The refrain from accomplished parents to expectant parents is familiar: Your life will never be the same. With that somewhat ominous statement comes the advice, the lists of things you need, the to-do lists, and a billion other helpful tips.
While some expectant parents do not bother with such trivial things like figuring out where their child will sleep, most would like to be prepared when the child arrives in this world, if for no other reason than to avoid a last-minute, credit card-maxing shopping spree to Toys R Us, buying things that you assume you need because the commercials looked good.
One of the best ways to find out what you need and what you don’t need is to simply ask other parents. These parents are the experts, and their children are their guinea pigs. If Little Jimmy is kind of an off-putting kid, but his mom insists that you need a Flabbertyflop, maybe you don’t need to put that as high on your shopping list as the Thingamajig recommended by the father of Little Susie, Child Prodigy. Also, pay attention to how old a person’s kids are before you ask them for their advice. A testimonial of how much their kids loved playing with Jarts and Cap Guns, and how their baby wouldn’t sleep outside its mini-hammock is not going to do you a lot of good today.
So, now you have the list. Does anything look familiar? Are any words recognizable?? Anything??
Diapers? Ok, we know about those.
Crib? Of course.
Boppy? Nook? Bumbo? What the heck are those?
What makes a “receiving blanket” different from a “swaddling blanket” or all the other types of blankets??
The sheer volume of knowledge that other parents possess about child-centered items and rituals and techniques is stunning. Parents will talk to you about your new child, and pepper in terms like this, terms that have no meaning to you now. It is as if parents develop an entirely new vocabulary and forget that they ever had a different one. Don’t worry, you will get there. This is a body of knowledge that only comes with experience.
In order to make sense of these new terms, walk around the baby department of any store, and look at the labels (don’t look at the prices, not yet). You can figure out what a Boppy looks like, even if you still don’t know what it’s for (do you sit on it? It looks like you sit on it.), or why it shows up on everyone’s list as a must-have.
Try to get the people who make your lists to differentiate between essential items and simply “nice things to have” because even tiny little humans will have their preferences and what is great for one baby may be hated by another.
If you have found yourself in a position where you are clueless about either what you need, or how you actually USE what you need, talk to your doctor, or check out the New Parent’s Guide. Find baby gear second-hand on the Green Bay Craigslist, Green Bay Freecycle, or at resale shops like Once Upon A Child. Good Luck!
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