There is a lot of pressure to outfit the perfect nursery when you are pregnant. A simple visit to the local store can become a major dilemma: “oh, I didn’t know this existed… do we need it?”
And of course, new inexperienced parents like us are easy to put on a guilt trip. The media, society in general and “helpful” salespersons will pressure you into buying items that are “safe”, “tested”, “eco-friendly”, “proven to keep baby happy”, etc.
Problem is, you only have so much room… and so much money.
We didn’t end up buying much before Mark was born. The pressure to buy actually put me off and I’m lucky to have great friends who lent us the basics, including a car seat and a stroller. We bought a playpen (ahem… Mark only slept in it during the first week), a few outfits (it was hard since we didn’t know the sex of the baby!) and a couple of cute toys (really, because *I* liked them).
“Let’s way and see what we actually needs after the baby is born” became our motto.
And you know what? We were right.
Shopping before the baby is born is like walking in a mall with a blindfold on. You don’t know what you will actually need because every baby is different, and things can change fast. For instance, I bought some “nipple cream” I didn’t end up using because my breasts were doing just fine and I only breastfed for the first month. For the same reason, I never needed nursing pads, nursing bras, nursing pillows, etc.—I’m glad I didn’t invest in these.
But there are five items we bought before Mark was born that actually turned out to be very useful.
The stretchy wrap sling — I grew up in a cobblestone-paved city with a lot of steps and stairs and I clearly remember my younger brother and sister screaming on top of their lungs because they hated the bumpy trips. I also remember how cumbersome strollers can be, especially these mini-SUV monsters parents seem to favour these days. Sure, we needed a stroller (thanks to the friend that lent us hers!) but I wanted to carry the baby in a sling. I liked the idea of being able to keep a close eye on him, to keep him warm against my body, and I thought it would be a good bonding experience. Plus a sling is easy to carry: I can just throw the 5 meters of stretchy fabric into my purse and put it on when needed. My green Maman Kangourou Amerigo wrap ($65) was an investment but it turned out to be a lifesaver. Mark spends a lot of time in the sling, at home and outside. It allows me to have both hands free, and he is safe and comfortable against me. I also credit the sling for helping him develop strong muscles: he was able to turn and lift his head pretty early. Sure, people make dumb comments… but I love this way of carrying him!
The singing monkey — Babies don’t care much about toys at first, they’d rather stare at their parents’ face (that or I have a weird face because Mark keeps on staring at me). I bought “Sam the singing monkey” one day at Walmart, thinking the music would sooth him. It became our ritual: every time I change him, I put the monkey by his side. It was funny to see him paying attention to it for the first time, and to actually see him trying to grab him. That $12 plush monkey is a cute toy that keeps him busy and focused during our photo sessions too.
The blanket — I bought this white and beige blanket at Winners last summer. The colour was neutral and I figured babies can always use blankets. It was also super soft and cuddly, and that sealed the deal. Turned out we used that blanket a lot. It’s just the right size to cover him when he is in the car seat or when we put him on the couch at home. And the neutral soft colours make a great backdrop for pictures!
The pacifiers — I hate pacifiers. And I don’t even know why. I never had one as a kid (I think French frown upon them) and neither did my brother and sister. But one of the nurses at the hospital gave one to Mark when he had some blood taken after he was born, so we came home with an orange pacifier. And Mark liked it. It’s only a couple of weeks after Mark was born that I remembered we had actually bought a set of two blue pacifiers over the summer (it was on sale at Shoppers!), so we started using these as well. I always take one with me when we go out as it can be a great way to sooth a baby (I take it out after a while, it’s not a plug!) or help him go to sleep. I’m trying to help Mark find his thumb or fingers instead (it’s harder than it seems, babies don’t have much hand-to-mouth coördination!) because pacifiers always fall off, but meanwhile it’s a good thing to have.
The changing pad — I didn’t want to buy a changing table because babies can fall off easily, plus it seemed like an unnecessary investment. We did buy a plastic changing pad at IKEA ($6.99) and a set of two covers ($6.99), one red and one blue. “Perfect,” we thought since we didn’t know Mark was going to be a little boy. Turned out to be really useful. We simply put the changing pad on the bed and voilà! The covers are easy to wash and they do the job. No need for a fancy changing table!