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The new mom is faced with a dizzying array of “must-have” baby products. Before that first little guy or girl makes an appearance, you’ve likely accumulated mountains of baby swag — new stuff gifted to you, random secondhand stuff that everyone you know is happy to throw at you, and the stuff you buy on your own.
Here are seven things that I thought I needed (or that everyone else thought I did) before my son’s birth that are now off to a new life at Goodwill . . .
This one seemed like a no-brainer for the registry as standard baby fare. I learned that mobiles had come a long way since gracing my own crib; a basic mobile these days includes music, spinning animals, and a light show!
The one I eventually selected (after a lot of assessment) was capable of being converted so that your kid could have a musical, ceiling light show as he grew. The extra months (or years) I could get out of this product were a big selling point.
You know what a musical, spinning, light-up mobile does not do? Put my baby to sleep. No, that thing is exciting to watch!
The only time I was able to use it was when I needed to entertain him awake in his crib for the few minutes it would take me to clean up a sudden nursery mess or wash my hands. Plus, that function only worked while he was very young. As soon as he could move himself around even a little bit, our guy was able to grab onto pieces of the clunky device (with all those lights and internal speakers) and pull it!
We took it off the crib after that.
2. Swaddling Blankets
Even if you don’t register for a single one, you will be gifted at least a dozen swaddling blankets.
I wasn’t that familiar with the concept of swaddling before my son was born, but we quickly learned that he truly needed to be swaddled at bedtime. For months, his uncontrollable little arms would flail around, hitting him in the face and freaking him out when he was unconstrained, but — as soon as he was in his swaddling cocoon — he was a happy sleeper! Unfortunately, no matter how many how-to videos you watch on expert swaddling techniques, your little Houdini will consistently escape the blanket within a few weeks of birth. Guaranteed.
Tugging, tucking, and praying will not keep that blanket on, but Velcro absolutely will. Get yourself a Swaddle Sleep Sack — a cotton one for the summer or a fleece one for the winter — and your baby won’t accidentally get loose and wind up whacking himself awake.
All those swaddling blankets you wound up with can be used for other purposes though. Read on . . .
3. Changing Pad Covers
You definitely want something to cover your changing pad, as it’s far easier to swap out fabrics than scrub a changing pad (and hope that you get it all!) in the middle of a messy diaper change. Changing pad covers are expensive though, particularly if you want a bunch on hand for diaper disasters and surprise spit-up.
Use those swaddling blankets! Open up the blanket, fold if necessary, and tuck the ends under either size of the changing pad, and you’re all set! Consider using a burp cloth under the baby’s head for handing diaper time spit-up. Speaking of spit-up . . .
4. Tiny Bibs
These things are adorable and sometimes come in 10-packs. Before your baby is born, you will probably have been given two dozen of these things minimum. They’re great for a tiny bit of drool, but they are totally useless when it comes to contending with the frequent eruptions of spit-up that come out of that tiny body.
Get a serious bib . . . and then get more. These things were the equivalent of putting an absorbent tarp on my son when he was three-months old, but they worked like a dream. (I think we eventually bought a dozen to avoid doing laundry constantly.)
With a big bib like this, even a sleepless parent has the reaction time to catch spit-up nine times out of ten. (The rest of the time, it’s headed directly at you, and there’s no avoiding that!)
Some kids love their pacifiers. Kids who do seem to very particular about their brand. (Hopefully it will be one of the six types you received as gifts!)
My kid, while earnest, was a lousy pacifier sucker. He liked having the pacifier in his mouth well enough, but he absolutely could not keep it there. If we put it in, we’d have to hold it in — the whole time. We attempted many creative ways of buttressing that darn thing in the right position, but then he’d turn his head the slightest bit and it would all be for naught.
If your tot it anything like mine, you’ll need some alternate methods of soothing a sad baby. My husband and I read a book that absolutely saved us during those infant months. The calming methods sound overly simplistic at first, but boy do they work! No more pacifiers for us.
I have a lot of cute baby T-shirts and long-sleeved shirts that got zero use. The reason? They just weren’t practical. Every time he was held, the shirt would ride up and expose his midriff — not a great thing for a kid born in the dead of winter. Plus, without hefty hipbones, his pants would slowly start to shimmy down — often taking the diaper with them!
We started to go with onesies all the way.
Every short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirt he wore was a onesie. No riding up, plenty of friction to keep those pants up, and nowhere for that diaper to go. We could still throw a sweater or hoodie over the onesie for extra warmth.
A year later — and still without voluminous hips or a collection of belts but now always on the move — he’s still rocking the onesies!
7. Heavy Winter Coat
It came as a big surprise for me when our pediatrician told us in no uncertain terms not to put our baby in a heavy coat when he was in the car seat.
He was right; there are studies and websites dedicated to the dangers of wearing a winter coat in an infant or big kid seat. The only times our kid ever needed a coat were when we were going somewhere in the car, so his cozy — and not so cheap — huge, puffy coat became totally useless.
Layers are key. There’s a lot of information out there about what clothes are and aren’t dangerous for a baby in the car. Do your research and talk to your own pediatrician before putting your baby in a big winter coat.
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