Shopping for baby altogether different now

Published 12:22 am Sunday, May 5, 2013

Recently shopping for a gift to take to a baby shower, I was overwhelmed by the vast supply of available items for babies. It was so mind boggling I had trouble making a decision, so I decided not to decide.

Instead I took the easy way out, bought a cute card and put money inside. I could have purchased a gift card, but I figured this mom-to-be would rather pick out something at her favorite shopping place.

I attended the shower since it was for my great-nephew and his wife’s expected event, a little boy. I haven’t been to a baby shower in quite a while, so it was quite a revelation.

I knew opening the gifts was going to take quite a while since there were so many of them, all sizes and shapes and all wrapped in pretty baby patterned paper, gift bags and boxes and even baskets.

There were so many beautiful and useful things for a baby, some of which I didn’t know existed… even after shopping for quite a while in a baby department looking for a gift. This sweet couple was so pleased with the gifts and I’m sure they will know how to use all of them.

Back when I was young and having my babies, you could almost depend on it — somebody in the family or friends would pass down maternity dresses and baby clothes for further use. The maternity clothes looked like maternity clothes… remember the skirts with a hole in front for a bulging belly, tied with a string around the waist? And the big gathered blouses to cover the tummy?

For the most part, modern maternity clothes just look like regular clothes… with a little extra fabric built in. I like it!

Although most expectant mothers in my day had a shower with the first baby, other babies in the family usually wore hand-me-downs — with a few exceptions of course. We delighted in buying a special beautiful outfit for the baby to wear home from the hospital.

I can particularly remember being so thrilled to get hand-me-down boxes of baby dresses, shirts, blankets and other items — which I was only too happy to wash and iron in preparation for a new baby. The cloth diapers were so soft after usually being washed so many times through several babies, but most of the time the diapers were absent because they were still being used by the other baby until they were trained. So we often had to buy new cloth diapers.

Remember the little Philippine handmade infant dresses we put on both boys and girls? We could buy them for 99 cents in places like Penney’s and those little cotton dresses lasted through many, many washings. I always wondered how such beautiful little dresses could be made so inexpensively.

There were some handmade little boy outfits opened at this shower that made me think of those little dresses, but I feel sure they now are very expensive.

In those days, by the time everybody sent along their stuff, you hardly had to buy anything for the expected event. It made the waiting time so special to have all those baby clothes ready. After all, babies outgrew their clothes so fast that it just made sense to use what was on hand.

Only with my last child were disposable diapers available, but the feeling at the time was that one used them only in emergencies… like being in the hospital or going on a trip. Any mother worth her salt would use only cloth diapers. Thankfully, times have changed!

When my baby outgrew the clothes, I would send them along to somebody else. It was just what one did. Baby beds, car seats and other items were also passed along. Being the beneficiary of a good used baby bed was the best!

I don’t remember what happened to all the baby furniture I used so long ago, but I distinctly remember a bassinet that we loaned out many times. If bassinets are currently being used, maybe it is still being recycled! I lost track of it years ago!

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at