I’ve been doing some shopping recently for my sister-in-law, who is eagerly anticipating the arrival of her son (my nephew!) in December. She has decided not to register for gifts and though I have encouraged her to do so for the free samples and 10% off shopping pass, I do not blame her. The selection of baby items in stores like Target and Wal-Mart is overwhelming, and Babies “R” Us exists solely to instill fear into the hearts of new parents-to-be. Also, when you get married, people use your registry to give you stuff you want. When you have a baby, people want to give you stuff they found useful as a new parent.
“I shall ignore the registry and give the new parents these items,” the seasoned parent thinks, “because these are the items I discovered I could not live without.” And from the myriad indispensable items with which a new parent is showered, they will make their own list of indispensable items, and they will give those items to the next person to procreate. The items on their list will be a mash-up of new things they were given, hidden treasures they found in hand-me-downs, and things they rushed to the store in a sleep-deprived haze to buy in the hopes that said thing would make life easier.
I am having fun shopping for my nephew, not only because it’s the first time I get to bestow my parental wisdom on someone else, but because – experienced parents, you’ll relate to this – it’s not me having the baby. That takes all the stress out of buying the item and leaves only the fun. But as I cannot gift all the items on my list, I’ve decided to use this platform to share all things I’d like to give to all the new parents. I’m also going to list a few of the items I didn’t like so much and could have lived without, and one item I really wish I’d sprung for.
How it was obtained: These were the diapers the hospital used, and then we bought more.
Why I like it: Swaddlers have a yellow line down the middle that turns blue when wet. I can tell when my daughter is wet now fairly easily but it’s not so cut and dry (pun intended) with a newborn. I also liked having stuff in newborn sizes. If you do a lot of research you’ll read that you can get by with size 1 diapers or size 6 month clothing, and I’m sure you can, but I really appreciated having stuff that fit well. She looked more comfortable so I felt more comfortable. I also came to like Pampers better than Huggies because they offer better leak protection, in my opinion. I do wish the scent was not as strong on the Pampers.
How it was obtained: Hand-Me-Downs
Why I like it: My baby shower was in late July when stores are packed with summer clothes so I received many short-sleeve onesies. But my baby arrived in mid-September so there weren’t many days when short-sleeves were appropriate. Again I liked having things that fit her well even if they didn’t last long, so the long-sleeve onesies I found amongst the hand-me-downs were super useful. Obviously, usefulness for other parents will depend on season and region in which baby is born.
How it was obtained: Baby shower gift
Why I like it: The PJs knows as Sleep & Plays are great but they are not all created equal. When you’re changing diapers ’round the clock, the five minutes it takes to fiddle around with seemingly endless snaps in a sleep-deprived haze is five minutes too long. Zippers are the way to go. After I figured this out, I was constantly scouring the baby aisles for every zippered PJ available.
Item: Fake Swaddlers
How it was obtained: Sent my husband to the store the first week.
Why I like it: Swaddling isn’t that difficult, but at two a.m. when you’re so tired you can’t see straight, it’s not as simple as it seemed in the birthing class. I was also in a great deal of pain the first two weeks and I just wanted to get that baby swaddled and back to sleep.
Item: Rock ‘n Play Sleeper
How it was obtained: We bought it for ourselves in the early weeks.
Why I like it: This is, hands-down, the most invaluable item we owned. Newborns sleep a lot and in the first two weeks we didn’t have a good place to put her during the day. We tried the automated bouncer/swing but her head tilted off to the side and she looked uncomfortable, and couches and pillows are not safe. Soon after we bought this, my husband and I wound up taking turns watching her at night. For the first six months I (or he) slept on the couch with her in this swing. If she woke and it wasn’t time for a feeding and she didn’t need to be changed, I could easily reach over, put the pacifier back in her mouth, gently rock the swing a few times and we’d both be out cold. We used this until her feet were hanging over the edge and even then I was super reluctant to give it up.
Item: Avent pacifiers
How it was obtained: Bought for ourselves.
Why I like it: Avent has one pacifier design that doesn’t have a “right-side-up.” They’re like Paul McCartney’s Hofner bass, you can turn them either way. This made it easier to reinsert the pacifier in the dark of night. I know there are other brands of pacifiers that are round or don’t have a right side up, this is just the brand our daughter took to.
How it was obtained: Baby shower gift
Why I like it: Baby socks don’t stay on worth a damn, except these ones. I liked them so much I bought a second set, then a third set in a bigger size. We’ve yet to move on to the bigger size but I’m glad I thought ahead because they’re getting hard to find. I bought my sets at Fred Meyer but don’t see them there anymore.
Item: Side-snap t-shirts
How it was obtained: Hand-Me-Down
Why I didn’t like it: The side-snaps are great for newborns so you don’t have to pull something over their heads, but t-shirts ride-up and I got tired of constantly adjusting the shirts so her mid-section wouldn’t get cold. Gerber makes side-snap onesies (they snap on the side and the bottom) and that’s a much better idea.
Item: Cuffed Gowns
How it was obtained: Gift
Why I didn’t like it: Newborn items with cuffs are great but I had the same problem with the gowns as I did the t-shirts: They ride up. The genius-ness of the gowns is that they make for easy diaper changes, but they just didn’t seem right to me. When your kid is too small to tell you if they’re hot or cold or what they like, you have to go with your gut.
Item: Video Monitor
How it was obtained: It wasn’t
Why I wish I’d bought one: Though video monitors are expensive and research will tell you they’re just not necessary, I think this is one luxury that would have made my life a little easier. I still get up several times before I go to bed to check on the little one, especially when I hear the weird little gasping noises that are, according to the books, perfectly normal noises babies make. If I heard one of those noises and could see that she’s peacefully dreaming, I could avoid excessive trips.