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. :-)