Clothing babies; politely disseminating a baby registry
May 20, 2016 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Mr. liet and I are expecting a baby in July, and as he'll be our first baby, and I have absolutely zero experience with other people's babies, I have questions. The AskMe archives have covered most of them, but I'm curious about two things: how much and what kind of clothing we should have on hand, and how to disseminate our registry without throwing a baby shower.

1. Clothing: I see the recommendations at Lucie's List and everything makes sense. The question is, how many do we need of each thing? Over baby's first year, do we need, like, five of each size of onesie? Ten? What about the footed ones? Same goes for all the other articles of clothing we need. We don't mind laundry, but it would be nice to have enough of a stockpile to not have to do laundry all day, every day.

It will be summer here in Austin and it will be hotter than the surface of the sun for a few months after the baby is born. What clothes do we need to bring baby home from the hospital, keeping in mind it'll be 100 degrees? What do we need for around the house? Outside the house? Is it okay to take a baby to the store in just a onesie? Seriously, I don't know anything about clothing babies. I also don't know how fast they grow.

I don't know if it's relevant for sizing, but baby is tracking to be a perfectly average size on delivery. His weight was in the 49th percentile during our 32-week ultrasound earlier this week (although I know ultrasound weight estimates are iffy and it's still early).

2. Registry: I built a small registry with a major online-only retailer. It's mostly a place for me to save a list of specific items I think we'll need (the specific bouncer that gets the best reviews, etc.), but it would be nice if people wanted to buy us stuff off of it. Is it polite to announce the existence of our registry on Facebook? For us, Facebook is largely a collection of acquaintances and current and former coworkers -- not so much family.

We're not having a baby shower -- it's just not my style. I've never even been to one. However, we are throwing a party next month -- we host board gaming parties occasionally, so this won't really be a special event other than it'll probably be our last one for a while. Is it polite to ask attendees to check our registry? We'll definitely emphasize that we don't expect or require gifts, because as far as we're concerned, it's just another party. But just in case they want to bring something... It will probably be the last time we see most of these people until well after the baby is born.

I want to let them know we have a registry because I don't want anything that's not on the registry. I'm a minimalist and I don't want stuff we don't need.

Thanks in advance. We've put off shopping until now -- literally, we've spent less than $50 on baby stuff so far. But at T-minus 7 weeks, it's probably about time we get going.
posted by liet to Shopping (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My baby wore a blanket for the first few months unless we were going out. Then a onsie and a blanket. Diaper changes are endless for newborns and easy access makes life simpler.

Kids go through clothes incredibly fast in the first year. I'd say 10 or 15 of each clothing size for each item is good (starting at six months).

Newborn: unnecessary, don't buy. Will fit for one week to a couple months (or never). This size is only really good for premies.
3 months: 5 of these imo of baby blanket wearing.
6,9,12,18 months: 15 of each of these. These sizes only really last like six weeks. My kid wore 18 months for like a year though, because he leaned out as he grew taller. I'd buy everything to 15 months on Craigslist, garage sale, etc. Kids go through this SO fast, everybody has good condition versions.

I'd only provide the registry when folks ask. You really need a car seat, diapers, blankets and maybe bottles (or nursing pillow) at first. There is no rush to aquire anything else. It seems weird to provide it before a game night imho.
posted by Kalmya at 1:13 PM on May 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

I have always found that people are so excited to give tiny adorable baby clothes to new parents that the smaller sizes (3 months, 6 months) end up wildly overrepresented. You'll have perfectly good stuff in that range you may never even get around to wearing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:15 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

"I want to let them know we have a registry because I don't want anything that's not on the registry. I'm a minimalist and I don't want stuff we don't need."

You will get stuff you don't need/didn't ask for. Take what you want, return, donate, whatever what you don't want.

Id just focus on what you need right now - lots of 3-6 month onesies and blankets, burp cloths, diapers. The other size stuff - just get it when you need it. You don't need it now.
posted by Sassyfras at 1:16 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am a minimalist too. I hear you. The lucie's list actually looks a little intense too me. For instance, I've had two babies and never used one of those kimono tops. There's nothing wrong with them - and they're probably kind of useful, but I wouldn't call them necessary. My first baby was born in a hot climate too. If you have a/c, I would say you should buy five short-sleeve onesies and five snap-up sleepers. Buy maybe one in nb, but most in size 0-3 months. (I'm also estimating your guy will not need the nb size). Baby can hang out in those. In really hot weather and no a/c, we often just dressed baby in a diaper and then put a onesie on her if we were going out. Check out the Aden and Anais swaddlers - they are very light weight swaddle blankets. I think they're awesome in hot weather when the typical fleece or flannel swaddlers are way too hot. I would say my baby spent 80% of her first weeks in a diaper and one of these swaddle blankets. Except when she was in a/c, then we had a onesie or sleeper on her too. I also suggest two Sunhats and a few packs of lightweight baby socks. Because little baby feet peek out of strollers or carriers sometimes & you want to block them from the sun. Oh, those blankets are also great for draping over the stroller and blocking sun without overheating the baby.
These frogg togg towels can also be handy in the heat. Consider registering for diapers & wipes too, including diapers in larger sizes.
I don't think is a way to smoothly tell people about the registry unless they ask. Hopefully any gifts will include receipts and you can return extras after baby is born.
posted by areaperson at 1:24 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're not sure, err on the side of less. Virtually anything you might have an urgent need for (pacifier, diaper, bottles, swaddles) will be available at your local drugstore. Anything else you can order and get in a day or two. Just make sure you have the carseat to get home from the hospital.

And yes, mention the registry only if asked.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:27 PM on May 20, 2016

I feel like you're kind of going around the no shower/registry thing a little odd. If you want to publicize that you have a registry, you should just come right out and do it. Have you "announced" that you're having a baby? Maybe send an email to all and sundry to announce this and you can include a link to your registry.

"People close to us have asked so we created a registry [link], we'd love to know from veteran (or newbie) parents what they found essential and if anyone has hand-me-downs they are ready to part with, we'd love 'em. If anyone can recommend resale shops for baby stuff, please send that our way!"

Those last parts are key. I was honored, blessed, lucky and delighted to get enormous bags of stuff from moms who had been through two kids and were done. They were happy to offload. If there's a chance someone in your circle or extended circle wants to do this, take them up on it. Then you'll have more than enough and you can pass this stuff along to grateful moms down the road. I got so much stuff that the two years after I had my baby, I fully outfitted four first-baby families as I passed things along (swaddlers, miracle blankets, onesies, cloths, etc.). It was very satisfying. And I still shop at the kids resale shops for my daughter. She is 5 and is very hard on shoes and grows like a weed. It's great to spend less at these places!
posted by amanda at 1:35 PM on May 20, 2016 [5 favorites]

1. Yes, babies can go anywhere in onesies, but keep in mind that when its 100 degrees outside, some stores may be air conditioned and pretty chilly. It’s good to have some pants, socks, and something long sleeved (little hoodie) stashed in the diaper bag even when it’s hot. Or just a blanket if you’re toting the baby everywhere in an infant bucket. I’m pretty sure we went through at least 3 or 4 onesies a day during the first 3 months, but our daughter was a super spitter-upper. Don’t get too much newborn sized stuff; there’s a good chance you can go straight to 3m sizes. We really did go up a size every three months that first year (although for us we were always on a schedule where she’d be outgrowing 6m clothing when she turned 6m). Also, you don't have to get everything before the baby is born. Amazon Prime can be your best friend.

2. Personally, I don’t feel it’s polite to announce your registry if you’re not having a shower. People who are interested will ask. You’ll get stuff that wasn’t on the registry. A lot of it will be great or fine. I know I did (and still do) a lot of research on the best products for our daughter, but, you know, most stuff out there is fine, and if I don’t have to pay for it, I’ll go with it.
posted by Kriesa at 1:36 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Hello, mother of a 2012 July baby here.

You need rompers and onesies and that is it. My son lived in those little Carters short-sleeved shorty rompers for his first several months. Onesies for actual nighttime bedtime. Rompers at all other times.

With clothing and registries honestly my advice is to not put clothing on your registry. Get it yourself. People are seriously bad at buying baby clothes, even if you tell them exactly what to buy. Having had a July baby, we wound up with a bunch of 6-month sized summer clothes. Yeah, it was December by the time he fit into that stuff.

Some babies are growers and some are showers, if you get my meaning. Baby Lorensen was born at exactly 50th percentile and then proceeded to grow like a glacier. As it turns out, he's really more like a 20th percentile sized kid, and that's his normal curve. His weight at birth was misleading. Meanwhile, I have friends who had a baby a year after I had mine and this kid was born a couple weeks premature, so pretty tiny, and was bigger than my own child a year later. Trying to predict all of this is a fool's errand. Baby clothes are pretty inexpensive if you get the 4-packs of Carter's stuff at Target. Ask for a Target gift card if you are anticipating that spending being a problem for you. But don't have other people buy the clothes before the baby is even born.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:37 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was raised with the idea that it is bad taste to openly announce you are on a registry. Instead, the practice seems to be to disseminate the information by informing those close to you who can then spread the information. Gossipy uncles and aunts, parents, and best friends with whom others will check.
posted by Alluring Mouthbreather at 1:42 PM on May 20, 2016 [6 favorites]

Please, please do not offer registry information on Facebook, or in emails, or really at all unless in response to a direct ask.

It's considered OK to include this information in a shower invitation because it's a gifts-expected party thrown for you by someone else, so if you change your mind that's one option for wide distribution of your registry.
posted by lalex at 1:42 PM on May 20, 2016 [9 favorites]

Babies hate getting dressed starting at like 3 months- and so I was lazy and dressed our baby in onsie/sleep suits after his bath at night and then bought overalls just put on top when we left the house in the morning... My husband held him up and dropped him into the overalls and off we went... And the footies meant I never had to worry about cold feet or finding socks. And we had these little leather shoes that we popped on... It was nice... I avoided difficult buttons and only bought stretchy items that were easy to get the arms through... Lots of stuff isn't that stretchy and it never got worn again...
posted by catspajammies at 1:47 PM on May 20, 2016

Most people who want to buy you something off your registry will ask, or search for you on the big registry sites (BRU/TRU, Amazon, Target, maybe BuyBuyBaby), or may ask you for your "preferred" registry, making the assumption you have several. Or, for older relatives, they will ask siblings/parents. That's going to cover 99% of people who care. You may know one or two people who are just not good at technology and don't know either of your families, and they will ask you.

And then some people will buy you stuff they choose, or give you hand-me-downs. This is inevitable and you should just accept with the same grace it is intended, and then figure out something to do with the stuff if you don't want it. Note: apparently now you're supposed to ask, with hand-me-downs, if they want them handed back when you're done with them. This is a bigger deal with high-price items like strollers and swings but you should ask about clothes as well. On the upside, depending on your social circle, half a dozen parents can sometimes keep a single stroller in rotation for years.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:55 PM on May 20, 2016

The Emily Post style etiquette rules would be absolutely against you talking about your own registry (or, indeed, throwing your own shower).

But this is the 21st century, so we must be flexible. My main guiding principles here are that 1.) you can't expect gifts, nor make people feel like you expect gifts, and 2.) you can't tell people what not to buy you.

I think you're fine giving out your registry details to anyone who asks. And, depending on your friend group, I think you're probably also fine with a blanket social media announcement along the lines of "Hey, since people have asked, we have a registry together here. We aren't having a shower, and we aren't expecting gifts from anyone though!"

I think that official baby announcements from the parents shouldn't say anything about gifts at all. I would also try to avoid turning what wouldn't normally be a gift giving party (board game night) into a gift giving event.

Also, unless explicitly asked, don't tell people that you "don't want anything that's not on the registry." If getting something that you don't want or need would be particularly painful to you, you need to let people know that you would prefer not to receive gifts all together. Otherwise, you should accept any gift you get graciously (and return/exchange as necessary).
posted by sparklemotion at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

You need very little and everything except for a carseat can be procured for very cheap or free via used channels. Even though my own baby was super stylin', I look back and greatly regret spending so much on brand new cute clothes. They go through them so quickly. The best bet would be to have a friend or neighbor give you a huge bag of clothes. The next best bet would be garage sale. The next best bet would be consignment shops. But also have a sense of what new stuff costs too. I really liked the Gerber brand onesies and a 5 pack of those wasn't much more than a set of Gap onesies at the consignment shop.

With regard to clothes and blankets, this also depends on how often you want to do laundry. I think that 5-8 onesies in each size range (0-3, 3-6, 6-12 months) is great. I also put my own kid in the Carters brand stretchy pants on top of a onesie. As far as pajamas, baby can totally sleep in onesies. Don't worry about getting full on pajamas. Blankets - get some swaddle blankets.

With diapers, don't stock up. There are constantly diaper coupons and you may find that one brand works better for you. Plus if you were running low, nowadays, you're probably so close to a store with diapers and/or have Amazon Prime.

With toys and books, don't stock up too much and these are all are available used too. You don't really know what kid will like and I know that I spent far too much on organic wooden toys made by blind war widow unicorns that my kid could have cared less about.

With gear for feeding baby, don't buy too much. Who knows- maybe you'll breastfeed, maybe you won't. Maybe baby hates a particular brand of bottle.

With a carrier, again USED. Consignment shops are good for this because there are dozens of different styles. Baby may hate some or you may hate some, so try a bunch AFTER baby is born. A good carrier that you like is a worthwhile investment.

Strollers are also good to get used. Check out what people in your neighborhood use because the sidewalks/weather may dictate that a particular style of wheels works better than otherwise. Also if you're really not a jogger or taking baby in a stroller on major hikes, you probably don't need a full on jogging stroller. I would invest in a good umbrella stroller if you travel.

Highchair - the Ikea highchair is fine. Or get a used one. You don't need one yet.

Bouncer/swing - I promise you, the bouncer that you love might be hated by your baby. And I promise you that right now on Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook there are 20 bouncers/swings for $25-50 and in great shape. Your baby will also have an opinion on this, so there is no reason to buy new.


As far as sharing your list, know that some people aren't gonna buy off of it (hello your mother's girlfriends) and that's okay. I think that an invite to your party with something like "we really don't NEED anything for the baby, but if you really want to get us something please feel free to bring your favorite children's book or you can check out this wishlist that I made on Amazon, but again, don't feel pressure to get us anything." Give the link to your moms to distribute to family members that may care.

Put some practical stuff like wipes and fragrance free detergent and baby wash and lotion on your registry too. Practical people will buy it and will appreciate that you are letting them know your preferred brands.
posted by k8t at 1:56 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

Thanks everybody. Message received on the registry; we'll only bring it up if people ask.
posted by liet at 1:57 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Think about number of outfits per day, allowing for blowouts, spills, and pukes, and factoring in a day when you leave him in a diaper all day because no one is looking and you are too tired to even figure out the snaps.
jammies, 2 a night.
onesies, 3 a day maybe, depending on your tolerance level for pukey onesies and the pukiness of you baby.
pretty clothes, 2-3, if you use them
socks, 2 pair
wrapping blankets, 2
and spares in the diaper bag.
Then multiply by how many days you want to go before doing laundry.

Don't stock up on big sizes until you see what is actually useful to you.
Don't buy winter clothing until you know what size he will be in the winter. (I still regret those OshKosh corduroy and flannel overalls that were too hot in September and too small in October.)

Rule of thumb: babies will double their birthweight by 6 months, triple it by year.
YMMV. My first doubled by 4 months, my second not until she was 8 months old.

posted by SLC Mom at 1:59 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have no children and cannot answer your first question, but as a 30-something i have plenty of experience with friends having babies and gifting/registries.

I would go against the more traditional advice to not disseminate the registry unless asked - i think particularly for us non child-havers there can be some anxiety around picking things out when we lack some of the important frames for deciding what to get. There are probably people out there who would gladly buy you stuff to celebrate your babies arrival, but who may not want to (or know to) ask about registries.

I think it would be fine to include a link to your registry in a note updating friends about the pregnancy that made it absolutely clear that you dont expect gifts, would be thrilled to get anything and everything that people wanted to give, and for those looking for inspiration or suggestions, offering the option in the form of a link to your registry.

Then again, at the last baby shower we attended our very nice gift was resoundingly shown up by the hand sewn toys our craftiest friend ever had come up with all on her own, but some of us are just not that type of person.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:00 PM on May 20, 2016

Over baby's first year, do we need, like, five of each size of onesie? Ten? What about the footed ones?

This is going to vary from baby to baby; some babies outgrow newborn-size clothes almost instantly, while others stay in them for a couple months. I followed the general recommendation to buy only a few newborn onesies, and I ended up buying more because our kid was a slow grower at first.

Babies grow really fast at first and then slow down, so generally the larger the size, the longer you'll have it for. For us, I think it started to slow down around six months. This is also blessedly true with all baby equipment; as they grow older they don't need so many specialized gadgets and furniture and utensils. After the first year, the revolving door of baby supplies stops.

And expect your baby to thwart your minimalist tendencies at every turn. Your kid may hate the highly-rated bouncer you researched, and the next five bouncers you try out, etc. Borrow or buy secondhand whenever you can, just because it's so much damn stuff and you'll be helping out someone who wants it out of their house.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:06 PM on May 20, 2016

I eloped. I am not a big follower of convention, either. So don't have a shower. However, I had one and because my kid was adopted she got to appear at the baby shower, which was super fun and where we got an expensive heavy imported Swedish baby carriage just like we wanted because a friend had asked us what we would like and we said, this super expensive stroller but nothing at all is so cool! And about a billion people ponied up small amounts to make that happen and we were thrilled. Also, there's something very satisfying about buying teeny baby clothes for other people's children, so expect to get too many clothes regardless (our kid never had the opportunity to wear all the stuff she was given. Like, literally unable). I have the same opinion as Amanda that not having a shower and just announcing the registry feels somewhat icky but I am not you. Finally, follow Amanda's great advice about asking friends and family if they have big ticket hand-me-downs if you are okay with hand-me-downs. When it was time, friends gave us a beautiful and sturdy wooden crib that was used by at least two other families after mine, and our pricy stroller held children from at least three families. Which was pretty great.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:19 PM on May 20, 2016

My suggestion for the registry info is to have a close friend or sister send it out as a "virtual baby shower." I've had a couple of friends go this route, and I personally I think it feels nicer than the person sending it out themselves (same idea that physical showers aren't thrown by the couple, but by a friend or family member). This is especially nice among my friends group -- we're all pretty mobile people who have spread out around the country, and so in both cases they knew that people who would definitely come to a local shower if they lived there wouldn't be able to fly across the country for a baby shower. But this was a nice way to participate and feel close to the baby, and also make sure to send a gift they would appreciate.
posted by rainbowbrite at 2:23 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our baby was 51st %ile until she came five weeks early, and I ended up ordering preemie clothes from my hospital bed because I knew we didn't have anything smaller than 3mo at home and everything everyone was gifting us was hilariously huge. I don't necessarily recommend that route. At least pre-flag some itty-bitty stuff you wouldn't mind, and if you can spare twelve bucks, just order a pack each of nb and preemie onesies now.

Here's an absurd truth though: sizing on baby stuff is just as screwed up as sizing in women's clothing. Even if your baby's term, some nb clothes might not fit for the first month. Others will be too small from the get-go. And so on, forever more. Ours has been wearing 12mo stuff since about 6mo of actual age, and now, approaching 11 months old, she's starting to truly grow out of it. Which brings me to another point: babies can wear baggy clothes. And another: not all babies are mess-factories. Our baby has thrown up badly enough that we had to change her exactly once, and it was our fault for rushing a feeding to get to an event on time. Other than that, a little dribble here or there, nothing that can't be wiped up. In the early stages, we changed her outfits quasi-daily more out of a sense of social obligation than because they were messy (now they get dirty from crawling and climbing). Obviously this isn't always true or other people wouldn't be talking about planning for 3+ outfits/day, but I'm just saying, take it easy. Leave tags on stuff so you can trade it for the next size up.

On preview, I'd like to co-sign the "virtual shower" idea. We didn't do it (or any shower) but I wouldn't bat an eye at receiving such an invitation -- nor would I feel at all bad about ignoring it if I didn't feel close enough to the recipient to participate.
posted by teremala at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I want to let them know we have a registry because I don't want anything that's not on the registry. I'm a minimalist and I don't want stuff we don't need.

Just FYI, there are a number of women's shelters in Austin to whom you can donate unused infant and baby goods you don't want. They will serve a great good.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:38 PM on May 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

Stuff is returnable, so if you get lovely gifts you won't use, you can exchange it for stuff you will use. The Finns give every baby a box of stuff; it's a good guide. I liked having a bunch of flannel blankets that can be easily washed, lots of socks, as they vanish rapidly and onesies plus sweat pants and shorts, weather depending.

posted by theora55 at 2:44 PM on May 20, 2016

If I were about to bring home a baby again (it's been a while!) I would not worry about having anything on-hand except for carseat, one package of newborn-size diapers, a few blankets, and a few onesies. Living in a fair-sized city (and assuming that you have access to transportation), you can run to drug store, Target, etc., as needed, and you or partner or all together may welcome the chance to get out every few days to get some of the next-bigger size of whatever and to start buying cute t-shirts etc. In short: don't worry!
posted by sheldman at 2:49 PM on May 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

Sleep suit at night, diaper and maybe a shirt during the day, but Nekkid is good too.

Your friends or family throw you a shower, don't say no to one if they offer. Your job might too. They are dumb, but you get a diaper cake (google it).

Target has great deals on baby clothes, so does Marshalls.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:56 PM on May 20, 2016

I have a daughter who wore newborn size onesies for about two months. Not a single onesie gifted to us was NB size. (Fortunately had some hand me downs from my SIL) Have a few just in case. If you don't use them, donate them. But if your baby needs them, you'll have them!

Yay for handmedowns. There are usually local FB groups to sell/swap baby gear. That's a good place to find stuff. 0-9 month sizes tend to be pretty good quality still, as babies that age aren't crawling or walking or eating many solids or anything else that easily wears, stains, or rips clothes. It's nice having some "special" outfits that you've picked out and purchased though.

We made an Amazon registry and sent the link to anyone who asked. We got the big and expensive stuff, for the most part. We didn't have a shower or do announcements or anything. But if you are sending a registry link to people unasked saying "please buy us stuff", you're having a shower, whether or not it involves mocktails and twee dresses and "eat the chocolate pudding out of the diaper" games. If it's an event and they should bring a gift, it's a shower, and they'll refer to it that way whether you like it or not. Hell, I invited a bunch of female friends for high tea at a place I wanted to try as a "my last chance to socialise for a long time" get together and they all brought gifts (not off my registry as I hadn't sent the link because it wasn't a shower) and they still refer to it two years later as "my shower." So. Just own it and have a party and skip the parts of showers you find distasteful.

We also had a hot climate baby. At home she was just in a diaper all day. Sleep sacks in bed. Onesies going out, or just a diaper and baby tank top sometimes. Keeping a muslin in the diaper bag or stroller as an extra blanket, wrap, etc in over-air conditioned buildings is helpful.

They will grow as they grow and there's no set rate. You'll know the diapers are too small when they leak pee (everywhere) and poop (up the back). Then size up. You'll know clothes are too small when shirts don't stay down over fat little bellies or waistbands are tight going over butts or when the fabric around the snaps on onesies starts to really stretch and wear. They don't grow linearly either - my daughter is tall and skinny, so at 18 months she's in 12 month pants because anything bigger slides right down, but 2 year shirts because she has a long torso and anything smaller looks like a crop top. Babies are one big exercise in YMMV.
posted by olinerd at 3:06 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

At the risk of giving unrequested advice, and at the risk of sounding like an ad (and since I like the idea of new babies): get an amazon prime membership if you don't already have one.

That way you can order onesies and diapers as needed (and formula if you end up using), etc., with no delivery charge AND even more importantly you can watch streaming videos in the middle of the night, or while zoning out during the day.
posted by sheldman at 3:24 PM on May 20, 2016

Thanks again. I have a much better idea of what we need now, clothing-wise. I marked some best answers that were very specific, but I appreciate everyone's posts.

I don't have any local relatives or close female friends (which is probably a topic for another question), so somebody else throwing a shower is probably not going to happen. We don't so desperately need stuff that I think gifts are really necessary anyway -- as many of you pointed out, we don't need that much newly-purchased stuff.

I do appreciate any gift, but unused things around the house make me sad. Good point on donating it.

We have an Amazon Prime membership, but our very close Target just closed, so emergency shopping is less convenient than it used to be. But if we get truly desperate, there's a Wal-Mart in the neighborhood...
posted by liet at 3:33 PM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

"Just FYI, there are a number of women's shelters in Austin to whom you can donate unused infant and baby goods you don't want."

Yes, including half-finished boxes of diapers! I just bought diapers in bulk because otherwise I ran out all the time and when the baby outgrew a size with half a box left, off it went to the domestic violence shelter or the crisis nursery. Even swimmie diapers! They also take formula samples, if you happen to be getting those in the mail or at the hospital and don't want them.

Take a little time and poke through the baby section at the nearest couple of 24-hour groceries and pharmacies ... sometimes they carry 3-packs of gerber onesies and things like that (in addition to diapers and medicine and baby food and formula) and can make a good emergency stop, especially if your Target/Costco/Whatever isn't super-close by. Just good to know at 3 a.m. which 24-hour store has the best baby section for emergency shopping!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:44 PM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

You've gotten a lot of good advice here! Definitely keep in mind that lots of parents dress their wee little babies in real clothes (jeans, onesies that look like button-up shirts, etc.) but that there is exactly zero reason to do this other than looks, and as long as you're OK with it, your kid will be fine in onesies/leggings, rompers, one-piece jumpsuits etc. for a long, long time.

I definitely agree with the idea of getting lots of hand-me-downs, but don't get hung up on the idea that you can never buy anything cute for your baby, or that you have to keep things that you think are ugly. If you're like me (and 99% of other parents) you will take hundreds of photos of your baby and it is nice, as they get older, to look back and reminisce about how utterly cute he was in that little bear-ear jacket was or whatever. So I give you permission to buy some frivolous but adorable clothes for your child if you want, even if he/she is only going to wear them for a few months. If you don't have a lot of choice locally, get on the mailing lists for the big online kids' clothing purveyors--Target, Old Navy and Carter's for example (and Gap/Boden/Tea Collection too if you like, for more expensive but adorable stuff) and they will send you a lot of online discount codes. I usually wait for a 40% off sale.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 5:41 PM on May 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

For some reason, maybe because I was almost 12 lbs when I was born, my midwife told me I was going to have a large baby. My kid was 6 lb 6 oz at birth, and 5 lb 10 oz when we left the hospital. We had to buy smaller diapers and clothes because everyone went with the bigger is better wisdom.
posted by Ruki at 11:20 PM on May 20, 2016

We had to buy smaller diapers and clothes because everyone went with the bigger is better wisdom.

Word. I got loads of cute outfits but nothing that fit my kids immediately.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:51 AM on May 21, 2016

Do you have a goodwill nearby? Or a similar thrift store? I just stocked up on stretchy pants and sleepers for my 7 month old at goodwill--everything in the bin was in great condition. I would recommend buying as little as possible until you've formed your baby clothing preferences! That is, go for a wide range of clothing types, but not many of any one.

Also, unless you like having baby belly exposed all the time (cute) avoid shirts.
posted by Baethan at 8:11 PM on May 21, 2016

Many relatives will buy new cute outfits regardless of what you tell them. You will not be able to stop them. Most will be the wrong size or not machine washable.
posted by benzenedream at 12:32 AM on May 22, 2016

My husband and I bought one outfit for our child in his first year. Everything else was given to us new (as in from a grandparent/relative/friend who was out shopping and saw cute baby clothes and went eeee eeee eeee must get for the baby, the way they do!) or used (relatives/friends with rubbermaid tubs and bagfuls that no longer fit their babies or toddlers. Not sure if you have similar resources, but we went as far afield as "a friend of my sister's coworker" who gave us a whole pile of stuff with tags still attached.

So I guess I'm chiming in with the don't buy new if you don't have to* crowd. And don't worry if you get baby stuff you personally don't think you'll use/need. Either give it away right away, or sell it online, or keep it and wait to see if you might use it. I didn't think we'd use a Rock 'N Play, and my son ended up hating all other sleeping options we tried, and slept in the RNP for over a year.

As for the heat/sun, maybe some nice breathable floppy sunhats? Probably unnecessary if you have a good shade for your carseat.

Carriers! My cousin's local library had a baby carrier club with a bunch of different carriers, where the parents would get together and check out (like books) different carriers to try. Maybe the Austin Public Library has something similar? In my case, our local library has a lot less funding, but there is a local group of parents who coordinate a carrier lending circle on FB. They meet every month (at the library, ha ha) and discuss different carriers, sell their used/extra carriers to each other, and practice wrapping techniques, adjustments, etc. I like our Boba Air for hot weather, it's pretty lightweight.

Probably goes w/o saying, but CONGRATULATIONS!

*Though I am perfectly willing to admit I quickly became susceptible to the same eee eee eeee in the baby clothes sections as my family and friends.
posted by pepper bird at 12:05 PM on May 22, 2016

Thanks again for all the discussion.

Following up a few months later for future readers: baby arrived early before we could do any shopping! He was 6 lbs, 6 oz at 35 weeks. We had to cancel the game night I mentioned because I went into labor the day before.

We did, in fact, get a supply of "newborn"-sized clothes as gifts very soon after his birth, so we were set for clothes for the first month plus (which was good, because we hadn't bought ANYTHING, and most of them fit). We're currently shopping for 3-month clothes and using the advice here. I'm glad I get to pick them out this time, as most of what we received was a little strongly-gendered for us! I get the impression that's what people like to buy as gifts, like several of you pointed out. But we definitely did use them, regardless.

We didn't receive a single gift from the registry. Nobody asked about it. The gifts we did receive were unrequested from close relatives and they were all blankets and clothes. A few coworkers gave us gift certificates. That said, I'm glad I went through the exercise of building the registry, because it familiarized me with the variety of baby stuff we needed to have -- and I had a convenient shopping list when we needed it in a hurry.
posted by liet at 9:55 AM on July 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

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