Baby Stuff - What do You Need?
Preparing for Baby
Pretty much everything about being pregnant is intimidating the first time out, but nothing is quite so intimidating, in quite the same way, as the Baby Stuff. Strollers, car seats, slings, carriers (what's the difference?), bottles, nipples (how many varieties are there?), blankets, bears, lotions, and, dare we mention rectal thermometers!
The rounder a newly-pregnant woman gets, the more she starts observing The Stuff other mothers have, and the seemingly impossible tasks she performs with her Stuff. (Child in one arm, diaper bag over a shoulder, unfolding a stroller while reaching for a snack and simultaneously wiping a runny nose. The sight of this makes the rookie cringe.)
Just what exactly do new mothers really need? And here's the mercenary question we all asked when we saw the price tags -- how much can we expect other people to buy for us?
The Baby Registry
When I was first pregnant the very idea of a baby registry seemed like the worst sort of commercialized greed. It's one thing for a wedding when you're choosing china and linens. It's something else to register for bottles, lotions and -- oh the gluttony! -- car seats and travel systems.
But once I got on the baby scene, I learned to love the baby registry. They're indispensable. In today's culture, product choice reflects personal parenting choices. For instance, a mother who is committed to nursing will pick a bottle system that will present the least risk to her nursing efforts while still providing a backup. This is the bottle she wants to use, and she probably only wants a few of them. Buying her bottles of other varieties is a waste. If her registry shows only four of one type of bottle, and all have been purchased, then bottles are not something this new mother needs.
National baby registries are also great in this disparate culture where it is possible that some of your closest family and friends don't live near enough to you to attend a shower or to come and see you in person. This allows them to pick something they know you would like and to have the shop's help in shipping it to you.
Baby registries are new, and some people find them rude for all the reasons I did before I had a baby. Do not push your baby registry on anyone. Do not volunteer the information that you are registered unless someone specifically asks you for gift ideas. There are two modes of thinking regarding the shower invitations -- it is excruciatingly tacky to include registry information in any other kind of invitation or announcement, but a shower is specifically for the purpose of showering someone with gifts. One compromise that I have worked for my own showers and for ones I hosted for others was not to include the information in the invitation, but to be sure to mention it on the phone when guests RSVP'd.