That first pregnancy, there’s so much to do! Research about pregnancy, birth, and baby care basics. Plan the nursery. Prepare for breastfeeding. Think about your parenting style, caregiver arrangements, vaccinations, and more. Phew!
And, then there’s the work of aquiring all that baby stuff. I think registering lists found in most magazines and baby super-stores are overwhelming and designed to make you spend, spend, spend. What do you really need for those first 6 months with baby? Here’s my list:
- A Carseat. An infant carseat, like Graco’s snugride, makes errands possible without disturbing baby’s sleep. Priceless.
- A Baby Carrier. What’s easier to store than a stroller, more soothing to baby and easier to use in crowded public spaces? Answer: a baby carrier. Experience the freedom and bonding experience that this centuries-old tradition creates. If money is tight, skip the stroller, at least for now.
- A Sleep Space. This may be your own bed. But do purchase or choose (so you’re ready to purchase) an additional place for baby to sleep alone and unattended. A moses basket on a rocking stand (available at EuphoriaBaby.com) is absolutely ideal for the first few months. A crib will be used until baby is 2-3 years old. Be sure to buy a non-toxic mattress and mattress protectors. Conventional mattresses filled with polyurethane foam and conventional vinyl mattress pads are completely unsafe and should be banned.
- Clothing. Everyone loves to gift baby clothes. See what you get for your baby shower before stocking up. Choose simple, unfussy options so baby is comfortable and happy. Stick to only natural fibers (cotton, wool, silk), which are soft and breathable. Buy at most one pair of soft leather baby shoes for 3-6 months , but realize that these are just for looks, as baby is not likely to be crawling yet.
- Diapers. Save money, save the environment and avoid chemical exposure by cloth diapering your baby. I suggest starting with 18 diapers for a newborn. It’s possible you may need more, but better to start with 18 and add as needed, than buy more than you need. 18 One-Size BumGenius diapers will last most children from newborn to potty training.
- Feeding Supplies: If you plan to breastfeed, buy 3 nursing bras: one to wear, one in the wash and one that’s clean should you spring a leak. Also needed: nursing cream, nursing pads, 3 or so bottles for occasional use (Adiri’s are a great choice for breastfeeding moms), and a breast pump (an affordable, non-electric pump will do fine for the occasional, weekly bottle). Add non-toxic bowls, spoons and natural fiber bibs later, when baby is ready for food.
- Pacifiers. Start with 2 pacifiers. Even if you plan to discourage pacifier use, you’ll want them handy for difficult situations in the middle of the night or when you’re unable to pick-up your crying child (such as in the car). If your child takes the to pacifier (which I think is a very helpful tool), you’ll want more than 2, but wait until you’re certain what kind baby likes. Be sure to buy BPA-free choices, like our natural rubber pacifiers at EuphoriaBaby.com. You’ll also want a sturdy pacifier clip, if your child likes the pacifier.
- A few Toys. Keep them simple and natural. 2-3 wood and cloth teethers and rattles from reputable companies such as Haba and Selecta. 2-3 soft baby toys such as cloth blocks, balls, and manipulatives. 2-3 wooden baby toys that make clacking sounds or squeak or spin. Avoid plastic. Avoid overstimulating products that have a million things for baby to do. Avoid electronic toys with lights and recorded sounds. Natural sounds created by your own voice or a real bell are more nurturing and don’t require dangerous and wasteful batteries. Above all, avoid excess! Your baby does not need a new toy to discover every week. Young children learn from repetition, are soothed by familiarity and are learning from your example about how many things they should want/need. Excess ruins the magic of play, while creating more work for you in cleaning and storing.
What about baby swings, bouncer seats, play mats, exersaucers, crib toys, and the list goes on and on? Generally, Americans buy babies too many toys and gadgets designed to engage the baby so the caregiver can do something else. Marketers tell you that you must have these things to survive with baby, or failing that, they tell you that these things will improve baby’s life. Don’t believe that last line, one second. You are your baby’s best source of stimulation, education and brain-boosting interaction any day!
Little ones are awake and ready to engage for short periods of time each day. Be with your child during those times. Carry her. Lay on the floor with her. Talk to her. You will never get this time back, and you will never regret these moments. When you must get something done, put her in the carrier so that she can be stimulated by watching your tasks, all the while able to go to sleep when she’s ready. Then, when she sleeps, put her down and do that something else, which required your baby-free energy.