now that i know better

How I’d Redo My Baby Registry: With an Electric Nail File and Kale Teethers

Photo-Illustration: retailer

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 longtime food writer in me loves a hunt — for rare cheese, the best olive oils, a cheap-yet-effective knife set. And although the baby registry I created for my daughter, Simone, may not have been quite as satisfying a process, when I look back on it now that she’s just about a year old, there are a handful of items that I feel genuinely excited to have discovered; or rather, as I explain in the list below, that my British in-laws sometimes discovered for me. Unfortunately, I still haven’t mastered the art of baby-clothes timing — I find far too many never-worn onesies in Simone’s dresser only after she’s already outgrown them — but if I have one extra piece of advice, it’s to forego pricey outfits in favor of bold rompers that can double as PJs (I love this Brooklyn-made brand whose prints include root veggies).

Over a fancy dinner, I shared the news I was pregnant with a friend and mother of three. “All you need is a night nurse and My Brest Friend,” she told me. We didn’t end up getting either, and the second was a bigger regret. I wasn’t prepared for the epic stretches of time that breastfeeding would require: I deleted my baby tracking app after I spent 13 hours nursing one day; it just felt too depressing. Using the hand-me-down Boppy that was passed along to me by my cousin, I found that Simone would slide and wiggle into the crevices of the crescent-shaped pillow. Then I ordered My Brest Friend, which wraps around your body and snaps securely into place. This meant I could find a comfy position. As could my baby, who was more stable on the pillow’s flat, sturdy surface. I also loved that I could stash a can of seltzer and my phone — breastfeeding essentials — in its snazzy pocket. Nursing became more manageable from that point on.

Baby nails are tiny and grow weirdly fast! Simone’s become a dangerous weapon if we let them go too long; she scratches her poor face. Our pediatrician recommended peeling or picking at them, but we didn’t have much success with that. I don’t know if I ever saw my husband so upset as when he tried to clip her nails and ended up snipping a tiny bit of baby pinky skin. This baby electric file manicure set that my husband found after hours burrowing down Amazon reviews saved the day. There are 14 different grinding heads fit for different ages of babies and kids, and it just sands down their nails gently so you won’t hurt them, no matter how squirmy they are. There’s even an LED light if you want to snuggle up and have a nighttime baby mani-pedi.

My British sister-in-law gifted me Metanium Nappy Rash Ointment, which comes approved by lots of generations of British mums. It’s bright yellow and seems to work faster than the popular U.S. brands of diaper-rash creams I tried. And it’s lanolin-free, which is important if anyone in your home has an allergy or if you want to avoid animal products. It acts both as a barrier cream and a treatment diaper rash (or “nappy rash” if you’re across the pond), and a little goes a long way. When Simone gets any redness down there, a pea-size dab of Metanium overnight means she’s usually all cleared up by the morning.

Speaking of my sister-in-law, she’s very chic (and, crazily enough, happens to be an actual princess — my husband’s great-great-grandfather was knighted by Queen Victoria; this, as my dad likes to point out, also makes me an actual Jewish American princess). Anyway, when giving (or receiving) baby gifts, my sister-in-law swears by the White Company. The British company makes classic, luxurious-feeling sleepwear and blankets. This cotton-cashmere blanket feels delicious against my skin and my baby’s skin. It’s warm and cozy, but not overly so, and looks really pretty in Simone’s nursery. And the price is reasonable considering how sumptuous it is — and the fact that a baby blanket can be a keepsake.

If I could wear these comfy organic-cotton onesies, I absolutely would. My very stylish writer friend gifted us some, and they immediately became my go-to outfit for Simone: super simple, wonderfully soft, and the muted colors are a nice contrast to all those overly cutesy baby clothes. And they’re made in Toronto in an environmentally and ethically conscious way. Monica + Andy has a similar vibe — and the price point and environmental-friendliness are comparable, too — but those onesies have also become a bit ubiquitous, and I like how Mini Moche’s are just as well-made but also a little more unexpected.

Simone is at the stage where she puts anything and everything in her mouth: my bottle of Diet Coke, my phone, and especially our dog’s toys. I try to replace the aforementioned with this kale teether, which I found in a cute shop in Park Slope while out for a walk with Simone (at the time, she was happily gnawing on the shoe she had removed from her foot). It’s made from 100 percent natural rubber from Malaysian Hevea trees and hand-painted with natural food-grade dyes. She enjoys chewing on it as much as anything, and it also works as a bath toy.

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How I’d Redo My Baby Registry: With an Electric Nail File