Oh, babies bring such joy, exhaustion, smiles, and stuff to your life. Stores, other parents, grandparents, and others you meet will have lists of stuff and advice you need for your new baby. But do you really need all this stuff?
I received a gift at my baby shower that the person said she used all the time and it was a necessity. I carried it around in my diaper bag for 6 months before I decided I’d never use it and I needed to stop lugging it around. I had enough stuff in there. The baby swing we barely used for my now 3 year old was used often with my 2nd child. But this time, my older child used it to push her stuffed animals in. Occasionally we put the infant in it, but again, my older child pushed her and it was more entertaining than soothing. We never used it to put the baby to sleep.
The lesson here is that you never know what is going to work for you and your family. Every child and parent is different.
Babies also grow fast. My children were born in opposite seasons (Winter and Summer). I figured this meant I’d be buying all new clothes the second time around. But my youngest grew so fast that she’s able to fit into her sister’s hand-me-downs.
Here are some suggestions for preparing for your baby, as well as managing the stuff that shows up that first year.
- Don’t go out and buy everything on that suggested registry list. All you really need to prepare are some diapers (newborn and size 1), some onesies (newborn and 0-3), a place for the baby to sleep, and a car seat. Babies don’t do much but eat and sleep those first few months, so you can buy the right size clothes and start thinking about other items you might need.
- Borrow items from friends to see if it works for you, your space, and your child. Can you borrow a swing from a friend and see if your baby likes it? Do you really need that play mat or will a blanket and some toys on the floor work?
- Do you have friends you can swap stuff with? If their kids are older or younger, passing items along gets it out of your house or saves you money if it’s your turn.
- If you have space, label bins with sizes (o-6 months, 6-9 months, etc.) and toss clothes in as your child outgrows them. Now they’re ready to pass on to the next person.
- If you have space, have a bin or 2 for the stuff you don’t use. Whenever you see something that your child has outgrown or you know you won’t use, it goes in the bin. You may try several types of baby bottles before you find one your baby likes. Don’t let the others clog up your kitchen space.
- If you’re not holding on to items for your next child or your friends children, have a plan for where this stuff is going to go when you’re done with it. Is there a consignment shop nearby? Or a donation place for families in need? Know where the stuff is going to go next so you can let it go, clearing space for the next round of toddler toys and clothes!
And as your child nears his or her first birthday, think about asking for experiences instead of gifts. A membership to the zoo or museum is more meaningful than another stuffed animal or toy. You can spend the morning looking at animals or playing in bubbles at the children’s museum. You both have fun and your house isn’t covered in toys (at least not for those few hours).
I hope this helps as you prepare for your new little bundle of joy. And, congratulations!