I remember registering for my first baby before he was born. I went to a giant baby warehouse store with a HUGE corporate list of things that I “needed” for this new little one and obediently registered.
And then he came.
The crib sat in the corner, the swing hung empty, and the tub wouldn’t fit in my shower.
Sometimes I think groups of childless men sit around shining wood tables and literally make stuff up that new babies “need” for survival just so that they can make money. Seems like a good idea, but for the first time mom, I think it just tends to stress us out when we should be enjoying a pretty awesome time in life.
So ladies, here are a few things that you don’t need for your new baby.
1) The wipe warmer- Possibly the silliest baby ‘necessity’ ever invented. I am pretty sure that cave man babies survived without the warmer. Oh wait … cave men are EXTINCT! Maybe we do need this! They can be nice for some people (some cloth diaper mamas keep their cloth wipes moist inside), but certainly not a need.
2) The layette - I have had kids for seven years and I still don’t know what this is. So … I am pretty sure it isn’t a necessity.
3) The crib - (This isn’t an anti-crib rant, so don’t get riled up.) It kind of makes me sad when a young new family with limited resources stresses unnecessarily over the need for a crib. I actually do think it is NICE to have a space for the baby to sleep, especially during nap-times, and at ANY time if you don’t co-sleep. But this doesn’t have to be an expensive crib. Some people use a Pack n Play (many are safe for sleeping in) which is smaller, cheaper, and easier to move if money and space are an issue. Some people just have the baby in their bed (free of all sheets and pillows, of course) with an attachable guard rail, a bassinet, a cradle or whatever is safe and fits.
4) That diaper Genie - Seriously? The diapers still smell, even in that thing. I am being for real. If I am doing disposables then I just throw them in the regular trash, but little baby poop doesn’t really stink. If I am doing cloth, then you DO need a diaper bin, but I just use a big plastic pail. You can get them for a few bucks or use an old one from Costco laundry soap.
5) Swings, bouncers, chairs, and what not - I can’t hold my baby all day long, so it is really helpful to have SOMETHING to put your baby in when you need to put them down. The thing is, you probably don’t need all of them. Plus, in my experience, all babies don’t like all of them. I had a baby that loved the swing and another that screamed bloody murder every time he came near it. These are not universally loved by all babies. Often, somebody whose baby is a little older is willing (dare I say desperate?) to give away theirs so that they can free up some space in their home. If you get something free, you just don’t feel as bad when you never use it.
6) Expensive breast pumps - A necessity for sure if you are going back to work and are planning on pumping when the baby is young. These are not, however, needed for every mom out there, even though they are promoted like every mom needs one. Often a hand pump will be plenty for a stay at home mom who doesn’t need to pump four times a day to keep up her supply. But even if you are going back to work — but not for a year or so — then you don’t necessarily need one.
7) The baby bath tub - We were in a tiny apartment when I had my first and the big tub wouldn’t even fit in my shower. Instead we showered with the baby. (Showering with a baby does work better if you have two people.) My newest baby gets bathed in the kitchen sink. YES, I clean it well before and after. It is just the right size for a little one. Baby tub = not necessary.
8) Baby shoes - Babies actually don’t walk. This does come later, but until then, they don’t need a large array of shoes. I have a secret about this one too. Baby shoes don’t even stay on baby feet. They can’t walk but they can remove shoes by about three weeks. Don’t tell anybody that I was the one who let that one out of the bag.
9) A themed nursery - I feel like I am having an out of body experience when I walk into a big box baby store and see the walls lined with perfectly matched cribs, gliders (not rockers, those are capitol “L” lame), wallpaper, sheets, lamps, rugs, and what not. Babies CAN see at birth, but only for about 12 inches. They will not care if the wallpaper matches the pillow sham. I have never even had a bedroom that nice. So, maybe I am just jealous…
10) Rounding off the 10 with a few I have never had or used – baby monitors (never had that big of a house), socks (they disappear with the shoes), pacifiers (shouldn’t even be introduced until 6 weeks), and Baby Einstein videos (don’t even get me started on baby TV!)
(Lest you get offended, I know that some women might need some of these items or even just WANT some of them, in which case, GO NUTS and enjoy your baby shopping! I wasn’t trying to hurt your feelings. And I actually do know what a layette is. I was kidding.)
This post originally appeared on the natural birth blog, Mama Birth in February of 2012.
About Sarah Clark
Sarah Clark is a mother of four, wife, a natural birth teacher, a natural birth teacher trainer, and a founding board member of Birth Boot Camp (online and in-person childbirth education). As time goes on she needs less and less stuff.
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Image credit: Flickr creative commons – Peasap