Well! By all metrics, I am officially overdue. Someday I’ll write about why my induction at 41 weeks with Maggie turned from an “Eh, no regrets” event into an “OMG MUST NOT EVER REPEAT” incident and how it led to us choosing homebirth with a midwife this time around, but today is not that day. Time and perspective shed a lot of light on how I really felt about it and it’s kind of an emotional topic. Suffice it to say that if this kid isn’t coming until 41, 42, or even 43 weeks…que sera, sera. It’s a circumstance I will accept with…well, if not patience or grace, silence and lack of complaint. Unless you ask me where the baby is. Then I’m unloading both barrels of a shotgun into you because is there a worse question to ask the enormously pregnant? I think not.
But today I have useful information for you! Oh indeedy. Since I already covered valuable things I used during my pregnancy I’m going to talk about crap. (Not literal crap.) My nephew is about 15 months older than my daughter so when we went to Babies R Us in the middle of my sister’s pregnancy to fill out her registry we were both totally overwhelmed by the options. I distinctly remember having this conversation:
“Do you know anything about babies?”
“I thought you did.”
“We should call Mom.”
Going through the recommended items list calmed us down considerably; it seemed as though every third item could be replaced by “extra hand towel.” Or a family member. (“Sleep positioner? Entertainment pad?” “…We were just going to use Uncle Brian.”) It is with that experience and then a later one where I wrote a column about useful baby gear that I tell you there is a LOT of useless crap that the baby industry will peddle to you to make a buck. So here are a few items that you should never, ever give at a baby shower–even if the parents-to-be have registered for it.
1. Scented bath products
Never mind that Johnson & Johnson’s is reportedly chock-full of formaldehyde; you’re still talking about a brand-spanking-new human. Nearly EVERYTHING is going to irritate their skin. So if you must get bath products for a shower, stick with Burt’s Bees Baby Wash (which has a mild rating on Cosmetics Database) and diaper cream or if you can swing it, California Baby (which also has mild ratings but is really expensive). Basically, you don’t know WHAT is going to cause their skin to break out in rashes or allergic reactions or, God forbid, chemical burns. So save your money.
The exceptions here are a handmade knitted/crocheted or quilted blanket and Aden and Anais swaddle blankets because a) handmade gifts are keepsakes and b) A&A blankets rule all within their sight. Everything else? Feh. EVERYONE gets blankets. Half of them end up at Goodwill or re-gifted. You want to buy something that the parents will really remember? Get a Swaddlebees mattress pad. I received two as gifts and use them daily even now (especially now, actually, since Maggie has taken more than a passing interest in her functions).
3. Baby Bjorns
Of all the overpriced (upwards of $75! Meep!) items with limited functionality you can buy, this has to be the one I hate the most. You can use it in two positions and face your baby front or back. That’s it. That’s all you get. While you’re doing that, the kid’s weight is distributed squarely on your shoulders–bad for you and uncomfortable to boot. And as a bonus, your kid’s weight is centered squarely on the crotch while the hips are being forced into an unnatural position, increasing pelvic pressure where it’s most uncomfortable for the kid and hurting their hip development at the same time. Hates it, precious. Hates the Bjorn.
Get them a Moby Wrap, which are half the price and aren’t hard to use, despite the complicated appearance; if you have the means, pop for an Ergo or Beco carrier. Multiple positions, weight distributed evenly through your back and hips, and the baby’s weight is spread evenly through the thighs while the legs remain in a comfortable and developmentally-appropriate position. We can still comfortably carry Maggie on our backs in the Beco when we travel and she’s comfortable enough to fall asleep in them. Don’t get them a Bjorn. I beg of you.
4. After-market car seat accessories
Positioners, “Snuzzlers”, buntings…no. Don’t do it. They interfere with the correct positioning of the belts and make the seat less effective in a crash. (Actually, did you know you can’t use puffy coats with car seats either? Now you do! They compress and create slack in the straps–put baby in a fleece with a blanket over them and save the puffy coat for your destination.) You can use buntings that fit over the car seat like a shower cap, but not ones that go underneath the baby. If it is made by the manufacturer for use in the baby’s specific seat that’s one thing, but not a third-party product. Registry or not, don’t buy them.
Lecture complete!! There are so many really awesome things out there, but you can give about 85% of it a pass. Absorbent stuff–waterproof pads, burp cloths–is always nice, as are extra pajamas. Diapers. Gift certificates for stuff they may realize they need later. All awesome. Just please, please…skip the Bjorn.