Just recently a mate asked ‘So what have you bought for baby?’ I looked at her, thought for a minute and then cracked up laughing.
Nothing. We’ve bought nothing.
Okay so some of this is because it’s our second child and we have a lot of what we need. But more importantly, it’s because babies don’t actually need much. Seriously.
I fell into the buying shit trap when I was pregnant with Ziggy. The cot he hated, the pram he screamed in. A billion items of cute clothes he never got around to wearing. Bloody baby booties that just don’t stay on. We were given stuff we never used. We (okay, I) bought stuff we never used. I wasted so much money because every magazine, every list, every baby related everything, tells you that babies need this and that and those. And it’s a big fat lie.
Babies, need sweet fuck all.
And so, from my very ‘tight-wad, second hand, minimalist’ point of view, which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but hopefully will resonate with some expectant parents, here is my list of ‘Things you actually need for your Newborn’.
Somewhere to sleep.
The two options I recommend are a bassinet, or a wahakura/sleeping pod. Nana said she used to put her babies to sleep in a pulled out drawer. That also works and would make for great conversation when you have visitors. Basically if it has a base and 4 sides, you’re good to go. Just not a cot. Why not? Because the recommendations are that your baby sleep in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months. This is much easier with a bassinet or wahakura. If you do want one, you can always get one later. But honestly, most babies hate cots. Truth.
Some way to eat.
If you plan to breastfeed, then you’ve got pretty much all you need midway between your neck and your belly button. However, my ‘must haves’ are also Weleda Nipple Cream, and breastpads. Some women don’t leak, but I was a bloody faucet! You can get nipple cream from your local pharmacy or health shop (better than lanolin, more pain relief if needed). You can find reusable breast pads at most baby shops, and there are lots of small local businesses that sell super funky ones, like these I have for baby #2 from Zen Baby.
I also swear by the $12 nursing bras from Kmart. Don’t waste money on nursing tops and stuff, anything you can bust a boob out of is a nursing top.
If you do not plan to breastfeed, then there are extra items you will need like bottles and teats.
Something to wear.
Okay yes, you could just wrap your baby in a swaddle for the first few months of their life – easy as. But for practicality, you want to get clothes. Just not too many. Babies grow fast, so you don’t need 6 of this and 8 of that. Also, you don’t need to go crazy and get brand new expensive things. Second hand shops all the way!
I get all of our merino and woollen underclothes from the opshops for $2- $4 an item. Baby pants are 99c, socks are 50c. Don’t get a million pairs of booties. They’re cute as hell but they don’t stay on! Socks for the win.
If you plan to do cloth, you’ll probably still need disposables for the first few weeks until bub is big enough for your reusable nappies. So get some newborn nappies and go from there.
You can make or buy reusable cloth wipes instead of buying disposable wipes. In 22 months we have not bought a single pack of wet wipes. Cloth nappies and cloth wipes are not as hard as you may think. And, it will save you heaps of money. I’ve written helpful advice about cloth nappies here.
A good nappy cream.
Personally I love Weleda nappy cream. It washes out in cold water (important when you cloth nappy), is very effective, and 1 tube lasted us 18 months. I am not a fan of barrier creams as they do not allow the skin to breath. Nappy cream only needs to be used when there is a nappy rash, not at every change.
For over a year, nappy cream and a bit of coconut oil for dry skin was all we bothered with. No soap, no lotions, no shampoo, no talc. Babies do not need any of this stuff. They are babies. Their skin is healthy and new. Even as a toddler, all we use on Ziggy is a bit of eco-store soap if he is really dirty.
A baby carrier.
Seriously. This is going to be a frikking lifesaver. Heard of the fourth trimester? Babies don’t like being put down, but it’s not always possible to sit there while they sleep in your arms all day. This is where a baby carrier is worth its weight in gold. There are a lot of different options out there. I could write another 5000 words just on baby carriers but I already have. Here’s my ‘starting out’ advice.
Invest in a stretchy wrap. These are suitable from birth, easy to use with the right instructions, and will last you well for the first 4 – 6 months. You can get them new for around $40.
Look up your local babywearing meet. Here you can get hands on help and advice from other mums and you can hire a range of different carriers, brands and styles to see what works for you. Ziggy was 4 months old when I found my local meet and man, so many tears would have been saved had I found it earlier.
Bits and bobs.
The old school white square cloth nappies are awesome. You can use them as a burp cloth, as a change mat, as a towel, as a ‘soaker upper of fluids’, heck, you can even use them as a nappy if you so choose! Swaddles are also great in the newborn stage, not just for swaddling, they also are convenient burp, change, mop up spills cloths.
Super important if you own a car. Not worth bothering with if you own a horse**.
I’m sitting here trying to think of what else you need, and I’m drawing blank. I mean hell, I could list a whole heap more stuff, but it’s all ‘nice to have’ not ‘must have’, at least that is what we have found out.
Honestly, the lists I see out there of ‘essentials’ that you ‘need’ for your baby are ridiculous. You don’t need the books and the bangles and the apps and the pillows and the toys and the ‘baby this’ and ‘baby that’.
We never used a change table. Our baby bath was a $5 flexi tub and it worked sweet for 21 months until the handle broke. Yes some of this extra stuff is nice to have, but you don’t need it, and you can usually get away with using things already in your house.
Babies have very simple needs. They need food, warmth, shelter and love. Love they need in abundance. The good thing about love is we often have it in abundance to give, and it’s free. Toddlers on the other hand, toddlers start needing stuff. But this isn’t about toddlers. This is about newborns, and trying to avoid the ‘buy all the shit’ trap.
And hey, if you do need something you don’t have, we live in 2017. You can order it online and it will be on your doorstep in 24 hours, or you can get in a car and head to the shops and buy it. The 21st Century is convenient like that.
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** This is a great discussion group for technical, practical and safetly advice about Car Seats.