Mama Bare Baby Registry

Mama Bare Baby Registry: What you don't need and what you really do

There is no reason to spend a fortune on a baby, nor do you need to have your house taken over by unnecessary crap.  Nesting energy is powerful stuff, but I suggest channeling it into creating a warm, peaceful, simple home in which to become a family – not filling it with plastic baby schwee that will end up in a landfill. 

One challenge for those of us who strive to live simply is that everyone is your life will want to give you things (when the baby is first born, not later when you really need it) when what you may need even more is help.  I never understand why people don’t use the alternative gift registry (http://www.alternativegiftregistry.org/). Instead of being restricted to stuff you don’t really need, you can register for a housecleaning or a hair appointment (whoever gets it for you has to agree to babysit during the cut) or a prenatal massage or two nights of a babymoon at a B&B and someone to come do your laundry.


What you can live without (or at least don’t need to register for):

1) Baby towels.  Remind me why babies need special towels? 

2) Tons of washcloths.  Ditto 

3) Clothes.  Unless you are totally friendless, there is no reason to purchase any clothing.  Babies don’t get dirty until they start eating solids and everyone gives you clothes.  Once you need clothes, you’ll have made friends with kids and get hand-me-downs.

4) Toys.  The less they have, the more creative they become.

5) Playmat.  See above.

6) Diaper bag. You can fit a changing pad, a diaper, and wipes into almost any bag you own.  Go buy yourself a roomy handbag if you must, but make it a You Bag, not a Mom Bag.  Same goes for Dad.

7) Bottle brushes, stands.  Just use the dishwasher and keep them in a bowl.

8) Baby monitor. This might be worth getting for travel or when you have loud parties (you probably don’t get that joke yet), but unless you live in a huge house, you will hear your baby crying.

9) Blankets.  You need a few, but someone will get a pack of receiving blankets for you.

10) Lots of diaper cream.  One tube will probably last you two years, when you’ll start using it as foot creme. 

11) Diaper pail. Just use the garbage can.

12) Wipe warmer. Um, do you have a toilet paper warmer?

13) Rocking chair.  My rule is that you should never get furniture that you wouldn’t want without a baby.  A lovely rocker or glider is fine if you will want it in your living room in a few years.

14) Kids dishes and utensils.  They can use any plate you use.  You might want a few small spoons, but get some nice coffee spoons that you’ll use later for something else. 

15) Baby bath tub.  For the first few months, there’s not much that the partner can do and getting into the bath with the baby is a perfect Papa/partner bonding session.

16) Changing table.  You can use a changing pad on the floor or a bed


And finally: I suggest that you wait on a stroller.  Between a baby carrier and a carseat, you’ll be covered for a while.  Take a few months to get a sense of what you like.  We had an aunt who offered to buy us a stroller when we were ready – this was perfect.  We got it when my oldest was a year old and bypassed all the bassinets and attachments. 


Here’s my necessity list:

1) Ergo. The most comfy and basic carrier on the market.  Don’t get a Bjorn.  You can also skip the Ergo’s infant insert.  Just tuck the baby’s legs into a cross-legged position (Native American style…?) once the baby has decent neck control.  If you’re looking for a carrier for the first few weeks, try a wrap.

2) Bouncy seat.  This is the one kiddie contraption that I believe in.  Get the lightest possible so that you can easily move it from next to the shower to next to the stove.  Sometimes you just need ten minutes to do something.

3) High chair.  Clip on is great – I love the Phil and Ted Me Too chair

4) Breast pump, bottles, storage bags.

5) Nursing tanks.  They turn everything into nursing attire and hides your saggy belly in public (Target sells decent ones, Glamourmom is another brand).

6) Diapers (we like NatureBaby Care or Seventh Generation).  Cloth diapers are another great option worth checking out.

7) Carseat.

8) Sleeping situation.  I think the best baby bed is a futon on the floor – that way they never fall out, they never grow out of it, you can lie down with them to help them fall asleep, and it doubles as a guest bed.  If you end up co-sleeping, a bed rail is nice to have, just for added peace of mind.

9) Baby shampoo/soap in one.  California Baby is lovely.

10) Dresser for the baby.  You’re probably already getting clothes from people.

11) Nail clippers, thermometer, etc – just get a pack

12) Zutano baby booties.  The ONLY things that stay on babies feet – socks all fall off.

13) Camera.  Even better: an iPhone with video.

14) Baby food mill.  Cheap is fine, but you might as well have someone buy it now.  We used KidCo.



The Snack Race: A Mother’s Plea for Disarmament

The other day as I prepared my usual arsenal of snacks for the park – where I planned to be for an hour or two – I threw up my hands.  The time for unilateral nonproliferation of noshing had come.  What began with a piece of fruit between meals had escalated to stockpiling a reserve supply every time I left the house with my children: sandwiches, granola bars, bags of dried fruits and nuts.  Forget using the water fountain, the other parents brought Spiderman water bottles, if not coconut water or thermoses of herbal tea. 

Here’s how the snack cold war unfolds:  We’re meeting a neighboring state at the park.  No sooner have I unclipped the stroller buckle than my oldest son announces he’s hungry.  He’s not; he just had lunch.  But ok, I pull out a banana for which he appears grateful.  The neighboring state brings out a bag of Pirate’s Booty and gracefully offers some to my son.  After he’s polished off half the bag, I feel I had better deploy the peanut butter and jelly from my stash.  The neighboring state has a second lunch of mass destruction: pizza.  At which point some rogue state shows up with a cupcake – the atom bomb of snacks – and we have ourselves a stand-off.

I’ve tried to send in a sibling envoy – hey, go see if your brother wants to go on the swings.  This has proven ineffective. 

I’ve had talks with my strategic partners.  We all agree that three meals a day are preferable, that there is no need for all of this snacking.  We even get close to reaching an agreement.  Talks fail.

My strategic partners worry about low blood sugar, which is understandable.  No one likes a cranky child.  But when my kids snack all day, they don’t eat meals and end up snacking more.  My boys have the metabolism of hummingbirds and are small for their age, so I work hard to feed them nutritious, sustaining meals. 

Snack foods rarely fit that description.  I have a friend who valiantly tries to avoid sugary, simple carbohydrate snacks, but pulls out a Tupperware container of meatballs at the playground.  If meatballs are a snack, what is dinner?

Some argue that eating smaller amounts more frequently is healthier.  This may or may not be true, but meatballs in a stroller strike me as a pretty lonely meal – not too far from a commuter’s cheeseburger behind the wheel.  Shared meals are important, if not for potential nutrition then for community, conversation, and family unity.

Family unity and harmony doesn’t mean obsessing over our children’s constant happiness.  Much has been written about our low tolerance for negative but inevitable (and beneficial) emotions.  We give kids presents on other people’s birthdays to shield them from disappointment.  We tell them to slow down, not to climb so high to avoid getting hurt.  I wonder if hunger is one more uncomfortable feeling we try to spare our children. 

Obviously we don’t want them to truly go hungry – and certainly most of us are blessed to have the choice – but working up an appetite is a good thing.  It’s a habit I’m still practicing, usually at about 4 PM when reaching for some form of chocolate.  When I follow my own advice, I have room for a healthier dinner.

So I’m going to go back to the piece of fruit between meals and see how it works.  If you happen to see me in the playground, please keep in mind that I am unarmed and vulnerable.

And if you’d like to join me in multilateral snack nonproliferation, the bumper stickers are already out there.  Imagine: Whirrled Peas.