now that i know better

How I’d Redo My Baby Registry: More Lanolin, Less Diaper Genie

Photo-Illustration: retailers

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.

Scroll through the Instagram of leadership speaker Jovian Zayne, and photos like that of Janelle Monae cradling Zayne’s pregnant belly might suggest she had plenty of exceptionally tasteful friends to help her with her baby registry. While this may be true — and in fact, her loved ones threw her not one but three separate baby showers — the reality for any expectant parent is that they simply can’t know what products will be essential to them until after their child arrives. (Same goes for nonessentials: For instance, Zayne bought the Diaper Genie for two rooms of the house, only to discover that a friend with four kids had been right all along when she warned, “Once the poop gets real, it doesn’t make a difference.”) Now that Zayne’s daughter, Jorgie, is just over a year old, she told us about the items she ended up using most — including a sturdy nursing sports bra, affirmation flash cards, and a teething giraffe that isn’t Sophie.

I have this whole village of moms and parents in my life who have done this before. And I was advised, “You never know what kind of bottle your baby’s going to take to; in moments of crisis, you do not want to be like, ‘I need to try to find another bottle.’ You just wish you had something else to try.” So we had different types of bottles on our registry — we bought way too many: Playtex, Medela. The ones we ultimately ended up using were the anti-colic Tomee Tippee bottles. They worked. We never freaked out, like, “We need to try another bottle.”

If you’re breastfeeding, the last thing you wanna see is an underwire. These bras are extremely comfortable — no frills; very easy to use. I have a lot of friends who had babies at the same time as me — everyone’s boobs are different, obviously; they swell up at different times, we sweat differently — but we all used these and they worked for all of us. I’m about a 36D, and I wore a size large in these. I also really like the Athena by Love and Fit. If you want a sturdy nursing sports bra, I would say put that on your registry, too.

Pumping is so much more tolerable when you can use your hands to access stuff like your phone or the remote control. I came to my girlfriend in a fit over pumping — she’s actually having her fourth child, and she was like, “You’re not using a hands-free bra yet? What are you doing? Get this bra right now.” And then it was like, okay, cool, not that I’m looking forward to going to sit in the corner and pump, but, all right, this is not that bad.

The one thing you constantly hear while you’re pregnant or nursing is: Don’t forget to drink water. I wanted something that would keep me accountable; before the baby I used to set alarms to remind me to drink water, but I’m not trying to do that anymore; I don’t have time. This water bottle is just fun; every time I was pumping or nursing I would try to get to at least the next line down.

This is for the nipple area when you’re nursing; my boobs are used to it now, so I don’t use it on myself anymore, but I’ll put it directly on Jorgie.
I’ve noticed, depending on how she’s sitting with a diaper, it can rub her skin in the hip area in a weird way, so we put the lanolin there, and it works as a great barrier. Or if she scratches herself with her nails — you know, babies nails grow so fast — we just apply it there, too. And on her lips if they’re chapped. It’s awesome. And I know that it’s safe for her to ingest because literally it was on my boobs all the time when she started nursing.

When I was pregnant, my husband talked to some of his girlfriends who were moms already, and he made me a care package that had Bio Oil in it. To prevent stretch marks, I applied it under my boobs and around them — it keeps the skin as elastic as possible. I have gone through it and got some more, gone through, got some more. I’m just like, “Oh, this is just going to be a part of my life.” It’s to the point where, if I’ve forgotten to put it on for two days, I can tell; I’m like, “My skin definitely feels dry,” especially around my butt and my stomach; that’s where I apply it the most now.

We’re very intentional about showing our daughter a diversity of images; it matters early, the messages you receive. I got these ABC affirmation flash cards when Jorgie was about 4 months old, and it’s still a daily practice for us: You’ll see a Black girl on one side of a card and a Black boy on the other; A is for amazing, and the little girl is saying something like, “I am amazing and can do great things in my community.” I mean, I’m raising a Black girl in this world — I’m pressed to make sure that she consumes stories, narratives, words, that remind her of the power that’s inside of her. I know so much of what she’s going to experience, and hope so much that she doesn’t experience some of the same things I did. One of the things that I know has been critical for me to operate with conviction, clarity, and joy, and build a sense of resilience, has been the affirmations that I’ve received from my family, from my tribe, ever since I was a very little girl.

Editor’s note: The flash cards are currently on back order from Darlyng & Co. and Amazon, but both allow you to preorder them and say the cards will ship once restocked in April.

We’ve tried everything for teething, and these books are the jam. Honestly, I just Googled “books that kids can’t ruin,” and I found them.

Also for teething, we found a giraffe that’s not Sophie. It came in a pack of teething toys; there’s also a banana and other fruit-shaped pieces — it all just depends on what she wants at that moment.

I really believe in supporting BIPOC-owned businesses, specifically those run by women of color. That’s why I chose these essential oils for the baby’s room, even though I know there are other essential oil companies out there. These really help set the mood for rest and calm — one of the scents is specifically for anti-anxiety, and hello, need I say more? I believe if mama’s not good, baby’s not good. So I’ve just tried to prioritize how I can show up for Jorgie.

From $24

I’m obsessed with this subscription toy box — it’s also a BIPOC-owned business, and it comes every month with five or six new toys that are STEM-based. They include these easy to understand instructions and learning guides for helping you teach your children independent play and foundational learning principles. For example, our last box was all about introducing Jorgie to animals — it came with a wooden barn, with pieces that you can flip up to show the animals inside; the instruction cards said things like, “Put your hand up and ask your child, ‘Do you know what it means to go up?’ And then we’ll play with the barn and I’ll say, “Jorgie, can you flip this up?” You’re working on STEM projects and you don’t even know it. It’s beautiful.

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How I’d Redo My Baby Registry: More Lanolin, No Diaper Genie