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Before I fell pregnant, I remember having a conversation with a close friend who said “You don’t NEED anything for a new baby- heck you can let them sleep in a washing basket if you like!” Of course, as conversations go, this line out of context sounds pretty crazy, but in some ways, she was spot on.
In the excitement of a new pregnancy, it is easy to become swept up in the mass consumerism that lures expectant mothers in without thought for the environment, or the actual needs of the baby and mother. Especially for rookies- I’m sure there are forgotten ‘baby goods graveyards’ piled full of useless things that looked appealing when your baby was in your tummy or in the fantasy that played out in your mind about how things were going to be… (cue romantic music and soft lighting featuring you and cooing at sleeping baby in moses basket…).
In one way, living in Finland is really convenient for a first time mother. For each new baby, the government provides a box full of goodies for the family. In a nutshell, the box includes clothing for the baby, necessary newborn accoutrements and even condoms so that parents don’t rush in a dizzy haze of hormones and sleeplessness straight into the next pregnancy! As a grateful recipient of the box, I found it to be incredibly helpful. Really, we needed nothing else. The box that houses the goods is also intended as a baby crib for the first few weeks. The point of the baby box is to give all babies the same start in life, no matter their socio-economic background. You can read more about the origins and contents of the box here.
Reminiscing on this beautiful gift got me thinking… what would I advise as a ‘must have’ list of goods for people that are not so lucky to receive the Finnish baby box. One doesn’t really need that much but here are my top ideas:
Baby Clothes and Accessories
They really do grow very quickly during those first months. So: depending on the season that your baby is born into, you will need about:
6 bodysuits, 6 singlets, 6 pairs of leggings, nappies (about 80 per week at first), wipes or similar eco-friendly alternative for baby’s bum, soft towels for after bathing, a few burp cloths, a few muslin cloths for general purpose use, mittens and socks. Also- many people buy cute (and often impractical) newborn pieces for baby, so really do hold off on clothing purchases because you will find you have so many bits and pieces with nary enough time to use them.
The first few months include a LOT of time changing baby’s nappies. A dedicated change table is a great way to save your back the ache as well as give you the opportunity for extra snuggles, foot kisses and laughs with your little angel.
The idea of a bassinet of some sort is to have the baby slightly elevated during those early months. I found a bassinet an easy way to place my baby down safely but on an angle that he could actually still see what I was doing. You really only need them for about 7 months so a borrowed one is even better.
Carting your precious cargo around in safe and secure car seat is a must. Even if you don’t have a car, you may like to find one for when s/he needs to travel. Make sure yours is approved according to your country’s safety standards.
A baby sling by far was (and still is at two years of age) the most important and handy item that was given to us. We are avid baby wearers and most babies LOVE it. For the first couple of months, a stretchy cloth style wrap is the way to go in order to safely carry your baby. Or the close carrier is an excellent stretchy, easy-to-use carrier for the first 6 months. Then, I highly recommend the manduca or ergo carrier for later use. In the early days, being able to settle the baby via carrying and having two hand free to do whatever else you want is an absolute life saver. Please do your research though, as many of the popular carriers are not actually ergonomically designed for baby’s best interests, nor is carrying your baby facing outward. Stay tuned for some vlogs that I will make about this topic!
Yes, you can wash your baby in a bucket or the kitchen sink but a cheap baby bath is a great alternative as well. My tip would be to get one with a little drain at the bottom to make disposing of the water easier. At first I really wanted one on a stand as it is hard on your back if you are bending over your slippery little fish, but that time passes very quickly as well and soon enough, they will sit up and be somewhat easier to wash. Don’t forget that you really only need to wash them in warm water with perhaps a few drops of essential oil such as lavender for calming.
I feel I didn’t spend enough time researching prams as I didn’t realize how important they are or for how long you actually use them! Therefore my suggestion is to get one that suits your needs and climate. Will you need to fold it up often? Will you be jogging with it? Do you travel a lot? Basically, a pram is a big investment that is worth it in my opinion. Especially for those times that you are not carrying your baby in the sling. Due to our nonchalance about the pram selection, we just grabbed the first one we saw and ended up buying two more (yes TWO more) for other needs such as the car boot and for overseas travel.
If you choose to do so, breastfeeding is extremely rewarding for both mother and baby but It can be extremely challenging at first. Breastfeeding is a whole separate blog but in a nutshell, at first, with lack of support and knowledge, things happen to your boobs that you never thought possible… The milk comes in (for some, days after the baby is born) and your boobs become so engorged that you cant believe the size let alone how to get your baby on there! My hubby had to race out one morning to buy a manual pump just so I could relieve some of the pressure before we all got the hang of it. Many breastfeeding advocates advise against getting a pump as it is not helpful for long term feeding or good breastfeeding routines. However, I found it to be a life saver during those first few weeks to simply drain my sore boobs as well as allow me to store some milk for times of lack. As you and your baby find your groove, the pump wont be necessary but I highly recommend it if you plan on giving breastfeeding a good crack!
Breast Feeding Cushion, Breast Pads and Maternity Bras
Again, if you plan on breastfeeding for as long as you can, a u-shaped beast feeding cushion was a life saver for me for what felt like hours of sitting and feeding. It elevates the baby closer to you without having to use your neck and arms so much. Breast pads and an easy maternity bra or singlet will also be needed for frequent feeders.
Ok that’s it folks! I’m sure there are a couple of more things that you beauties will say that they couldn’t live without! Please share your ideas in the comments below.
Or: Do you have any items that went straight to the ‘baby goods graveyard’? Eg A cute but impractical nappy bag, clothing with buttons at the back… Please share!