Parenting is a daunting business. From the moment that tiny bundle arrives, you are utterly responsible for its upkeep, and though friends and family will no doubt proffer (mostly) helpful advice, you’re on your own. The good news is that parenting is one of the most rewarding adventures you’re ever likely to embark upon, and that the majority of it will come completely naturally in time.
While time and guidance can prepare you for life with a baby, nothing is going to prepare you for the shopping that needs to be done in the meantime. How can something so small require so much stuff? Luckily, help is on hand in that department, as we’ve compiled a guide to some of those early baby essentials.
Create a baby registry
It’s time to head to your nearest baby store and create a registry, regardless of whether you’re having a gender-reveal party or a baby shower, or are keeping things relatively low key. Throughout the pregnancy and your baby’s early days and weeks, loving friends and relatives are bound to ask you what items you still need to source. Attempting to remember what you have and don’t have can be exhausting, so direct all well-wishers towards a registry, which automatically deducts the products that have been purchased. What’s more, you’ll be able to add items as and when you fall in love with them.
While it’s tempting to fill your baby’s wardrobe and drawers with numerous tiny outfits and costumes for every occasion, you only need a few essential items to keep your washing machine ticking over during those early weeks. Your baby is going to need all-in-one body suits; short-sleeved and long-sleeved vests; a selection of leggings or stretchy pants; outer layers such as cardigans, fleecy jackets, and a chunky snowsuit; and several pairs of socks, scratch mitts, and cozy hats. That’s really all there is to it; aim to keep your baby warm and comfortable, and save those precious outfits for special occasions – or until multiple changes per day are a thing of the past; with babies, things can get very messy very quickly...
Your baby will spend the first few months of their life in your bedroom, settled in a crib or Moses basket. Ensure that the crib is kept away from any heat sources or draughts, and keep things simple with a new mattress, fitted sheets, and a sleeping bag or simple cellular blanket. A changing station isn’t a must, but it can be incredibly useful to have somewhere to store toiletries, diapers, and accessories that tend to wander when you need them most. You may also wish to purchase a baby monitor or video monitor, though this falls under personal preference. As your baby grows and moves into their own room, consider the bigger items of furniture that you’re going to need, such as a cotbed and new mattress, additional storage, and a bouncer. As for toys, ensure that playthings are sensory in order to encourage development during those early weeks and months – a playmat or gym, chunky board books, and musical toys are perfect.
One glance at the baby food aisles at any superstore is likely to send you into a spin, but again, things are easier than they appear. If you’re going to be breastfeeding your baby, now is the time to head out and buy breast pads (and lots of them), a feeding pillow and a few burping cloths, a hand pump or electric breast pump, storage bags or pots for expressed milk, and some nipple guards or cream. If you’ve decided to bottle feed, stock up on bottles with teats of varying flow, a sterilizer and travel sterilizer, a bottle warmer and bottle bags, and a tub of milk so that your baby is ready for the first feed. Again, you’re going to need breast pads until your milk dries up, and plenty of bibs and burping cloths. If you think this is bad, wait until your little one is weaning...
Out and about
Heading out with a baby can be a daunting prospect, particularly as you eye up the mountain of essentials that need to accompany you on every trip. A large, practical diaper bag is going to be a must, as is a comfortable stroller that will grow with your baby, a carrier or wrap for baby-wearing, and a car seat that meets all current safety standards and guidelines. Stock that bag with plenty of diapers and wipes, a change of clothes, muslin clothes, spare pacifiers, teethers when the time comes, and any medication that your baby is currently using. It really is as simple as that, as long as you’re able to take the time to organize yourself beforehand.
As long as your baby has everything that they need, everything will fall into place between the feeds, diaper changes, and sleepless nights. Have you considered your baby’s health and safety? Stairgates, outlet covers, and cupboard latches are going to be useful as your baby begins to mobilize, but for now, stock up on rash cream, teether toys, baby nail scissors or clippers, and a thermometer, as well as age-appropriate medicines for general ailments. Baby shopping can be divided into two distinct categories, the must-haves and the nice-to-haves. While it would be most parents’ dream come true to own everything on both lists, your baby only really cares about the items on the former; keep that little one safe, well-fed, and warm, and they are going to love you for a lifetime.
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