What is your #1 baby gadget?

Over the past few weeks, the reality of having a baby in a little over 4 months has started to set in. Maybe it's the recent arrival of our friend's baby girl, or maybe it's the fact that we have crossed that half-way mark, but either way, those notorious pregnancy-nesting-tendencies are starting to appear!

Up until now, I've avoided thinking too much about "preparing for the baby". I'm sure, in some ways, there was an element of self-protection involved; if we had another miscarriage, I didn't want to have too many "baby things" hanging around making the grieving process that much more difficult. However, on a lighter note, probably a larger part of my procrastination was just that - procrastination; nine months really feels like a long time and it's easy to say to yourself,"There will be plenty of time for that later." But like I said, with just four months to go it's time to start getting ready for the baby!

Shopaholic!

Now, the process of "getting ready for the baby" can mean very different things depending on what culture you're in! For instance, when an Akha baby is born, the only "supplies" needed are a few sets of clothes and some fabric for an Akha baby sling. Sometimes the Akha will make a baby hammock out of an empty rice sack strung between two bamboo poles, but other than these few simple items, the arrival of the baby doesn't require too much preparation. In our two years living in a village, we've seen many children grow up happy and healthy with just these "bare necessities" to carry them through their first months of life. In America, however, "getting ready for the baby," takes on a whole different meaning! Just look at everything included in a traditional American nursery checklist, not to mention all the fancy gadgets & accessories available to today's parents, like baby-wipe warmers, cribside mp3 docks and even "pee pee tee pees"!

During the past few weeks, I've been feeling really caught between these two drastically different worlds! On one hand, there's no denying the fact that I'm an American. When I think about preparing for a baby, my mind immediately finds itself in the land of cribs, changing tables and rocking chairs! On the other hand, we are working with the Akha and we desire to understand the Akha culture and way of life not only through observation, but through experience. So, we find ourselves in that familiar, yet tricky, situation of finding a balance.

Right now, we're trying to narrow down all the options out there and decide what items will really be useful in simplifying our life with a baby. This is where you come in! I want to hear from all you parents out there, those of you in America as well as any missionary parents on the field.... What is your #1 "must-have" baby item?

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