Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Whatchu want? Baby, I got it.

When you are preparing to have a baby, the universe inundates you with an enormous list of items you supposedly need. It is a scam, really. You don’t need even a third of that crap. And there are many tricks, substitutes and sneaky ideas you can employ to save time, money, sanity or all three.

First of all, if your baby will spend his first three months in hot weather, all you need are short-sleeved bodysuits and short-sleeved t-shirts.  They can be plain white, too, because your baby can’t read and he thinks that his clothes are neither cute nor cool.  He will just poop and puke on them, anyway.  You can save a boatload of money by going to your local bulk club warehouse store or discount retailer and buying only these ordinary items for his first several weeks.  The bodysuits are good for daytime as they won’t ride up in the stroller, carseat or crib.  At night, you will save a few precious moments if you use t-shirts as diaper changing will be so easy with nothing to snap, clasp or move in the dark.  If your baby, however, will spend his first three months in cold weather, all you need are footed pajamas.  Save yourself some trouble and get only ones that zip.  Snaps are too obnoxiously annoying at 4 am.  He can sleep, play, eat and scoot around in pajamas all of the time.  And, outfits are cumbersome as they have too many parts you’ll need to keep your baby warm.  You will need a bodysuit, pants, sweatshirt and socks.  Too much.  Just put him in PJs.  They’re sweats and socks, but all together in one piece.  You’re welcome.

Next — you do NOT need a diaper wipe warmer.  Your baby really will not care about the temperature of the wipes.  I promise.  Don’t waste your money.

Okay — here’s a tip:  you don’t need anything before brining home your baby except a car seat and a safe place for the baby to sleep.  The hospital will give you a long-sleeved t-shirt for your baby to wear.  They will even swaddle her in a flannel blanket and give her a hat.  I was even given a small container of baby bath gel, diapers, diaper rash ointment, wipes, formula samples, changing table covers (paper ones), and a comb.  You can’t leave the hospital without a carseat, though, so you do have to get that key item.  Unless, I suppose, you live next door to the hospital, in which case you could probably walk home.  And, you may not need a crib at first, even, as many babies don’t want to sleep in something that vast when they’re very new and small.  You can possibly get away with a bassinet, swing or play yard, as long as it is safe.  Please refer to pediatric guidelines to find out if your device will provide a safe place for your baby to rest.

Once you get home, you may feel a panic about needing to go out and buy some items you forgot, didn’t know you’d need, or didn’t have time to purchase before your quick delivery. is a nice site and it offers free 2-day (or faster) delivery if you spend enough–  at least $49.  It is not at all hard to spend $49 or more on baby items, either.  A case of diapers will get you close.  And, while we’re on the topic, skip newborn-sized diapers and go straight to size 1.  It’s what the hospital will put on your kid, anyway.  And, if your baby is born big, newborn diapers may not even be appropriate.  Or, if your baby gains weight quickly, newborn diapers may not get you very far.  Whatever sizes or items you choose, can deliver them to you often within 24 hours.  They’ve got everything, too — diapers, wipes, soap, baby bathtubs, clothes, humidifiers, formula, sheets, decorations…  Spending ONLY $49 is more of your problem here.

Now, everyone loves to buy them, but you do not need hooded towels and the cute, matching baby washcloths.  Whatever towels you’re using in your bathroom right now are just fine.  The hoods are unnecessary and the towels are pretty small, so if your baby grows quickly like mine both did, they’ll be too small to wrap around them by about 9 months, anyway.  Baby washcloths are no different than regular washcloths, except for the fact that they’ll be rendered useless after about a year’s worth of use.

And, speaking of unneeded fabric items, baby bedding is an enormous industry scam.  The adorable, expensive 5-piece (plus) sets you can buy can often set you back a few hundred dollars.  Here’s what you need:  a sheet.  Yep.  That’s it.  A sheet.  If you’re trying to make things easier for yourself, though, you’ll get a few sheets and a few sheet protectors.  Layer one sheet, then a protector, then a sheet, then a protector and so on.  As your baby soils or wets a sheet in the middle of the night, just peel off the dirty stuff and there’s a clean sheet underneath.  No wrestling with changing a bed a 3 am.  Blankets, pillows and quilts are cute, but aren’t even allowed to be in your baby’s bed at all due to fears of SIDS.  And, diaper stackers are a frivolous, unnecessary accessory.  Put your diapers in a basket or box.  For no money at all, you can upcycle the box your diapers came in with some Mod Podge, pretty cut or torn paper or cards and ribbon left over from your shower gifts.  You can keep your diapers, wipes, lotions, etc. in that.  And, it is a cute reminder of your celebration with your family and friends.  Or, for less work (I mean, really, did I just recommend decoupaging with a newborn at home?  WTF?), just put your diapers on a shelf or in a drawer already in the room.  Frankly, you may end up finding that changing your baby on the floor is plenty easy, anyway, so you can just set a few diapers in the corner, for crying out loud.  But, please don’t buy a frigging diaper stacker.  YOU DON’T NEED IT.

The list of things you do not need is very long:  medicine droppers (your pharmacy and doctor’s office has these for free), baby brushes (even if he’s got tons of hair, the free comb you can get in the hospital will do you just fine), a mobile (only permitted in a crib for three months due to choking, strangulation and other health concerns once your baby can grab it), stuffed toys (not permitted in cribs due to fears of SIDS and your child won’t be able to hold or play with one for about a year, anyway), nightlights (toddlers and older children will be thankful for them, but your baby doesn’t know to be afraid of the dark and will sleep better if you help her figure out what “night” really is supposed to look like), burp cloths (just get more swaddling blankets and use them interchangeably as burp cloths, too since some of that spit-up will be too plentiful for the tiny burp cloths you will get), baby-specific laundry soap and cleaning solutions (just get dye- and fragrance-free versions of your own detergent.  It’s cheaper.  And use plain vinegar for cleaning your house.  It only smells bad for a minute and it kills germs and keeps your floors shockingly clean).  Wow.  I could name several more, but instead invite other experienced moms to comment here with their suggestions, too.

Soon, I will let you know about some other items that aren’t vital, but will make your life a little easier, to comment on some of the “dos” instead of just all of the “don’ts.”

I welcome your ideas and feedback!

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11 thoughts on “Whatchu want? Baby, I got it.

  1. As we perused the Target and Babies R Broke store, I had to laugh because gone are the days of high chairs, car seats and play pens, now it is Feeding Stations, Travel Systems and Play Yards. Scary.
    Great post, thanks for the humerous insight.

  2. Right? What have things come to? I don’t know whether to shake my head in disgust or try to invent something to I can get in on the racket.

  3. Couldn’t agree more on the bedding … we never used the comforter or bumpers and the matching sheet set that came in the pack was to rough. I bought three sets of cream colored sheets – the cream color ‘hides’ stains and going with a basic color helps with washing.

    I also thought the swing – that we got as a hand-me-down – was a total waste. My newborn loved the little vibrating seats that only run you about $20. They are lightweight and easy to move around the house, too.

    • Right! And, while we’re on sheets…I should tell everyone only to buy the jersey (or t-shirt) sheets. many of the cotton sheets must have a thread count of about 50, it seems! And, I have torn several sheets (including expensive designer ones) just trying to stretch them over a crib mattress. The jersey ones stretch much easier. I love the ones from Target that are very inexpensive. And, I have no idea why they even sell bumpers since everyone just yells about how dangerous they are. The “breathable” bumpers are nice, though, and come in some of those simple colors, like you suggest. And, it isn’t as dangerous, say the experts.

      Thanks for visiting. I enjoyed hearing from you!

  4. Very true. So much not just for babies that we really don’t need but also once they get older, and for us too! I think a changing table is the most overrated thing ever. Instead just get one of the pads or a towel and do it on the floor. Couldn’t agree with you more on this one. I would say that for me a good baby carrier was essential though. Shoes! Shoes for baby I mean really. Yes they are adorable but they don’t stay on and seriously they sleep 19 hours a day and don’t use their feet.

    • Yes!!! Shoes? These are STUPID baby items. Forgot about that. Just Tweeted about how I have recently come to loathe Pull-Ups, too, as I think they had made potty training harder and not easier. And how about Arrowroot cookies? What a damn mess. Not sure why I have to try to train my baby to eat cookies, anyway…

      Thanks for your comment!!

      • Shoes indeed. I have been fighting (not a true fight, I guess) about the need for shoes. I guess she figures I am an avid hiker so I will be taking the wee chicken along with me? Oh that’s right, she can’t freaking WALK. Baby shoes were created by Hallmark.

  5. kateluthner79 on said:

    I suppose I agree and disagree on this. I’m also anti shoe and mobile, but, maybe the cold weather I live in makes the wipe warmer a valued accessory in my nursery. I like keeping the baby mostly asleep for the middle of the night changing. I also think that spit up rags are valuable and even made smaller ones I called spitties for one use wipe that took up next to no room in the washer. I hated filling the washer with the big swaddles and feeling like I didn’t use them ‘enough’ to validate putting them in the wash. I’m cooking #3 right now and I feel pretty ready but I’m glad for the majority of the stuff I already have and while you don’t need everything on day one, its way easier to acquire stuff while they are internal then dashing out between feedings, or, toting the baby to the store because you need it now – not in 2 days –

  6. You said it! So happy to come across a very practical-minded mom.
    For my first-born I purchased loads of items which, through experience I realized, were things I could have done without. So when the second one was born I went for the ‘bare necessities’.
    Loved this post! And loved your style!

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