The Truth About Babies: Must-Have Items You Can’t Find on a Registry

You’ve spent the last nine months reading pregnancy and parenting books, perusing nursery decorating sites, registering for coordinated nursery linens and filling a closet full of tiny ruffled frocks. As your baby’s arrival creeps closer you think you know what to expect, but there are surprises ahead.

Real parenting involves more snot than tears of joy and more white onesies than precious outfits. You’ll never be able to anticipate every surprise your little one will bring you, but you can get ahead of the game with a few baby essentials that you won’t find on any registry checklist.

Room Darkening Window Treatments

Photo by jonnypage via Flickr

For the first two years after your little one is born, it all comes down to sleep. Sure, you will be late, early and all hours in between, but the sleep that really matters is your baby’s. Babies that sleep through the night and nap well during the day are calmer and happier. Plus, uninterrupted sleep for your baby means more time for you to be productive or squeeze in a nap of your own. If you’ve been browsing nursery décor online, you’ve probably seen plenty of windows trimmed with breezy, lightweight drapes or topped with ruffled valances. Skip those and opt for room-darkening roller shades or blackout drapes such as those from Room darkening window treatments are available in contemporary colors and patterns to accent your nursery but, more importantly, they let you create a peaceful space that will encourage your baby to rest, which means you may be able to rest as well.

A Stylish, Double-Duty Bag

Babies need lots of stuff. Between bottles, diapers and changes of clothes, even a quick trip to the store means hauling more than you packed for week-long vacations in your pre-baby days. Once you’ve packed your baby’s bag, you’ll probably find that the five tubes of lipstick, 10 colored pens and seven hair accessories in your own handbag are no longer necessities. A diaper bag and a purse can be too much to deal with. Instead, opt for a bag that can do double duty. Leave the pastel polka-dotted and bright flowered bags on the shelf and choose one that is sophisticated on fashionable on the outside and organized on the inside. Since you’ll be sporting this tote for several years, it’s a good idea to invest both quality and style. The Stevie bag from Kate Spade runs just over $400, while the “Harmony” rings in at almost $300. Both look exactly like high-end handbags and offer plenty of pockets on the inside. Skip Hop also offers many stylish options. The brand’s Versa bag is available in several dark neutrals and light patterns for $70; dads will appreciate Skip Hop’s Via Messenger for $80.

Simple Stroller

Photo by USCPSC via Flickr

Travel systems and high-tech jogging strollers are all the rage on mommy blogs and product recommendation lists. While larger strollers with all the bells and whistles certainly have a place in your baby gear arsenal, there are times when they are just too much. Some days, though, the thought of hauling a heavy stroller out of your trunk, struggling to set it up with one hand while holding a wiggling child and then maneuvering it around a crowded mall is enough to make you want to stay home. For quick trips, or visits to crowded areas, a lightweight umbrella stroller is much easier to handle than its bulkier counterpart. Since the point of an umbrella stroller is simplicity, there’s no need to spring for a high-end version. Target offers a basic Jeep brand stroller, with just a cup holder and new basket under the seat, for under $40.

Teething Necklace

Like most ladies, babies love pretty, sparkly things. But, while you think your necklace gives your outfit the perfect accent, your baby thinks it’s just right for tugging and chewing on. To avoid broken chains and teeth marks on your pendants, you might need to leave your favorite pieces in the jewelry box for now. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear accessories. Teething necklaces look just like trendy statement pieces and are safe for little ones to chew on. ChewBeads offers teething strands starting at around $30. The beads are made from silicone, just like teething rings and pacifiers, and they are easy to clean.