A baby really only needs so many onesies. It’s nice to have a few different receiving blankets; but twelve blankets is overkill. Babies outgrow so much of what is bought for them before they’ve worn it or used it enough to even make it look secondhand. But you know what never goes to waste? Time. Convenience. Memories.
We’ve written before about how you should add services to your baby registry—meal deliveries, a house cleaning service, or a postpartum doula, to name a few. Although our culture has been slow to embrace non-item registries, I’ve personally never understood why it was tacky to ask for an excursion on your honeymoon but not, say, an ice cream maker you’re only going to use once.
We’re becoming more open-minded, though, as sites like GoFundMe have made it easier for people to ask for financial support while in the midst of a crisis. Plus, more of us are embracing a minimalist lifestyle—or at least trying not to be overly wasteful, carelessly filling our landfills with more plastic junk our kids hardly used.
To be fair, when you’re expecting a baby, especially if it’s your first, you do have some legitimate “gear” needs. A crib. A stroller. A car seat. Etc. But there is a fine line between “We need these items to get our lives ready for a baby” and “Now I’m just adding stuff because it’s cute and Aunt Allison keeps asking for more ideas.” When you reach that point, ask yourself: What do I really need? What would make my life easier or less stressful when the baby arrives?
You can certainly start with postpartum services: meal planning, a weekly night nurse that will allow you to get one good night’s rest periodically, or a lactation consultant. But there may be other non-traditional things you haven’t considered asking for that would be more valuable to you than a really cute pair of baby shoes your baby will never walk in. And you can set up a registry for these non-item desires on Plumfund, which is like a GoFundMe for parents-to-be.
For most of us, it’s not feasible to expect that our relatives could—or would—fund on-going child care. But maybe you’d really like an in-home nanny to care for the baby in their first year; but you can’t quite afford the extra cost. Or there’s a really nice daycare that costs a little more per month than your other options, but money is already going to be tight enough as it is.
Or maybe you just want to build up a “babysitting fund” so that you and your partner can actually go out for dinner once a month the way you’ve been promising each other you will. If a friend asked for that during a pregnancy, I’d personally be all over it. A little extra money to fund the child care you want or need can take some of the financial pressure off in those early months.
Maybe you know you’re going to want your mum to come visit A Lot after the baby is born but she’s halfway across the country from you and can’t afford to be flying back and forth all the time. Or maybe you’re desperate for your best friend to come for a visit or two so you can feel like a whole person again for a bit.
Text messages and FaceTime just don’t cut it when you’re a new parent and you need support from your loved ones. You can ask for help funding airfare to bring sanity straight to you—or for you to travel with the baby to show off the newest member of your family for the first time.
Gear for later
When you’re registering for all the things, you haven’t even met your child yet. You have no idea whether your baby is the type that loves a swing or hates a swing. Is a bath-time splasher or a bath-time screamer. Will breastfeed or won’t. So while you certainly need some basics to get started, wouldn’t it also be nice to have a little fund set aside to buy the gear you’ll use once you’ve figured out whether the cost will actually be worth it for your specific child?
You can start something I’ve just made up called the “Gear for Later Fund” where you’ll put everyone’s money to much better use once you actually know whether your baby adores a nice long walk in the stroller (spring for that jogging stroller!) or not (good thing you didn’t waste someone’s money on a jogging stroller).
If you can dream it up—and it will be helpful for you—turn it into a registry and all that money that would have been spent filling the nursery with stuffed animals will now help you in a more specific and personal way.