A simple guide to baby gear

It’s funny how you can know someone for years and never really connect, yet with others you meet once and become friends for life from that moment on.

My friend Gemma is one of those ones that I got chatting to one night at a party in my mid 20s and before long we were spending every weekend together; gossiping around The Tan on a Saturday morning, heading out together later that night and meeting up again for a roast of a Sunday afternoon.

I had always admired Gemma from afar; she was one of those girls who seemed to have it all figured out. She was beautifully spoken – a trait she gained from her mother and later honed as a journalist, and always seemed to be so well put together wearing ‘outfits’ rather than just clothes.

Anyway, Gem recently confined in me that she and her hubby were expecting later in the year, and asked about what baby gear she would need, which got me thinking about the true essentials.

You can actually get away with one tenth of the baby kit that so many of the parenting websites would have you believe you need. Here’s a quick list that I put together for Gem. Every baby is different, so if you find that you need extra kit beyond this list, you can always buy it once the bub arrives.

+ A cot. Leander makes divine cots that turn into a bed to last a few more years but Ikea makes equally good ones, plus there’s some gorgeous rattan cots out there. Also there’s some great mum Facebook groups where you can pick up a perfectly good second hand cot for a song (less the toxic chemical fumes that often comes with new furniture). Pure Baby makes lovely organic cotton cot sheets (2 sets is enough), but Target likely offers organic cotton sheets as well.

+ A pram. I think the Baby Jogger City Select is the thinking woman’s pram; the seat can turn so your bub’s never in the sun, the canopy’s great, there’s plenty of room underneath for the shopping and it will last for years. If you pop it on layby then subscribe to the store’s emails you can always re-layby it to get the best deal, plus then the store has it until you need it which is great if you have a small home. One tip though is to set it up before the bub arrives, you don’t want an Ikea assembly-style argument when you’re both running on just a few hours sleep (or better still pick one up second hand that’s already good to go). Once I’m finished with my pram I intend to donate it to St Kilda Mums – it’s a great charity that helps mums in need get set up before their bub arrives.

+ A car seat. We love our Britax Safe-n-Sound convertible car seat, it’s got side air bags and all the bells and whistles – I figure if ever there’s a time to splurge, this is it. Also well worth getting it professionally fitted to make sure it’s on point safety wise.

+ 2 muslin wraps. For swaddling the bub, one to use while the other’s in the wash. Also good to drape over your shoulder if you’re feeding in public, a nice big scarf works well for that too.

+ A pack of terry towelling cloth nappies. These cloths are great to have on hand for random uses – for burp cloths, to change the bub on when you’re out and about or pop on the bed to change the bub at home, very handy.

+ A few zippies/newborn gear. I wouldn’t worry about 0000 size clothes, your bub will grow out of them within a week or so – best to start with 000 and move on from there. People will give you so many baby clothes once the bub arrives, you only need a few sets to begin with, maybe 4-5 outfits.

+ A few pairs of socks. Also good to use as mittens to stop the bub from scratching itself, Seed makes really good ones that don’t come off.

+ A breast pump. A small manual one is fine, I use the Avent pump and it’s great, the silicone Haakaa ones look pretty good too.

+ 2-3 bottles and teats. I like the glass Pidgeon ones, plus a bottle brush, you can get neat little coconut fibre ones from most health food stores these days.

+ Breast pads. Etsy has a great range of handmade wash and wear ones, it’s worth buying a couple of sets as you use them every day for months.

+ Bonds maternity singlets. These are great for breastfeeding in public as the singlet part means that when you lift your top up you’re not exposing your tummy, plus they’re wire free which is important for feeding. You’ll likely need 3 white and 1 black, maybe more, I wear them every day.

+ A few good books. If you’re up for a good read, here’s a few books that I got a lot out of in terms of working towards a natural birth, getting the bub into a good routine and navigating the first few years of parenting – most libraries have copies of these books, they’re pretty common:

  • French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman
  • Birth Skills by Juju Sundin (plus hire a TENS machine, they’re amazing)
  • The New Contented Little Baby Book by Gina Ford
  • Clean & Lean Pregnancy Guide by James Duigan

+ A nursing chair. If you don’t already have a high back chair to feed in, I would look at a proper feeding chair, Pottery Barn has good ones. I resisted for as long as I could given the space they take up but after weeks of feeding hunched over in bed/on the couch, I bought one and it provided instant relief.

+ Nappies. Grovia makes terrific reusables, otherwise I’ve found Tooshies by TOM Organic to be the best eco-friendly naps for trips away or times when you need to give yourself a break from the washing.

Depending on the season there’s a few more essentials… a big floppy sunhat for a summer bub, a pack of singlets, plus a couple of cotton beanies for a winter bub when you’re out and about – Pure Baby make the cutest ones an they can be resized just by tying the knot a bit further down.

That’s really it, most other things you can make do with what you have on hand, for example you can boil bottles in a big saucepan to sterilise them, you don’t need to buy a steriliser, you can bathe your bub in the sink when they’re little, plus it’s better for your back at bench height, you don’t need a million baby toys, most bubs are just happy resting on a triangle pillow and watching you walk around the kitchen.

If in doubt think about what our grandmothers would have needed.. Somehow they survived without a mountain of baby gear. They never had electronic monitors with video cameras and wifi capabilities… if they wanted to check on their bubs, they simply opened the door.

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