When I created my baby registry about a year ago (I used Babylist, FYI), I had no practical experience with babies. So my research consisted of Googling phrases like, “Best Baby Car Seat 2014” and plugging the “winner” into my Babylist.
However! I was fortunate enough to have some experienced mamas go off registry and give us things I never would have thought of–that have since become invaluable in terms of saving time and preserving my sanity, and I thought I would share them here.
Note: All of the gifts I received were amazing, thoughtful, and useful, and I am so grateful to our friends and family, who were so generous. These are just the things I was a stranger to, pre-baby. Thank you everyone!
Baby Play Gym: When my aunt sent me a Baby Einstein play gym, I thought, “Cute–for when she’s older,” and stashed it under the crib. Little did I know how this would change my life: when Sarah was two months old (and just coming out of a three-week-long fussy period that often left me in tears), I laid her under it–and she was enthralled. She had never reacted to a toy before at this point, so it was incredible to see her respond and “talk” to it. Even better, it soon kept her occupied for up to 20-30 minutes–long enough for me to, say, write a blog article. I could even (before she started rolling) leave the room for a moment to grab a load of laundry and fold it next to her. Once Sarah could sit, I got an activity jumper off Craigslist–amazing. And that version traps that roll-y baby so she can’t get into mischief
Happiest Baby on the Block DVD: So about that “fussy” period I referenced above? Some people call it colic, but the Happiest Baby on the Block dude refers to the first three months of an infant’s life as the “fourth trimester,” and says they are still more like a fetus than a baby at that point. That’s why they freak out. He offers some very simple techniques to calm your baby and help him or her sleep longer, and by God, they really did work a lot of the time. Even when they didn’t, it still made me feel better and more in control on those days when I was home alone with Sarah and she decided to cry . . . for hours . . . for seemingly no reason. Get this. Watch it before you give birth, I wish I had.
Baby kimono tops and gowns: You know what you don’t want to do with a tiny baby who you’re afraid you’re going to break? Pull something over his or her head. Dressing a baby gets much easier later, when they can move their heads and limbs, but in the beginning, it’s like trying to pour a bowlful of jelly into a sausage skin. Kimono tops and gowns are super easy. Open it up, lay the baby down, wrap it up: done. My Mom got me these kimono bundlers from babysoy.
- Clothes sizes 3 months and up: Newborn-size clothes are for suckers. You might have a tiny baby. Mine was 21.5″ long at birth (8 lb 4 oz), and I could barely squeeze her into the newborn footie pajamas I brought to take her home! Plus, for the first couple of months, Sarah only wore a diaper, a swaddle, and a hat, unless we were going out (we rarely got out of the house). So I ended up with so many cute newborn outfits that were barely worn! Start with the 3 month size. Even if they’re a little big, your baby will be growing so quickly, they’ll be too small before you know it.
One-piece baby outfits: Once you recover enough to be embarrassed by your practically naked, unfashionable baby, you will be ready to dress him or her in actual clothes. However, I suggest you start slow, with footie pajamas (Sarah lived in Carters Sleep and Plays) or other one-piece outfits. They’re easy to dress your baby in–no coordinating, no keeping track of socks–and they’re really easy for diaper changing. My two cents: zippers are nice because they’re fast, but they also mean you have to practically undress your baby to change a diaper. Snaps are more of a pain, but you can just take the legs out as needed. If the weather’s cold and you have a zippered outfit (and are trying to keep your baby sleepy during nighttime diaper changes, which is a worthy goal), slip him or her into a short-sleeved onesie under the footie pajamas. Footless one-piece baby outfits are a little more flexible, size-wise, while your baby grows, but I found keeping track of socks was a pain.
Diapers: This was the biggest duh of all. Hello, the things you will definitely need, no matter what, and will always use, no matter what, are diapers. Although I love my GroVia cloth diapers, I wish I had asked for starter packs of several kinds, so I could compare. The same with disposables: I kept her in those the first few months, and again, it would have been nice to have several types on hand.
So, here are the things I haven’t been able to live without while bringing up baby: what are yours? Pass your wisdom along, mamas!