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Baby Registry: The Good, the Bad, and, 'Why Didn't I Think of That?'

By Charlene O'Hanlon

One of the nifty benefits of having a baby is the baby registry-a chance to receive as gifts all the things you probably would never buy if you had to pay for them yourself. Just like the wedding registry offers the opportunity to ask for-and receive-items you probably don't use daily (sterling silver soup tureen, anyone?), the baby registry may be the only time you can ask your closest friends to pony up top dollar for something you'll use for maybe a year, maybe a little longer.

With great power comes great responsibility, however, and registering for your baby gifts is not a task to be taken lightly. Otherwise, you'll end up with a closet full of unnecessary items, asking yourself, "Just what the heck was I thinking when I asked for this?"

When determining what to include in the registry, it's important to keep it in perspective. If you're a new parent, or if you're suffering from pregnancy brain and need a level head, ask a friend or relative to help you with your registry (it is super-helpful to have help from someone who is a parent and can tell you what's necessary and what's not).

I had a few doozies on my gift registry, but for the most part my selections were helpful in some way. In hindsight, there are a few things I wish I had included on my registry, and they have since become my go-to gifts for other moms-to-be. Restaurant gift cards (especially those that have a takeout menu), memberships to warehouse stores (for stocking up on diapers and wipes) and gift certificates to grocery stores that deliver are some of my favorites.

The Good

The best baby registry items are those that are obvious: diapers, wipes, bottles (even if you're nursing), strollers, portable crib, etc. Some of the less obvious but absolutely worthwhile registry items on my list included:

Car window shade: I lived in a desert state when I had my first child, where summer temperatures were, on average, 105 degrees. The window shade kept my baby out of the sun and his skin protected. But a window shade is useful for any climate for keeping the sun out of baby's eyes.

Washcloths: Packs and packs of washcloths. Their versatility is amazing. They're easy to pack and can serve as a washcloth, a burping cloth, a bib (in dire situations) or drool cloth. Plus, they soak up spills easily.

Diapers: I asked for one pack of each size diapers, so we were never caught without a diaper when the time came to move up in size.

Diaper wipe warmer: At first I was skeptical, so I didn't ask for a warmer for my first child. It didn't take long after he was born to realize the benefits of a diaper wipe warmer-the look on his face every time a cold wipe hit his bottom said it all. A warmer was at the top of my list for my second one.

The Bad

What constitutes a bad registry item? It's subjective, but generally anything that's not going to be used regularly is simply a waste of money and space.

Onesies: Don't get me wrong-onesies are indispensable. But I don't think your baby needs 40 of them. Which is what you're going to get if you put them on your registry.

Multiple strollers: We were hedging our bets, and ended up with a trifecta. None were really expensive, but I can't think of any situation where we'd need three strollers. My husband and I each had a stroller in our trunk, but the third ended up collecting dust in the garage.

A cradle: This was useful for about five minutes. I ended up using a portable bouncy chair to keep the little guy with me when I couldn't hold him.

Everyone has her own idea of what they consider to be useful. But when it comes to the baby registry, it's easy to choose things that may seem helpful but end up being wasteful. When I was unsure, I simply asked my mother. If she replied with, "What's that for?" then it didn't make the list.

Read More by Charlene O'Hanlon

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