This post deals with the mad shopping spree that comes before giving birth. There is a large amount of amenities to purchase for your human-to-be. Unfortunately, most of it is pure crap. It is absolutely useless. Stick with the basics. You don't need a special diaper garbage can, a changing table, a seat so your baby can sit up, bottle sanitizers, or any of that other crap. Don't get sucked into baby-gadget overload.
When I buy stuff for a baby shower I get things I know every parent will need; diapers, wipes, baby Tylenol, Orajel, cabinet locks, etc. Friends and family will inundate you with clothes (many of which will suck, like FSU pants), teddy bears, books and toys. You will have so much of this stuff it will eventually be more in the way than anything. You won't have a place to put it all. So don't request any of it. Just let it come and accept it with a smile. Take what you don't like and either donate it to a women's center, regift it to someone who may appreciate or need it, or sell it at a consignment shop.
I would strongly encourage you to tell everyone to not get you bottles or socks. These are two things you don't want to have different kinds of. For bottles I would suggest you get the kind that take the plastic insert, and get the same brand. This will save you a lot of time trying to find a bottle, lid, and nipple that match. Trust me, this is a real pain. Having all of your bottles, lids, and nipples matching will make your life a lot easier.
Matching baby socks is really difficult too. They are all teeny, and the differences between them can be really subtle. Having all the same kind of matching socks will also save you lots of time and frustration. If you want to splurge on getting your child cute things, get cute outfits, stick to plain and consistent socks.
Don't believe Gerber. Powdered milk is not a sufficient supplement for good old breast milk. I refer you to http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/feeding/breast_bottle_feeding.html for an explanation why. I want to emphasize this line, "The AAP says babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months." I would take issue with "For many women, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed is based on their comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical considerations that they might have." The only reason to not breast feed is for a medical consideration. As a mother you have no right to deny your child the benefits of breast feeding. Doing so is selfish at best. This is not to say you should never give your child formula. Keep some on you just in case you have to feed your baby and breast milk is not available or impractical. I do believe you should be prepared to breast feed in public, like when dad is out for a longer period of time with the child than unrefrigerated milk will allow for. This is becoming more and more acceptable again. A good blanket makes this more comfortable. I think this is a matter of personal preference though.
Get yourself a good quality breast pump. Don't let price dictate which one you think is best. Ask your ob-gyn about the different models. You definitely want to go with an electric pump unless you have wrists of adamantium (which you don't btw.)
On that same note, get a food processor and be prepared to make your own baby food. If you don't think this is important, go buy a jar of baby food, like peas, and eat it. You will notice that it doesn't actually taste like peas, Then get the green beans or the carrots. Yep, they all taste the same, like water mixed with flour. You should be respectful enough to your child to feed them good foods. They are more likely to take to green vegetables and other good foods if they actually taste good. Don't worry about those fancy baby-food cook books. They are nonsense. Simply steam the vegetables, throw them in a blender and then put them in containers. We found it necessary to buy some Gerber food to keep in our diaper bag for those times we didn't expect to be out. We would use the empty containers to store our food. What I would do is keep them in the freezer and just have enough thawed at a time to last two days. Each day I would take out a days worth and that would make sure we had a good supply in the freezer and a good supply ready to go. Another trick is to put the food in ice-cube trays and they can more easily be thawed by sitting in a container that is sitting in hot water. Never microwave the food you make, it kills many of the nutrients. So my original point was that you should get a quality food processor. When you are making a lot of food at once a good food processor can make the difference between a pleasurable experience and frustration.
Start offloading responsibility. If you have a project you want to get done, do it quickly or just give up. If you have extra-curricular things going on, or stay late after work a lot, give up as much as you can. You need to spend that first year readjusting to all of your new responsibilities, especially your financial ones. Day care can run almost to a grand a month, and after you have left work and picked up the child from daycare, the rest of your day will be cooking, cleaning and caring for your child. The idea that you might consistently have some spare time is foolish.
Females, kick Dad in the nuts and tell him to be a man. Seriously, the vast majority of fathers act like they are retarded. Changing a diaper, taking the child to the doctor or a birthday party, or taking on other necessary responsibilities is not rocket science. You know how you try to show your wife how to set the alarm clock and instead of listening she gives you that blank stare like your speaking Klingon. Yeah, if you can't do basic tasks for your child then your just as retarded. Don't let your man do this. It sucks just as bad for you to do these things as it does for him, so tell him to grow a pair and stop his moaning. It's not going to get easier in the future. As time rolls on you both will tire of various tasks and will rely on each other to make sure everything gets done. You can't do it by yourself and there's no reason you should have to.
When you buy media, don't get the cheap crappy stuff. I'm talking about the $1 books at the dollar store, or the $5 movies at the grocery store check out. Get good videos. Think Dr. Seuss books. I think one should set a high standard for entertainment. Honestly, do you want your child watching the equivalent of Friends or Hanna Montana in fifteen to twenty years from now? The answer is no, if you weren't sure.
A well equipped diaper bag is a must. Be sure to not overdo it either. You don't want a bunch of useless stuff in your diaper bag that makes finding anything difficult. It's been a while, but I think this is what I kept in my diaper bag:
- Bottles with measured water already in them. Separate bottled water is fine too.
- Lots of diapers and wipes.
- Plastic bag for disposing of poop diapers.
- Baby Tylenol and Orajel.
- A complete change of clothes.
- A blanket.
- Finger food.
- A bib.
- Hand sanitizer.
I'm pretty sure that is close to complete. Some of these items can be added or removed as is appropriate for the age.