In this modern world, having a baby means needing a lot of “stuff”. The baby industry rakes in billions of dollars each year selling everything from carseat/stroller combos to teeny tiny hangers for wee little dresses. Parents and well-wishers spend a lot of money on that new little bundle of joy for both the necessities and extras. One of my favorite baby related websites has a handy dandy calculator to estimate your costs for baby’s first year –not including your hospital or birth center stay. Since my husband and I do not require childcare, our total comes to a modest $6,929 for our daughter’s first year of life. Those who need to pay for day care will spend over $10,000 for their baby in that first year! Needless to say, gifts, discounts, and second-hand items are a necessity for most parents.
Our family is blessed to have a large extended family and amazing friends and acquaintances. Everyone was so excited that we were adding on to our family after 22 years! Our first born just turned 22 this year, but that’s another story for another blog post on another day. Although we had saved some very special outfits, toys, and books, we needed everything, and I mean everything for our second child. The outpouring of gifts from our circle of family and friends was incredible. I will always be thankful for the “kick-start” for daughter 2.0. We seriously did not need to buy any disposable diapers for our baby’s first 3 months of life, and she has a nice stack of blankets and lots of cute clothes in different sizes. She did receive waaaaaay to many baby hats; and by waaaaaay to many, I mean about 20 hats. Once, she got to be about a month old she couldn’t stand wearing those hats no matter how stylish they were. **A little helpful hint: don’t gift a lot of hats to one baby if she is a spring or summer baby because unless you live at the North Pole she isn’t going to need that many.
We were also gifted a lot of great second-hand items: clothes, a little tub, and a baby play mat gym. I absolutely love thrifting and finding great deals myself. When a friend found a free baby swing on an online garage sale page, I was so excited! Our oldest daughter loved hers, and I was hoping a swing would be something our youngest would love as well. After our daughter was a couple of weeks old, we decided to take the swing out and put it together. Well it went together alright–all except the safety straps. They were no where to be found. Who the hell gives away broken baby stuff? To spare my friend’s feelings, I never told her. She has no children and probably didn’t even think about it, and I know she didn’t take them off. They were without a doubt missing when she went to pick up the baby swing.
But now what?! We knew a swing would be another comfort to offer our newborn. Struggling with the necessity versus luxury dilemma, we held off on purchasing one. Then a co-worker of my husband mentioned she had a swing she was getting rid of and offered it to him. She said all it needed was batteries . (Battery operated baby swings were not a thing when our first born was a baby. You had to crank it up to get it to go). My husband brought it home, and we replaced the batteries. Aaaaanndd ….nothing. We double checked to make sure the batteries were in properly and turned it on again. Still nothing. Sigh…. This woman gave us a broken swing. “Having a baby? Here, take this crap!”
Lesson? Be wary of free baby equipment. I know that used car seats are a bit sketchy, legally and liability speaking. Used swings with no straps? Definitely sketchy. Free items? Make sure you can test them out before taking them home or don’t take them. If you have baby gear you want to gift to someone, make sure it isn’t crappy baby gear. You would think it should be common sense. But my senses are telling me that some people just want someone else to figure out what to do with their broken crap. Whatever happened to the defunct baby swings? Well, I have to sheepishly admit that my husband dropped them off in a stealthy manner in the dark of night outside of Goodwill knowing they have a giant dumpster for broken or unsaleable items.
As I sit here in my living room writing this, our daughter is peacefully napping in her swing we purchased shortly after the second one was found to be a piece of crap. It was $80 dollars well spent and came with a cord so we wouldn’t need batteries to operate it, and I solemnly swear not to give it away for free if it breaks down.
P.S. And if anyone has any suggestions how to transition our 6 month old from swing naps to naps in her crib that would be great!