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The Baby Merch Maze

Did you think it was awfully suspicious how, seemingly moments after conceiving, piles of junk mail from Babies R Us and Wal Mart and every other major retailer arrived at your door? Are the digital pregnancy tests rigged up with GPS trackers now or what?

I know that’s far fetched, but I also know instinctively that it doesn’t take mountains of merchandise to set up for a new baby. Flipping through the pages of those mailers, I felt a distinct resistance to the idea of acquiring a whole bunch of new stuff, and thus generating a bunch of new junk-- both in our apartment and on our planet-- in the months before and after our baby arrives. Like every expectant parent, I will do anything and everything it takes to give my baby the most comfortable, peaceful, positive welcome into this world that I can, but I was downright offended by attempts by said retailers to prey upon that determination for the sake of capitalist gain.

I sense that the most comfortable, peaceful environment for our baby is going to be one in which we (Aaron and myself) also feel comfortable and at peace, and in which our baby is integrated into our home and lives. I'm sure, too, that the safest environment for our baby is going to be one that isn’t laden with chemicals from a massive collection of new furniture, textiles and toys as they de-gas after unwrapping (as it turns out, second-hand items are not only easier on the wallet, they’re less laden with toxins).

That being said, we’re going to need to be outfitted with the necessary items to keep our baby clothed, clean, fed, and healthy, and so while I’m pretty sure I don’t need a (seriously unattractive) matching glider, ottoman, and crib skirt, I’m not entirely sure of which items I really do need within easy reach.

Some of my mom’s friends will be throwing me a baby shower in January, and I’ve started this registry on AlternativeGiftRegistry.org (great site-- lets you mix and match instead of choosing all of your items from one mega-source) so as to point shower attendees and holiday gifters in the right direction. But now I realize that I’m somewhat adrift in that respect.

What are the essential items? What did you have that you didn’t use at all? What items can we wait on and purchase later if it becomes necessary? Did any of you take (or are you currently taking) a deliberately minimalist approach? How about a fully-stocked approach? What’s the bottom line on all of this baby ‘stuff’?

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