Packing! Part One

This post was originally published on on July 20, 2009. Republished here with permission.

trunksMany adoptive parents find themselves traveling to meet their newborn baby. Hopefully, all will go according to the adoption plan, and the parents will be taking that baby home. But what if it doesn’t? Should the adoptive parents bring a ton of baby stuff, only to have to schlep it all back? What should they bring with them? What can they buy there? And what is simply not necessary?

Each individual has his or her own opinion on the subject of packing. Sometimes, people are very passionate about the need, or lack thereof, for specific items. I’ve been compiling packing lists since the end of 2005. Jack was born in 2006, when we schlepped a whole bunch of stuff to Missouri and back. Here’s what I think…

You Need a Car Seat

Everyone should know that to bring a baby home from a hospital, you need a car seat. People are divided as to whether that car seat should be: A) purchased at your home and brought to the baby, B) purchased after the baby is born, but before leaving the hospital, or C) rented. My vote, and what we did, is option B. Renting a car seat is often just as expensive as buying a new one. If you’re flying, bringing an empty car seat can invite stares and whispers, and it does load you down. If you’re driving and the adoption doesn’t work out, how will you feel about driving home with an empty car seat?

You Might Need a Bed

Does a baby need a crib or similar dedicated sleeping place? Some people get around this by co-sleeping (which is beyond the scope of this post). If you’re not co-sleeping, you can A) let the baby sleep in the car seat, B) buy a portable crib, C) create a makeshift bed, or D) rent a crib from a hotel. Again, we chose option B. We ordered a portable crib and had it shipped to our hotel. We didn’t have to carry it on the plane, and we had the shipping box to ship it back to our house (where we had a real crib ready). I have issues with used crib mattresses, so I wouldn’t rent one from the hotel. Plus, it’s another expense that can add up.

In 2005/2006, there were warnings all over the place about allowing babies to sleep in their car seats. Some “experts” were vehemently against the practice. Then, other “experts” began to say that sleeping in a car seat might help breathing. I can’t say that I’ve followed the arguments. I can say that I don’t think babies look very comfortable sleeping in their car seats. Make sure you ask a pediatrician or other trusted individual for the latest in car seat sleeping research.

I’ve read that some adoptive parents have their newborns sleep in drawers. (The kids in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever did this too.) I imagine you would have to swaddle the newborn, and I can’t imagine a drawer being very comfortable. But as a short-term, inexpensive solution, it may be worth investigating.

General Guidelines

  • Bring more clothes than you think you need, for everyone, including Mom and Dad.
  • Bring a pair of shorts, even in the winter. Hotel rooms and halls can be overheated.
  • Bring slippers to walk around in, so you don’t have to put on shoes to go down to breakfast.
  • Always buy at least 1 or 2 premie sized outfits, as well as 1 or 2 newborn outfits, before the baby is born. A few outfits won’t take up too much space. If you’re concerned about a failed match, you can hide the baby clothes from yourself if that makes you feel better.
  • Don’t bring formula, as the hospital will send baby home with enough samples to last a few days. Exception: If you plan to use organic formula, bring some with you or order it online and have it shipped to the hotel.

Other Things to Think About

  • Remember to wash clothing, towels, and blankets before using them.
  • Remember that bottles, nipples, and rings need to be sterilized (boiled) before use.Bring anything that you think you can’t live without.
  • Don’t bring a ton of books thinking you’ll have time to read. Three or four books, tops.
  • Ask the hospital for free samples and coupons.
  • Ship home whatever you buy there that you can’t carry.

This post is already incredibly long, and I haven’t answered all of the questions. It looks like this will be a two-parter. Tune in Friday for more information!


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