What I am a little more comfortable calling myself a near-expert on, though, is pregnancy and babies. Or, that is, high risk pregnancy with lots of interventions and babies. I fear I will never be the mom who can tell you how blissful and empowering her completely med-free birth was, and I'll never be the mom sharing tips for how to have you baby at home in a birthing tub, although I have been lucky enough to video tape that very experience for a close friend and wow, is it ever intense. I won't ever profess to tell anyone how to raise their babies, since I've done it a bit differently with each baby, myself. I call it the "doing what works" method. Maybe I'll write a book on that one day. I can, though, give tips on how much crap you don't need for your baby.
That's a good niche, right?
My best friend from high school (and Jace's godmother) is finally having her first baby this May after miscarrying twins last year. I feel like a tool writing that part but I also didn't want her, should she read this, to think that I've forgotten that this isn't actually her first baby. The "finally" is all mine...I have been impatient for she and her awesome husband to hurry up and have a baby already. Of course this isn't new...I was also very impatient for them to get married, and the past few months I have been very impatient for them to announce the pregnancy so I could talk about it. But finally, she's openly pregnant and this weekend, she started her baby registry.
Just for reference, here is a photo of Kara, Lindsey, and I on a cruise a while back (ELK of JELKS, btw).
Kara's the one in front with the big gun. I think if she frames this in the baby's room she'll have a very obedient child. I know I'd listen to her.
Anyway, several times in her pregnancy so far we've talked about baby gear, and it's a question I tend to get from a lot of pregnant first time moms who are running themselves ragged trying to figure out what they need. I know, I was there once. But every time someone asks me that I kind of freeze, because truthfully...babies don't need much at all.
But most first time moms don't really want to hear that. They want the bedding sets and the bouncy seats and the changing table and the wipe and bottle warmers and that thing you put on top of a baby boy's penis to keep him from peeing on you, and they want it all to match. I know. I've been that mom.
But the cold hard truth is this:
Babies (and by babies I'm talking newborns) only need a handful of things. Some people need even less than me, but here is my list, along with some specific items I find myself recommending a lot. Of course, your mileage may vary and you may hate what I like. It happens.
- A good carseat.
- A good stroller.
- A good baby carrier.
- Some boobs. Or formula, if you'd rather. You'll need bottles, too, if you're going the formula route.
- A place to sleep. Buy lots of sheets and mattress covers and layer them, that way when baby spits up you can pull off the top layer and go back to bed. Preferably without bumpers.
- A baby monitor. (This is debatable, but I'm a fan of mine)
- Some baby care kit (I like the Little Remedies New Parents Survival Kit) with medications, a bulb syringe, and a thermometer.
- Clothes. Lots of onesies for this period, although I can't stand them myself. They're golden when you're changing the baby every two seconds.
- Lots of receiving blankets and burp clothes. I like using the birdseye cloth diapers for burp clothes, and Aden and Anais swaddling wraps have always been a necessity for swaddling my babies.
That was more than a handful, but I bet you it's still shorter than the list you get from Babies R Us. Some babies like bouncy seats and swings, but I've learned that not every baby does, so it may be best to wait before you buy in case your baby ends up hating them (I'm talking about you, Seth), and you're left with a big swinging paper weight. The bedding sets are adorable but unusable, and unless you're going to hang the quilt on the wall or use the bumper for something creative, they're not worth the money. I know. I know they're cute. I've bought them in my time, too.
Of course if you want to, you can buy so much more. But I've found that over the years these are the things I just can't live without, while many of the other baby gear paraphernalia has gotten tossed into the attic or given away. I tend to use a little less with each baby, and because of it, their care seems to be simpler to me. I throw a changing pad on a dresser to change them instead of using a changing table with a limited lifespan, I toss the baby in a carrier when I need my arms free, and I try to remember that spending playtime on a blanket on the floor is a lot more beneficial to developing muscles than being stuck in some baby apparatus or another. But the things I wouldn't and won't compromise on are my kids' carseats and strollers. Buying good products the first time around means they stand up for use with the next baby and the next and the next. In fact, the stroller I use most with Evany was Jace's stroller as an infant. It's five years old and you would never know. In the same amount of time, I have friends who have gone through several different strollers and spent the same amount of money for a lot less quality.
So I guess that would be my number one near-expert, sixth time around baby advice. Buy less quantity and higher quality, and you'll find your baby gear lasts through all your baby years.
(Did you like that rhyme? I think it's kind of awesome. I just thought that up, too.)