WHAT YOU DO NEED
When you’re in nesting mode but limited in time, energy and/or money, it can be helpful to focus on the essentials of what you really need to start out with. Aside from the car seat, diapers and a handful of newborn sleepers, you don’t need a ton in the first days and weeks. Here is my take on the essentials:
1. Nursing bra. Whatever you can do to make breastfeeding a little easier, do that. Whether it’s a bra with clips or an extra stretchy sports bra, you will want something that’s easy to maneuver. Because your breasts will leak, you’ll need nursing pads day and night, so it would be ideal to choose at least one bra that will be comfortable enough to sleep in.
2. A very dim lamp or night light. When getting up to feed, change or comfort your baby at night, you don’t want to be fumbling around in the dark and you definitely don’t want to turn on any bright lights to disturb your sleeping partner or make your baby think it’s party time. Bonus if you can find one that turns on by touch or remote control.
3. Nasal aspirator. Also called snot sucker. It’s a little gadget that is used to suck out mucus from your baby’s nose, since they can’t blow their nose using a tissue. It’s really important that the nose is kept clear, because a stuffed-up nose will make breastfeeding or bottle feeding more difficult. I used ours almost daily for the first several months and I feel like I couldn’t have lived without it. If you’re anything like me and enjoy popping a good pimple or pulling an eyelash out of your eye, you will get that same feeling you get when you suck an impressively large booger out of a little nostril.
4. A baby swing. It’s a moderately risky purchase because, every now and then, you’ll hear of a baby that just hated that particular swing. We had one that rocked back and forth, rather than side to side, and it was our go-to spot when we needed to put our babies down, for example when it was dinner time. They were always happy to be there and often napped in the swing, too. If your baby doesn’t respond well at first, try putting one of your shirts or a blanket from your bed in there with them. The familiar scent of “mom” may put them at ease.
5. A backpack-style diaper bag. We called every outing an “adventure” for the first few months, because that’s what leaving the house with a newborn feels like. When it comes time to venture out, the backpack is the only type of diaper bag that makes sense. You have a baby now; you no longer have a “free hand”, and an over-the-shoulder bag will just throw you off balance when you’re also carrying the baby or car seat. For those using cloth diapers, make sure you also have a wet bag, plastic bag or diaper pods to store the dirty diapers in until you return home.
This doesn’t cover everything you need for taking care of a baby, but I want to emphasize that so much can be purchased or set up after the baby is born. I remember being in a panic about setting up the crib and installing child locks on the cupboards before baby’s arrival. Not only did we not use the crib in the first six months, we actually had to disassemble it and reassemble it when we moved houses, before it was ever used. Your house does not need to be baby-proofed until your baby learns to crawl. You’ve got time.