Most of us are familiar with the series of articles and books Eat This, Not That! offering alternatives to your favorite foods, and while browsing through one recently (they have one specifically for pregnant moms that you might want to check out if you are getting educated on pregnancy nutrition), I had a brilliant idea. Why not do something similar for expecting parents putting together their baby registries? And in that moment, Add This, Not That was born.
But before we get too far down the baby products rabbit hole, let me first get the disclaimers and credentials out of the way.
DISCLAIMER: I am writing this series of blog posts to help parents and parents-to-be. That’s all. No company has paid me to talk about any of these products and the anecdotes and opinions are solely my own based on my personal experience as a mommy.
CREDENTIALS: And why should you even listen to what I have to say? A very valid question and one you should be asking yourself regularly as you prepare to become a new mommy or daddy. You will be bombarded with an onslaught of advice, hacks, recommendations, horror stories and opinions before and after your little one arrives. Every family is different, and therefore has different needs. What worked for me may be a life-saver for you, and maybe it will be useless, but I will do my best to give you my reasons why I suggest certain products and you can decide for yourselves if it might work for your family unit.
- Will someone be staying at home with your little one, or will he or she be going to daycare?
- Why this matters: Most daycares will need you to supply the items your baby will need - bottles, diapers, wipes extra clothes in case of accidents, baby food when they get to that stage, so you should just plan on doubling up on the essentials.
- Do you plan to travel much during the first year?
- Why this matters: If you have family that live far enough away that travel is part of planning any get-togethers or you just a sense of wanderlust, a playard is a great place to put baby to sleep. If you don’t foresee many overnights away from home, though, it may be something you choose to leave off your registry and approach with a “wait and see” attitude - if you need one, it might just be easier to buy one and ship it directly to where you are staying, say Grandma and Grandpa’s house, than haul it through the airport. Just saying.
Do you plan on breastfeeding, bottle-feeding or a combination of both?
- Why this matters: Babies eat. A lot. And frequently. You will want to make sure you are able to anticipate and have milk or formula at the ready before they get fussy, so you need to be prepared with the right tools. Your tool kit will vary depending on how you plan to feed your little one. Will you be breastfeeding exclusively? Bottles will not be something you need to have in bulk, then, and you may not have a need for all of those bottle-feeding accessories, like bottle warmers, drying racks, scrubbing brushes, etc. That said, if you are planning on using formula or pumping exclusively, you will want an assortment of bottles and may even want to ask for a couple different styles as babies have preferences on bottle nipples. If you plan on trying the breastmilk route, do you think pumping will be a daily activity, say if you plan on returning to the workforce after maternity leave, or will pumping be something you might need to do only on occasion, say if you will be away from your baby for a weekend? A hand pump is great and far cheaper than the electric pumps if you are going to be the occasional pumper, but if you will need to do it every day, multiple times a day, an electric pump is the way to go.
What type of sleeping arrangements do you plan to have?
- Why this matters: Each family has different house layouts, schedules, opinions, thoughts, and feelings on where, when and how baby will sleep which will all affect what things you will need. Getting enough sleep is important for everyone in the family, and it isn’t as easy as some people make it out to be. If your little one will be sleeping on the same level as you, you probably won’t need a baby monitor. However, if the floors are creaky, you might want that fancy video baby monitor so you don’t risk a squeaky floorboard rousing your baby from his or her slumber. Do you plan on having your little one sleep in your room for any length of time? A bassinet may be great to have next to your bed for the first few weeks. If you want baby to sleep in the crib from day one, though, you may want to leave that item off the list in favor of some other, more useful items.
Do you plan on using cloth or disposable diapers?
- Why this matters: Just like all of these qualifying questions, this choice determines what you will and won’t need. If you opt for cloth diapers for example, you may want to ask for a year’s worth of diaper laundering services, which typically include cloth diaper rentals as part of the offering. If you want to try out handling the laundry service in-house, you’ll want to stock up on the cloth diapers and covers so you have plenty at the ready. Trust me, you do not want to be without a clean diaper, cloth or disposable, for your little one. Ever.
Using the five key factors above, I would have been:
- Working Mom as I needed to get right back to making an income after maternity, which meant needing to maintain two sets of everything for my home and daycare provider.
- Traveling Mom as my family was almost all out-of-state;
- Combo Feeding mom but exclusively breastmilk, which meant a lot of pumping during the work day
- “Play It By Ear” Sleeping Philosophy Mom as I no idea what kind of method I wanted to use but I did know I wanted everyone in the house to get a good night’s sleep as often as possible
- Disposable Diaper Mom as cloth diapers were not nearly as popular then as they are now and I was not well- educated on the topic at the time.
So take my “mommy profile” into account when you consider my suggested alternatives for the typical things on a baby registry.
And at long last, let’s get into the first entry in my Add This, Not That serie
DO add a “space saver” style high chair :
DON’T add a full-sized one
Yes, the full-sized ones are beautiful pieces of furniture, and yes, the wood grain DOES match your kitchen table perfectly, but trust me, the fifth time you run into it because there’s just no good place to store it in your kitchen when not in use, you will rue the day you asked for such a large piece of baby furniture that you in reality won’t use all that long. The space saving style that straps to a chair is the way to go here.
DO add sleepers with zipper closures
Or even sleeper gowns with elastic at the bottom
DON’T add sleepers with snap closures
Your little one will be making a good 3-5 costume changes a day, and you will likely be sleep-deprived for much of it. Zippers are so much easier to work with when it is the middle of the night and you just want to get the diaper change done and get everyone back to bed. Those snaps, while cheaper to manufacture, were the cause of some pretty close calls in the mommy meltdown department for me personally when I couldn’t get the last snap done while fighting off flailing baby legs and my ears were being accosted by baby girl screams.
DO add prefolded cloth diapers
DON’T add the flannel burp cloth sets
“But, Sarah, they have pink horses/green owls/blue dinosaurs/[insert cute baby animal in an unnatural color here]!” No one is questioning how cute they are, but the flannel material does not stand up to spit up like a cloth diaper. Should you have a strong desire to have a pretty color or design for your burp cloths, companies are starting to come out with burp cloth/bib hybrids that are the same type of material as cloth diapers, so you may be in luck. And for the sake of clarity, you want the cloth diaper, not the waterproof diaper covers for this use case.
DO add a regular old food processor If you plan on trying your hand at making your own baby food
Or just use a food processor or blender you already own if you have one. Side note: does anyone else think that smoothie looks like the pink slime from Ghostbusters 2?
DON’T add one labeled a “baby food maker”
Babies go from drinking milk exclusively to solids pretty quickly, so your baby food making days will be short-lived to begin with. Why not ask for something that you’ll be able to use for more than just that short window of time? The baby food maker kits come with a lot of extras you don’t really need (freezer containers can be replaced with simple ice cube trays which can then be put in ziplock bags) and have a much smaller capacity (usually 2-3 cups versus anywhere from 3 to 12+ cups) making it time-consuming to make food in bulk. Plus, you (or your friend or family member) will be paying quite a bit extra (up to double for the same brand) just to buy a product that has a cute smiley face on it.
Breastfeeding (if you plan on trying)
DO add the My Breast Friend
DON’T add a Boppy
While the Boppy isn’t bad and can also be used to support a baby in an inclined position to get a look around or practice “tummy time,” the My Breast Friend was designed specifically for breastfeeding and provides much better support for baby and mommy. The filling of the My Breast Friend is more firm, like a foam mattress, whereas the Boppy has more of a pillow/beanbag type filling, and the shape of the My Breast Friend is designed to align your baby’s head for proper latching. Improper latching results in less milk for baby and pain and discomfort for mommy. If you are planning on doing a lot of feeding from the breast as opposed to pumping, I highly recommend the My Breast Friend - your lower back and your nipples will thank me.
In the next installment of Add This, Not That, I will go over what most expecting families don’t even think to ask for when making a gift registry but will make parent life so much easier. In the meantime, I’m happy to hear any feedback and/or answer any questions you want to post in the comments section below.
Until next time!
Sarah Stapp is the creator of LatherMitts and mommy to a sassy 6 year old girl. She's originally from Houston, Texas, and has lived in Chicago for over a decade but refuses to adjust to the cold. After 6 years in the startup space after 6 in management, Sarah is trying out the titles of inventor and entrepreneur. Sarah loves hot yoga, trying new vegan recipes, GoT and anything relating to eco-innovation; if you want to hear more musing from Sarah, follow her on Twitter @sarah_stapp, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.