There are infinity gear guides for new parents out there. (My go-to resource is Lucie’s List, but I also had success in the example registries at Babylist. This is only like my third post so no, neither of these are paid advertisements. I just used them and liked them. I should say nothing on this post is sponsored, just good stuff IMHO.)
In Last Mommy Blog fashion, let me add yet another slew of advice about what you should register for.
As building a baby registry can be daunting, gear guides can be helpful in keeping you from going completely nuts.
But the honest truth is, getting baby gear is like packing for an international vacation without knowing where you’re going. Some new parents will be headed to the tropics, and will rave about how helpful it was to have a snorkel and flip flops. The parents who take their advice will be disappointed in these items’ lack of utility when they find themselves in the Alps.
However, there are a few things you’ll need regardless of where you’re going: Passport, underwear, an adventurous spirit.
I tend toward minimalism, and didn’t have a million things on my registry. (We still got a TON of stuff from our very generous friends and family, but I don’t have a lot of space to stash stuff and have liked being able to buy stuff as I discover a need for it after baby’s arrival. I also try to be a responsible consumer and feel a little itchy about getting a pile of plastic shit I will not need in the near future/possibly ever.)
For what it’s worth, here are six pieces of baby gear I found essential (for my winter, breastfed, loves-to-be-held-all-the-time, baby boy):
If you’ve ready any of the literature on the “Fourth Trimester,” it makes an awful lot of sense that new babies like to sleep and just generally be snuggled up close to you – they’re accustomed to being snug in a uterus. So if you like using your hands to do things such as eat cookies, send text messages, or anything beyond holding a sleeping baby, I would suggest getting a baby carrier of some sort.
As a bit of a minimalist, I also like the idea of baby carriers for outings because they mean you don’t have to cart around a stroller or lug the infant car seat around a store (those things are HEAVY!)
The Moby-type wraps seemed daunting, like you need a merit badge in knot-tying to secure them. So I registered for the Baby K’Tan, which claims to take the guesswork out of manipulating 30 feet of material but functions the same way.
I like the Baby K’Tan well enough. I ordered one for my husband (alas, they are not shareable between parents unless both parents happen to wear the same shirt size), and we both wear the baby around as he sleeps. But when I needed my hands free last week and my K’Tan happened to be in the laundry, I reluctantly pulled out the *Sleepy Wrap that was given to me by a dear friend and veteran mom who is an expert Craigslist-trawler for baby items.
*Looks like Sleepy Wrap became Boba Wrap in 2011, so this is a vintage item. But I think they’re identical.
Lo and behold, it wasn’t hard to figure out how to wrap this thing at all, and the feel and stretch of the material is way better than the Baby K’Tan. I feel like I’m nearly crushing my baby maneuvering him into the K’Tan, and there’s no way I could successfully breastfeed in it – I’ve tried. (I guess it could be a size thing, but I followed the company’s sizing guide, so…) The Sleepy Wrap still feels secure and supportive (as long as you tie it tight enough), but it’s more forgiving. And it’s one size fits all, so it’s more cost effective. I’ve seen the Baby K’Tan Breeze, which is made of mesh. That might be stretchier and certainly would help with the heat factor. I’d probably buy that one instead, if I had to do it over again.
A friend of mine has a ring sling that seems to be a great option, too, but I can’t justify spending $80 to experiment when I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got.
In short, I would suggest getting some sort of cloth baby carrier. They’re a relatively inexpensive and worthwhile investment in my experience.
Some day I’ll delve into my history with selling breast pumps as a childless 22-year-old recent college graduate. Suffice it to say, I knew I was going to need one if I ever wanted to work/hire a babysitter/leave the baby with my husband. Fortunately, insurance covered mine, which is great, because I had a rocky start with breastfeeding and about a week and a half into motherhood I had to spend about 36 hours exclusively pumping and feeding the baby with a syringe and my finger while I healed up a little bit. (More on early breastfeeding adventures soon, you lucky dogs.) Having a pump at hand right away allowed me to work through the kinks so I could keep going.
Even if you’re not sure how you’re going to feed your baby in the long run, if you can get a double electric breast pump through insurance or a generous benefactor, go for it. It could be the rescue you need in the first few weeks, the key to long-term success if you’re going back to work, and remember: breast milk is way cheaper than formula.
I should add that there’s a bunch of other breastfeeding-related paraphernalia you’re going to want, but I felt sort of weird registering for nipple cream (especially since we had a co-ed shower) and it was pretty cheap/easy to Amazon Prime to myself.
Dressing a newborn is frankly terrifying. The body suits you have to pull over their soft little skulls are better attempted after a few weeks when the baby seems a little sturdier and you feel a little more confident, in my opinion. I bought a couple thermal jammies from Old Navy to serve as The Baby’s home-from-the-hospital outfit and really liked them (though their newborn/0-3 months size cutoff is weird at 7 lbs, and The Baby is about to grow out of the 0-3 month size at 8 1/2 weeks). Zippered pajamas are fine, too, but I like the snaps because you don’t have to expose the baby’s tummy to change a diaper.
Also, I didn’t bother getting many newborn clothes because they say a lot of babies are born too big to ever wear newborn clothes, but be warned: 0-3 month sizes are ENORMOUS on a 7-pound newborn. Don’t bother with expensive/fancy/complicated newborn clothes in case you can’t use them, but it’s worthwhile to get 5-6 cheap sleeper sets, because if your baby is less than 8-8.5 lbs at birth, you’re going to need them for at least the first couple of weeks.
You don’t really have to register for much in the way of baby clothes, if your friends and family are anything like mine they will pile them on you (take hand-me-downs! Take them all!)
Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play
This was a garage sale find from my mom, and I was grateful to get it. This item has gotten rave reviews all over the place, and I will add to it. It’s small and portable enough to drag from room to room, it’s easier than any swing to get a tiny baby in and out of, and it holds a swaddled baby quite nicely. I will reiterate what Lucie’s List says about babies sleeping in this thing: If you’re worried, talk to your pediatrician.
Black and White Board Book
It’s weird to think newborns can see just 8″-12″ at birth, and can’t see color for a long time after that. While he seems to slowly be warming up to listening/looking at pictures in the many wonderful children’s books we got at our baby shower (inscribed with greetings, instead of cards – great idea!), our baby’s current obsession is a simple, black & white board book. I can prop it up next to him in his crib while I’m picking out his clothes or taking a bathroom break, and he is riveted by the high contrast pictures.
I think all infant pants should come with attached feet. Easy to lose baby socks and baby shoes for kids who can’t even pick their own heads up make no sense to me. But alas, I am not in charge of baby clothes manufacture. So if you’re going to dress your baby in anything but the aforementioned, beloved, snap-up/zip-up sleepers, you’re going to need to keep their feet warm with something that will actually stay on. My friend and fellow new mom recommended these Zutano booties to me, and even though they’re a little expensive for a tiny pair of shoes, they stay on amazingly well. Just make sure you get the 6 month size. My not-freakishly-huge baby just about outgrew the 0-3 month size at 6 weeks or so, and because they snap on, it’s okay if they’re a little big at first.
And here’s a quick bonus list of things I’ve done just fine without, at least for the first two months:
- Wipe warmer
- Bottle warmer
- Separate changing table (use a dresser and a changing pad)
- Adult-looking clothes for newborn babies (he sleeps 20 hours a day, let him wear pajamas)
- White noise machine (I bought a $4 mini-fan)
- Crib mobile (My baby so far has spent a total of 35 minutes in the crib, and that board book has been plenty of entertainment)
- Stroller (We have one, and I’m sure I’ll love it someday, but it’s winter and no one shovels their sidewalks in my neighborhood so it’s useless right now)
- Flashy, noisy toys (little ones can very easily be overstimulated.My kid’s current favorite toy is my face. BTW, I love this post about hacking an activity playmat to make it less like the Vegas strip. )
What’s on your must have/don’t bother list? Let me know in the comments or Tweet at me @arkayokay.