What a new mom *actually* needs

We participated in a twitter party last night with Healthy Child Healthy World to talk about what a parent really needs to have on hand for a new baby. There were a few excellent panelists and a gajillion other participants. The panelists included:

Are you expecting a baby?
Expecting a baby?

After an hour of chatting about what a mom NEEDS vs. doesn’t need and how we can all do better to find green alternatives to common baby products, the task of actually assembling the “perfect” baby registry sounds harder than ever. Our advice is to talk to your favorite veteran moms and do what feels right for you. So if you want to throw all their advice out the window after getting conflicting messages, go right ahead.

I started off by saying all you need NEW is car seat, stroller, breast pump, diapers. But then I thought, maybe some moms don’t need a breast pump; a stroller can be borrowed or bought used — as can cloth diapers. Oops!

So my updated advice on what to register for is this: When considering what to BUY vs. BORROW, think about the shelf-life of a product. Less than 5 months? Borrow! Our registry tips page offers a bucket of suggestions of the kind of items you can get used.

A few of my favorite road-tested tips from the twitter party:

Guiding principle: Do I need it at all?

  • MeaganFrancis says a baby has three basic needs: to be warm, dry, and fed. The rest is extra!
  • Whitney tweets that diaper bags are a weird invention anyway; what’s wrong with a backpack?
  • Zrecs_safety suggests that you take back 75% of the onesies you receive at your baby shower. You’ll be doing laundry constantly anyway.
  • BeckRath says you never need to buy a baby blanket. You will be gifted tons, including handmade ones.
  • MeaganFrancis: I always tell expecting moms DON’T register for stuffed animals no matter how cute. People will give anyway!
  • GreenMomReview: You don’t need: the vinyl and foam changing pad. A folded up comforter works just as well w/o the toxins.
  • MeaganFrancis: Most big “toys” + even some furniture pieces can wait til after you have baby & see how/if you’ll use them.

Greener, Safer, Healthier

  • Zrecs_safety suggests that Safemama.com, ZRecsGuide.com, thesoftlanding.com are all great resources for safer quality baby stuff
  • Healthy_Child: For Toys & Teethers: Look for natural materials like solid woods or organic textiles
  • Healthy_Child: Make a safe bed: PVC-free mattress, with natural, untreated sheets. Skip the bumpers, pillow & blanket.

New Vs. Used

  • Paige Wolf buys mostly used baby clothes, figuring that enough washes helps flush the flame retardants and yucky dyes!
  • CoolMomPicks:  You can actually even get a used breast pump – depending on which one it is! See this Hygeia Enjoye (the best breast pump you’ve never heard of).
  • Healthy_Child suggests that you try to connect with local moms to share items and start your own child gear ‘library”. (love it!)

So what do you think you absolutely *need* to raise a baby?

{picture from flickr by mark sebastian}