A couple of conversations got me thinking about what I consider must-haves when you’re having a baby – they are also the only things I found necessary at all!
A car seat is a must, unless somehow you can walk everywhere. I got one of the so-called ‘baby carriers’ but I intended to get a rear facing car seat that goes up to 4 years. I couldn’t find it then but I did when she needed to move up, so my previous one is for sale 🙂
We got the Joie Stages for about £120 which if you think about it is dirt cheap. We needed it to go with the seatbelt but there are others with an IsoFix base.
The majority of people consider a pram a must. I don’t. I actually got it as part of the ‘travel system’ with the above mentioned car seat but we only ever used it for the fun of ‘let’s put the baby in the pram and go for a quick walk but don’t forget the sling! Ah, and take a picture!’.
A sling is undoubtedly my main must-have. Helps you bond with your baby and respond quickly; you’re hands free to make a cuppa or visit the loo, or carry the shopping if you’re so inclined; easy to navigate even crowded areas; helps with establishing breastfeeding and with postnatal recovery.. and babies that are carried cry roughly 40% less than those not carried. We evolved to be carried and so babywearing makes mum’s and baby’s systems feel at ease 🙂
I wanted a stretchy wrap because you can leave it on all day and pop baby in and out as needed, and decided on a Moby. I have since tried a Hana and I prefer it as it’s more elastic and also cooler. Chloe lived in the Moby for six months, by the way.
My husband would have nothing to do with a wrap so we got a denim buckles for him, a Connecta*. We still use it often at 15 months and are about to move up to the toddler size 🙂
After reading a lot on normal baby behaviour and expectations, we decided we were going to cosleep/bedshare, and for longer than the usual cosleeper cots allow for, so we simply got a cheap cot with a removable side, a mattress and a couple of bedsheets, and a pool noodle to make sure her mattress is against mine and there’s no gap on the other side! That’s it, no Moses baskets, no cushiony sleeping surfaces (I know many swear by them but.. how about suffocation risks? Not for me).
Then to cover her we had a muslin cloth during the summer, and a couple of baby sleeping bags for when it’s colder. At the moment we’re back to sleeping bags but now her feet are out to allow for movement.
And this is for night sleep. For many months her naps were on me or in the sling 🙂 and eventually moved to our bed.
Arguably the most important bit, but not enough att is paid to it.
If you’re planning to bottle feed, you’ll need formula, bottles, teats, sterilising equipment, a way of killing bacteria (aka kettle) and somewhere to store boiled water for when out and about. The bottle prep machines sound handy but don’t guarantee the necessary temperature to kill the bacteria in the formula. You might want to read up on paced bottle feeding (on demand).
If you’re planning to breastfeed, literally all you need are your boobs (babies can crawl and latch on by themselves!) but most people make sure they have special accessible bras or tops. You can use any pillow for support if needed, you can order a pump later on if you find you need one, etc.
But what you will need is the right support, knowledge and a tribe! So read your books, find a couple of numbers for lactation consultants and tongue tie specialists, and find local breastfeeding cafes and mum to mum support groups such as https://www.facebook.com/whbreastfeeders/
Dummies can interfere with breastfeeding so we only got one for the couple of days I was in hospital with mastitis and couldn’t let her suck on me much due to the pain. Most bottle fed babies need one as they feed faster and are left with more need to suck but I would get rid of it by six months.
4. Toilet and bath
Some people (and whole cultures) do what’s called Elimination Communication – basically from day one you learn to read your baby’s cues so you hold them over a (mini) potty every time they need a wee or a poo and you don’t use nappies at all. We didn’t do this, although we did introduce the potty at 8 months which keeps going well.
What we did though is go for reusable/washable nappies. They are better for the environment, the skin, your pocket, toddlers learn to use the potty earlier, and it’s not a big hassle in washing as it’s a load every other day and then hang to dry (in the airing cupboard in my case). We also got washable wipes, a nappy bucket, and a few other accessories to go with it.
For the birth I took muslins with wraps as first nappies, but also disposables in case it couldn’t be me in charge of them! In the end we used disposables for a couple of weeks because she was tiny and I couldn’t get the hang of the muslins! We got normal supermarket ones but I would have preferred a more natural brand such as Naty.
You’re not meant to use commercial baby wipes on their skin for a few months, but rather cotton and water, so the washable wipes worked for that too.
As for the bath some people bathe them in the sink, but I kind of liked the idea of a baby bath (no seats or anything like that, just the old fashioned baby bath). We still use it now as she sits in it.
Again, for the first while you shouldn’t use bath products, but once you do there are a few brands out there with no nasties such as Weleda (the famous brands ARE full of nasties so I gave away to charity a set I was given).
We also got a cheap changing table (and second hand too!) which made it easier on our backs and had room for all her nappy parafernalia. The moment she could crawl we moved to the floor and once she could stand we mostly do standing up nappy changes so it’s been up in the loft for a few months.
Nail scissors, a soft brush, a snot sucker 😀 are useful too.
5. Somewhere to leave baby
While I understand the advantages (for mum) of leaving baby in some kind of animated device, I truly believe they are bad for their physical and even mental development. So we didn’t buy anything at all.
No bouncy chairs, no seats, no jumping or walking devices. We didn’t use the car seat as a carrier except for a couple of occasions in which she was fast asleep in it. We did get a cheap bouncy chair at one point which I only ever used if I needed a shower and she was having none of it, probably less than 20 5min uses.
So where did she spend her time, you wonder? Lots of it on the boob (due to the tongue tie her feeds could last 45-50 minutes and she fed every 3h plus clusted feeding in the evening – you do the math!). Plenty in the sling or simply resting on someone’s chest. Probably quite a bit on the changing table. And whenever I could, she would spend some of that precious awake alert state on the floor, looking at a mobile or out of the window, or at a book with me.
6. Clothes and others
We had the usual collection of vests and babygrows but had to run to buy more as she was born smaller than we expected. Everything neutral as we didn’t know she was a girl, and then the tiny clothes were dinosaur-y as dad bought them 😀
We had ‘cute’ stuff but I very much prefer comfy clothes, specially when they start moving more and most bits become restrictive.
We didn’t use baby hats unless we were out and it was cold (I believe having a free head helps with heat regulation and that sweet baby smell is a basic part of the mother-baby bonding process), and we didn’t use mittens. I had them, thinking that they would be good to prevent scratches, but she was born with hands wide open as opposed to the more common newborn fists so I didn’t want to disturb her exploration. Moreover, when sbe started to coordinate her legs a bit more I’d have her feet bare to help her (and nowadays we do barefoot shoes).
That’s all I can think of right now, will update if I remember more bits or someone reminds me in the comments!
* You can get a 10% discount on http://www.connectababycarrier.com using the code CRISTINAYOGA