Essential Products to Buy for your Baby’s Arrival
Before Noah’s birth (my first born), as most mamas do, I made 'nesting' my job. We had just finished building our home in Cape Town and I wanted his nursery and everything alongside it to be absolutely perfect. I researched and I bought. I designed and I built. I loved it all so much. Looking back, I wouldn't have done anything differently, because the joy, anticipation, and excitement that I felt was something so precious, that I am glad I relished it in full delight. Any expectant mama can relate to this. Looking forward, however (we are expecting our second child – a baby girl!! - in December this year), it'll all be slightly different. A few reasons why:
We moved to Berlin in early September just now and plan to spend 5 months here before moving back to Cape Town in early 2017. Meaning, we will have a tiny little newborn in Berlin for 2 months before moving back to our home in CT, where we've left all of our baby goods (Rob, Noah and I left CT a little over half a year ago with just a suitcase each).
Given that we will have to purchase items for our new bundle of joy for the first couple of months in Berlin, and not having the luxury of 1. Space (we are taking things back to Cape Town in our suitcases) and 2. Time (I have a toddler running around at home – enough said), I will try to buy only what I believe to be essential and thought I'd share that list with you.
Essentials that I will buy/borrow or that I already own for Baby Number 2:
Breastpump - Essential like nothing else. Even if you plan to breastfeed exclusively (which I did for Noah), a breast pump is an absolute must. We own the Medela Swing Breastpump and I love it. I got it brought over from Cape Town recently since I won’t want to buy a new one (they ain’t cheap) but also won’t be able to live without this one.
Pacifiers (or Dummies as I like to call them) – I had bought a couple for when Noah was born but only intended to use them if I felt the need (I was given the advice to not use them at first because of potential nipple confusion). I ended up trying the dummy on him for the first time when he was 6 weeks old and he took to it without a problem. I haven’t looked back and believe that they are amazing and certainly so helpful when it comes to sleep training, if that is something you want to consider down the track. I will definitely buy a few for our second bubba and really like the MAM Perfect brand.
Stroller – We previously owned the Bugaboo Cameleon (which I think is a fantastic stroller!) with a Britax/Romer infant car seat (just note that you’ll have to buy Bugaboo adapters for whichever car seat you end up buying – Maxi Cosi, Britax, etc.). It was perfect for the first baby. We’ve since ‘upgraded’ to the Bugaboo Donkey and I am so happy with it as well. We just need to buy the second seat/bassinet attachment so that Noah can sit next to his baby sister and we are good to go in the stroller department.
Running stroller – I do not consider a running stroller to be an essential item at all but wanted to share this with you as an FYI. I did struggle at the beginning in my choice because I also wanted a stroller that I could run with. Since I wasn’t ready to compromise on the Bugaboo Cameleon (for a Bob Revolution for example), I simply waited until Bugaboo came out with its Running Chassis, which they now sell separately and it works fantastic. You simply take the seat from your Bugaboo Cameleon, Donkey or Buffalo and clip it into the running base and you’re good to go. Turns out that I don’t really enjoy running with a stroller so I think the Bugaboo Running Chassis gets more use from Papa than it does from me, when it is not collecting dust (yes, that is the truth), but other mamas may love running with their babes so it’s a complete personal choice.
Car seat – We still own the Britax/Romer infant car seat and although it currently lives at my mother-in-law’s in Australia, I’ll see if I can get creative and get it brought to Berlin before our baby girl arrives. With it we own the car seat base which stays clipped in the car the entire time and allows you to simply click the car seat into the base. Super simple and highly recommended. You don’t want to struggle with seat belts every time you take the car seat in and out of the car because you’ll drive yourself mad.
Cot – This is certainly an essential piece to buy, especially if you want your little one getting into the habit of taking naps in his/her cot during the day, if you aren’t already letting them sleep in their cot at night (we chose to use a co-sleeper with Noah for the first 8 months). Since we own a lovely Stokke Sleepi crib in Cape Town already (Noah will get a new bed in Cape Town and our baby girl can move into his old cot), we won’t be buying a cot in Berlin. But if we didn't have one in CT, I'd definitely buy one, as it's an essential piece for sure.
Co-sleeper – This item is a definite essential for us and we chose the Baby Bay because its functional, well-built and looks good. Since we left our Baby Bay in Cape Town as well, we will look at borrowing one in Berlin for the little time that we are there. We had Noah’s cot in his nursery (where he took his day time naps) but still wanted him to sleep with us in a room at night, and so the co-sleeper was perfect. Noah will have his own room in Berlin, so our baby girl will sleep with us at night and during the day I’ll most likely get a simple Moses Basket, in which she can take naps in when we are at home.
Moses basket – They are cheap, look so good and are an essential in my world. A teeny tiny baby sleeps all the time at the beginning and you don’t want to be far away from them ever. A Moses Basket is something you can pick up and carry around the house so it comes in super handy for when they are taking a nap and you want them with you in the living room for example. We still have a lovely one in Cape Town but I’ll still get one in Berlin for the first few months there.
Sleeping bags/Swaddling suits - Sleep training with Noah when he was 10 months old taught me to start with certain habits early. One of these habits is placing a baby in their sleeping bag (or swaddling) for every sleep (unless you are out and about or on the move of course). Noah never enjoyed being properly swaddled but he did enjoy this fantastic swaddle zip up suit from Love to Dream, which I refer to as his little wing suit. I bought a couple for our baby girl already and will certainly use these at night from day 1. I am a big fan.
Sling – Such an essential item. I am a big believer in wearing your baby a lot, especially at the beginning, and since this is round 2 for me and I will need to keep up with a toddler, I will certainly be on the go a lot more than I was with Noah. We still have the Baby K’Tan, which we brought down from Cape Town recently, but I may try a new one as well and currently have my eye on one of the Wild Bird Slings. They seem to be popular for a reason and they just look so beautiful.
Carrier – We own the Ergo Baby 360 and don’t go anywhere without it. It’s a definite essential but if you are ok to have your baby in a sling for the first few months, instead of a carrier, they essentially serve the same purpose, so you wouldn’t need one of each at the start. We owned the Baby Bjorn Original for Noah but didn’t use it at all after he was older than 3 months (before then we alternated between the Baby K’Tan sling and the Baby Bjorn carrier – generally one for indoors and one for outdoors, which is silly, hah). I wouldn’t recommend the Baby Bjorn Original at all though. It doesn’t have good back support for the parent and gets uncomfortable quickly. We bought the Ergo Baby 360 when Noah was 4 months and I think it is one of the best baby products out there and an essential product for traveling. I just bought the newborn insert for our Ergo Baby because that is something we did not own before.
Baby Bouncer – Such a key product for when you are hanging at home and you want your adorable, awake baby to hang out with you, but not on you. We own both the Baby Bjorn Bouncer and the Nuna Leaf in Cape Town, but I’ll be buying a second hand bouncer for our time in Berlin for sure. It is a must.
Baby Monitor – For a lot of parents this may be number 1 on the list of things to buy for baby’s arrival. We didn’t even own one with Noah for the first 4 months because he slept in our room at night and during the day when he napped, I was able to always hear him if he woke up. Once we bought one, it was super useful for when we traveled, or simply when we attended dinner parties or loud events where we’d have Noah sleeping in another room. Also, iff you use a babysitter/nanny earlier on, you’ll certainly want one. So although we didn’t own one for the first few months, I would definitely buy one for our second baby’s arrival if we didn’t already have one. A baby monitor is a great product to own and you don’t even need to go super fancy if you don’t want to. Ours doesn’t have a camera and we don’t mind it one bit.
Changing table – Our furnished apartment in Berlin doesn’t really have a furniture piece, which I can use as a changing table (like a chest of drawers for example – Ikea makes a great one), so I think I will go out and something simple or second hand. Noah has a table in his room which I use as his nappy changing station at the moment but its too low and my back is not a fan. You change so many nappies at the start, that you’ll want a proper set up where your posture is upright and healthy. I bought an expensive changing mat for Noah’s nursery in Cape Town, which was a silly purchase really. Any changing mat will do, just get yourself a few cute changing mat covers and you’re set.
The creams of this world – I’m lucky to have this second little one in Germany because I’ll have Weleda products on my doorstep! I love their all natural Calendula bum cream, moisturizer and baby wash/shampoo. I’ve tried many different brands around the world due to our traveling with Noah and nothing beats Weleda in my books. Ill also get myself some good old Lansinoh nipple cream of course. An absolute must.
Breast pads – You’ll need a lot of these if you plan to breastfeed so I’m going to go ahead and stock up.
Baby towels, Muslins and Bibs – I’ll get a couple of soft baby towels, bibs and a few large, pretty muslins (I love Aden & Anais swaddle muslins). I will also get a few simple white muslins for everyday use such as placing an extra layer on the changing mat (so that you don’t have to wash the cover every time poop and pee misses the diaper), as burp cloths, as cloths to have by your feeding chair in case milk spills (which it does all the time), as cloths to carry with you in your nappy bag, and you’ll soon find a hundred more reasons to use these white muslins so stock up.
Clothes – I will limit on newborn clothes (size 50 and under) and rather get size 56 (000 in Australia I think), since these little beings grow so much in the first weeks. Since we're expecting a baby girl, I'll obviously buy beautiful clothes for her but I won't stress over it in the beginning at all since all you want to dress them in for the first 3 months is comfortable, soft play suits. Ones that have sleeves that flip over the hands are gold. I am a big fan of Bonds Zip Wondersuits and have already gotten a few for our baby girl.
Feeding chair – You will use it so much, day and night. We bought the beautiful and iconic Ikea Poang chair for Noah’s nursey and although I love the chair, I really do, something I’ve learnt is that you should get a feeding chair that has padded/soft arm rests. The Poang has wooden arm rests so I always had to use my arms to protect Noah’s head. Really not that big of a deal since you cradle your child in any case, but if I were to start over in the feeding chair department, I’d get padded arm rests for sure. All that being said, of course you can do without a feeding chair if you have a comfy couch in your home or another comfortable seating arrangement. Our furnished apartment in Berlin has an Ikea armchair (The Strandmon), so I’ll just use that as my temporary feeding chair for the time that we are here. Throw a beautiful sheep skin over the top and your heart will glow.
Feeding pillow – I used mine every day until Noah was 4 months old. They are affordable and when breastfeeding can be quite tricky at the start, they will feel like they are making your life a lot easier. Mine was a no name brand but here are a few that seem to be popular as of late.
And voila, that's it! I was hoping that I could write that it didn’t seem so overwhelming but now that I’m looking at the list, it does feel like quite a lot, hah. Perhaps the list itself isn’t that big but what can certainly be overwhelming is deciding which brand to get when there is just so much choice out there. I always go for quality, design (the practicality but also how it looks - it's gotta look good!), and obviously what's recommended by the tried and tested. Mostly that leaves me buying the expensive products but when you buy less of them, it's do-able ;)
But really, if you were to ask me what I’d get if I could only choose THREE items, it would be a breast pump, a carrier and a car seat. All other items make your life easier but those are the most important essentials for a newborn if you ask me.
And I also wanted to mention that although this list may seem long, it is far from complete if you ask most first time mamas. For me it is complete in terms of essentials but everyone's viewpoint is different, and as it should be because everyone's experience is different. Further, there are toys and music machines and bumbo seats and jolly jumpers and play mats and activity gyms, and oh goodness, the list goes on. But a lot of these generally start after bubba is 3 months old so don't worry about buying everything at the start if you feel that it is bringing you more stress than joy (could be the case). I also didn't include all those 'essentials' for mama, when it comes to post birth (compression belly belt, compression leggings, nursing bras, etc) because I tried to keep this blog post for products only for baby.
Before ending this blog entry, here are a few items which I thought were essential when I had Noah but I won’t buy this time around:
Breastfeeding/Nursing cover – For some people this is an essential item since you’ll most likely be breastfeeding when you are out and about with your little one. It was never an issue for me but that’s a choice every mama has to make on her own. If you do get a nursing cover, get one that has a wire built into the top so that you can see your baby without having to use your hands…if that makes sense – like the Audrey & Me or Bebe Au Lait Nursing Covers.
Baby bath – If you have a bath tub at home, don’t worry about buying a baby bath. We bought the Stokke Flexibath for Noah and used it maybe once or max twice. We then got a very cheap baby seat which Noah was able to lie on in our large bathtub and it worked perfect.
Nappy Bin – We bought the Angel Care one for Noah’s nursey in Cape Town and although I think its super useful for when you live in a house with more than one floor, we won’t be getting one in our apartment in Berlin.