Saturday, 2 October 2010

What do you NEED to buy for a baby?

I'm a member of a parenting web forum.  One recent thread asked this question and I couldn't resist answering it, as there is so much stuff out there to buy.  Parenthood is big business!  I feel very strongly that you can get by on a lot less than the shops will try to convince you.  Here is my quite long reply to the thread!
Firstly - hold off buying much until after Christmas, as by then you'll have more of an idea what people are planning to buy for you, hand down, lend you etc. and whatever you do need you can get in the sales.
Secondly - and importantly... there is an absolute mountain of stuff out there being marketed for new mums and believe me you don't need most of it.  Just because they sell it, doesn't mean it is necessary!  Don't be too proud to get second hand and hand-me-downs, or to make do, make creatively or borrow - most of the stuff you need in the early days you won't use for very long and your baby really doesn't care that it was used by his/her cousin first or was from a second hand shop.
Travel - you need something to transport your baby in.  A decent car seat - new is important here (and I recommend 0+1 stage as it lasts from newborn to 4 so you don't need another one for a while), and something to walk around with, I used a Maclaren pushchair which fully reclines (so again will last newborn until it's no longer required as they are walking) and a ring sling.
Sleeping - a moses basket or similar is good for when they are in your room with you (don't buy one new - either borrow or go second hand) and then a cot.  A new mattress for the cot is important.  At least 2 cellular blankets and at least 2 sheets.  You don't need different blankets for the moses basket and cot - just get the big ones and fold or drape over the sides of the basket.  Also pillow cases make good sheets for moses basket, and old unused adult sheets can be cut down and hemmed for use in cot.  You don't need to go mad decorating the nursery - baby won't care as long as it is warm and there is somewhere safe and comfy to sleep.  Home made mobiles and decorations will save you a fortune and are a good way to spend time while waiting for baby to arrive!
Cleaning - A baby bath is unnecessary.  I was given one and so did use it but not for long.  More often I ran a shallow and warm bath and got in with baby, then hubby took baby and dried and dressed him while I got the water hot and deep for a long soak myself (until baby needed a feed!).  A couple of packs of cotton wool will suffice.  Those hooded towels are also not strictly necessary as long as you have nice soft towels.  (They get to age 1 and leg it around the house in the nude with the towel billowing behind them like a cape!).  All the lotions and potions are unnecessary at the beginning, just use water.  Afterwards a mild baby soap sparingly used lasts forever.  For bum use sudocreme is good if they get a rash, but you don't need loads as it lasts forever.  You don't need special baby nail clippers, brush or comb.  Your little one won't need a hairbrush for a while and a comb seems too severe for their soft scalps.  I was persuaded that baby nail clippers were a necessity, and you do need to clip nails a lot, especially at the beginning, but even with baby ones you can manage to cut their finger!  Just use ordinary ones and take care.
Nappies - It depends what you are planning to use.  Even if you plan to cloth bum I recommend a couple of packs of newborn disposable to get past the meconium and then you also feel more human and ready to get into the cloth.  For disposables you need wipes (cotton wool at the beginning), nappy bags and nappies and a bin nearby.  For cloth you need whatever nappy system you have, liners (I use fleece ones), wipes (I made my own and wash them too), a pot for your wipes, a nappy bin (preferably with a net bag to make transfer to the machine less yucky) and a wet nappy bag for out and about.  You don't need a changing station or a change mat (a towel to put them on and a basket to put the stuff in is fine).  Also a proper "change bag" is unnecessary - any bag that's big enough to hold the stuff is fine.
Clothes - you will be bought far more than you ever expect believe me!  I didn't need to buy any clothes until he was 9 months old!  Just get a pack of 0-3 vests, a pack of 0-3 sleepsuits and a couple of jumpers/cardigans and you will have plenty.  If you find that people don't buy for you or you find you need more, it's a good thing to do in the first weeks as a first trip out.
Feeding - I breast fed exclusively so didn't buy anything.  After about 6 weeks I went out and bought a breast pump, some sterilising stuff and some bottles so that I could express but you shouldn't do it until your feeding is well established, so it's not something you need right away. For FF you need the milk, plenty of bottles and cleaning equipment.  Other than that you need no feeding stuff until the baby is ready for solids at about 6 months.  Actually, I tell a lie.  I did buy some stuff for breast feeding.  I had a savoy cabbage (it brought down the swelling of mastitis!), and some lansinoh creme for sore nipples (you don't use much so you only need one tube), and a pack of washable breast pads.  Also a couple of nursing bras (only 2, as your boobs will soon change back to a more manageable size once feeding is well established).
Baby entertainment - though you won't want to put your baby down to begin with, once you do a bouncy chair is good (you don't need an all mod cons one, just a simple one is fine.  I got mine at a car-boot for £2 and just washed the fabric), and also a blanket or something to lay them flat on so they can have a good wriggle, and once they are able to take an interest in stuff around them a baby gym - I like the german/scandinavian style wooden ones which you can get on e-bay - I splashed out about £40 as I was so proud of saving so much money on everything else!
Other - Muslin squares are great, you literally use them for everything!  A stash of easy cook meals and snacks to make life easier for you in the early weeks.  A clear diary - don't commit to anything for at least 2 months after baby is born.
Labour and shortly after birth - plenty of maternity pads, cheap pants, and a couple of easy boob access cheap nighties.  A puppy pad or similar to put under your sheet when due date is iminent so that if your waters go in the night you don't ruin your mattress.  Also use a couple under you on your fave arm chair for a few days after the birth just in case your maternity pads leak - believe me things get a bit gross!
So there you go.  Even with all the money saving involved in this advice, it'll cost you a bit (even if the only thing you buy new is the car seat and a new mattress for the cot!).  So please, don't go overboard and buy all the rubbish they make you think is indispensable - we're talking glowing eggs to tell you the room is the right temperature, monitors (believe me, when they want you - you can hear them from the other end of the house!), bears that vibrate and sing lullabies, special bins that wrap the nappies for you, chairs that vibrate and rock and play music (yes - that's what they invented parents for - you hold your baby and sing to them and rock them!).
Enjoy the adventure of parenthood...

Any suggestions on things that people could save money on, or things that parents absolutely can't live without? Please comment below...

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