Things I Didn’t Know I Needed Before Becoming a Parent

I’m a planner. I like to map everything out and be prepared for most situations. (Not quite the level of a Doomsday Prepper–I’m more optimistic than that.) So before I had my daughter, I went shopping like crazy. I got plenty of things that I didn’t need (damn you, Travel Boppy, and your false promises!) along with a bunch of stuff that I did (hellooooo NoseFrida!). I expected that as I went on this crazy parenting journey, I would need to buy more things, but I didn’t anticipate some of the things that I would need.

Before I begin, I want to establish that my daughter is only 18-months old, so there are so many additional items that I will need that I have no idea what they are. Hell, the “fish net” one was only something I thought of the other day!

Below is my incomplete list of Stuff I Didn’t Know I Needed (Before Becoming a Parent):

Decoy, real remote controls

Why would any kid want to play with one of those fake remote controls that make weird, tinny sounds, when they can play with the real thing? After all, kids want to emulate their parents, and since I spend a fair amount of time finding TV to watch in the background, I use the remote control a lot. I’m usually pretty clean and I’m constantly de-junking my house, but I forgot to get rid of my obsolete remote controls. Then one day, my daughter really wanted to play with the remote control, and I realized that I had some old junkers lying around! She can push all the buttons and nothing happens (although I usually make some “beep borp” sounds to distract her while I change the channels). The funny thing is that she doesn’t pretend to change the channel–she uses the remote as a phone. Whatever works.

Hank Hill selling nipples and nipple-related accessories
“Ma’am, I specialize in nipples and nipple-related accessories”

So. Many. Nipple-related. Accessories.

I had no idea what a pain in the ass breastfeeding would turn out to be. You always hear stories but you never think it will happen to you. This was one area I definitely could have prepared more for. Right after giving birth and working on breastfeeding I bought: nipple shields, lanolin oil, those weird nipple gel covers, many many more breastfeeding bras, nipple heat pads, disposable nipple pads, and so on. And that doesn’t even include all of the pumping accessories I would need or the breastfeeding supplements and aids I would use!

Fish Net

You know those tiny fish nets at the pet store? Turns out that those have a secondary use: fishing poop out of the bathtub. It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes, when you gotta go, you gotta go. In my daughter’s case, we have not tried to start potty-training yet, and my reaction time is too slow to stick her on the toilet when she is making the Poop Face. (I can almost see it in slow motion, and I’m like, “oh noooooooooo.”) And there it is: poop in the tub. At least it’s able to be scooped out! For a while, we had been using paper towels and our hands (at this point, I’m desensitized to poop, although it is still pretty gross to try to catch it in the tub). So, do yourself a favor and get a fish net!

the author on top of a mountain of pacifiers
And I still can’t manage to find one in the middle of the night without scrambling around wildly in the dark!

More than two pacifiers

As much as I like to be prepared, I also don’t like having more stuff than necessary around my house. So, I bought two pacifiers, thinking “this is plenty.” Oh but little did I know, when my daughter came out of the hospital, she didn’t want just any old pacifier–she wanted a Soothie. You know the one. It looks like a pacifier missing that plastic backing and it has a tab sticking out the back, and in our hospital, it was issued to all of the babies (and she loved it–in fact, she got super frustrated when I was trying to breastfeed her and my nipple didn’t magically turn into a giant Soothie-brand pacifier). My carefully-planned-and-bought pacifiers were rendered moot; all hail the Soothie gods.

I only needed a couple of Soothies; I didn’t lose those things. But eventually, she outgrew them and graduated onto an orthodontic pacifier (the Nuk brand). So, I bought two of those. Almost a year later, I think I’ve bought at least 10 Nuk pacifiers. Why? Well, I need a couple for daycare, a couple for the car, a couple to keep in her room, a couple to go in random pockets and bags, and a couple to get lost (possibly under the couch). And yet, she still wakes up in the middle of the night because her pacifier has fallen out, and I have to scramble to find one. One time I found an old, non-Nuk pacifier, and she spit it out like it was disgusting. In fact, as I’m typing this, I’m thinking, “It’s about time to buy more pacifiers!” I should see if there is a “Subscribe and Save” option.

Bath toys

Old me was like, “She won’t need any bath toys–playing in the water is fun enough. Plus, the toys are always wet and they get gross.” Current me is like, “YOU FOOL, GET THE DAMN TOYS AND THE SPECIAL INFANT TUB.” Right now, we have all manner of toys–squirty fish, water flutes, floating xylophone, foam shapes, boats, etc. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy toys though–one of my daughter’s favorite toys is any old bottle that she can find in the recycling bin.

baby bottles with realistic nipples
If these bottles were any more realistic, they’d be attached to my chest.

Baby bottles that actually look like boobs

I had heard of nipple confusion before I even got pregnant. But I had no idea that babies could be so picky about bottle nipples. And when a baby is hungry, you can’t really reason with them, like “sweetie, there is no logical difference between this bottle and the Real Nipple.” When I finally had to return to work, the thing that stressed me out the most was how my daughter would handle bottle feeding. Turns out, she didn’t like bottles that much, she preferred the Real Thing. Since that wasn’t possible, I did the next best thing: I bought a bottle that looked exactly like a boob. It even had a special “let-down” squeeze feature! We didn’t use it that long, but it helped in the transition to bottles, so it was handy. (And in my going-back-to-work haze, it was of course THE MOST NECESSARY THING EVER OMG SAME DAY SHIPPING PLEASE.)

All images badly cobbled together by me


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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  1. A swing. My wife’s parents bought us one, and it was a big to do putting it up, and I was skeptical, but it is by far the most important thing we’ve gotten our baby.

  2. That image of Hank Hill with nipple-related accessories is amazing. I would add the rubbery Tommee Tippee pocket bibs to this list. And, a tablet computer. Priceless

  3. A dishwasher.
    I’m disabled and doing the dishes was always a big thing I needed help with, but after the baby was born, I had as good as no spoons at all left for stuff like that.
    So we got one. It is the best, most miraculous machine to ever enter my life (after my PC anyway). It’s currently not working and I am already in despair because we have to wait until tuesday before someone can come fix it.

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