gender neutral nursery wall decor hanging above bed what to register for baby

What *Not* to Put on a Baby Registry {Unsafe Stuff to Skip}

Apr 5, 2020

What *Not* to Put on a Baby Registry {Unsafe Stuff to Skip}

There are a zillion sleep products made for babies… so how are you supposed to know what to register for and what to skip?

Well, for starters, there’s safety. Kind of a major category.

Once you rule out all the unsafe stuff, it really narrows it down.

This isn’t as obvious as it sounds, though.

The sheer number of products marketed for infant sleep is bewildering in and of itself.

Plus, it’s easy to assume that popular products stocked by all the major retailers would be safe—especially when they’re all over social media being lauded by friends and influencers.

(This was me when I bought a Dockatot, which, by the way, I later returned after being enlightened about safe sleep).

Most well-meaning parents don’t realize:

  • Just because a product is marketed for infant sleep, doesn’t mean it passes federal safety standards.
  • Certain products substantially increase the risk of SIDS and sleep-related infant death.
  • Even though most babies survive unsafe sleeping conditions, there are still thousands of babies who don’t survive each year.

In this post, we’re going to simplify a tricky subject and see what the evidence has to say about the safety of popular sleep-related baby registry items.

Let’s take a look at what NOT to put on your baby registry to keep your sleeping baby safe…

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baby registry guide pin

Here are 9 things not to put on your baby registry (and what to register for instead)…


DockATots are fine for awake time, but they are unsafe for sleep — even supervised naps.

The same goes for all similar products, not just DockATot.

Don’t let the “breathable” marketing claims fool you: padding is a suffocation risk, even if you’re right there in the room.

(Asphyxia is silent and happens quickly).

Babies should sleep in a regulated crib, bassinet, or play yard to reduce the risk of SIDS.

Since it’s only safe for awake time, DockATot‘s use is limited and might not be worth the 200 bucks, even if it’s a gift.

delete from baby registry loungers like dockatot unsafe for sleep

What the experts have to say

Here’s the short version of what you need to know about DockATot safety:

  1. Soft bedding is a known SIDS risk factor and is responsible for many thousands of deaths.
  2. “Breathability” is a marketing term. There is no established standard for “breathable” baby products.
  3. Even if you’re watching, it’s not safe to let your baby sleep in a Dockatot. Asphyxia can happen before your eyes and looks like a normal sleeping baby.
  4. The AAP specifically advises not to let babies sleep in nests and loungers.
  5. DockATot does not meet CPSC standards for infant sleep. This class of product does not have its own federal safety standards.

Do babies sleep in DockATots all the time and survive? Yes.

But do thousands of babies die every year because they were sleeping in padded environments? ALSO YES.

Since using this product unsafely is so incredibly tempting, it’s #1 on our list of what not to put on a baby registry.

For a thorough analysis of the safety risks of letting a baby sleep in a nest, read my evidence-based guide about a similar product called Snuggle Me Organic.

not safe for infant sleep infographic

What to register for instead

Two fantastic safe options are this baby dome (technically a bassinet) and this mini play yard. Both of these are safe for sleep.

For more: Best Portable Bassinets

Now let’s see what else not to put on your baby registry…


Don’t register for swaddles beyond sizes NB and 0-3 months.*

Swaddling is only safe for very young babies who are showing zero signs of rolling.

*If you happen to have an above-average sized baby, you can exchange the gift for a larger size.

Related: How Many Swaddles Do I Need?

it's no longer safe to swaddle when baby shows signs of rolling

What the experts have to say

Large-sized swaddles are #2 on our list because babies over the age of 2 months should not be swaddled.

If a swaddled infant rolls onto his stomach, the risk of death is high.

According to the current AAP guidelines:

“Parents should stop swaddling as soon as their baby shows any signs of trying to roll over. Many babies start working on rolling at around 2 months of age.”

Switch to a sleep sack once you see signs of rolling.

More: When and How to Stop Swaddling: The Ultimate Guide

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What to register for instead

Register for a bunch of sleep sacks, aka wearable blankets!

Check out this awesome avocado sleep sack and my favorite long-sleeved sleep sack.

Related: How to Keep a Baby Warm at Night (Evidence-Based Guide)

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Now for the third item to leave off of your baby registry for safety reasons…


If there’s anything not to put on your baby registry, it’s bumpers and rail covers.

These are unequivocally unsafe.

(You don’t want a quilt either, unless you’re planning to use it for awake time).

Crib accessories are never safe.

The ONLY thing that’s safe to add to a crib is a fitted sheet.

delete from baby registry bumpers rail covers what to register for instead

What the experts have to say

According to a landmark study published in the Journal of Pediatrics,

“…Crib and bassinet bumpers are dangerous. Their use prevents only minor injuries. Because bumpers can cause death, we conclude that they should not be used.”

Just because bumpers and rail covers are sold by all of the major retailers, doesn’t mean they’re safe.

Read this important quote from SIDS Taskforce Chairperson, Dr. Rachel Moon:

 “…A lot of parents have this perception that if stores sell it, it must be safe—because if it wasn’t safe, why would people sell it? And that’s clearly not true. I think that it’s important that parents realize that these things are not safe for their babies.” (Source)

Related: Baby Keeps Hitting Head on Crib (how to handle this safely)

What to register for instead

Register for some fun fitted sheets!

I pulled together 100+ of the best crib sheets and organized them by nursery theme.

There are tons of unusual ones worth checking out.

crib sheets jungle animals what to register for baby

Fun sheets for the win!


If you want the safest option for your baby, don’t put a 3-sided bassinet on your registry.

Co-sleepers aren’t held to the same rigorous standards as bassinets with 4 sides.

What the experts have to say

There are documented deaths of babies being entrapped between an adult bed and a co-sleeper. Here is one tragic example.

Additionally, adult bedding can drift into the sleep space. Loose bedding is a known suffocation risk and is highly correlated with SIDS.

The AAP has chosen not to take an official stance on co-sleepers until more data is available.

With so many other options that are known to be safe — i.e. vigorously tested cribs, bassinets, and play yards — it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take a gamble.

Read my in-depth article about this: CoSleepers Attached to a Bed: Safe or Unsafe?

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What to register for instead

There are SO many great options for safe sleep spaces!

The Halo is a good safe option to register for if you like having sides that can be lowered to put the baby down. This is the bassinet we used in the master bedroom.

This mini play yard is what we have downstairs. It has a small footprint and it also grows with your baby. 10/10 recommend this!

If you want to check out other options for safe sleep spaces, here’s my complete guide to choosing a bassinet or playard.

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Halo bassinet baby what to register for

This is our Halo Bassinet. It’s safe for sleep and the swivel feature is unique!


  • wedges
  • anti flat head pillows
  • anti roll pillows
  • any pillow-like product intended for sleep

The AAP, FDA, and CPSC have explicitly advised against the use of these products.

sleep positioner don't put on baby registry

What the experts have to say

Sleep positioners are known suffocation hazards and are linked to numerous infant deaths, which is why they’re #5 on our list of what not to put on a baby registry.

“NEVER use infant sleep positioners.” – FDA

“Parents and caregivers are being warned not to put infants in sleep positioners because they can cause a baby to struggle to breathe and lead to death.” – AAP

“We urge parents and caregivers to take our warning seriously and stop using these sleep positioners, so that children can have a safer sleep.” – CPSC

This article from the CPSC has a really good overview on the subject.

What to register for instead

To be clear, there is no direct replacement for a sleep positioner, wedge, or flat head pillow. Any similar product would present the same serious safety risks and earn itself a spot on our “what not to put on your baby registry” list.

Instead, register for products to use during awake time to promote muscular development.

Here are some great products for tummy time:


There are serious risks associated with the use of this product.

Weighted blankets and sleep sacks should only be used under physician supervision for sensory disorders.

Read about this swaddle transition product here: Are Nested Bean Sleep Sacks Safe?

Related: Are Dreamland Baby’s Weighted Sleep Sacks Safe?

swaddle transition product safety

What the experts have to say

Weighted blankets are used therapeutically in children (not babies) who are able to remove the garments themselves.

They are only prescribed for use under supervision and for just a few minutes at a time.

The added weight on a baby’s chest can impair respiration. It can also reduce an infant’s ability to wake up if he’s having trouble breathing.

More: Are Nested Bean Sleep Sacks Safe?

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What to register for instead

The Zipadee-Zip technically falls into a gray area of safety, but it’s likely the safest ‘transition’ product available. We used it and loved it.

baby sleeping in pack n play bassinet

More: Safely Transitioning out of the Swaddle: The Ultimate Guide

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Here’s another item not to put on your baby registry: any Pack ‘n Play with a “napper” or “sleeper”.

Despite their highly misleading names, these attachments are not safe for sleep. (They’re fine for supervised awake time).

Nappers and sleepers are padded, inclined, and don’t meet CPSC standards.

The only attachment that’s safe for sleep is one that’s explicitly called a “bassinet.”

Note: The playard itself is safe for sleep. So is the bassinet level of a playard.

pack n play attachments are unsafe for sleep delete from your registry what to register for instead

What the experts have to say

Just like co-sleepers (discussed above), nappers and sleepers are not subject to mandatory federal regulation.

Graco recently started renaming their Pack N Play attachments after 73 infant deaths in similar products prompted long overdue safety recalls.

Nowadays, attachments are labeled on Graco’s website as “seats,” “bouncers,” and “rockers.”

You might still see the old “napper” and “sleeper” names on other websites that sell their products.

What to register for instead

Graco has a new Pack N Play that comes with a removable dome bassinet that’s safe for sleep.

Alternatively, just get a basic playard without all the bells and whistles. Here are a few to check out:

Related: Which Pack ‘n Plays have the highest weight limits?

Related: Bassinet vs Pack ‘n Play (how to choose!)

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Crib tents are another safety no-no to leave off your baby registry.

A tent isn’t a safe way to prevent your baby from climbing out of the crib. (Here’s what the AAP recommends instead).

If you have pets, plan to keep them in a separate room when you are unable to supervise.

What the experts have to say

Infants and toddlers can get caught in the fabric and be strangled or trapped between the tent and the crib rails. Crib tents have also been known to collapse.

There are documented cases of infant death and brain damage resulting from the use of crib tents.

The AAP strongly advises against attaching anything to your baby’s crib. It should be completely empty with just a fitted sheet (and a pacifier if you want).

What to register for instead

Unfortunately, if you were interested in a tent to keep pets away from the crib, there’s nothing safe to register for in its place.

You could always register for a nice cat/dog bed if you’re kicking your fur child out of her usual sleeping spot.

unsafe nursery items not to put on baby registry


This one’s less about what not to register for. It’s more about being strategic with the decor you receive as gifts.

It’s not safe to hang anything above your baby’s crib. This will sadly nullify a lot of the “nursery inspo” pictures you’ve pinned on Pinterest.

wall hangings above crib delete from baby registry infant safety

What the experts have to say

The AAP advises:

“We also recommend limiting your over-the-crib wall decorations to painted walls and wallpaper. Picture frames and mirrors over cribs are often an accident waiting to happen.”

The AAP also makes this important general point:

“Your baby usually will be unattended when in his or her crib, so this should be a totally safe environment.”

Note: If you’re adamant about hanging decor above your baby’s crib, pull the crib out 1 foot from the wall so if it falls, it doesn’t fall into the crib.

What to register for instead

For the wall behind your baby’s crib, consider registering for an amazing wall decal.

Check out the decals we applied in Aden’s nursery.

The ABC's of Safe Sleep baby alone back crib

Below, you can see that we put our wall hangings above the (adult) day bed instead of over the crib.

baby animal nursery wall art above bed what to register for baby

Final thoughts on what not to put on your baby registry

Of course we want the magical products that make our babies sleep better… and of course we want the cool stuff that makes for an instagrammable nursery…

But, the terrible truth is that babies have died in the very sleeping environments that are not only normalized, but glorified, all over social media.

SIDS is horrific, but the silver lining is that it’s largely preventable.

If you’re a first time parent working on your baby registry, you’re in the perfect position to avoid owning a lot of unsafe products all-together.

By knowing what not to put in your baby registry, you get to start off with safe habits without ever knowing any different.

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