Okay, so a few posts back, I got a little sappy (I tend to do that) about things that I discovered that I didn’t need after the baby arrived…because, you know, the only thing I truly need is a healthy, happy little one and all that. Which, of course, is totally true.
But in a more practical sense, there really were little things that I did not need—or, at least, have not needed thus far, almost four months into the adventure of being a mom. Some baby things are relentlessly marketed to us as necessities, as we discover that some things we just happen upon incidentally are the most indispensable accoutrements to parenthood (for example, my Aden & Anais blankets). And some of the things I found unnecessary are undoubtedly essentials to other mothers. But in any case, here are a few things that I always assumed I would need…but didn’t.
1. Baby laundry detergent. Before Baby Owl was born, I nagged Mr. Owl to within an inch of his life about finding this. For some reason, it is difficult to find baby laundry detergent in Riyadh. And if you find it, it’s ridiculously expensive.
But, in the typical throes of nesting, I was determined. All of Baby Owl’s clothes had to be washed in baby laundry detergent. And once Baby Owl came home, I continued to wash all of her clothes in special detergent for a week or so, until I discovered that they stunk. It wasn’t just a lack of typical clean laundry scent…it was an actively icky smell. And hers were the only clothes that smelled like that.
It had to be the detergent. I hated putting smelly clothes on my baby. And I didn’t want to send Mr. Owl out for more of the icky baby detergent (which actually had no smell at all when sniffed in the box) if it wasn’t necessary. So, feeling like a terrible mother, I placed one sleeper in the washing machine, along with the tiniest bit of regular laundry detergent you ever did see. An hour or so later, it emerged clean and smelling like…well, clean laundry. I was encouraged.
But there was still the Baby Owl test. That night I put her in the clean sleeper and watched her like a hawk as she slept, just waiting for her to erupt into an itching fit caused by my negligence at putting her in a sleeper washed in regular laundry soap.
Yeah. Nothing happened.
Now all of Baby Owl’s clothes get washed in the same detergent that I use for my own. She’s fine. I do wash her clothes in loads separate from mine and Mr. Owl’s, and I use less detergent in those loads, but I don’t have the need for specialized baby laundry soap anymore. I have no doubt that some babies do have skin that necessitates special laundry soap (and maybe I will have one someday), and for that reason I’m very grateful that such soap exists. But for now, I think I’ve figured out why Riyadh supermarkets don’t carry eight different brands of baby laundry detergent—it’s because the stuff usually just isn’t necessary.
2. Baby oil. For us, this was easily replaced with virgin coconut oil. I’ve been using coconut oil around the house for years; it’s my primary moisturizer. Mr. Owl uses it, too. In fact, it’s kind of his version of Windex (you’ll understand if you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding). If you make known any skin condition, wound, scratch, or ingrown toenail, and Mr. Owl is there, proffering a jar and imploring you to “put some coconut oil on it.”
So we’ve been using it on Baby Owl, as well. Any diaper rash is quashed by coconut oil. She gets a coconut oil rubdown when she gets out of the bath. And the stuff was miraculous on cradle cap (we just rubbed a bit into her scalp, let it sit for a few hours, then gently combed her hair. All the flakes came tumbling out. Then we gave her a bath, and it never came back…at least not with as much vengeance as before).
3. Baby shampoo/baby wash. Two words: Dr. Bronner’s.
Again, we’ve been using this stuff around the house for years, and we already used the Baby/Mild variety (I make bars into liquid soap), so when Baby Owl arrived, I just diluted some with water and a dash of olive oil (for extra moisture), and that’s all we use to keep Baby Owl clean.
4. A diaper bag. I’ve always been an admirer of huge handbags. In my college days, when those tiny Kate Spade shoulder bags were all the rage, I carried one in conjunction with a huge backpack—ostensibly to hold my books, but in reality, it also held all the things I wanted to have in my handbag (which, granted, always includes a book or two).
Long before we were married, Mr. Owl always jokingly referred to my handbag as my “mom bag.” Anything he could possibly want in my purse, he could find. A pen, paper, a piece of gum, a pocket knife (what can I say, I’m from the Ozarks…and you’d be surprised how often my trusty little Swiss Army knife comes in handy), a Band-Aid (usually Hello Kitty or Spongebob; I’m a teacher by training, and when I met Mr. Owl I was a full-time elementary school teacher, so even before becoming a parent, I was well aware of the miraculous healing power of a Band-Aid), Neosporin, sunscreen, my camera, etc.
One time, he went on a trip with his family, and he called me and said, “I miss you so much. We were on the plane and we needed a pen and none of us had one. All I could think was that you would have one. I miss you and your mom bag.”
So, as you can probably guess by now, whenever we want to go somewhere with Baby Owl, I just toss her things into my mom bag, and off we go. Easy sneezy.
5. A breast pump. Obviously, if you want/need to give your baby breast milk in bottles, then of course, you need a breast pump. But for moms who intend to breastfeed and are ambivalent about pumping, don’t stress about having a pump on hand before the baby is born. I had to use one in the hospital, but the hospital provided it. I haven’t used one since, although I do have a Medela hand pump as a just-in-case kind of thing. Bottom line, if it makes you feel better to get (or register for) a pump, that’s fine (I did). But if you don’t really know if you’ll use it and are just thinking you probably should have one…don’t worry about it. If you discover you need one for whatever reason, you can always get it when it is necessary.
What baby things did you think you would need, but didn’t?