Over at Big Baby Gear headquarters, they have a saying: “you have to go after the first-time parents, because second-time parents aren’t gonna buy she-eet.” They are correct. I bought a lot of stuff. Some things weren’t stupid, and I cherished them. Some things weren’t stupid, but got recalled because of mold concerns. Some things were stupid, and are now covered with dust, and some things were stupid, but I love them and have no regrets.
Those last things are good things to buy for your friends who are having babies, because something which is a waste when you are buying ALL THE THINGS to keep a baby alive is not a waste when you’re just buying one thing for someone else’s kid. Bedazzle that rattle, go to town.
1. This is a baby toothbrush shaped like a banana. When you brush your baby’s teeth with it, you can sing “Brush your teeth / brush your teeth / when it’s time for bed you get to brush your TEETH” from the commercial Tracy Jordan did in that flashback to his childhood or “When you wake up in the morning at a quarter to five and you just can’t wait to come alive / you brush your TEETH / ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch ch” from Raffi’s “Brush Your Teeth.” Your choice.
2. There is nothing stupid about Halo SleepSack Swaddles. They are brilliant and perfect and life-saving, and I’m only including them in this list because I genuinely want you to buy them and give them to your friends and write poems about them. Not every baby wants to be swaddled, but most do, and once you’ve wrapped and Velcro’d a newborn into a snuggly little burrito and kissed it and watched it drift off to sleep so you can pee alone and eat something and use a grown-up voice, you’ll know where I’m coming from. BLESS YOU, HALO. BLESS YOU. They come in cotton and micro-fleece, depends on what season you’ll need them for, and you can use them until they’re turning over on their own, but I used ours until…oh, man, she could practically say “stop swaddling me.”
3. This is apparently a rainforest mat that plays music and lights up. I say “apparently” because I stripped one of the screws on the battery plate while trying to put batteries in it, so it’s never worked. If I hadn’t just had a baby and lost my will to form coherent plans, I probably would have sent it back. But I just didn’t care, at that point, and my baby used it happily as a static playmat for months, and still likes to hold pretend tea parties on it, even though it’s been dismantled into its various parts.
4. A breathable mesh bumper. I had kind of thought I was going to co-sleep, having gone into this whole process a much bigger hippie than I am now, but my baby had no interest in co-sleeping, ever, preferring to have Personal Space and her own room. So do I! It was great. However, your baby will really enjoy sticking her limbs out of the crib and then howling inconsolably until you tuck them back in, at which point, guess what, out they go again. It’s aggravating! And all the gorgeous bumpers you see in stores are covered with warnings that they are really “for decoration only” and should be taken out when your baby is actually using the crib, because of suffocation. The mesh ones are really boring looking, but they also will not suffocate your baby, which is a plus.
5. Formula. “I’m not going to need that, I’m going to create all the nutrition my infant needs from my breasts! Whatever, I guess I should have one can of poison around in case someone else’s baby visits and his mom doesn’t love him enough to give him God’s Own Nectar.” Hospital-grade pump and fenugreek and nursing vacations and lactation consultants and two months in without ever getting back up to her birth weight, I was ready to be grateful I wasn’t trying to teach her to suckle a goat in a 16th century village. Feed your kid. It’ll be fine. You have clean water? It’s fine. You also don’t need to get fancy with name brands, because the government insists all formula have the same stupid stuff in it, or they can’t sell it to you.
6. Morning sickness drops. They don’t work, and to the extent they DO work, literally any cheap sour candy works just as well. I think they add some Vitamin C and ginger, to make them seem medicinal. Ginger IS pleasant for your stomach when you are nauseated, but really the only thing that works is waiting until you are more pregnant and the symptoms lessen. Unless you have hyperemesis and then you are just fucked. Fun fact about morning sickness: you know how the ONLY good thing about throwing up is that you then feel amazing and relieved for about ten minutes afterwards? That does not happen with morning sickness. You feel just as terrible in the moment after throwing up as you did the moment before you threw up. Yay! These drops were really yummy, though, and it was nice to have an official looking candy dispenser to eat candy from, because when you eat them in public, people make sympathetic noises at you, which is not normally something that happens when you’re eating candy in public early in the morning. ENDORSED.
7. While the rainforest is disappearing, some rainforests are being turned into bouncy things. She loved it, what can I say? You can also crank it to various heights so your kid can use it for a long time. My kid is 2 years old TOMORROW and still weighs only 21 pounds, so she can use it until college. The real feature here is that it’s free-standing, because the doorway ones are a super-pain and then you have a big thing in your doorway, and this one can be placed next to your television so she can use it while you watch Mad Men. Don’t do that! Or, whatever, only do it occasionally, I’m not your mom.
8. A baby rocking chair thing. My version of this did get recalled for the aforementioned mold issues, so I just threw it out, but it was dynamite, and it buzzed and was exactly like the thing Miranda used in SATC, minus the Hitachi Magic Wand, and my kid liked to take naps in it, and I may have rigged a bungee-cord thing so she wouldn’t fall out of it. May have. Kids love vibrating buzzy stuff. This chair was amazing. I genuinely loved it. This kind should not develop mold issues.
9. Alphabet Playmat. Your kid may like it, or may not care, but there is nothing on God’s green earth more soothing than methodically spelling out the alphabet with soft squishy letters that fit together like puzzle pieces, while your child hurricanes around you. A. B. C. D. E. Colors. System. Logic. Bliss.
Next: Ten Stupid Pieces of Baby Gear Which I DO Regret Buying
Take THAT, electronic gadget that reminds you which boob you fed from last. Just erasable magic-marker your tits or make a note on your phone.
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.