It has been quite some time now since we registered for our little bundle of joy, but oh, I can remember it like yesterday. We were excited and disorganized. We were living long distance at the time. Dale had moved to Iowa City, and I was waiting out a lease term in Des Moines. We didn’t have time to shop around to pick a store that had the perfect nursery set or anything like that. We simply showed up at Babies ‘R’ Us and asked for a registry consultant. A very friendly woman invited us to her desk, handed us maps of the store, and gave a list of “must have” items that was approximately 3 pages full and consisted of about ¾ of their store stock. Then she promptly handed us a scan gun and sent us on our merry way.
I remember thinking where should we even begin? I mean…one of every item in their store stock? Is this lady for real? How many gadgets and pieces of cloth do you really need to care for a little babe? All of a sudden, registering for a baby seemed so overwhelming to my pregnant self that all I could truly focus my attention on was the Taco Bell down the street. And then, there was Dale, dashing through the aisles with his scan gun fully-loaded, firing at every bar-code like he was shooting bad guys in a video game. So, there we were, dreaming of bean/cheese burritos, playing laser tag with stationery objects, and registering for who knows what. Turns out, we registered for a crib set I didn’t love, additional crib sheets in every single color of the rainbow, some toddler sized socks, a few toys, 5 bouncy seats, 2 masculine baby carriers, three diaper bags (because we couldn’t agree on a design), and a handful of miscellaneous items that I cannot recall.
Dale left to head back to Iowa City immediately after we finished, and I sat in my apartment crying about our baby registry for the rest of the afternoon. Then, I logged on the website and frantically started rearranging everything. Yes, I mean everything.
Prior to our registering experience, I did research. I questioned friends and read probably three dozen articles online about what the necessities are for baby care. I read product reviews and Parents magazine best baby products list. I had felt prepared, but I just could not wrap my mind around all of the things people told us we would NEED for our daughter.
I spent hours, weeks and months stressing about all of the things we needed to have. I exhausted myself and obsessed over these things. Then, something happened. Our little bundle of joy was born. She entered the world in all of her beautiful glory, and we were thrilled! Then, our lives together progressed further. I gave up breast-feeding. It turns out we didn’t need all the nursing pads, nipple balm, and pump parts I thought we would. Our daughter didn’t like to be swaddled, so alas those swaddle blankets took up closet space. She outgrew the little baby shoes. The diapers ran out. She liked one particular brand of bottle, and pacifiers collected dust in a jar because she wouldn’t take them. I was shocked. Maybe even a little disappointed at all of these items that we didn’t need.
There are still plenty of lists of baby-must-haves out there. However, you do NOT need to exhaust your pregnant little head or your financial resources to provide care for your baby! Every mama has her own opinion on the best brands or her own favorite product. We’re all different. Just like our babies will be. Here are some tips or things I would do differently if I had a do over.
- Separate luxury from necessity. There are some items you will definitely need. Diapers, for instance. Regardless of whether you prefer cloth or disposable, you will need some sort of diaper. A diaper genie on the other hand, is not a necessity. Are they nice to have? Sure, but you can get by without. And you probably won’t need a jogging stroller if you have not been on a jog since 2007. Registering for the luxuries is great if you’re prepared to provide some of the basics yourself, but if you feel like you’re scanning too many items it’s okay to start weeding out some of these extras!
- Definitely register for items you wouldn’t feel comfortable buying used. This is also different for everyone, and that’s totally okay! I picked up a lot of stuff at garage sales. I scored super cheap clothes, nursery furniture/décor, a few toys, etc. I felt more comfortable having new crib bedding and bottles, but that’s just me! Bulky items like highchairs and swings are great things to snag secondhand! A lot of people use them for such a short period of time and then look to sell them for half the original price!
- Ask a few friends and family members to recall items they didn’t use. Like I’ve said before, this varies, but you might see a trend. I asked the ICMB contributors and multiple moms told me that their wipe warmers were only good for drying out the wipes. Several others mentioned that they almost never used their crib sets. And there were at least two of us that never even used the changing table. So, polling a few people can offer some insight!
- Save your gift receipts. And more specifically, attach them to your baby gear. Babies can be picky and they grow super quickly! One certain brand of diaper may cause your little one to break out, so keep diapers in the package and tape their gift receipt to the outside. If you end up with large amounts of newborn clothing, pick a few outfits to keep the hangers, tags, and gift receipts on. Your baby may outgrow them before they get the chance to wear them, which leads me to my next point…
- Avoid asking for many clothes or diapers in a newborn size. Some bigger babies skip right over this tiny size. My daughter was teeny tiny and needed newborn clothes, but only for like three weeks. Even if she had worn a different outfit every day, she still wouldn’t have worn all the newborn outfits we had.
- Exercise caution when giving your man the scan gun. See laser tag anecdote above.
My final piece of advice is to try not to stress! Babies are wildcards, and moms are amazingly resourceful! It’s like a match made in heaven! If shopping for your baby is still weighing heavily on your shoulders, you can always indulge a pregnancy craving and sort things out online later. After a nap perhaps? Go ahead mama, you’re gonna need it!