What does a newborn baby really need? Well, the most hardened earth mothers out there might tell you that all a baby really needs is her mother. And of course, in the most basic sense, that is true.
Except that we live in a Western society which believes in parents retaining a modicum of their former selves, a sense of independence – and, of course we all wear clothes. So, unless you plan on practicing elimination communication (if you don’t know what that involves, it basically requires you to learn your baby’s rhythms and signs that suggest when they are going to need to toilet, and then helping them to go in the potty when they need to) then the very least your baby is going to need is some nappies and some clothing to keep them warm.
Then of course there are sleeping arrangements to consider. Whilst it’s currently recommended that babies up to the age of six months share a room with their parents, most parents will not actually have their baby in the bed with them, but prefer to have them in the same room in a cot or moses basket of their own. Which is exactly what we did with the Wee Man, who resisted the idea of a moses basket completely and instead went into the cot pretty much straight away (interspersed with fairly frequent episodes of actually sleeping in our bed anyway – and that’s also something most parents will end up doing at one time or another even if they didn’t plan to). So in reality, the vast majority of babies will need a safe place to sleep and some bedding to go along with it. I was worried about using blankets for the Wee Man, and so although he had a bottom sheet fitted to the mattress, we got him a Dream Pod from Mamas and Papas which fit him like a sleeping bag, ensuring that he stayed safe and warm.
And, just so I could satisfy myself that he was safe and warm whilst I wasn’t in the room, we got a baby monitor as well. Although some parents may keep their baby in the same room with them at all times, the reality is that most babies will be left in a room on their own for a quiet nap at some point – and so most parents will want to get a baby monitor too.
So that’s pooing, clothing and sleeping covered – but of course there are two other things that newborns do too – and those are feeding, and activity.
I really wanted to breastfeed the Wee Man, but in the end we had to start off with mixed feeding, so I needed to buy a steriliser and some bottles. Even for Bubby D, who was exclusively breastfed until 6 months, I still used a steriliser on a couple of occasions where I had expressed breastmilk and needed to ensure my pump and bottles were clean for her. And for both babies I had a HUGE stack of muslins – invaluable for mopping up all kinds of baby ‘spillages’.
And for activity? Well, the Wee Man took his first trip outside in a group 0 car seat when he was 3 days old and coming home from hospital. And two days later, he had his first outing in the pushchair. Of course it’s possible to just ‘wear’ your baby in a sling (the Other Half did that too!) but I was very nervous of carrying him around thanks to my somewhat collapsy knees – and so a pushchair and car seat were two other items that went on the essentials list.
And finally – the inside activity. Small babies don’t really do much, of course. But the Wee Man did love sitting in his swing and watching the everything that was going on all around him.
But how did I find this all out?
Well, it was really a process of trial and error – I consulted a whole range of websites, discussed ideas with my -perhaps equally clueless? – antenatal peers, and also, bought a whole load of other stuff that we didn’t really need!
So, when I went into Mamas and Papas the other day and saw that they’ve developed a handy ‘baby basics‘ checklist that not only has just about everything I’ve just described as part of my essentials list on it, but also at a very reasonable price (£717 – which I’m fairly sure is quite a lot lower than the figure we actually spent…) I was pleased and also somewhat dismayed – dismayed because if only it had been around four years ago, I might have saved a whole lot of unnecessary experimentation and spending…and had a better idea of how to choose maternity clothes that didn’t make me look like I was living in a tent! (They’ve got a whole lot of other useful leaflets available too, like how to choose the right nursing bra, and finding jeans that actually fit…in fact, I could do with a non-maternity version of that one).
The shop assistants are very friendly and helpful too…almost makes me wish I was pregnant again 🙂
(Family, if you’re reading this, there’s no cause for alarm – I’m definitely not pregnant…)