First Time Gran: What Does the Baby Really Need?

Editor’s Note: Nancy is on the verge of becoming a grandmother for the first time, and has many questions about what has changed since she was in the Mom’s seat. Carol, a mom with young kids and Liz, a mom with even younger kids, try to help her navigate modern babydom. 

Gran Nan: I’ve seen the sleepers with wings that double as swaddlers, but what am I missing?  My first and only trip to Buy, Buy Baby made me hyperventilate.  The floor to ceiling stacks of baby stuff tied my stomach in knots.  What’s good?  What’s trash?  What is relevant?  I felt the way I had felt when I was first allowed in the adult section of the library.  “How will I know which ones to read?”  I had no filter, no judgment.  I saw vaporizers shaped like animals and all I could think of was how will I know if these are any good?  Does anyone actually use vaporizers anymore?  Once upon a time, I knew Fisher Price had the best toys and word of mouth taught me which was the best gear; I didn’t have to pay attention to everything I saw.  Before practically backing out of Buy Buy Baby, it was only courtesy that kept me from calling a colleague with two children under age three begging for help.

Carol: And I’m sure Liz thanks you for your restraint! Chances are, she was in the middle of a messy feeding.

The sheer amount of baby product on the market is completely overwhelming, isn’t it? It’s even worse when you’re many, many pounds heavier than normal, the hormones are running rampant  and you’re being pressured to register. (Yes, baby registries are all the rage, and actually useful IF you know what you want). Yes, here, Gran Nan can inject sanity into what might be semi-frantic parents pressured by the U.S. Industrial Baby Complex. The baby needs to be safe, warm, clean and well fed. Anything that doesn’t help with these four things, seriously consider the purchase.

If you’re looking to make truly worthwhile purchases that will be much appreciated, consider:

1.   A good stroller that is (and here’s the key) EASY to pack up and transport in a car/bus/cab. We invested an obscene amount of money in our stroller(s) and it was worth every cent. Think: Can you pack up the stroller with one hand? Is it lightweight?

2.   A monitor. Pretty essential for today’s homes, especially if the house is large or multi-storied. Many love the video monitors so they can actually see Pumpkin as he sleeps, though Mommy often can’t help going to check in person.

3.   A Bag. Baby bags go by many names – bundlers, stroller warmers. They’re essentially blankets cleverly stitched together to keep baby warm when outdoors whether Pumpkin is in the car seat or stroller. Your grandson is a winter baby so this would be a good purchase.

4.   Rags. I bought a bunch of cotton diapers and used them for spills and other dirty incidents. They’re soft enough for baby’s skin and I never felt like I was destroying a good towel or actual clothing to mop up messes.

5.   The parents likely have lots of little clothes that Precious Baby will grow out of in approximately five minutes. Gran Nan can fill the void with snuggly duds in sizes 6 months and up. Grans are also great for buying those beautiful he’ll-only-wear-it-once-but-who-cares outfits that look great in photos.

6.   Gift certificate to Diapers.com. I can’t recommend this enough. We spent enough on this site-which delivers diapers right to the door!-to have purchased a piece of the company. I think many parents feel the same.

Liz: They are AMAZING! Next day delivery of anything you need and really competitive prices. We buy diapers, formula, baby food, bottles, shoes, clothes, EVERYTHING! Plus, really easy reordering and doing returns!

Also, Mustela skincare line. It’s not cheap, but very nice for newborn, sensitive skin. And a Baby Einstein (or similar brand) Activity Mat. It’s easy to store and doesn’t take a lot of room, great place to keep baby safe and entertained on the floor. (Available at the big baby stores, like Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us, as well as smaller baby/maternity stores.

Carol: Yep, those are good ones!

Follow “First Time Gran” as we await the birth of Precious Baby. We’re sure Gran Nan will have more questions!