A friend of mine is having a baby soon and she asked me “what do I need to get?”. I can completely understand this question. If you show up at Babies R’ Us, they give you this huge sheet full of crap saying “your baby needs all this”. The logical part of your brain thinks “no way my baby needs his bum wipes slightly heated” and then the new mom part of you thinks “wait, if my baby bum wipes are room temperature, is that child abuse?” and then if you’re anything like me, there’s that irrational splurge shopper in you going “They gave me a scanning gun that I can tag every single item in this frigging store! OMG THAT’S SO CUTE!!! I NEED 6 OF THOSE!!”.
Now with two babies under my belt, I feel like I can look at the whole baby registry thing with an educated slightly more detached approach. This isn’t an exhaustive list. It’s more a list of stuff I wish I had known and how it would have reflected in my registry had I known. So some of these things will be “you should really get one of these” and others will be “don’t bother” items. I’d also like to point out that you don’t have to go to Babies R’ Us for baby registries. They’ve somehow developed a monopoly on the industry but a lot of the time they don’t have the “good stuff”. Try out Belly Laughs, Extraordinary Baby Shoppe, Fab Baby Gear or any other independent shop where the people there are pros on the items.
1. MUST ITEM: A good stroller…. Or two.
This is a tough one. A good stroller is expensive. Like around $400 expensive. A lot of people hesitate putting this on their registry and end up putting something cheap in there instead. Trust me, get the good one. Research what kind of stroller you want. Don’t just go based on what’s cute. Check out consumer search or rate a stroller websites. There are tons. Figure out what you want from your stroller and ask for it. Or if you feel like it’s too much to ask, get it yourself. Your future self will thank you. We got a mid-range stroller with Henry and I wish we had done a bit more research. It served its purpose but it rusted out pretty quickly and did not make it to baby #2. We ended up buying a bob and a bob dualie (a side by side) from our neighbor and they are amazing. They serve us well for walking off trails and winter walks. You can often find some on Kijiji as well if the cost of a new one is too daunting.
And then get another one…. Ok maybe not exactly the same, but we co-bought a travel stroller with Chris’ sister. It’s an uppababy umbrella stroller and it’s amazing. They brought it to France and we brought it to Mexico and plan on bringing it to England in September. It works so well. You’re not crouched over like you are with the usual cheap umbrella stroller and it has a reclining seat so your kid can sleep comfortably in it. It’s got a huge shade on it as well to protect from the sun. I often bring it to malls and Gill and George have brought it to museums since it’s so compact.
I’m not saying you have to get these two strollers, I’m just saying, don’t impulse shop with it comes to strollers. This should be an educated decision. Many strollers come with car seat adapters as well, so you’re not bound by the graco stroller if you have a graco car seat for example.
2. MUST ITEM: A supportive baby carrier
Again, I’m going to suggest getting two of these. One for when your child is newborn age. I’d go for a wrap carrier at this age. Babies love being snuggled up against you and a wrap carrier keeps them all bundled up and warm . They’re very comfortable even though they are a bit of a pain in the ass to put on. I used this type of wrap carrier on Freddy more than Henry. Again because I knew better the second time around. I ended up using the wrap for the first 3-4 months of his life. Then I switched him over to a soft front facing carrier. We had the Ergo baby. I absolutely love the Ergo Baby. Chris loves it too. If you go to a store like Belly Laughs, they’ll fit you for a carrier that works for you. I know there are a ton out there, just please make sure it’s a forward facing one (as in the baby is facing you, you’re stomach to stomach). The ones where the baby is facing out puts a lot of strain on their developing hip bones and can cause issues later on.
3. DON’T BOTHER BUYING NEW, BUT GOOD TO HAVE: a bassinet
Please don’t waste your money buying this new. Chances are you have a friend who was sucker enough to buy one (or a sister, hi Steph!!! :-) ) and you can borrow it from her. Honestly these things cost over $100 and your baby sleeps in it for maybe 2-3 months depending on how fast they grow. Kids are going to cost you enough, don’t bother wasting tons of money on stuff they’ll get a month or two out of. I’d even suggest skipping the bassinet and going straight to a play pen that has the upper level for newborns. They’ll stay in there much longer than they would the bassinet.
4. MUST ITEM: A Costco Membership
Diapers and wipes are freaking expensive. Costco’s Kirkland brand go on sale regularly. The membership pays for itself in the savings you’ll get from just diapers alone. We did cloth for the boys 1st year and had paid up front for a diaper service but once they started daycare and had to go to disposables route so we’re grateful for the low prices at Costco! Oh and don’t get me started on the freaking adorable Peckle PJs. I honestly started collecting them at one point.
5. DON’T BOTHER BUYING NEW, BUT GOOD TO HAVE: A bouncy/vibrating chair and a rocking swing
Again, not something you need to buy new. If a friend has one to lend (hit up those friends who are between kids. They’ll still have stuff lying around for when they plan on having another). Both of these items are good for the first 3-4 months of their lives. I don’t know what I would have done without our vibrating chair and swing that our friends gave us. Especially the chair. What a life saver. That thing traveled everywhere with me and I’d just put Henry or Freddy in it and bounce it with my foot. Guaranteed to make them fall asleep. I ended up passing both along to another new mom once we were done. Hopefully one day, she can pass it on as well.
6. MUST ITEM: a good sleep sack
I cannot state how awesome sleep sacks are. Babies are squirmy little things and it’s not recommended that you toss a blanket over them when they sleep. We buy our sleep sacks from Wee Urban. It’s a Canadian company that makes them out of organic bamboo. They’re super breathable yet still warm. They also have a side zipper so if you have to change your baby in the middle of the night, you can just zip open the side without having to pull legs out. It’s also great if you have stomach sleepers like my boys. Henry used a sleepsack until he around 2.5 years old. I honestly sometimes wish they made bigger ones since he’s such a fidgety sleeper that he’s often without blankets most of the night.
7. MUST ITEM IF NURSING: reusable nursing pads
Do your boobs a favor, get reusable nursing pads instead of those weird disposable paper ones. You’ll thank me later. Plus, it’s environmental!
8. MUST ITEM: Audio baby monitor
I know this isn’t really a must have. Like if you live in a two bedroom apartment, trust me, you’ll hear your baby freak out no matter where you are. I have found ours useful for having it in the basement just in case we don’t hear the baby. We’ve also brought it with us while traveling if we’re staying in a cottage or large house. I wouldn’t bother with a video monitor though. I don’t see them being all that useful. In fact, I kind of find them creepy, but that’s just me.
9. MUST ITEM: a mesh bath sling
Bathing Henry as a newborn was a headache. We had this baby bath that we had borrowed and he would freak out the entire time. Then a friend suggested we just take a bath with him. By week 2, we were in the bathtub with him and had a folding mesh sling that we could lay him on. He relaxed instantly. We skipped the baby bath entirely with Freddy and went right to the big
10. MUST ITEM: A snot sucker
I’m not talking about those cheap push bulbs where you struggle to keep your fingers clamped on the bulb while fighting your fussy baby and then when you finally get it in there, realize you had let go of the bulb and it’s basically useless. I’m talking about the one with the filter and the tube that you put in your mouth and suck. Sounds gross but if you’ve had a baby struggling to breathe and he/she isn’t sleeping well at all, this is the thing you need. Trust me, you will not ingest snot. What you will get is a baby finally able to breathe. CAVEAT: your baby will probably freak out during the whole process but this is one of those “greater goods” moment.
11. MUST ITEM: a glider
These chairs are miracle workers. We still have ours. We splurged on this one and got the Cadillac model (also the only one that comfortably fit my very tall husband). The amount of time we spent rocking our children in that thing makes it totally worth the cost. I still walk by the chair and it invokes all these memories in me. I love that chair.
12. MUST ITEM: a good nursing pillow
I had a shitty nursing pillow my first time around. I bought it and hated it. I didn’t realize that there are different kinds of nursing pillows out there and I needed one to accommodate my larger chest. My sister has this great Jolly Jumper nursing pillow. It opens a little wider so it doesn’t feel like you have the jaws of life circling your ribcage as you try and feed your baby without suffocating them or yourself. I ended up getting one for myself with Freddy and what a difference. If you’re looking for a nursing pillow, go somewhere where they know all about nursing. Again I’d recommend Belly Laughs or even Milkface could point you in the right direction.
13. MUST ITEM: a large portable folding change pad
Most change pads that come with diaper bags are these cute little tiny things the size of a piece of legal paper. A friend got me this large folding one by Gund and it’s amazing. It still fits in a standard diaper bag yet it folds out to a huge size so you can put your baby on it and not worry about smearing poop everywhere when they wiggle around. THEY WILL WIGGLE AROUND.
14. DON’T BOTHER: an entire crib bedding set.
Guess what… you’ll never EVER use it. Sure that duvet is cute, but it can also suffocate your baby so your best bet is to get a few fitted sheets (you’ll need more than one for spit up, diaper leaks, general baby messiness) and a sleep sack or two. Pocket that extra cash for something usable… like a night out pre-baby or some cute Peckle PJs! (see number 4)
15. DON’T BOTHER: Wipes warmer
I’m all for protecting our children from the harsh realities of the world, but I draw the line at warming wipes to prevent their bums from feeling drafty. Life is rough kid, get used to it.
16. DON’T BOTHER: Johnson baby lotion
This stuff is terrible for baby’s skin. It dries them out even more. Spend a few extra bucks for something with coconut oil in it. It took us a long time to get through all our Johnson baby products that we got and we haven’t bought any since to replenish. I’m a much bigger fan of Live Clean stuff for their skin.
17. DON’T BOTHER: A bajillion different bottles
Babies R’Us’ registry list has like 6 different drinking bottles you should register for. Not knowing anything about feeding babies, we registered for almost all of them, and got them….and then watched them collect dust for a few years before giving them away. If you plan on breastfeeding, you don’t need a ton of bottles. Get one or two (and again RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH) and then wait and see. If you need more or switch to formula or pump regularly, then yeah, go nuts and buy a few more. Just don’t feel the need to follow their list.
18. DON’T BOTHER: a bunch of outfits for sizes 0-3 months
You’ll get maybe one or two uses out of one of those outfits but you’ll quickly realize it’s much MUCH more convenient to have them in sleepers. Ask for older clothing. Like 6-12 months and above. Same goes for shoes. Those little newborn shoes are cute, but they constantly fall off and you end up with them all over the house. Again, no issues if you have sleepers with feet on them. So much easier.
19. OTHER DON’T BOTHER ITEMS:
- A bunch of receiving blankets. Sure they’re good for burp clothes but if you’re trying to swaddle a baby in them, you’ll quickly realize they’re just a tad too small and you can’t get that perfect swaddle/burrito. Get blankets that are a little bigger. I’m a huge fan of muslin blankets. They’re big and breathable.
- Fancy fragile dishware. Another great dust collector. Ikea has these awesome bowls, plates, cups. Every parent I know has them and loves them. They’re sturdy and dishwasher safe and cheap! So much more bang for your buck.
- Bumbo chairs: You kid just looks awkward and uncomfortable in this. I know they’re sold as something that will help your child sit upright but I’m not even sure if they do in fact work or if it’s just a timing thing that coincides with them sitting in it. All I know is I felt like I was torturing my kids for information when I’d put them in there. “WHERE IS THE MICROFICHE???? YOU WILL TALK!!!”
- Door frame Jolly Jumper: With most open concept homes these days, it’s kind of hard finding a place where you can clip your baby. I’d definitely go with one that has its own frame.
- A Baby Bullet: I’ll save you some money and point you towards a regular blender/food processor. You honestly pay more because it has the word “Baby” on it.
- A high chair covered in cloth. Those things take up a lot of room and are a pain in the ass to clean. If you think your baby won’t make a mess while eating, well you better sit down because I have some bad news…. All babies are messy eaters. We had a booster seat that we strapped to a chair and then switched to an IKEA high chair. They’re $25 ($20 for the chair and $5 for the tray) and all plastic ie. Easy to clean. You can also put it away if it’s taking too much space since the legs pop right off.
20. OTHER ITEMS I LIKED ALTHOUGH NOT MUST HAVES:
- Facecloths. We got these really cheap ones that we use every day for wiping hands and mouths and a friend of ours got these really nice thick ones that we use for bath time.
- Hooded towels: we have a few of these as well that are great. I’d suggest buying just a few of the baby size ones and then get some bigger ones for when they’re over the age of 1.
- Wet sacks. Great for putting soiled clothing in if you’re out and about. Contains the mess perfectly and then you can wash everything, including the bag.
- Exersaucer/jumperoo. Not something you need to buy new but a great time killer. It can get very boring entertaining kids, I know that sounds terrible but sometimes putting them in the exersaucer while you veg out for a second or while you make dinner can be a lifesaver.
- Foam floor mats. These are great if you have hardwood floors. If you have cats though, put them away when you’re done using them or you end up with shredded pieces of foam all over your house.
- A picnic blanket. I know this sounds weird, but I love it. I bought a Tuffo one when Henry was a few months old and I was doing my fitmom classes outside and wanted something big that we could both be on. They’re so easy to clean and fold up. It’s one of my best purchases and we still use it.
- Larger clothing for when they’re 6-12 months
- Robeez slippers for when they’re crawling around and starting to walk. They have these no slip grips underneath and it keeps their feet warm. We only really used these when visiting outside our house and at daycare when Freddy started. AT home, it’s usually barefoot.
- A few toys. We have a few lamaz toys and Sophie the giraffe and links and the kids love it but they kind of loved everything at one point, so no need to get a ton of these. A little musical rattle is always great for them to grip their hands around, something that’s black and white or contrasting colour, something with mirrors in it.
21. THINGS I WISH I HAD ASKED FOR:
- Freezer meals. My mom made us a bunch of food for which we were grateful. My sister in-law requested some for her baby shower and it was such a great idea.
- Newborn photo session. There are so many great photographers out there. I love Baby and Belly Photography where we got last year’s Christmas cards done. I would have absolutely adored receiving this gift.
- Cleaning services. We already have a housekeeper who comes every two weeks but I can’t picture a new mom getting upset about receiving this gift. You’re overwhelmed in those first few weeks, months, 18-20 years…. Someone coming in to deal with the mess helps restore your sanity.
- Baby medicine kit. This is something I make a point to give to new moms when I go to a shower. Some baby Tylenol, Advil, teething and colic tablets. Stuff you don’t think you need until it’s 2am and your baby is running a fever of freaking out due to colic and you can’t make it to a pharmacy.
- Donation towards a baby and mommy activity. I can’t say enough good things about the activities I did with the boys while on mat leave. They really help me keep my sanity. We did infant massage classes (a class I would recommend to anyone who has a baby with colic or gas), fitmom classes which helped me form great friendships and pushed me physically, making music meaningful and monkey rock music, baby sensory classes, salsa babies. Heck even gift cards to Cineplex theaters for stars and strollers movies would have been a cool gift as well. Having a baby isn’t a sentence to staying cooped up for a year. Donations to activities can really help mom’s get out there and meet other moms and socialize. I can’t tell you how comforting it was talking to other moms while doing our final stretches at fitmom classes and finding out they were going through similar issues I was.
Ok so that was a super long post. Hopefully it was helpful to some of you. :-) I leave you with pictures of the two little guys who inspired this post!