Buy, Buy, Baby…
This is my seventh time preparing for a new baby, and things have changed dramatically since my oldest was born. I think part of it is technology: electronic baby registries, online shopping, Pinterest, and eBay are just a few of the “new” tools that have made it easier to crave and buy more stuff. Part of it is that it the age of first-time mothers has been increasing in the United States since the 1970’s (http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/14/462816458/average-age-of-first-time-moms-keeps-climbing-in-the-u-s), while our birth rate has been in decline (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2017/06/30/us-fertility-rate-hits-historic-low-data-shows.html), so families have more money to spend on each child. And part of it is that we are a consumer society, and babies are great excuse to consume. They’re infinitely fun to adorn, accessorize, and color-coordinate, and there are always new and better ways to protect, teach, and entertain them.
Pinterest has been trying to tell me for weeks now that it has all kinds of great stuff I need to register for – baby furniture, baby clothes, and baby gadgets that I can’t even identify. I would like to retaliate with a list of baby stuff that you don’t need – based on my experience and my desire to keep you from getting sucked in to the “buying more stuff will make me a better mom” mentality.
- A fancy crib. When my 6-year-old was born, we bought the cheapest crib we could find. It was well under $100, primarily because it didn’t have the side rail that raised and lowered so you could get the baby in and out (supposedly) more easily. Less than 6 months later, ALL of the cribs with those sliding rails were recalled because they were determined to be a safety hazard.
- A changing table. I don’t understand why anyone would want to put a baby on a table, where you have to worry about them falling off, when you can change them on the floor. I had a changing table for Isaac and I used it maybe 5 times. It was okay for storing diapers, I suppose, but there are plenty of other places to store those (under your cheap crib, for example).
- Expensive bedding. Can you even use bedding with a baby anymore? Do not waste your money buying matching crib sheets, blankets, pillows, pads, curtains, and quilts. Most of these things will be poo-stained within a month.
- Pacifiers and bottles. I am a big proponent of breastfeeding, and I think you should plan on at least giving it a try. Our hospital provided some formula and bottles in the freebie kit they gave me, and those were more than enough for my kids. They also gave me a few pacifiers, which only one of my 6 children would use. Check with the hospital or birthing center you’re using to see what, if any, free stuff you’ll get when the baby is born. I would never, ever buy expensive bottles or pacifiers, because I’ve had colicky, gassy babies, and in my experience, the type of bottle you use will have very little effect on the baby’s level of discomfort.
- Mobiles and crib toys. My philosophy is that for kids of any age, bed is a place to sleep, not play. I don’t think that mobiles or music players or things with lights and moving parts help to do anything except keep the baby awake when you want him to sleep.
- Toys. Any toys. Babies do not need toys. Not as newborns, and not necessarily for a long time after that.
- “Newborn” sized clothes. If you have an average-sized baby, newborn sizes will fit for about a week. Literally. I don’t even like to buy a lot of 0-3 month clothing, because the baby isn’t that small for very long, and the clothes are easy to wash and re-wear several times in the same week. No one will care if she wears the same three outfits over and over again, trust me.
- Fancy nursing clothes. You know, the nursing cover-ups, the shirts that have an opening so that you can expose a minimal amount of skin while nursing, the bras, the pajamas…you don’t need them. First of all, I hate nursing in public. I do it only when I’m desperate because the baby is hungry when I didn’t expect him to be. I try to nurse at home whenever possible, and then, in a room away from everyone except my husband and younger kids. I think most people are like this. I’m all for breastfeeding being ALLOWED in public, I just don’t ever have the desire to be the one doing it. Secondly, nursing clothes are expensive, and I’m not convinced that they make it much easier. Nursing cover-ups are hot, hard to position, and easily blown or brushed aside. Nursing clothes are cute, but they all kind of look the same, and I think it’s hard to justify creating a whole wardrobe of them for the 2 times per month that you actually need to care how cute and covered up you are while nursing. You can be pretty discreet with a normal shirt and a blanket.
- Apps or journals or jewelry to keep track of feedings and diaper changes. Maybe it’s because I have some experience behind me, but I just don’t think this is necessary. I think it’s easy enough to make mental note of how often the baby is eating and pooping, and if the baby is behaving normally, you shouldn’t have to obsess over this. I have tried putting babies on a strict schedule, and it has never worked for me. If you do want to track feedings and diapers, a pen and a notebook works just as well as anything.
- Expensive strollers. I am still using the stroller I bought for Isaac 17 years ago, and it works great. It doesn’t have any bells or whistles, but when kids are in the stroller, they don’t need any entertainment other than the scenery around them. If it has wheels and a seat with a seatbelt, it’ll do.
- Baby-soothing furniture. This includes baby swings, bouncy seats, saucers, “gyms”, and all of those gadgets that require batteries and cost five times as much as you think they should. They take up a ton of space, they get barf and drool all over them, including into the tiniest crevices that are impossible to clean, they’re loud, and some babies (including most of mine) hate them. The best baby-soother is you. Take a break from what you’re doing, sit down (or walk around, or bounce up and down) with the baby, and enjoy him. Breathe in his beautiful baby smell. Look into his beautiful baby eyes. Research like this: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2718778/ supports the idea that babies who get a lot of face-time with mom are more likely to have healthy neurological development, and snuggling with baby will help YOU feel better too.
So, moms, what do you think? Is there anything on this list that you think is really a necessity? What have you bought for your baby that you didn’t end up using? Leave us a comment and share your baby product advice.