Navigating the traditional baby registry – 10 things you may not need

As my now 8-month old daughter peacefully sleeps, with arms in touchdown pose, in her crib sidecarred to my bed, my mind started wandering back to a year ago when I was preparing my baby registry. I visited my Target and Babies R Us online registries daily, from my iPad and my laptop. Moving things around, checking out Amazon reviews, adding things, deleting things, re-adding things.

I didn’t know anything.

Please keep in mind that this post comes from the brain of a flexible job working, now work-from-home, exclusively-breastfeeding mom. I was not paid to mention any products by name, but the ones I did it’s because I really love them. But hey, if anyone wants to send me something to try, I’d be happy to write about it!

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1. Crib: I knew I was going to “co-sleep” with the baby, at least for the first 3 months. I registered for the Arm’s Reach Mini Co-Sleeper. We stopped using it last week because Moselle seemed to fill the entire thing!! In hindsight, I wish I had purchased the full-size Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper, it’s an awesome product. Since I didn’t, I got handy with the crib I did register for, put the toddler rail on, mattress at highest height, and placed it next to my bed where the Co-Sleeper was. It works GREAT.

Let me back up. I knew I planned to breastfeed as long as possible. At 8mos, most people are asking me “is she sleeping all night?” Hell, people have been asking me that since the first month. I still feed Moselle in the middle of the night, maybe even twice sometimes, and that’s OK. At 2mos old, we mastered the art of side-lying breastfeeding. I have also come up with my own “babe in arms, back-lying” breastfeeding. It works for us. If you want to keep breastfeeding your child on-demand, I highly suggest either sidecarring your crib right away, or investing in an Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper.

2. Diaper Pail: I had heard of the Diaper Genie and similar products prior to becoming pregnant, and figured that baby shit diapers were SO nasty that this would be a MUST. I perused the product pages, saw all the extras that go with these diaper pails, and decided it wasn’t for me. We used a small SImple Human step trash can that fits plastic grocery bags for the first few months. When I got sick of taking out the diaper trash daily in the winter, we switched to a standard kitchen-sized Simple Human step trash can. Now that I’m living in an apartment with trash valet service, I’m using the small can again!

Breastfed babies initially do not have much stinky poo. Don’t let the pontificating breastfeeders lead you down the path that their baby’s shit doesn’t stink… trust me, there will be some bombs. Just wrap that diaper tight before you put it in the trash can and most of the stink should stay put.

If you’re doing cloth diapers like I had every intention to do, bless you. You are awesome and now that I’m caught up in the world of Pampers Swaddlers, I don’t know if/when I’ll be transitioning to cloth!

3. Baby Monitor: I knew I needed this for when I’d put the baby “down” and then I’d go clean the house or get some office work done. This scenario does NOT happen now, or has it in the past few months, but it used to happen! Moselle would wake with us around 6am, I’d feed her for 45mins to an hour, then she’d go back to sleep for a couple of hours. In the winter, this was my shoveling time. The baby monitor had the perfect range that I could hear her perfect and SEE her in color while I was shoveling the (@#$%ing) driveway and sidewalk. If I lived in SoCal back then, I probably would not have needed the monitor.

I’m sure the monitor will come in very handy as she gets older and maybe takes some naps during the day, but it’s not an item that you must rush out and buy if no one scoops it up off your registry.

Also, if you’re a gadget girl like me, baby monitor technology changes quickly. I love my monitor, but I know there is a new version out already.

4. Bottles: I registered for a few different types of bottles, figuring I’d experiment with what Moselle liked and go from there. Since I was an exclusively breastfeeding mama, and an on-demand feeder to boot, my little princess became accustomed to that and didn’t want anything to do with the bottle. I know this was a disappointment to her grandmas and sometimes to her daddy. However, daddy was able to feed her like a champ from one particular bottle. I found that bottle after extensive research on blogs and Amazon. It’s the First Years Breastflow bottle if you are curious. We also tried the Mimijumi one that looks like a boob, Dr. Brown’s, and the Medela slow flow bottles. The First Years one was the only one we had that EUREKA moment of the baby happily drinking, maybe an ounce at a time, but it was victory and allowed me to GO TO TARGET BY MYSELF WOW!

If you’re an exclusive breastfeeder and you have a good length of maternity leave, you may want to hold off on bottles for a couple of months. Do your research, buy one bottle at a time just in case your baby doesn’t like it. If you have a group of friends with babies, chances are if your kid doesn’t like a particular bottle, some kid in your group does! I was able to get rid of the “rejected” bottles that way and score a Breastflow starter kit with cleaning brushes and other fun stuff.

5. Blankets: From night 1 in the hospital, the baby will be in a sleep sack for nighttime. Make sure you remember to snag the one from the hospital, because I was not able to find that particular sleep sack on the market! It’s zip-up with no velcro on the swaddle “arms” that wrap around the baby. You’re advised not to use other blankets in the bed or crib with the baby, so they just sleep in a sleep sack or swaddled in a blanket.

You will learn to be an expert burrito wrapper in your baby class. You will learn to tightly, snugly swaddle your baby. Just remember that not all babies like that. Moselle wriggled her arms free of her burrito wrapping on her first night at home with us, so we have swaddled her arms-out since.

I got a bunch of “receiving blankets” as gifts. I used maybe 1-2 per week in her crib to swaddle her during daytime naps, then washed them and reused them. I probably have 20 blankets total. I consciously cycled through them and used them in her carseat for extra warmth during the winter, always keep one in the diaper bag as a play mat, and use as backgrounds for photos. That’s all!

Since I have a winter baby, we have a lot of flannel blankets. Make sure to get a pack of lighter weight blankets for spring and summer, they’re nice for blocking the sun. If they’re a cute pattern, you can use them as a scarf for yourself.

6. Crib Accessories: If you have a crib, you just need a mattress, mattress pad and sheets. I know there’s cute crib bumper and bedding sets on etsy and Pinterest, but, with so much conflicting safety information on the bumpers, I just chose to stay away. My mom purchased a mesh “bumper” and we had that on for the first few months. Now that the crib is sidecarred, I don’t have anything but a mattress pad and sheet on it.

7. Baby Bath Products: I’m a Dr. Bronner user, so, no other soaps will do at my house! I have the huge bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Baby Soap, and plan to use that. I was gifted all the Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo, lotion and powders, but I will probably never use them. It’s your choice. Babies don’t need much soap or bathing anyway. Even at 8mos, I bathe Moselle 2-3 times each week. Everyone still loves smelling her and compliments her soft skin. They can’t believe I don’t use lotion.

8. Clothes: In the early weeks, we busted into a package of “zip and play” sleeper outfits. These are ideal for new parents. No snaps means it’s WAY easier to dress your baby, especially after late-night diaper changes. Moselle pretty much lived in these with a onesie underneath for warmth. We dressed her up in cute outfits to take pictures, but usually those outfits weren’t functional for a full day of feeding and changing her. Find what works for you, and return anything with tags still on and get what you want! OH DID I JUST SAY THAT?! Yes, it’s your stuff, it’s gifts given to you, you can do what you want.

9. Toys: Luckily we didn’t get a bunch of toys, but even the small amount we did get, aren’t really put to use. Especially the plush, stuffed toys. Those will probably just go on display in her bedroom because they’re so cute. Her favorite toys since the beginning are these plastic alphabet links that you can string together. She has loved looking at them since she was born, now she loves chewing and holding them. Another favorite is the classic multi-colored rings that stack on a plastic pin. It’s a toy from my childhood and it still holds up. She also loves kitchen utensils. And we all have those!!

The baby won’t get in to toys for a few months. Just wait until then to buy what you like. The best toy gift we got was a soft, foldable playmat with toys hanging from loops over the baby. You can change out toys as the baby gets used to them and keep it fun. She’s had it since 2mos old and it’s something that gets used everyday.

10. Positioners: I’m categorizing swings, rockers, bouncers, jumpers, etc as positioners. We registered for a swing and a rock ‘n sleeper. The swing got used when daddy was watching Moselle. I’d feed her until she was sleepy, then put her in the swing and duck out for errands or work. It worked for us. Now that we’ve moved, the swing still isn’t unpacked, so it wasn’t an essential. Plus, at 6mos, the swing seemed like it was laboring more to swing the baby, even though she wasn’t at the weight cutoff for it yet.

The rock ‘n sleeper was great. It’s relatively cheap and it folds up easily. It was my “mother’s helper” when I was home alone in the early months. I’d plop her in this rocker while I went to the bathroom or took a shower. At about 5mos old, she started to try to sit up in it, so it became unsafe to have her in there if I wasn’t right there with her. I’d still use it if she was drowsy and I could take a shower quickly before she’d try to sit up in it.

Another great item we got was a bouncy seat. It takes up a bit of room, but I think it was invaluable in helping Moselle develop her little leg and foot muscles. The sound level is a bit high, even on low, but she loves bouncing in it without the sound too (thank god). Some people buy exersaucers, but I don’t see a need for one.

Recently we bought a sit to stand walker toy. Appropriately, within one week she was pulling herself up to standing using the toy!! Now she pulls herself up on couches, chairs and even tries to on flat surfaces like walls – she’s a standing machine! Prior to that, she began crawling. Since I work from home, I just keep an eye on her. She’s quickly becoming a proficient crawler, so I may put up some baby gates that we have.

Since I didn’t go overboard on positioners, I’m an avid baby-wearer! When Moselle was a month old, I mastered the Moby Wrap and life was awesome! I could do anything. I even brought her to a Minnesota Wild hockey game when she was 2mos old, wrapped in the Moby Wrap. It was great. As she grew, I transitioned her into the Ergo Carrier, which I use to this day. It’s the BEST baby item I received as a gift and I have many more months of use ahead of me. Moselle loves the thing, she gets super excited when she sees me putting it on. We use it multiple times each day to walk the dog, do chores around the house and errands outside the house. It’s really the only way she takes naps during the day. There’s a secret for ya.

Honorable mention – Breast Pumps and related accessories: I had planned to return to full-time work while my husband worked from home and watched the baby. I started pumping when Moselle was just over a month old to build a supply in the freezer. I’d feed her her first feeding, then set myself up on the pump for 10mins and get about 2 to 6 ounces each time. Since she was a picky bottle feeder, she’d maybe eat an ounce anytime I left for 2 or more hours. Luckily, my job at the time was flexible, so I could be away for 4hrs then come home and feed her, then go back to work. Now that I work from home, the pump hasn’t been used in over 3 months. I found it easier to hand-express an ounce or two before leaving her with hubby or my mother. Do what works for you! Pumps seem intimidating at first with all the parts, but you become a pro quickly. A pumping bustier bra thingy is very helpful for hands-free pumping.

If this list has helped you at all with your registry, that’s great! Let me know in the comments how it helped you and if you have any tips to add.

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