Preparing for the arrival of your little bundle of love begins way before you’re even sure of the due date. For many moms, it starts with the confirmation of their pregnancy. This is when all sorts of questions begin flooding your mind, and it can be stressful, especially for first-time moms. But the excitement of having your own mini-me overshadows your innermost insecurities by a million to one.
Knowing that you have a little one on the way will automatically have you preparing for the big day. Your big question will be, “how much is enough?”. This will depend on a few things, but as the old saying goes, “you can never have enough”, so the best is to draw up a list of must-have items that will carry you through the first few months. You will have a basic idea of your baby’s due date, and the season will change your list a little, but not much.
To help you with your list of essentials which excludes all the impulsive buys moms are famous for, we have drawn up a list to help you put some order into your preparations. You can customize the list to your specific needs or preferences.
Things you’ll need for diapering
You will go through many diapers, but if you intend to use disposable diapers, don’t rush out and stock up on too many. Babies grow fast and are not all the same size at birth, so limit yourself to a box or two newborn diapers. A word of advice; if you are going to have a stork party, then hold off on the newborn diaper purchase. You will more than likely get all you need from friends and family at your stork party. After your stork party, you can take stock of the diaper sizes you received and purchase a box or two of those you still need.
Cloth or reusable diapers work just as well as disposables, but it does require more work with washing and sterilizing them. Have about 4 dozen on hand with enough nappy-liners to last a month, and you must have at least 8 waterproof covers. You’ll also need snaps or safety pins to secure the cloth diaper in place.
Newborn’s will have to be changed at almost every feeding, and at times you will get a double whammy while changing your little one and will have to start the clean and change process from scratch. Wet or soiled diapers tell you that your baby is doing fine as long as its not continuous diarrhoea. You can expect to go through up to 16 diapers in a 24-hour period in the first few weeks, but as your baby settled in, this will drop to about 12 diapers a day and less in the months to follow. The reason for so many diaper changes is that your baby should be changed as often as necessary to avoid unnecessary infections. Do not depend too heavily on bum cream to protect your little one. Rather change a wet diaper to avoid creating a haven for bacteria growth.
On that note, bum cream is very important. It’s inevitable that your baby will go some time with a wet or soiled diaper, so protection is vital. Here is a list of items that link in with diapers:
- Bum cream or other rash prevention ointments (be generous when applying).
- Wet wipes and/or washcloths to clean baby’s bottom.
- Changing pad or waterproof sheeting in case of mishaps.
- Plastic bags to contain and dispose of dirty diapers (loose poop will be contained).
Bath time must-haves
Bath time is a fun time for babies who love the feel of water and enjoy kicking and splashing. Although relaxing for your baby, there is cleaning that needs to be done. Here is what you’ll need:
- An infant bathtub for easy and safe bathing. There are different designs and shapes that will help you keep your baby safe without any slipping mishaps.
- Soft washcloths (about a dozen) but not the same ones you use to clean your baby’s bottom with.
- Gentle baby cleaner or soap and shampoo. Limit the use to two or three times a week, so you don’t have to stock up that much.
- A soft hair brush; even if your baby is born with little hair, the brush stimulates your baby’s scalp and is more a pampering exercise in the beginning.
- Hooded baby towels. It’s important to keep your baby’s head covered when you take them out of the bath. Have 3 or 4 hooded towels and use a clean one for every bath.
- Earbuds to clean around your baby’s umbilical cord stump. You can also use them to clean between their little toes and around their ear area but not inside their ears.
- Cotton wool is handy to plug up your baby’s ears during their bath. This is not necessary, but it’s a precaution you can take to prevent water from going into your little one’s ears.
- Baby powders and lotions make your baby smell nice, but they do have their disadvantages. Baby powder is fine and, if breathed in, can cause raspatory irritation. Lotions may cause an allergic reaction that can be unpleasant for your baby, so try and avoid using them for the first two or three months. Your baby’s skin is very sensitive in the first few months, so you should try and avoid putting anything on their skin that is not really necessary.
An important issue is dealing with your baby’s umbilical cord stump. The stump has to be monitored at every diaper change until it dries up and falls off naturally. You will need to keep the area clean and dry but avoid rushing the drying process by using surgical spirits.
It’s great to kill bacteria when there is an actual infection, but it will prolong the natural drying process because you will be killing the good bacteria responsible for the process. Rather consult your pediatrician if you notice an infection flaring up.
Basic clothing items you should have
Babygrow’s or onesies are practical items of clothing and come in both short and long sleeve designs. Most onesies are made from breathable cotton, while some are made from fleece for the cold winter months.
Here again, you will not purchase too many outfits because, at this time, you still do not know how big your baby will be at birth and how fast they will grow.
Here is a list of important items you can purchase before the time:
- 8 to 12 newborn onesies. There are both short and long sleeve shirts that clip closed between your baby’s legs. There are also full-body onesies that cover your baby’s whole body, including their feet. Depending on the season your baby is born in, you may consider one or the other, or perhaps a combination of the two.
- 2 or 3 newborn hats or beanies to keep your baby’s head warm.
- 8 pairs of socks or knitted booties.
- At least 2 jackets but more if you have a winter baby.
- A bunting bag or snowsuit for cold winter areas.
- 6 pairs of pants used with onesie shirts that clip closed between your baby’s legs.
- 2 pairs of scratch mittens to prevent your baby from scratching their face.
- 4 outfits for going out. Dress your baby for the season but don’t go overboard as it’s easy for babies to overheat. Stick to light, breathable materials.
Feeding necessities for your newborn
For mothers who will be exclusively breastfeeding, there is not much you have to buy. Here is a quick rundown of what you will need:
- Burp cloths are used on an ongoing basis, so get at a dozen or two to start with.
- Bibs are more to prevent milk from seeping into your baby’s clothes, so a dozen will be fine as they are not always soaked during feeding.
- A good quality breast pump will save you a lot of frustration, so get recommendations before purchasing.
- Glass milk storage containers with airtight lids.
- Waterproof labels for your baby’s items if you have to make use of a daycare facility.
- A nursing pillow will help keep you and your baby comfortable during feeding sessions.
- Breast pads to contain leaks. There are disposable and washable ones.
- Nursing bras. One size bigger than your pregnant bra size will be fine.
- You are bound to get sore nipples from feeding your baby, and you will need a lotion or nipple cream to relieve the pain or irritation it may cause.
- Your paediatrician will advise you on formula milk varieties and will recommend a brand, to begin with. It important to note that formula has an expiry date, so this will not be a bulk buy item.
- Burp cloths and bibs remain essential, so at least one or two dozen of each.
- At least 2 bottles with newborn size nipples. Resist the urge to go for a specific brand because babies can be very fussy, and they may not like the choice you made. The nipple size and shape are what concerns your baby the most, and it’s a trial-and-error exercise to get the right fit for some babies. Once your baby is settled on a nipple/bottle type, you can make sure you have at least 4 bottles with nipples on hand.
- Bottle and nipple brush as well as a sterilization kit. A microwave sterilization kit is quick and easy to use, and they are also relatively inexpensive.
- A thermal bottle carrier helps when you are away from home as it will keep your baby’s milk at pretty much the same temperature they are accustomed to at home.
Bedtime and blankets to ensure a good nights rest
Your baby must have his or her own bed as this creates a safe sleeping environment for them. Co-sleeping with your baby in your bed is not advisable as this increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Keep your baby’s crib free of soft toys and other hazards when they sleep.
- A cot or crib that can be placed right next to your side of the bed.
- A specially designed baby mattress and pillow set that prevents suffocation.
- Waterproof mattress covers and about 4 or 5 fitted sheets.
- About 8 receiving blankets and 4 larger cotton blankets. The receiving blankets often double up as burp cloths.
Other important items to consider
- A reclining stroller or pram/carrycot combination.
- A baby thermometer is very important. Spare no expense in getting the best or most accurate thermometer as though your life depends on it. You need to be as close to 100% sure that the thermometer you buy works; otherwise, you will cause yourself unnecessary stress at times when you need to be calm and collected.
- Mucus is a problem with all babies, and at times they need a bit of help to clear their nose, so a bulb syringe used for suctioning mucous is a good investment.
- A baby monitor is always a great help to keep tabs on your little ones when they are sleeping. It gives you time to tend to things around the house.
- A baby grooming set including a nail clipper is an absolute necessity as babies’ nails grow really fast.
- A basic medicine chest is handy to have, but you must remember that adult or child medicine is not suited for newborn babies. Besides, most medication has a limited shelf life. You can include Gripe water in your medicine chest but use it sparingly and only after consultation with your pediatrician. Always check the expiry date on the medicine.
- Pacifiers are not really necessary, but most mothers use them, so getting 2 or 3 pacifiers is fine but try and limit their use.
- A diaper bag is necessary when you leave the house. All your baby’s necessary items will be packed in the bag, including two changes of clothing just in case of mishaps. Having a changing pad is a good idea if you will be using public facilities to change your baby.
- A rear-facing baby car seat is essential, or a baby carrier with safety belts that clips into the car seat.
- Mobiles and rattles are not considered important, but they help with your baby’s motor skill development, so by all means, invest in them. Any type of toy that will promote movement, act as a distraction, or a comfort will benefit your baby in their early development.
The above is a basic guide to what you will need for the arrival of your little one. It is by no means complete with all of the nice-to-have things that make taking care of your baby easier, but with the above, you will be able to do it like a seasoned mom. Don’t be afraid to ask your paediatrician about keeping a baby medical box and get advice on what you can keep that may come in handy when you need to take urgent action for whatever reason.
Soft toys are nice to have, and babies love them, so having a few favourites for your little one will teach them how to grab things and interact with them. Just avoid toys with stitched on buttons that could come loose because babies love chewing on things, and buttons could become a choking hazard.
You should visit the shops early in your pregnancy and check the wide variety of goodies for infants. From the little yellow bath ducklings to car chairs to clip on feeding chairs for when your little one starts on solids. Just the range of baby bottles, pacifiers, and teething rings is enough to make you feel so helpless but fear not when your baby arrives; you will quickly learn what’s best for your bundle of love.