You can never have too many blankets–but really, a tub is a tub
One of my very best friends is having a baby! What a wonderful blessing! Needless to say, all of us are thrilled and already, imagining how wonderful it will be to ooh and aaah over a newborn’s first smiles.
Of course, the excitement comes hand-in-hand with a million and one concerns. Among the most common questions are regarding the needs of the baby and the mom-to-be. When I was pregnant, I asked everyone for their suggestions so that I could fully prepare for the baby’s arrival. Tonight, as I type out my personal list for my dear friend, I thought of sharing it here, as well.
Car seat—You’re going to need this as soon as you leave the hospital. Infants use rear-facing seats and are always placed in the back seat. This is because air bags that deploy in the front seat are extremely harmful, and in some cases, even fatal to young children. When choosing a car seat, don’t look at how cute or chic it is. Instead, focus on whether it has passed government safety standards.
I use a stroller/car-seat travel system. I bought it for Adriana three years ago and used it until the day I brought my son home from the hospital. However, I couldn’t make use of it as a carrier/bassinet, as it was way too big and bulky to carry around with me.
Some form of carrier—You can choose to carry your baby in a number of ways. The most obvious would be in your arms. Another option is in a baby sling. I love how a sling allows you to hold your baby close while giving you free use of your hands; it’s like having an extra pair of arms! There are also the baby carriers that look like backpacks that you wear on your chest.
Then there are the strollers. Nowadays, you will find way too many types in the market, from virtually unheard of companies to those that are marketed as the “Rolls-Royce of strollers.” Don’t get carried away. Your baby doesn’t even know what that means. However, I wouldn’t recommend buying just any stroller either as they will go through a lot of wear and tear.
The two most popular stroller types are the travel systems and umbrella types. Travel systems are known to be quite durable and comfortable, but a little difficult to bring around due to how big they are. However, they are supposed to be very light to push, no matter how heavy baby gets, and convenient in the sense that it allows the accompanying car seat/carrier to be easily clicked in and out of the stroller. Meanwhile, umbrella types are great for travelling, as they fold up as easily as an umbrella but are usually very basic and are, in general, better suited for toddlers and older children.
Receiving blankets—Whether you use these for swaddling baby like a yummy burrito, throwing over your shoulder, or spreading on any surface that you decide to plop him/her down on for play or changing time, you can never have too many blankets. Choose an absorbent material so you can use them to wipe spit-ups, as well.
However, when it comes to keeping young babies warm, avoid blankets, as they may cover an infants’ face and cause suffocation. Try long-sleeved covered pajamas or sleep sacks (wearable blankets) instead.
Onesies and nighties—Princess and ballerina-type dresses are adorable and so are the little cowboy outfits, but for most of baby’s first year, onesies will be his/her daily uniform. For the first few months, kimono types with snaps are the easiest to use. Don’t forget that babies grow like beanstalks during their first years so try not to overbuy clothes that will only fit for a few months.
Accessories—No, not those that go bling. I’m talking about the mittens to prevent baby from face scratching and the booties to keep those precious feet warm. Bibs are useful as well so that you won’t have to keep changing baby’s outfit every time he spits up on himself.
Diapers—The hospital may provide you with diapers while you are confined but as soon as you get home, you’ll need to have a whole lot in store as infants and young babies, can go through over a dozen diapers in two days.
Nursing devices, bottles and sterilizer—If you choose to breastfeed directly then you don’t really need anything other than your baby and a healthy diet for yourself. If you have to be away from your child for work or for whatever other reason and choose to continue, you may want to think about investing in a good pump. Some pumps (such as double electric ones) can be quite pricey but offer something very valuable in return; efficiency and convenience, two factors that help make things easier for many working women.
While we’re here, I may as well add nursing pads, creams and bras. Try to ask US-bound friends or family to pick up a couple of tubes of Lansinoh cream. I found it to be the most soothing among all the brands I tried.
Whatever you decide, you will need a good number of bottles, whether for pumped milk or formula. You can get a few 4-oz bottles for use in the first few months when baby doesn’t really consume much milk, yet and more 9-oz bottles for use in later months and years. You can also simply buy different-sized nipples for a 9-oz bottle and change as baby grows. You don’t have to buy dozens of bottles.
Medical and hygiene kit—With my kids, the most used items in this kit were the nose syringes, baby nail cutter for paper-thin nails, and the digital thermometer. It helps to have a thermometer on hand to tell you whether it is time to wake up your pediatrician in the middle of the night or wait until a more reasonable hour before you press the panic button.
Sleep and roll around
Crib or pack and play—Of course baby needs a place to sleep in. Even if she sleeps with you in bed at night, it’s nice to be able to put her in a place during the day where she can sleep or roll around without you worrying that she will fall off. While cribs are still very popular, playpens are gaining popularity due to the convenience they present and their budget friendly prices. As the name says, they can be packed and brought anywhere, whether on a trip or from one part of the house to another.
Baby bath tub—Do yourself a favor and steer clear of the super fancy and high-tech tubs. A tub is a tub is a tub. At the most, you can try getting one with a detachable net for bathing infants (I used to be terrified that Adriana would slip out of my hands) but if it doesn’t have one, you’ll be fine. I can’t count the number of times I went out of town and gave my young babies baths in the sink or while lying down or seated on a towel in the shower.
And lastly, if I may add an item that never appears in “must-have” lists but I truly appreciated, and continue to use; the rocking chair. For years, it sat idly in one corner of our home until I had my first baby. Suddenly, it became the centerpiece of our room where I spent my days and nights rocking my baby (and self) to sleep.
This list contains only what I feel are the most essential items. But if you really want to go for broke, you will find that baby stores are filled to the brim with more gadgets, toys and what-have-yous than you can imagine. And while it’s tempting to buy everything in sight, remember that infants and small babies spend most of their time asleep and need nothing more than milk, clean diapers and a cuddle.
A handful of toys and one tummy mat will be good enough. Crib mobiles are adorable but need not be over the top. I didn’t think (basic) baby monitors were crucial, though I could see why they are so popular. You can also try asking fellow parents for their advice, but be ready to receive conflicting reports.
Whatever you decide to buy in preparation for a baby’s arrival, it is important to remember that you don’t have to break the bank. How much you spend does not equate to how much you love your baby. If you have friends or family whose children have outgrown their strollers, cribs, then there’s no harm in inquiring about what they plan to do with them.
And really, at the end of the day, all that matters to your baby is how ready you are to accept and love him wholeheartedly. Just relax, enjoy and everything else will fall into place.