Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What do you really need for a baby?

What the world tells you that you need, verses what you actually need are two very different things. This is no different when it comes to preparing for a newborn.

What I thought I needed with baby number one 16.5 years ago...verses what I really needed for baby number four just over 4 months ago are completely different.

(If you are a cut to the chase type person and just want the list, scroll to the bottom)

Nearly everything I had for my first born was hand me down. I am the youngest of 5 kids and each of my 4 siblings already had 2, some 3 kids already. I didn't have to buy much. Bassinet, crib, clothes, toys, walker...yes...he is old enough that I still used a walker with wheels that he could stroll all over the house in. Scary...he still survived. I was just barely 19, single, and working less than forty hours a week as a dietary aide in a nursing home. I was very thankful for the shower that our church threw for us so that we did actually have some new things. Back then I would buy one pack of diapers every paycheck I got while I was pregnant. I did have a good stash by the time Xavier arrived August 10, 1998. I also really had no clue what I actually needed, only what people told me that I needed.

Fast forward 10 years to fall of 2008 and I was a completely different person. I owned a home, had been married for over 4 years, owned a successful business, had great insurance...etc. We had tried for 4.5 years to have a baby and alas it had happened. This was our miracle baby. By golly I was going to get EVERYTHING the world had to offer me for my baby since I was so "deprived" with my first born. I had gadgets and gizmos a plenty (queue song from the Little Mermaid) I had whose its and whats its galore..... well, you get the picture. I had the beautiful Cocalo Turtle Bay nursery d├ęcor. Every single piece that came with the matching set. I had the nursery professionally painted. Top half soft green, bottom half of walls blue waves all the way around and the matching border wall paper all around the top of the room . It was perfect. Everything was in order. I scoured everywhere for the perfect changing table, glider rocker, side table for my water to rest while I nursed. He had a full wardrobe waiting for him. I bought the top of the line baby swing, jumparoo, etc...the list goes on and on. My church also threw us a baby shower. I thought I had to have it all. It was owed to me to have it happiness depended on it. Because of that...River  had it all!

Another 2.5 years passed and in 2011 we have baby boy #3. His arrival was much different. We bought a new house that needed completely gutted and renovated. We had the pressure and time crunch of being in the house before Harrison would arrive. I thought this was probably our last and that my body would not be able to have anymore after because this would be my third cesarean section birth. I wanted to be moved into the new house so that I didn't have to worry about anything but snuggling that squishy little heaven on earth smelling newborn. We already had everything. I didn't buy hardly a single thing. There was no baby shower. I did buy a few new outfits for the sake of buying something.  The boys' new bedroom was decorated but not completely decked out in a matchy matchy theme. River and Harrison would be sharing a room. The one new thing I do remember buying was the Rock N Play. We ditched the bassinet soon after he arrived and went to that new wonderful creation. He was snug, and it kind of cradles them, he was propped up and it rocked. I could reach over in the middle of the night if he was stirring rock him with one hand to console him. However, this is when the Rock n Play first came out. About into 5 months of use someone said to me..."haven't you read? You are not supposed to use that for night sleeping because they can get a flat head from it!" Sure enough...I hadn't really noticed but the back of his head was starting to get a flat spot. So I transitioned him out of it right away and started massaging my little boys head daily. He is just fine. In addition to that...they didn't tell you that transitioning to a crib would be harder because they would be so used to the snug upright sleep position they had in the RnP. The new Rock N Plays have more cushioning behind the head, so I think the flat head thing has been resolved.

So..what do you do when it has been 2 years since the birth of baby boy #3 and you think...I guess we aren't having any more kids? You start selling stuff. So...I sold the fancy swing, jumparoo, play mat, Bumbo seat, bouncy chairs, bassinet, rock n play...etc. By this time our crib was really old and not suited safe by today's standards so we threw it away. I donated the toddler bed and baby mattress.

And guess boy #4! So this child is a little different. This time I KNEW he would be our last. Four C-Sections and asthma that was getting progressively worse with each pregnancy...this body is done. Tubes tied....done. So he is our last. I sold all my good expensive stuff and I know how short of time they really use half of those things that you just have to have. Who wants to waste money on all of those things that take over your house? This time there was no sensationalism about this baby being our miracle after infertility. This time we didn't have the time crunch of a new home renovation...this time we knew without a shadow of a doubt that he was our last son. Four boys, no girls...this is it. I didn't buy anything for quite awhile into the pregnancy. All I could think about was savoring every single moment. I wouldn't be rushing to put him in his bouncy or swing...etc. I would be holding him and savoring every last little milestone. I did decorate his nursery, but used mostly all things that I already had, or made myself.

Once he was born though I did realize that I would need a place to keep him occupied once in a while throughout the day while I tended to our other 3 sons needs. I have learned that it is important for my sons to have some one on one time with mom without little Sawyer in my arms.

Here is what I purchased used:
  • The crib
  • Jumparoo
Here is what I borrowed:
  • Bouncy seat
Here is what I knew was worth paying for after my searches for used turned up empty:
  • A quality swing that plugs in and alternates direction of swing, plays music, etc. But this time not top of the line and not bottom of the line...middle grade. I will add to this...I did scour the for sale groups on Facebook for a used swing for a long time. I must be picky because I didn't find any. Also insisted they come from a pet free-smoke free home. I did finally find one that I was going to purchase...had everything all set up with the lady and all of the sudden she disappeared and never answered my replies after everything was agreed upon. I believe I just got tired of waiting and decided to just buy.
  • Bassinet. Against the grain of most I actually like bassinets. This one rocks, adjusts height, and is on wheels so we can move it from room to room easily. Since our babies stay in our room for approximately the first 6 months I also didn't want it to take up as much room as a crib or pack n play. For the first 3 months he used the bassinet mostly during the day for naps or as a place to put him while I had to do something else for a bit. Now at 4 month old he starts out for the night in there. If he wakes during the night  nurse him in bed and he co-sleeps the rest of the night.
  • Co-Sleeper. I bought the Snuggle Nest. Unless your spouse doesn't sleep with you, this really only works if you have a king size bed. This cute little thing fits in between my husband and I. I didn't purchase this until Sawyer was about 2 weeks old. He wouldn't sleep anywhere but my arms and I needed sleep. I enjoy co-sleeping but the reality is I don't get restful sleep that way. The Snuggle nest allows him to have sleep right next but allows me some peace of mind for his safety.
  • Diaper pail. With baby #2 we had the diaper genie. It was a cool device but it was sooo sooo stinky. Even if you change it out every few days...even if you clean it out. We just didn't like it. With baby #3 we didn't have a diaper pail of any kind. Baby #4 I got the diaper pail that takes any kind of plastic bag. You don't have to buy the special bags. I thought this was practical. I was wrong. The plastic sacks you get from the stores are too small. If you use a kitchen sized garbage is a waste. If you wait until the bag is full than it is really really full and stinky by then. If you empty it too soon it seems like a waste of a trash bag. It comes with a spot for a deodorizer but that broke off within the first month of using it. So now...9 times of 10 we just have a Wal-Mart sack hanging from the changing table that we throw away almost daily.
  • Aden and Anais Muslin blankets. I LOVE these blankets! I have even transformed them into a baby carrier when I left the home without my ring sling. Great impromptu carrier!
  • Avent bottles. Baby #3 would not take a bottle. At all...until he was around 10 months old. So I worked with baby #4 earlier to ensure he would take a bottle if needed. After trying a couple of different brands, the Avent was the winner for him.
  • Video baby monitor. I had a lower scale black and white monitor for baby #2 & #3...but those two rascals broke it. half we couldn't even find for a year. We had our air ducts cleaned and low and behold there was the video our air ducts! This time I have one that I can move the camera remotely and also can push a button to talk to the baby. This comes in handy if I am in the kitchen and the little boys go into play with brother. If I see something that needs addressed I can push the button and tell them. And...the boys think it is just plain fun.
Here is what I received as a gift, they are nice to have but would have survived without:
  • Play mat
  • A few outfits
  • Essential care kit (nail files, grooming type things)
Here is what I don't plan on buying:
  • Bumbo
  • Rock N Play
  • Toys, we have so many already and they take over the house
  • Anymore new clothes unless it is a special occasion. I have kept ALL of my kids' clothes. I have clothes coming out of my ears. It was quite liberating (and a tad weepy) to sell my first lot of newborn clothes just last week.
  • Nursing covers. If I have to cover, I just use one of my muslin blankets. Lightweight and works great.
Here is what I already had and enjoy:
  • Changing table. I prefer having a designated changing station.
  • Baby Carriers. I have several different styles and I love them. Baby wearing is a complete joy for me.
  • Quality Medela breast pump. Check your insurance, they most likely cover the purchase. I also just read that their is a new tax break for breast feeding supplies.
  • My boppy nursing pillow. I absolutely love it.
These are all things based on my 16.5 years experience of raising boys...but don't take just my word for it! I reached out to a mom group of mine on Facebook and asked them this question:
What were some of the baby essential items that you thought you absolutely had to have...but now realize were a waste of time and money?
Here are their responses based on over 70 replies:


  • Crib. Most that didn’t use a crib are avid co-sleepers or prefer a pack-n-play.
  • Wipe Warmer. Hands down, pointless purchase.
  • Expensive Themed Crib Sets. Most sited that the only piece they use from the set were the sheets.
  • Bumbo. Rarely used.
  • Baby Bathtubs.
  • Diaper Genie. While many stated it was a waste, those who loved theirs mostly had pets that would eat diapers if they were not enclosed.
  • Changing Table.
  • Excessive amounts of clothing and/or impractical clothes. Everyday sleepers are most popular.
  • Boppy Pillow. However there were just as many people who chimed in with love for their Boppy as there were those that thought it was a pointless purchase. For those that love it…it is a piece you spend a ton of time with while you are nursing your babies. I am one of those Boppy avid users.
  • Activity Play Mats. It was just as easy to throw a blanket on the floor with a few toys.
  • Pack N Play.
  • Travel System.
  • Bottle Warmer.
  • Swing. This one is such a teeter totter…most kids love it or hate it. Definitely an item that is best purchased used…just in case your child ends up being one that hates it.
  • Baby Shoes. Not necessary…unless you are like me and have a fetish with cute baby shoes!
  • Toys. Specifically excessive amounts of toy! Just not necessary. Also, too many toys creates a headache for the parents who are picking it all up most of the time.
  • Baby Towels and wash cloths.
  • Baby Robes.
  • Expensive strollers, unless you are someone who is constantly on the go and baby wearing isn’t for you!
  • Crib Mobiles.
  • Bassinet
  • Pacifiers. You will go home from the hospital with at least one. Don’t buy a bunch, until you know your child will take one.
  • Big Expensive high chairs. Most mentioned they liked the kind that goes on top of a regular chair and are easily detached and washed. Some even go in the dishwasher now!
Here are the last few that deserve an honorable mention:
  • Crib bumpers, Bouncy Seat, Glider rocker, Rock N Play, Baby monitor, expensive furniture sets.


Overall I think you can see that "what is needed" is all in the eye of the beholder. It depends on your circumstances (financial, living quarters, personal covictions, etc). What we need here in America is completely different that what is needed in a remote African village. The greatest need your baby has is love and T.L.C.

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