Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Buying for a new baby: what you really need

While having a catch-up with the girls recently, the subject of one of them becoming an Auntie for the first time and organising baby showers, gifts etc came up. She was curious as to what would make the most useful gifts for parents-to-be or for when the new bundle arrived. It occurred to me that there may be others out there wondering the same so today’s post is a quick run-down of the top items that you need to have in your life for the new baba.

Moses Basket and Stand. 
Loved So Much Moses Basket Mothercare
First things first, your little Prince or Princess will need somewhere to sleep. Some parents opt for co-sleeping and that’s all down to personal choice but we felt that a separate little basket was better for us. Babies can sleep in their cots from birth but a moses basket is the ideal size for them to feel “cozy” like their previous home but also ideal to fit in at the side of your bed. They are compact enough not to take up too much space and most will probably get around 3 months out of them. They are also quite portable with the handles and not being too heavy so this can be useful too. We have a tall fella who seemed to grow out of his basket super fast however so after a few weeks we had to move him to a cot.The moses baskets do come with a mattress but in most cases you will need to buy the stand separately. 

I would say that it isn’t worth spending a fortune on these as they are really only a short term solution.If you have the option to inherit one or buy a good quality one second hand, then by all means do. But if you are using a basket that has been used before, do make sure to buy a new mattress as each baby should always have their own new mattress whether it is in a moses basket, crib or cot etc.

P.S The above is the one we used and we got it from Mothercare - the range used to be called "Loved So Much" but I think it's now called "Teddy's Toy Box". A neutral colour like this is great if you don't know whether you're expecting a boy or a girl and also if you plan to reuse the basket in future..

Obviously you will need a crib or a cot too but for now I'm focusing on the items that you will use straight away when your baba arrives. 

Car Seat.

What car seat to buy for a new baby

 It is the law to have an appropriate car seat in Ireland so this is a given for everyone’s baby shopping list. You can choose to buy one as part of a travel system - which means that the car seat will attach onto the buggy frame to save transferring the little one from car seat to buggy all the time and that your bigger seat and pram attachment both fit onto the same frame – or as a stand alone seat, it really is down to preference. From personal experience, I would recommend the ones that come as a combo for “portability”. I think we managed to use this Group 1 car seat for the first year before Little Man was not so little anymore but they will have their own weight or height restrictions so make sure you check your own at the time of purchase and ask an expert’s advice on them before you make a purchase. And if you're in Ireland, look out for the RSA "Check it Fits" service as this is great to make sure that at any stage your child is in the most appropriate and safest car seat for their age. You can find out more about this here

Changing Table.

Baby changing table and storage

I literally could not do without this in Little Man’s room. We’ve used it from birth and are still using it now 2 years later. We went for a fairly simple one with just two open shelves in a simple wooden design to match with his cot and the rest of the furniture and we only spent around €70 on it if I remember correctly. Some big canvas "Drona" storage boxes from Ikea are great to organise all the changing paraphernalia and toys to and each shelf fits two of them. This way you have everything to hand but some of the clutter is hidden away. (Babies bring a LOT of clutter!).

Comfortable chair for feeding.

Baby feeding and nursing rocking chair

Whether you are breast or bottlefeeding, you are going to need somewhere comfy to sit for feeding, winding etc. (And for those nights when the little one is teething or upset and won’t settle and you need to rock them to sleep for what feels like an eternity). The type of chair you go for is again, up to you but I really had my eye on one of these cream rocking chairs that come with the matching stool. We didn’t opt for a snazzier leather version but the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can spend on a recliner/rocking chair/nursing chair. I think ours cost roughly €180 and it was well worth the money. We still use it now – well actually Little Man sits in it by himself when we read his bedtime stories and won’t let anyone else sit in it! We ended up not really using the little stool for its purpose and I actually found it a bit uncomfortable so instead his bedside lamp, monitor and Gro Egg are sitting on it but I know lots of people do like them.

Video Baby Monitor.

Motorola video baby monitor

 We inherited our first monitor from a family friend and this lasted us a few weeks but when it packed up we replaced it with a Motorola video monitor instead. This is so good at helping to calm those new parent nerves as it is an infra- red camera that works perfectly in the dark so you can keep an eye on the little one at all times. Granted we live in an apartment and you could probably hear him roar from the corridor never mind another room but even so a monitor is a must in my opinion. There are some that have all kinds of fancy functions where you can access the monitor remotely and all sorts if you’re out and baba is at home with a babysitter if you are that way inclined. There are also some like the Angel Monitor where you attach part of it to the underside of the mattress and it monitors the baby's breathing etc if this is what you are looking for either. 

Room thermometer.

Gro Egg Baby room thermometer

 Babies can’t regulate their own temperatures like we can so keeping an eye on their room temperature is important to ensure that they are not either too hot or too cold. The ideal temperature range for their rooms is somewhere between 18 to 22 degrees Celsius according to the research I did back then. We purchased a Gro Egg which has a digital temperature display but also a light that changes colour according to the temperature. For instance, if his room is cold, the light is blue, if it’s in the right range, the light is yellow, and if it gets too warm, the light goes orange or red. This also makes a handy nightlight too as often you don’t want to switch on a light in the middle of the night to change a nappy or feed them as it will wake them up too much! Again, this was well worth the euros as it’s still going strong now. 

Baby bath and thermometer.
Mothercare Loved So Much baby bath

There are lots of options when it comes to baby baths. When they are very small, it is much easier to use a little baby bath instead of putting them into the grown ups’ bath as not only do you have to be extremely gentle with them,  they can be very slippery! By using a special small baby bath, you can put this on the floor or wherever you like to bathe them, without having to bend over the bath where you could lose your balance or not have as good a grip on them. I'm often overly cautious myself - which happens as a new parent - and having one of these baths really does help to make the initially scary bath process like second nature for parents. You will also need a thermometer to check that the bath water is at the correct temperature for your little one. These are available in all stores that sell baby equipment and you can even pick up the simplest ones in discount stores like Poundland/Dealz which work just as well. By the way, the ideal temperature for your baby's bath is between 36 and 38 degrees Celsius. 

Bottle steriliser.
Avent Microwave Bottle Steriliser
Again, you may be bottle or breast-feeding and I'm not here to tell you to do either - I'm not qualified for that! But what I will say is regardless you will need a sterilizer as all bottles and soothers etc for new babies must be thoroughly washed and sterilised before each use for at least the first year as until then they have not started developing the ability to fight off harmful germs themselves.  Therefore you will need a steriliser if you are breastfeeding but plan on expressing into bottles too. There are all sorts of sterilisers available on the market, from electric steamers to microwave sterilisers to traditional sterilising tablets and the one you choose is up to you. However we used one of these Avent microwave sterilisers and could not fault it for ease of use or price. 

Something to play soothing music.

Fisher Price Soothe & GlowSeahorse
Lullabies and soothing music have a proven track record in helping get your little treasure to doze off. I have to say I underestimated the value of one of these at first but when a friend gave us a gift of a Fisher Price Soothe & Glow Seahorse I finally "got it". This little guy has a glow in the dark belly, plays soothing music with 8 different lullabies for 5 minutes. After the five minutes, the music and the lights fade and turn off. It's small and soft enough for babies to cuddle and is suitable from birth. Now I'm not suggesting that they will go to sleep after five minutes (a rare few might!) but it is so good to play some calming music before putting him or her to bed and in our case it serves as a cue to him that it's time to wind down and go to sleep. We still use it now two years later! Ours goes on the floor beside his bed, not in the cot with him as only his beloved Nelly the Elephant soft toy sleeps with him but it works fine just the same. There are other brands that offer similar musical toys so you don't have to go with this one of course - this is just our example!

Bouncer/rocker.

Mothercare Loved So Much baby bouncer

For times when you need to do something with your hands e.g wash some bottles, do some housework, do some online shopping if you like - a bouncer is great. You will need to have somewhere safe and secure to seat your little one when you aren't holding them or right beside them and as you can strap them in they will be safe, secure and supported. They are also portable too and usually quite lightweight - although for safety reasons, never carry the bouncer while your baby is in it! We used this one from Mothercare (as you can see I was a fan of the Loved So Much range!) and a lot of them will have some hanging toys to entertain your baby and plenty of padding to keep them supported and comfy. They are usually suitable from birth to approximately 6 months. 

That concludes the baby shopping list. There are alternatives out there to suit every budget so don't feel as though you need to spend a fortune. Babies are expensive enough as it is without getting yourself into debt over the fanciest cot or bouncer. Look around all the baby stores and online and compare prices to ensure that you are getting the best deal. It may seem like an overwhelming amount of things that you need to buy and the above is only touching on the amount of stuff that babies need but try not to panic! Borrow or inherit when you can if you need to save money, and all will work out. Once they are fed, changed, comfortable, warm and safe then babies don't care whether they are sleeping on the finest Egyptian cotton sheets or in the most Pinterest-worthy nursery!

If any Mums or Dads would like to add anything to the above list that I might have missed out - feel free to comment below :)

Bye for now,

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