I was asked a really interesting question via facebook the other day. What if you had to put only two things on a baby registry? Two things you just couldn't see yourself living without after the baby was born.
As potential answers started to flood my head, I also became very bothered by the question. See, giving advice on these topics is something I find myself doing on a somewhat regular basis. So it was annoying that I found myself really struggling to provide only two answers. Not because I couldn't think of two viable answers, but because...seriously...two? Perhaps I'm alone, but when I started to look around the house at the editions of things we brought out or was brought over for the mere addition of Bonus Baby during the week, well, there's more than two things.
I guess it was obvious that the couple involved wasn't looking to try and live with only two additional items in their house after the baby was born. I think they were going through the same things many of us go through when trying to prepare the house for a baby. What are the things that are really important? What are the things people tend to buy that could really be done away with? What do you really want to spend those dollars on?
On a short list? I'd absolutely want the following on a registry:
Car Seat and Stroller - Can you live without these items? Of course! You can be like me and almost never leave the house. You can maybe carry your children everywhere instead of letting them ride in style. Do you want to though? I'll say this - I like the car seat/stroller combos, and I don't care about the bells and whistles. I don't care if it has seven cup holders for the adult. I never use the cup holders. Honestly. Melissa used to put her coffee in one of them and go shopping, and it would drive me crazy. Every week there was coffee dips all over the handles or dried up in the bottom. Don't be fooled by the kind of tires on it or the appearance of "shocks," strollers are not 4-wheel-drive, they are you-wheel-drive. Put these on a registry, but don't pay $100 extra on the one that has a "storage space" on the top. Ours has one and we can't fit two iPhones in it.
A Really Good Chair - I've talked a little about my "daddy chair" which is my now, almost 8 year old La-Z-Boy recliner. I mentioned that it turned into our breastfeeding/child rocking/child TV viewing station. Seriously, that chair has become the most important piece of furniture in the house, and it's still my favorite place. Yes, we bought one of those rocking chairs with the rocking ottoman that Babies R Us tells you is a "must have item" and put it right in the nursery, but it hasn't seen a quarter of the use of my chair. So if you don't have one, find a chair that you are comfortable with for the long haul. Of course with a newborn you will find yourself running around all day, but you will also find yourself sitting a lot. Make sure you've given yourself a chair where that isn't such a bad thing. Did you know that some of those chair recline AND swivel? God bless us all.
A Thing That Helps The Baby Sleep - Whatever that means - buy it. We have some very generous people in our lives, and when we were pregnant with William a flood of pricey items came rolling in by mail. So we had an electric rocker that played music and in theory would swing the baby to sleep. We had one of those smaller chairs that would vibrate, and play music, and in theory would soothe the baby to sleep. We had two mobiles, a sleeping wedge, and sleepy music CD's that all promote a nice environment to lull the baby off to sleep. None of those things worked as well as....the car seat. Alton Brown has a rule with kitchen items. No single use items, he likes multi-taskers. I can get behind that in this case. The car seat keeps baby in a comfortable and safe place. It's got that sort of confined space that babies view as soothing, as if they are being held. You can move them without waking them up. Heck it even has a handle! Regardless, find something that works so that you don't feel compelled to confine yourself in holding the baby while he or she is sleeping.
Somewhere to Put Diapers - Regardless of your choice in cloth or disposable diapers, you need a place to put the dirty ones. A diaper genie, diaper elite, diaper pail, crap caddy, turd tacklebox, dookie domicile, you take your pick, but have one. You never realize how much those things help till a bag rips open, or the lid isn't on right. Think poop smells bad? It even less fun smelling a week's worth.
A Thing That Buys Other Things - Yep. Gift cards. In my most humble opinion, gift cards are one of the greatest gifts ever, and on a registry they can really be magic. Again, not to pick on anyone, but two things? Gift cards are the best way to grab all those items that either fall through the cracks, or you'll never get enough of. Diapers, creams, shampoos, wipes, whatever it is - a gift card is there for you. Like that friend you don't talk to, yet you call up one day because your car won't start and you KNOW he'll give you a ride to work even though it's going to be awkward since you haven't really talked in a year. Hug that gift card and know it's a true friend.
Now, equally important in my opinion are the things you should not put on a registry:
Cloth Related Products (exception: diapers) - Clothes, blankets, burp cloths, things of that nature. Why? Because no matter what you do or what you tell people, these items will appear during your baby shower. People love to buy cute outfits, things they think will match your "nursery theme," or items their kids have outgrown. You'll hear things like, "You can never have too many burp cloths!" or, "Socks were only $1 for 5,000!" You'll have friends who have been waiting patiently with boxes of clothing, stalking their friends for the one who seemed ready to have children. Melissa and I didn't need to buy William any clothing until he was three, and even then we probably could have just asked around. You need these items, but putting a pack of washcloths on your registry invites everyone to buy them. It doesn't matter that you specifically asked for one pack.
Wipes Warmer - By the time William actually came home from the hospital, we had acquired two wipes warmers. Makes enough sense I think. I like to think the boys prefer a warm, moist wipe gliding gently across their crap covered crevasse. In truth though, I think wipes dry out a little bit in the warmer. I've also noticed that within three seconds of being exposed to the air, they lose all their warmth. Not to mention that it's another item you have to try and find a place to put the plug. A baby's room only has so many outlets. We still use ours, but really it's out of nothing more than habit. This really is one I'd be happy to be without.
Diaper Bag - I think people act differently toward their diaper bags. Some people, who tend to be women, use it as a purse or backpack. It's a joint bag used by both baby and parent. It has everything from diapers and extra outfits to wallet and cell phone. Some people keep it minimal and only have the things needed to change the baby, perhaps an extra onesie in case of massive diaper blowout. The thing is, you don't know how many hundred's of pockets you need until you decide what kind of relationship you want with your diaper bag. Not to mention that in most hospitals, you'll get two free ones from the two major formula companies. Rest assured those will certainly start you off right till you really figure out how many space you need...or don't need. Remember those gift cards?
So yeah, I don't know that I could pinpoint the two most important items needed on a registry. Lucky for me, I didn't need to either. The list of things you need for a newborn, particularly as new parents can seem endless. True, places like Babies R Us will give you a "list" that you can check off as you make your registry. Those "must have" items. True, some of that is a ploy to get parents to spend additional money on things they don't need. Seriously though, if you let a list tell you to spend your money on a crib, portable crib, bassinet, AND a Pack and Play...well you didn't deserve to call it your money.
So let's hear it, what's your "Must have on a registry" items and the things you feel shouldn't make the cut.