& shopping for that special soon-to-be-someone

Becoming an expert on parenting is probably the easiest thing ever. Here’s the process:

  1. Have a kid.

And that’s it. At least that’s what people who don’t have kids think. So it must be true. Occasionally we get asked by our non-parent friends about stuff. Especially when they have other pregnant friends about to have a shower and want to find a gift. They want our advice. Because we’re experts. Of course.

And of course, what we always tell them is to get something on the register. If it’s their first kid, chances are they didn’t know what the hell they were doing when they registered. They wandered the store with a dazed look on their faces, zapping everything that sounded vaguely useful with the presents gun*. They were clueless. Doesn’t matter. Get them something they asked for.

*Been there, done that.

Sometimes, though, people go and make their registries online and nothing they picked is available in the store and you waited till the day before the shower to shop and damn if you’re going to spend $78 for overnight shipping on a 2-pack of baby bottles. So what do you do?

Well, friend, I’m here to help you out. Or if you’ve found yourself carrying your first parasite and don’t know what to put on that registry, I’m here to help you out. Or, since it’s Christmas shopping season, I’m here to help you find a gift for that special rugrat in your life. This is a full-service blog for everyone. Tell your friends.

Over the past five-plus months, we actually have figured out a couple things about parenting. And we’ve come up with a few items to suggest to people that Squatch can’t live without. Enjoy.

ShowerGifts

Squatch’s Baby Gift Guide

I’ve tried including a range of things no matter your budget, and I even threw in a few to stay away from at the end.

Rock n Play Sleeper—This is the one thing we suggest to people the most. Squatch slept in it the first six weeks of his life. He still occasionally takes naps in it. He hangs out in it. It’s been an amazing life-saver. This is probably the smartest thing we included on our registry and definitely the greatest thing invented by God and bestowed upon mankind. Half swing, half bassinet, half rocking chair, all genius.

Target sells them for between $50-$60. They’re available other places, too.

SwaddlesAden & Anais Swaddle Blankets, Burp Cloths, and Security Blankets—They’re kinda pricey compared to other stuff, true. But they’re pretty cute for one thing. And they’re pretty handy for another. For instance, the blankets are nice and lightweight. Karli was extremely paranoid about Squatch smothering himself in the middle of the night, so she put every one of the blankets we got over her face to see if she could breathe through them. These were the only ones that passed her test, so Squatch has spent most of his life wrapped in one of these bad boys up to this point. The burp cloths are huge (and can handle a lot of baby puke), and they even have snaps on the back so they can double as a bib. The security blankets are Squatch’s favorite thing ever. But yeah—pricey.

Swaddle Blankets—$35 for a four-pack; Burp Cloths—$10 apiece; Security Blankets—$16 for a two-pack.
OrganizerKoala Baby Closet Organizer Set—Any brand is cool, really. We got this kind because it came with an over-the-door thingy, too, which has come in pretty handy. You can fit a whole lot of stuff into the closet with this stuff. If your friends and family are anything like ours, you’ll need that space. You’ll be amazed how quickly kids can go through clothes, bed sheets, blankets and everything else that can’t just be wiped down. Especially those first few weeks when you haven’t quite gotten the hang of diapering them. Don’t judge. It will happen to you.

Babies R Us has them for about $50. If you don’t get the whole set, individual parts are cheaper, obviously.

SwaddleMe Wraps—Holy crap, these things are infinitely easier than trying to wrap a blanket around a screaming, flailing poop machine. The SwaddleMe wraps were one of the keys to getting Squatch to sleep through the night. They’ve got velcro to keep the kid bundled up tight and there’s no guess work as to where things go. No need to be an origami genius or Chipotle employee to get them together. I can say, without irony or exaggeration, that all three of us have survived to now because of these.

They run between $12-$16 at Babies R Us. More than one is nice because—y’know—pee.

Books—All of them. Books are just awesome. Squatch has a ton now. And it’s still not enough. Infant books. Board books. Soft books. Bathtime books. Picture books. Chapter books. New books. Used books. Doesn’t matter. Books are good*.

*This paragraph brought to you by literacy. And five cups of coffee.

Prices vary. If you didn’t know that, it’s probably taken you about an hour-and-a-half to read this far because you’re five years old. Good for you, buddy. Keep going.

Homemade Stuff—It really is pretty nice to get things that you spent time working on yourself. Even if you suck at it. Really. Chances are, though, that if you’re sitting down to make something, you probably don’t suck at it. We’ve gotten a cool blanket from one of Karli’s law school friends and another that my mother-in-law knitted. We got quilts from different people and a play-blanket thing made from vintage clown cloth that’s pretty cool, despite my irrational fear of clowns. My cousin’s wife sent us some burp cloths she made that we’re almost too ashamed to use for their intended purpose because they’re so nice. Karli’s cousin made a sling for carrying him around in. We like them all. The personal touch is nice. Beware clothing, however. More on that later.

Price depends on what you’re making it out of. I don’t recommend diamonds or ivory. Unless you’re loaded.

Karli would also probably like me to mention BabySteals.com. She signed up for the emails and gets all kinds of helpful stuff sent to her inbox every day. Not all of it is crap that we’ll buy, but sometimes she finds a pretty good deal on cool stuff. You’re welcome, Internet.

In addition to several good ideas, there are also some things to stay away from. Some are because they’ll never get used, some are because they’ll be returned on the way home from the baby shower, and some are because you don’t want to drown them in 20 of the same dame thing.

Disclaimer: This applies to stuff NOT on the registry. If they have these things listed, it’s fair game. Get it. Otherwise, restrain yourself, genius.

That leads us to:

The Don’t List

Pacifiers—This may seem like a brilliant idea. Pacifiers, however, are the single most useless baby shower gift out there, even for parents who aren’t against their kids using them. Why, you ask? Well, we bought some for Squatch before he was born. They were adorable and wonderful and supposed to be good for their dental growth or whatever. He hates them. Won’t use them. He likes the brand that the people at the hospital stuck in his gob when he was a day old. Won’t use anything else. So all those other ones are worthless. Might as well have tossed the money out on the highway. We have friends whose kid only likes the kind you can stick your finger in. Every kid is different and you don’t know. Don’t fall into the pacifier trap.

Bottles—Pretty similar to pacifiers. If they didn’t register for it, don’t buy it.

Clothing—Clothing is tricky. If you don’t know the parents’ taste, chances are it’ll end up back at the store. If you don’t know the baby’s gender, you’re playing a guessing game with most stuff these days. On the one hand, it almost seems like you can never have enough clothes those first few months. On the other hand, that’s because a lot of the ugly clothes you got from well-meaning folks are things you dress the baby in if he looks like he’s about to blow. If you’re buying stuff for someone else’s baby, just do them a favor and skip the clothes section.

Toys—I know, I know. They’re fun. You want to get a fun gift. But really, you want to help the new parent out more, right? For the first several months, toys are just keeping the furniture from floating away. Squatch gets more joy out of his blanket than just about anything else. Babies don’t need a vast selection of toys to keep them entertained. One is probably fine. None is probably fine, too. If you want to buy toys, wait till the kid’s birthday.

Bath Stuff—Seriously, we got about 243 effing washcloths, 44 hooded towels, and 17 bottles of soap and shampoo. Most of it got taken back. It’s not that babies don’t need bath stuff. It’s that hopefully not all parents are cleaning the Baby Army* five times a day.

*Would that be the Infantry? Sorry, I couldn’t just let that sit there. I feel dirty.

This Thing—That voice will haunt my nightmares forever.

How about other parents out there? Any other suggestions that made your first few months easier? Anything that was a gift-giving disaster waiting to happen?

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27 thoughts on “& shopping for that special soon-to-be-someone

  1. Holy crap, these things are infinitely easier than trying to wrap a blanket around a screaming, flailing poop machine. The SwaddleMe wraps were one of the keys to getting Squatch to sleep through the night. They’ve got velcro to keep the kid bundled up tight and there’s no guess work as to where things go. No need to be an origami genius or Chipotle employee to get them together. I can say, without irony or exaggeration, that all three of us have survived to now because of these. I would have sold a kidney for one of these. Not my own kidney, of course–perhaps one that belonged to Name Redacted, but, I’d have sold a kidney. Added points for best description of trying to wrap a baby ever.

    What do I give? Stuff on the registry plus a little gift for an older child if that child is a toddler. Some times, I throw in a gift for the mom if this is one of many children for her–she’ll have tons of stuff for the baby, and deserves to have a pretty something for herself.

    Reply
    • We’re keeping score?! I’d have been trying harder if I knew there were points involved.

      I’d think by the fourth or fifth kid, parents would be registering for minivans and coffeemakers.

      Reply
  2. I learned with every single kid I had that you can never have too many baby blankets, the lightweight receiving ones. Kids urp on them, they get dropped on the floor. It’s always nice to have that little force field protecting them from icky surfaces, and having a clean one to grab in an emergency is dandy!

    Bottles are such a waste of space. Shoes were never worn. Hats, forget about it. Nothing that requires batteries came in our front door.

    Reply
    • Squatch digs the Sleep Sheep, too, when he’s not able to have his other white noise machine going. His room sounds a little bit like a rainforest some days.

      Reply
  3. Oh c’mon. Admit it. This is just you not-so-inconspicuously suggesting things you want your blog readers to buy for *YOU* this Xmas.

    -Dd

    Reply
  4. Totally second you on the Rock and Play and the swaddlers. They are both 100% indispensable in those first months, and I don’t know what we would have done without either.

    Some people may disagree with me on this one, but I wish people had actually given us more clothe diapers. Especially in the beginning when you’re trying to figure out what will work best as far as diapering goes, it’s nice to have a variety of brands and styles to experiment with before you make a big investment on what finally works.

    Also, hang in there with the pacifiers. C was not a fan of any of them at all until she was about 6.5MO, and now she will pretty much take any of them.

    Reply
    • Rock n Play + SwaddleMe = Magic Sleepy Time = Happy Parents

      It’s the commutative property of parenting.

      Squatch uses a pacifier, but only at naptime/bedtime, and only the one brand. Which is fine by me.

      Reply
  5. We received a used Boppy, oh man! Doodle loved hanging out in that thing! Naps, “tummy” time, just chillin’. We also got an incline thing for under his mattress. That helped so much, especially whenever he was stuffy. He needed a little training on that, though. We often walked in to him sideways at the bottom of the incline. 🙂

    Reply
  6. Us poor shits in Canada have a hell of a time acquiring the “Rock n’ Play Sleeper”. However, once you convince Fisher Price in the US to ship it to you and you pay out the ass for it, yes your child will sleep and you the parent can stop drinking your sleeplessness away.

    My two cents to add as far as baby gifts go, is a doosy. It is “Lovey’s tushie stick” I cannot say ENOUGH about this product. It is all natural, made in BC (rah rah Canada) and is AWESOME. Can be used in cloth diapers as well as disposible and I swear my kid (the poop machine of ALL poop machines) has never had any kind of rash and it smells just lovely. I swear by this stuff. http://www.loveys.ca. Do yourselves a favour and look this up.

    As far as everything else you say, I agree whole heartedly. You must be a baby God. I bow to you, you have much knowledge.

    Reply
    • Maybe one day Canada will stop being a third-world country. You can probably sell your magical healthcare and all your superfluous u’s back to England and get yourselves some Rock n Plays up there.

      Karli got some kind of butt cream stick, but I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s not Canadian, though. It’s ‘Murican.

      Reply
  7. All these product endorsements would suggest that Ande’s blog has finally hit the bigtime. C’mon Ande, dish. Are you getting 1,000 hits a day now? Is “Babies R Us” pestering your agent to review all the sweet swag that’s showing up on your doorstep?

    -DD

    Reply
    • I wish. If Babies R Us is paying attention, though, I’m sure they’d be thrilled to know they’d have a willing sell-out very enthusiastic reviewer if they’d care to hook a Squatch up with some swag.

      Reply
  8. Agree: Dressing baby in the ugly clothes when you aren’t going to leave the house, he won’t be in the long and you are expecting EPIC POO. I will totally admit I totally do that.

    Disagree: Pacifiers. Since we had the kid, I have sent everyone I know that is expecting a baby a wubbanub. I have yet to hear a complaint. We love ours. Well, the kid loves it. The adults love that it shuts him up in public.

    Reply
    • The Pooped Yet or Did Not Poop Yet outfit choosing is hilarious. I like to use the same thought process when out in the world admiring strangers. Try it. See a gal in hideous sweatpants at the store? Oh she definitely has not taken a shit. See a mom at soccer practice in jeans a little too fancy and a shiny shirt? She must have just taken a dump.

      Reply
      • Thank you for completely shifting my worldview. I have been ruined. I can’t see anything outside of the scatological now. I’m starting to question my impact on my students now. They always show up the first couple weeks dressed all nice, but by this time of the semester, it’s pajamas all the way. I feel I may be impacting their digestive process because they’re all wearing their I-Haven’t-Shit-In-A-Week clothes every day.

      • Kid just shit in a “nice” outfit. And I was all “WTF??? You already shit today!” And I immediately thought of you. Yep. Sure did. Lucky you.

      • That’s my dream: to have people all across the country immediately think of me when their kid drops a deuce. I’m on top of the world.

  9. Pingback: & a mediocre host | & squatch makes three

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