Becoming an expert on parenting is probably the easiest thing ever. Here’s the process:
- 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.
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.
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.
Aden & 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.
Koala 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?