Baby gear. I swear I don't know how the human race made it through all those centuries of raising children without BOBs, Bumbos, and disposable diapers. Just thinking about it makes me want to shake the hand of every woman who gave natural birth and successfully navigated their child's infancy without the Internet or Baby Tylenol. But I digress...
Yes, the first year of a baby's life is truly all about survival for the parents, and it goes without saying that our chances of making it directly correlate to having the right gear at the right time. With our sanity so squarely in our childrens' crosshairs, it's easy to bury ourselves under a mountain of clothing and equipment we think we "need." I'm here to dig you out.
Most often, baby registries serve as the linchpin for our anxious overbuying, bolstered by opinions of mom-friends and family sharing their personal must-haves. While I do agree that some items are essential (see my top ten registry essentials here), others aren't really all that important. Skipping certain products or waiting to get them until your baby reaches a certain age will save you time, money and sanity. By not bogging down your registry with them, you'll avoid feeling overwhelmed and increase the chances of receiving gifts you'll put to good use!
Here are eight items I say skip or save for later:
EXPENSIVE HIGH CHAIRS
You won't need a high chair until you start offering your baby solids, somewhere around six months. Once you do, there's only one thing you can count on: it'll be M-E-S-S-Y! Pricey, cushioned high chairs look like a comfy place for baby to get her grub on, but they're really just a trap for stains and odors. Even though the seat pads are typically machine washable, you'll still need to run it through the wash almost every day. In case you haven't heard, moms have enough to do without adding to the laundry pile.
What I recommend: Ikea's Antilop High Chair. Extremely lightweight and incredibly easy to transport and clean. Just give it a quick wipe down after each meal and you're done!
I also love the Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair. It securely clamps on to a table top and folds compactly for great on-the-go utility. No tray is required as baby eats directly off of the table, letting her feel like she's an equal player in the family dining ritual. We use this at home and at restaurants to avoid potentially germy public high chairs. The wipeable nylon seat makes for easy clean up, though some bits and pieces can get caught in the seams.
In the same vein as high chairs, feeding supplies won't be necessary until halfway through the first year. Placemats, spoons, mesh feeders, trough bibs...don't take up precious real estate in your kitchen with items that'll collect dust for six months. That list also includes baby food blenders, a nice gift but one you may decide you don't need. Deciding how to introduce solids to Harlow wasn't on our radar when she was a newborn, but once the time came we landed on the Baby Led Weaning approach, which eliminates the need for Baby Bullets and the like. While you may go the puree route, save the counter space and just stash a gift card away...or plan to use your blender.
Rainbow-colored rings, rattles, big blocks, small blocks, and that French giraffe every child owns. Trust me, one day you'll lose sight of your floor underneath all the toys and teethers, but there's no need to fill baby's toy chest before they're born. Baby's interaction with toys slowly grows over time; as she develops new skills, certain toys help hone her gross and fine motor skills. Hold off on until baby is ready before turning your home into FAO Schwarz. Pick just one or two toys to have on hand that stimulate baby's senses and provide companionship.
What I recommend: The Lamaze Clip and Go plush toys attach to your stroller or car seat to keep baby company on the go. Harlow travels everywhere with her doll, the My Friend Emily. The crunchy skirt, rings, and colorful design fascinate her and keep her occupied on longer drives, walks, and errand runs.
BABY WIPE WARMER
I'm not sure this one even needs much of an explanation. You will go through more wipes than Tammy Faye Bakker did tissues and I promise you that junior won't act out purely because you used room temperature wipes. Warmers just take up more changing table or dresser space, and require a plug. Pass.
BREAST PUMP (sorta)
If you're choosing to breastfeed, you will need the infamous breast pump. Pumps are necessary to increase and maintain your milk supply, to provide relief for engorgement, and to build up a cache of stored milk for others to offer baby when mama's not around (or wants to sleep). Since the Affordable Care Act now requires insurers to cover breastfeeding support, that means equipment - such as breast pumps - are covered without a co-pay or any cost to you! Keep in mind that different insurance companies offer different brands of pumps, so if your heart is set on the Medela Pump In Style, proceed with caution. Before contacting your insurer, read this helpful article that outlines the process and offers helpful questions to ask your insurance agent.
Lactation consultants or breastfeeding support centers typically offer pump rental services, but they can be costly. Our local center here offers the Medela Pump In Style for $75 a month! Definitely worth a call to your insurer to cut that cost. Finding ways to budget for baby is why you're reading this after all!
Once you have the pump, you can buy auxiliary pieces, replacements, and pump cleaning supplies separately via Amazon (another way the Prime membership comes in handy, hint hint!) or Target.
I totally understand the allure of an eyelet-and-lace stand-alone bassinet. There's something about that image that's etched into our minds as the ideal, my-baby-will-have-the-best newborn nursery. They are pretty, just not practical.
What I recommend: A rocking stand or co-sleeper better serves the needs of mamas and babies alike. Many newborns start off sleeping in their Rock 'n' Play or something similar because it's small, easily transportable, and features a rocking motion that can help to soothe baby. Depending on your comfort level and/or feeding plan, co-sleepers (the kind that attach to or abut the side of your bed) keep baby extra close to mom for quick nighttime feedings.
BABY BUMPERS + BEDDING
In case you haven't been hit over the head with SIDS risk factors by now, frilly baby bedding ranks fairly high on the list. Bumpers, quilts, pillows, and even stuffed animals and loveys (until a certain age) pose suffocation risks to babies under one-year old. So while they make pretty Pinterest photos, they're not practical, just pricey.
What I recommend: Stick with the basics. Start with a US-made mattress that is GREENGUARD Gold (a chemical emissions standard) and CertiPUR-US certified, meets or exceeds federal flammability regulations, and water-proof. From there, you can choose to go organic or for a two-in-one, infant-to-toddler double-sided version. Don't forget a mattress pad to add extra moisture protection.
You'll need a few changes of crib sheets. I love Pottery Barn's sheets; not only are they lovely to look at, you can get them in organic cotton for $24 and they definitely hold up to wear.
If you want some frills or decorative accents, add a crib skirt. Extra bonus: crib skirts make excellent veneers for under-the-crib storage.
More and more parents are forgoing the traditional changing table in lieu of attaching a changing pad to the top of a dresser or chest of drawers. Not only do you eliminate extra furniture, you have plenty of drawer space at your fingertips from which to grab outfits and additional supplies when messy diapers reach a critical mass. Tabletop changing pads come with reinforceable straps to attach to the back of your dresser so that it won't slide around. No, you won't want to walk away from baby while they're on the pad, but you wouldn't leave baby unattended on a changing table, either.
When shopping for changing pads, I recommend using the same guidelines as shopping for a crib mattress that I posted above. They probably won't be water-proof, so buy two to three pad covers to have on hand. I swear by the chamois covers from PB Kids.
Speaking of changing tables, you should bypass diaper stackers, too. Good grief. Get a lined basket to neatly arrange your diapers, wipes, and bottom spray.
I hope this helps streamline your hunt for baby gear! While I did create this list out of personal experience, these are my opinions and aren't meant to criticize any parents who felt the need to buy the items on this list, or have gotten legitimate use out of them.