Now that we’re ten months into this parenting thing, I think we’re experienced enough to dole out some advice to new parents. Right? I’m not talking about how to raise your child, how to discipline or whether or not to breast feed or vaccinate. I just want to talk about objects.
When you’re about to have your first baby, you have no idea what to expect. You go to classes, you get advice from your parents (but they’re two or three decades out of date), you get advice (whether solicited or not) from every single parent out there, and Amazon. Oh my goodness Amazon. If you sign up for a baby gift registry, Amazon will continually tell you about things that you haven’t added to the list yet. You’ll think to yourself, A humidifier? How is that a baby thing? That’s legit, though. Get one of those. It helps with stuffy noses. Let’s be honest: You’re going to buy a lot of stuff that you may or may not need. We did. Buying things makes us feel more secure, and parenting is constantly feeling insecure. You worry about whether you’re doing the best thing for your child’s development or well being. Buying things can make you feel better about it. But soon you have to buy something else.
We’re extremely fortunate to have all that stuff available to us, because every baby is unique and some of those things are going to be life savers for some parents. But those same things will just end up clutter in the closet for other parents. Here’s my advice: don’t buy things until you need them.
People will tell you, “Trust me, you need a [fill in the blank,]” and you don’t want to get home with your baby and realize that you’re unprepared, so you buy everything that everyone says you need. But remember, Target is not far away. Amazon delivers to your house in two days, and people will give you things that their kids have outgrown. Companies that want to sell you things make it really easy to buy them. They do it in the hope that you’ll buy more. But, remember that because it’s so easy, you can always buy it later.
We didn’t have our crib painted and put together until Coraline was three months old. Not only that, but her bedroom didn’t even have drywall up until about that time. Turns out babies are little. When they first come home, they can sleep in your bed, and then you can transition to a bedside bassinet. Or you can continue co-sleeping. We don’t do that, and we don’t really understand how it works (two of us seem to be under the impression that the only way to get meaningful sleep is to take up as much space as possible), but it’s an option.
- We have a stroller that we’ve used exactly once. Turns out we’re a baby wearing family. So much easier than lugging around a stroller. And that thing costs over $200. It helps that Coraline is in the third percentile for weight. She’s a Mini Wonder! And our Australian shepherds thought the stroller was something they were meant to herd. So for us, baby wearing is a much better option.
- You’re going to decide what’s right for you, of course, but that bedding stuff that makes cribs look homey and comfortable is actually a suffocation hazard. So we never used it. I think it’s meant for when they’re older, but by then you’re pretty accustomed to minimalist decor.
- Changing table? We bought an old dresser at a thrift shop. We bought some new knobs from Anthropologie to pretty it up a bit, and we bought some non toxic paint and made it our own. But you definitely don’t need to buy a table that has only one purpose. Soon as you’re done changing diapers, that thing is obsolete.
- Toys? Babies get enough entertainment from watching your face. Then they get older and have fun with kitchen utensils. You don’t need to stock your house with the newest baby toy. Turns out your parents’ two to three decades old advice isn’t really outdated at all. Newer isn’t always better.
I feel like we were pretty level headed about preparing to be parents. We bought most things used; we were fortunate to get a lot of hand-me-downs; we were thoughtful about the things we spent our money on. Still, we ended up with some stuff we never used, or used only once. Baby’s don’t need a lot of things. Toddlers? We’ll cross that bridge when it comes.