Babies R Us is... it's awful. Just awful. The best part about it is the designated "expectant mother" parking right in front of the store. It's all downhill from there.
Babies R Us is the embodiment of hyper-consumerist, capitalism-on-steroids, let's see if we can convince you that you need four of everything in every size right now, how can we sell water at a 500% markup just to moms, sell-sell-sell-selling of stuff stuff stuff.
I'm not joking about that water thing. The last time I went to Babies R Us I stood, stunned, at the top of the "nursery water" aisle. Isn't it just... water? And that's when it hit me.
I thought that by having a baby I was changing my life, my family. I thought this shit was personal. And ok, maybe I was completely naive, but I felt that the businesses who serve women who are about to turn a page into a new chapter of their lives might have a sense of responsibility to those women, an obligation to be truthful that would live at least on par with the corporate imperative to stay in the black.
Business is business.
And I've just become everyone's favorite consumer.
As an adult, I can say "you know what? Tap water's fine." But as a parent, I have a much harder time settling for anything less than the absolute safest, the cleanest, the most enriching, the most natural, the best for my child. In short, the most expensive. And price-setters know that.
If regular marketing aims to provoke a range of emotional responses - arousal, confidence, comfort, thrill - I think parenting marketing is far more specific and far more effective. Babies R Us uses only one feeling to sell us the idea that we need three strollers: fear.
Fear of buying too little.
Fear of denying our children comfort, joy, pleasure.
Fear of buying something dangerous.
Fear of not buying something that could have saved the baby from discomfort or danger.
Fear of not knowing what the fuck we are doing, at the moment when the stakes couldn't be higher.
There's only one thing stores don't want us to be afraid of: buying too much stuff.
Exhibit A: Babies R Us's Must-Have List.
I guess this is a list of just "The Necessities."
If you're pregnant with four babies.
A woman carrying one or even two precious souls looks at this list and thinks what in the bleeding heart of fuck is all this crap, and how in the sacred dusty tomb of Tutankhamen do I pick which bottle to register for among the 219 different kinds of bottle Babies R Us has on the website?!?! I have a goddamned degree from a goddamned institution of higher learning and this is BEYOND ME. What kind of mother am I going to be if I can't even choose a crib blanket? I HAVE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE.
What's frustrating is that, sure, you can see the need for each of these items.
It's just that Babies R Us wants you to believe that a) you MUST BE registering for everything the baby could need for the first year; and b) why buy one when you could buy SIX?
If you have the storage to register for walking toys that you can just shelve for 8 months or so, I say thee yea. Go for it! One less thing you have to consider buying down the road. But walking toys aren't a necessity. You can buy them gently used from any consignment store, whenever you need them. It's not like city code mandates that you have to buy them before the baby is born.
If you want six crib sheets so you can go months without doing laundry, I say thee yea. Go for it! Whatever! But six crib sheets are not a necessity. What do you need? One crib sheet. Two makes your life easier so you don't have to rush through laundry. But six? Extremely convenient; not necessary.
Babies are simple creatures with simple needs:
2. Clean Diapers
3. A Safe Place to Sleep
4. Garments to Protect Them from the Elements
If we made a true, literal "must-have list" it would be like 15 items MAX - a place to sleep (a box will do,) bottle or boob, diapers and wipes, a few items of clothing. Baby's favorite toy is your face. Baby's diapers can go in any kind of trash receptacle that already exists in your home.
I'm not saying you have to make your baby's room look like an ascetic monk's cot space. I think you should absolutely treat yourself to items that aren't musts - sweet touches like artwork, books, clothes, things that are special to you and make you feel good because you've provided them to your child. I say YES, YES to all of that.
I say NO to feeling obligated to spend a lot of money on stuff that a for-profit store has told you that you NEED when you do not, in fact, NEED it.
I'm saying you get to pick whatever you want.
When you're making your registry, remember that every website that sells baby stuff is going to have a list of must-have items that (surprise surprise) the website would happily sell to you.
There is nothing you can buy, or not buy, before your baby is born, that will make you a good parent or a bad parent.
Don't be scared.
You can't do this wrong.
Pick what you like.
Keep the receipts.
Yeah, YOU. Babies R Us.
Fuck off with your "you don't know what you're doing yet, do you? Well, trust me, you definitely must have three strollers and one of them should cost $500."
Prepare yourself for the longest PS in PS history.
Below is a table.
On the left, Babies R Us's list of necessities.
On the right, what my family actually used for the first few months of each baby's life.
Bear in mind that this has just been our experience - we have acquired less than some and a lot more than many. You get to decide what's necessary for you and yours.
If you're knocked up and have a question, shoot me an email or comment below. You know I'm happy to throw in my opinion. Which is why I have this blog which consists entirely of my opinion.
What Babies R Us Said We NEEDED:
What We Actually Used:
We used a dresser
We used a regular chair with a lumbar pillow.
Sure, but we just used a regular one we already had.
Oh yeah, to make sure his 100% cotton onesies he crapped all over were wrinkle-free.
We also used a Rock’n’Play with Buster and it was great. Some people opt for a co-sleeper or bassinet/pack’n’play.
Crib Bedding Set
Crib Sheets (4-6)
Mattress Pads (2-4)
Sheet Savers (2)
Changing Table Pad
Changing Table Pad
Receiving Blankets (4-6)
Crib Blankets (4)
Swaddle Blankets (2-4)
Wearable Blankets (2-4)
Do you mean sheets? Or bumpers? We opted out of padded bumpers because of the suffocation risk. They do make breathable mesh bumpers that help keep binkies in the crib. Talk to your doctor. I am not a doctor.
Mattress Pad (1)
I have no idea what this is.
Changing Table Pad
Changing Table Pad
Covers (2) If something happens and both your covers are dirty at once, WHAT WILL YOU DO? MY GOD, WHAT WILL YOU DO? Oh, right, use a towel. Babies R Us, you d-bag convention. 4 is not a must-have.
Receiving blankets (2) – but we don’t use them for sleeping, just in the car to block sun or on the floor for playing.
You’re not supposed to put the baby in the crib with a loose blanket until at least 1 year old. So, no. No times 4.
Sleep Sacks (3) but not until after he was out of a swaddle at like 5-6 months.
+ White noise machine.
Infant Car Seat
Convertible Car Seat
Infant Car Seat
Um not until he was like 18 months old.
We also bought a mirror so we could see into his rear-facing seat when it was TOO QUIET BACK THERE.
Strollers & Carriers
Travel System/Traditional Stroller
Diaper Bags (2)
We just bought our first lightweight stroller and Chicken is 2.
Carrier. Ergo. One of the best things we got. 2.5 years of near continuous use and going strong.
Diaper Bag (1). We do have a reusable shopping tote in the trunk of our car that is basically an emergency diaper bag, but you don’t need to buy a second fucking diaper bag.
Breast Milk Storage Containers
Nursing Covers (2)
Baby Support Pillow
Bottle Starter Set
Bottles, 4 or 5 oz (6-10)
Bottles, 8, 9, or 11 oz (6-10)
Slow-flow nipples (8-10)
Medium-flow nipples (8-10)
Fast-flow nipples (8-10)
Burp cloths (6-12)
Breast Milk Storage Containers
Um, I used a blanket. No need for a designated cover. Plus most babies hate that shit.
Nursing pillow. YES a thousand times yes. The Boppy is a rare multi-use baby item – you use it for nursing, supporting tummy time, early sitting-up support, and Chicken still sleeps with his in his crib. We also bought a spare cover. Babies throw up.
I don’t know how this is different from a Boppy.
I don’t know what this is.
Here’s the thing with bottles. You won’t know what to stock up on until the baby shows you what he or she likes. So sure, register for a couple of different kinds of bottles. But don’t register for 6-10 bottles until you know if that bottle works for your baby, and how many bottles the baby is really having in a day. If you’re staying at home and only enjoy the rare baby-free ladies’ night or yoga class outing, then no, you don’t need TWENTY BOTTLES.
Here’s the thing with nipples. The flow thing? Total bullshit. Your human nipples don’t like sprout more holes to give a heavier flow as your baby gets older. You have one flow. There’s no reason to ever buy anything but a slow-flow nipple. You want the baby to have to work to get the milk out of the bottle. If he/she gets lazy with a faster-flow, then he/she might not want to work to get the milk straight form the source anymore, which translates to nipple confusion/hate nursing/nursing strikes. Which sucks.
Bibs (6 pack) we didn’t really use bibs until he started solids at 5 months, but I know other moms whose kids spat up a LOT who used a lot of bibs early on. You won’t know if you have a spitter until you meet the baby. So you can wait, or go for it, no harm in a few extra bibs.
Burp cloths (10)
Pacifiers (6-8) But don’t register for too many – same deal as the bottles. My kids hated the soothie pacifiers, loved the Avent ones. Other kids love the soothies. If you want to register for pacifiers, just register for one each of a couple different kinds so you can figure out what your baby likes.
Pacifier holder (2) the leash is great for when you’re driving, to save you from the blind digging grope at red lights.
Sure, but they’re toys.
Not until 5 months.
Diapers, up to 8 lbs (4 value boxes)
Diapers, 8-14 lbs (5 value boxes)
Baby Wipes (4 value boxes)
Diaper Cream & Ointment
Diaper Pail & Refills
Diapers, up to 8 lbs, um, one box. A lot of babies are bigger than 8 pounds on the day they are born. Don’t stock up on these.
Diapers, 8-14 lbs, I don’t know who these people are who have like so much room to store crates of diapers. Buy them as you need them. Don’t buy 5 boxes of diapers unless you are a lucky bastard with a huge closet.
Baby wipes, one big Costco box.
Diaper cream, I like Balmex or Desitin.
We use a diaper genie in Chicken’s room because his poops are gnarly, old-man liver and onions poops. But in Buster’s room/our room we use a small, bathroom-sized step can with regular liners. We empty it every day or so.
Bathing & Infant Care
Baby Bath Tub
Baby Bath Towels (6-8)
Wash Cloths (10-12)
Grooming Kit (Brush, Nail Clippers)
Nope. Never got one. We just took turns taking baths with our babies until they were old/strong enough to hold their heads up in the water in the tub. It was fun, actually, and really sweet.
I will pay someone $1,000 to explain to me how a baby bath towel is better than a regular fucking bath towel. They’re usually thinner, cheaper, and more expensive. This is a racket. And you certainly do not need EIGHT of them.
Baby wash cloths are thinner, cheaper regular wash clothes. This is a racket.
Baby shampoo & body wash, we bought one bottle that does it all.
Hair brush. We just bite their nails to keep them short. For serious, works better than nail clippers on their soft little nails.
Yep – I fear old house mold.
Nose Frida 4 Ever
Yes, now that you’ve had a baby, the time has finally come to buy laundry detergent. Because before this, you were just pumping purell into the machine.
Sleep n Play (6-8)
Side-Snap Shirts (4-6)
Pull-on Pants (6-8)
Socks (6-8 pairs)
Honestly, can’t nobody tell you what your baby is going to need until the baby comes out. Your baby might live in newborn-sized bodysuits for the first three months, or you might bring her home in a 3-6 month outfit. The snappy/zippy footies are my personal favorite, for ease of access. The good news is that people will give you a lot of clothes, and whatever you discover you need after your baby is born, I’m pretty sure there’s a place nearby where you can pick up some socks or a gown.
Baby Gates (2)
Outlet Covers & Plugs
Cabinet & Drawer Locks
First Aid Kit
Monitor, although we didn’t need it because our house is small.
Baby Gate (1) but we don’t have stairs inside our house. Didn’t need until he started crawling around 6 months.
Didn’t need until about 6 months.
Didn’t need until about 6 months. Arguments can be made for not ever needing these things, and just moving toxic/dangerous cabinet contents a little higher up.
First Aid Kit. Never used it, but you have to have it, right? Also bought a baby emergency handbook.
Play Yard Sheet (2-3)
Play Mat or Baby Gym
Infant Toys (5)
Chicken loved it, Buster didn’t care for it. Your call. It’s a big piece of machinery, but for some babies it is a miracle sleep machine.
Bouncy chair is a godsend early on – for when you want to put the baby down to shower, write emails, whatever.
Play mat, or a blanket.
Toys – don’t forget all of the baby’s senses – crinkly toys, chewy toys, colorful toys, musical toys.
We love our Jumperoo, but you don’t want to put your baby in there until he’s close to sitting up, 4 months ish.
Like, Wayne Newton on a sofa?
Way more than 3 books. But we’re bookish. This was the funnest part of baby shopping for me.
CDs (2) One Kanye West Lullaby CD (not a joke), one Nursery Rhymes CD. Chicken didn’t really respond to music that much. He preferred to hear us read aloud. Again, you won’t know until your baby comes.