When you have a new baby, you are bombarded with all the ‘must have’ lists. They are everywhere online and come in the bags they hand out at the hospital. I find many of them unsatisfactory, putting what I would call luxuries on necessity lists.
It’s easy to spend a lot of money on your new baby, as everyone wants the best for their precious bundle. Many people deck out their nurseries, making them look designer and many buy most of products on these ‘must have lists’.
When having a baby, I think there are so many ways to save money (some very easy and effective ways include cloth nappies, breastfeeding, not using day care, buying second hand and borrowing from friends), but another way is to simply separate what is really needed to what really are luxuries.
As a result, this is my must have list for stocking up for your newborn:
MUST HAVE (AND REALLY ALL YOU NEED FOR THE FIRST FEW MONTHS):
–Somewhere safe for baby to sleep: We initially had a bassinet (given to us), and then as we did not have a cot, our baby slept in a port-a-cot until a family member was ready to hand their cot on
–A safe way of baby getting home from the hospital: We had a second hand (but we knew the owner) car seat professionally installed for us
-Some simple newborn clothes: most helpful was a few 0000 jumpsuits, rompers and singlets . If you need to buy clothes, you really do not need new clothes, especially for the smaller sizes. As newborn clothes are worn for only a few weeks, you can pick up jumpsuits in very good quality. You also really do not need all the complicated cute outfits, as baby mostly sleeps, poos and spews!
-Some simple wraps and blankets: We did not have anything fancy (like the swaddle suits which are handy, but not necessary), but simply had cheap second hand wraps which we swaddled baby in
-Nappies: We bought green kids re-usable nappies which we highly recommend (our 18 month old is still in them). These are on the must have list for our culture, although other cultures do survive without nappies! ( We also use face washers and water for baby wipes-much cheaper and better for baby then commercial wipes and easy to put in the wash with the nappies)
–A pram or a baby carrier: I must say these are very useful items for getting out an about (although if push came to shove you survive without one) and made me feel a lot more transportable!
-Nursing Pads and Maternity Pads: These do not have to be disposable by any means! You can save lots of money (and waste) by buying re-usable and washable versions of these products (you can buy cloth nursing pads at chemists, some supermarkets or second hand at baby markets and you can buy re-usable maternity pads online)
-A good support group: Ok, I know it is not a product but it’s helpful with a newborn to have a group of people that can help you whether your mothers group, family, friends or checking out something like a MOPS group.
NICE TO HAVE (BUT IF YOU NEEDED TO YOU COULD LIVE WITHOUT):
–a Rocker or a Bouncer: We had a second hand one of these, which meant we could put the baby in it when eating or showering, but we could have easily lived without this, placing baby on a mat instead.
-Toys: Believe it or not, children, especially newborns do not really need toys. They are so stimulated by their environment anyway, that we did not give out son toys to look at until he was a few weeks old. Even at 18 months, my son is happy to play with kitchen things such as pots and pans, plastic cookie cutters or boxes (he does have toys though).We found that we did not need to buy any toys as so many people gave toys as presents.
-A change table: We again were given a change table second hand and found this very handy, saving on back aches. But you can easily set up a station on your bed of on the floor and survive without one of these
-A high chair: You do not need a high chair until your baby is ready to eat at around 6 months of age, but even at this point you can easily put baby on your lap to eat. We ended up getting a high chair off hard rubbish, which does make for easier meal times (especially for our baby led weaned child)
-a baby bath: We again got one of these second hand and they are very handy. We still use it for our 18 month old to save on water (instead of filling the big bath). Again though, you can easily improvise using the bathroom or laundry sink as a bath, or just using your bath and shower.
-A Nappy Bag: Having a dedicated bag to keeping stock of nappies and other baby things when you go out is useful, but you do not necessarily need a ‘nappy bag’ to have this. If a specific nappy bag is expensive you can look for other handbags that will fit in what’s needed or quickly put a nappy, some wipes and mat in your hand bag.
–Books- It is great reading to baby from the beginning. Our son still loves reading. It is very handy having your own collection (and people will give you books), but a free library membership can also do the job if you feel you are needing to expand your collection.
–Freezer meals: Again, it is not a product but when baby is born (or just general life with kids), it is very nice to not have to cook while you get used to your new addition. It is very handy to have stocked up meals that can be whipped out when needed.
DON’T BOTHER WITH THESE BABY PRODUCTS:
–Jolly jumpers, bumbo seats, walkers or any other toy that helps a child do things they are not yet developmentally able to do. My maternal child health nurse specifically recommended against these products because they can do damage to developing children’s bodies
–Gimmicky items such as nappy genies, wipe warmers, bath pillows etc. They really just are not needed and short lived in their usefulness (if they were every really that useful)
–Big flashy toys- anything that takes up a lot of room (such as toddler tables, indoor ride ons, ball pits etc). We never had any toys like this but found that when our son was interested in some of these toys, the interest was pretty short lived. If you do want to get your child things like this to play with, consider a membership to a toy library where you can borrow the toy, play with it until you or baby is sick of it and then you do not have to find somewhere to store it!
–A baby monitor (unless your house is very big). We have a small house, with baby not too far away in the next room. We found we easily wake up to our son’s cry and have never had the need for a baby monitor. If you do feel like you need one for your home, I would suggest you do not bother with fancy video cameras or pads to monitor the heart beat unless a medical need. (SIDS suggest anyway that most baby related cot deaths (which is small now) are a result of sleeping accidents as a result of unsafe sleeping practices)
–Baby Bath Products: There is lots of marketed soaps, bubble baths, shampoos, moisturizers etc for baby. My Maternal Child Health Nurse recommended against their use as they can dry baby’s skin and rid it of natural oils. So what do we use? Water! Plain old water and it does wonders washing our son! (in fact he has never used any baby bath products and is as clean as a whistle)
–Baby Wipes: As above, baby wipes can dry baby’s skin and rid it of natural oils (not to mention they are expensive and with all the packaging and one time use per wipe a little wasteful-sorry to be blunt!). The Royal Children’s hospital recommends that you do not use them, but instead use water and cotton wool. We use face washers and a water bottle at home (we use an environmentally friendly brand of wipes in the nappy bag which we only use for a number 2 when out and about)
–Commercial baby food as a regular way to feed your baby (rather than to get you out of the occasional squeeze): When your baby is a little older (6 months ish), in most cases baby can eat what you eat, so long as you eat a healthy diet. It would be very expensive to feed your baby from the baby food aisle in the supermarket (not to mention very processed- even the foods that are organic, or 100% vegetables) it is so easy to make your own food for baby (even easier if you check out baby-led weaning as a method for beginning baby on food)
Let me know if there are any more items I have forgotten, or something you just loved having for your baby!