As a couple preparing to welcome a little one, it seems as though we are expected to spend most of our time in a frenzy of baby-shopping. In fact, even when we disclose all the gifts and hand-me-downs we have been blessed by, people are amazed at how little we have spent on baby items so far. "What about X?" - they ask," - "Don't you need that? What about item Y? Are you planning to buy it? Do you realize how little time you have left?"
Maybe I'm inexperienced, but I honestly don't understand where this is coming from - buying not only what we know we'll need, but everything we might need, and even things we have only a remote possibility of ever using, and buying it all before the baby is even here. I mean, last time I checked, we live in a country overflowing with shopping centers. If it turns out we need something we don't have, anything from a milk pump to a changing table can be bought, brought home and put to use in only a couple of hours. And I certainly refuse to stock up on items we hope we won't need, such as formula and bottles!
I've already said a couple of times we believe a baby doesn't care if his or her furniture, clothes and toys are brand new. We also believe the fancy "baby university" mobiles aren't really necessary for a baby's development, and human contact - such as lots of cuddling, singing, hugging and playing - is much preferable. A huge industry has developed around babies - an industry which is trying to lure us not only to buy everything brand new (which is totally unnecessary in itself, as so many people are more than willing to pass on good-as-new cribs, strollers, and baby clothes), but to buy lots of things we don't really need.
What about those fancy baby shower gift packages, which cost more than twice the real worth of items they contain ("a rubber ducky, a bath puppet, a rubber ducky bath book and a baby bath spa CD with baby tunes...")? I say, save your money and wrap some useful gifts yourself - no reason to pay an exorbitant price for pretty ribbons someone has tied for you.
Why does the baby's room need to be decorated in "baby fashion"? I mean, if a mom likes to do some creative decoration, that's fine, and it's lovely for a baby to have a pretty room - but ultimately, safety, warmth and regular air circulation are all that matters... right? Why can't the baby's toys be put away in a normal, "adult" drawer - why should we pay a ridiculous price for a plastic "toy box"?
Do babies really need hooded towels in order to be bathed? What is a "nursing chair", and why a simple, comfortable armchair with a pillow for support won't do? Do we actually need a specialized cupboard for bottles and pacifiers (even if we end up using them)? Am I missing something if I store the baby's clothes and diapers in one of our closets, instead of a "baby drawer chest"?
The baby things we didn't buy yet aren't going to disappear tomorrow. Stores will remain full of items they are hoping to sell, and whatever we might need later, most likely it won't be a matter of life and death whether we have it here and now, or a day after. So until this little one arrives, we'll stick with our strategy: have all the basics (such as car seat, stroller, crib, clothes, diapers, bedding, blankets) ready. Anything else we might need later, we can get later. I'm sure that refraining from "just in case" spending will save us a lot of money.
Illustration photo: baby shower gifts