What To Reject When You Are Expecting (or Leigh Anne’s baby registry advice)

January 17, 2013

When I go to the home of a new mom I am often shocked to see all of the stuff in the home. I shouldn’t be. I once had a new baby and had more items than I needed. And these days there is more. Aren’t we supposed to be paring down? Saving the environment? Living simpler? Remember, I am seeing families in New York City. These are not big homes. Most are less than one thousand square feet.

In winter 2002-2003 I  had been a mom for seven years. I had two children at the time. I had been in the mom trenches for some time. I was in Chelsea a neighborhood with a new baby superstore. I wanted to lay my eyes on the new store I had heard so much about. Well, as I walked into the city block sized behemoth my eyes filled with tears. I was so overwhelmed with the thousands of items targeted at new and expecting parents. This explained the piles of unnecessary items in these homes.

I recently did a quick Google search to look at baby registries. The suggested registries had between 8 and 12 categories with 6 to 30 items in each category. That would be as many as 630 items for your new baby! That is a lot of real estate!

Let me guide you through a realistic registry.

First thing: avoid superstores! They overwhelm and oversell. You do not need 80-90% of what they would have you think you need. You may WANT some items but you do not need most of the items suggested.

Clothes: do not over buy.  First, your friends and family love buying baby clothes! Leave something for them. Yes, you want to be prepared with a few onesies and some soft blankets, socks and hats but your baby will grow and you do not need too many of the tiny clothes.

1225487811baby clothes

For sleep you may want to wait for a crib to see if you will actually use one. In the first several weeks your baby will sleep in your room in a bassinet, a Moses basket or next to you, so either one of these or a bed rail will get you through these first couple of months. This will give you time to look around and see what kind of sleeping arrangements you will decide upon.

bassinet1   pTRU1-13610980enh-z6

I do like a night light for the middle of the night so that you do not light up the room and have your baby thinking it is party time. You want to be able to see while keeping the nighttime atmosphere.

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Diapering: whether you use cloth or disposable diapers it is a good idea to have plenty on hand. Babies pee and poo a lot! Having a space to change the baby is good. Better is to have more than one place for changing the baby. In New York City it can be considered a luxury to have a changing table. Many will have the table on top of a dresser – this saves space. I also think everyone should have a portable changing pad so that you can change the baby in your bedroom and in the living room.

You can get wipes or you can make them by using water and paper towels, or better yet, those soft baby washcloths.

SWC-6ST-m

Diaper ointment? You do not need to use it unless your baby has a diaper rash and if he does you can use raw virgin coconut oil. You can use this on the baby’s bottom, on her skin to moisturize, on your own skin and you can cook with it. There are no mineral oils or other harmful additives. You can have a jar in the pantry and in the medicine cabinet.

You may want a few baby towels and those washcloths. A portable bathtub is a good item.

I love the lists for feeding. If you are breastfeeding you do not need anything from the store. The stores will certainly make you think you need to buy breastfeeding items.  You do NOT need a special pillow – they mostly get in the way of comfortable feeding. And please, please do not get a nursing cover! Do you get a cover for any other feeding in your life? Why put a tent around your baby? If you are trying to be discreet it just draws attention to you.

Regarding pumps, if you really need to pump at the beginning you will do best to use a rental grade pump. Before you purchase a pump you need to see what your situation will be. Will you be back to work full-time?  Do you need to pump only occasionally? Do you even need to pump?

Regarding bottles please do not fall victim to the marketers who want your money. All bottles are not created equal and no bottle will mimic a human! Consider something slow and not too big.  The formula sample bottle nipples are super fast.

Strollers! Ah! How will you get your baby around? I did not see any baby carriers on my samples of registries. Wearing your baby is essential no matter where you live. Put that baby on in urban settings for getting from place to place. Put that baby on in the suburbs to go for a walk or go to the grocery store. Put that baby on in your home so you can get things done like make yourself a sandwich.

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Now, back to strollers. Where do you live? Is it a walk up? You certainly do not need a huge pram going up and down the stairs.

Pram

In an urban setting a sturdy lightweight stroller is a must. Something you can quickly fold and unfold with a strap to go on your shoulder and a pouch at the bottom to carry your sling! This stroller will be great for grocery shopping- you wear the baby and put the groceries in the stroller.

maclaren-denim-quest-stroller-

Of course, if you are ever going to put your baby in a car a car seat is a must.

Safety gadgets: So there are certain things like outlet covers that are good and a gate or two near stairs or a particular room. But please do not cordon off your entire home. A baby needs to learn to be in space and to understand that there are some areas that you respect and learn to live with; for example, a bookshelf. Babies need to learn that a bookshelf holds books and they are not to be tossed about. Plants – a baby needs to learn that plants are to be admired and watered but not ripped apart.

Walk around your home, then crawl around your home and see what danger looms but do not restrict your baby as she learns to crawl to a padded cell. She will not know how to behave in the real world.

When people ask you what you want or need tell them to start a college fund or to buy you food. Maybe real estate but do not buy things just because there is a store wanting to sell you stuff. Ask your friends what they really used and think about if you have the same personality as that friend or the same size home.

Until your baby arrives pamper yourself and practice taking naps. Naps are one of  new parents best survival tools!

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12 Responses to “What To Reject When You Are Expecting (or Leigh Anne’s baby registry advice)”

  1. Ina Says:

    Love it! And will recommend all my St Luke’s Newborn Care class students read it as this is in sync with what I teach them.

  2. Rachel Mann Says:

    Leigh Anne, no one else could have said it better. There’s so little a new baby needs other than his or her mom (and dad). You mention the space concerns of urban parents, but of course there are financial concerns, too. All this stuff adds up, and often there is a sense of obligation from new parents–they feel like they must buy it all. Hold on to your dollars, new parents! Kids get more expensive as they get older!

  3. Dad Says:

    DO NOT buy a set of encyclopedias from a door to door salesman!! or a Photo album from his buddy!!

    Love to all,
    Dad

  4. Margot Mann Says:

    Wonderful article! Although the feeding tent does make some mothers feel comfortable enough to feed in a public place where they would not otherwise. Their alternative might be to go out without the baby – a poorer option usually.

  5. Maria Says:

    Nice piece, Leigh Anne. I was reminded of it when I read this today, which along the same lines (probably coincidental, or someone’s reading your blog and getting ideas!):http://www.mothering.com/community/a/10-things-you-dont-need-for-a-new-baby?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=sendgrid.com&utm_medium=email


  6. […] thinking of what they might need.  Most of the stuff is unnecessary for a breastfeeding mom.  Here’s a good list of what you will most likely actually need.  My personal list goes something like this: diapers, […]


  7. Reblogged this on mamamilkandme and commented:

    Inspired by the moms I saw today, this is for all of you!


  8. Love it! I wrote a very similar article for Lamaze magazine years ago, gave it out to parents in prenatals, and until recently, had it on my website. This info never goes out of date, and I really like your approach!


  9. Good post! I fell victim to this scenario. It IS fun to pick out all the “stuff” for your registry. Now I always tell new moms that the only thing you really need is a car seat to take the baby home in.


  10. Jennifer,
    It is so true how those of us who went there understand how vulnerable expecting parents can be.


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