Beth's New Baby Basics
I'm writing this list for a bit of fun and hopefully also to serve as something useful for those who are still expecting and getting ready for baby. Perhaps it'll be a reminder to myself too, in the event that we should have another baby someday.:)
There are lots and lots of lists out there describing basic needs for babies, mine will be one among dozens, yet each list is slightly different if only because the needs of each baby are slightly different and each parent's way of preparing is different.
During my pregnancy I was often plagued with restlessness about being ready. I had a lot of nesting days where I'd worry endlessly about whether or not we had everything that we needed for the baby. This list represents the things that I actually have needed and used, rather than the list in my mind that plagued me during pregnancy.
I forget now who said it to me, but someone said that all you really need to take care of a baby are a pair of loving arms, two breasts and some diapers. While those won't cover every necessity, it's not too far off really, when you get right down to it.
- Onesies. At least two 3-packs of basic onesies in newborn size for the first months, then sizes 3-6 months for later. Short and long-sleeved. These are the workhorses of Vic's warddrobe. In warm weather, I often dress him in just a onesie, maybe with some leggings. When it's colder, the onesies are the basic underlayer. Petit Bateau in particular, makes a bodysuit that completely unsnaps except for the sleeves and is really easy to put on as a result, because you don't have slip it on over baby's head.
- Receiving Blankets. We didn't have nearly enough of these when Vic first came home. He was peeing through every type of diaper we were putting on him, and our paltry three blankets were getting into the wash more than than staying on the baby where they needed to be. You just can't have too many of these IMHO. I like the thermal/waffle knit kind the best. They're easily layered for warmth, but light enough not to overheat Vic on warmer days.
- Snap T-shirts. Two or three. Didn't get nearly enough of these. Very useful when baby is first at home with a receiving blanket and hat, just like in the hospital. The tees leave the baby's bottom portion free of clothes for easy changes. They get slightly less convenient later on when you're picking baby up more, or slipping baby into a sling because they ride up in the back. Onesies are more useful then, IMHO, because they're secured all the way around.
- Sack gowns. Two or three. I use these as pajamas. Vic is always kicking his socks off and worming out of his receiving blankets and his sleepers with the feet on them were much too big at first, so his feet got tangled up in them. The gowns were a late purchase, but one I find invaluable for keeping his feet warm at night without socks or booties.
- Rompers/Coveralls. Three to six. These are the second workhorse in Vic's warddrobe for colder days. I dress him in one of these, preferably the kind that unsnaps all the way down, a pair of socks and a hat and he's all ready to go. With a receiving blanket and a cardigan, he's all set to go outside too.
- Socks with cuffs. Three to six pairs. These have stayed on better than anything else I've tried to put on Vic's feet. Booties that don't lace go flying, so do socks that are too short and don't cuff. We had just one pair to start with, which was fine mostly, since babies don't walk. I learned the hard way though, that one MUST take socks off when changing poopy diapers or the socks will need to hit the laundry durn fast and be unavailable until the wash is done.
- Hats. Two or three. Soft stretchy cotton blend hats with roll up brims are great for keeping baby's head warm. A brand that's a bit more solid in the knit than the hospital variety is probably best. I like the ones from Jockey.com a lot 'cos the cotton has a nice thick heft to it. On the other hand, all the hats that I've put on Vic work their way off his head eventually just from his movement, so ones that tie on in some way might be something to consider too.
- Cardigans and Leggings. Two or three sets. Cardigans are great layering pieces with other basic elements of baby's warddrobe. Button-down or snap-down types in stretchy cotton blends are the easiest to get on and off IMHO. The kind that tie on with ribbons can be a strangulation hazard. Leggings/pants are also great to use as layering elements with onesies or over a romper if it's really cold. Most of the ones I have, have enough give to go over another layer. Again, my favorites are the matching sets from BabyJockey which I got through Babiesrus.com
- Waterproof Lap Cloths. My mother got me a packet of these from Gerber. They're soft and flannelly to feel, but rubberized so they're waterproof. I can stick one of these under Vic's bottom to prevent leaks onto his receiving blankets, the sling or other surfaces. They're flexible too, so they can be put into the bundle when baby is swaddled.
- Sling/Baby Carrier. I have a Maya Wrap but there are lots of other options on the market. The wrap takes a little bit of getting used to -- I wish I'd practiced more before Vic arrived -- but now I've got the hang of it, it's indispensable. The sling frees up both my hands so I can do things around the house, or go to the store. I can also nurse Vic in it and have my hands free. I'd planned to walk home with Vic in his sling as a matter of fact, but wound up not feeling up to that mile walk. The cloth slings help baby to feel like he/she is still in the womb -- Vic loves being in the sling and is much easier to calm when he is in it. He drops off to sleep quickly during the day when I carry him around in it.
- Nursing pillow. I have a Boppy which is just wonderful for bringing Vic up to the right height for nursing and frees up my hands so I can read a book, or sip a glass of something cool and refreshing or *cough* type at the computer. I think a pillow that straps around my waist would be even more useful though, because I'm plus-sized. The Boppy doesn't -quite- go around my waist and slips a little as a result.
- Changing Pad or Mat. We started out changing Vic on the bed with only a towel under him, but he'd pee mid-change and soak through to the sheets sometimes necessitating a bedding change. I still change him on the bed with a lap cloth, especially for middle of the night changes, but we also have a contoured changing pad with its own cover that we can use on just about any flat surface in the house. Vic loves to lie in the pad when he's in 'quiet alert' or 'active alert' mode and just kick his feet and look at all the stuff around him. Sometimes I put him down there when he needs a change of pace and he calms pretty well.
- Baby Tub/Seat/Sponge. Vic is a squirmy worm in the tubby, he loves the water and gets a kick out of kicking, splashing and pushing himself up with his feet and arching his back. We have a baby tub with a plug that I set up on the counter next to the kitchen sink and fill with water. There's a no-slip seat that snaps into the tub and keeps Vic from sliding too much and keeps his head up above the water level. When he's done, I just slip the edge of the tub over the sink and pull the plug. No carting the tub around, no leaning over the big bath tub. I'd bathe him on a seat in our sink, 'cos those work nicely too, except that our sink is really old and raunchy and I'm not putting him in there. Our tub is an Infant-to-Toddler bath from Evenflo and has two positions for the seat, one for newborns, one for 3-6 month olds when head control is acheived and then the seat can be removed for toddlers
- Cloth Diapers/Burp Cloths. I meant to diaper Vic in cloth diapers, but so far, we haven't been able to do that because he pees right through them and the diaper covers haven't helped. We've been using the lovely organic cotton diapers that friends got us as burp cloths instead as a supplement to the lovely, double-flannel ones that Cindy made for us. Seriously, most burp cloths aren't worth buying -- cloth diapers do the trick much better.
- Hooded towels. Two or three. Vic has two from Pottery Barn Kids that are nice and thick and cushy. They get constant use since he loves his tubby and it's one of the best ways to get him calm for sleep. He often pees while I'm drying him off, so more than one to do rotation in the laundry is necessary. I'd recommend against the towels from Carter's Starters: I got a Carter's Starters gift box with a full warddrobe and the towel in there was really flimsy and didn't have a hood. The PBK ones are great, though a little pricey.
- Mild Lotion or Mineral Oil. Mineral oil is a good all-purpose moisturizer and can be used to loosen cradle cap. I have a bottle around the house for general use and also used it on Vic when he was flaking skin in his first growth spurt and on his cradle cap. I also have some baby lotion that I use sparingly on Vic after his bath or for massages.
- Bottles. We've got a couple of Avent bottles with which to feed Vic expressed breast milk. The nipple design has been really good for Vic -- he hasn't had any nipple confusion at all.
- Binkies. While there's a lot of controversey around pacifiers, we've found them useful to help calm Vic when he's not hungry but needs something to suck on and isn't interested in his fingers. He's not permanently attached to a binky, but we keep them around as part of the "keep Vic happy" arsenal. We have Nuk binkies, and some funny "Berkeley themed" ones also with orthodontic nipples.
- Breast Pump. I bought a used Medela Pump-in-Style and am very glad I did because it'll be indispensable when I'm working. I've built up a milk supply for Vic with it pretty quickly. The Medela pumps are top-of-the-line and horribly expensive new, but worth every penny IMHO, especially if a used model in good condition can be found.
- Musical Hanging Toy with Smiley Face. Two of Vic's aunties got him big smiley face, hanging flower plush toys that play music when you pull on the stem. One of them has a mirror in it too. So far these are Vic's favorite things to look at toy-wise. My hair is his favorite thing to grab. *sigh*.
- Large Cup with Drinking Straw/Bottle with No-Spill Cap I keep one of our refillable mugs from Baja Fresh or a liter of water with a safety pop-top on my night stand full of water, to save my sanity and stay hydrated. It's a pain in the patoot to get up in the middle of the night for a drink when you're sleep-deprived. Breastfeeding also takes a lot more out of a body than I could possibly have imagined. I need my nighttime water supply or I'm parched and my lips are cracked in the morning.
- Bottle Warmer with On/Off Switch. I took a hint on this from the reviews at Amazon.com. A lot of bottle warmers out there plug and unplug only to turn on and off. It's worth it to get the kind with an on/off switch and an auto-shutoff and a nightlight for easy finding in the dark. This was bought mostly for Sabs' benefit, to help with night feedings. A glass of warm/hot water works just as well, but is more of a pain to get ready.
It may seem like there are a lot of things missing off this list, but these are the items that I have found the most useful and really wouldn't want to be without, given my own needs and Vic's particular personality. I hope that some of what I say will be useful to others too.:)