If you haven't read my article about baby registries, check it out here first.
Every. Baby. Is. Different. What works for you is inevitably going to be different for your friends. Some friends will find items that they "can't live without" that other people will readily cast off as a "waste of money." The best way to avoid needless purchases is to follow these two steps:
1) Make a list of priorities. The things that are important to you, the items you've already envisioned yourself using on a daily basis, the things you can't wait to try--those are the ones to register for. Your enthusiasm for the product will drive you to try, try, try it. Some babies will never like it, but many babies will just need some time to adjust and will enjoy it.
2) If possible, don't buy everything before the baby arrives. Gift cards are invaluable. Try to curb your excitement and wait to use them AFTER the baby arrives. Once the baby's here, you'll have a much better idea of what you need most. Plus, you can try things out with your baby (perhaps at another friend's house or a church nursery) before making the big purchases. This could save you lots of wasted expenses.
That being said, here is the first installment of a list of things that I used and didn't use in the first few months. As I said in the article, ask a friend/bring a friend along when you register. Firsthand accounts are always invaluable.
1. Sling. I didn't like carrying around a car seat when my little one weighed less than the carrier. It was bulky and awkward. Plus, putting car seats on the top of grocery carts is a safety hazard, so that ruled out using the car seat while grocery shopping. I carried my baby everywhere in the sling. I grocery shopped, went out for dinner, spent time with friends, ran errands, etc. with very little fuss from baby girl. In her car seat, she was more likely to be startled by the noises and lights around her, but in her warm, cozy, dark sling, she took no note of the outside world and slept peacefully. I used the New Native Organic Cotton Baby Carrier and LOVED it. It was perfect for my tiny one. When she got bigger though, I had to switch to something else because it pulled on my back. (If you have a big baby, you may want to consider a different style.)
2. Ergo backpack. Once little Andie grew out of the sling, we transitioned to this backpack. I literally had strangers stop me in stores and tell me to get the Ergo backpack after the sling. One lady told me that she could carry her toddler around in it and it didn't hurt her back--a far cry from the Baby Bjorn that many complain hurts their backs once the baby is bigger. The Ergo comes with an infant insert, so you could skip the sling and start with the backpack. It's a little bulkier, but very comfortable. I know this is a pricey investment, but, trust me, I've never heard a bad report. It's well worth the money!
3. The Bob. Another investment well worth the money. This stroller can go anywhere. The big wheels and built-in shocks make it a dream to push. We had no trouble at the county fair getting over large cords and wires spider veined across the ground; we went for a stroll on the beach in Cancun with no trouble, and I maneuver through grocery aisles and the mall with ease. Since I knew the Bob was a priority, I opted not to get a travel system, and we borrowed a used car seat from a friend. This took the $100-$300 we would've used on a travel system and freed it up for the Bob. With the second baby, I will probably get an infant seat that's compatible with the Bob and the infant seat attachment. It will just streamline our stuff.
I can't say enough about how much I love this stroller. Plus, the area in front is sturdy enough for a tired toddler to catch a quick ride (hopefully eliminating my need for a double stroller later on). That being said, a friend of mine didn't like the "big fancy stroller" and opted to use an umbrella stroller because it took up less space in her trunk. This is where your list of priorities comes in to play. I imagined myself walking, jogging, etc. with my Bob. The umbrella stroller would not keep up. My friend imagined herself quickly transitioning from car to destination with only a quick helper to get her across the longer distances. Where do you envision using your stroller?
More to come . . .