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10 Unexpectedly Useful Items for Your Baby Registry

Photograph by Twenty20

Congratulations, you're pregnant! After all the excitement dies down and you get closer to your due date you'll begin to wonder: What do I really need for the baby? Sure, you have some idea—a crib, diapers, a changing table, adorable onesies. Maybe you've even put together your registry. And if that's the case, I have three teeny-weeny suggestions. OK, more like mandates.

First, I strongly suggest having a friend that already has children go over your registry with you and share their experiences with various items. There's nothing quite like a "been there, done that" mom to tell you what you do and do not need. Next, don't just register at one store—use Amazon or a site like Babylist (a universal registry that allows you to add whatever you want). I wish I had done that because once you bring baby home from the hospital you will not want to be running around to stores. TRUST. ME.

Finally, take a look at the list I've compiled for you of things that have been unexpectedly useful to me and some other mothers. These are things that you probably wouldn't think to include on your registry, but you totally should. They may seem like small things, but after your baby arrives things can get pretty chaotic pretty fast—and having one less thing to worry about is priceless.

  1. Lamp dimmer —Yay, you got that world's cutest lamb/duck/bunny/whatever lamp that you registered for the nursery. But, hello, it's 3 in the MF-ing a.m.! Even if you put a 40-watt bulb in it, you're not going to want to wake yourself or the baby up to even just the 40-watt level. Really, 40 watts seems painfully bright at 3 a.m. Trust me. Invest in a lamp dimmer switch—it connects to the super cute lamp you got, but makes it so you can adjust it to a reasonable level.
  2. Immersion blender—You don't need an expensive one-trick pony baby food maker. Get an immersion blender and use it to puree sweet potatoes, but also soup, sauces, smoothies and anything else.
  3. Tiny, tiny screwdriver setWho on earth would ever think to put this on their baby registry? And yet, you absolutely cannot be a successful parent without it. Have you tried to put batteries into any of the super cute things you've gotten off your registry? Go ahead, check out how small the screws are. I'll wait. See? Small as hell. Parents need tiny, tiny screwdrivers. Several of them.
  4. Light timerThis will be handy later, when your kid decides that waking up (and getting out of bed) at 6 a.m. is really cool but you are too cheap to shell out for one of these stupidly expensive baby "clocks." Just rig this up with a night light. If the light is on, it's OK to get up (or the reverse if your kid is afraid of the dark). Pair this technique with a sticker chart to reward good behavior and you'll be able to sleep (or work, or meditate, or whatever) until your approved and self-deemed reasonable hour.
  5. Mesh laundry bag—Baby clothes are obviously small but those little baby socks and mittens to keep them from scratching their face (and yours) off are so easy to lose. It's also great for your small washables like nursing pads. And thongs, if you're into that sort of thing.
  6. WD-40—For all the squeaky doors in your house that you won't notice until your baby is finally sleeping and you're trying to sneak out ... and then they'll become loud AF.
  7. Nosefrida—A friend gave me this when I was 20 weeks pregnant. I had never heard of it and I thought it looked repulsive. But then my little guy was all congested and our pediatrician recommended saline drops and a good suck. Works amazingly well but you have to create a seal and suck HARD—no one tells you that. You're welcome.
  8. Rock 'n Play—OK, you may have heard of this one, but I didn't know about it until after Baby was born and it totally could've saved my dad a bunch of money for the bassinet we hardly used. If your baby is a heavy spitter or has reflux, the angle of the Rock 'n Play was recommended by our pediatrician. They also feel cozy in there and it vibrates. Our son slept in it for the first 2 1/2 months of life next to our bed and it made it very easy to pick him up and nurse all night long.
  9. Spa gift certificate—Put it on there, trust me. You'll be thanking me at about three months postpartum. It's also great for your friends that want to give you something, but aren't sure what you need. Pamper the mama! The baby mostly just needs Pampers.
  10. Gift certificate to Drizly—All you need to know is they deliver booze to your house. Now, you might be thinking, "But I'll be breastfeeding! I can't drink that much!" That is absolutely true but did you know dark beer is frequently recommended by pediatricians for increasing your milk supply? You'll be glued to your couch while your baby is glued to your boob, so not having to go to the store will be a blessing. As will that sweet sip of beer after nine months of sobriety.

I'm sure there are many more items that could go on this list, so what's your special item or service that you wished you'd put on your registry?