Pretty much as soon as I learned that I was pregnant, I pooled together my closest mommy friends and asked them what were their absolute must-haves were in terms of newborn baby gear. I was determined to keep the baby stuff at a minimum for both my wallet’s sake and my sanity. I suppose I’m a bit of a neat freak and it’s already bad enough that my letterpress equipment is slowly taking over my whole home.
The advice I got from my friends and family varied but also overlapped and I had to decide for myself what I could get beforehand and what I had to wait on. Not the easiest thing to do when you have absolutely no idea of what to expect. Still, it was super helpful to have the advice of experienced parents and so I’m here to give a list of my own, just in case any of you might find it helpful.
For sleep: I live in a two bedroom condo, one of which is the master bedroom and the other is my letterpress studio. A nursery room wasn’t going to happen so Marcus sleeps in our bedroom, in a bassinet. I sought out the Mini Arm’s Reach Co-sleeper because that’s exactly what it is, within an arm’s reach of my bed. Also, because it’s small, it was the right fit for our bedroom. I also like that it has wheels, so that I can easily move it from room to room. A bonus is that it has storage space underneath that I put his blankets in. I found this bassinet on Craigslist and saved myself about a $100.
For the first few weeks, we swaddled Marcus. He seemed to enjoy this and it helped him get to sleep. There are many different brands of swaddles, some are even made to be easy to use with Velcro or zippers and holes for arms. But I found the easiest ones to use were the ones that were simple,square and handmade. One of the best pieces of advice I got was to have large, over-sized receiving blankets (47 x 47”) and have many of them!
For clothes: I was told not to get too many newborn clothes. But on the contrary, I found that I needed quite a lot. There were so many spit-ups and leaks that Marcus could easily go through as many three outfits a day and one at night. A couple of trips to the thrift store (Value Village, Goodwill, Salvation Army) and I had bags full of newborn sleepers that cost anywhere from $0.99-1.99. Not a bad price for something that’ll only be worn for such a short period of time. Oh and don’t go for outfits (pants/shirts) or any clothing items you have to get over the baby’s head. Go for the sleepers that have the snap buttons or zippers (makes for easy and quick diaper changes).
For diapers: We chose to do a combination of disposable and cloth diapers. I did a lot of research on cloth diapers before deciding to use them. It’s just a little bit more effort than using disposables and it took some time to get used to but we’ve gotten the hang of them and now have a routine. We use them mainly at home and use disposables when going out. But at the beginning, when everything was new and nerve-racking, we used disposables because it was easy and one less thing for us to figure out. A note about the cloth diapers: they are bulky and so the sleepers I have for Marcus are a bit larger to accommodate this. I haven’t tried any other type of cloth diapers but have been very happy with the FuzziBuns Elite.
For nursing: I’ve heard all kinds of stories about breastfeeding; some of them horrific, others pain-free and lovely. I’m lucky enough to be able to breastfeed Marcus without any major issues. Though to be honest, there were some desperate moments at the beginning that weren’t so nice. Let’s just say beaten cabbage leaves were involved. Finally, I got an Avent breast-pump and breast shells and they have made my breastfeeding experience much more manageable and enjoyable. It took me a day or so to figure out which pump was the best (manual vs. electric, brand vs. brand) and just decided on the least expensive one and one that I thought would be most comfortable for me. Also, while breastfeeding, a nursing pillow or a boppy helps out a lot too. I’ve got two: one for home and a smaller one for travel.
Because breastfeeding was so frequent, it was more convenient for me to wear shirts that were ‘nursing-ready’ rather than to wear regular tops. I’ve got a couple of proper nursing tops that I bought from the maternity stores for when I’m out with Marcus. But when I’m at home, I’m a little less concerned with how I dress and found a quick, easy, inexpensive way to be comfortable for nursing. Just get a large (or fitted) cotton shirt, starting at the front of the neck, cut down the centre to in between the chest area. This allows for easy access and opening. Not exactly the sexiest look, but comfort and convenience wins with a newborn.
For bathing: I have a First Year’s tub for Marcus’ baths. It’s contoured and supports his head and body while he’s in a sitting position.
Having a sling or a baby carrier is a lifesaver. Carrying a newborn to soothe them can take a long time and takes a toll on the body. We invested in a Moby after watching a few videos on how to use it and seeing it work wonders. Marcus loved being in the Moby with either myself or Chris. We’ve even used it with Marcus just in his diapers so that he could get some important skin-to-skin contact. Almost every time he was in, he immediately fell asleep. Being able to comfort your newborn while remaining arms-free is a winning combination in my books.
Odds and Ends: A baby grooming kit is handy to have. The nail-clipper and nail file comes in handy. Don't be fooled by baby's paper-thin nails...they're sharp. We also equipped ourselves with a digital thermometer.
I'm most certain that I'm forgetting something on this list, so feel free to ask if I haven't covered it or add to it.
It helped me to know what worked for other parents (moms, specifically). I hope my list does the same and gives you an idea of what might or might not work for you. Now that Marcus is no longer a newborn, I’ll probably be doing the same thing in asking my mommy friends what’s next on the their list of absolute must-haves for 3-6 months old!