There are a million useless products out there these days, and it seems most of them are for babies and/or pets. shoes for infants, sweaters for dogs, toys for cats... ok maybe some of them aren't SO useless. I can understand cat toys, they do seem to love the boxes they come with. In general, however, we mothers and pet owners seem to have "easy mark" tattooed on our foreheads. To help with this, I've decided to put together a little list: things you think you need, things I hope no one thinks they need, things you don't actually need but might want, and things you really do actually need.
For me, this falls into the "things you might want" category. You might want it more if you have a boy. Boys have a tendency to imitate famous art when they get cold in the groinal region, and a warm wipe can both discourage and redirect the pee fountain.
Oh wow do I love our infant seat. We may have overused it, and L. Itsababy doesn't respond to it quite the way he used to (he used to just pass out, now he's alert, but content for ten minutes or so) but there is nothing like having a safe and secure place where you can put the baby down for a few minutes. It's lightweight, so you can take it into the bathroom if you need to, or if you just need to... well... blog.... or something. Not necessary, but highly recommended.
Need them, if you plan to work, or have any alone time. I have a few bottles of breastmilk in the freezer. Always. You never know what's going to happen, and being prepared is essential. You might get stuck at work for a few extra hours, you might end up in the hospital, you might win free non-transferable tickets to a concert and have a willing grandparent-slash-babysitter. The point is you need them, even if you're not feeding formula, unless you really are planning on staying home every day all day for the next 9 months to two years. A variety of nipples to go with them is also important.
You don't need these. They're essentially pillows that you put the baby on in order to make him/her feel like s/he's being held. Most notably useless is the zaky, a stuffed hand-shaped pillow. Seriously? Just hold your baby. unless you can make the thing sing, jiggle, and change a diaper, it's not going to work for very long.
ok. yeah, they're cute sounding and when you look at them in the store they look ESSENTIAL. But hey, remember that wipe we were talking about earlier? Hey check that out, it does the same thing!
Crib Bedding Sets
No. Just.... no. You can't use most of it on an infant, and when you finally CAN use it, you're going to be so very over the amount of washing it'll take to keep it all together as a unit, and you could have just bought some separates and saved a ton of cash.
Waterproof Sheets and Pads
Um, yes please. In fact, I heard a fabulous idea the other day, which I plan on implementing ASAP: Layers. Waterproof pad, sheet, waterproof pad, sheet. Then when the kid inevitably wets the bed in the middle of the night you can just pull the top layers off and have the next ones ready for use immediately.
Video Baby Monitor
There's some debate on this one. Obviously, if you're deaf, it's kind of on the "must have" list. But if you're not, it could still be there. Perhaps you have a larger home and would like to be able to visibly check in on your baby without running up the flight of stairs to find out why he's NOT crying. or maybe you just want to be able to check on him with the thing on mute so you can say to yourself "yep, he's crying, but he looks like he's just fussing, let me check the sound... yeahp just fussing, I'll keep an eye on him and check the sound again in a few minutes." They're expensive, and of course not NECESSARY, but if you want one, put it on your registry and if someone buys it for you, score!
Baby Bath Tub
Ummm... do you have a sink? You're probably ok without this then.
How tall and/or agile are you? If you're too tall to comfortably change the baby on the bed or not quite agile enough to be doing it on the floor, you might need one of these. Lord knows I do.
Baby Sound System
Really, America? Is this what we think we need? In-utero sound systems for our babies and baby MP3 players? Not, say, better public education or food for the homeless?
It works rectally, orally, and in the axillary position. You technically don't need it, but trust me, you do. They're in most baby first aid kits, which you should take a look at, price out the individual contents of, and decide if you want to make one or buy one.
Yeah, you probably need this. For a while, at least, your baby won't be sleeping in the crib. If you don't have a bassinet that means s/he'll be in bed with you. Is that REALLY what you want? IS IT!?
And now, a short list of non-essential things that I have found made my life SO much easier:
Pacifiers (I use these)
Swaddle Sacks (again, I use these)
"The Happiest Baby on the Block" DVD
mitten cuff onesies (like these)
Operating Instructions by Anne LaMott
and diapers. I've used two different kinds of diapers. This one and this one. I like them both, for different reasons. The first because it's eco-friendly, available at Babies R Us, and the individual diapers take up comparably less space in a diaper bag; the other because it's less expensive, slightly more available, and has this nifty brainless color-change stripe that turns blue when it's wet.
And now I'm going to push the publish button, because this entry has taken me almost two weeks to write. Hurray baby!