I’ve had this post sitting in my drafts for a few days now, and then I read this post by Kacie that was talking about something very similar. So I decided to finish my post and publish it. :-)
I think most expecting parents (especially ones who are watching their money closely) feel one thing as they prepare for their baby’s arrival: overwhelm at all the paraphernalia that goes along with bringing up a baby. The stores are saying one thing, other parents are saying something else. Who to believe? I know I emailed several moms when I was pregnant, and all five of them had different advice about what was “necessary” and what was not.
I think it’s good to make sure you’re not over-buying. It’s SO hard to know before you’re a parent what you’re going to like and what your baby is going to like. For me, I am a very different parent than I thought I would be. If I could register all over again, my list would look different. (For those interested, here is my list of my favorite baby products.) For one friend I broke it down: you need a place for Baby to sleep, something for Baby to wear, a way to feed Baby, something to handle Baby’s waste (diapers), and a way to transport Baby in the car and when out and about. It gets more complicated as the baby gets older (with the introduction of toys and whatnot), but for a newborn those 5 things are pretty much it.
Of course, you can go super simple. Share a bed with your baby. Buy a pack of onesies. Breastfeed. A carseat and a sling for transportation. Do you really need more than that? Is it bad if you WANT more than that?
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with NOT going simple. There is a line, yes, but I think sometimes the lists that claim to be the end all of what a mom REALLY needs go too far the opposite direction. I read one where the author wrote that cosleepers were simply another ploy by manufacturers to get parents to spend money on useless items. That frustrated me, because I think that cosleepers meet a valuable need – a way for parents who don’t feel 100% comfortable with having the baby in their bed with them to still have a positive nighttime feeding experience and being close to their baby. While it’s totally okay for a parent to either cosleep or use a crib, I think that a cosleeper shouldn’t be labeled a frivolous money waster. It was by far worth the money to me, and I don’t regret it one bit. But, to the mother who was satisfied with her choice of an alternate sleeping arrangement, it does seem like a waste of money.
Another thing I see hotly debated is a swing. Some moms argue that they are a waste of money and space. Others claim that they would not have survived their child’s infancy without a swing. You always hear the stories of the kids who hate the swing, and the kids who loved it. None of this is helpful to the expectant mom who is trying to register for a baby shower, wondering what HER baby is going to like and what SHE is going to like. She is trying to be conscientious and is fearful of getting bit by the over-stuffed nursery syndrome.
That mom was me. I had the added worry of being in a one-bedroom apartment, and knowing that I had to choose carefully because I didn’t have room for a bunch of things. I was so scared of being labeled an extravagant mom.
You know what I’ve decided since then? It’s okay not to be a complete minimalist. With almost anything, you could argue that it’s not really necessary. But at the same time, I think it’s okay to splurge on some things. I could have thrown a towel on the bed and never needed a changing table or changing pad, but I opted for the latter and I don’t regret it. I could have worn Savannah in the sling all the time, but I opted for both a bouncer and a sling and it was money well spent. Some moms would be comfortable with the more simple solution. I think my point is, it’s okay to not be simple if you have the money and space for it! I feel like all the products I used to think were “useless”, I have met a mom that found that product very valuable and used it all the time. (Example, wipes warmer. Apparently, great for cloth diaper wipes. Who knew?)
Sometimes in the blog world, I see first-time expectant moms writing about how they aren’t getting a certain item because they know how REAL mothers are. I always want to comment back and say, heh just you wait. I used to do the same thing – I was horrible, I know. Then I realized that life with a baby is hard. And it’s not a horrible sin to buy something “unnecessary” to make things easier. Provided you have the money and space, of course. :-)
9 thoughts on “complicated babies”
I agree! the best thing might be to borrow items, or search for them used. However if you’re one of those people who is lucky enough to have 2-4 baby showers then go ahead and register for new items! It is amazing what you discover when your baby is just a few weeks old, then when they are a few months old, then when the 2nd one comes and is completely different and you realize you need different things. Like you said, different things work for different mommies! If only there was a way to know before your child was born!! :)
I totally agree with your post. A while back I read a post where the author said you should get plain white bibs for your kids, thrift store onesies, change your kids dipaer in bed, sleep WITH them in their bed (no cosleeper), let them play on the floor (instead of playpen, swing etc). She was not only stating her opininon (which I am fine with), she did it in a way which was not very complimentary to moms who choose to do otherwise. The good thing about being nearly 30 when I had the baby is that I barely give a hoot. Neil has bibs which say Hunk and Single and I buy his shoes from Stride Rite and outside clothes from Gymboree (sue me). He has a changing table, a swing, exersaucer and horror of horrors brand new bedding. I don’t give a rats patootie if anyone dresses their kids in botique clothes, hand me down or thrift store ones. If being a mom has taught me ANYTHING, it is this- The fine art of keeping ones mouth shut. why does it bother anyone if a mom makes a choice about the gear they get for their own kid???
I didn’t mean to rant like this, but I find it bothersome that moms do this to each other. I barely bought anything before Neil was born. We just bought stuff as and when he needed it. He didn’t care for the swing at all, he LOVED the exersaucer. He sleeps between us still, he had to be formula fed, but I made all his baby food at home. Such a lot of what people could say “good” and “bad” choices. In the end all that matters is that we love our kid and do the best we can and make choices based on what is the best balance.
I’m trying to be, maybe not minimalist, but at least practical in what to collect for our upcoming baby, and am thankful we’ve gotten a good number of hand-me-downs. As Jes said, we’re having 3 (!) baby showers, so I did register for some new things, some more practical and urgent than others. The catch? No one has been buying off our registry! 3 people so far have gotten registry items, as far as I can tell (and only one of those people got stuff we *need*)- and 2 of the 3 showers are this weekend.
We have plenty of hand-me-down clothes already, especially for 0-3 months, but I know little baby clothes are the most fun for people to gift… I think I’m just approaching this whole thing too practically, as usual :-P It didn’t seem like good etiquette to tell guests to get me “boring stuff” though!
Annie: Yeah I know what you mean. What actually sparked this post was an article I read about “Things you don’t need for a baby” (they were the ones who mentioned the co-sleeper). I agreed with some of her things, but really disagreed with a lot. Not that I had those things (like a swing – I don’t have one), but I could see how it could be useful. Another post I read once was a mom writing about how pack & plays were overrated in usefulness.
I think past the very basics, you don’t necessarily “NEED” all the other stuff, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad to get it. Sometimes, we label anything we don’t need as “superfluous”.
Joanna: I had two showers – one big one and a smaller one. I think like 2 things were bought off my registry for the big one, but I got a ton of clothes and blankets, etc for the baby. My smaller one was a lot more off my registry. I didn’t have the advantage of hand-me-downs, so I was so happy to get all the clothes. I was set until about 6 months (fortunately, she was true to size). I mostly got 3 month clothes from people, so maybe the same will happen with you?
I liked this post. I didn’t want to be too extravagant with Hans, either, and while I was happy overall with what I got (and didn’t), there were a few things this time around that I wanted to branch out and try – like a swing. A swing would have made my life SO much easier with Hans, because he liked motion, and a bouncer didn’t cut it. But I already had a bouncer and didn’t want to buy “too much.” I tend to be a bare-bones, why waste money? type of person, but sometimes I’ve had to admit that I’m going bare-bones for no good reason. If an object is within your budget and living space, and makes your life a ton easier, isn’t quality of life worth something? So I’ve had to cave on that a bit since becoming a mom :-). It’s a good but humbling thing. . .
You know what I think it is? I think it’s pride. Or at least for me.
It was totally pride for me. And a touch of ridiculousness.
I agree that there is no way you can know what you will truly need and appreciate until the child is with you. We had a few things I thought every baby liked (like a bouncy seat) and Caroline hated them. I felt badly that people spent money on them, but what can you do? Resell them and move on.
There are many things people say are not necessary or extra, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Swing, wipe warmer, changing table, etc. They were worth every penny. Another one is the cover thing that goes in a grocery cart. We LOVED that thing. Used it for a few years and have just recently stopped using it. (Caroline is four now.) Was it necessary? No. But I’m thankful to live in a day and age when we can have all these extras. :-)
There were a few items I didn’t use as much as I thought I would, but many things have multiple uses, so I think I used everything. Then I got more once Elijah came along and I thought, “You know what I could really use….”
What really annoyed me was finding the right training cup. I bought four different brands and really only like one.
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