The Practicality of Pink (or Blue)
Long time reader, first time writer. I’m beginning to register for my first baby, and I need some advice. I’m having a girl, and I’m being pulled by the siren of cute strollers with pink accents, with matching pink carseat, matching pink Pack-N-Play, matching pink swing, you get the idea. (PREGO WOMEN NEED MATCHY!) But, I’ll probably have another baby within the next few years, and there’s no way to guarantee that that baby is a girl.
So, I need advice. Splurge on the super cute girly items, and hope that baby #2 is a girl? Or go boring and gender neutral? And while we’re at it, are there non-hideous gender neutral products out there? I refuse to let a Winnie the Pooh themed Pack-N-Play into my house.
(Trying to Be) Pretty In Pink
A few days after our First Big Ultrasound, my husband and I hit the Big Box Baby Store, registry-zapper-gun in hand. And proceeded to have many, MANY discussions about going blue vs. gender neutral for probably every piece of baby gear we encountered. The resulting baby registry was a hodge-podge of random: a blue Pack-n-Play and car seat (in matching fabric, even though they have nothing to do with each other, but because PREGNANT), a red stroller, gender-neutral crib bedding and swing but then a blue high chair because I DON’T KNOW.
Prior to getting pregnant, I had all kinds of High-Minded Opinions about gender stereotyping and the pink vs. blue establishment, but then something happened to my brain. Every time I went shopping pre-ultrasound I would stare at the gender neutral offerings for such a long time that they stopped LOOKING gender neutral to me after awhile. That brown is too boyish. That green pattern looks flowery. That yellow is ugly. Once I found out I was having a boy it just seemed easier to walk up to All The Blue Things and mindlessly zap at them. The decisions were overwhelming enough already without fretting over repeat use in the hypothetical future.
Of course, it helped that I proceeded to have two MORE boys, thus making any concerns over a mismatched Pack-n-Play pretty much moot.
But! If I were your baby registry shadow, here’s the do-as-I-say, not-as-I-did advice:
Car seat: Depending on the spacing of your children, an infant car seat can be a one-kid purchase. They tend to have expiration dates around five or six years, after which the company will no longer test them for defects, wear-and-tear, and will no longer issue recall information. So you could hypothetically go all floofy pink on this one and then still decide to buy a newer model for a second child, even if it’s another girl. You could ALSO use the same frame/base but swap out the fabric cover. Most manufacturers will sell extra covers and you can find a TON of custom covers on Etsy. (They can be pricey, though.) You can also dress up a “boring” neutral seat with inexpensive custom strap and handle covers from Etsy as well. But note that the car seat is something you probably won’t be able to sell, due to the complications regarding expiration dates and recalls and such.
Pack-n-Play: I love our Pack-n-Play. I hate the fabric choice we made, but I still love our Pack-n-Play. (I feel like there are sooooo many nicer/cuter options now: we had a choice between navy blue with teddy bears or khaki, and that was pretty much it.) But it simply doesn’t matter what it looks like and I’ve never considered upgrading because of aesthetics. We don’t keep it out around the house: We toss it in the back of the car and travel with it. We shove it in a corner at friends’ and relatives’ homes, toss a sheet over the bottom, etc. I love how small and light it folds up, how easy it is to carry around and put up, and I really doubt I would have cared at ALL if we had a girl and she spent nights at her grandparents in a blue Pack-N-Play. So basically: Buy which ever one you like the best and be done with it. (You can also sell Pack-N-Plays on Craigslist, should you ever change your mind.)
Stroller: Here’s the thing: I actually don’t think it’s always worth it to buy a stroller before your baby arrives. (Unless you are a non-car, walk-everywhere family — if that’s the case, go high-end. Rubber tires, shocks, super-sturdy frame — not the lightweight coordinating travel systems with plastic wheels. And since those high-end strollers typically cost as much as a mortgage, go gender neutral for future use and ease of selling.) For those of us occasional-stroller users, a Snap-n-Go car seat stroller frame will usually be just fine for the first six months or so, especially if you plan to use slings or baby carriers. (And those you match to YOUR wardrobe and personal taste anyway, NOT your baby’s gender. Whee!)
Once your baby can sit upright around six months, your stroller choices expand AND you’ll likely have a better sense of the KIND of stroller you need, beyond appearance. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but the wrong kind of stroller will make you hate your life: too heavy or hard to open/close, too lightweight or hard to maneuver, too wide, not enough strorage, etc. etc. Are you walking on uneven city sidewalks or park trails…or mostly steering around clothing racks at the mall? THESE are the things you consider when buying a stroller, not the fact that it’s matchy-matchy, no matter how irresistible it feels right now. (And I know. It feels pretty irresistible.)
But on the other hand: Eh, you can probably sell it on Craigslist, if you go for pink and then later want blue. (Though a nice green, orange or red are usually good choices too. And black goes with everything!)
Swings/Bouncers/Jumpers/Exersaucers/Etc. One question to ask yourself: Do you actually have SPACE to store all this crap in between babies? Because unless you have an attic or basement or other generous storage option, you might not even want to hold onto everything. It takes up a ridiculous amount of awkward space. It might be easier to sell or give away and simply plan to re-purchase or re-borrow down the road. Not to mention that motors die, battery compartment covers get lost, fabric seats get unspeakably befouled, etc. And one baby may love swings while another hates them and only likes vibrating bouncers. So this is another place where it’s probably no big deal to just buy what you love without worrying too much about being impractical.
As for finding the nicest of the gender-neutral options, I generally find that 1) shopping online will ALWAYS give you a better selection than what you’ll find at say, Babies R Us or Target and 2) the higher-end you go, the more aesthetically pleasing things are, unfortunately. Bugaboo and Orbit look cooler than Graco, it is true. (And stores like Giggle can make your brain melt and your credit card light itself on fire.) Some of these splurges might be worth it for you (see: stroller, carriers, stuff-that’s-out-in-your-house-all-the-time like high chairs, etc.). Or at least worth registering for just in case someone else wants to splurge on you.
But if you’re on a Graco budget, consider registering on Amazon instead, because you’ll find 25 different fabric options instead of two or three. By the time we got to Ike, I don’t think I bought a single thing at an actual store. If it wasn’t on Amazon Prime, we didn’t need it.
(Unless it was on Etsy. I did do quite a bit of damage on Etsy.)