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gender neutral baby gear

The Practicality of Pink (or Blue)

By Amalah

Hi Amy!

Long time reader, first time writer. I’m beginning to register for my first baby, and I need some advice. I’m having a girl, and I’m being pulled by the siren of cute strollers with pink accents, with matching pink carseat, matching pink Pack-N-Play, matching pink swing, you get the idea. (PREGO WOMEN NEED MATCHY!) But, I’ll probably have another baby within the next few years, and there’s no way to guarantee that that baby is a girl.

So, I need advice. Splurge on the super cute girly items, and hope that baby #2 is a girl? Or go boring and gender neutral? And while we’re at it, are there non-hideous gender neutral products out there? I refuse to let a Winnie the Pooh themed Pack-N-Play into my house.

Sincerely,
(Trying to Be) Pretty In Pink

A few days after our First Big Ultrasound, my husband and I hit the Big Box Baby Store, registry-zapper-gun in hand. And proceeded to have many, MANY discussions about going blue vs. gender neutral for probably every piece of baby gear we encountered. The resulting baby registry was a hodge-podge of random: a blue Pack-n-Play and car seat (in matching fabric, even though they have nothing to do with each other, but because PREGNANT), a red stroller, gender-neutral crib bedding and swing but then a blue high chair because I DON’T KNOW.

Prior to getting pregnant, I had all kinds of High-Minded Opinions about gender stereotyping and the pink vs. blue establishment, but then something happened to my brain. Every time I went shopping pre-ultrasound I would stare at the gender neutral offerings for such a long time that they stopped LOOKING gender neutral to me after awhile. That brown is too boyish. That green pattern looks flowery. That yellow is ugly. Once I found out I was having a boy it just seemed easier to walk up to All The Blue Things and mindlessly zap at them. The decisions were overwhelming enough already without fretting over repeat use in the hypothetical future.

Of course, it helped that I proceeded to have two MORE boys, thus making any concerns over a mismatched Pack-n-Play pretty much moot.

But! If I were your baby registry shadow, here’s the do-as-I-say, not-as-I-did advice:

Car seat

Depending on the spacing of your children, an infant car seat can be a one-kid purchase. They tend to have expiration dates around five or six years, after which the company will no longer test them for defects, wear-and-tear, and will no longer issue recall information. So you could hypothetically go all floofy pink on this one and then still decide to buy a newer model for a second child, even if it’s another girl. You could ALSO use the same frame/base but swap out the fabric cover. Most manufacturers will sell extra covers and you can find a TON of custom covers on Etsy. (They can be pricey, though.) You can also dress up a “boring” neutral seat with inexpensive custom strap and handle covers from Etsy as well. But note that the car seat is something you probably won’t be able to sell, due to the complications regarding expiration dates and recalls and such.

Pack-n-Play

I love our Pack-n-Play. I hate the fabric choice we made, but I still love our Pack-n-Play. (I feel like there are sooooo many nicer/cuter options now: we had a choice between navy blue with teddy bears or khaki, and that was pretty much it.) But it simply doesn’t matter what it looks like and I’ve never considered upgrading because of aesthetics. We don’t keep it out around the house: We toss it in the back of the car and travel with it. We shove it in a corner at friends’ and relatives’ homes, toss a sheet over the bottom, etc. I love how small and light it folds up, how easy it is to carry around and put up, and I really doubt I would have cared at ALL if we had a girl and she spent nights at her grandparents in a blue Pack-N-Play. So basically: Buy which ever one you like the best and be done with it. (You can also sell Pack-N-Plays on Craigslist, should you ever change your mind.)

Stroller

Here’s the thing: I actually don’t think it’s always worth it to buy a stroller before your baby arrives. (Unless you are a non-car, walk-everywhere family — if that’s the case, go high-end. Rubber tires, shocks, super-sturdy frame — not the lightweight coordinating travel systems with plastic wheels. And since those high-end strollers typically cost as much as a mortgage, go gender neutral for future use and ease of selling.) For those of us occasional-stroller users, a Snap-n-Go car seat stroller frame will usually be just fine for the first six months or so, especially if you plan to use slings or baby carriers. (And those you match to YOUR wardrobe and personal taste anyway, NOT your baby’s gender. Whee!)

Once your baby can sit upright around six months, your stroller choices expand AND you’ll likely have a better sense of the KIND of stroller you need, beyond appearance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but the wrong kind of stroller will make you hate your life: too heavy or hard to open/close, too lightweight or hard to maneuver, too wide, not enough strorage, etc. etc. Are you walking on uneven city sidewalks or park trails…or mostly steering around clothing racks at the mall? THESE are the things you consider when buying a stroller, not the fact that it’s matchy-matchy, no matter how irresistible it feels right now. (And I know. It feels pretty irresistible.)

But on the other hand: Eh, you can probably sell it on Craigslist, if you go for pink and then later want blue. (Though a nice green, orange or red are usually good choices too. And black goes with everything!)

Swings/Bouncers/Jumpers/Exersaucers/Etc.

One question to ask yourself: Do you actually have SPACE to store all this crap in between babies? Because unless you have an attic or basement or other generous storage option, you might not even want to hold onto everything. It takes up a ridiculous amount of awkward space. It might be easier to sell or give away and simply plan to re-purchase or re-borrow down the road. Not to mention that motors die, battery compartment covers get lost, fabric seats get unspeakably befouled, etc. And one baby may love swings while another hates them and only likes vibrating bouncers. So this is another place where it’s probably no big deal to just buy what you love without worrying too much about being impractical.

As for finding the nicest of the gender-neutral options, I generally find that 1) shopping online will ALWAYS give you a better selection than what you’ll find at say, Babies R Us or Target and 2) the higher-end you go, the more aesthetically pleasing things are, unfortunately. Bugaboo and Orbit look cooler than Graco, it is true. (And stores like Giggle can make your brain melt and your credit card light itself on fire.) Some of these splurges might be worth it for you (see: stroller, carriers, stuff-that’s-out-in-your-house-all-the-time like high chairs, etc.). Or at least worth registering for just in case someone else wants to splurge on you.

But if you’re on a Graco budget, consider registering on Amazon’s Baby Registry instead, because you’ll find 25 different fabric options instead of two or three. By the time we got to Ike, I don’t think I bought a single thing at an actual store. If it wasn’t on Amazon Prime, we didn’t need it.

(Unless it was on Etsy. I did do quite a bit of damage on Etsy.)

********

If you’re considering an online baby registry, we recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.

Amazon Baby Registry 1

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Albinokittycat
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Albinokittycat

Hi there 🙂  For strollers, if you want a fabulous quality and affordable travel system (or just car seat or stroller) I bought the BabyTrend Expedition ELX.  It is a jogger with three actual wheels, not plastic. Like bike tires. Rides like a dream on every surface I have used it (grass, rocks, snowy parking lots, malls, dirt trails etc…) It is nice looking and at $350 for the travel system a good investment for us. It is still more than those plastic wheel sets, but infinitely more usable.  Also it is still cheaper than a Peg Perego or another fancy one.… Read more »

Stephanie
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Stephanie

We had a girl our first time around and bought almost everything gender neutral, in case our second was a boy. Our second wasn’t a boy though, but we’re still happy with most of our choices. Our Pack N Play is heavily used and it has a cute green elephant thing going on. The car seat is light blue, so everyone assumes our daughter is actually a boy. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with Amy on the Snap-N-Go – it’s cheap, it’s easy to maneuver, and you really don’t need anything else. We did splurge this time around and buy… Read more »

Alissa
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Alissa

We had a boy the first time around, and mostly borrowed the big things.  Our car seat has long since expired before the current baby in my belly (a girl).  Our stroller is black.  Our Pack-n-Play was fairly innocuous (zoo animals, or something).  We’re borrowing big items again for this baby.  And do you thing I give a damn that the swing is blue?  And the bouncy seat is blue?  Hells no.  I care that they are borrowed and therefore FREE, and I can give them back in 6 months and don’t have to store them.  Clothes I am having… Read more »

Olivia
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Olivia

I had a girl first and went gender neutral (or even “boy”) with all the baby equipment in case our second was a boy (he is) and I just found them to be more pleasing. The care seats were picked based on how they went with our car interiors, the pack n play was a sort of neutral, but sort of boy since it’s brown and blue, the swing was a hand me down and blue, and everything else was various shades of blue. For me it was more about not getting questions from strangers I didn’t want to explain things… Read more »

KR
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KR

We have a 1-yr-old girl and are hoping for more down the road.  Before she came along, I was the QUEEN of the snobby anti-gender-stereotyping camp.  And I do still feel like that’s ideal.  But also . . . “gender neutral” is kind of a lie.  If people see a baby item that’s not pink or purple, it’s assumed to mean BOY.  Which sometimes annoys me, but other times . . . eh.  Our compromise was to go gender neutral (= apparently boyish) on all the big-ticket items – orange stroller and high-chair, green and grey carseat, (hodgepodge of used)… Read more »

Autumn
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Autumn

We averted our gaze during the big ultrasound, so we didn’t know when we were registering.  I was convinced we were having a boy, but out popped our spunky little girl.  Her room I had painted in this light seafoamybluegreeny color as I wanted to redo the guest room (now the baby has the good bedroom, the MR has his office, and guests are in the basement and MIL doesn’t care for that!)  I wasn’t going to repaint a room again especially while gestating, so I went with stuff that coordinated with that.  Bedding was cream/”natural” colored, glider is dark… Read more »

Jill
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Jill

I have two boys but didn’t find out what I was having either time, so everything is pretty much green and you know what?  After awhile you don’t really see it anymore.  We used the same infant seat both times and honestly?  I couldn’t even tell you what the pattern is like.  Ditto the pack n play.  I don’t agree with Amy about buying accessories for the carseat; most of them will say right on the packaging that you should NOT add other straps and attachments and such.  But that said, buy a neutral pattern you like and then go… Read more »

Autumn
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Autumn

And a little more rambling from me on your last point:  I was very anti “branding” no winnie the pooh, etc, and I hate the plasticy look so I went to a couple of the “high end” baby boutiques in the area to scope things out, and then hit up amazon.  Crazy thing about some amazon pricing is different colors can cost different amounts.  Actually, our crib, mattress, and glider were the only big box baby store purchases.  Ikea for her shelving unit, and dresser we already owned used as changing table.  

Becky
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Becky

I should probably start with the disclaimer that my mother, after complaining how hard it was to find “cute” clothes for my son, once grumbled at me, “Even if you had a GIRL you probably wouldn’t dress her in cute clothes.” And even after we found out we were having a son, my husband and I gravitated toward gender-neutral bedding and decor — we’re suckers for safari animals, and we disliked the hyper-masculine decor of SPORTS! and TRUCKS! and TOOLS! However, maybe you could find a middle ground? Cute gender-neutral stuff at the base, and then pink accents in the… Read more »

Courtney
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Courtney

We went with gender-neutral for the “big items” (infant car seat, pack and play, convertible car seat, stroller, bouncer, swing, high chair, diaper bag) and gender-specific for clothing, bedding, changing pad cover, breastfeeding pillow cover. We lucked out and I have actually used everything big-ticket item from my first (a girl) for my second (a boy) and will again for my third (to be figured out in a few weeks I hope!). It’s nice to know we have all of the basics no matter what. Our infant car seat was khaki with a bit of green and blue, pack and… Read more »

Karen
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Karen

Went gender-neutral for all major items and dressed our daughter only in yellow ducks from Carters. Ok, no we didn’t. She had no hair until she was 18 months old and despite the pink clothes and dresses, people still thought she was a boy. You can’t win. Then we had a boy and I used a pink BreastFriend and you know what? He still nursed exactly the same as if it was blue. Buy whatever makes you happy. Chances are you will like/dislike/have no luck with/regret things you buy no matter how much thought you put into it.

Kaela Wheeler
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Kaela Wheeler

What is it about pregnancy brain that makes you think these things are SO important?! I know I got totally hung up on things too. We tried to be as gender neutral as possible (Indian exotic animal prints in light blue and cantaloupe, reen pack n play, etc.) We lucked out and found a beautiful travel system in blue/mint/brown in a girlier damask pattern, but honestly, like other people said, unless it’s really pink/purple dominate, it always reads boy, not girl. I don’t think gender neutral really exists! That being said, we won’t be changing anything for the next baby,… Read more »

Lucy
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Lucy

I don’t have any useful advice, but… does anyone else HATE the name Peg Perego? Why is it so annoying? Every time I see that brand I just… ugh. I hate it!

Autumn
Guest
Autumn

It’s a great brand.  We have the infant car seat and a stroller.  And we can refer to our strollers by name, they are Bob and Peg.  Yes, I’m weird, and totally fine with it.  

KimC
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KimC

I have two girls and the only thing I can really warn you against is this: Do not buy a car seat that has pink in the buttock area of said carseat.  Also, do not buy a car seat in light colors for a toddler.  Babies leak and toddlers are dirty.  You might also want to check that the covers of both of those are both washable and easily removable.  You might want to go gender neutral on the highchair- we ended up pulling the cover off ours at about the 8 month mark because it was easier to wash… Read more »

anon
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anon

My advice is buy gender specific clothing, but gender neutral big ticket items (stroller, car seat, pack ‘n play, swing, bouncer seat. You will likely get tons of hand-me-down clothing, so if your second is a boy it won’t be a big deal to pass your girl clothing on and make use clothes you get passed down. (Even if you don’t think you’ll get hand-me-downs now, I can pretty much guarantee that by the time your little girl is 2 or 3 you’ll have a bunch of parent friends that you meet through pre-school, daycare or playgroups, and people are… Read more »

Hi, I'm Natalie
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Hi, I'm Natalie

Also: A baby boy won’t care if he’s sleeping on pink bedding or riding in a pink carseat. Before we found out we were having another girl, I told our in-utero baby that s/he would be sleeping in a pink bassinet not matter what was hiding between his/her legs. A girlfriend of mine who did have a boy for her second just puts the kid in pink stuff – he really doesn’t care.

AU
Guest
AU

We knew we’d probably get pregnant again around 18 months, and we did even though we’d changed our minds hahaha. Luckily we had an extra room with a walk in closet and a huge storage closet so we bought gender nuetral. I’m not regretting it at all. We bought the Laguna Bay pattern from Graco for the high chair, pack n play, and swing which all sat in our living room/dining room/kitchen area together for a while so matching was worth it for my sanity. We bought a Chico stroller that came with the key fit car seat if and… Read more »

Heather
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Heather

We chose to have a delivery room surprise, so we bought everything gender neutral and are so glad we did, as we will be able to reuse everything for subsequent kids.  There aren’t as many options, but there ARE options if you look. We bought both carseats (infant and convertible) in black.  We bought a green UppaBaby G-luxe as our lightweight/travel stroller and an orange BOB for running and other purposes.  Bouncy seat, swing and pack n’ play were gender neutral as well.  For a highchair, we got a Boon Flair in a very light bluish/gray, which I highly recommend.… Read more »

AU
Guest
AU

Oh I forgot to say that the infant car seat carrier is not necessary if you don’t go for lots of walks. We do so it’s nice to have your newborn cacooned in the stroller and carrier away from the cold wind. If you don’t need it though I would splurge on a nice convertible car seat. We bought a 300 dollar Graco one when our daughter got too tall for the infant seat, whichever is the steel frame, and got it in pink, purple, and brown. It’s the last car seat she’ll need and won’t expire till she’s almost… Read more »

April U
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April U

We knew we were having a girl the first time around. I picked the pack and play and high chair that went best with my family room/kitchen decor since that’s where they were going to be used the most. (We used the pack n play for our ground level changing table and bassinet for first few months so we wouldn’t have to run upstairs all the time) They are blue/brown Graco owl print. So glad I did that, and now they will be used with our upcoming boy. The exersaucer, swing, and bouncy chair are all also gender-neutral craigslist/garage sale… Read more »

Autumn
Guest
Autumn

I forgot to mention on the pink baby clothes, I was the oldest, and had plenty of pink clothing I have been told.  My younger brother wore most of my old clothes (except my dresses) when he arrived around the house, my dad’s one request was his son did not leave the home in a pink sleep n play.  Probably worked cause no digital cameras, so there aren’t any pics of my brother in pink, but might be harder now.  

Jennifer
Guest
Jennifer

We didn’t want to know boy/girl before the baby arrived, so we kind of went neutral, but also what was cute.  We’re a dog family and I love the color blue, so a lot of stuff we registered for was probably considered ‘boy’ stuff, but it was adorable and I didn’t care.  When the baby came out girl she was adorable in all of it!  We did end up more neutral on the big items, but I am not a fan of all one color of anything, so we went with more colorful patterns and styles. As for a stroller,… Read more »

Wendy
Guest
Wendy

Idk… see my first one is a boy. We didn’t know what gender our baby was until he was born, because we didn’t really want to know. We had a lot of people (all with boys) offer us their boy’s clothes, and other stuff (like, all the THINGS, as amy would say) and i picked out heaps and heaps of kind-of-gender-neutral things. But now I actually doubt that I would dress a next kid in those jeans and sweaters if it were a girl.. because gender neutral or not, I’ve dressed my boy in it in the past, so I… Read more »

Myriam
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Myriam

When I was pregnant with my daughter, we were really lucky to get a lot a THE THINGS used from a friend who had two boys. So, we ended up with a fish-themed blue pack and play, and a black/grey stroller+car seat… My daughter is now 21 months and has no hair, so I try to dress her in girly clothes, but for other items, I agree to match with your home decor, or take whatever is free, no matter the look. It’s crazy how important that stuff seams before the baby gets there, but after, you won’t even notice… Read more »

Tamara
Guest

I am expecting a girl this fall. I registered for mostly non-pink/purple things because I figure people will fill in that gap with the clothes. I didn’t do brands either. Just solid, bright colors or cute patterns.

betttina
Guest

We didn’t find out the gender before birth, so we got neutral items and then people gave us lots of girl clothes after she arrived. I personally would prefer to still dress her more neutrally – more yellows, greens, orange, red, blue than just PINK! and PURPLE! but if she’s wearing a yellow shirt people assume she’s a boy and don’t even look at the pink shoes. I tried and tried to find plain boring white sneakers for her and ended up with pink plaid. Whenever I find plain t-shirts I buy as many as possible because I don’t like… Read more »

Julie
Guest
Julie

I inherited the Winnie-the-Pooh Pack n Play and all it takes is one little sheet over the mat to cover those romping little weirdos up. You know, with a first girl, you can’t bottle up that girly shopping impulse. It’s okay to let it out. A future hypothetical boy will not care that his bathtub is pink and if other family members do, consider it a fun, harmless way to piss them off. I couldn’t convince myself that I did not need an adorable crib bedding set and matching valances and decals even though I KNEW you couldn’t use half… Read more »

kimtoo
Guest
kimtoo

I didn’t find out with my first, so we have all gender neutral big items: ocean themed nursery, fish swing, green and brown car seat. And I kept going, even as my first got bigger – her convertible carseat had a denim cover (she outgrew it by the time she was 2 – both girls did. WASTE.) Even when I knew my second was a girl, the big stuff stayed neutral, because there’s so much gendered stuff, why not? And I dressed my first little baldie in blue doggie and lion pjs, because she looks awesom in blue and loves… Read more »

Emily
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Emily

I love all my gender neutral items. We didn’t find out until DD arrived and I think my stuff is ultra cute. I never would have created a pepto pink world anyways. We did a wildlife theme (I’m a wildlife biologist) and then when she arrived, I supplemented with more girly stuff. So her first outfits were blue and green and neutral and had animals and such on them. Then she had plenty of pink and kitty cats and flowers and butterflies and all the other things that we wanted to buy her. I love her room and we’re going… Read more »

Rochelle
Guest
Rochelle

Just a note on the car seats – I’m a car seat technician and we advise against buying “after market” car seat covers.  If they come directly from the manufacturer, you’re good to go (although, enough time could pass that, while the seat isn’t expired yet, they don’t make that seat any more, so they wouldn’t make covers for it, either), but if you buy it from any other source, it’s a no no. For one, most covers aren’t made specifically for your seat – they’re kind of a one-size-fits-all deal. Which means you don’t know how that cover will… Read more »

Amy J
Guest
Amy J

I’m pregnant with my first and was feeling overwhelmed when looking online at all the options for EVERYTHING!  I thought that I’d have to find out the gender (my husband does not want to find out) because how could I possibly plan for this kid without knowing which colors to buy?!?  Thank you for all the tips and advice.  It’s so true that the baby will not care about the color of anything – why should I??  I feel better going forward without all the pressure I was putting on myself.  Thanks again!

leslie
Guest
leslie

I knew I was having a girl the first time around, and I still went gender nuetral with the big ticket items. Carseat/stroller are orange, PnP is green, etc. I love them. And I guess, personally, I kind of hate frilly pink stuff anyhow. Trust me when I say that the moment that kid is born, you’ll get so many pink/girlie things you won’t know what to do with it all. And you’ll be glad to have a bit of a respite with the gender nuetral items. And then there is no pressure to buy all new stuff should your… Read more »

Mel
Guest
Mel

I second the recommendation for a Snap-N-Go stroller frame. I bought mine for $30 on Craigslist because I thought it would probably be $30 worth of useful, but not $70-$100 worth of useful if bought brand new. After having it for several months, now think it’s totally worth the full price if you have to buy it new.