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I know I write a lot about Lagom and clearing clutter. But this cannot really be applied when you are expecting a new arrival. You are all excited about the impending big event, have read your “Emma’s Diary” cover to cover and have perused many a baby magazine. And then you pay a visit to a maternity megastore such as Mamas and Papas or Mothercare. And the awe sets in. What do you actually need to buy, and what are really not the best purchases to make when you are a new parent? Here is my ultimate guide to what you need as a new parent – & what you don’t!
An Ultimate Guide To What You Need As A New Parent
It goes without saying that if you know someone who offers you some of these things, then this is so much better on your pocket and the planet. The main mantra to sustainable living is
So, if you are offered things, do accept them. I cannot thank my friends enough for giving me things passed down from their children.
Things That You Really Do Need
1. A Cot
If it fits at the side of your bed in your bedroom then that is great (and you possibly have a massive bedroom!) Current NHS guidance is to share your room with the baby until 6 months.
A second hand cot is a great way of saving money. But DO buy a new mattress of the right size to fit, as an old mattress may not be safe.
If you are having to buy a new cot, or even kit out a bedroom with drawers and wardrobe etc, why not wait until the sales? Or visit a factory shop? And if you do buy new, do consider buying a cot that will double as a bed as your little one grows. Some cots now convert into toddler beds. Great sustainable thinking, and saves you buying a bed in a couple of years time!
We didn’t have room for the main cot at the side of the bed in our bedroom, so we bought a Chicco Next to Me Cot. This meant that i could lower the side and pull baby over when I was breastfeeding at night. And the see through panel was great for through the night checking. It had a carry bag that made it a perfect travel cot for our holidays in the UK in the first year or so.
2. A Car Seat That Fits On Your Pram
If you do plan on having a car seat, it is worth getting a pram that has adapters to fit a car seat onto it. Now, I could talk forever about ISO-fix types. My main tip would be to actually take your car to where you buy your iso-fix and carseat and try one in before you buy it, to make sure it fits.We again bought a pram from the Mamas and Papas factory shop, a basic Sola2 model, but bought separate adaptors to fit a cabriofix car seat.
We rarely used the original seat that came with the pram until E got a little bit bigger. And we NEVER needed a bassinet fixture. In fact, another friend had paid for a bassinet bundle with her pram system AND NEVER USED IT! Unless you know that you are going to be going out in the really cold weather on foot a lot in those first few months then it just isn’t going to get used.
Again, I would advise you to never buy a used car seat. You can never be sure that it hasn’t been in an accident. Even a small crack can render the seat unusable. And they do have expiry dates, usually 6 years from the date of manufacture. Some have a label with this on. Yes, this goes against my sustainable living, but some things are not worth risking.
3. Muslin Burp Cloths
It is a universally recognised fact that you can never have enough muslin cloths. You will be permanently attached to one for the next year and maybe longer. Some of the bigger ones can be used as swaddling cloths when your baby is very little. We had them in all colours, but some like these were my favourites as they were massive! I’m planning to make reusable kitchen roll with them now E has grown out of needing them!
A friend had twins a few months before E was born, and one of the twins got meningitis in the first few weeks. She had one of the cheap little mouth/under arm thermometers at first and she said that they were rubbish. I had to agree when E got her first fever. The cheap thermometers just don’t do a good enough job. So I would definitely recommend an ear thermometer. Ours has been fabulous throughout E having her troubles with sleep apnoea. We have had this one over 2 years now (and I’ve never bought replacement ear coverings for it, I just reuse as long as possible).
We are lucky enough to have plenty of room downstairs, so we had a second changing station on our dining room station, with a second changing mat, nappies and wipes to hand. Plus spare clothes for those moments when leakage inevitably happens! It also saved me going up the stairs for the first few weeks after my c-section.
6. A baby monitor
Now this is up to you, but I thought this a vital bit of kit. I knew that I wanted a visual link, but you could just have sound if you are ok with that. Again, if someone passes you one down, then brilliant, but I wouldn’t bother with the all singing all dancing whistles and bells of the ones with baby mats. It sounded to me like they kept going off just if baby moved too much, or off the mat. We bought this one, and I used it until E had her tonsils and adenoids out this last September, so it was worth it for my peace of mind.
7. A Breastfeeding Pillow
I was lucky, a friend gave me her old one, which was washed and used so much! Not only for the brief time that I was breastfeeding, but in the weeks/months afterwards when I was suffering pain with what turned out to be Adhesions After A C-Section. It was used for tummy time for E in the first few months. And then used again to prop E up when she was learning to sit up. It was used in one capacity or another for a good year! This one has a removable cover, which is for the best, believe me!
8. A Baby Play Mat
Again, I bought one mat like the one below second hand, and was given another by a friend. I used one both upstairs and downstairs, and E loved them. They were pretty much her home for 6 months. I attached all sorts to the overhead bars.
9. Baby safety gear
This goes without saying. Do buy stair gates and door gates. Do buy a fireguard if you need one. Lock cupboards and use door stoppers to prevent baby trapping their fingers.
But don’t use socket covers! They are actually dangerous in the UK. Read this article on why. Or watch this.
10. Some TLC.
At the end of the day, all I really NEEDED in that first few weeks was coffee, a rich palm-oil free hand cream for my chapped hands with all the washing, and a free hour of me-time. Maybe you can offer this to your mummy with a newborn? Download my voucher template
Things that we really loved, but are by no means ‘Vital’
1. Our Gro-Egg Room Thermometer
We really loved having one of these, as it gave us the peace of mind that the room was not too hot or too cold for E to sleep in. It changes colour depending on the temperature, red if way hot, orange if too warm, blue if too cold, and yellow if just right. You can see at a glance that it is a good temperature. It serves as a lovely nightlight too.
2. A Nappy Bin with Sealed liners.
Now, in a perfect world I would say that I went fully organic with washable nappies and liners. I was actually passed down some to try by my friend. Tots Bots are a bamboo material nappy that you put a liner paper inside (for poo) and a plastic outer layer over the top (to keep the wee in)
I just found them difficult to use if I was away from home. What do you do with a bag of stinky stuff all day? Plus the soaking and extra washing created. Is it really so good?
We chose the Tommee Tippee Sangenic Tech bin. It seals in all the smells, and is really convenient. But then I was a bit shocked both at the cost of refills for the cartridges, and the fact that the cartridges would be wasted. Eeek. So I looked around for an alternative. Turns out that there is a refillable liner material for the cartridges that you can do at home, So I have bought this. In 3 years I’ve only needed 2 rolls. And it works a treat without the need to buy new cartridges each time.
Babies tend to fall asleep with white noise. We learnt this early on. It did work with E, so we bought a Ewan. He has 4 settings of noise. One is a harp tune that I will never be able to hear without getting the warm fuzzies as I’m reminded of our baby days.
1. Lots of clothes up to 6 months
My little one really only wore sleep suits and vests for the first 6 months. I stupidly bought some lovely little outfits, and was given some absolutely beautiful things. But they just don’t get worn enough before babies grow out of them. So maybe a couple of lovely outfits, or just all-in ones.
2. Pram Shoes
Again, a total waste of money. Yes, they look lovely with the outfits, but just not worth having. However, do buy socks, and I recommend Sock Ons to keep them on, for they will forever be being pulled off again!
Some of them can be over £150! But the best one IMO is the IKEA Antelop. With a padded insert at first.
4. A Bumbo or sit up chair.
I bought one second hand from FB market place as I wasn’t sure how much use it would get. I paid £15 rather than the £30-40 they are in shops. It didn’t really get much use. Wasn’t worth the full price for me.
5. A Formula Machine.
You may have seen these ‘prep’ machines on the market that make formula up for you quickly from powder. A bit like a baby coffee maker. Well , I was all for buying one until my midwife told me that they were not safe due to the water not getting hot enough to kill all the bugs in the powder. You can make your own mind up but I’d rather not risk it.
6. A Swing or a baby rocker chair.
If you get given one, then again, do accept it. But E didn’t really like being in a baby chair, and wasn’t too keen on the swing given to me by my brother. They aren’t really a necessity, and can be really expensive.
She much preferred it when she was able to get in a proper baby jungle bouncer, like the one below.
7. A Cot Bumper set.
Again, these can be dangerous. They are a suffocation and strangulation hazard. Read here why.
So, I hope that you have taken some useful information from my ultimate guide to what you need as a new parent. Have I missed anything out that you think is important? Do let me know in the comments below, or get in touch on social media.
Enjoyed this? Then why not read My Birth Story
Tales From Mamaville