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.
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 are many Facebook mum 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. To my mind the Baby Jogger City Select is the thinking woman’s pram; the seat turns so your bub’s never in the sun, it’s plain and dependable, there’s plenty of room underneath for the groceries 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 offer, plus then the store has it until you need it if you have a small home. A wise idea is to set it up before the bub arrives – or better still pick one up second hand that’s already good to go. On our final pram walk I know I will be deep in thought, longing to relive those long silent walks with a new baby and no doubt my only comfort will be the thought of the woman I will pass it on to knowing the journey she is about to embark on.
+ A car seat. Does one need a capsule? I think the answer depends on so many factors; whether there’s the intention of a routine or not, a garage, a baby seat for a second car, use for future children, the ability to rent/borrow one etc.
I relied on it heavily with my first, hardly used it with my second. If in doubt I think it’s worth speaking to a like-minded friend for advice.
These days we have a 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 good to have on hand for all manner of 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.. they’re just small squares of white towel that are very handy in quite a random unexplainable way.
+ 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. Your loved ones will give you so many baby clothes once the bub arrives, so just a few sets to begin with should suffice, maybe 4-5 outfits.
+ A few pairs of socks. Also good to use as mittens to stop the bub from scratching, Seed makes really good ones that don’t fall off.
+ 2-3 bottles and teats. I like the glass Pidgeon ones, plus a bottle brush; neat little coconut fibre ones are available from most health food stores these days.
+ Breast pads. Etsy has a good 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. Essential for breastfeeding in public as the singlet ensures the tummy is well covered when lifting your top up to feed, plus they’re wire free. Three white and one black is a good place to start, maybe more.
+ Good books. There are few 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 quite common:
- French Children Don’t Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman
- Birth Skills by Juju Sundin (a TENS machine is also a good idea)
- 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. 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, 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.
Most other things can easily be substituted with what you have on hand, for example bottles can be boiled in a saucepan to sterilise them.
I wouldn’t worry too much about toys; most bubs are just happy resting on a triangle pillow as their eyes follow you around the kitchen.
There’s also something really lovely and old-fashioned about bathing a bub in the sink when they’re small, plus the height is so much nicer for your back.
If in doubt think about what our grandmothers would have needed.. Somehow they survived without much 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.