- Is about 11 inches long, which is just about one inch shorter than your average 12-inch ruler.
- Has likely crossed the one-pound mark in weight.
- Is getting more defined facial features every day, and already looks unmistakably like himself or herself on a 3D ultrasound.
- Are gaining about a pound a week now, if you happen to be one of those rare creatures whose weight gain lines up with the books and calendars.
- May find yourself ravenously hungry at odd times during the day — the middle of the afternoon, after dinner or even in the middle of the night. Blah blah nutrient-rich protein-heavy snacks like nuts and things blah. Me, I’m going with calcium-rich milkshakes, thanks.
- Continue to be that pregnancy-patented mix of moods and emotions. Blissfully happy and belly-rubbing one minute, wracked with anxiety and worry the next. Affectionately hoping your baby looks just like your partner one minute, hating their damn guts and ass face the next. Rawr.
I went to the baby store today (they were fresh out of babies, dagnabbit, but they had just gotten in a small shipment of the coveted and hard-to-find BPA-free Dr. Brown’s bottles), and was amused to find that I am NOT the only woman who cannot keep her yap shut whenever she spots a pregnant woman contemplating a useless and/or essential baby item.
First, I lectured a kindly and confused grandmother about BPA and why the Dr. Brown’s bottles are just like, the freaking greatest bottles ever, oh my God, while I frantically dumped gift set after gift set into my cart. (Seriously, those bottles sell out in a second and online retailers are charging three times the suggested retail price.) Then I got a drive-by rave from another mother while I inspected a Hotsling, and then we ganged up on a nearby first-timer to express our shared dislike of the Baby Bjorn. She timidly chose a Hotsling and quickly backed away from both of us.
If this is your first pregnancy, you’re probably ready to start registering for gifts. And you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. So…allow me to boss you around for awhile then.
There’s obviously no shortage of baby paraphernalia you can register for, but so much of that stuff is best if you pick it out later, once your baby is here and you’ve gotten to know his or her likes and dislikes. And no matter what that crazy wild-eyed blonde woman said to you at the store about which bottle/pacifier/diaper brand is the Best Thing Ever, resist the urge to register for multiple identical items, but instead register for one or two of multiple brands and let your baby make the choice.
As my registry dwindled, I felt obligated to add more stuff and crap to it. And that’s how I ended up with 434 receiving blankets and at least 10 of those sleepsack things– and only three of the blankets were actually big enough to swaddle my linebacker of a newborn, who hated the sleepsacks with the heat of…well, a thousand fleece sleepsacks. He hated the Avent wideneck bottles and pacifers I’d stocked up on, preferring Dr. Brown’s standards and Soothies. The vibrating bouncy seat (which I’d gotten in place of a swing, because “everyone” told me their babies hated swings) pissed him off like nothing else. He loved, loved, loved the swing we went out and bought out of sleep-deprived desperation a week later.
I discovered that I hated those elastic-bottomed gowns that “everyone” raved about, preferred co-sleeping (which I’d been deadset against) to lifting him in and out of the Pack-n-Play bassinet attachment, and kicked myself for not getting a sling. And don’t even get me started on that freaking awful stroller.
So. If I could go back and do it again, I actually would have registered for a lot less, and resisted the urge to keep the list stocked with low-cost gifts that ended up getting donated to charity basically unused. (Because OF COURSE I ripped the tags off ALL 434 blankets and washed them BEFORE Noah was born. Because OF COURSE I DID.) I should have politely requested more gift cards for use later — there’s just no way to know how many diapers you’ll go through, or whether breastfeeding will work out the way you plan, or what kind of exersaucer you’ll want six months from now.
I’ve waffled back and forth on including any kind of actual specific checklist here, since it’s all just so subjective and varies by person (AP? anti-plastic? devoted worshiper of the battery-powered baby-raising gods?), living situation (suburbs? city? mcmansion? 500-square-foot studio?) and of course, BABY. What worked for us and our kid might not work for you. Hell, it might not even work for US a second time around.
But what the heck, I will include some checklists — spread out over a few weeks, because good GOD, this is giving me a headache and taking forever. First up: baby gear, or your big-ticket items, divided into (very) rough categories of BUY NOW and BUY LATER, just to help you prioritize what you’ll need from day one and what you can wait a bit on.
- infant car seat*
- Compatible lightweight stroller frame
- Extra car seat base for second car
- Bunting/rain cover for car seat
- Pack-n-Play, bassinet or co-sleeper(plus 2-3 sheets and a waterproof pad)
- Sling, wrap or infant carrier (or all three, if you are me and can’t decide)
- bouncy seat**
- baby swing**
- floor gym
- Baby Gates/ Play yards
- Lightweight Stroller or full-sized stroller
- Jogging stroller (check Craigslist, these are probably the most-purchased and least-used things out there)
- Exersaucer (or Bumbo or bebePOD, etc)***
- convertible car seat
*Obviously, if you live in the city and/or don’t have a car, a stroller would definitely be in the Buy Now category. If I wasn’t part of the suburban drive-everywhere set, I’d sooo spring for a Bugaboo or Quinny or other super-fancy stroller with a strong frame and real tires. The stroller will be as good as a car for a good three or four years, so make sure you love it. The wrong stroller will make you hate life, believe me.
**But don’t buy these MUCH later. Get both right off the bat if you’ve got the room, otherwise wait and see if your baby seems to calm down while bouncing or swinging. Noah LOVED to swing (we figured this out after Jason was only able to get him to sleep by swinging him around the room in his carseat) but we did end up using the bouncer enough to justify its purchase as well (great for taking into the bathroom and for early solid-food feedings).
***Never had one of these. We used the bouncer most of the time and then I propped Noah up with my Boppy pillow for a couple days…and then the next thing I knew he was sitting up unassisted. But I have been told that we be done plum crazy for not using one. I’d argue, but how would you know it wasn’t just the crazy talking?
Here’s a complete online version of our Ultimate Baby Registry Checklist and here’s the downloadable & printable version of our Baby Registry Checklist in case you’re going to the store (like they did way back in the 90s).
If you’re considering an online baby registry, we recommend our affiliate Amazon’s Baby Registry, which offers free 90-day returns on baby store purchases. You can even add items from other websites onto to your baby registry.