First, I lectured a kindly and confused grandmother about BPA and why the Dr. Brown’s bottles are just like, the freaking greatest bottles ever, oh my God, while I frantically dumped gift set after gift set into my cart. (Seriously, those bottles sell out in a second and online retailers are charging three times the suggested retail price.) Then I got a drive-by rave from another mother while I inspected a Hotsling, and then we ganged up on a nearby first-timer to express our shared dislike of the Baby Bjorn. She timidly chose a Hotsling and quickly backed away from both of us.
If this is your first pregnancy, you’re probably ready to start registering for gifts. And you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. So…allow me to boss you around for awhile then.
There’s obviously no shortage of baby paraphernalia you can register for, but so much of that stuff is best if you pick it out later, once your baby is here and you’ve gotten to know his or her likes and dislikes. And no matter what that crazy wild-eyed blonde woman said to you at the store about which bottle/pacifier/diaper brand is the Best Thing Ever, resist the urge to register for multiple identical items, but instead register for one or two of multiple brands and let your baby make the choice.
As my registry dwindled, I felt obligated to add more stuff and crap to it. And that’s how I ended up with 434 receiving blankets and at least 10 of those sleepsack things– and only three of the blankets were actually big enough to swaddle my linebacker of a newborn, who hated the sleepsacks with the heat of…well, a thousand fleece sleepsacks. He hated the Avent wideneck bottles and pacifers I’d stocked up on, preferring Dr. Brown’s standards and Soothies. The vibrating bouncy seat (which I’d gotten in place of a swing, because “everyone” told me their babies hated swings) pissed him off like nothing else. He loved, loved, loved the swing we went out and bought out of sleep-deprived desperation a week later.
I discovered that I hated those elastic-bottomed gowns that “everyone” raved about, preferred co-sleeping (which I’d been deadset against) to lifting him in and out of the Pack-n-Play bassinet attachment, and kicked myself for not getting a sling. And don’t even get me started on that freaking awful stroller.
So. If I could go back and do it again, I actually would have registered for a lot less, and resisted the urge to keep the list stocked with low-cost gifts that ended up getting donated to charity basically unused. (Because OF COURSE I ripped the tags off ALL 434 blankets and washed them BEFORE Noah was born. Because OF COURSE I DID.) I should have politely requested more gift cards for use later — there’s just no way to know how many diapers you’ll go through, or whether breastfeeding will work out the way you plan, or what kind of exersaucer you’ll want six months from now.
I’ve waffled back and forth on including any kind of actual specific checklist here, since it’s all just so subjective and varies by person (AP? anti-plastic? devoted worshiper of the battery-powered baby-raising gods?), living situation (suburbs? city? mcmansion? 500-square-foot studio?) and of course, BABY. What worked for us and our kid might not work for you. Hell, it might not even work for US a second time around.
But what the heck, I will include some checklists — spread out over a few weeks, because good GOD, this is giving me a headache and taking forever. First up: baby gear, or your big-ticket items, divided into (very) rough categories of BUY NOW and BUY LATER, just to help you prioritize what you’ll need from day one and what you can wait a bit on.