Friday, January 17, 2014

Baby Things You {Probably} Don't Need

Confession: when I found out I was pregnant, I created a secret board on Pinterest titled Baby Stuff, headed over to the "Kids" section, and pinned everything that even mentioned babies. As a result, that board had more pinned to it than the rest of my boards combined after a week

Another confession: That's a lie. I started it before I got pregnant. Months before. I had baby fever, okay? Like, bad. Regardless, I went overboard (ha! Punny!) just a tad. I had to know everything. From pins like "Planning for the twenty-fifth week of pregnancy" (not sure what was so special about week 25, but it must have been imperative that I pin it) to "10 Things New Moms Need To Know About New Dads", I had absolutely every ounce of information that could be found via Pinterest on that board, and I was bound and determined to use every bit.

There were, of course, tips to make your baby sleep better at night: not many of those really worked for me, as you folks found out when I posted my own solution the other day. Every potty training technique imaginable--right, like I'll need that in the first few months--was there as well. But most frequently posted were "List of Essentials for Your Newborn". Each one had their own list of things that were completely necessary, which basically meant that every item in your average Babies R Us store was covered at some point. Definitely the bare minimum. One such list went as follows:

Noise Maker
Video Monitor
Changing pad
Nap Nanny
Swaddle blankets
Diaper Genie
[Insert uber expensive brand here] baby carrier

Okay, I actually shortened the list a bit, because it was three pages long (with pictures and descriptions), but these are some of the things that got me to realizing that I'm a little weird as far as baby shoppers go. I'm almost ridiculously minimalistic, compared to a lot of the women posting these lists on their blogs. I didn't mean to be, originally...I like gadgets and frippery as much as the next mom, but as I began moving baby gear into my not-very-large house, I began realizing that I could make myself deal with a whole lot less than I thought I needed.

Take the list above, for example: I substituted the noise maker for me, going "SHHH" really loud. It worked wonders for the first few weeks when it really counted. Now he sleeps in his room in the quiet, no problem, or even when I'm banging around in the kitchen. He's pretty impervious to noises when he's sleeping now, and that's just how I want him. =D

The video monitor: Again, that's just me, and my ears! His bedroom is right next to ours, and even his little mutters when he drops his pacifier wake me up. I'm amazed at how light of a sleeper I've become.

I haven't had any need for a humidifier yet, and may end up getting one at some point if he gets sick, but I've also heard that turning on the shower really hot and just holding him in the bathroom would work really well too. I guess we'll find out!

I've got a changing pad, actually. It doubles as carpet on the floor of the nursery. Or I change him on the bed in our room (sheets wash pretty easily if something were to go awry).

Not even sure what a Nap Nanny is, so we'll skip that one.

Fans are nice, but not really necessary at this time of year...we may get one for him later if his room gets too hot.

As for the swaddle blankets, both the gauzy type and the ones that are kind of burrito style and either Velcro or zip shut: I fully intended to swaddle for a while, having seen its advantages up close, but Wade decided he wasn't a huge fan, so it got nipped in the bud. All I had for swaddling, though, were receiving blankets--you know, those big squares of light flannel? They're great, cheap, and easy to make. Not to mention, my swaddling skills are borderline pro, so I wasn't going to bother with the Velcro ones.

The Diaper Genie: I call it a trash can, and empty it before it stinks (which I think is the purpose of the Genie? Not sure).

Baby carriers, I will grant you, are very handy. I adore mine, as Wade usually spends a large portion of his waking hours in it. The one I've got is just a hand-me-down, off brand type that's super easy to put on (two little snappy things), and holds Wade in a position that he finds comfortable, apparently, as he falls asleep in it frequently.

The main reason I've gone for this "buy less stuff" route (aside from the small house thing), is that I have pictured a scenario in which I've left for, say, a week long trip with the munchkin, and realized I forgot one of the above items. Let's say it's the noisemaker, which, for the sake of the story, he had become so reliant upon that he couldn't go to sleep without it. That would leave me with a grumpy, poorly sleeping kid for a week, and I wouldn't enjoy the trip nearly as well. So now, that's my rule of thumb. I generally don't buy things that perform actions I can't replicate myself.

Wait. Does that make sense? I think so...

So, the noisemaker? Out. There's no way I plan to stand by his crib all night going "SHHHHH gasp SHHHHH gasp" etc.

Anyway, for those of you who have small living spaces (much like myself) or that don't want to spend a whole lot, I have made you a list. Rather than a list of what to buy, this is a list of what not to buy. Ready? (Sorry if this makes me sound kind of know-it-all-ish, especially since I've only had one child for all of two months, but this is coming more from a few years of nanny/daycare experience than motherhood.)
  • Bumbos. They're expensive, but they don't teach kids how to sit, they just prop them up. Let them figure it out on their own, surrounded by pillows! (At least that's my mentality.)
  • Noisemakers. Your kid will sleep best in the environment he or she gets used to. So if there's white noise from the start, that's what they'll want for the next few months or years. If you get them used to the quiet, or a bit of random background noise, they will sleep great that way instead. If your kid doesn't fall into this scenario, when you figure that out will be soon enough to buy the noisemaker.
  • Swings. I thought that they were the bee's knees at first (we used one frequently at the daycare I worked at), so when I was lent one, I jumped at the offer. Since then, it has sat in the corner, taking up space and being completely useless. Wade just doesn't like it. That being said, some babies just won't sleep in anything else. But it might be a good idea to determine that for a few nights before going and shelling out beaucoup bucks on something that may not be necessary, if your baby sleeps fine in a bouncer or bassinet or crib.
  • Excessive toys. Okay, this is a personal thing...I can't stand toys that require batteries. They drive me nuts. That's why I've got just a few little toys for now (an O-Ball, plastic keys, etc) and some wooden block-type stuff. Later on, I'll get some Duplo blocks (really big Legos) and cars and tractors (I'm married to a's apparently mandatory to have John Deere paraphernalia sitting around). Kids will have fun with what they're given, regardless of how much noise it makes. It seems like kids can make enough noise on their own without the assistance of battery-run pieces of plastic!
  • Play mats. The world is stimulating enough at this point! Everything is new to them, even if it isn't covered in bright colors and flashing lights. If your baby doesn't want to be laid down, carry him, and let him explore that way instead, or have him practice pushing himself up off your chest. 
  • Brand new clothes. I didn't even have a chance to go baby clothes shopping before I was given two massive totes full of hand-me-down clothes from a friend, and then still more were given to me after that. I actually had to cull it down until I had an amount that was more easily stored, because it was a little excessive. On top of that, everyone loves to buy cutesy little outfits for babies, because they're just so adorable, and they make great baby shower gifts. On the off chance you still need to supplement, look around for a store like Once Upon A Child (look for locations near you here) which has everything baby/child related you can imagine, and it's all super cheap because it's used (they'll also buy stuff back)! Another option would be to stock up on plain onesies and sweatpants, and a few sets of footies. Babies hardly need fancy clothes, especially if they're just going to spit up on them, and you'll receive plenty as gifts anyway.
That's all I can think of for now. I'll have to do my own post on "Things I Actually Use" sometime, and see how it turns out! I do understand that some babies and parenting styles are different and some of the stuff I mentioned actually does make life easier for those families, but so far, this has been my experience/opinion. I reserve the right to change my mind at any point if Wade suddenly decides to stop being so docile!


  1. I have a small list of my own, based on the fact that babies have no memory of this part of their lives. 1) The best way to get a good night's sleep is through the activation of a well known fact: Mothers have two breasts, Left and Right. When the baby wakes up at 2:00 AM, bring the baby to bed with you and offer a choice: Left or Right. Two hours later, when the baby wakes up again, simply roll over and offer no choices this time. Both mother and baby will get a good night's sleep. The father, however may not fare so well. He may be constantly prodded to move his arm off of the baby's face. Father means well, but is not always aware of where his arms are.
    2) KIS...M Keep it simple, Mom!
    3) I don't remember what number three is.
    4) Toddlers are able to digest dirt. That is their primary source of trace minerals. They will still be just as hungry for meat and potatoes, but their stool may be a bit muddy.
    5) Potty training may include the storm drain cover on the corner of 9th St and 10th Ave S. Do not show any excitement other than to praise him for not wetting his "big boy pants." While passers-by may get a chuckle, they really don't care... i.e. they are not offended by the sight of a toddler peeing in the storm drain.
    6) I don't remember what six was either, so I will let this be all for now.... I will try later to bring you more enlightening wisdom from "Uncle Marv," "Grandpa Marvin," or just plain "Dad!"

  2. Your #5 made me laugh, Dad :) I admit I actually liked some of the gear on your list, Kara. Like the swing. I even borrowed one to have two in my house at one point so I wouldn't have to haul it from one end of the house to the other. The monitor is another one - very useful in when you're outside doing yardwork and little one is inside napping. And when your kids get older, the receiver doubles as a toy radio "just like daddy's fireman radio". I definitely used less "gear" with the second than the first though.

  3. Yeah, I do like swings for most kids, but since Wade just doesn't dig it, I'm really glad I didn't actually go out and buy one to find that out lol. I guess that since I have hardly say foot in the backyard since he was born (not a big fan of being cold) I hadn't even considered monitors for that! I'm a smart cookie, obviously...

  4. Great post. :) When I think of the generations of babies raised with only the essentials and then I look at the showrooms full of must-haves for modern new moms, I'm in shock. My changing table was a plastic mat (or handy receiving blanket) on the floor. Their first dresser was a small bookcase next to the previously mentioned mat, and it was stocked with a small supply of gifted new clothes or the handed-down variety. The toddler bed was a twin mattress on the floor. And toys? Give them the boxes the toys come in and they're much more entertained!

    1. You know, I suppose there are a bunch of newbie moms that just don't know what to buy so they buy everything...but Kara and I have concluded that the market for baby stuff is because babies are fun to buy for, not because everybody thinks so much is necessary. She and I are both rather pragmatic on this point, and we constantly had to cease and desist our instinct to go buy something for Wade. I'm guessing most people just don't desist, so there's constantly more stuff available. :-)

  5. Ohmygosh - is that my old baby swing!!!??? :) Almost brought a tear to my eye. Gosh, Kirstyn and I napped Avi in there until he was so big he was literally falling out of it. And, always swaddled to the max with a noisemaker going. Those were the days. Gotta say, I miss the days of minimalist toys. These days I have to have every piece of furniture double as storage. Ottomans, side tables that double as trunk storage....3 year old kids love noisy toys, and people love giving three year old kids noisy toys. If only they would give us batteries to run them and ear plugs to escape them, that would be so thoughtful...

  6. Marv's number 4 made me laugh! I know a boy who ate handfuls of dirt so my friend asked around. Apparently it isn't an issue unless it's over a cup a day :D

    My most-pinned post is about how to have a baby on a budget. I think you'd enjoy it so I hope it's okay if I share the link: