How to avoid the avalanche of "stuff" that comes with starting a family.
When I was pregnant with my son- long before I was thinking about waste free birthday parties, I was quite determined not to have lots of unnecessary paraphernalia. I made it as known as possible that I didn’t want a bunch of plastic and colourful stuff that would clutter my house and vision. It was not to be ungrateful or snobbish, but in my opinion- ...becoming a parent for the first time is life altering enough without surrendering your home completely or taking on endless items you don’t want just to appease someone else’s over excitement. It sounds harsh, but I encourage new parents to ensure this journey is primarily about your immediate famiy unit and what you feel is best. Family and friends who truly want to help, will respect this.
Babies require nurture, nourishment and a safe environment. Anything beyond that is either a fantastic bonus or just plain unnecessary. There’s nothing wrong with having things for your newborn journey that will make things easier.. I was on day 3 with my son when I sent my mum out to buy a $50 baby shusher before I chapped my desperate lips trying to soothe him with my manual shushing and I bloody loved the electric breast pump I borrowed so I could escape the house sans child or drink half a bottle of wine occasionally. I enjoyed dressing him in the odd over priced, somewhat impractical outfit.. great for the Instagram updates and morning tea dates. We’re modern parents, and with that comes handy gadgets and Jamie Kay. We should feel grateful for the perks, not guilty. However there is something to be said for simplicity (where possible) amoungst the chaos of newborn life.
So how do we avoid it getting out of control?
- Prioritise what’s important to you as parents and invest the money in that.
-Be diplomatic but firm with family and friends about purchasing things for your child -
-Don’t be afraid to have a registry of sorts if you’re having a baby shower. You don't need 8000 onesies.
-Borrow and hire things you’ll only need a short time such as capsules, bouncers and bassinettes.
-Ask like minded friends who have young children what items they found both useful and pointless and use as a reference. Everyones list will be different, but it's a good starting point. Ask about the brands they have had sucess with to avoid having to replace items because of poor quality or design. Try to take a sustainable approach from the beggining, some things are worth spending the money on or hiring a better quality one if you can't afford it rather than purchasing a cheap item that wont function as you need or last very long.
-If you're unsure, remember that the shops will still be open after the baby arrives so you can send someone out to the shops or do an online order for anything you decide you need. As long as you have a bed, clothes, nappies and hopefully operating boobs, you should be good for a few days
Here's a few of my suggestions of things I found helpful with a newborn or will be using with the next baby. As I said- no two lists will ever be the same because everyones journey, baby and preferences are different. There's lots of NZ based (I wouldn't look at american ones personally) lists online with amounts of things you'll need (i.e singlets, socks etc), and all the 'essentials', my one is just a little more specific. These are just a handy place to start your research. No one loves research more than the modern first time mum, amiright...
*Muslin wrap for summer babies.
*Merino and cotton (natural fibres) clothing.
*Easy access clothing, such as body suits with zips, and "nightie" style clothing for overnight.
* Miracle blanket. (swaddle) https://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/shop/wraps/wraps-fitted/unisex/miracle-blanket-white-miracle-blanket
* Baby shusher/ white noise machine. I would start with an app on your phone then if needed you can purchase a seperate item. If you decide to buy one, see if you can pick one up second hand for a good price or borrow from a friend who's 'between babies' haha. https://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/shop/toolbox/white-noise/white-noise-machines/marpac-hushh-continuous-white-noise-machine
* Moses basket with matress protector and cotton bedding. These are nice and light for moving around the house. TIP If you have a spilly baby, you can double up your bedding i.e matress protector, sheet, matress protector, sheet. So that if a bed change is required in the middle of the night, all you need to do is strip the top layer off and 'hey presto' clean bed underneath. Deal with the washing in the morning.
* A baby carrier. There are a million of these, but please do your research as many of them are unsafe for babies hips. I have a Moby and Lillebaby. I will be using them A LOT more with this babe. Free hands to wrangle the 3 year old. Check out slingbabies on facebook for options to hire and try on. Also a great item to buy second hand if you can find one. Otherwise sleepstore have a massive collection with great infomation. https://www.thesleepstore.co.nz/shop/carriers
*Breastfeeding pillow. Not eveyone favours these, but I used mine a lot, especially if you dont have a comfortable feeding chair.
*Breastpump. I wouldn't personally buy an electric one before baby is born as you just never know what your journey will be. You can hire them and pick them up second hand quite easily. I borrowed an electric Medela one which was good and I also had a manual Haaka silcone one. These are really inexpensive and worth having from the get go. I once cleaned my bathroom with that bad boy attached. https://www.haakaa.co.nz/products/silicone-breast-pump
*Play mat. Something soft and easy to pack up and take with you.I found I was always laying my son on the floor somewhere, so having one I could take out with me was very handy. You're bound to be gifted surplus blankets, so you can use one for out and about/leaving in car etc.
*Capsule base for car so you can just click in and go. So much easier and safer. Please please PLEASE make sure you get your seat installed correctly, preferably by a carseat technician. I'm really passionate about this, as it's the best insurance policy you can have for your kids. Just because a seat is sold in a store, doesn't mean it's safe. Do your homework and buy the best you can afford.
*Reminder jewlery for breastfeeding. This isn't something I had last time as it's new on the market. But I ended up rather 'lop-sided' from feeding too much on one side then baby would only feed that side. There's also a lot to be said for starting and ending feeds on the correct side as it ensures baby is being satisfied with the right type and amount of your milk. Some people use hairties on wrists etc but (A)- It's nice to have something a little less daggy when you're not exactly feeling your most glamorous and (B)- lets not cut off circulation at our wrists. https://claxtonandco.co.nz/pages/how-it-works
*A soft (non blue) night light for feeds and changing in the night. You do not want to stimulate your baby at 3am with the torch on your phone... trust me.
* A wetbag for washing or nappies while your out.
*Glass feeding bottles (I'll be avoiding plastic ones this round).
*Bouncer. Free hands, 'nuff said.
*Beautiful photos. We take so many photos on our phones and never print them. If you can afford it, get a talented newborn photogrpaher to document your baby in that precious first week. This is a great gift idea too. If people ask what you want you could always suggest a voucher from your chosen photographer. I highly reccomend Renaye McLachlan photography if you're in Auckland. She has done several family shoots for us and also many of my my friends. She also did my website photos. https://www.renayemclachlan.co.nz/
*A decent sunshade for your car window and mirror to see your baby. The cheap ones suck.
Things I reckon you can save your pennies and house space on...
*Those nappy bin things with the pricey and excessive plastic bags. Use a sealed bucket if your outside bin or laundry is too far away. Wet bag for out and about. Newborn poo is pretty inofensive.
*Fleece blankets. Avoid sythethic fabrics on your baby, as they're not breathable.
*Car seat accecories (unless designed for your specific seat). This is actually more of a safety thing. These items are not crash tested and so you have no idea how they can hinder the effeciveness of your seat in an accident.
*Creams, soaps and powders. Unless theres a medical reason your baby requires these, some warm water and a soft cloth every few days is more than suffiecient to keep them fresh.
* Disposable change mats and breast pads. On occasion you will need to clean your change mat, it's not a big deal. Reusable breast pads are small and easy to chuck in with your washing- you'll be doing a fair bit anyway.
*A bath thermometer. Use your hand. Luke warm is usually the aim.
If storage or money is an issue for you then please borrow and hire everything you possibly can. You will save a bunch of money and you won't need to store it once you're done using it.
Feel free to share what you did and didn't find helpful when you had a newborn.
Good luck parents!