26 weeks, 4 days
I can only assume (but I’m pretty sure) that every new parent wants 2 things:
1. A healthy pregnancy, birth and (duh), baby.
2. To not eff up on the treacherous journey that is raising that child.
The healthy pregnancy, birth and baby is for the most part left to nature and its time-tested methods. As long as mom takes care of herself (barring unforeseen medical or genetic problems) the chances are good that at the end of 9 months there will be a squirmy bundle of neo-natal joy to show off. After that though? The nice doctors and nurses are sending you home with a PERSON that you must RAISE; a helpless creature that is entirely and unquestionably dependent on YOU keeping it ALIVE. TRY NOT TO MESS UP.
As a pre-parent myself, this thought was enough to send me into a pretty significant mind-‘splosion. My solution? Get thee to the googling! I sat down and did some research about what we would need to care for the baby once it arrives.
I have been into my share of baby stores and baby showers, but really, no amount of shopping or showering could have prepared me for what I found.
There is. So. Much. Baby stuff.
Not only is there so much stuff, but there are 80 MILLION iterations of the same product from umpteen companies, they’re for sale at 3000 different locations both online and in-store and everyone (and do I mean EVERYONE) has an opinion about every single one. You could drive yourself absolutely mad trying to compare products based on star ratings, consumer reviews, safety recommendations and monetary value. I felt like I needed a PhD to decide what crib mattress would fit into the crib we registered for (would it be so difficult, Summer Infant, to recommend a particular size or brand? Did the sphincters of your entire legal team clench at that suggestion?) and then I couldn’t fathom why the crib conversion kit (sold separately) apparently doesn’t even exist online.
And that’s just the stuff that’s just for the baby. The mommy and daddy products, the gifts, the supplies, the recipes and the parenting advice? Mind-boggling in their similarities, differences and abundance.
The most frustrating thing is the sheer volume of sometimes subtle but oft blatant fear-mongering one has to wade through. All parents want products that won’t harm their children. Marketing departments far and wide are cheerfully capitalizing on that fact, my friends.
So. What’s a new parent to do? I’ll admit that my initial gut reaction was to curl into a ball and weep. I decided that the best thing to do would be to take the internet recommendations with a grain of salt (which I’m finding is so often necessary) and to turn to my friends and family for their advice. I have a few friends who are recent and/or seasoned moms themselves. Since I know them and know that their children are alive, happy and generally well, I took comfort in the visible proof that they had to be doing/had done something right.
Here are my brief tips for braving the scary world that is shopping for baby stuff:
1. Get a general idea.
Start by trusting yourself and make a list without immediately turning to Google. I am willing to bet that you’ll surprise yourself with your instinctual knowledge and innate parenting savvy. Once that is done, see what your family/friends and the intertubes have to say and make corrections and additions.
2. Ask someone you trust.
Personal recommendations are immeasurably more valuable than what JaydensMommy3940939 has to say on Amazon.
3. Make mistakes, but then be ok with it.
News flash guys: You’re going to make mistakes, you will not be perfect, and that is entirely ok. You’ll probably buy some things that are totally useless or complete garbage. You might just as easily stumble upon some invaluable gem too! As long as you learned from the experience, it was a successful experience.
4. Try not to freak.
Babies are forgiving and not known for holding grudges. Just this weekend, I dressed my 2 year old niece and put both of her shirts AND her diaper on entirely backwards (managed to get the diaper issue straightened out myself…real proud of me?) and she didn’t judge me for it a bit; she just smiled all googly-eyed at me and said “Ari happy!”
Seriously, who can get down on themselves for long with that kind of pint-sized cheering squad?