Registries are often wasted on soon-to-be-parents. In this series, cool new(-ish) moms and dads tell us about the stuff that’s actually worked for them in the time since they had a kid. In other words: If they could do their baby registry all over again, here are the items that would top the list.
The title of Doree Shafrir’s new memoir is Thanks for Waiting: The Joy (and Weirdness) of Being a Late Bloomer. And regarding her baby registry, she sees the benefit in having been relatively “late” there, too. By the time her first child came along, she was 41 years old and at a point in her life where, she says, “I felt less peer pressure to get things just because everyone else had them.” Rather than dizzy herself with the conflicting wisdom an expectant mom inevitably receives about, say, the best bouncer seat, Shafrir took it mostly in stride, and in the end, she in fact managed to bring home no bouncers whatsoever. (Extra restraint was required considering she had a whole podcast community weighing in on her choices, too.)
Still, though she may have stuck to her internal compass, “I did do a ton of research,” Shafrir notes. Many of the items on the following list are ones she uncovered in advance and actually registered for in the first place. Not to say she’s without regrets: When recently rolling through a coffee shop with her now 2-year-old son, Henry, a pregnant woman inquired about his stroller, the Uppababy Vista — and Shafrir had to explain that in hindsight, she’d go with the much more versatile Doona. But that’s parenting for you, as she says. “Everyone has an opinion about every single thing.”
We had a regular noise machine, and it helped, but I think there’s something about how this thing literally goes, “Shhhhh,” in a human voice, just like a mother would. You set a timer and it shushes for 15 or 30 minutes straight. It really calmed my son. It’s especially helpful for those early days, when babies are just so fussy, and they nap for these brief periods, and then it’s hard to get them back down, and it’s such a nightmare. When Henry was a couple of weeks old, a friend who had a baby right before me told me to get this; it felt like a real mom word-of-mouth find. Until he was at least 4 months old, we turned it on whenever we needed to get him to sleep — we thought, “Okay, this works. Why wouldn’t we use it all the time?”
We skipped the BabyBjörn and the swings and went straight to baby jail — an enclosure around a mat where my son could lie on the floor safely. If you have the space for this, it’s great for babies’ development and lets them become more independent. This also goes hand in hand with the RIE parenting method: When I first heard of it, I thought, “Okay. Sure. Weird L.A. parenting philosophy.” But it’s about not confining the baby in any way; you’re supposed to give them a lot of floor time and allow them to figure out their own gross motor. I did think, “Well, maybe it will teach him to be a little bit independent and I can just put him down in this space and I won’t have to worry about it.” And I did see him, even at a very young age, start to explore his toys and try to roll and do all these things I wasn’t necessarily expecting him to do yet. By the way, if you want a more aesthetically pleasing baby jail, there’s this Skip Hop version, but our colorful one was much less expensive and very easy to assemble. Also related: This outdoor baby jail is awesome, if you have outdoor space, and it lets them roll around safely.
When the baby starts spitting out the pacifier in their crib and getting mad about where it went, these glow-in-the-dark pacifiers make life so much easier — you just dash into the room and you can see the pacifier and pop it right back in their mouth, instead of trying to find it in the dark. A friend told us to register for these, so they were the only pacifier we used on Henry from the very beginning.
Nonnegotiable. I registered for these, too. I never forgot to shut them, but you appreciate what a difference they make when you crack the curtain even the teeniest bit. In our baby room we had a west-facing window, so without these curtains, the whole room would be flooded with blinding sun.
Now that people are starting to leave their houses again, you will need this if you’re planning on putting baby down for a nap somewhere else. They are a lifesaver. People had said to me, “Oh, you should just tape up garbage bags.” And I was like, “That actually seems very annoying.” These travel curtains suction to the window, and you can take them anywhere.
I’d been using the Spectra until Henry was almost 3 months old. Even though it’s not a pump that you have to plug into the wall, it still has tubes; you’re not especially mobile when you’re using it. My pumping journey had been so hard that I wanted to stop. When someone told me about the wireless Elvie, I thought, “This is expensive. I have a pump. How much better could this be?” But I found one secondhand, and it changed my life. It’s basically two pods that you put in your bra — they suction and collect the milk into these vessels that attach to the pumps, and you’re not chained to anything. I actually pumped from the audience of a Disney fan convention, where I was reporting a story. I was just sitting there at the conference, pumping, because you can just do that with the Elvie; it’s amazing. I eventually slipped out from my seat, went to the bathroom, removed the units from my bra, poured the collected milk into a storage bag, and that was it. And I believe health insurance covers it now, too.
My boobs got clogged constantly while nursing. Everyone was like, “You’ll get clogged for the first couple of weeks, and then everything will sort of regulate.” And that just did not happen for me; I got clogged my entire seven-month breastfeeding journey and was alway sore. I also have flat nipples, and it was really painful when Henry would nurse. But the Bamboobies pillows were awesome. I could pop them in the microwave and heat them up, or throw them in the freezer for a cold compress. When I first put them on my breasts I was like, “Oh, okay.” Sweet, sweet relief.