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Expecting a brand new bundle of joy? If you’ve seen the ads, you’ve probably heard that your eight-pound money pit is going to need every contraption available to be happy, healthy, and comfortable during the first few months of life.


You had best get thee to a baby store! There are bassinets to buy, and monitors and diaper bins and coordinating sheet sets, too. In fact, the USDA estimates that the average American family spends more than $12,000 on child expenses in the first year of their child’s life. It’s easy to see how the expenses begin to add up when you need the newest, most high-tech version of everything.

But is there another way? The movement toward minimizing unnecessary “stuff” and focusing on securing baby’s future health – along with fewer but more functional and often higher quality belongings – has taken hold. It may resonate with you if you find yourself wondering again and again, “Do we really need that?”

Here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite baby registry items for the minimalist. If you’re expecting a baby and wondering how to navigate the baby registry without going overboard, check out our collection of baby registry alternatives that won’t gather dust.

Baby gifts for indulging

Prenatal massage

Add a gift certificate for a massage to your registry and enjoy some alone time before the chaos begins. Check with your doctor or midwife in advance to get the all-clear, and be sure to book a massage specific to expecting moms. Trust us, just the chance to lie on your stomach again on a specially prepared bed of pillows will feel heavenly.

Babymoon

If your host is up for coordinating a babymoon-themed shower, you could be in for a real treat. A friend who volunteers to babysit your older children, others who pool their frequent flyer miles towards your flights, and a few more who donate funds towards a hotel or activities could quickly add up to a weekend escape you’re sure to remember long after your tan fades. You could add individual elements of the babymoon to your traditional registry, or leave the organization to your host if she’s willing to be your fairy godmother.  

Bubbly, for now, and then

Want a special gift to enjoy now and again later? Request two bottles of nice champagne, preferably with the year on them. Enjoy one with your family on your baby’s birth day and save the other to enjoy with your child when she turns 21.

Baby gifts that will ease your burden

Meals

Your own feeding schedule is about to take a back seat to your hungry little peanut’s. If you’d like to avoid a diet of granola bars and lukewarm coffee, consider requesting the gift of healthy delivered, kit, or home-cooked meals. Then practice reheating and consuming them with one hand tied behind your back. Request that your host sets up a meal train if she’s willing, or consider asking for gift cards to local catering services or a meal kit subscription service.

Cleanliness

If there’s anything less important than your meals, it will probably be the cleanliness of your kitchen sink. A cleaning service can help take some of the load off, whether it’s scheduled once for a deep clean or arranged on a regular basis. Add a cleaning service fund, gift certificate, or Groupon to your registry and stay a step ahead of the mess. Just try to resist the urge to frantically clean up before the cleaners arrive.

Diapers

As you probably know, your life will soon be full of diapers. Whether you go for cloth or disposable, your little one is apt to go through six to 12 per day to start. Yup, that’s a diaper champ total of up to 84 diapers per week. While you might not get help changing them, you can certainly get help keeping them in stock. Request an Amazon Mom diaper subscription to automatically arrive each month (remember to change sizes as needed!), or add a cloth diaper cleaning service to your registry.   

Baby gifts for the Future

College savings

You can open a college savings account for your child even before he or she is born. While a 529 account does require a named beneficiary with an existing social security number, you can name yourself as a temporary beneficiary and change the beneficiary to your child at any time. Websites such as UGift make it easy to receive gift contributions to a 529 or other college savings account. Simply include your account’s unique gift code on your registry, and friends and family will be able to contribute directly.

Cord blood and placental tissue banking

The day your child is born may be the happiest day of your life. For parents who choose to bank their child’s cord blood, it could also defend them against the worst days as well. Americord is the leader in umbilical cord blood, cord tissue, and placental stem cell banking and yields the lowest costs with the highest quality guarantee. The stem cells found in cord blood can be cryogenically preserved and used later to help treat certain cancers, immune deficiencies, and blood diseases. Adding a cord blood banking fund to your registry is a smart investment in your family’s future.

Daycare fund

The USDA reports that, on average, 30 percent of child expenses incurred during the average child’s first year stem from childcare costs. In fact, if you thought planning for college was important, consider this: According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 33 states and the District of Columbia, infant care costs exceed the average cost of in-state college tuition at public four-year institutions. Consider your family’s budget and childcare options and add a daycare fund to your registry if it makes sense for your finances.

Parent Co. partnered with Americord because we believe in the value of thinking outside the (gift) box.

Baby gifts to get sentimental

Online or text message baby journal

You may have high hopes for tracking every milestone and writing down every cute thing your toddler says, but when the bottles stack up in the sink and the sippy cups overflow, you may find that all your best intentions fall by the wayside. A subscription to a baby journal app or even a text message baby journal service can help you to save all the precious moments without the stress. Gift cards for either can usually be purchased on the host’s website and are easy to add to an online gift registry.

Photo book gift certificate or subscription

With the advent of digital photography, it’s easy to fall into the habit of taking lots of photos that quickly disappear onto an old hard drive. Sadly, many photos of your wee one will likely never make it off the screen. By requesting a gift card for a photo book or a photo printing subscription service, you can guarantee that more pictures of all that baby cuteness make it off your phone and into your living room.

Newborn photo shoot

The window for newborn photo shoots is surprisingly fleeting. Most photographers will tell you that if you want those adorable shots of your tiny sweetness sleeping sweetly with his chin resting on his perfectly folded hands, you’ll need to catch him on film before he’s two weeks old. Otherwise, he’s not likely to sleep that soundly again until he’s a teenager, and sorry, but the pictures won’t be nearly as cute by then. Plan ahead by registering for a newborn photo shoot. Get in touch with the photographer a few weeks to a month before your due date to make sure he or she can fit your cutie into the schedule.

Baby gifts to keep it practical

Files to go

No matter how or when your baby arrives, she’s going to come with a lot of paperwork. There might be discharge notes, immunization records, or tiny footprints to save. There will certainly be a birth certificate and a social security card arriving soon. If you have some crafty friends, register for a homemade file system, complete with labeled hanging folders. You could request folders for keepsakes, immunization records, insurance paperwork, pediatrician visits, receipts, and warranties. Or you could just refer your friends and family to one of the hundreds of Pinterest posts that outline this super functional gift idea.  

Baby book club

When Oprah, gushing over the arrival of George and Amal Clooney’s twins, was asked about her favorite baby gift, the response was no surprise. Baby’s first book club is a great way to quickly gather a collection of favorites to start your child’s library. While it’s true that books might take up space and eventually go unused, great stories will be read again and again, well into childhood. Some can even be passed on to another generation someday. Ask your host to invite guests to bring their favorite child classic with a personal inscription written inside. You could even request books in lieu of cards. Who wants to spend five dollars on a piece of folded cardboard that ends up in the trash anyway?

Hospital care kit

Once baby arrives, your self-care will play second fiddle to the whole mothering thing, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Register for a hospital care kit filled with stuff just for you. Include nipple cream, healthy snacks, a super soft robe that’s easy for skin to skin or nursing, some dry shampoo, a good water bottle, some nice travel sized toiletries, and whatever else you think might help while you’re recovering. There’s a tendency to focus on the baby only when you create your registry, but you’ll be in need of care, too.

How to Register

If you’ve kept up with Emily Post and Miss Manners, you probably know that it’s considered a bit gauche by some to ask for a pile of cash, especially for an occasion such as a baby shower. Luckily, there are other options now.

If you want to request a service, homemade gift, or contributions towards a large item, registries like Babylist allow you to list not only traditional items from any website, but also gifts you can’t buy in stores, like help with the laundry or a home-cooked meal.

You can also use a fundraising site like Plumfund to receive contributions towards a specific high-ticket item, like cord blood banking. Distribute a link to friends and family so that they can contribute directly to your fund, and consider including a short explanation in your shower invitation so that invitees will know why this is an important gift to you and your family’s future.

Baby clutter can add up quickly, but there’s no need for the minimalist parents-to-be to feel overwhelmed or caught in the consumer rush. While there are tons of products out there to make parenting a little easier, many parents will agree that the most important requirements for their little ones aren’t things that can be bought in a store. Consider your family’s future and create a baby registry that truly reflects your values and needs.

Parent Co. partnered with Americord because we believe in the value of thinking outside the (gift) box.

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We spend a lot of time prepping for the arrival of a baby. But when it comes to the arrival of our breast milk (and all the massive adjustments that come with it), it's easy to be caught off guard. Stocking up on a few breastfeeding essentials can make the transition to breastfeeding a lot less stressful, which means more time and energy focusing on what's most important: Your recovery and your brand new baby.

Here are the essential breastfeeding tools you'll need, mama:

1. For covering up: A cute nursing cover

First and foremost, please know that all 50 states in the United States have laws that allow women to breastfeed in public. You do not have to cover yourself if you don't want to—and many mamas choose not to—and we are all for it.

That said, if you do anticipate wanting to take a more modest approach to breastfeeding, a nursing cover is a must. You will find an array of styles to choose from, but we love an infinity scarf, like the LK Baby Infinity Nursing Scarf Nursing Cover. You'll be able to wear the nursing cover instead of stuffing it in your already brimming diaper bag—and it's nice to have it right there when the baby is ready to eat.

Also, in the inevitable event that your baby spits-up on you or you leak some milk through your shirt, having a quick and stylish way to cover up is a total #momwin.

2. For getting comfortable: A cozy glider

Having a comfy spot to nurse can make a huge difference. Bonus points if that comfy place totally brings a room together, like the Delta Children Paris Upholstered Glider!

Get your cozy space ready to go, and when your baby is here, you can retreat from the world and just nurse, bond, and love.

3. For unmatched support: A wire-free nursing bra

It may take trying on several brands to find the perfect match, but finding a nursing bra that you love is 100% worth the effort. Your breasts will be changing and working in ways that are hard to imagine. An excellent supportive bra will make this so much more comfortable.

It is crucial to choose a wireless bra for the first weeks of nursing since underwire can increase the risk of clogged ducts (ouch).The Playtex Maternity Shaping Foam Wirefree Nursing Bra is an awesome pick for this reason, and because it is designed to flex and fit your breasts as they go through all those changes.

4. For maximum hydration: A large reusable water bottle

Nothing can prepare you for the intense thirst that hits when breastfeeding. Quench that thirst (and help keep your milk supply up in the process) by always having a water bottle with a straw nearby, like this Exquis Large Outdoor Water Bottle.

5. For feeding convenience: A supportive nursing tank

Experts recommend that during the first weeks of your baby's life, you breastfeed on-demand, meaning that any time your tiny boss demands milk, you feed them. This will help establish your milk supply and get everything off to a good start.

What does this mean for your life? You will be breastfeeding A LOT. Nursing tanks, like the Loving Moments by Leading Lady, make this so much easier. They have built-in support to keep you comfy, and you can totally wear them around the house, or even out and about. When your baby wants to eat, you'll be able to quickly "pop out" a breast and feed them.

6. For pain prevention: A quality nipple ointment

Breastfeeding shouldn't hurt, but the truth is those first days can be uncomfortable. Your nipples will likely feel raw as they adjust to their new job. This will get better! But until it does, nipple ointment is amazing.

My favorite is the Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter. We love that it's organic, and it is oh-so-soothing on your hard-at-work nipples.

Psst: If it actually hurts when your baby latches on, something may be up, so call your provider or a lactation consultant for help.

7. For uncomfortable moments: A dual breast therapy pack

As your breasts adjust to their new role, you may experience a few discomforts—applying warmth or cold can help make them feel so much better. The Lansinoh TheraPearl 3-in-1 Breast Therapy Pack is awesome because you can microwave the pads or put them in the freezer, giving you a lot of options when your breasts need some TLC.

Again, if you have any concerns about something being wrong (pain, a bump that may be red or hot, fever, or anything else), call a professional right away.

8. For inevitable leaks: An absorbing breast pad

In today's episode of, "Oh come on, really?" you are going to leak breastmilk. Now, this is entirely natural and you are certainly not required to do anything about this. Still, many moms choose to wear breast pads in their bras to avoid leaking through to their shirts.

You can go the convenient and disposable route with Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads, or for a more environmentally friendly option, you can choose washable pads, like these Organic Bamboo Nursing Breast Pads.

9. For flexibility: A breast pump

Many women find that a breast pump becomes one of their most essential mom-tools. The ability to provide breast milk when you are away from your baby (and relieve uncomfortable engorged breasts) will add so much flexibility into your new-mom life.

For quick trips out and super-easy in-your-bag transport, opt for a manual pump like the Lansinoh Manual Breast Pump .

If you will be away from your baby for longer periods of time (traveling or working outside the home, for example) an electric pump is your most efficient bet. The Medela Pump In Style Advanced Double Electric Breast Pump is a classic go-to that will absolutely get the job done, and then some.

10. For quality storage: Breast milk bags

Once you pump your liquid gold, aka breast milk, you'll need a place to store it. The Kiinde Twist Pouches allow you to pump directly into the bags which means one less step (and way less to clean).

11. For keeping cool: A freezer bag

Transport your pumped milk back home to your baby safely in a cooler like the Mommy Knows Best Breast Milk Baby Bottle Cooler Bag. Remember to put the milk in a fridge or freezer as soon as you can to optimize how long it stays usable for.

12. For continued nourishment: Bottles

Nothing beats the peace of mind you get when you know that your baby is being well-taken of care—and well fed—until you can be together again. The Philips Avent Natural Baby Bottle Newborn Starter Gift Set is a fan favorite (mama and baby fans alike).

This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.

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A viral video about car seat safety has parents everywhere cracking up and humming Sir-Mix-A-Lot.

"I like safe kids and I cannot lie," raps Norman Regional Health System pediatric hospitalist Dr. Kate Cook (after prefacing her music video with an apology to her children."I'm a doctor tryin' warn you that recs have changed," she continues.

Dr. Cook's rap video is all about the importance of keeping babies facing backward. It's aptly called "Babies Face Back," and uses humor and parody to drive home car seat recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

"Switching from rear-facing to forward-facing is a milestone many parents can't wait to reach," Dr. Cook said in a news release about her hilarious video. "But this is one area where you want to delay the transition as long as possible because each one actually reduces the protection to the child."

Last summer the AAP updated its official stance on car seat safety to be more in line with what so many parents were already doing and recommended that kids stay rear-facing for as long as possible. But with so many things to keep track of in life, it is understandable that some parents still don't know about the change. Dr. Cook wants to change that with some cringe-worthy rapping.

The AAP recommends:

  • Babies and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat as long as possible, until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their seat.
  • Once they are facing forward, children should use a forward-facing car safety seat with a harness for as long as possible. Many seats are good up to 65 pounds.
  • When children outgrow their car seat they should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's lap and shoulder seat belt fits properly, between 8 and 12 years old.

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[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

Suicide rates for girls and women in the United States have increased 50% since 2000, according to the CDC and new research indicates a growing number of pregnant and postpartum women are dying by suicide and overdose. Suicide rates for boys and men are up, too.

It's clear there is a mental health crisis in America and it is robbing children of their mothers and mothers of their children.

Medical professionals urge people to get help early, but sometimes getting help is not so simple. For many Americans, the life preserver that is mental health care is out of reach when they are drowning.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg just released a plan he hopes could change that and says the neglect of mental health in the United States must end. "Our plan breaks down the barriers around mental health and builds up a sense of belonging that will help millions of suffering Americans heal," says Buttigieg.

He thinks he can "prevent 1 million deaths of despair by 2028" by giving Americans more access to mental health and addictions services.

In a country where giving birth can put a mother in debt, it's not surprising that while as many as 1 in 5 new moms suffers from perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, more than half of new moms who need mental health treatment don't get it. Stigma, childcare and of course costs are factors in why women aren't seeking help when they are struggling.

Buttigieg's plan is interesting because it could remove some of these barriers. He wants to make mental health care more affordable by ensuring everyone has comprehensive coverage for mental health care and by ensuring that everyone can access a free yearly mental health check-up.

That could make getting help more affordable for some moms, and by increasing reimbursement rates for mental health care delivered through telehealth, this plan could help moms get face time with a medical professional without having to deal with finding childcare first.

Estimates from new research suggest that in some parts of America as many as 14% or 30% of maternal deaths are caused by addiction or suicide. Buttigieg's plan aims to reduce those estimates by fighting the addiction and opioid crisis and increasing access to mental health services in underserved communities and for people of color. He also wants to reduce the stigma and increase support for the next generation by requiring "every school across the country to teach Mental Health First Aid courses."

These are lofty goals with a lofty price tag. It would cost about $300 billion to do what Buttigieg sets out in his plan and the specifics of how the plan would be funded aren't yet known. Neither is how voters will react to this 18-page plan and whether it will help Buttigieg stand out in a crowded field of Democratic candidates.

What we do know is that right now, America is talking about mental health and whether or not that benefits Buttigieg's campaign it will certainly benefit America.

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[Editor's Note: Welcome to It's Science, a Motherly column focusing on evidence-based explanations for the important moments, milestones, and phenomena of motherhood. Because it's not just you—#itsscience.]

If you breastfeed, you know just how magical (and trying) it is, but it has numerous benefits for mama and baby. It is known to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis, and cuts the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by half.

If this wasn't powerful enough, scientists have discovered that babies who are fed breast milk have a stomach pH that promotes the formation of HAMLET (Human Alpha-lactalbumin Made Lethal to Tumor cells). HAMLET was discovered by chance when researchers were studying the antibacterial properties of breast milk. This is a combination of proteins and lipids found in breast milk that can work together to kill cancer cells, causing them to pull away from healthy cells, shrink and die, leaving the healthy cells unaffected.

According to researchers at Lund University in Sweden, this mechanism may contribute to the protective effect breast milk has against pediatric tumors and leukemia, which accounts for about 30% of all childhood cancer. Other researchers analyzed 18 different studies, finding that "14% to 19% of all childhood leukemia cases may be prevented by breastfeeding for six months or more."

And recently, doctors in Sweden collaborated with scientists in Prague to find yet another amazing benefit to breast milk. Their research demonstrated that a certain milk sugar called Alpha1H, found only in breast milk, helps in the production of lactose and can transform into a different form that helps break up tumors into microscopic fragments in the body.

Patients who were given a drug based on this milk sugar, rather than a placebo, passed whole tumor fragments in their urine. And there is more laboratory evidence to support that the drug can kill more than 40 different types of cancer cells in animal trials, including brain tumors and colon cancer. These results are inspiring scientists to continue to explore HAMLET as a novel approach to tumor therapy and make Alpha1H available to cancer patients.

Bottom line: If you choose to breastfeed, the breast milk your baby gets from your hard work can be worth every drop of effort.

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