For all of you breeders out there, here is a list that you may or may not find useful. For all of my non-breeder friends, you can safely ignore most of what follows, unless you want to get together to buy baby gifts for people. A lot of the stuff you get for your breeding friends ends up to be useless. Well…maybe not useless. But certainly not as useful as we all think it might be. I don’t want that to sound really rude, but often times, we say, “what do you need?” and as new parents, we’re reticent to say “seven hours of sleep, not another rattle”.
A list of indispensable things:
Cloth diapers and washable (not rubber) overpants, if the breeders are into cloth diapers.
Paper disposable diapers, if the breeders aren’t interested in doing that much laundry.
A subscription to a diaper service, if the breeders are planning to use one.
A weekly visit from a housecleaning service, for a year.
A breast pump (ask Mum what kind she wants)*
Some mums like ‘nursing shields’ – a hunk of fabric she can drape over her shoulder and that snaps around her neck for modesty when nursing.
A baby nail-trimming kit. Those little buggers have sharp little nails.
A “white noise” generator (babies do not like quiet rooms)
Swaddling blankets (swaddling blankets are not the same as ‘receiving blankets’)
A sling (*not* a front-carry contraption that forces baby’s legs apart) or wrap
A really good baby monitor
Motorized rocking/swing chair (New mums, there is NOTHING WRONG WITH LETTING BABY SLEEP IN THE SWING CHAIR)
A really good tote bag. Lots of the ‘diaper bags’ being sold on the market today are, if you’ll pardon my language, the shits. They’re unwieldy, they fall apart, and the change pad inside them is less than useless. There are some really nice backpack-style change bags on the market. Some of them feature pockets for laptops, etc.. You want to look for one that has a pocket for dirty clothes, a pocket for at least one change of clean clothes, and a pocket away from the dirty clothes for the breast pump and/or for bottles of breast milk (many of the baby bags have insulated pockets to keep the bottles cool. Mum can warm the bottles between her enormous, engorged, and luscious breasts; Dad can warm the bottles between his strong arm and his warm and solid side). Some bags might also have areas for other things like wallets, day planners, etc..
Rather than using wet wipes, a few small, soft cloths or rags pre-moistened and put in a ziploc bag will be far easier on baby’s skin, and on the wallet. Just please, for the love of all that’s holy, remember to toss them in the ‘warsh’ when you get home.
Newborns do not need bibs, usually. Burp blankets, maybe
Older babies (6 months +)
A food mill
soft-soled shoes or moccasins (like Robeez). Hard-soled shoes impede baby’s mobility and balance
Hard plastic utensils with large handles
A pair of sunglasses with a strap rather than arms
Swimming suit with liner
Chair that either attaches to regular chairs, to the table, or that will convert and ‘grow’ with baby. Highchairs are awful, horrible things that only serve a purpose for about three months before baby gets cheesed off and wants to sit in the big people chairs.
Bibs. Oh Dear God, Bibs. Do not buy bibs that have no opening at the neck (ie – bibs that ‘pull over’ the head like a shirt). These only serve to mash MORE food into baby’s face, hair, and neck. They will also ensure you get most of baby’s lunch on your own self. The best bibs are ones that have a liquid-resistant liner, but which are not the hard plastic kind. You also want fairly big bibs.
I’m a really big advocate of teaching kids the proper way to handle stairs rather than resorting to/relying on baby gates. Like many things, baby gates are a tool, and if we rely too much on the tool, it’s dangerous. I’m also really not a fan of leashes for children.
If you’ve purchased a sling or wrap for your breeders, they will be able to use the sling or wrap, rather than godawful and annoying strollers, until their kids are five or six (I can still carry The Nipper in his sling, on my back, quite comfortably, and he’s six). I HATED our strollers. They’re never the right height for the person pushing them, they never fit anywhere, and they take up stupid amounts of space. And once your kid starts walking, good bloody luck trying to get the little beggars to stay in them.
I’m going to argue that a really good pair of sunglasses are *imperative* for toddlers. Hats for sunny weather also. People need to be exposed to *some* sunlight (particularly winter babies), so stave off the six million SPF sunblock for fifteen or twenty minutes if you’re out in the sun.
The really good change bag is super important when you have toddlers, because you’re going to need a change of clothes sometimes.
The key to toddlers is that they are always dirty. ALWAYS.
I also want to point out that everyone rushes to get the really cute, little tiny baby things for new babies. We breeders always end up with craploads of tiny things that baby grows out of in a year. Toddler clothes and older baby clothes are always welcome. I also strongly advise against the retarded bows and flowers on elastics that people strap on to their baby girls’ heads. They look retarded. So. There’s nothing wrong, IMO, about getting stuff that older and bigger babies will use. In fact, before my mother died, she bought a bunch of stuff for The Captain to wear until he was eight or ten. That was very touching, and very welcome.
A list of some things that I rarely, if ever, used
Baby tub. Our monsters always bathed or showered with me, and it was lovely. Or they bathed in the sink. I think I used the baby tub twice with each sprog.
‘bouncy chair’. Some folks said their kids loved them. We never, ever used ours. Not even once.
Crib liners (those stupid padded things that go around the inside of the crib. Bloody death-traps, those things)
Cuddly toys (I spent rather a long time plucking the eyes and noses off of every teddy bear my crazy grandmother kept giving us. I recently filled a huge bin with all of our cuddly stuffy toys and took them to a women’s shelter)
Socks, except handmade. Why wear socks if you’re wearing moccasins all day?
Hair grooming kits. Seriously!? They’re BABIES. They’re SUPPOSED to look like muppets.
Pablum. Ick. Horrible stuff. Babies like fruit, veggies, and brown rice and oatmeal. A good general rule of thumb is that if you won’t eat it, you shouldn’t expect your baby to (this is where the food mill comes in. UTTERLY INDISPENSABLE. Babies got to eat the same things we did, from meat to carrots).
Bubble bath/soaps/shampoos. Most are heavily scented and are harsh on baby’s skin. Let Mum and Dad choose these things.
Plastic toys. Waste of money. Kids like cardboard boxes, wrapping paper, and cloth and wooden toys. They don’t break, they don’t leach weird chemicals, and they last way longer.
Toys that make noise. Most of the time, the volume levels on these things are so high that they actually cause hearing damage. NICE. Although I am thinking of giving drum kits to some of my friends with older kids…
*I make no apologies about not advocating for giving new mums formula, because I believe that formula is Not Good for babies. In the extremely rare case where a mum cannot produce enough milk for baby, homemade formula is easy, cheap, and far healthier than the crap put out by ‘big pharma’. There are also human milk banks you can access. If your breeder cannot produce enough milk, you may want to consider getting them a subscription/membership/account with a milk bank.