new parents and the myth of BABY GEAR

I frequently get emails from new parents asking "What do I really need for my new baby?" and as a new parent, upon your first visit to the OBGYN you somehow get on a mailing list that will surprise you! And as soon as you begin to show your bump, get yourself ready for everyone you meet telling you what to do, and how to do it... the subway was a particularly voulnerable spot for me (and it doesn't end with pregnancy, when you have a baby they will tell you how to raise your baby! and in particular everything that you are doing wrong!)

Okay not here... I just wanted to share a list of things that are good to have new, things you may not need at all, and things you can borrow from friends.

1) CLOTHING - not to toot my own horn but you will need onesies, pants and socks new, only because anything you get from friends will probably be full of barf... BUT in the same breath, you don't need hundreds of these things. just think about changing about three times a day and then you will find yourself doing laundry more often, this is all normal. But when your baby is moving into 12m or so... you will start to share clothing with your friends (less barfing at this time) which makes things a lot easier.
Bibs-ikea has a great 10-pack.
Burp cloths-personally I like to have nice ones, I don't know what it is about this, but you can buy a beautiful kitchen towel and cut it in half and you are set. It's something about cleaning up barf or boogers with a sweet cloth that makes it all better! You can also make these easily by sewing together your favorite print fabric and a wash cloth.

2) GEAR - I think that gear really depends upon where you live; urban, suburban or rural. So I will talk about these three lifestyles and you can see what best relates to you:

URBAN - stroller, stroller, stroller - buy the best stroller you can get for your money and plan on it being worn out in about 5-6 months. But I must say, I have never seen an 'old' or crappy looking Bugaboo! Car seats you could share with a friend because when are you really even in a car? and decide if you are a sling person or a baby bjorn type person (if you have back issues you will still probably want to carry your baby this way because it's so wonderful to have them this close to you!). What ever happened to just carrying your baby without all this stuff!?--You will more than you know, so just figure out what works best for you!

SUBURBAN - you may use a stroller from time to time but you can even think about sharing one with your friend, or even just having a cheap and easy one for travelling etc. is just about all you need. Do your research on the car seat and get one that you are really happy with, the lounging ones are great because it's easy for your kids to get a snooze in the car this way. A sling or baby bjorn is a good thing to borrow from a friend, or maybe it's a good idea to borrow one of each until you decide what you like and what works best for you and your baby and then buy that one new.

RURAL - If you live rural you are a bit like we are now, I pulled out a stroller for a recent trip to NYC and realized we had not used it for two years! (and it is certainly cheap and simple). Again, the car seat is king... get a good, safe and comfortable car seat. I think that the sling or baby bjorn is handy for around the house, and it's good for putting your baby to sleep while you clean the house or work etc.. but it can even be borrowed.

3) HIGHCHAIR - I think that Ikea has a great one that is cheap and perfect, it can be whiped down (you could almost throw the whole thing in the dishwasher!) and if you want to go delux there is a nice one by Stokke that's great too--it's super adjustable and will take your child into toddlerhood. But these large american ones that are a-kin to a cadillac are really too much... plus they take up so much room! the highchair is a terrific thing to borrow from a friend, you will want one for about 1-2 years so just think about this when you are buying an expensive chair. I have a friend that swears by those clip-on chairs, I love them and I think they are so smart but we just happened to not use one (there is a great swedish one by the company Smart Sit that is wood and really cute).

4) TOYS AND GAMES - I know that this is a real hot topic right now, so I'm a little shy to touch on it but I will just tell you how we handle toys... we buy most used, at a couple of local consignment shops and also on eBay, we are careful about what we are buying and honestly it's mostly wood toys that we collect by Creative Playthings and for babies it's a little scary with paint, you will be amazed how your baby plays with anything that is NOT a toy!

5) BLANKETS--it's really nice to have a few, and don't be afraid to use them...I know that you want to keep them nice if they are fancy but have some that are just easy to throw down on the ground, wherever you are, and then you can just toss them in the wash. It's great to give your baby a space to play by themselves so you are not holding them all the time... they need that space to explore!

6) BOTTLES, PACIFIERS ETC.. don't go crazy on this stuff until you see what your needs are here, every baby is different and you don't know, just have one or two on hand at first to see what is going to happen. There are quite a few companies now that make glass bottles, these are certainly the best, don't even think of plastic! (I keep meaning to sell them on NCM but I keep forgetting to order them!) Just buy one pacifier for 0-3 months and see if it's something your baby wants, some love it--some just won't take one no matter what!

7) CRIBS, BASSINETTE, ETC - before you run out and decorate a nursery realize this... your baby will sleep in that crib for maybe 1-2 years... that's IT!! at first your baby will probably sleep in some sort of basket or in your own bed for...however long (three years!!! yikes!) This is a great place to share with friends just put it out there and I am sure at least five friends will rush at the chance to get rid of the crib in their basement! I understand the desire to get ready for your baby by creating their beautiful room and I think that's great and terrific if you can do it and you have the space, but if you don't...don't think that your new baby needs a nursery of his/her own! Our son, who was born while we lived in a one bedroom in NYC, had a small wall, three wall hooks a drawer and a place to change him and that's it! it's all you really need! It's not necessary to go out and look at new houses that are bigger just yet... wait until they are 3-4-5 years... you have time!

8) DIAPER BAG - I hate them and I never used them! (and notice I don't sell them on Nonchalant Mom!) I took this opportunity to purchase a really sweet bag at Barneys (not as in pink-sweet, but as in sw-e-e-t!) What a GREAT excuse! If you really think you need one just get somthing that zips and fits inside your fancy new bag that you can use for your baby items. I did use lot's of those zip bags for pacifiers, wipes and diapers, etc that went INSIDE my very cool Barneys bag!

I am sure that I forgot a whole LOT of things! so tell me and we can keep adding to this list. We would love to hear your comments on how you handle(d) your new baby! Good Luck and be happy with what you have, you will feel smarter about making the moves when you need to rather than rushing into something that is not really necessary. Your baby is not going to care about their living conditions until they are a teenager! I like to look at it this way, the smaller your house the better you know what everyone is doing, because if your house is small enough (as ours is) they are always in your sight!

I would love to hear from parents outside the United States too! How do you feel about all this 'stuff' that people think they need to get for a new baby.