A couple of years ago, a friend sent me an email asking if I had any advice for him. His first baby was just around the corner; I was about 2 years into mine. He was wondering what baby products we’d found useful. This can be quite an overwhelming topic to tackle as a first-time parent.
I was under a couple of pretty intense deadlines, so of course I spent the next hour ignoring work and typing this for him.
Just off the top of my head:
- Get a stroller with the biggest, most ridiculously huge wheels you can find (air-filled is better than solid rubber is better than plastic) and a seat that reclines all the way back. All other features are bullshit.
- One car seat for each car (or just a snap-in base for each car, in the case of the infant seat) is necessary unless you want to go insane. I am a proponent of getting the cheapest ones possible for each stage instead of stupidly expensive ones that convert and “grow with your child”, a.k.a. have a lot of interlocking plastic parts that break when you try to figure out how to re-interlock them a year after you threw away the instruction manual because you somehow got poop on it.
- You’ll need about 30 total of each stage of pacifier to appease the pacifier gnomes and keep one or two around you can actually find at any given time.
- A little strap that connects a pacifier to the baby’s clothing will help with this, but no solution is completely gnome-proof.
- Get a glass bottle. Maybe two. Plastic melts in the dishwasher and who the hell knows what genre of petroleum-based products will next be discovered to be the worst carcinogen of all time? If you have more than two bottles, you’re just more likely to let breast milk and half-mixed formula sit in them beside the sink and go rancid while you half-consciously trudge around the house looking for pacifiers. Fill, serve, wash, repeat. Keep it simple.
- If I had it to do again, I’d get a video monitor instead of just a sound one. “Honey, wake up. Little johnny made a sound. Do you think he/she is awake? Should we go check?” “I don’t fucking know.”
- The blankets with velcro on them that make swaddling idiot-proof are like little miracles. Sure, when they teach you how to do it at the hospital it seems easy enough, but try it in the dark at 3am with a squirmy 94db baby rebelling against you. There is actually a brand called the miracle blanket or something so, hey, I guess there is some truth in advertising to balance out the car seat propaganda. The good ones have to be mail-ordered and you’ll want them the day you get home so get on it now.
- It may sound gross now, but you need a really expensive breast pump. Don’t cheap out on the only machine you’ll [hopefully] ever purchase to suck a bodily fluid out of you.
- If there are two groups of people who will overpay for things they think they need, those two groups are bicycle enthusiasts and parents. Bike trailers are pretty awesome if you have a bike, and are pretty much the most ridiculously overpriced baby item out there, so think about that early, too.
- Forget bibs that say cute things on them. Get a big rubber one with a trough at the bottom to catch food. Yes, they make bibs with included troughs, and they are awesome.
Baby products that are stupid
- Electrical plug covers. You know what’s next to that nifty little white outlet cover? The cord from your lamp, which is so easy to pull out of the socket a freaking infant could do it. You know who is most frustrated by electrical outlet safety covers? You, because every time you want to plug your laptop in you bend a fingernail back trying to pry the damn thing free while your infant child is behind you pulling your precious macbook off the table with the mouse cord.
- Shoes with hard soles for kids who can’t walk or are just learning to walk. This isn’t China during the Ming Dynasty. Forcing people to wear inappropriate footwear just because you think it’s cute is unacceptable and may in fact make you a Communist. Let the kid use his/her toes. They’re useful.
- Parenting books and magazines. You will love your kid. You will make mistakes. He/she will develop just fine. Don’t let sanctimonious pseudo-parents project their guilty wishful thinking about their own flawed children onto you. Want advice on a specific thing? Go ahead and Google it. But don’t sit around and just flip through glossy photos and fairy tales until you find some writer claiming you’re doing something wrong or your kid isn’t achieving his/her milestones fast enough. Fuck them. Yes he/she is. He/she is fine.
- Toys that make noise that don’t have a volume control.
- Baby Einstein videos for infants. Guess what? You’ll have to watch them, too, and they are like bad acid trips.
I hope that helps somewhat.
P.S. (Matt is now a super famous Austin stay-at-home dad (SAHD) blogger and republished this as “The One Parenting List to Rule Them All”, which was pretty dope of him.)