I am re-posting this in honor of my friends who are about to become first time parents. It’s hard to believe that this was three years ago to the month. Even now, with a toddler bustling about my life, I still wonder how much stuff I really needed. I marvel at what items made the cut and what items were donated within a years time.
One of the only things more daunting than being pregnant for the first time, with little to no baby experience, is creating a baby registry.
When Joe and I got married we completed a bridal registry. This was easy, we thought about the stuff we had and the things that could use an upgrade, and we registered. For example, dishes. Our chipped white setting for four gave way to Kate Spade for Lenox Cays Stripe. We traded our Ikea silverware for Oneida. We received many generous gifts from our registry and continue to enjoy all of them but we could have survived with anything or nothing (as we had already proven). With a bridal registry if you don’t get something you registered for, chances are you may not have really needed it. There’s no one telling you that you must have this or that.
I entered the baby registry with the same approach. How much of this stuff do I really need but that was before I realized that it’s not for me. Ergo, the greater question became, “how much of this stuff does the baby really need?”
Here’s what it’s like to register for baby gear. You fill out “an application” complete with a due date, optional gender information, and nursery theme information. The only thing I knew was the due date. Then, you get a gift bag with a parenting magazine and a few free gifts: a bib, a pacifier, a parenting magazine–I call this stuff “baby swag.”
Here’s the daunting part. No matter where you go, there will be some kind of folder and therein is a list of all the things for baby that “you need.” It is a tedious list, for example, the baby’s health and grooming: category may have three types of thermometers, baby Tylenol, teething gel, nail clippers, baby brush, baby comb, nasal aspirator (or booger sucker), diaper cream, shampoo, baby soap, lotion, nail brush, massage lotion?, bath music, bath tub, bath mat, bath toys, spigot cover for sink, all natural sponge, baby shower gel, baby towels, baby wash cloths.
It gets to a point where you click away with the scanner or ask yourself, “How much will it really need right away?” and “What’s wrong with the wash cloths I already have?”
I tried to ask myself this very question with every category. I was lucky enough to have Joe with me who has been through this but a lot has changed in baby gear since his last child.
Granted, there were some things this folder told me that made sense. For example, don’t just register for newborn items. Try to get things for the first year.
Registering for baby items took me three trips because I gave myself 30 minutes the first time, and 60 minutes for the last two trips. Otherwise, it would have been too much. It’s baby overload and it’s enough to make the sanest woman freak out.
The bottle aisle almost killed me. Joe asked,”have you decided on a bottle system?” I didn’t even know what he meant. I have to commit to one style of bottle and stick to it? What if the baby doesn’t like the one I choose? What if it has an allergy? Why does a bottle encompass an entire system? There were no answers, I opted for the BPA free, chose some nipples, but I still have no idea what I was scanning. Evidently, the bottle system also includes, bottle brushes, a spinning drying rack, a microwave sterilizing system? and assorted other items that I will have to find space for in my kitchen.
One of that I thought I would really enjoy, would be selecting the crib and nursery colors, until I saw the prices. Why does a baby need a crib that will convert into a double bed with a sleigh headboard? What’s the difference between a bassinet and a crib? What’s a mini crib? Why is this changing table $500.00? Can we go back to Ikea now?
And what’s with all of the beige? Does my baby really need to enter a world of muted earth tones? Where’s the visual interest?
All I knew that I wanted was a color palette that included black and white. It’s been scientifically proven that patterns in black and white are visually stimulating to babies and increase their cognitive development. All I wanted was black and white. So what’s with all of the beige and brown? It’s everywhere. Pink and beige, pink and brown, aqua and beige, aqua and brown, muted, creamy earth tones abound in baby-land. It’s all really boring. If I were a baby, I would not be happy with beige. The only thing I could justify were Monkey’s. Afterall, they’re cute, gender neutral and they are supposed to be brown.
But I still hold out hope for black and white. The baby clothes, I left to the Jedi Master, because Joe launched an explanation of side snap and bottom snap onesie’s that made me relinquish the registry scanner to more capable hands. I watched him wield that thing over mittens, socks, hats, and a bevy of other items that I will figure out what do to with.The other day, I diapered a stuffed animal for practice. That critter can expect to be wearing a onesie pretty soon, too.
The registry experience made me realize that it’s not about the stuff. Babies have been around forever, that’s why we’re all here. Long before nasal aspirators, video monitors, and baby massage lotion. My best advice is don’t let the baby mega retailers overwhelm you. It’s intimidating but not impossible. Should an expectant parent skip an item on the registry, it’s not as if the baby is going to pop out and say, “Hey! I specifically ordered the beige bassinet with the MP3 player!”