it's effective.)
activity mat
socks that you don't have to match (all white)

Essentials/Scrambled for:
rectal thermometer (when they're little the ear ones don't work)
burp cloths
infant tylenol
dishwasher basket for bottle nipples

Received, Rarely Used:
various baby carriers
most of the swaddling blankets (the best ones came from the hospital)
the little pacifier clip things
posted by wearyaswater at 8:11 PM on July 26, 2018




posted by joyceanmachine at 8:17 PM on July 26, 2018 [11 favorites]

Our baby is just about three months.

We ended up with a weird collection of baby clothes because we thought we were having a boy, so a couple people gave us clothes from their boy babies... then it turned out she was a girl, so some other people said "crap, if we don't give you these pink clothes then everyone will misgender your baby!". She doesn't care, except we don't put her in the onesie that says "Mr. Mustache".

But what happens when people give you stuff is that you end up with weird gaps in sizes... we ended up with stuff in every size from newborn to two years, except nine months, for some reason. Be aware of this.

I went to the store when baby was three days old (and still in the hospital - she came home on day four) to get formula and bottles. Even if breastfeeding, sometimes there's trouble with the milk coming in.

It's nice to not have to go up and down the stairs all the time, so early on we bought a second diaper genie.

You also want lots of burp cloths. This we anticipated. We made them, if you're the sort that does that.

Babies don't need socks until they're putting their feet on the ground. They always fall off anyway. (Our baby was born in late April and we live somewhere warm - your mileage may vary.)

We use a bottle warmer but it's a piece of crap - apparently all bottle warmers are. I'm not sure this is essential, I spend maybe thirty minutes a day cursing the thing for being too slow.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:20 PM on July 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've participated in lots of these threads on various mom groups and what I've found is that one person's essentials are another person's junk. Babies are so different and so are parents. If at all possible, postpone decisions, stock up on cash and get yourself an Amazon prime account. See if there are ways you can try before you buy, or get secondhand, such as through a local Facebook mom's group.
posted by peacheater at 8:24 PM on July 26, 2018 [6 favorites]

I have a 4 week old!

- baby k’tan which is a great carrier for petite people
- flannel burp clothes, I leave them everywhere
- changing table. It saves my back.
- nose frieda works so much better than a bulb syringe
- boppy lounger (not the breastfeeding pillow) my kid has probably logged 200 hours in this thing
- chicco caddy - lightweight and folds up small, keep it in the trunk and you can pop the car seat on top when you are at target or wherever
- dr browns slow flow bottles
- Aden and Anais swaddles
- rocking chair

- bassinet, my kid won’t sleep in it
- wipe warmer
- vibrating seat thing
- hand mitts
- boppy. I expected to love it but it’s kind of annoying to get positioned. I’d rather crash on the couch and pop a regular throw pillow under my arm
posted by pintapicasso at 8:44 PM on July 26, 2018

We're only 2 weeks into the baby thing, but so far -

Very useful:
burp cloths
swaddle blankets
nthing nursing pads, holy hell why did I not realize how much I would leak
nursing pillow
boppy pillow - he has a place to hang out downstairs
baby monitor -allows me to go downstairs so it's been useful

Not at all:
those newborn hats - I have so many!
mittens - all the ones we have are too big for him
posted by later, paladudes at 8:58 PM on July 26, 2018

I wanted a damn baby bottle warmer so bad and never got one, so ymmv. What works for one parent may not for another.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 9:02 PM on July 26, 2018

We've had two. Somehow we got rid of a lot of stuff between #1 and #2, so we learned a few lessons.

#2 was almost 2 month preemie. We were told early on not to buy too many preemie clothes, though they are so cute and therefore hard to resist. This was good advice. He was born in November. We had one really nice overall-thingy that was semi-holidayish that he wore several times. Never needed anything else special.

We somehow managed to hold onto the pack and play between #1 and #2. It was the perfect crib AND playpen for #2. We never had a changing table for either of them, it was all done on the floor/couch/bed/backseat of car.

We definitely used the baby monitor, especially for #1, who was pretty good about sleeping through the night. It wasn't a substitute for checking on the baby, but an early-warning alarm. Not used at all for #2 because he was so fussy the pack and play was set up in the hallway so he wouldn't disturb his big brother. He was very, very good at alerting us to every change in mood.

We set up a hanging bouncy swing in the laundry room door for #2. It was the best thing ever. He was in full view, so never out of sight, and he entertained himself for hours (lord, the legs on that kid...)

There is always the eternal question of whether to use disposable diapers or a diaper service. We were gifted a year of diaper service with #1. Some of those cloth diapers somehow managed to stay behind, and we're still using them for odd things 28 years later.
posted by lhauser at 9:08 PM on July 26, 2018

Peg Perego high chair
A sliding rocking chair
A really good stroller or pram
And an excersaucer

I know I know the excersaucer looks ridiculous but you can put it in the kitchen while you cook and your kid will have a blast. All three of my kids used it and it gave us literally years of hands free ability to get the shit done while the infant had loads of fun. You need this I promise.
posted by nikaspark at 9:35 PM on July 26, 2018

Babies really don't need shoes.
posted by k8t at 9:43 PM on July 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

To echo what was said above. Baby stuff is free. Free free free. Get on your neighborhood social media and people will be off loading everything you need.
posted by k8t at 9:44 PM on July 26, 2018

Not only do different babies like different things but babies change what they like on a seemingly weekly basis. Ours went from hating those bouncy chairs to loving them almost overnight.

Agree that the yoga/exercise ball was great at newborn stage to bounce a swaddled baby while nursing and making shhhhhh noises. And when you no longer need it, it can be deflated for easy storage. And the pump you use to inflate it is infinitely amusing to toddler when puffed at his face.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:08 AM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

This question is hilarious because soooo many things that are on my "needed" list are on others' "not needed" lists and vice versa. But here you go:

Bottle warmer
Burp cloths and spit bibs
Yoga ball for bouncing and soothing
Nice place to lay the baby on the floor (we had an activity mat and also a pretty quilt)
Saline spray
MERLIN SLEEP SUIT (and before that, a million Halo swaddle blankets for sleep)
Video monitor (we use a Nest cam plus a more basic audio monitor)
My Brest Friend
Changing table (we actually had multiple, I do not understand people who go without -- doesn't poop get on your bed/carpet?? Don't you ruin your back??)

Did not need:
Electric jiggly/swing-y seat (Mamaroo)
posted by Bebo at 5:21 AM on July 27, 2018

Thought of a few more things and just wanted to say this varies so much from person to person - some parents love, like, a Keekaroo and some change their baby on the floor. I bought a TON of stuff in anticipation of having a vaginal delivery and I ended up with a c section. All that stuff can be bought locally right after birth by the partner. Breastfeeding specific - get a pump beforehand through insurance (the company I used is called Aeroflow, it was super easy and my pump was free.) I also used a milk catcher called My Milkies and lots of people like Haaka too. Lanolin nipple cream and disposable breast pads were crucial in the early days. If you have a nice mattress a mattress protector is necessary in case your breasts leak which they most likely will.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 5:36 AM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ultimately each baby is highly individual and what worked for us may not work for you. One of the things that having a baby taught me is that I was always convinced there was a solution out there for whatever problem I was having and that I just hadn't found it. I bought just about every baby sleep aid anybody sold, mostly at 3 AM on my phone. Very few of them worked; sometimes your baby just needs time to grow into the next phase.

Our hospital encouraged us to 'help ourselves' to any baby supplies that they put in our room. We didn't; we should have. (Burp cloths, swaddles, diapers, pacifier, etc).
Cloth diapers make great burp cloths and you will need them for a while.
Car seat: Actually, depending on how big your baby gets, the combo car seat/stroller system only worked for like six months before our baby got too big to be carried in her car seat. Before that six months she was portable enough that we could carry her in a carrier.
Baby Bjorn: Great until she got so heavy that my back started to hurt.
Pack and Play: Some people are only pack and playing; our crib cost us roughly a hundred dollars and she's still sleeping in it. It's also useful for travel. Our child now tells us that the pack and play is 'hard' and not very comfortable. I would still get a crib, depending on space. We bought the one with the 'bassinet' attachment, and I think that was pretty handy-dandy.
Bottles: Highly individual, though our baby wasn't too picky. We ended up with Avent and Dr. Brown. We got another bottom venting one but it was surprise leaking time and we tossed them.
The Cheapest High Chair from IKEA because it's just wood and easy to clean.
Those velcro swaddle things; we couldn't swaddle as well as the nurse, but the velcro ones made it easy. We did not have central air so we had a variety of linen/fleece/cotton ones.
The Happiest Baby on the block: It's a book, not a thing, but ... get this.
Weissbluth's Baby Sleep solution: I get that it's controversial but our pediatrician had us sleep train at 3 months and it was AMAZING.
Diaper genie: It depends; you don't absolutely need one but it's a lot stinkier than just having a covered trash can. You also have to buy refills.
Forehead thermometer: We hastily bought this at a CVS when we were worried she was hotter than usual. She wasn't, but y'know.
Lovey for when they're older: We bought a bunch of these and she fixated on one. If yours fixates on one, buy extras; you never know when they'll suddenly decide to stop making them.
Rocker/glider: We rocked her to sleep every night in this thing.
Baby hat.
Side snap onesies (like this: We called them "Captain Kirk shirts" because they looked like Mirror Universe Kirk captain shirts. We didn't like pulling things over her head.

Didn't work for us:
Merlin sleep suit: just pissed her off.
Swing (another parent said her baby slept so well in it, ours HATED it).
Bouncy seat: Just pissed her off

Didn't need:
Bottle warmer
Baby monitor(s): We had a bunch of these and we finally realized that we lived in a one bedroom apartment and that we could hear her cry ANYWAY.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:46 AM on July 27, 2018

It's so telling to see that some people's most useless items are other people's most useful items! It's a good argument for putting gift cards on your registry because you never know what your baby will like best.

Here's what we used a lot at first, and in some cases, had to scramble to get / get more of:
  • Breast pump - it never occurred to me that I'd need this so soon, but I needed it right away to get my milk going when I first came home from the hospital
  • My brest friend - used it for the first couple of months only, but it was a life- and back-saver. I wish I would have brought it to the hospital. And an extra cover because milk can get messy, and the covers are line dry.
  • Rock n' Play - so useful to have a place to put the baby down when you eat or take a shower. Our baby outgrew before 4 months, but before then, esp. when he was really little, I would have loved one for each floor of the house (good thing to borrow from a friend). I never put batteries in mine.
  • SwaddleMe swaddles - because he would bust out of the swaddling cloths from birth. It's good to have backup in case of wetting. But different babies may prefer different swaddles, so don't buy too many of any one up front
  • Cozy carseat cover if you're going out in cold weather
Didn't use: pacifiers, those little baby mittens, car mirror (may use it one day), newborn clothes
posted by beyond_pink at 6:47 AM on July 27, 2018

Maybe look at the Finnish Baby Box
My kids are adult now, so it's a long time since I had to deal with this or other baby questions, but when I was pregnant and had little ones, I always reminded myself what my midwife friend had told me: we are evolved to have babies while being naked on the savannah. Everything beyond that is luxury, and potentially useless.
My firstborn was the first in her generation within my family, so her grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles were all wild with joy, meddlesome and gift-giving. She had the most expensive clothes I've ever seen on a baby, all the time. It's still in pristine condition because she grew out of it after one wash. She also had so many toys it made no sense, which I'm sure has led to her being a minimalist today.
The one thing I really think was helpful was the Voksi bag. It is really useful, specially in colder climates, even in summer where you use it as a play blanket wherever you are. I also agree about the cotton diapers for all purposes. A simple wooden spoon is a fine toy for the first 6 months.
posted by mumimor at 8:34 AM on July 27, 2018

Interesting variety of answers; a lot of this is kid of family-specific. For example, our kid was preemie and didn't nurse well, and was on formula or breast milk supplements from the start, which changes up the list a bit. Here is our list:

Did not use/want:
Cloth diapers
Nursing pillow
Any baby food stuff (we went whole food from the beginning)
Bottle Warmer (ours took cold bottles)
White noise machine (we used an old cell phone with looped white noise)

Used all the time:
Pack and Play
Grass-looking bottles and stuff drying rack
Diaper bag insert for other bags
Tons of burp cloths (we bought 24-packs of cheap washcloths)
Pacifier (kind with the little stuffed animal on it)
Chest Carrier
Baby monitor
Forehead thermometer
This book Very helpful in answering "is my baby dying?" questions without resorting to the internet, because the internet's answer is almost always "probably."
posted by craven_morhead at 8:42 AM on July 27, 2018

I was on a very limited budget (a year's maternity leave at no pay, so living on savings) and living in a small apartment at the time, so my must-haves and definitely not neededs were within that context.

I never needed or wanted a changing table. Ditto for a mechanical swing. No room anyway.

I got a crib as a gift but my son HATED it (I had had no previous opinion one way or another about co-sleeping, but it turned out best for everyone!). The crib ended up being a storage thing -- so not totally useless.

Nursing pads were one of my biggest ongoing purchases. I leaked like crazy. A gift of like a million of them would have been the best gift ever. Never heard of "brest friend" or other nursing pillows, wouldn't have been something I would have purchased, but it sounds like it might have been appreciated as a gift.

Newborn size clothes were completely useless -- my son was born just barely fitting into 3-month, and outgrew 6 month by the time he was 4 months old. My best gift was a large box of used baby clothes in 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month sizes, plus a used 18-month winter snowsuit in excellent condition. Who cares about stains on otherwise clean and non-ripped infant clothing?

I was also gifted several dozen cloth pre-fold diapers, and as someone else mentioned, they are really useful must-haves even if you use disposable diapers.

My one very much appreciated "luxury" item was a walker seat thing in a frame with wheels and a tray. My pre-walking son was able to follow me around when I was doing things, and stop with a clear view of me and play with the toys on the tray. The tray kept him from reaching things not safe or wise for him to touch. Again, small apartment with no stairs or other dangers for this type of item.

My most hated gift was some thingie with pictures of farm animals that made the most ANNOYING phony animal sounds when you pulled the string next to the animal picture. Had to get rid of that horror ASAP.
posted by RRgal at 8:54 AM on July 27, 2018

Useless: diaper genie, diaper wipe warmer, changing table

Couldn't do without: wet wipes, bibs, bouncy seat, preemie diapers for a couple of weeks (baby was full-term, just small) and they can be hard to find, a floppy hat/bonnet for sunny days, small diaper bag (did not need the huge one we received as a gift)
posted by cass at 10:07 AM on July 27, 2018

- As mentioned by others: My Brest Friend nursing pillow. We even got a travel version, which also was handy for a second cover. Other nursing pillows not so much.
- Small kids tub from ikea - for the first few months we used the sink but eventually switched to this, and we're still using it at nearly 3yo, uses much less water than our tub. I imagine that later we'll use it for other things
- Contrary to others, we actually got 0 newborn or infant clothing and then had a sub 5lb baby a month early and had no clothes. If you find you need something, Old Navy had good sleepers for sub 7lbs, and carter's has nice preemie clothes. Most likely you really won't need it.
- The Oxo wipes dispenser is good. You can use it one-handed and the wipes don't dry out. Again, still using it at nearly 3.
- We used our regular sound baby monitor for a long time, especially for travel.
- We used a changing pad on a low dresser. The changing table set up really saved our backs but I think that's only helpful it it is near where you spend a lot of time, so if the baby's room is on a different floor or whatever, it can be pointless.
- Ergo carrier.
- if breastfeeding, nursing tanktops for mom
- if breastfeeding, washable cloth nursing pads were good for me
- if breastfeeding and going back to work, a second pump to leave at work instead of carting one around
- if breastfeeding, the Medela soap. it seems gimmicky but everything gets stained and the bottles are really difficult to clean.
- everyone's house temps are different, but for us in a drafty home in the Bay Area, this absurdly expensive sleep sacks - everything else was either not warm enough or too hot

Bad, useless or overrated:
- a little bedside bassinet (it's a toy box now though)
- Virtually every swing or chair (borrow before investing)
- every swaddle, every zip up or velcro swaddle, every miracle sleep device
- white noise machine (can you tell we had a baby that basically didn't sleep?)
- fancy stroller - we used it sometimes, the one that came with our infant car seat, but we never quite lived a strolling lifestyle enough to warrant a really big investment. It was nearly impossible to use after she started walking.
- the little mittens or hand covers on sleepers - really, babies need to explore with their hands - yes they scratch you and themselves, yes cutting their nails is a challenge, but using their hands is part of what they need to do.

Don't know:
- I never got a nursing chair because I thought they were ugly and/or expensive and I thought I didn't have anywhere to put one. I regret this, honestly. I would have really enjoyed a hideous old nursing glider in the middle of my den.
posted by vunder at 11:51 AM on July 27, 2018

Didn't use:
- baby sling - I was not coordinated enough to get the baby in it without feeling like she was going to slip out all the time
- baby bullet to make baby food (we just did BLW and I really couldn't be bothered to do more dishes anyway)
- Bumbo baby seat thingy - about a week after we got it, she was able to sit up unassisted
- breast milk storage bags (never produced enough to store any)
- baby shoes (like, before they can walk...kinda pointless)
- nose frida - my SO and I repeatedly gagged when trying to use it. we just used one of those squeezy bulbs
posted by medeine at 2:10 PM on July 27, 2018

Yes, this thread is so funny and real. My first and second liked opposite things. Items I splurged on for the 2nd bc I wished I could have with the 1st (stroller, hiking backpack, etc.) have gone almost entirely unused.

Stood the test of time: mirror for back seat, portable high chair, good backpack, skip hop portable changing pad
Should have invested and regret that I didn't: specialized glider/rocking chair - big, expensive, but perfectly suited for their purpose...like a puffy cloud hug when you need it the most
Total waste of space: Pack n play, big high chair, skip hop jumper
Never have enough no matter how many I buy: socks, pacifiers, pants, pump flanges
posted by this-apoptosis at 7:25 PM on July 27, 2018

Things i used the most:
washable cloth breast pads, about 10 sets
2 breast pumps, home and work, one free from insurance, one paid for with an old hsa
small washcloths
clothes that you can lay the baby in to put on (like "sleep n plays") rather than clothes that need to be pulled over a tiny head
old t shirts (I wore these all the time when home so i could just get dirty and toss them in the laundry if they got drooled on)
comfy ass seating arrangement to feed
sleep sacks or swaddle blankets (depending on if you baby is a loosey goosey or a snuggle buggle)
back pack bag for a diaper bag

I wish i had - a diaper changing set up on each floor of the house that was at a decent height. Would have saved my back.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:36 AM on August 3, 2018

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