Call it late spring cleaning or nesting, but I am in a major get-rid-of-clutter mode these days. We’re moving Charlotte into the big girl room with Lydia in a few months and prepping for a new baby and homeschooling in the fall, so I’ve been getting rid of everything we don’t need or use on a regular basis. Don’t tell Lydia, but yesterday afternoon while Charlotte was napping I let her watch Sesame Street while I went into her room with a trash bag and got rid of stuff that’s just accumulated over time. Every day I’m setting my timer for 15 minutes and in that time I have to get rid of at least 20 things. I’ll do this for a week or two until I feel like all the areas of the house have been covered. And it feels so, so good. Like getting a much-needed haircut. Ah, white space.
One of my Texas girls recently got engaged (shout out, Emily Beth) and I saw her post something on FB asking for what she truly needed to register for. That’s a good question. If I was doing it all over again (to the same man, don’t you worry, Matt Roberts) my registry would look a lot different. So for what it’s worth (not a lot) this is my two cents on some stuff to register for wedding and for baby.
Pots and Pans: We registered for one of those box sets of cooking pots and pans, the kind with four billion pieces. Over the years, I’ve given away almost all of that set and instead I use my one All Clad 5 quart saute pan for almost everything. If I was registering again, I would register for this because it works as both a saute pan and a sauce pan. I would also register for a small All Clad sauce pan for when you’re making small amounts of something like gravy or a garnishing sauce. If you have a grandparent who is willing to pass down a cast-iron skillet, I would ask for that for your wedding gift. I love, love, love the cast-iron skillet my dad rescued for me from my great-aunt’s house. Between my All Clad pan and my cast-iron skillet, I cook 99.9 percent of our meals using those two items.
Baking: For baking, I love Pampered Chef’s stoneware bar pan. The lip around the sides is great for roasting vegetables because it holds in the olive oil. I use that pan for pizzas, roasting veggies, cookies and almost everything else I bake. Nothing sticks to it, and you don’t have to use non-stick spray. My favorite thing in my kitchen, which Mrs. Ivery Wood conspired with my other shower hosts to get for me, is my KitchenAid mixer. That thing stands the test of time. From brownies to cakes, dips to pizza dough, the KitchenAid mixer is worth it. (My bestie told me to put your boiled chicken in there, turn it on and it will shred your chicken up in seconds. Genius!)
Knives: On to the sharp stuff, the knives I use are a set of steak knives that we won at one of Matt’s work Christmas parties. Long story, but they had a “As Seen On TV” Dirty Santa game, and we won these magic knives. They really are awesome. For all my slicing and chopping, my parents gave me a Wusthof Santoku knife for Christmas a few years ago, and it’s amazing. Once you have a nice knife, it’s very hard to use a cheap one. Again, I have found that I would rather have one nice, well-made item than a whole set of mediocre ones. Plus, it takes up way less space in your kitchen.
Bedroom/Bathroom: This is where a lot of your individual taste comes in, but you can’t go wrong with white towels and white sheets. Again, I would rather have two sets of good sheets than ten mediocre ones. I bought a set from Pottery Barn last year for our anniversary, and I’ve loved them. They only get softer with each washing. Gift cards to Home Depot or Lowe’s are great too because you can stock up on little things like a tape measure, nails, hammer, etc.
Big Ticket Items: Don’t feel like you need everything the day you move in either. It’s okay to eat dinner on a card table until you save up and find a dining table you just love. And it’s okay to use hand-me down furniture or garage-sale furniture. You can always paint it and add new hardware to make it your own. It’s easy to get caught up into thinking you “need” something to make your house a home. But a home is determined by the people within it, not by stuff.
I was blessed to have a great friend Mary Jane who taught me the ins and outs of baby stuff, what I needed and what I didn’t. If you don’t have a Mary Jane, here are a few thoughts. What you need more than anything are diapers, diapers, diapers and more diapers. Did I mention diapers?? Register for diapers in different sizes too. Babies move quickly through newborn and size 1 (some babies skip newborn altogether) but they are in size 2 and 3 for a while so you need lots of those. Clothes are great and everybody loves buying the cute outfits, but really you need diapers. And wipes. Diapers and wipes galore.
After that, you need a crib, a changing table, something comfortable to rock/feed in, stroller, car seat, something to make the bath tub baby friendly, pack-and-play and a diaper bag. Other things that are nice to have but not essential are a Boppy, Bumbo, swing and bouncer. Those last four aren’t used for very long, but if you’ve got the money or gift cards they are a great help. The Boppy is awesome during nursing. The Bumbo helps with feeding and allows them to sit up when they can’t sit up on their own yet, but they’re getting fussy in the horizontal position. The swing is great for the witching hour. (Around dinner time babies just go bananas and nothing seems to make them happy, but the swing can be your life-saver.) And the bouncer is nice so you can bring baby into the bathroom with you while you shower or get ready or into the kitchen with you while you cook.
Crib: There are about a million options. Make sure if you get something “antique” or “vintage” that it’s up to current crib standards (slat width, no drop-down side, etc.) and check to be sure it wasn’t originally painted with lead paint. You’re going to need a crib mattress too. My friend Jess has a great tip for making up the crib. Starting with the crib mattress, layer a mattress pad, a crib sheet, another mattress pad and then a second crib sheet. This way if baby has an accident in the middle of the night (which happens often at the beginning) you can rip off the top crib sheet and mattress pad, and you have a clean, dry one ready to go. You can do it one-handed with the lights off, and baby is none the wiser.
Changing Table: This is a great way to use a piece of furniture you already have or find an inexpensive one at a garage sale. All you need is a chest of drawers that is a good height for the parents. You can add a foam piece to go on the top for changing baby’s diaper, and once baby is potty-trained you can remove the foam piece and still have a usable piece of furniture.
Glider/Rocker: If you are planning on nursing, you are going to spend hours and hours and hours in this chair. This is worth spending some money on. I would give up other things in the nursery to have a comfortable chair. And if you choose a fabric that doesn’t scream “nursery” you can use it for years to come after baby is grown.
Stroller & Car Seat: The stroller/car seat combo is fabulous and a big help for younger kids. Regarding the car seat, check out its crash ratings online to be sure you choose a safe one. There are wonderful, safe car seats at all price points. You may want to go ahead and register for a convertible car seat as well. I love the Britax brand, but there are a lot of great options.
Bath Tub: There are several options. We got the plastic one that has the newborn insert. You don’t need to spend a ton of money on this. It’s a piece of plastic that holds water. Bath time for infants is about 3.5 minutes long. Especially if your baby is born in the cold months, have three or so washcloths handy when you give baby a bath. Get one wet with warm water and place it on baby’s chest. Get another wet and place it over baby’s lower abdomen and legs. This will help keep baby warm while you wash the head. If you are both there for bath time, one parent can go put a dry towel in the dryer for a few minutes so it will be hot when baby gets out while the other stays with baby and washes baby off. We got one billion bottles of baby shampoo the first time. Babies are little and they don’t get super dirty, so it doesn’t take much shampoo to get them clean. One bottle of baby shampoo will last you a very long time. You don’t need a a slew of baby towels either (but you do need a bunch of washcloths, see tip above) because you don’t have to use a brand new one every time you give a bath. Three or four towels should be plenty.
Pack-and-play: This is great for trips or just to keep baby corralled for a few minutes once baby is mobile and you need to get a shower or put something in the oven. I recommend a simple one without all the gadgets. You want to be able to set it up easily and quickly, and you want it to be something baby’s grandparents can set up too.
Diaper Bag: I think this is a great place for Mom to have a little fun. You want something with plenty of compartments and lots of storage space, but make sure it’s something that fits your personality. There are a ton of different designs, something for every style of mom.
Bottles/Breast Pump/Pacifiers: This is going to vary widely based on whether you nurse, for how long, etc. Different babies like different types of bottles and pacifiers. And some babies, like Lottie, prefer the thumb to a pacifier. If you are going the breastfeeding route, I highly recommend the Medela breast pumps. If you’re unsure about nursing, you can always rent a pump from your hospital for a month or two so you can try it out without making the big investment in a pump.
I’m sure there are some other great things that I’m forgetting. I’d love to hear your “must-haves” on the wedding or baby registry. But these are a few to get you started if you’re working on a registry this summer. Always add something on the registry just for fun to see if anyone notices. You know, Polident or something like that. Of course, if you have a bunch of observant friends, you might have enough Polident to supply a nursing home. Yowza!