Making a baby registry is really stressful (or it was for me) but you, the gift-giver, can make the baby industrial accumulation easier by avoiding the 6 worst baby shower gifts for 2021.

I came very near having a panic attack when going through the Union Square Babies-R-Us (RIP) with my partner and using their scanner to add 10,000 things to our baby registry. It just felt so weird going through the store and zapping this tag and that tag thinking, “Oh, I bet Mandy will get us this, Trevor might buy that and hopefully my uncle and aunt will spring for that.”

We are living in an age of the baby industrial complex.

* And I am well aware I’m contributing to it.

My Babies-R-Us freak out was a general reaction to “ohmigod I don’t know the difference between that bottle top and that bottle top and why am I asking everyone else to buy this crap and I’m overwhlemed by the amount of shit I’m asking for and this is just ridiculous and I just want to collapse in a puddle.”

Because really? – all our newborns need is sleep, warmth, cleanliness, food and love.

That translates to: a dresser drawer like in the 1950’s, blankets, diapers, food and our love. Right?

Still – we live in an age when people want to give gifts to new parents (like the best and/or coolest diaper bag for dads) and so many other things.

But the aforementioned “baby industrial complex” creates an awful lot of nonsense we just don’t need. Lemme spare you the waste and annoyance. Avoid these: the 6 worst baby shower gifts for 2021:

  • Wipes warmer

    wet wiper warmer - one of the worst baby shower gifts

    45 degrees? Who are these troglodytes? Europeans? (oh, wait. The entire world is on the metric system…but us.)

    • There is just no need to pamper your kids with such electrical nonsense. Kids are resilient. They’re rubber, they adapt, they learn from us, they just need to be held and loved. Warming wet wipes means you’re managing their coddled expectations. I mean…talk about raising a snowflake. Perhaps a room temperature wipe will surprise them a bit. They might even cry the first time. If your kid cries at the wet wipe, perhaps put one in their hands. Let them touch and experience the wipe before you use it on their tush. (What a great sensory exercise that would be!) But electric wet wipes is just a step too far. They’ll easily adapt to changes in temperature and sensations. And set yourself up for success when the power goes out.
      • Alternative? A case of wine for the parents.
  • Pacifier holder

    • one of the worst baby shower gifts

      One of the worst baby shower gifts

      The pacifier holder makes a parent feel organized and germ-free. In reality, it actually makes them look crazy. Nobody has time to delicately place a single pacifier in some tiny, zipping container. You’re always in a hurry, pacifiers get lost. Really, you need to be able to shove 3 or 4 of those little germ magnets in one designated pocket in your daddy (or mommy!) diaper bag. (Shameless plug: the E.C.Knox diaper bag has 15 pockets…that’s a lot of pacifier packing space.) And the idea that it’s germ-free in its own zip container is ridiculous. We need to raise our kids to fight germs, not shield them from everything. Remember the best way to clean a pacifier that’s fallen on the ground (even outdoors in a pigeon-pooped park or an international airport) is to suck it yourself. THAT is the way to build resilient kids.

      • Alternative? Buy the new parents a Starbucks card.
  • Crazy/fancy bottle maker/warmer

    wet wiper warmer - one of the worst baby shower gifts

    Seriously – it’ll just be a pain in the end.

    • Children who breast feed are accustomed to body temperature milk on the reg. Probably shouldn’t mess with mother nature consistency. But if the kids also take a bottle from time to time, there’s an industry supposition that the bottle needs to be the perfect room temperature, as well. But in reality – we all drink hot and cold things all the time. Having some uber-fancy contraption that warms bottles is just ridiculous. If you need, put the bottle under the faucet of warm water in a pinch. But also? How about just let your kid try many different temperatures? One time my kid was screaming from hunger and I didn’t have time to fully warm a baggie of frozen milk. I hurried up and gave them a bottle…and there were still ice chunks in the milk. I could see my kid’s eyes widen for just a sec, but that bottle was still sucked down like normal.
      • Alternative: get them a new coffee machine. It’ll be much more used.
  • Fancy items

    silver baby rattle from Tiffany's

    Seriously, now. You’re just doing this to impress the parents. You know what else impresses parents? Babysitting.

    • Anything that needs to be kept in a closet because “it’s too nice to be used” is just going to collect dust. I’m still finding things at the back of closets that couldn’t be used when my kids were newborns. And seriously: what is the point of that? This isn’t 1968 where collectibles and breakables need to be displayed on a wall. No, we live in an era where you don’t need to have precious collections of nonsense. What means the most is the favorite blankie or pacie that were used to the breaking-health-codes level of dirtiness with tons of sentimental value and memories. You don’t create memories from silver/pewter/crystal engraved mementos sitting on a shelf collecting dust.
      • Alternative: give a gift card for a fancy dinner for the parents ALONG WITH your offer to babysit for them.
  • Toys

    silver baby rattle from Tiffany's

    The bag? Yes.
    The toys? No.

    • We all think it’s fun and cute to give the most adorable little stuffies and snugglies and “baby’s first doll/train/cell phone.” But really? – newborns are house plants. Ain’t no reason new parents need a ton of new toys when they will most likely shove them into the closet, forget about them (remember that sleep deprivation?) and then get a ton of (equally unnecessary) toys for the kid’s first birthday. You want to give the perfect little cute toy. But instead, consider my alternative.
      • Alternative: give them a hand-made book of coupons to babysit. Even if that means “I’ll come over and sit with the baby while you take a shower and perhaps read a book.” (Which really means taking a nap. Or porn. Whatevs. No judgment.)
  • Super-gendered this or that

    picture of road signs saying "old way" and "new way" meaning gendered anything is one of the worst baby shower gifts

    Let’s move beyond the binary of yesteryear, shall we?

    • On a slight tangent, let’s not go overboard on the gender-fying of the unborn child. Remember: gender is a social construct forcing binary interests and colors on kids (forcing girls to like pink and dolls and boys to like blue and cars.) Think beyond the binary for the infinite possibilities of self-expression of this little miracle. It’s no longe4 1986. (Or 2016 for that matter.)
      • Alternative: give a U.S. Savings Bond that matures when they’re 18 and the child can then buy something they actually want.


Do you have suggestions for avoiding even more than just the 6 worst baby shower gifts for 2021?