My husband and I are expecting our first baby, and the advice we've received about what we "must have" has been overwhelming to say the least. The general perception seems to be that babies require stuff. But without a consensus of what is necessary, many parents attempt to have it all.
We don't want to have it all.
It's not that we think we know more than those who have been there before us; we merely strive to live simply and believe that having a baby does not have to change that.
We (okay, I really mean "I," but the husband is beginning to get on board) research and mull over purchases prior to committing: Will this conserve or better our time? Our relationships? Our health? Our budget? The planet? If the answer to one or some questions is no, then I often avoid buying or using the product in question. Baby items are no different.
We are not in denial that there are things that a baby requires. She needs a place to sleep, for instance. But does she need six places to sleep? After purchasing a crib, we received offers for a Moses basket, a co-sleeper, a bouncy seat, a swing, and a Pack 'N Play. Although I know that she will not sleep soundly in her crib from day one, I also know we'd rather focus our energy on getting her to sleep in one place than trying to navigate six options.
How have we avoided the onslaught of gifts?
We've simply turned down offers humbly, explaining that we've received most of what we need secondhand. We have also accepted but donated to a local women's shelter a few gifts that we know we won't use.
Rather than agreeing to a family baby shower, we have opted to plan a meet-the-baby party once she has arrived. Several friends who each offered to throw me a shower happily agreed to join forces with friends and help us cover our biggest up-front expense: cloth diapers. In lieu of a work shower, I suggested that coworkers each bring a favorite children's book to a casual get-together.
We've learned that friends and family are happy to celebrate in non traditional ways; sometimes they just need ideas.
As first time parents, how do we know what we need?
We don't. Like all new parents, we will be playing it by ear, scrambling to learn what works and what doesn't. We do know that we don't have to do so under an avalanche of baby stuff. We also know that Target will still be open after she's born.
We have the bare necessities: clothing, a place to sleep, bottles, diapers, a blanket or two, a car seat, and a loving family. And we have ensured that she'll be surrounded by beauty, design, and literature as well. But our hope is that, by starting the new baby journey without all of the "must haves," we will learn to get along without them.
MORE BABY "MUST HAVES" ON APARTMENT THERAPY:
• What Are Your Nursery Must-Haves?
• Nursery Nevers: Products You'd Never Purchase Again
• Good Questions: "Must Have" Items You Don't Need
• Good Questions: Tried and True Baby Essentials Recommendations
(Image: Lauren Pavao)