Dear Mountain Mama,

We’re expecting our first baby, and our registry quickly became completely overwhelmed by all the baby gear.

However, there must be some outdoor gear that can do double duty for babies, and later be useful for our outdoor adventures as she grows?

Thanks,

Expecting Outdoor Parent

Dear Expecting,

Baby gear is marketed to first-time parents. Buy a certain bag and you’ll be an organized parent, never without a diaper! Buy a mobile that lights up and your baby will sleep through the night! The truth is, babies are all unique little individuals who are going to cry at times and no amount of expensive gizmos and gadgets will assure an always-happy baby.

It’s a great idea to consider investing in products that might be helpful and useful during the baby years and beyond.

Four things I found indispensible as a new mama have been:

Messenger Bag Instead of Diaper Bag: A quality messenger bag or daypack instead of a diaper bag. I’m a huge fan of the Patagonia Half Mass bag for packing everything from baby essentials to kayaking gear. The bag fits everything my toddler needs for a weekend away and stows in the overhead compartments easily when we fly. The royal blue bag doesn’t scream “diaper bag” and he can continue to use it through the years.

Down Coat Instead of Pac-n-Play: Consider a puffy coat instead of a conventional pac-n-play. When my son was six months old, we flew across the country to visit friends and family. While visiting friends, I’d spread my jacket on the ground and my little guy stared at the rustling leaves or the shapes clouds make. I can’t think of a better mobile than the ones nature provide.

Headlamp Instead of Night Light: Use a headlamp instead of a nigh lamp. After spending many nights awkwardly fumbling for the light switch while holding my baby, I started using a headlamp instead. They offer a hands-free option for the bedtime routine, and can conveniently be switched off when your baby falls asleep. I leave one with my toddler so that he can continue to “read” in bed after I tuck him in and then sneak in twenty minutes later to retrieve it.

Hammock Instead of Swing: A hammock does double duty as a swing. Many companies now offer hammocks perfect for camping, in bright colors that appeal to children. Babies love the continuous motion and the ambient outdoor sounds that make a hammock the perfect alternative to a baby swing. Of course, be sure to never leave your baby unattended in a hammock or a swing.

Expecting, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself that women have been caring for babies since the beginning of time without the gear we now consider “essential.” Don’t get suckered into thinking you need a whole lot more than a way to feed and diaper your baby.

Congratulations on this new journey!

Mountain Mama