One of my sorority sisters is pregnant with her first child and recently asked a group of us what she needed for the baby. The answers started to roll in and they really got me thinking. Babies actually need very little. They need some stuff to wear, some stuff to eat and someone to love and care for them. All the other stuff? Cribs, strollers, baby monitors, bath tubs, swings, pack ‘n plays…all that junk – that’s for us parents. The baby doesn’t need any of it. Not even diapers.

(Me? I need diapers for my baby. Natural infant hygiene works for some. Diapers work for me.)

The way you parent really is the factor that determines what you’ll need to care for your baby. But how do you know how you’re going to parent before you start? Sure, we all have ideas of what motherhood looks like or what we want it to be beforehand. But after three kids, I’ve found the parent I am is a whole lot different from the one I thought I’d be. (I thought I’d be J.C. Wyatt.)

When I was pregnant with Julia, my baby registry was enormous. I thought I needed everything and NOW! BEFORE THE BABY COMES! Oh, you should have seen my 8 month pregnant meltdown when we didn’t have a baby tub, yet! (She cannot come without a baby tub! How will we bathe her without a tub? David, this is impossible. My kid has no tub! I’m a horrible mother!!!!)(Poor Dave.) But anxious meltdowns aside, getting ready for the baby is mostly fun, especially when you have help in the form of baby showers and gifts. Looking back, however, I see so much waste.

Pack ‘n play – never used.
Baby swing – did not use.
Crib – did not use until Lucy was born.
Baby tub – DID NOT USE. (And then Dave’s head exploded.)
Bottles and sundry accessories – did not use.

Instead, the baby slept in our bed, I carried her in a Moby Wrap, bathed her on a sponge in our tub and fed her from my breasts. That’s a lot of money we could have saved. But I had no idea I’d prefer to “wear my baby” or “co-sleep.” I’d never even heard of that stuff until I was already doing it. And the idea of waiting to see what we needed and buying as we went? That wouldn’t have worked. (See baby tub meltdown above.)

So, I never answered my sorority sister’s question.

Now, with baby number four waiting at the gate, I have my list for him and it’s pretty simple.

Diapers
Onesies, sleepers, and socks (Dave has this thing with getting him not-girl clothes.)
Bassinet for the ground floor (I love this one!)
This new awesome monitor. (Remember the old one? It’s time to upgrade.)
Car Seat (Zoo animals!)

I think that’s it. I already have a bouncer and blankets. Anything else we can pick up as we need it. (See how different I am from my baby bath tub meltdown days!?)

Now parents, tell me, what items did you rely on most to take care of your baby? Did you turn out to be a different parent than you thought you’d be?