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.


Anonymous said...

i say poo to expensive strollers... 'specially since a sling or other carrier gives you hands free, less driving hazards (small spaces in stores, other's toes etc). we used a stroller system for the 1st 3 mos. and then never saw a point to hauling it around. i don't even use a stroller through airports... way too much of a paint! the one i like is the a jogging stroller but that we got off craigslist. easy peasy.
that said... SLING. must have a sling.
diaper bags... hmm... not so much on those either. use a bag that you like and zip lock diapers and wipes (then you can use whatever bag you want without the problem of forgetting to unpack somehting. have a small soft cooler on hand for bottles and food but really you shouldn't need to haul around the whole world.
as for blankets... i'm thinking i would like the inside line on hospital blankets!! where do they come from??? they are always perfect for swaddling, they soften over time, they absorb anything and release any and all stains with or without enzymes. love them!

lesley said...

I love my beco baby carrier, it's more supportive than a bjorn b/c it goes around our hips (like a hiking backpack) and once your baby is big enough you can put him/her on your back. I can still carry my 2.5 yr old in it which is very convenient in the airport. If you aren't using a stroller as a main mode of transportation I agree they don't need to be fancy but good enough where the wheels turn easily and the handles are tall enough to reach. I also hate diaper bags. I have one that I would put a change of clothes in case of a spill and leave it in the car. I like putting diapers and wipes in my purse or another type of bag.

If you don't plan to pump a lot or don't have the need to pump it is best just to get a hand pump. I bought an expensive double pump with my first. I was home all the time and never pumped with it. I would just use my hand pump if needed.

I like to have a crib once the baby is moving around for napping but my kids always ended up in bed with us.

I love your practical guide to having a baby!

erica said...

having just had my first baby 2 weeks ago, i'm really glad we didn't buy too much. the only thing i should have done was buy a really good nursing bra (bravado) and two newborn sized coveralls (he was under 7 lbs). now he's over 8 lbs and the 0-3 month sized onesies fit, so there's obviously no need to go wild and buy too much clothing all at once. we wash his clothes in the sink because i hate waiting for it to pile up into a load size.

i also love crawlers (baby gap) that have attached feet and hand mitts for newborns, since little socks are so hard to keep on. i just ordered knee high socks from Nix, hopefully those will stay on better. oh, and for winter babies, i find that a coverall is easier to put on over a short sleeve onesie. i bought quite a few long sleeve onesies because it's winter, but it's hard to dress him in two long sleeve shirts.

i just ordered a micralite toro stroller, which can't be used until he's a bit older, but it's light enough to drag up a flight of stairs and rugged enough to handle slush and rough sidewalks. i also have a sling and a soft structured carrier, but it's nice to have a good stroller for when my back is killing me.

i bought a diaper clutch from NCM, it has been really great during the few times we've been out. i agree, no need for a diaper bag, they're overpriced for what they are.

i also second the need for blankets that you don't mind getting dirty. and cotton gauze cloths for sponge baths, spit-up, and anything else.

jellie said...

Nice list! We agree with the no stroller suggestion, we totally relied on our carrier and its waterproof/warm cover and now the baby walks. We only use the stroller when we need to walk somewhere quickly.

As for toys, I still recommend having a ball for babies. The rest they find on their own it seems.

Anonymous said...

We went for cloth diapers, it was just something I always envisioned doing when I had a baby and have had no regrets whatsoever. It is a little bit daunting at first choosing from all the options out there but check out greenmountaindiapers.com for a TON of useful info if you are interested. BTW, great idea on the no diaper bag...now why was I carrying around a purse AND a diaper bag for all those months?

Anjanette said...

I did get a stroller and used it some but found I carried both my kids more than anything else. A carrier is a fabulous investment that often you have to keep trying a few to get just the right one.

Lots of underclothing is a good idea because if like my children they poo through everything like 2 and 3 times a day...especially if you breastfeed.

Really, the carseat is the best investment and that is all. They can sleep in your bed, be carried by you and need only Mama's milk so really they are practically the easiest thing on earth to deal with. I'm getting all broody just thinking about them.

Caroilina said...

Baby carriers too are must for providing comfort and security to baby.