Ok – you’ve stretched your legs, had a pee, and nuked your coffee. Let’s pick up where we left off.
(confused? read part 1 and it will all make sense!)
3) Things that are Useful but Not Absolutely Required
Many lists suggest these are ‘required’, but hubby and I have found ways around many of them, often using ‘stuff’ we already have around our home.
Change Pad(s): plasticized pads on which you put your stinky little baby, to change his diaper. We made good use of a pair of them – one for our permanent changing station (guest bedroom futon…), and one for the diaper bag. Of course, a thick towel accomplishes the same task, though you run the risk of having to wash it right away.
Stroller: we used a baby carrier instead of a traditional ‘baby carriage’; however, we did get a baby chariot for biking. Consider recommending to your baby’s grandparents that they get a stroller for when they visit, or when you all visit them.
Playpen: we received one of these as a gift, and it came in very handy for son#1 – once he was able to sit up. It collapsed and packed well, which made it ideal as his bed whenever we travelled. Can you do without one? Yes. Especially with a newborn.
Pacifiers: called ‘binkies’ in our house (no, not bikinis. Read it again). Our first little guy used these a bit, but he weaned off of them easily (well, I just took it away one day, and after a week of a bit of fussiness, he sighed and moved on with life). Our second mini-man spits them out if we try to give him one. I suggest you be very sparring with a pacifier – the less you let your little one use this, the easier it will be to take it away later. If a baby isn’t fussy, you’d be wise not to stick one of these in his mouth.
Playpad: these come in many variations. Basically they are like a mobile with an attached base. Both our boys spent time under one of these, and seemed to enjoy it, but I suspect that had they not had one, they would have somehow survived.
Rocking Chair / Recliner for Baby: some of these are self-rocking, or vibrating at the very least. We didn’t opt for such decadence. We received a simple one as a gift for son #1, and used it as a portable bed for when he was very young and still spending most of his day in REM sleep. As I mentioned in part 1 of this post, babies can sleep anywhere; a blanket on the ground would serve the same purpose as a baby recliner. Just don’t step on him.
Gentle Laundry Soda: perfumes and harsh chemicals can be hard on brand new baby skin. Save you and you little one some pain and frustration, and adapt your laundry habits just a bit by going for an all-natural soda. Plus, if you happen to be on a septic system like we are, it’s easier on your system. We’ve used Nellies Laundry Soda for three years now; I highly recommend it, or something similar.
A Reference Book or Two: keep a few on hand to cover the unknowns, or even to cover each day of your baby’s life for the first year or so. Of course, the fact that you’re reading this probably means that you’ve heard of something called ‘google’…
Sleepers: these are like little sleeping bags that have sleeves and zip up in the front. They have a high cuteness quotient, but a long onesie over a short onesie serves the same purpose.
Scratch Mittens: newborns have no control over their hands, and have long nails. Together, that equals lots of little scratches marring their angelic little faces. Hence where these items come in. Of course, you could always just trim their nails (you’re gonna have to sooner or later. Why not get some practice now?!) Plus, lots of long onesies come with a curl-over bit of fabric at the wrist, to cover those claw-like hands.
Bibs: these will become more useful once your joy-bundle is into solid foods. For the time being, however, you could just use a baby face cloth tucked into a onesie to catch a bit of spittle.
Car Sun Shades: meh. Every infant car seat I’ve come across has a cover that can be positioned to block most direct sun.
Gas Drops: we don’t use these. When our little guys have had gas problems, we’ve had success with massage and leg pumping – a chemical-free way to get the gas up and out… or down and out!).
4) Things You Are Very Likely to Receive as Gifts
People mean well. Sometimes, the gifts they shower you with* are useful. And sometimes, they are not.
(*either at an actual baby shower, or because they are irate that you didn’t throw a shower, and then go way overboard) (oops – were we supposed to throw a baby shower? Hubby and I thought that was only for women)
Anyways, I’ve listed the stuff in this category from MOST useful to LEAST useful. Feel free to stop reading this category whenever you feel your gag reflex activating (I was forced to stop writing this several times for that reason, in fact).
Gift Certificates: mixed blessing, these are. They save you from having to store/return/burn crap that you absolutely didn’t want in the first place. If you get one from that obscure baby boutique across town that is not on the way to anything else, it’ll likely sit with all your new-baby greeting cards in a forgotten pile, until you put them in that ‘memory box’ (memory box = place where you put junk that you feel too guilty about throwing out).
Hand-Me-Downs: “Eww!” you say. Bite your tongue, sir. Even if you don’t have a baby shower, I suggest you ASK for these. Look: somebody else has gone to the trouble of collecting shorts, shirts, pants, socks, shoes, sweaters, jackets, hats, mittens, scarves, snowsuits and boots for you, saving you literally DAYS of tedious shopping at likely dozens of stores. We have a woman up the road who – unannounced – drops off a bag of little boy clothes every three months or so (whenever her youngest boy grows out of them) at our doorstep. Hubby and I have not had to go clothes shopping for either of our boys more than three times, in three years. Oh, did I mention we both hate shopping?
Wash Cloth + Bib + Burp Towel Combos: cloths can be used right away for cleaning and wiping. Put bibs away until your little drinker is onto solids. Burp towels will get dirty starting on day one, and continue to do so for a long while! These are very useful gifts, no matter how many you get.
Packs of Little baby-powder + baby cream + baby shampoo + wipes: good for your diaper bag!
Baby Mobile: a nice-to-have item. Son #1 liked to watch and listen to this in his crib at night. If it’ll help your little one go to sleep, USE IT. Starting tonight.
Books: board books with bright colours and pictures of animals and smiling babies can help your little guy get used to the concept of reading (oh, YOU’LL be the one reading them to him, btw). Put any other books you get on a shelf in his room, and come back to them in a year’s time.
Toys: put them away along with those older kid books until he can grab and manipulate them.
Stuffed Animals: see above. Don’t put them in his crib with him until he’s older (at least 6 months), then – only put a couple in at a time. For a newborn, stuffed animals could be a suffocation hazard, in an extreme case.
Baby Memory Photo Album: unless either of you are into scrapbooking, just re-gift this. For yourselves, just upload photos onto an album online (be careful with whom you share it, though, eh?!).
Handcrafted Items (quilts, needlepoint, knitted sweaters, crocheted stuff): Yikes… this is a touchy one. Either they are well-handcrafted, or not-so-well-handcrafted. Additionally, they are either made by 1) people who will visit again and expect to see said crafted item; or 2) people whom you will never see again unless you travel to the other side of the country. Tread carefully.
Porcelain Baby Animal Figurines: ugh. Here we go.
Personalized Snow-Globes: gag.
Fancy Keepsake Boxes: choke.
Cutsie Picture Frames: heave!
Footprint or Fingerprint Kits: (holding hand to mouth in an attempt to halt bile from splattering my screen)
…yeah, it goes on and on. There were several reasons why we actually skipped a baby shower; this category alone would have been enough for us, had we known its contents.
5) Things that You Can Really Do Without
Hopefully, the title of this category is self-explanatory.
Baby Wet Wipes: we feel bad enough using disposable diapers. I refuse to use these (…however, a small pack in your diaper bag might just save the day).
Fancy Pillows and Stuff for Inside the Crib: most health professionals recommend against having anything in the crib anyways. Keep it simple – just your baby in there.
Change Table: if you feel you absolutely cannot get along without one of these, get one that will convert into a proper, normal dresser after diaper-days are behind you. Otherwise, just throw a towel down on your bed and be done with it.
Bassinet: get a play pen, or a rocking chair instead. They will outlive a bassinet’s usefulness by at least one year.
Bottle Warmer: just put the formula in a bowl of hot water for five minutes!
Diaper Warmer: to stop him peeing as you’re putting it on… yeah, whatever.
Bottle and Nipple Brushes: an old toothbrush and a normal dishcloth will work just fine.
Bottle Sterilizer: most dishwashers have a high-temp option on them these days – and you probably already have a dishwasher, right?
Infant Tubs: just take him into the bath with you, or use the kitchen sink.
Crib Wedges: to prop baby onto their side if they have a tendency of choking on their spit up as they sleep… instead, just roll up a burp towel and push it under one shoulder-blade and bum-cheek.
Baby Hairbrush: honestly? If he even has hair, he spends most of his days laying down, thus will naturally and perpetually sport bed-head. Pick your battles.
Q-tips: if you don’t have any of these, you won’t be tempted to use them in places they shouldn’t go, like baby ears and noses.
Baby Shoes: if you can’t walk, why do you need shoes?
Designer Baby Clothes: …that he will outgrow in three weeks’ time. Put your wallet away and back out of the designer baby boutique. Save your money.
Gripe Water: supposed to be for colic, teething pain and reflux. No clinical evidence exists that supports its usefulness. However, if you’ve found that Echinacea works wonders for you, by all means, buy some gripe water (deadpan face).
Breast Pump, Nursing Bras, Breast Pads, Lotion for Sore Nipples…: Yay!!! It’s good to be 2 guys!
…and the final category:
5) Things You DON’T Need Right Away (but will come in handy soon)
Bigger Nipples: bottles usually come with a nipple that has the smallest hole size. As your little guy gets a bit older, he’ll want to be able to suck more formula out of that bottle, so you’ll need to stock up on nipples with a larger hole size (our first son moved up to a bigger nipple at 3mths).
Jolly Jumper: we loved this, and so did son #1. Gravity operated, jumping baby, jolly parents.
High Chair / Booster Seat: this will be essential when your joy bundle is three or four months of age (whenever you start feeding him solids). We chose a simple booster seat, that just fastens onto one of our regular chairs. It travels easy, and you can even throw it in the dishwasher. It cost us $20. Or you dish out $2100 and get one of these.
Baby Food: he’s on a liquid diet, guys. come back to this in three or four months.
Safety Gates: even if your home is only on one level, these are perfect for cordoning off no-go areas. We decided that ours had reached the end of its useful life when, one day, we caught son #1 open it, walk through and close it behind him.
Outlet Plugs: little caps you push into your outlets to stop hot air and little fingers from going through the holes. You might already have these, if you’ve had a home energy efficiency test and followed the recommendations to the letter. Otherwise, if you are adopting and you have a ‘home inspection’ conducted by your social worker, s/he will inform you that these will be needed.
Kiddie Toilet: son #1 – who is less than three – has been going to the bathroom in his little potty for about one year by himself. “If you
build it put a kiddie potty on the ground, they will come”.
I. Money Saving Tips
- hand-me-downs are cheap (see category 4 above);
- if you are adopting, ask your social workers if there are any places in town that offer discounts for adoptive parents – can save 10-15% in some instances; and
- if you guys have decided to ask for gifts and/or have a shower, do your research before hand, and be very specific about what you want, so that you get what you want.
II. Don’t Forget…
…to call your doctor before the arrival of your baby, to confirm that s/he will be able to take on your little guy as a patient. Then, the day you bring said small human home, call to book his first appointment (your hospital will probably recommend that baby should be seen by a doctor within the first five days of his life, then on a set schedule for the next two years or so, to monitor growth, administer immunizations, etc.).
III. Diaper Bag Primer
You will have to leave the house sooner or later after your little dude arrives home, though it may seem like the scariest of prospects, to go out in public with him (omg – will he shriek, will he be wearing enough, how do I feed him or change him when he’s out, etc., etc.). All babies should be born with an accompanying bag full of all their essentials, to make their parents’ lives easier. Alas, it is up to us to put one together. Hopefully, you’ve chosen a tastefully neutral bag. If you’ve succumbed to female pressure and bought a frilly little number with flowers and bows and such, you’re gonna be laughed out of the guys change room, the first time you take your little tyke swimming. Not to mention the utter shame that he will feel for the rest of his natural life.
Anyways – the bag should be at least as long as the distance from the tips of your fingers to your elbow, and have a number of pockets sequestered about it. Here’s what you should probably have in it when you leave the house, to be ready for most eventualities:
- extra diapers (min 3)
- wipes (sigh, yeah – take some wipes)
- empty ziplock bags (in case there are no garbage bins right where you are, with poopy diaper in-hand)
- diaper pad
- a set of those mini bottles of: baby powder, baby moisturizing cream, bum-rash cream, etc.
- face cloths (a few)
- burp towels (a few)
- bib (one should do)
- bottle of formula, if you intend to feed him while you’re out (keep it wrapped in a towel with an ice pack, then – say you’re at a restaurant – ask for a pitcher of hot water, in which to warm it up)
- change of clothes (we always carry one short onesie and one long onesie)
- extra seasonal clothing (hat, mitts, sweater, etc.)
- bottle of emergency ready-to-drink formula (whether or not you intend to be out very long, sometimes sh*t happens)
- emergency pacifier (for shrieking baby, or alternatively for shrieking spouse)
- paper and a pen/pencil (you just never know)
- …and then some room leftover for your stuff, like a snack, a camera, sunglasses, a book, etc.
So there you have it. An exhaustive list (well, I’m exhausted from writing it) of ‘stuff ‘ for your forthcoming joy-bundle. If something you’ve thought of is not in my list somewhere, it’s because I don’t know anything about it (eg: boppy pillow = ughn?!).
I really do hope this helps some of you guys out there. Waiting for your little one to arrive is stressful enough as it is, without having to scratch your head about what to stock up on. And hey – try to make this a fun time too; you’ll only get to do this for the first time once!
Now get that credit card warmed up!