The Top Baby Items Pediatricians Don’t Want on Your Registry

It may look cute or sound helpful, but some baby gear is better left off your wish list. Doctors explain which items to avoid and why.
ByDina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto, MD, MPH
March 30, 2021
changing table in decorated nursery room
Image: Mindy Shamp

Creating a baby registry can be an overwhelming experience for first-time parents. With so many items out there, it’s hard to know what you really need for baby, and it seems like everyone has an opinion on which are the must-have essentials. But not all baby gear is created equal. In fact, from a doctor’s perspective, there are a few things you definitely don’t want to get. Here, we take a look at seven items to leave off your baby registry.

1. Sleep Positioners

Preparing a safe place for baby to sleep an absolute top priority. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), approximately 3,500 babies die every year in the US because of unsafe sleep environments. The AAP recommends that babies sleep on their back on a firm sleep surface that’s free of any objects. Sleep positioners, wedges and other specialized sleep surfaces, such as baby nests, could pose a danger and don’t reduce the risk of SIDS.

2. Home Cardiorespiratory Monitors

First-time parents are of course anxious to make sure baby is okay, especially while they sleep. But monitors that track an infant’s heart rate and breathing aren’t needed for healthy babies and haven’t been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.

3. Crib Bumpers

Crib bumpers—even the mesh kind—as well as pillows, blankets and stuffed animals should never be placed in baby’s crib, since they pose a suffocation hazard. A lot of pediatricians believe they’re okay for most babies to have after one year, but always speak to your doctor first.

4. Formula Dispensers

We don’t recommend using some of the automatic formula-making machines, similar to a Keurig coffee maker, that prepare bottles from powdered formula. There are many reports of these machines incorrectly mixing formula, making the bottle too dilute or too concentrated. And incorrect concentration can cause a baby to not gain weight properly or have electrolyte imbalances and possible seizures. If you do decide to buy one of these machines, read lots of product reviews!

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5. Baby Walkers

It’s pretty exciting to see baby take her first step—but devices like walkers can unfortunately delay when a baby begins to walk, and the AAP has called for their ban. They’re dangerous: In a walker, babies can accidentally roll down the stairs or, since babies are seated higher in a walker, grab things that are normally out of reach, such as a hot pan on the stove or a hot drink on the table.

6. Amber Teething Necklaces

While there’s of course a wide range, many babies start to teeth around 4 to 6 months, and parents are eager to provide comfort for their babies in pain. But according to the AAP, amber teething necklaces aren’t effective and their claims aren’t backed by any scientific data. They do, however, pose a strangulation and choking hazard and aren’t worth the risk.

7. Teething Gels

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned parents about the serious safety risks of using teething gels with benzocaine for teething pain, such as Anbesol, Baby Oragel and Topex.

Meet Dina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto, MD, MPH, official spokespeople for the American Academy of Pediatrics and the co-authors of The Pediatrician’s Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers. They write about the latest AAP guidelines, studies and seasonal issues affecting babies and toddlers. Follow them on Instagram @pediatriciansguide.

Published August 2018

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