Dear Pre-Baby Me:
Shopping for a new baby will be overwhelming.
Google “what to buy for a new baby” and you will come up with approximately three hundred quadrillion results. Your browser history will be peppered with articles like “Newborn Essentials You Can’t Live Without!”, “952 Items You Absolutely Must Buy Before Your Baby Is Born,” and “If You Neglect To Purchase This One Weird Thing, Your Child is Doomed to a Life of Neverending Sadness and Failure (What Happens Next Will Blow You Away!)” Despite all this research, you won’t be any closer to having the perfect checklist.
Feeling lost, you’ll look to your friends for guidance. They might help you narrow things down, but they’ll mostly just contradict one another. The perfect checklist does not exist.
My advice? Buy nothing. Or at least buy as little as possible.
There are some things you will need before the baby is born: a carseat, diapers, wipes, and something for the baby to sleep in (HAHAHAHAHA sleep. Riiiight.). As for clothing, you can rely mainly on hand-me-downs — assuming you’re willing to dress your daughter in outfits emblazoned with cute sayings like “Princess Kittenboogers” and “Ladies’ Man In Training.” You might also want to buy a couple of onesies yourself, though, because onesies are adorable.
But most of what you think you’ll need … you won’t.
What not to buy for your new baby
Take, for instance, baby swings. People will tell you that every new baby needs a swing. “It was a lifesaver for us,” your fellow parents will gush. So you’ll head to the store and pick out a cute little number: swingy and cushy, with a twinkly-but-not-annoying music box and a classy, gender-neutral colour scheme. Once your baby arrives, you’ll lovingly place her in it when your arms need a rest.
That’s when the shrieking will start.
It turns out not all babies like swings. Some babies insist on being held. Not held while sitting, though, and definitely not cuddled — perish the thought. Some babies must be held in an outward-facing position, several inches away from your body, at a 76.2-degree angle, while you stand there gently bouncing them. NO, NOT LIKE THAT. YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T YOU DARE PUT THEM IN THAT CUSHY TWINKLY DEATH MACHINE.
So much for the swing.
The swing won’t be the only thing you regret buying. You’ll also convince yourself that you must procure a stroller before your baby is born. You’ll salivate over a $1000 model, but the last thing you need right now is a second mortgage. Instead, you’ll settle on the perfect mid-range model: small, light, and maneuverable. You’ll request this specific model as a gift from your parents, going so far as to send them explicit purchasing instructions, because you are an insufferable shit. Your parents are weirdly obedient considering you’re not the boss of them, so they’ll humour you.
To your dismay, when your perfect stroller is laden with the weight of a carseat, a diaper bag, and a small human, it will handle like a three-wheeled shopping cart. This lack of maneuverability will render the small footprint useless. Not only that, but the suspension will suck — to the point where you can’t roll it over a crack in the sidewalk without spilling your coffee. You’ll curse the day you selected this beast, but you’ll have to use it because it’ll be too late to return it.
Maybe that second mortgage isn’t such a bad idea after all.
A high chair
And then there’s the high chair. You’ll acquire this well in advance, having run out of ideas well before your in-laws stop asking for wish-list items. You’ll find an adorable one at the store — green and gray, with owls on it — and you’ll request that. What could possibly go wrong?
It seems reasonable to assume that a piece of furniture upon which an infant is meant to consume food wouldn’t feature a fabric cover that must be washed on the gentle cycle and hung to dry. But it turns out some do. This includes the one you will choose for your child.
Seriously, what were you thinking? And who had the bright idea to let you pick things out, anyway? You clearly have no idea what you’re doing.
Pretty much everything else you think you’ll need, other than the bare essentials
I could go on and on: from the pacifiers your kid will refuse to take, to the seasonally-inappropriate outfits she’ll never wear, to the gorgeous wraps she’ll detest being carried in, you’re going to buy and/or request a lot of useless crap. You’ll also be stuck with the guilt of not enjoying the carefully chosen, lovingly purchased, exactly-what-you-wanted gifts from your family and friends.
If I were you (and I am), I’d save myself the trouble: just get a crib and a carseat, ask friends and family for diapers, and worry about the rest later. Baby stores aren’t going out of business anytime soon, and they’ll be just as eager to take your money after the baby comes. At least then you’ll get what you really need.
Your friend and mentor,