Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry

by - Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry pregnant belly
Picture Credit- Jenny Bickel Photography
Being prego is obviously exciting, but it also turns out to be a lot of research. It's kind of like trying to prepare for a vacation where you don't know where you are going. It's a shot in the dark, and you can ask around for clues, but you really don't know. When you register for a wedding, you have some vague idea of how to adult, but this is totally different. I know we had no idea what the hell we needed, and my mom showed up the week before the Bub came and filled in a bunch of blanks we hadn't thought of.

Because it's a shot in the dark, we made mistakes, and if I could do it all over again, I would have registered and shopped in such a different way. Learn from my mistakes! This is how I would do it now that I know better:

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry baby feet

1. Play the Long Game

 When you are going through it the first time, it can be easy to focus on maybe the next month or so. I mean, we were basically in survival mode for a while. But they grow, and way faster than you are expecting. You can save some money and a whole lot of waste by looking a little further ahead. If you register for baby stuff, ONLY register for 6-9 or 9-12. People will buy you the smaller sizes without encouragement, but those sizes last such a short time (maybe only a month or two), then you look around and you don't have anything to put your baby in. It works this way for everything- the early months seem like you need a lot, but really they are happy with your boob and cuddles, so try to play a longer game.

I will try to point out stuff as we go through the Baby Registry, but off the top of my head, I do recommend registering for larger sizes, bigger bottles and sippy cups, and the larger car seat. That first birthday may seem a long way away right now, but what were you doing a year ago this week? Things move quickly!

And while we are at it, when your nunjas explode and you need a new bra, just buy nursing bras (my suggestion? Bella Materna. Steep but great). When buying maternity clothes, buttoned up chests are perfect. I was back in maternity clothes and expanded stuff for probably the first three months after the Bub was born (they call it the 4th trimester), so that maternity clothes you buy early on can have a lot of use later. Especially if you think ahead.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry baby shower decorations

2.Consignment is your New Best Friend (and You Can Say So)

Before you have a baby, people will tell you they go through things fast, and you kind of get it, but nothing teaches the lesson like when they grow out of their size before you even use all of the super cute outfits you have. 0-3 for us was brutal, because he was out of it by two months. This super quick turnover means somebody spent a bunch of money on nothing.What a waste of money AND clothing! Our country makes tons of textile garbage; the average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing a year- new parents jack up this number. Not only can you save epic amounts of money by buying 80-90% consignment (we save at least half of our clothing budget), but you can minimize that huge pouring into landfills.

The biggest baby clothing companies- Carter's and Gerber- have very sketchy labor policies and environmental impact. And not a thread is stitched in the US. I know before I had the Bub, I poured over Carter's stuff at every store. I picked stuff I loved, and once he was here, I noticed everyone had the same outfits! Trust me, nothing you put your baby in will be cuter than your baby, so you don't have to be "on trend."

If you can buy essentially the same onesie in a kids consignment store for a third of the price, save one more onesie from being in a landfill, and give unethical companies 10 dollars less, it can only be a win. You are making the world a little better for your baby and save SO MUCH money that can go to their future. I only wish I had started sooner.

You shouldn't feel ashamed to let your family know that a great consignment sleeper makes a  completely awesome gift. One of our friends here just put on her invitation that they were trying to cut down their environmental impact, so please buy used clothes for the gift. Will someone roll their eyes? Yes, definitely. But people roll their eyes at me and this blog everyday, and alas, I carry on. This approach to baby clothes will make you more sane, and I promise you will find so much cute stuff.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry glass baby bottle

3. Glass not Plastic- Wood not Plastic- Just Say NO to Plastic!

You will find bottles that claim to be BPA-free, but recent studies show that the BPA substitutes can be just as bad. Plastic is toxic and nasty, so you can do a lot for your child's health by avoiding it whenever possible. Plus, using plastic is just another way to add waste to the world your child will someday inherit from you. We love our Evenflo and Lifefactory glass bottles, and we can reuse them all for as many spawn as we have, then pass them on to someone else to use. No leeching. No contorting in the dishwasher. We even got the Lifefactory sippy lids and use them as sippy cups now.

In the same vein, don't register for toys that have lots of plastic attached- look for wooden teethers and toys instead, because everything will be going in that precious little nugget's mouth before you know it (just watch out for Melissa and Doug, they aren't any better than Fisher Price). They love chewing on everything. Because babies are sometimes assholes who flip your purse and try to eat your change (true story).  Minimize the potentially toxic chemicals by opting out of plastic whenever you can (and hide your pennies).

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry father and son

4. Wipe Warmers= Not Worth it

 You will get so much advice about things you "need" that you may never use (and might melt a piece of your furniture, not that I am bitter or anything). It can be tempting to follow every piece of advice, because you have no idea what the hell you are doing. But preparing for every possibility will leave you broke with a house full of junk you will never use. It's not worth it.

 It's not that you may not need those "needs," but babies, like all people, are greatly individual and variable. Each one comes with their own set of ticks and preferences, and you can wait to see who they are before trying to attend to needs that just don't exist. There will still be stores once your bub arrives, so if you aren't sure, just wait.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry swaddle blankets

5. Neither are 14 Kinds of Swaddle Blankets

You need two kinds. Three if you have cold weather coming.

Muslin blankets for swaddling (Aden and Anais are all the rage, but they aren't ethical. Check this blog for your many options).
Fuzzy blankets if it is cold (I like Swaddle Designs blankets).
And the wonderful handmade blankets your family and friends will make you.

That's it. Don't get conned into the combo kits with swaddles in them. Those swaddle blankets are always crappy anyway. Just avoid sets.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry great grandfather and baby

6.There are Eco-friendly and American-made options for everything on your list

 I wish, more than anything, that I had realized how many options I had before I registered for baby. Now that I see him, I want to make the world a little bit better for him every day, and I think a lot of what we bought and registered for earlier on could have had much more positive impact. We got so many "Made in China" Fisher Price things that I see in our baby consignment shop all the time. We wasted so much money on clothes that we would never buy now. We shelled out for toys that he never cared about. We got strollers that were made in China when American-made options were out there.

The truth is, I just never thought about it. I never thought about being eco-friendly, and I just assumed every option was "Made in China." Sure, if I knew that I had a choice between Made in China or America, I would choose America, but I didn't even realize there was an option. Even eco-friendly lists mostly highlight the toxicity you don't want for your child (see- minimize plastic!), and it isn't clear what the most eco-friendly options would be for the world around them.

Options exist. They may not be easy to find, but that's why I am here.

There is always an option. I made the Baby Registry specifically so that these other, so much more eco-friendly, options are clearly available. You can cross check anything on your list with my Eco-Friendly and Made in America Baby Registry to have a registry you can really feel good about. Don't make my mistake!

How many opportunities do you have in life to make a bunch of purchase choices at once? That means you can put all those purchases (by you and your family) towards your baby's needs and your baby's world. These kinds of moments don't come by often. Caring is worth doing, making the switches does good, and you can do this.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry pregnant woman and husband

7. Don't Be Scared

I am not going to say be confident, you're not an idiot, because most likely you are. Most likely we are too all over again. You are planning for a person you haven't met- there's no way to do that well. There's no reason to know these things, so be sure you have a small army of friends (or one really great one, Rochelle) who already knows what is good.

Ask lots of questions. Ask about wipe warmers. If you ask 3 people and they all say you definitely need something (like a crib or a carrier) you probably do. If there is debate, skip it. If you aren't sure whether you will be a baby wearer or stroller pusher, try to find a wrap used. You can always get something nicer once you know firsthand, but you know yourself and which advice might be worth following. Women chomp at the bit to share baby knowledge, so never be embarrassed to ask other new moms you trust.

Side note, the urge to share advice never goes away, but mommy brain smooths out edges. It's encouraging really that moms look back on things as easier than they were and are (I know it happens, because my toddler has helped block out some miserable infant months of sleep deprivation), but trust me, their kids were not perfect. Grain of salt it, because those memories are sea glass.

You will learn it all so soon. No need to overcompensate because you aren't sure yet. You got this.

8. Join a Buy Nothing Group. Don't Have one? Start one

Since joining Buy Nothing when The Bub was five or six months old, our family has probably saved at least 700 dollars we would have spent. We have received almost all of the Bub's toys, a playplace in the backyard (didn't end up working out, but still), a dining room table, swim diapers, and tons of clothes. I imagine we have saved much more than that. That's a plane ticket. We have also given away that much in stuff, which means our house is never quite as bogged down by baby stuff.

I can't tell parents enough- join your local Buy Nothing group.

Don't have one where you are? Check and see if there is a freecycle group or another option. But really, make the world (and your community) better by starting one. It's a pain upfront, but by the time baby is eating solids, you will have a huge resource at your fingertips.

Babies create a constant turnover in stuff, and joining a Buy Nothing means that you are connected to parents with slightly older and slightly younger children. It means someone has what you need or someone needs what you no longer want, and you can connect easily (and meet! So nice). Even when you don't have anything you need that day, it will make your life better. It's like having random acts of mommy kindness on your newsfeed everyday.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry belly and bubba

9. Play the Even Longer Game

 Planning on spawning more than once? Then you aren't registering for your baby, you are registering for your babies. Resist the urge to register for anything gender-specific (trust me, someone will get you a sexist, heteronormative, and lame onesie anyway) or made so cheaply it couldn't possibly make it through multiple spawn (looking at you, Gerber- every onesie we got has holes in it now).

This year we had our second bub, and we really didn't need that much. People keep saying it is because we had another boy spawn, but the real trick is to buy (and register for) as many versatile pieces as you can. We gave about half Bub One's clothes away when he grew out of them, and gender neutral pieces always made the A team that stayed. As we got better at it, the clothes also mostly avoid too specific gender connotations. Buy stuff that isn't junk (see also; made in America) and don't monogram it or something silly like that.

Other tips now that I am well into two babies? Containers like Bumbo seats and a walker are way more helpful the second time around, so they are worth keeping around. Babywearing is even more important. Some essential baby toys the first time never got a second look this time. Prepare to be surprised, but mostly prepare to be surprised that you are already totally prepared.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Making our Baby Registry attractive diaper bag

10. Trix are for Kids. Diaper Bags are for Grown Ups

Baby stuff is so cute. No debating it. And it can be tempting to opt for a diaper bag that looks as adorable as everything else on your list. Don't match the bag to the task, match the bag to your style. If you are cutesy and such, by all means get the bag with Winnie the Pooh or ducks on it. For the rest of us, register for something that looks like a bag you would carry everyday for the next two years of your life. Because that is what you are actually dealing with.

My favorite recommendation is a bag from Oliday, because I had one of their camera bags and it lasted so long. They are simple and neutral, but they also offer backpack options, which does make life way easier as the bub gets bigger.  Tom Bihn makes a well-loved and sportier option. Christy Studio has simple options too. There are so many out there, so be sure to get something you love.

 For goodness sake. there is no secret to a diaper bag, just get a backpack you really like that has pockets. Diaper bags are big with pockets- that is the only difference. So just get one that you like. Best case scenario, you only have to buy one.

Ten Things I Wish We Knew Before Registering For Our Baby

Ah, life experience and wisdom. I wish I had more, but hopefully this is at least a little bit helpful for the expectant moms and dads out there. Do better than I did! And do it for that tiny person, because eventually you will be fond of them, and therefore won't want them to be the boneless garbage people in Wall-E. just surrounded in all of your garbage. Please, help me keep our world from being the world in Wall-E. Cute robots aren't worth it.

Interested in more Ethical, Green, and Made in America shopping? Check out my Giant List of Shopping Lists to find all kinds of cool shopping alternatives!

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  1. We cloth diapered so I have to disagree with the wipe warmer. It makes keeping cloth wipes wet so much more convenient than having to use a spray bottle each and every time you need a wipe! Plus the bonus was the wipes were warm!



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