Preparing for a new baby can be a challenging task, in so many ways! The purchases you make for your baby can easily empty your bank account (or your friends’ bank accounts!), if you aren’t careful. There are so many things out there that can be purchased for a new baby, many moms find themselves overwhelmed. After compiling some research on our own, we sat down and talked to a couple of New Song Nashville moms (thanks to mom of three, Jill Hewitt, and soon-to-be mom, Lisa McGahey!) to learn just what they’ve found to be most helpful as well. Here are some tips to make planning for your baby’s needs just a little bit easier!
1. Research, research, research
Let’s face it – these items are going to (hopefully!) see you through the next couple of years with this baby, and if you’re having more kids down the road, hopefully they’ll last that long, too! So know what you need and want. Check consumer reports, online customer reviews, talk with other moms, etc. Research online, narrow down your options, then go to some stores to try them out. Don’t go to the stores first – you can just end up completely overwhelmed. Why re-invent the wheel when putting together your registry? Glean from those who’ve gone before you and trusted research sites!
2. Consider your family plan
Planning on having more than one child? Consider all of baby’s items. Getting that sweet pink swing is great if you’re having a girl. But what if, once baby #2 comes along, you find out it is a boy? Many parents will say if you plan to have more than one, make a few decorative touches in the nursery and the baby’s clothes the gender-specific focus, and keep the main items (crib, strollers, car seats, pack-and-plays, etc) neutral so that they’ll last for the long haul! Along that same line, if you plan to have your children closer together, consider registering for a double-stroller from the start. There are several options out there that aren’t incredibly cumbersome, and they’ll save you a lot of money in the long run!
3. You get what you ask for!
Don’t be afraid to register for the big stuff! One of the ways people in your life enjoy celebrating your new bundle of joy is by blessing you with gifts. Yes, it’s an investment for them, but that’s part of living in community – we help take care of one another. So, remember, your co-workers, family or other groups may wish to all chip in to buy you some of the larger items on your list. But if you’ve decided to only register for the $50 stroller/car seat combo from the clearance section because you think that’s all someone will buy you, then you may end up with a something that is low quality, and that you didn’t really want.
4. Plan for first six months
Consider registering most for the things you’ll need the first six months of baby’s life. So on the flip side to asking for a lot, while it’s great to register and ask for all the things you think you might need for the baby and toddler years, if your family and social groups are on the smaller side it’s wise to consider what you’ll need in the earlier months and perhaps narrow down your registry so that the gifts you receive are more focused. A high chair, for example, at some point, is a must. But probably not absolutely necessary for the first six months or so. You don’t want to find yourself running out to spend money on the early items: more diapers, a swing, Ergo or Moby carrier, tummy time mat, etc., when you’re still in the exhausted, new-parent phase. Plus, that gives you time to pick up that high chair (or other later-stage item) by watching on Craigslist or at consignment shops and picking one up when the design and price is right!
5. Electric is a must!
If you’re planning to breastfeed, an electronic breast pump is a must! Once baby arrives, whether you’ll be returning to work outside the home once or becoming a stay-at-home-mom, choose the electric option. Who wants a hand cramp after just five minutes of manual pumping, just to discover they’ve only been rewarded with an ounce or two of milk for all that effort?
TIP: Before you register for that pump though, check with your insurance company! Many insurance plans will now cover a nice electric breast pump. So don’t register and waste the money on something you can get for free – use that towards something else! Another optionn if insurance doesn’t cover it? If you’re nearing the end of the year and have money left in your Flexible Spending Account (FSA), an electric breast pump typically qualifies as a medical expense, so if you’re in the end-of-year “use it or lose it” situation, go ahead and purchase one. Then at least it is paid for with tax-free dollars that you already had set aside, and would have lost if you hadn’t spent that calendar year!
6. Plan your nursery design
Really think through your nursery design when registering! A beautiful nursery is always so fun! Who doesn’t enjoy oooh-ing and ahhh-ing over the adorable nursery images one can find on Pinterest? I know I do! But sometimes, beauty doesn’t translate to functionality. So truly consider each item you register for and evaluate for aesthetic but also practicality. A few examples:
- A changing table. The conventional, two-shelf changing table looks so sweet, especially once you add the little fancy baskets on the shelves. But when the baby hits a year old, those baskets and the entire contents can become an endless entertainment for baby, in the form of pulling them off and emptying. Over. And over. And over. Consider instead a shorter dresser that can do double-duty by adding a changing pad on top. You still get the storage space, but a wide heavy drawer is much more difficult for an active baby/toddler to ransack.
- Curtains. Airy, pale, sheer curtains may be beautiful, but when all you (and baby) are crying out for is more sleep, you’ll be wishing you’d registered for room darkening curtains (or blackout shades for behind the curtains) to help everyone sleep better!
- Closet/storage space. Let’s face it, most of us are short on storage space, so consider installing a closet rod in the lower part of the closet (you could even use a tension shower curtain rod) for baby’s clothes – they’re short and small. That frees up the higher rod for other things, whether baby’s items or yours!
- Seating. A rocking chair or glider is great. But if finances allow, most moms say, hands-down, the best option is a rocking recliner. On those long nights of tending to baby feedings, sometimes the best thing to do is hold on to the baby, rock and recline back. Then both mom (or dad) and baby get some rest together!