What Does a Newborn Really Need?
Handy tips I wish I had known
Confused and overwhelmed by all the stuff that you have been told that you need for your new arrival? Have you been supplied with lists which are pages long? Have you been told that babies are really expensive? Well, they can be, and you can land up spending a fortune but here’s a little told secret- so much of what you buy won’t be used! So buy the basics and then increase your stash as and when you need to.
We discuss the 5 things a newborn really only needs and offer some handy tips for the complete novices, like I was! I didn’t even know which was the front end of a nappy!
Somewhere to sleep
- Cot, bassinet or Moses basket? Bassinets & Moses baskets are only used for about 3-4 months before your little one will outgrow it so if money is tight, just buy the cot.
- What’s the difference between a bassinet and Moses basket? The Moses basket is lighter & more portable, quite often it is made of cane. Usually basinets have stands
- Use a medium to firm mattress to reduce the chance of SIDS
- Make sure that the bed meets today’s safety requirements… but be careful as some of those standards include having fire retardants, which are toxic (read our blog on toxin-free nurseries
- Use natural fibres for bedding as the material breaths. Babies can’t regulate their body temperatures so are at high risk of over-heating. Synthetic fibres such as fleece are really bad for this
- Ensure that you have enough bedding or sleep-sacks to keep your baby warm. Yes, you c an use blankets but follow safe-use principles
- For newborns, don’t use a pillow, hats or have toys in the bed with them- these are choking risks
- Your baby doesn’t need special pajamas, he can sleep in his onesie/stretch-&-grow
- Some babies like to be swaddled when they sleep, some babies like one arm free and some babies just hate it. You can use the ever-versatile muslin cloths for swaddling
Something to eat
- Even if you are exclusively breastfeeding, still have bottles and formula for emergencies and if your milk takes a while to come in
- Use glass or silicone baby bottles instead of plastic, even the BPA-free ones, as they may contain other chemicals apart from BPA eg BPS or Pthalates. These slowly leach into the milk and cause harm to your developing baby.
- Bottles come with different size teats and flow rates. For newborns look for 1 of slow-flow. There are quite a variety of factors so read up a bit but don’t get overwhelmed- most babies just get used to what they are given
- You will need to sterilise your bottles and breast pump gear until baby is 3 months old. You can wash in the dishwasher, boil in a pot for 5 minutes or there are sterilisers that you pop into the microwave.
- You can use lactation biscuits and/or tea to help with supply- they really do work!
- Use your midwife and lactation consultants to help get the right latch from the start- it stops a lot of pain.
- Nipple cream helps with dry, cracked nipples and nipple shields help reduce pain. But wait until you know how your baby feeds as some mums aren’t impacted at all and don’t need these
- Not every mum needs breast pads but if you do get, buy the reusable material ones- they are super soft, come in funky patterns and you’re helping reduce waste
- If you are exclusively breastfeeding, introduce the bottle for a feed a day- this helps you later down the path when baby is older and being babysat by others and will then easily accept the bottle.
- Use the silicone Haakaa suction pump to catch the let-down on the other breast when feeding baby- it saves you time and pumping pain as your milk is already flowing. Store in silicone or glass containers, not plastic (avoid the chemicals in plastic leaching into the milk)
- There are different formulas for different ages. There is also thickened formula, also known as AR (Anti-Regurgitation) or normal. Thickened is used for babies with reflux as it is thought to help keep the food down.
- It’s almost impossible to over-feed a baby. Their regulation is better than adults- if they are hungry, they want more and if they are full then they turn away from the breast/bottle. If feeding with thickened formula though, be more careful of over-feeding.
Something to wear
- Your baby can’t regulate her own body temperature, you need to do this for her. Rule of thumb is that babies need one more layer of clothing than what you are wearing
- Use natural fibres like cotton, for the same reason as bedding ie natural fibres breath
- You don’t really know what size your baby will be so don’t stock up on newborn clothes. You could start them at 0-3month sizes and just have the clothes baggy for a few weeks
- Plan for a few changes a day and figure out how often you’ll be doing washing- the more often you do washing, the less clothes you need
- Choose practical over over-complicated fastenings. At 2am, a quick change is a good change!
- If you use onesies with built in feet, you won’t need socks (unless very cold)
- A baby’s nails grow really quickly and they can scratch their faces with their itty-bitty claws. Little mittens or onesies with fold-over sleeves are great for this
- Babies don’t need shoes until they start walking
- Warm hats are good, especially for bald babies. You get ones that grow with baby- they tie in a knot at the top, like a little pixie hat
Something for getting around:
- Capsules can unclick from their bases in the cars so you can take a sleeping baby out without disturbing them. As newborns sleep a lot, this is very handy
- Capsules are only suitable for 3-4 months, before your baby outgrows them, so if finances are tight then buy a car-seat which adjusts in size for the full time you need eg newborn to 12 years old. You just won’t be able to carry it around
- Like car-seats, prams can be used for many years. Some come with attachments for your changing baby, from bassinet to seat
- Newborns and younger babies usually prefer facing mum as they don’t understand permanence (if they can’t see mum then she is not there)
- The ideal set up is a pram which you can clip your mum-facing capsule to and as baby grows the capsule is swapped out for a mum-facing seat which can later turn around
- When buying a pram, look for a user-friendly carry basket underneath so that you can easily put your shopping in
- Some babies just hate the car seat and/or the pram.
- Wearing newborns is fantastic for bonding and comforting baby. It can also be easier than using a pram eg steps, getting around in tight spaces, etc
- There are a number of different ways to wear your baby – structured packs, wraps or slings. You and baby will have your preference.
- When buying a structured pack, buy one that can be front or back facing as some babies are nosey and want to face outwards. You don’t know which baby you’ll get
- Nappy bags- there are a range from designer labels to simple. Backpacks are better for you as these bags can get quite heavy & you will be carrying them around a lot, so having too much weight on one shoulder can cause straining. Or you can use one of your existing bags
- Nappy bags with lots of pockets are great so that you can find the little things easily. If you are using a regular bag, create your own compartments by having small cloth bags for change of clothes, nappies, feeding, toys, etc. Cloth, not plastic because when you’re looking in your bag for something and baby is sleeping, that rustling noise can wake her!
- There are definite ways to do up a nappy so you don’t get leaks- learn these!
- A newborn can go through about 8 nappies a day and the average baby, which is potty trained at 2.5 years will go through about 6,000 nappies. If you work out the cost, that’s about $5,000. Cloth nappies cost more upfront but save you a fortune over the long term, even more if you use the same nappies for another child
- The same goes for wipes- you can save about $3,000 by using cloth wipes and water instead of bought wipes
- Cloth nappies come in OSFM (One Size Fits Most) but they don’t really fit small newborns. There is a hack where you can clip the nappies differently so that they do fit or you can buy/hire newborn cloth nappies. Some mums use disposable for the 1st month or 2 until they have figured out the basics of being a mum and can move on to the next step. The cheapest way is the hack
- Be careful of chemicals in disposable nappies and bought wipes. These can irritate delicate skin and can expose your baby to harmful toxins which can damage their development.
- If using disposable nappies or wipes, use unbleached, dye-free, fragrance-free and phthalate free nappies