From the Blog

“Stuff” For Babies = Mind Blown

Okay so, now I’m thinking about stuff for babies. I’ve been able to avoid this process for an impressive amount of time. We’ve had so many other things to think about this year before we started thinking about baby stuff. We had big panicky things to think about. Like moving back to Portland. And getting a job. And finding an apartment. And moving.

So now we did all that stuff. We’re all settled in and feeling cozy. And I’m sleeping much better, thank you. And now that all those panicky things are out of the way, now we can think about how we have two babies on the way. In like, three months or so.

Holy shit.

What the hell do we do now? Babies need like, STUFF, right? I mean, there’s really no way around it. I mean, we could go super hippy dippy and let our kids sleep in dresser drawers and clothe them in burlap sacks. We just spent the past few years downsizing all our crap. Now we’re going to have little crap machines. And we need crap to contain all their crap.

We aren’t opposed to buying things just to thumb our nose at convention or to adhere to some idealogical purity. Well, actually, I do enjoy thumbing my nose at convention. I like it a lot. I thumb my nose so hard at convention. “Hey convention! Here’s me THUMBING MY NOSE AT YOU, YOU BASTARD!” Etc.

But really, we’re going to have to buy cribs. And we’re going to have to buy car seats. And we’ll probably need some kind of stroller. I think I need some kind of breast pump. And we’ll need like, diapers, and stuff?

I wasn’t planning on doing a registry. I feel weird about asking people to buy us stuff. Here we are, after a few years of downsizing, being frugal, and paying off debt. We’ve gotten ourselves into a thrifty, but comfortable place in our lives. And now we are procreating, and I feel weird asking friends and family to spend their money on us. I know people love buying stuff for babies. And people want to participate. And it’s, you know, convention. But I have struggled with the idea of a registry, and it still feels super dirty to me.

I’ve had enough friends and family ask me to start a damned registry already so they know what to get us. And I realized that I don’t want people buying us stuff we won’t use, or buying us duplicates of stuff we don’t use. And we do need some stuff. But, I just…gah. Is there such a thing as doing a registry, but asking people not to buy us anything?

So amidst all this tortured mental gymnastics, I’m just beginning to gaze into the maw of the Baby Product Industrial Complex. I haven’t plunged in, I’m just sort of peering into it from the sidelines. This is totally uncharted territory for us. I’m in my late thirties, and I can’t say I’ve had a lot of babies in my life. It’s really just been the past year where I’ve become aware of babies, and the whole Baby Product Industrial Complex.

It’s a huge thing. It’s a big, huge, ridiculous thing. All the stuff. All the STUFF. Ultimately, babies need food, sleep, and for you, or some other person, to change them when they shit their pants. That’s all they really need.

But the STUFF. The cribs, and the changing tables, and the swings, and the rockers, and the bouncy things, and the pillows, and the pumps, and the bottles, and the car seats, and the strollers, and the slings, and the things to suck out snots, and the things to put in their bums to relieve gas, and the clothes, and the socks, and the mittens, and the bibs, and the hats, and the blankets, and the swaddle cloths, and the burp cloths, and the bathtubs, and the baby monitors, and the humidifiers, and the toys, and blinky things, and light up things, and colorful things, and the butt wipe warmers, and the butt paste, and the diapers, and the diaper pails, and the diaper pail liners…and what else? This isn’t nearly a definitive list.

Now. You look at all that stuff, and you think, “Babies really don’t need all that stuff.” And I agree! I so agree! But there is equal, if not stronger advice saying “YES. You NEED this stuff. You will regret not having this time saver, or that gizmo, or this baby toy, or that swing, or this bouncy thing….” There are baby product evangelicals out there. And they all overwhelmingly agree, you need stuff.

And the problem is, every goddamned baby is different. All of them. They need food, sleep, and clean diapers. Yet, all babies are different. And all parents are different. And they all have different advice. And they all loooove one thing, and they all dislike something else. And none of them agree.


And for us, we have two little screamers coming, and between the two of them, they might be totally different. AWESOME!

Now. I’m saying all this, and I haven’t yet stepped foot into a goddamned baby store. Not a single one. My mom lost her mind took me baby clothes shopping in California and that one day, in itself, was a huge, mind blowing culture shock. And I’m just going to say this…if you are not into sports, or into cars, baby clothes shopping is much harder for boys than it is for girls. I mean, they have whole clothing lines with dick trucks on them. Or sporty type stuff that says “Mommy’s Little Slugger.”  Ulg. Heavy, heavy sigh. Maybe I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and hope our boys turn out gay.

Right. Okay. So I know there is stuff we definitely need. We need cribs. Probably two of them. We need car seats. We need diapers. I already got boobs, so I’m super psyched I don’t have to buy those. Can I possibly get all the stuff without going into the stores? Can I just read the reviews and order online? Can I buy what we need without engaging in the consumergasm that is Shopping for Baby Stuff? I know some people say it’s fun. And maybe if I lived near my mom or sister, I might agree.

But really, it does not sound like fun to me. We’ve got another three months. I can procrastinate a little while longer, can’t I?




  1. The best thing to do is to find the absolute best children’s consignment store in the area – and I mean scout them out – there are several near me and only one of them is nice – they wash all the clothes people bring in before they put them on the floor and it is clean and organized. Ask people to buy you gift certificates for the consignment store – then you can buy things as you need them – I also – hate to admit it – returned a ton of things that I did not use (or HATED) or got duplicates of to the stores if I knew where people got them – I used the credit to get something my son really needed – like a larger size of clothes and the lovely people who gave me the gifts were none the wiser! Also ask people for size one and two clothes – you will get so many baby clothes you won’t know what to do with them and it is great when you realize that the kid is suddenly wearing high waters to be able to grab the next size from the dresser without having to go to the store!

    One – you are buying previously used good – generally very lightly used because babies do not use anything for very long – so the consumption of new consumer goods is very low.
    Two – you can bring all the things you are done with back to the store to sell when you are finished with it or the babies just don’t like it.
    Three – you do not need an actual changing table – trust me on this – get a changing pad – put it on top of the dresser – when the babies start to move around too much you will stop using it anyway and start changing them on the floor so they don’t fall off the changing table – the little imps squirm so much as they get older they are likely to squirm right off the changing table.
    Four – invest in a really nice stroller – one that will last for a long time – a Bob stroller is good for this – but I don’t know if the double is super small baby compatable – if you tell the people at the really nice consignment store what you are looking for – they will probably be able to find you one – or look on Craig’s list – a good stroller is worth the price.
    Five – borrow any of the big things that you can – like bouncy seats and swings and stuff that you only use for a short time – most people would love to lend them out so they don’t have to store them!

    My son is six and we are going to have number two in November – although I have some of #1’s baby stuff I will be getting a majority of what I need from my local consignment store – and selling it when I am done with it – storing baby crap is highly overrated!

    Have fun!!!!!

  2. I’ve found that most people ignore baby registries, except for the big stuff. You’ll get clothes, more (ugly) clothes, and 18 baby nail clippers and the like. But for people buying as a group, they use the registries to get you the big stuff. Handy.

    A crib is necessary, but it’s not necessary that the crib be the priciest model. A crib is a crib is a crib, and they all have to be made to certain safety standards and it’s not like spending a bunch of extra money is gonna make the kid sleep any better. Don’t we wish.

    Speaking of safety, carseats are worth spending the money on. I was always a big fan of Britax for safety and comfort–and their straps never got knotted up. This is a very important detail for delirious parents, of which I was one for a good several years.

    And as for highchairs, avoid the ones with cloth seats. Really, what *are* the manufacturers thinking?!?!

    There. There’s my unsolicited advice, which will be coming at you in droves these days! Droves!

  3. Heather says

    Thanks, ladies. I do actually like the advice. I was moaning about diaper pails on Facebook, and three moms jumped on to say they are overrated. Excellent! Good to know! I’m just a n00b! I need all the help I can get!

    Also, thanks to @racheljoon for the link to The Windi.

  4. Aimee Wynhausen says

    Take a deep breath and know that you can do it. :)

    No kids here so that’s all I got :)

  5. As a long-time quasi-minimalist it saddens me to have to tell you the following:

    “Yes, you need all of the STUFF.”

    “Yes, even that STUFF.”

    “Yes, even when you think you’re done, there will be even more STUFF.”

    There’s no avoiding it. It’s absurd how much space these tiny little people take up with their STUFF. Mine is only now two feet tall and yet she manages to occupy pretty much the entire living room. And she’s only going to get bigger and there’s only going to be even more STUFF.

    And just think – you’ll have nearly double the STUFF.


  6. Yep, the smaller they are, the more stuff they need! It gets better when they’re old enough to start carrying their own stuff. Until then, make sure the stroller has plenty of storage space (and cup holders for Dave’s beer and your water…if you’re breastfeeding, you’re going to need a lot of it!!)
    Consignment is the way to go for clothes, considering they get a new wardrobe every season times 2!!! (yep, even my 11 year old daughter still gets a new wardrobe twice a year…she’s 1″ shorter than me now and just won’t stop growing! Future hint: schools w/uniforms rock!!)
    Until then…enjoy the science experiment going on in your body1

  7. I would second the BOB stroller & Britax carseats. Spent a lot on these & never regretted it, and I used crappy strollers & carseats, too. If you want to get in a car, drive somewhere, and navigate through a store, though, you may want a narrower stroller or one that folds & fits easily in the trunk of the car. I was always intrigued by the Phil & Ted’s that is kind of like a double-decker stroller. And do buy used. I sold items in almost perfect condition (because we take care of stuff) on Craigslist & kept wondering why I hadn’t bought things the same way. All too soon it will be clutter & you will be making way for massive train tables & the like. But don’t worry- once they are into electronics it is much easier to keep their stuff contained.

  8. i have no babies so don’t have any real world advice. i have lots of clients with babies, though, and i get tons of info second hand. Consignment and craigslist are absolutely the way to go. Also the asking other moms to loan you the big items… good idea. Moms seem to delight in being able to help other moms. I hooked up 3 new moms who were clients and they are trading stuff like crazy.
    diaper pail and foot pedal trash can seem to be the same. an excellent place to find those crazy spendy trash cans is the thrift store. you can get them for a few bucks. i picke them up for $3 or $5 dollars. I have several now.
    cribs… check out consumers reports for their baby issue. you can probably find it online or at the library. last years issue would probably work. jake and I bought their recommended crib for friends who had twins. it was like $300, new, which i thought was outrageous, but several people assured us it was a bargain. and both babies slept in it for the first little while. they only take up so much room, and twins tend to be smaller…
    the advice about getting the next larger sized clothing is good too. i have heard that from moms, they have tons of newborn stuff, so much that the baby outgrows it before it can all be worn.
    ok. enough from me.

  9. ElkoSteve says

    I’m going to second the carseat with the cupholders.

    You’re also going to need a minivan.

    • ElkoSteve says

      Not carseat, stroller. Though a carseat with cupholders would be cool if you could train the little goobers to use them.

      • The carseat with cup holders won’t be really necessary for a few years. It is great for vehicles where the back seat cupholders aren’t reachable by a kid in a car seat, though. My daughter is 7, and she is only just now able to reach the car’s built-in cup holders. The ‘flip-down’ cup holders in her booster seat have served well for many years now.

        Also, I second (third?) the stroller with cup holders. Two of ’em. One to hold the kid’s “sippy cup”, one to hold your adult beverage. (Coffee! I meant coffee!)

  10. Michelle says

    As a mom of two (though not at the same time) I can say YOU DON’T NEED ALL THE STUFF!

    Start with the important things and add stuff later if you find you ACTUALLY need it.

    Important things:
    something to put the babies in (clothes)
    carseats if you want to leave the hospital
    a few blankets
    maybe a crib (my friend with twins says you can get away with one for a while)
    and a TON of rags that they will puke on (seriously….the puke thing is out of control)
    you don’t need fancy any of this, gently used will save you a ton of $

    Registries are part of the huge industrial baby complex. If people ask you what you need ask for diapers, dinners, or gift cards. You will find what works for you and your new family, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re doing it wrong. At first it’s just a matter of survival…’ll get through it without a diaper pail. (:

  11. Don’t forget, you’re actually allowed to buy stuff after the the babies are born. It’s actually kind of nice to have a reason to leave the house.


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