I went through everything after the shower and we did return/exchange a bunch of gear that we mostly got doubles or triples of (we didn't need 3 nasal aspirators!), or that I wasn't sure we would use. The shower was in July 2010, so by the time we got Baby X, it was way past gift-receipt expirations (if I could even find them), and I had gotten rid of my registry. First of all, don't delete the registry! Here's what happened with some of our gear-issues.
1. A new recommendation came out that babies should be rear-facing until the age of 2. The car seat we registered for was good up to 32 pounds, but a new one had been released that is good up to 35 pounds. Three pounds maybe doesn't make a difference and there are convertible seats, but because we hadn't taken it out of the box yet, I decided to get the larger car seat. Well, no gift receipt, no registry, and the car seat had recently been put on sale. I think it was a wash since we had a coupon for the new one, but in retrospect, I wouldn't have even bothered registering for a car seat unless we did the baby shower when we were further up the list.
2. Baby bottles. I think we got lucky in that Baby X made the switch to our bottles easily (different nipples, and apparently babies can be picky). But, we had registered for, and received several small bottles that hold up to 3.5-4 ounces of formula. Baby X was already eating 4 ounces when we were placed with him, rendering 4 of our bottles useless, and the other 3 on the verge of useless. Not to mention, we're scrambling to get more of the bigger bottles! I'd suggest registering for a few larger size (up to 8 ounce) bottles, but not too many because of the nipple thing.
3. Bottle nipples. Somehow, I didn't think to return the extra nipples people had gotten with the baby bottles. They were all stage 1, and by the time I realized I didn't need them, they had been put on clearance (again, no receipt, no registry) and I got the clearance price.
4. Clothing. If you get a lot of sleeping gowns and sleep n' plays, I'd return them. Keep some onesies and t-shirts. Of course this depends on the weather in your part of the world. I have several newborn sized gowns that won't get used because he has to be swaddled to sleep. I also have a couple of the sleep n' plays that won't get used because it's too hot for long sleeves and foot coverings. And, he hates having things pulled over his head, creepers that have snaps all the way from the chin to the legs are awesome!
5. Rattles. Anyone need one? I've got 6. Don't ask why I didn't manage to figure out that was too many last July! People love to add rattles to your gifts. I think I'll save a couple in their packages and pass them on in the future. heh.
So, having btdt, here's my suggestions for the registry if you aren't sure if you'll be matched for a while:
- A couple of bottles, no extra nipples
- Bottle drying rack and bottle brush
- Diaper bag
- Burp Cloths
- Crib Sheets/bedding
- Port-a-crib/bassinet and bedding
- Either a couple crib sheet protector, or waterproof pads for the crib.
- Lap pads
- Wash cloths/towels
- First aid/grooming tools
- changing table pad/cover
- crib mattress
- a swaddle blanket or swaddle sack
- Receiving blankets
- Safety latches and outlet covers
- Diaper pail and liners
- maybe a ring sling, baby k't.an, M wrap, or sle.epy wrap. I'm not enamored with the M wrap, but hear the Slee.py wrap is much better. The K't.an has to be sized to you. I really wish I had gotten the ring sling I registered for, so we'll end up buying it.
Anyway, that's just my suggestions based on my experience, and I've probably forgotten some things. Not to mention, we thought we were set, and have ended up going back to the store a couple of times in the first week! In fact, I think I have a trip to take today...
Feel free to add other suggestions in the comments!