I'm supposed to go to a baby shower tomorrow, and I must admit I'm a tad bit nervous. Sure, it will be great to see old friends that I haven't seen in a long time, they'll probably have some great food, and some of those cheesy games one plays at showers are actually kind of fun. But all that STUFF at baby showers is kind of overwhelming to me. You see, I'm kind of an anti-stuff gal, especially when it comes to babies. What does such a sweet, tiny person need with all that junk? Really, when you think about it, all a baby needs is to be warm, safe, dry, have a full belly, and to know that he or she is loved. That's it. How do all those bagillions of other things help toward those goals? Most of them don't. They serve no real purpose except to clutter up the home of the new bundle of joy...and to line someone else's pocket.
So let's take a look at what a new baby actually needs:
1. Boobies. Yup, I said it. The new baby needs breastmilk. Not "breast is better" or any of that garbage. Breastmilk is the standard. Anything else is subpar. It isn't that babies who are breastfed are smarter and healthier, it is that babies that are formula fed are stupider and sicklier. In my opinion, formula should only be available by prescription! Babies need breastmilk to reach their full potential. Not giving it to them because of a "choice" is selfish and neglectful. And it is FREE! You never have to worry about not having enough money to feed the baby as long as he or she is nursing, because you've always got some on tap. You don't have to worry about running out in the middle of horrible weather conditions to get more. You don't have to worry about a product recall on it either. I'm sure I'll write more about breastfeeding at some point, so I'll leave it here for now. To go with the boobies, some moms will need a few nursing supplies. If the mom has to be away from the baby for long periods of time to go to work or school, she'll need a good quality breastpump and something to feed the baby with while she's gone. Some moms need some sort of cream to ease sore nipples. A lot of moms need nursing bras to create easier access and nursing pads to make sure overzealous boobies don't leak on their clothes.
2. A good quality convertible car seat. It is actually really bad for babies to be left in one of those "bucket" infant car seats for extended periods of time. I'm pretty sure it even says in the owner's manuals for them that they are just for transporting a baby in a vehicle, not for leaving them in while they take naps, while waiting for an appointment at the doctor's office, or anything else. It can restrict baby's breathing and cause spinal stress. Since you shouldn't use them the way most parents seem to, why not get one that will last a long time? Instead of pulling the car seat out with the baby, pop the baby out of the car seat when you get out and put them in a....
3. Sling or other soft carrier. I really wish I knew about these with my first baby. People always were telling me to "put that baby down". If I'd had one of these, I could have done what I did by the time my second had come around and say WHY? I've got hands free support here and being snuggled up to mommy like that goes a long way to show the baby how much you love him or her! The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from Birth to Age Two by Dr. Sears really sold me on these and I found my experience really matched what he said in the book. I loved having my baby close by, my babies loved being that close, and we have a much closer bond because of it. They may look pricey if you go to buy them (I found all the ones I had on Freecycle or got them as gifts), but they are a heck of a lot cheaper than some of the strollers out there, and they pretty much eliminate the need for a stroller, since you can "wear" a baby in a good quality sling or wrap comfortably for quite a long time. Plus, as I mentioned above, with these handy-dandy thing, you don't really need to haul around a bucket car seat...and you'll wonder why you ever would have thought to, as light and comfy as these things are! So that's even more money saved!
4. Cloth diapers and someplace to put the dirties. Sure, you could go with disposable diapers, but this is a thrifty mama here, so that is way too expensive for my blood, not to mention less environmentally friendly. Cloth diapers don't have to be hard either. I have a cloth bag that lines my diaper pail, so when diaper washing day comes around (about twice a week for me, could be more or less depending on how many diapers you have), I just dump the contents of the bag in the washer, throw the bag in there too and wash away, never having to touch the nasties. When baby is old enough to have solid poos, just knock the chunks in the toilet before tossing it in the diaper pail. Technically, you are supposed to do that with disposables as well, since it is illegal to put poop in landfills!
5. Clothes. These don't have to be anything fancy. Actually, "fancy" when it comes to baby clothes is usually a pain in the patooty, since these little people don't do much to help get them on and off and, with diaper changes and the occasional spit-up, on and off happens several times a day. Babies don't really need that many clothes either, just a few sets to keep them clothed between washes. In fact, I think buying a baby any clothes is a giant waste of money. They last 3 months, tops, for each size, so why spend a fortune on them? Someone you know probably already did and would be happy to pass them on to someone else that can use them! If you don't know anyone that has clothes to hand down, there are always baby clothes being offered up for the taking on places like Freecycle or Craigslist. Save your money (or your baby shower guest's money) for something that matters, like a....
6. Waterproof mattress pad for your bed. Again, co-sleeping is an area that I really wish I didn't listen to people with my first baby. I literally went darn near crazy with sleep deprivation after the birth of my first baby since I was getting up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down (see how that could drive you crazy) every night to feed the baby. With my second, I again followed my instincts and the wisdom of Dr. Sears and decided to sleep with the baby safely tucked in the nook of my arm, attached to the breast most of the night. Now, I acknowledge that co-sleeping isn't for everyone. If you like a lot of fluffy things on your bed and would rather have them than a baby, it isn't so safe. If you can treat your bed more like they recommend for a crib and keep all that stuff off it, co-sleeping can be done safely as long as you aren't morbidly obese, on medications, yadda yadda (Dr. Sears does a much better job of going into all that in the Baby Book. Again, I highly, highly recommend that book!). You'll save money on a crib, avoid having to worry about crib recalls, and save your sanity by getting a ton more sleep! Not to mention that, rather than waking up in the middle of the nigh crying, baby will frequently just wake up, smile, start nursing, and go back to sleep, so everyone is happier, feels more loved, and gets some sleep! And did I mention you'll get more sleep? That's kind of huge for a new parent!
So now our hypothetical baby here is warm (3, 5), safe (2, 3, 6), dry (4-6), have a full belly (1), and to know that he or she is loved (1, 3, 6)! What more could baby want?
Actually, looking at the baby registries for the shower I'll be going to, I'm pretty impressed. Looks like the mom is planning on nursing and doesn't have as much unnecessary things as a lot of moms put on there with their first. Looks like she's going to be a pretty great mom (but I still want her to read this...and I'll be taking a copy of the Baby Book with me to pass on to her, because, really, I think every parent-to-be or new parent should read it!)!