You’ve looked at the 98 page baby registry provided by the baby store, and your head is spinning. Just how much of this stuff do you really need, and which of the 105 varieties of each do you buy?

Let’s look at some of the wonderful extras you might consider buying or registering for.

DIAPER GENIE:  With the advent of disposable diapers came the diaper genie… a replacement for the old diaper pails full of Clorox and water your grandmother remembers. The idea behind the genie is that dirty  diapers can be stored and individually sealed until you can get around to getting them outside to the garbage can (Think 2am on a rainy night.. you do need some sort of diaper storage!). There are several brands on the market. Look for one which uses regular kitchen garbage bags. Those that require their own refills can be a problem if you somehow run out, not to mention the $5 or so you’ll be charged for each refill. I read somewhere that baby stores adore these products– they keep new parents coming into the store on a regular basis, and those new parents always find something else to buy. .If you do use one of those, make a point of keeping 2 refills in the house, to be replaced whenever necessary. And be aware of whether your model has a wide or narrow opening, as the refill must match.

BOPPY PILLOWS:  Some women swear by them (like my sister); others (like me) have no use for them at all. Think about borrowing one if possible and trying it out.

CHANGING TABLES: You can certainly do without one; a changing pad on the bed will do. But a table at a comfortable height is very helpful to your tired aching back. Be sure there’s a way to strap baby in, and that there’s a spot for all of your baby’s diaper changing needs. Do not EVER leave the baby unattended on the table, even for an instant. We had a lot of luck with a model which converted to a bureau. Seven years after we bought it, it’s holding my middle child’s clothes. She loves the nick-nack shelf created by the changing table edge.

BABY EINSTEIN TAPES/DVDs: This is my all time favorite gift for a baby shower. They are the only way I know to keep a 2 month old occupied for the length of time it takes to make dinner. The music is beautiful and the video is cute.  Ignore the educational hype; hit the library and borrow some and see whether or not you love them! They’re labeled according to age; the newborn ones include Baby Mozart and Baby Beethoven.

TOY BOX: You’ll be amazed at the number of toys your child will accumulate over the first year. Be sure your toy box has a lightweight top which comes OFF and can’t crush baby’s fingers. Also be sure that it doesn’t close too securely; in the event that baby decides to hide inside; you want lots of air in there. Go for the largest size you can fit; you’ll need it sooner than you think.

DIAPERS: If you ever stop and think about it, you’ll be amazed at the amount of money you spend on diapers… it’s probably much better not to think of it! But try to resist the temptation to stock up on zillions of diapers ahead of time. As strange as it sounds, different brands work better with different children, and you’ll have to try a few brands once the baby is born. Also, many babies grow out of the Newborn size in a few weeks, so don’t buy too many bags of them. Instead, buy a few bags of Newborn, some more bags of size 1, and ask everyone you know to collect diaper coupons for you. Find stores (like Target and BJ’s) which offer them for a reasonable price and also accept those coupons. Contact the manufacturers and join their new parent programs, so you’ll get those coupons as well.

CLOTHING: For many women, the realization that they’re pregnant is a long-awaited opportunity to run to the store and start buying those adorable baby clothes!!! Who can resist– they’re so CUTE! Baby clothes are sized in three month intervals, and within each size, there will be a time period when they’re a little big, a time when they fit perfectly, and a time when they’re starting to be a bit small— all in that same three months. Learn to cuff legs and arms, and not to worry when the clothes don’t look custom tailored.

Since your baby can’t talk yet, he can’t quite explain why he prefers some outfits to others. So let me translate: these are the things you should be looking for in an outfit:

a) Comfort!! Take a look at the seams: are they rough or smooth? Is the material nice and soft? Is the material appropriate to the season? (A great buy on a snow suit won’t matter if it doesn’t fit until July!)  Are there any snaps or buttons poking into his back as he sleeps? (Remember, he’ll be sleeping on his back, so any fastenings should be in the front.)

b) Ease for you: Is there easy access to the diaper? (Either pants that pull down or snaps on the legs.) Do head openings have either lots of give or some snaps/Velcro at the neckline? (It makes it so much easier to get that wobbly infant head in! Oh, and while we’re on the topic: when you’re putting a shirt on a baby’s head, first put it on the “point” at the back top of his head… it will go on much easier that way!)

c) Clean-ability. As cute as pastels are, realize that outfits which are frequently used are going to suffer their share of spit up- and worse. Be sure that the fabric and color will survive repeated washings. “Dry Clean Only” was never intended for babies, with the possible exception of those one-time-only outfits: the Christmas dress or Christening outfit.

d) Size: Some items are better if they’re a bit large: a winter coat/snow suit for example. You’ll want these to last the entire season, and to accomodate some layers underneath as well.  You’ll also get lots of use from attached mittens/hood/booties; those tiny things have a way of disappearing if they are not attached. If you’re going to use a one-piece bunting for your newborn, look for one which has slits for the car seat.

And, above all, keep the receipts. Try the outfit on before washing it, and return it promptly — while it’s still in season and the store’s return policy still applies.