What you really need when you have your first baby
A lot of my friends are having their first babies, and being the veteran pregnant with number two, I’m getting a lot of questions on what you need for a newborn. I know there’s a million lists about the essential items you absolutely have to have before you are allowed to bring an actual living, breathing baby home, but actually it’s pretty likely that the baby wipes warmer is going to be used for the first week, and then you’re going to be way too exhausted (or horrified by what’s actually in the nappy) to care whether your precious angel’s tiny little bum is wiped with a room temperature or a luke warm wipe.
If you’re happy to spend a fortune on stuff you may not need, don’t let me hold you back, spend up and don’t read on! There is no question that it is super fun buying cute little outfits and the worlds tiniest shoes. If nothing else it takes your mind off the fact that the baby has to get out of you at some point in the near future. But if you’re just wanting to buy what you need, and not spend any money unnecessarily, here’s what we’ll call a moderate guide to baby survival needs:
- A place for baby to sleep. A bassinet is fantastic as they are easily portable, you can rock the baby to sleep in them, they are high so you don’t need to spend so much and your tiny baby won’t look quite as small as they do in a huge crib. You can also buy them second hand in excellent condition and sell them easily as they won’t get more than 6 months’ use. But if you want to, you can skip that and go straight to the crib, also easy to buy second hand in great condition
- A space to change baby. It’s good to have a change table to save your back from any unnecessary bending and to have a place where you can keep all your baby related products like nappies and wipes and medicine. I have personally switched from a table with open shelves to one with a drawer and cupboards beneath to keep little crawling/toddling hands from getting into everything.
Pram. Firstly a pram. Read reviews online, go to the store and try a few out. Here’s some good features to look out for: easy folding, light, a big basket underneath and easy to steer. I would also look for a seat that both reclines, and can be pulled up into a straight back position. My pram doesn’t go into a straight sitting position (it reclines a little even at its most upright) and my bub has always struggled with not being upright enough.
You can also get a pram liner if you want to bling up the pram but you only really need one and even that is optional if you have a pram that’s easy to clean.Carseat. Given that all Australian baby car seats need to live up to industry standards, you can’t really go wrong as long as you buy an Australian seat that complies.
- Nappies and Wipes. You’ll be needing a lot of these but it is remarkable how quickly babies go up in nappy sizes so don’t go overboard in the one size. We found it easy enough to have 2 mattress protectors and 2 or 3 bedsheets and as soon as one became dirty (usually baby spew) we swapped it for the other and immediately washed. Note: every now and then you’ll get a double spewer where the baby does a huge puke, you change the sheets and she then pukes on the second set. Along the same vein as ‘inside out undies’ which men seem to be so proud of, you could prolong the use of the second set of sheets by putting the baby in the crib in the other direction. I don’t know how proud you’ll feel but it’ll get you through! I should also add that you probably need a dryer for this method. Otherwise, a couple more sets won’t go astray!
- Bedding. We found it easy enough to have 2 mattress protectors and 2 or 3 bedsheets and as soon as one became dirty (usually baby spew) we swapped it for the other and immediately washed. Note: every now and then you’ll get a double spewer where the baby does a huge puke, you change the sheets and she then pukes on the second set. Along the same vein as ‘inside out undies’ which men seem to be so proud of, you could prolong the use of the second set of sheets by putting the baby in the crib in the other direction. I don’t know how proud you’ll feel but it’ll get you through! I should also add that you probably need a dryer for this method. Otherwise, a couple more sets won’t go astray!
- Towel. You can actually use a grown-up towel but the baby might pee in it so it’s nice to give them their own towel. Also, it just fits them a bit better. You only really need one or two if you want to splash out, and good quality ones will last for years!
- A few outfits that are swaddle friendly. Singlets or onesies, depending on time of year. Theoretically, babies sleep a lot. Practically, either the baby sleeps or you are trying to get the baby to go to sleep for the majority of their newborn lives. If you put them in cute little dresses and two piece outfits, it will probably ride up and be uncomfortable for them when they are swaddled, or you will spend your entire day changing them in and out of outfits. Also, you will be given lots of adorable things for those times you want to play ‘look how adorable my baby is.’
- A thermometer. You can’t really use any medicine for the first few weeks but you’ll be incredibly paranoid about babies’ health so I would definitely get one, even just for your own piece of mind. You can get in ear or even non contact thermometers which are less of a hassle than the old under arm ones.
- Swaddles! Of course I had to put this one in, but as it happens, they are super handy. Sleep is almost as important for you as it is for your baby, so it can be best to try out a few different styles of sleeping bags and wraps to see what suits him best. Our bamboo swaddles are soft and breathable and don’t stain easily so of course we recommend them J Even if you use a sleeping bag in the end, swaddles are great for a number of reasons. If you want to know more, here’s a handy little guide.
Stuff to borrow to see if your baby likes before you spend gazillions on them. Babies are crazily fussy so don’t spend too much until you know what you need. If you can’t borrow, try second hand on ebay, gumtree or a Facebook buy/sell/swap site.
- A Baby Bjorn, Ergo, Manduca or other baby carrier
- A baby swing or bouncer
- A breast pump
A playmat. You can buy this earlier or wait until your munchkins neck is strong enough.
Remember, the shops are still open once the baby is born! If you need anything, you can always send your partner out or order online express!