It’s all Marketing
The hype around all the ‘stuff’ you need to buy when having a baby is incredibly misleading. There are very few items you actually need to buy when you have a baby. Forget everything you think you need – this comes mostly from advertising and cultural norms. Try to think differently. Most of the items you are told to buy are either excessive and unnecessary or used for such a short amount of time – it is not worth buying them to begin with.
Do it for the planet
With our consumer driven society, our planet is not able to sustain the level of demand on it’s environmental resources. I like to try to live in a more sustainable way – to try and preserve our planet’s resources. I can strive towards this in many small ways – one of which is not buying and accumulating unnecessary material possessions. ‘Stuff’ does not make you happy – and if it does – it is usually not a long-lived, deep happiness which stems from love and kindness. So think before you buy – and if it is possible, practical and hygienic – see if you can buy at least some of the items you need second hand.
So….What do I actually need?
These are the items which we found were necessary for our baby:
– Car seat for your child to travel home from hospital and around each day (unless you only use public transport). In Australia – it is possible to hire a capsule for the first 6 months from the local ambulance service.
– Somewhere safe for your baby to sleep. For example a cot or bassinet with a fitted sheet and a new mattress
– A few singlets, jumpsuits or clothes (make sure they are practical- having easy access to change nappies and easy to take on and off). Babies need to stay warm.
– Some kind of wrap or sleeping bag for the baby to sleep in (top sheets/blankets are unsafe due to SIDS).
– Nappies and wipes – I try to use cloth nappies at least some of the time – as disposable nappies use more resources to be produced and the waste is an environmental issue – being disposed of in landfill and taking hundreds of years to decompose. With the wipes – you can just use a washer or paper towel with warm water. I found it difficult to find wipes without chemicals in them – so I use paper towel and wet it from a bowl with water in it which I have nearby when changing the baby. I have very recently discovered ‘Elimination Communication’ and wish I would have heard of this earlier – no nappies required!
– A place to safely put the baby down – this could be a seat/chair or a playpen. Somewhere soft where you can put them down for a short time and leave them if you have to run to the bathroom or some other reason.
– A carrier to hold your baby close to you while they are awake and allow your hands to be free while they sleep on you.
Try to breastfeed and persist through the hardship – it’s worth the effort for the baby’s health, your health and the convenience. I had a very hard time breastfeeding for the first 7 weeks and also contracted mastitis when my baby was only 1 week old – but after having to pump my milk for those first weeks, I managed breastfeeding quite well. If you are unable to breastfeed – you will also need to buy bottles, formula and all the items that go along with these.
Don’t even start worrying about toys until they are a few months older – as they sleep most of the time and just want your company. Even when they are a few months old – you are their favourite toy. All they desire for the first 12 months- and even beyond, is interaction with you. Toys distract them for a short time, but first and foremost they need love, closeness and stimulation from human interaction. When it comes to stimulating material for your baby, try games like peek-a-boo, borrow library books and read to them. There are also many household items (a colourful rug/blanket, bowls, cups, saucepans, ribbons, cardboard, paper, empty and safely sealed containers with a little coloured water, pasta or rice inside) which can be safe for children to play with (with supervision) – and just as stimulating for them as any toys might be. If you invest in some toys – try to choose wooden and natural material toys which don’t contain the chemicals found in plastics.
Holding your baby
I didn’t use a my second hand pram/stroller (which was a gift) until my baby weighed more than about 7 kilograms and was starting to become too heavy for me to carry around. I mostly carried him using a carrier which I bought second hand. I personally don’t like using the pram at all and only do when it is absolutely necessary. The carrier is best for the baby – as they can be close to you – which is what they like -especially when they are newborn. I found it helps them to sleep if they can feel your body heat, heart beat and breathing – which makes carriers really handy. It also leaves two hands free for cooking, cleaning, going out and about etc. I also have a (probably unjustified and insensible) worry that someone would snatch a pram and run away with my baby. The carrier makes me feel more secure as well as the baby.
Everyone is different, and I am not trying to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, I just wanted to share my experience with you and let you know that you don’t need to ‘prepare’ as much as you might think before bringing a baby home for the first time. I didn’t buy anything except what I have listed above – and because we co-slept for the first few months – even the cot was excessive for a while. There was no ‘preparing a nursery’ or readying the house for a baby. It seemed so unusual to people when they asked if the nursery was ready and I responded with – ‘we don’t really have one’. My advice is to wait until you have your baby and feel you are missing something you need – then go out and buy it rather than stocking up on things which end up not being used.
Remember – think before you buy. Is it really necessary? Can you use something similar which you already own? Can you buy a second hand one?