A few months ago, Melissa left a comment wanting to get some information on what baby gear we regularly used and what sat around collecting dust. Sorry it took so long to get this written! But here is my take on it.
Disclaimer: What I'm about to share is intended only as helpful advice to new mothers based on my experience. I encourage any expecting mom to keep their baby purchases to a minimal level (especially in terms of clothing) to avoid wasting money. I also would buy as much of the baby gear secondhand as possible and return gifts that you do not think will be used for something more practical. And remember, going to the store is still possible after the baby is born!
Items that went to waste:Multiple types of bottles & pacifiers---Maybe I would feel differently about this if I fed North formula from the get-go, but I only had 2 different bottles for him at birth. Dr. Brown's and some Playtex drop-in that was a free gift. We have only ever used 2 Dr. Brown's bottles that we wash after each use. As for pacifiers, he got a Soothies at the hospital and later on, I switched him to the MAM pacifier. There is no need to prepare for the what-ifs. But if you must, keep everything in the packaging and save the receipts so you can return it down the road if necessary.
Hooded towels---Sure they are adorable, but after a few months, they're just not big enough to use anymore. Buy 1 for cute infant pictures and save your money.
Dreft---I do love the smell of this stuff. But there are so many brands of truly baby friendly detergents out there that are better for baby's skin than Dreft, not to mention much cheaper.
Receiving blankets & burp clothes---We could have easily gotten by with a 6 pack each of receiving blankets and burp clothes. Unless you never plan on doing laundry again, there is no reason to have much more than that. We used the blankets we stole from the hospital mainly because the receiving blankets from the store always seem too small for the task (swaddling, shading baby in carseat, etc).
Clothes---The most stressful thing to me is trying to get all the clothes on the baby before he outgrows them and they go to waste. We have found that we seem to rotate about 6-8 outfits on him unless we make a concerted effort to put other clothes on him. I feel very wasteful when I think about all the items he only wore once.
Baby wash and lotion---You really only need one of each to start out with and this stuff lasts forever. Seriously, North will be in his 40s before he uses up the stock pile of baby wash that was gifted to him.
Bumbo---Unless someone gives you one, I wouldn't buy one. I mean, I like having ours, but it's an expensive piece of foam. Maybe buy it used if you just have to have it.
Although it was not part of the question, here are some items that many moms now wished they would have registered for:
Convertible car seat
6+ months clothing (if you live in predictable climate)