I have reached that age when it seems like everyone I know is either a new parent, expecting a baby, or trying to make a baby. That's a lot of baby! It seems like it's all we talk about, so I'm learning all sorts of awesome new mom stuff and answering lots of "What-did-you-do-when" questions (so flattering!). With all that baby energy in the air, I thought I'd devote the next few DYM posts to all things new-moms: what to read (or not) during pregnancy, how to build a baby registry that doesn't make you want to punch your own kneecaps, recipes for stocking the freezer, etc. M'kay?
First up: baby registry business. (Definitely not because it's the most important part of having a new baby, but because Internet shopping is soothing my hormone-addled brain this afternoon.) We did ours the old school way, in Target with the scanny thingy and no gameplan and a look of complete bewilderment on both our faces. MAN is there a lot of baby crap in Target. And since we didn't really know what we were doing there, we ended up registering for several things we didn't use and we left out a bunch of stuff we really needed. So, here is my very best registry advice, in hindsight:
- Make a list before you create the registry. You can always add more stuff later, but picking out the things you really need from the endless sea of baby products out there is downright overwhelming. Write down all the stuff you know you absolutely need: carseat, towels, crib, sheets, blankets, whatever.
- To help refine your list, talk to someone who has recently had a baby. Better yet, talk to someone who parents like you want to parent and whose budget/house size/lifestyle is similar to yours. They will be able to give you the inside scoop on products that will work for you and quantities/styles/features that will work best for you. (Why, WHY did I not think to do this?!!) They will also be totally stoked to pass on their hard-won knowledge.
- Check the Amazon reviews for products before you add them. The wisdom of crowds can help you narrow down your choices, and the comments can often weed out products that work/fail in special circumstances.
- Spend some couch time with your partner and a frosty bev while you check out myregistry.com. It's a site that lets you build a registry for any occasion with items from any website. So, IKEA, Amazon, Target, Etsy, yaddah yaddah yaddah, all in one spot. Nifty, eh? No travel, no long days in the baby aisle, no scanny thingy that never works right. I built a quick registry of stuff I like (most of which we own and used for Lamb) so you can see what it's all about. Check it out here.
- Make sure your registry includes stuff from all price ranges. If you're going to register for big-ticket stuff like a schmancy carseat or crib, add some inexpensive items like baby towels, washcloths, or books so that folks giving you gifts can spend where they're comfortable. But don't be timid about adding the big stuff; people are looking at your registry to help you out with the stuff you really need.
- Unless you are wanting something really specific, don't register for baby clothes. There is something about teeny-tiny outfits that makes people go bug-eyed, and they absolutely cannot resist them. They will buy them regardless. Also, if the lovely people in your life are going to spend their dollars helping you out, those dollars are better spent on essential gear than fancy clothes that will either get covered in poop or barely used at all.
- Be practical about how much space you have. We registered for a bulky swing, for example, that took up our entire living room. We used it twice because it was such a pain to work around! Think about where things will live day-to-day, and where you might store them when you're not using them.
- Be sure to register for stuff for an older baby, too. Our registry had strictly newborn items on it, so when Lamb reached six months we had to do some major shopping for him. Things like highchairs, tableware, baby food paraphernalia, backpacks, etc, are totally appropriate on a registry even though you won't use them for a while.
- I've read on some parenting blogs that you shouldn't buy things like strollers, swings, play gyms, etc, before the baby arrives, because won't it be fun to take the baby shopping for this stuff later? Fork, fork, fork. Shopping with a baby is a lot of work and, for us, also a lot of travel time. I preferred to risk needing to return something at my leisure than having to make an epic sojourn for something I needed right away. Also, I was too strung out for the first few months to be making bouncy-seat decisions, let alone operating a motor vehicle. Just a thought.
- A super-helpful tip from my mom's coworker: most strollers are too short for tall mamas to comfortably push. This includes most of the carseat/stroller combos that everyone goes nuts over. Test drive a few before you buy, and make sure your carseat is compatible.
What else, mamas? Any advice?
PS: For help getting started building your list, here's my list of essential baby business.