A baby shower for my newest niece recently prompted a visit to the Great Hall of Pacifiers for the Newly Parenting (otherwise known as Babies R Us). Experienced parents recognize that 95% of the stock in this mammoth emporium is either totally unnecessary or easily substituted with a less trendy, less expensive alternative. Fresh parents (myself included, once upon a time) tend to see it as The Solution to all of the nervous anticipation associated with being responsible for a new life. And not just any life, but a life utterly incapable of communicating by any other means than sobbing. Like so many others, I registered for baby care items I ended up rarely using in hopes that they might make this new journey a little less treacherous. Fortunately I also received gift cards from wise older mothers who knew I would need a little time to figure out exactly what I would need to care for this precious package. Much like brides who have never cooked have difficulty identifying the essential implements for their new kitchens, it's hard to expect someone who has never parented to pick out the perfect gear for the child they've never met. Turns out, kids don't need much more than a basic car seat, diapers, wipes, a comfy place to sleep, and a pacifier or ten. And, in Parker's case, this most essential of child-care items: Who would have thought that this little belt (an item, incidentally, not even stocked by 'R Us) would prove to be an invaluable asset in raising my son. Like many adoptive parents of Vietnamese children, I've found that American baby clothes are tailored to fit the chubbier end of our growth charts. My decidedly non-Vietnamese baby boy engaged this device early on to prevent his pants from slipping off his very narrow bottom - a problem exacerbated by potty training completed long before he grew out of garments designed to accommodate a bulky diaper, or grew into those fitted with adjustable waistbands. Now I face the same problem with a very-typically narrow Vietnamese baby girl body, but without the fortunate advent of belt loops. I'll let you know when I track down the female equivalent of this fabulous accessory, at Babies R Us or elsewhere. In the meantime, Parker will still be begging for his belt - now employed in the essential role of sword-sheath-holder.