Lots of people give you suggestions for what to buy when you’re pregnant. And there are loads of sample registry lists out there — I received a number of helpful lists from relatives and friends. But what is less common (I think) is suggestions for what not to buy. Not because a given item is bad or unhelpful, but in the event that you either have limited funds or limited space, you may need to make tradeoffs. For instance, I am concerned about space constraints in a small urban apartment. So I wanted to be a bit more scrutinizing of every object I brought into our home, knowing it would all add up.
Let me preface this by saying that I know that plenty of people find each of these items really useful, and some might even put them on their ‘can’t-live-without-it’ list. That’s totally fine, and I completely respect that. No judgment, just sharing how it played out for me. Each person needs to decide for themselves what they do or don’t want or need, and what they can or cannot afford or store.
Here’s what I didn’t buy, and why:
Nursing pillow– A pillow that wraps around you, on which the baby can rest while breastfeeding. The most popular are the Boppy and My Brest Friend. I am exclusively breastfeeding and hope to do so for six months, so you would think this is a reasonable purchase. And people rave about them, so I definitely don’t want to deny their utility. My main concern was having a large pillow that only had one use, and which would be bulky/awkward to store. I’m also returning to work after 16 weeks, so I will be pumping quite a bit at that point. I wondered if I could use some combination of regular pillows under baby and achieve a similar effect. I did borrow a My Brest Friend to try it out, just in case. It was somewhat helpful early on for night feeds when I was super exhausted. But other than that, I found it just as easy to use one or more pillows and prop them under her. I also enjoy side lying position for breastfeeding, which obviates the need for any pillow.
Bumbo– A little seat to use during the period when babies can hold their head up independently, but not sit upright on their own. The time period when this is useful is so short — we’re talking maybe 2 months. But baby is still sleeping 15+ hours a day, so their awake-but-not-feeding time (i.e., time when they could just be chillin sitting up) is very short. And again on where to store an awkward shaped plastic item. In my mind, it’s very borrowable-from-a-friend during the window when it’s useful.
Baby bathtub– A dedicated object into which you can place baby for a bath. There are loads of varieties, and some even fold down relatively compact. But most are big bulky plastic items. Though I completely appreciate that many baby bathtubs are designed to make it easier to bathe a slippery squirmy baby, we have found our kitchen sink is perfectly reasonable while baby is little. Others have shared with me that they put a towel down in the bathtub and filled it a few inches, which we’ll try out as she grows. If you don’t have either a decently large sink, or a tub (e.g., you have a stall shower), this would definitely be a more useful purchase.
Swing/bouncer/exersaucer– Various options for baby to either lay down, play or bounce in. I think the utility of any of these depends on the individual baby. And because I neither knew what this baby would want, nor was I convinced that we couldn’t accommodate the need to get energy out or be entertained other (less space consuming) ways, I opted not to purchase any of these. Baby is still quite little, so we very well may get to the point where we want to try something, but I at least held off initially.
High chair– Not much to say here other than we opted for a seat that straps onto an existing chair, rather than a fully dedicated chair, again to more efficiently use our space.
Travel system stroller– A stroller into which your car seat attaches. This was purely a decision based on space and our lifestyle, plus having a fall baby — I know many whose situation makes this an essential item. Before babies can hold their head up, they can’t use a regular stroller, so often people have one that pairs with their car seat. For us, I thought I would be more likely to wear baby in a carrier than use a stroller if I went on a walk, or on the metro and out and about in the city. Through winter, realistically we wouldn’t be outside taking walks that often, and by the time we would, baby would be able to sit upright in a stroller. So, we purchased two types of carriers, and an umbrella stroller for when she’s bigger, and that has worked well.
Baby hygiene kit– An all-in-one package of grooming and hygiene items. It is useful in that you cover a lot of bases at once. But any given item may not be quite what you want (e.g., the ‘right’ pacifier for your baby), something you will be given elsewhere (e.g., you’ll likely get a bulb syringe from the hospital), or just a mediocre version of that item (e.g., a mediocre thermometer and you want a higher quality one). This wasn’t really a matter of space or even money, just something that didn’t seem necessary.
Clothing, books, or toys– This is not entirely true. I did buy a items of clothing, but it was only to fill in holes from what we received as gifts. I only put this here at the end to note that people looooove to gift these items, and you’ll almost certainly receive oodles of these. For instance, we received nearly 100 books (though we are book worms, so that’s not surprising). I did register for a few things I wanted in each of these categories, but for the most part I found that people just bought whatever they wanted, and I spent next to no money on acquiring these items.
In closing, let me say again, I know that others receive or buy these things and find them super useful, and that’s great! Each family needs to decide for themselves what is helpful. But faced with a daunting list of ‘to buy’ items (especially for your first baby), if you have limited space or funds, I hope this is at least helpful to provide a few ideas of how to make tradeoffs.