I Had No Idea “Binky” Is a Brand Name

It’s like Klennex.  Who knew?

Registering for baby stuff is quite an experience.  I have never in my life had to shop for so many things about which I know so little.  The only thing I can remotely compare it to is when I went shopping for what I would need to go to college.  And at least the school provided a suggested list (which I based most of my decisions on).  Also, everything I was going to take to college had to fit in one car with myself and my family, so there was a finite limit on space.  Everything we need for the baby just needs to fit in our house.  And some people will just suggest we get a bigger house.

There are so many possibilities and options in terms of baby items.  Everyone you talk to has a different suggested list on what you should purchase for your baby.  Each list varies greatly in size, suggestions and cost.  Some lists swear by certain brands, which may be taboo on other lists.  If you look at a suggested list from a baby store, you’ll get really scared.  There are certain things you know you need to have.  Like a car seat.  And a crib, cradle or other place for baby to sleep (unless you’re planning on co-sleeping, and I’m not getting into that).  And maybe a stroller.  Beyond that, almost everything else is less clear.

Walking into Target to shop for baby stuff for the first time was completely overwhelming.  And by comparison to the experience I had at the baby-specific stores, that was nothing.  After having survived the experience, I think I might have learned a little.  (We’ll see how the stuff I “learned” holds up after baby arrives.) 

First, the best advice I got was from a friend who had been through this recently.  Other friends, family members, acquaintences, etc. wanted to offer their own advice, but many things about baby stuff have changed.  The things that were indespensible or thought to be the safest even 5 years ago have changed.  My friend Pam, who had her baby in January, gave me fantastic advice.  She gave me a list of stuff that she found the most useful, and I went from there. 

Second, try to be reasonable.  There are so many things out there in the category of “baby items”.  A very few of them are essential, several of them are convenient, some of them are fun, and a lot of them are unnecessary.  Start with the things that you know a baby needs (whether you know much about babies or not).  Babies need a place to sleep, and some kind of bedding for the place they’ll sleep.  They need a car seat to ride home from the hospital (at least).  They need some kind of clothing (although don’t register for it — people will buy clothes for you and second hand items are plentiful).  If baby will be bottle fed, baby will need bottles.  And diapers are a good idea.  Basic first aid and grooming supplies are a must.  Beyond that, you go into non-essentials.  Some of these really are a good idea.  It’s a good idea to purchase some towels and washcloths that are baby sized.  It’s a good idea to get a special bath for baby.  Monitors to keep an eye on baby, and carriers to move baby around are a good idea.  Swaddling blankets, burp cloths and cloth diapers (for burp cloths) make a lot of sense.  A play pen, bouncy chair and baby swing are all helpful items (or so I hear).  Mattress pads that are waterproof, changing pads (with covers), and diaper bags to carry all of the travel items in are all good ideas.  A diaper pail (to seal up smells) can be functional if you don’t think you’ll be easily able to take diapers out at all hours.  Toys and rattles, at this point, go into the next category: fun but not necessary (besides, you’ll get lots of these things whether you want them or not).  So do things like fluffy blankets (the kind that match a bedding set, or other cute kinds).  These can’t be used in bed with baby, so unless mom or dad is using them while nursing or rocking the baby, they’re just decoration.  Some people swear by music and/or DVDs for newborns, but most of what I read suggests that at this age, these are more for the parents than the baby.  A lot of baby items (which many of the aforementioned store suggestion registries swear by) are really not needed.  Jogger strollers aren’t needed until baby is at least 6 months old (although you can register for it earlier), and the same is true for high chairs.  There are a limit to the number of jumpers, walkers, etc. that you need.  A brand new baby can’t use them.  It’s certainly too early to be thinking about potty training!

Third, try to get a professional opinion, if you can find one you trust.  We were wary about soliciting opinions from salespeople — at first.  We were lucky enough to come upon a baby store, Great Beginnings, that changed our minds.  They have incredibly well educated, helpful sales people, they believe in one-on-one customer service, and they don’t work on commission.  Also, the owners of the store maintain ridiculously high standards — they simply don’t carry anything they don’t believe it.  So, after spending an afternoon with one of their employees, we decided to set up a registry tour.  It was really a great experience.  He spent an afternoon going around the store with us, explaining our choices in each category, and sharing his recommendations (which all were backed up with good data).  All without any obligation to purchase anything or even to register with their company.  We got some excellent advice from them.  We did end up registering there (as well as at Amazon, where we found a more varied selection, particularly on items we felt that Great Beginnings fell short on — they only carry one brand of hooded towels, for example, and none in 100% cotton, which we wanted).  It was some really valueable information — although it couldn’t be completely without bias, it was pretty close, and incredibly valuable.

Fourth, follow your instincts.  Even if you aren’t a “baby person” (I’m not), you haven’t been around babies much, and you haven’t been ooh-ing and aah-ing over baby stuff for years, you have an instinct for this stuff.  You know your life.  You know what kind of person you are.  Your baby will be fitting in with your situation as much as you’ll be adjusting to him.  Follow your gut about which things you know will help, and which will be silly (and which will be silly, but you just want them anyway).

Of course, once you’ve figured out what you need, you still have to determine how much of each thing you need.  I won’t give any advice on that until my baby comes and I have some idea about whether or not I’ve chosen well.  I will say this — we didn’t register for any baby clothes and we already have enough clothes to keep our baby happy for a month without doing laundry.  Some have been gifts, but many were nearly new hand-me-downs from friends.  Either way, I stand by my recommendation not to register for any baby clothes.  You can always go out and buy a few things if you need them (and once you know what size baby really is).

After my baby arrives, I’ll know how useful my experience has been.  Regardless, I feel like I’ve learned a lot.  I have a whole new appreciation for how much a baby needs, and really, how few things are really important.  As long as we get the car seat (required by law) almost everything else is negotiable.  I want the best for my baby, like everyone does, but the way we love him is so much more important than everything else.  He’ll be a happy baby.

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