Monday, June 25, 2012

What to Get When You're Expecting

I have to warn you all...there is something in the water. Just in case you haven't already noticed in your facebook feed, everyone and their mama seems to be becoming a mama. It seems I can't turn around without hearing about a new couple that is expecting, and now I'm thrilled to say I have a few close friends that are pregnant with their first baby. Obviously I'm beyond excited for them to grow their families, and create new life, and experience heart shattering love, but more than that? I love the planning!! Oh pregnancy....forty sweet weeks of lists, and preparation, guides and gifts, prepping and organization. If it wasn't for the whole squeezing a baby out and raising it part, I might do it over and over!

One of my friends is just getting through her first trimester (yay for getting to tell everyone finally!), but is visiting family next week and was told to get a jump on her registry (double-yay for sort-of surprise baby showers!), so she reached out to me with questions. Rather than keep all my valuable (?) advice to myself- I thought I'd share my words of wisdom with the masses. So I present to you, the Bowdenisms Baby Registry Guide:

or more accurately: 

What to Get if You're Exactly Like Courtney, and Your Baby is Identical To Piper 
(That's my official disclaimer that all of my advice is just based on things that worked for us...which may prove to be utterly useless and entirely wrong for you and your baby. You're welcome!) And with that: let's dive into the questions!  

What did you register for or get that you never use?
Oh man, we returned so many things...but that's just my general M.O. In general I found that I was a strange combination of tremendously worried about being prepared, and adamantly against having too much stuff, that I ended up registering for way too many little "necessities" (blankets, towels, pacifiers, bibs etc.) and not enough big stuff (I'll detail most of this further down the list: video monitor, high chair etc.) I kept thinking the bigger ticket things were a waste (and I was probably right about a lot of it), and tried to make up for it by registering for tons of little things just so that people have something to buy. Dumb. My advice is to go easy on all the little stuff, because people will give that to you no matter what, and even if they don't, you can easily pick it up later, especially with the gift cards that you'll be raking in. But the big stuff is really hard to splurge on (Exersaucers are upwards of $100...for real?) so if you think you might want it, go for it, and allow people to spoil your little bean for you. You can always leave it in the box and return it later if you have a change of heart (or need diaper money).

What did you not register for and get or end up buying later that you love?
We were incredibly blessed, so we haven't had to buy a ton, but there are a couple of after the fact purchases I would recommend. First: get at least two swaddles. If your baby ends up liking it, you'll need an extra for sure, as one will inevitably be dirty when you need it. Same goes for sleep sacks and pjs. Get twice as many as you think. I also didn't register for any toys, mostly because I was scared of my house turning into a McPlayPlace overrun by primary colored plastic. And while reigning in the junk is an admirable goal, it turns out babies do need things to entertain them (and to make their little brains grow). I do still think the toys can be kept to a reasonable level, but having a playmat, a "gym" or a few things that make noise won't kill you.
And the one thing I didn't think to register for (perhaps because I was overly hopeful): medicine. Sorry to tell you, your baby will get sick. And most likely it will be the middle of the night, so you'll be panicked, unprepared, and up a proverbial creek. Having a supply of the basics- gripe water, gas drops, Tylenol, teething tablets etc will at least give you an arsenal of options to rely on when you have no clue what else to try.

Are you allowed/supposed to register for stuff you won’t use right away (high chair, bumbo, plates/utensils, larger sizes of clothes, training toilet)?
If you don't mind storing it? Absolutely. No one is judging you for being prepared, and it's nice to spread out the swag over a longer period of time so you're not overwhelmed by gear designed for 0-3 months, but left in the lurch after all those brand-new baby presents stop rolling in. Plus, babies seem to develop overnight, so it's great to have things waiting in the wings when they decide they're ready for the next step, rather than having to run out and buy things immediately.

Courtney asks herself a bonus question time: Should I register for clothes?
Yes and no. I registered for a few basics, like plain onesies, and some pj's, but found that people LOVE to buy clothes (especially once they know the gender...) so no matter what, you won't be hurting for tiny outfits. Plus, try as I might, I found it nearly impossible to avoid buying baby clothes, even though I knew we'd have plenty, so we ended up with a fully stocked closet, without much help from the registry. I say if you're going to register for clothes, do it for things that are practical (think: sleep sacks, or multi-packs of socks) and items that give people a hint to your style (they may be less likely to buy you "Diva In Training" tutu sets if everything on your registry is understated solids.)

Pack’n’Play, yes or no?
Yes. Piper slept in hers for the first few months partly because she wouldn't tolerate laying in the crib, and partly because it was easier to have her close when she had to eat every two hours. Since then we haven't used it a TON, but it's been well worth it for trips, or even just evenings at a friends house when you want to be able to stay out past 7:30. If there is one location you plan on going a lot (for us that's my mom's house), it may be worth it for them to get one second hand. They don't spend a ton of money, you don't have to lug as much stuff for each visit; win-win.

Diaper Bags-- fashionable one for me and utilitarian one for my husband, or just one unisex one we can both agree on? (Does your diaper bag really become your purse and will it be a pain passing baby and diaper bag to him and getting all my personal stuff out of it?)
I LOVE my diaper bag. LOVE LOVE it. But it's definitely not unisex, so Dustin has his own. I carry mine every day, and even if Piper's not with me it functions as my purse (which is why it was so important to me that it not have flowers or Disney characters on it). Dustin has used his maybe twice, so I wouldn't say a fancy bag has really paid off for him. (Typically if he has Piper on his own, the furthest they go is on a walk, so all the gear is a little unnecessary). What has worked for us though, is having a diaper-bag within a bag system to avoid all the switching drama you're worried about. We have Bummi's Wet Bags (leftovers from our brief foray into cloth diapering) which are the perfect size for a few diapers, a pack of wipes, an extra onesie, etc. I stock one bag full of essentials, and then throw that in the diaper bag whenever we're on the go with Piper. Then when she's not with me, I leave the bag at home or in the car and my purse is my own again.

Bouncer or Swing or neither? And what about those crazy walker/jumpers/exersaucers??
I think there are two sides of the fence here: People that swear by these things, and those that think it's all a little excessive. I tend to fall on the gear-adverse side. That being said, for us, the bouncy chair was essential. I don't know what people do without them (where does the baby sit? where does she nap? what do you do when you have to go to the bathroom by yourself for five and a half seconds?) I liked the bouncer option because it seemed to be the least obtrusive option, and was easy to take from room to room as needed. I know some babies can't survive without a swing, but I figured if we had one of those babies, we'd suck it up and get a swing later. And as for exersaucers/play yards theory is that Piper probably gets enough "independent play" at daycare, I don't need more giant plastic contraptions to contain entertain her for the few hours a day I do get to spend with her. But if I was a stay-at-home mom, I might change my tune real quick, so to each her own on that one.  

Rocking Chair or glider?
I may have to buck the system on this one and go with secret option C: none of the above. Don't get me wrong, having a comfortable place to sit down with the babe is nice, but it is no where near the necessity I was lead to believe. I assumed I'd use the chair several times a day, for feeding and rocking to sleep, but in reality, I had a baby who needed to be bounced to sleep for every nap (meaning: she wanted to be held, while I did deep squats and patted her back for ten minutes) so the quiet sleepy moments in our glider never materialized. Plus, I found that most of the time it was easier to feed her on the couch, or in bed, so again- the chair didn't exactly live up to the dream I had in my mind. So while I definitely advocate having a chair in the nursery (it's a nice place to snuggle with a book, or to sit and sing songs), I wouldn't stress about finding the perfect chair, and I definitely wouldn't spend a ton of money.

Monitor-- do we even need one with no walls between us and baby?
I say yes. Our house is small enough that we can pretty much always hear Piper without it, so I debated it too. But even if you all are going to be sharing one big space, it will still come in handy if you want to go out on the deck (or the rooftop?), or to the basement (not sure where your laundry is?) And when you visit friends or family who may have a different set up, it's nice to be able to set up a monitor so you don't have to worry about staying within five yards to hear baby whimpers.  

Courtney asks herself a bonus question time round two: What about video monitors?
In your case (a loft apartment), I would say that it might not be worth it, but in general I don't think they're a bad idea. Before we had Piper I thought video monitors were crazy expensive and total overkill. And while the crazy expensive part is still pretty accurate, there have definitely been times when I wished we had one. I can always hear if Piper's crying, and I'm getting better at determining what each of her little sounds mean (hint: they almost all mean- come pick me up I don't want to be in here!) but a video monitor would be great to give me peace of mind that no, she didn't get her arm caught in the bars, she's just cranky and we should leave her to work it out. Nothing is worse than having to get out of bed three extra times (when you're already getting up four times a night) just because you're paranoid the baby stopped breathing. Even if you're not a spazzy person, I assure you, there will be moments when you're a spazzy mom. If people are willing to pony up the money for your peace of mind? Let them.  

What stuff did you have to try 10 brands of before finding one that worked (i.e. don't stock up)-- bottles, pacifiers, etc
Again, this is pretty much a crap shoot. Bottles are a struggle for pretty much everyone I've ever talked to, but there is no magic brand or style that work for everyone, so advice here is pretty much useless. And pacifiers? We registered for a few different brands because we didn't know what she'd like, and turns out she hated all of them. (allllllllll of them. hated.) So I'd say get a few different types of bottles (2 or 3?) but only try your favorite at first. If your baby takes it, just return the rest. (For what it's worth- we ended up liking Dr. Brown's bottles, which seem to be a pretty popular choice. Just me typing that will all but ensure that your baby hates them.)

Carseat-- infant or convertible? We don't drive a lot, but will the convenience of an infant seat be worth the extra cost?
I say go for the infant seat...but then again- we're car dependent people. Even so, I think it's useful, as babies typically fall asleep in them pretty easily for the first few months, allowing you to run errands, visit friends or go out to dinner with minimal disturbance to your little one. Get an inexpensive stroller base that works with your carseat and you're set to go. (For the frequent drivers among us- I highly recommend getting a carseat base for each car. We constantly switch up the daycare drop off/pick up, and not having to trade out bases each time some has to get the baby is worth just about any cost)

Courtney asks herself a bonus question wrap up time: Any other random advice? 

Babies are like snowflakes. Each one is beautiful and unique. Ok, actually, babies are more like miniature people. Each one is a crazy mix of quirks, preferences, strange habits and piles of emotions that can't ever be fully understood. So take any advice (including mine) with a grain of salt. The registry is one of your first forays into the overwhelming world of parental decisions. You will have millions of options, make thousands of choices, and hopefully only hundreds of mistakes. the good news is at this stage, the worst thing you can do is get the wrong hooded animal towel (trick question...all hooded animal towels are right!!) So go forth with that electronic scanner and register with confidence, knowing you have a community of moms (and hopefully a decent return policy) to back you up. What about you guys? Do you have registry or baby questions you're dying to have my rookie self weigh in on? Or maybe (maybe) you have a touch more experience than me and want to chime in with your two cents...Share away!

For more baby gear advice- check out our Must Have Lists (First Month, and Fourth Month) and visit one of my favorite registry resources here.

No comments :

Post a Comment