In the event that you and your S.O. are spending time in the bedroom making babies, deliberately or incidentally, the following numbers might prove useful: The baby goods industry is apparently worth around $30 billion, and the cost of a raising a child to 21 is reported to be over $300,000. Scary, huh?
Our eldest son is now five years old, and our youngest is three. We’d like to try for another child, but it isn’t in the cards. As such, I’m tasked with the hateful job of divesting our remaining baby things. This started with Craigslist, which is comprised of people who email questions, book appointments, and then—quite tragically—spontaneously combust on their way over. It is ending with us simply donating these things to those in need.
As I purge all of this stuff, I realize just how little of it was ever necessary. Actually, almost none of it was.
Sure, you’ll need receiving blankets (read: cheap rags) to wipe up puke. Diapers are also a nice idea, unless you’re truly the adventurous type. A car seat is a good call, if you’d like said baby to maintain his/her current configuration. From there, though, most of the rest is a wash.
A fancy diaper bag with many useful pockets? Nonsense! Any bag or backpack will do. A crib? Unnecessary. Particularly once you realize that your baby is going to sleep with you, most of the time. Besides, a portable playpen (used price $25) will serve the same purpose, and be useful when traveling. Change table? Use the floor. “Genius” baby products? Not that important. My kid ain’t Einstein, and yours won’t be either. Sadly, no toy will change this.
Next up, clothing: don’t buy any. You’ll be drowning in it, in no time. Toys? Same deal. Family and friends will bombard you with this stuff, and more of it will go unused than you can imagine. While it sickens me to say so, we’ve come across some such things in our house that never even made it out of their packaging.
As for strollers, you’ll end up with a few at different times. I hated this idea when we started out, but it’s unavoidable. You’ll begin with a basinet model, convert it to the upright setting, and then find yourself buying an umbrella stroller. (This will be the cheapest one, and you’ll use it the most.) With the arrival of baby #2, you’ll once again be in the market; this time for a two-seater.
My suggestion for strollers: buy used, and go cheap. All the conveniences touted are overrated, and pre-owned ones are typically in great condition. Plus, it’s hard to not look like a douchebag when you’re pushing around a $1,000 Bugaboo.
Now, for the good part. Perhaps you’ve heard whispers about the Great Baby-Stuff Exchange. Well, these rumors are all true: a shadowy, underground market comprised of completely free baby goods!
You see, although you might not currently know many people with kids, this will all soon change. Once it happens, you’ll be forced to endure all kinds of mind-numbing blabber about lack of sleep, breastfeeding problems, and some Ferber dude. The upside? They’ll also be trading bags and boxes filled with things their kids have outgrown. You too can take part in all of this wonder, getting your hands on almost new stuff, at no cost, for as long as you need it! (You’ll eventually find yourself happier to see it go, than come.)
Ask most expectant parents how they’re doing, and they almost unanimously respond, “We’re kind of busy, getting the house ready.” These people are fools… hear me, fools! Sit back, relax, and collect some common sense. All the crap you’re being told to buy won’t make you an even marginally better parent, and there’s no real way to prepare for the changes ahead.
So, skip the prescribed consumption and do something important. By this I mean spending your last pre-child days indulging at restaurants and taking in as many movies as you can. You won’t be able to do this again, for a good, long while.