Metro Mama & Metro Baby

By Sharon Marcus

The first time I stepped into the mega-sized baby retail store and grabbed my registry scanner, I was zap happy and ready to create the nursery of my dreams. At the same time, I was a little overwhelmed at the multitude of options available. A whole wall of just mattresses? No matter! I had my Baby Bargains book in hand and committed to memory. I could do no wrong.

But I did do wrong. Lots of wrong. In my efforts to create a cozy but chic environment for my baby, I overlooked some necessary functionality rules that none of my mommy friends mentioned. Here’s a few of them that are pretty universal – before stepping foot into your registry shop of choice, read this first!

#1 – When considering mattress pads and sheets, it’s your mattress depth that matters most.

Many mattresses can be flipped (a firm side for infants and a slightly softer side for toddlers) and these often run 6” deep, as opposed to standard mattresses, which run 5” deep. Check the depth of your chosen brand and ensure that your mattress pad and sheets boast deep pockets. Otherwise, those lovely custom printed sheets you just ordered are going to come up an inch short, especially after a spin in the dryer. And it’s not easy returning a washed mattress pad – take it from me! (A side note – register for two of them. One middle-of-the-night leaky diaper and you’ll wish you had a backup mattress pad – not just sheets!)

#2 – A mobile is not just there to look pretty – it should amuse and put your kid to sleep

Tiny Love’s Soothe n’ Groove Mobile

Those neutral farm animals are adorable and the hand crank melody is cute, but you’ll be cursing those sheep at 3 a.m. when the music stops just as your baby is nodding off. Choose a mobile that preferably: runs on batteries – not a wind-up; has music that runs for at least 15 minutes (and that doesn’t make you insane- you’ll listen to it a LOT); is colorful and amusing – even if that’s not your style. A great option: Tiny Love’s Soothe n’ Groove Mobile.

#3 – Video monitors are made for mothers who don’t stay up to watch them all night.

Sleep is sacred as a new mother. If “Babyvision” is going to become your new favorite show (be it out of love or anxiety), opt for a high-end audio monitor without a screen. The moment your child is born, you will develop superhuman mommy hearing abilities – trust me. If you need to see what’s going on, you’ll know. I used to sleep through hurricanes. Now I wake up when my kid rolls over.

#4 – Your car seat cover should work like a showercap; other accessories are hazardous.

Tivoli Couture’s Infant Car Seat Jacket

While dutifully having my infant car seat dock installed at the nearby certified NHTSA inspection station, the inspector took one look at my cozy car seat covering, rearview mirrors and seat protector pad and told me to get rid of them. Nothing is supposed to come between your baby’s back and the carseat (this includes a coat) and any other accessories can be projectiles in an accident. If you live in a colder climate, opt for a warm, elasticized “shower cap-style” covering like Tivoli Couture’s Infant Car Seat Jacket Bunting, which doesn’t interfere with the straps. (A huge added plus: this option can be removed from the carseat without disturbing your sleeping baby once indoors, so they won’t overheat).

#5 – Your kid will tell you what pacifiers, bottles and swaddles they like, not the other way around.

If you plan to register for these items, register for only one of each variety or make sure your store has great return and exchange policies. You can stock up on the bottle sterilizer and dishwasher baskets in advance, but perform a few test runs with your baby before stocking up on expensive bottles and accessories. Buy a small selection of pacifiers and swaddles – expect a few will go unused and then buy the fan favorite.

#6 – Bibs are your baby’s hardest working accessory and should live up to that challenge.

Look for attractive cloth bibs (the small cotton ones) as they often cover your baby’s outfit during the early drool days. When it comes to feeding bibs, the most important features are: water-resistancy; a pocket for collecting a mess; ability to dry quickly and fold thin for storage. Bumkins’ Superbibs fit all these criteria and take up virtually no space at all in a diaper bag – that space is valuable!

#7 – It’s the cut of the clothes that will make them essentials in your baby’s closet.

Fabulous stay-put socks from Dolly & Dimples

Whether you are buying high end or bargain bin, look for features that are going to make life easier for you and your baby. Choosing onesies with a boat neck instead of a round neck will make it much simpler to slip over your baby’s head without a struggle, especially when they are dirty. A pair of cute socks cut on an angle stay on even when your child tugs on them. These types of socks, like Dimples’ Gym Shoe Socks, are worth the few extra bucks over the cheap ones that always fall off at the supermarket, and they also prevent the need for purchasing useless shoes.

#8 – Consider whether you want the prettiest diaper bag – or the one that a man will agree to carry.

Realistically, you are not going to swap diaper bags like you do a purse, and you are not always the one getting stuck holding the bag – no pun intended. Choosing a backpack or messenger bag in a neutral color palette will have the guy in your life offering to assist you twice as often, and without that scrunchy “you want me to carry that pink floral bag like it’s mine?” face. SkipHop is one line that offers a great selection full of specialized pockets and features.

So, that’s my two (or eight!) cents. Registering is an exciting time for an expectant mommy. Once the baby arrives, it’s nice to have hard-working products on hand so that your energy can be best spent enjoying your first days of motherhood. Best of luck!

Originally published March 2012
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