A friend of mine is nearing her 20th week of pregnancy. She and her husband recently found out they're expecting a boy...so now begins the arduous process of wading through millions of useless baby items to find the select few that are useful, affordable, reliable, and durable. Today, she enlisted the help of family and friends via Facebook and her private blog. She posed this question:
"What is your favorite baby item? The one you can't live without."
Dude. *shaking my head*
In light of my verbal diarrhea and endless opinions, you may live to regret that question.
I, on the other hand, am positively giddy over the blog fodder. Thanks!
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My first suggestion was to get thee an on-line Consumer Reports subscription. In Yonkers, NY, there lives a laboratory filled with nerdy peeps beating the snot out of various everyday items. They spend endless hours every day pushing, pulling, dropping, kicking, opening, closing, turning on, turning off, and just generally abusing the things we use all the time. This is helpful because it prevents the Average Joe from spending wads of cash on products that are LAME and SUCKY.
My second suggestion is to give some serious thought to your needs. Do you live in a ranch-style house with a big open floor plan? Then you might not need baby gates. Do you live in a warm, tropical climate? You won't need many heavy blankets. Love to run? You'll find a jogging stroller to be helpful. Expecting triplets? Get a bigger vehicle. Pronto.
Hmmm.....so now I'm supposed to pick ONE item that I just couldn't live without? Ummm. That would be chapstick. (Or would it be a good bra? Dry lips or droopy girls? I can't make up my mind! Crap. This is like asking me to pick a favorite child!)
Pardon? What's that you said? It needs to be a baby-related item? Oh. Thank god because my 32 remaining brain cells were getting an owie.
Without further ado, I present:
The List of Baby Gear I Couldn't Possibly Be Expected to Live Without
**A changing table, located in the living room. When I was upstairs, I just used the bed for changing and clothing the baby. Downstairs, I kept a changing table stocked to the gills with diapers, wipes, blankets, puke rags, and clothing. Also? When baby was reallllllly tiny (as in, not moving and wiggling too much), he/she napped on the changing table. (It had rails on the sides to keep baby from falling.)
**Plain, white, cloth diapers. For cleaning up pukies and keeping your shoulder well protected from said pukies.
**Exersaucer. Priceless. When we finally retired ours, I nearly shed a tear. My babies spent countless hours hopping up and down gleefully. This thing is exceptionally helpful when you need to tinkle and you'd really like to do it ALONE or without worrying "OMG. WHERE DID THE BABY CRAWL TO NOW AND WHAT IS THAT NOISE?!"
**A good quality baby monitor.
**A Bundle-Me...for winter infants in chilly climates. It completely eliminated any need for a coat or snowsuit when my daughter was born in December. It's like a tiny sleeping bag for baby!
**The snap-n-go stroller, to be used as long as baby is in an infant car seat. Seriously? If I could turn back the clock, I would have purchased this stroller as soon as the stick said, "HEY! YOU'RE GONNA GET FAT AND CRABBY! CONGRATULATIONS!"
**The Peg Perego high chair. Well worth the money.
**An unusual item for you...a waterproof underpad. I got a couple of these from the hospital where my smidgets were born and I still use them all the time. They are soft, durable, washable, waterproof, and priceless. I've used them as changing pads on my bed or the floor. I've used them between two crib sheets, to protect the sheet under it. Stomach virus? Put the pad on the floor to protect the carpet from "flying debris" that doesn't make it into the garbage can. Putting up the Christmas tree? Put one of these pads under the tree stand so your floor doesn't get scratched AND to catch the extra water when you fill the reservoir with too much water. (Not that we've ever done that. *ahem*) Baby has a nasty diaper rash? Put the pad on the floor, remove baby's diaper, and let that rump get some fresh air while the pad absorbs the wee-wee.
**Onesies, onesies, and more onesies. All of them in white (so you don't have to purchase all new ones if your next child is a girl). And all of them from Carter's (by far, the softest and most durable brand).
**And while we're on the topic of the next child? Try to purchase gender-neutral items as much as possible (especially the big-ticket items.....Have you seen the pink strollers? What a tremendously stupid idea. If the next child is a BOY, will you be comfortable putting HIM in a PINK stroller?). Instead of 28 baby blue sleepers adorned with dinosaurs and trucks, pick up a handful of sleepers that can be suitable for a boy or girl. Admittedly, this might be hard to find, but you'll be thankful when the 2nd child is of the opposite sex and you don't have to raid a clothing store for a new wardrobe.
**Sandra Boynton's "Barnyard Dance" (or any other Sandra Boynton book, for that matter). I will carry and cherish this book until I'm carted off to the graveyard. It's funny...and cute...and not-too-short but not-too-long...and if you want to add some extra hilarity, you can read the book like you're calling a hoe-down. "Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Everybody ready for a barnyard dance! Bow to the horse! Bow to the cow! Twirl with the pig if you know how!" We've spent countless nights reading this book to our babies. (Is it weird that I'm getting teary just writing about this??? What is WRONG with me?!)
**A couple of big plastic bins. Keep one in your room or the baby's room at all times, with the lid off. When baby outgrows an outfit, fold it neatly and put it in the bin. When the bin is full, put the lid on and label it....."Boy clothes, 3 to 6 months." Put the bin in the attic/basement/garage/backyard shanty. Easy organization.
**The next installment of The Girlfriend's Guide. Just as funny as the first one.
**Oh yeah! You'll also need a sense of humor. I can't tell you where to find that. But I know that I really could have used one back in 2000 when I was crying and grumping my way through the baby blues for an entire friggin' year. (Me? Bitter? No! Well...maybe just a little. Okay. A WHOLE LOT.)
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Are you sleeping yet? I know this was a lot to read....you have my deepest apologies. The thing is, if you want to, you can easily spend every last dime you have on silly baby gadgets and miscellaneous junk. If I had to do it over again, there are several things I wouldn't buy (infant massage kit? Never even opened it.) and a few things that I'm thankful I never succumbed to (those goofy shopping cart cover thingys? Totally unnecessary. The germs are good for building up their immune system! Of course, I never ran that theory by my pediatrician, but, whatev.).
So how about you, my lovely homies......Was there something that you just couldn't have survived without during your parenting career? (Besides a pound of dark chocolate and a large glass of wine at 8pm, that is.) Please, oh please, share your hard-earned wisdom with us!