A friend of mine in California is pregnant, and the first thing I told her was not to buy a thing. Why? Because it would be a waste of money.

I was not a woman that dreamed her whole life of being a mom. The thought ran through my mind a few times and really took hold after my transplant, but I was honestly OK with the idea of living my entire life without being a mother. So when the opportunity came giving me the chance to be one, I was amazed at this new world and all the material goods that came with it. Most surprisingly, most of it I never used.

We had three baby showers – one from my coworkers, one from Katie Jo’s colleagues and one hosted by combined friends and family. We did our best to create a registry and organize efforts to make sure nothing was duplicated, but I soon learned most women like to go rogue and give you whatever they either think is cute or what they themselves used the most as new mothers. I have also learned that each child comes equipped with its own personality, and whatever was good for one mom is not necessarily good for the gander.

When my West Coast friend announced she would be a first-time mother this fall, I immediately pulled out some boxes and started packing the items that a now 2-year-old Mr. Carter has no use for. And to my surprise, so many of what I put in these boxes still had the tag on them.

Here are some guidelines to follow, in case you are ever in the position to have to buy for a new mom:

Do the math. You know when the due date for the baby is, so do the math on what clothes you buy the little one. I placed several warmer clothes in my donation boxes because several of the coats and sweaters given may have been adorable, but would have fit Mr. Carter in the middle of summer. On the opposite end, no swimsuits or swim shoes when the only water a baby is going to see in its first few months is in the tub.

Babies are home most of the time. Parents of newborns are exhausted for several reasons. The baby is up throughout the day and night, they are stressed at the new idea of taking care of a human being and they can’t do anything without the baby and baby items in tow so their entire day is like a workout. Thus, most items should be for home use, including clothes. That ruffled dress and small suit can bring an immediate smile, but it isn’t practical. Plus, the kid will likely outgrow it before the parents get a chance to recover from fatigue and actually use the formal attire.

Not all diapers are the same size. My son was a big baby, so he started with bigger diapers. If you plan on getting new parents diapers, you are better off getting a gift card for them, so that once the baby has arrived they will know which ones fit. Baby wipes, however, fit any baby and are something parents often forget.

I haven’t solved the problem. My multiple boxes, taped and ready to ship, only perpetuate the issue of too many baby things floating around. It will be interesting to see which things she actually uses and, repeating the cycle, which ones she secretly donates to someone else.

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