If you’re pregnant for the first time, I’m sure you are overwhelmed by the number of items deemed ‘necessities’ for your new baby. Everyone has advice and recommendations, must-haves and don’t-bothers. By the time I was 6 months along with Olivia, I had suggestions and questions coming out of my ears!
With the benefit of hindsight, I thought I’d share with you the things I really could not have done without, things I wished I had had, and things that will stand the test of time in case you plan on having more than one child.
1. A Compactum Or Changing Table
Ok, so I’m an idiot, which is something else the benefit of hindsight showed me. When I was pregnant, we bought a lovely little chest of drawers with a large top that fit a changing mattress and would even have fit the baby bath. But all through my pregnancy the older women in my family told me ‘don’t bother with a compactum, you won’t use it’ or ‘why do you have a changing table? You know you’ll just use your bed, right?’. And silly me actually listened to them and ignored my makeshift changing table. Instead, I broke my poor back carrying a baby bath from the bathroom to my bedroom, I broke my back changing and dressing my baby on my bed. And I didn’t even realise that it wasn’t normal until my daughter was almost a year old and my niece was born.
You see, my sister-in-law was smart, and she didn’t listen to the naysayers. She got a beautiful changing table for her daughter. And only when I visited them and saw how wonderfully amazing it was to change my baby at a height that didn’t force me to bend over did I realise my mistake.
Heck, you don’t even have to go so far as to buy a compactum or chest of drawers. You can buy those changing station mats as a stand-alone, and just use an existing table or counter in your home.
2. A Decent Pram
Of course, bear in mind the kind of things you’re going to be doing with your baby. Will you be going for daily walks, taking your baby with you on shopping trips, or are you a home-body who will be taking minimal forays out into world? For most people, a pram is a must, and if you’re going to be buying a pram make sure it’s a good one. Every single mother I know has used their pram as a sleep aid on days when baby is being a bit more difficult, so a comfortable pram which doesn’t feel every bump on the road is a good idea. One that can transition with a newborn fitting to be safe for your baby and then into toddler-hood is always a bonus.
Our pram was a hand-me-down, and while absolutely perfect for a bigger child, it wasn’t so great when our baby was smaller. This was particularly frustrating for me when Olivia hit the 4 month sleep regression and refused to sleep anywhere but in her pram (seriously, not even in my arms, only the pram and only while it was moving). Our pram was also more of an active mommy special, so while perfect for a mom who liked to take long walks in the country, for me who mostly used it around the house or for a short walk around the complex it didn’t do so well. It felt like a monster I was holding back from it’s full potential.
Another thing I’d like to mention, is those prams that go from car seat to pram. These are great, if the car seat detaches and you can fit another part on for when your child grows up. Thing is, those car seats aregenerally for small babies so that if your baby is sleeping you can lift them into the car without waking them. Your child will likely outgrow it before he/she is 18 months, and then your pram will be useless. If you’ve got the money, the convenience of those is great, but since your baby shouldn’t be sleeping for long periods of time in a car seat anyway, I never really saw the point in shelling out so much for something so short-lived.
3. Video Monitor
And not the kind that run on wifi because you won’t always have wifi or a strong enough connection.
Did we have a video monitor? Nope, never. Did I find my self crying actually tears over that? Yup, I sure did. Now maybe I am overly dramatic (my husband certainly says so), but on those days when I was exhausted yet still couldn’t sleep because I had to check on Olivia just one more time, that video monitor would have really helped keep me sane. Even now, as we approach time for her to transition from her cot to a big girl bed, I wish that I had a video monitor so that I can make sure she isn’t climbing out of bed to play with her toys without having to go into her room and disturbing her. A sound monitor is wonderful, ours really has worked great and I can’t complain about it at all. But sometimes it doesn’t pick up the smaller sounds. When a friend’s child slept over in Olivia’s big bed, the child was out the bed, out the room and next to me without me hearing a sound on the monitor.
Again, a video monitor is another item I didn’t realise how much I needed until my sister-in-law had one and I saw first-hand the benefits. Sure, it costs a lot more (and you need to spend the money for a decent one or you may as well not have 1) and the camera can be a bitch to set up over the cot, but it would have eased my paranoia and helped me get more sleep, of that I have no doubt.
4. Baby Pics App
Any app really, though I must say I do love Baby Pics and everyone I’ve recommended it to loves it as well. Maybe you aren’t a mom who plans on taking a ton of pictures or cares about adding words or doodles to said pictures, in which case I do apologise but this one isn’t for you. That being said, wouldn’t you love to document the milestones of your little ones first year? If so, this app is definitely for you too!
You don’t need to go and buy a fancy baby milestone blanket or have little wooden letters made. Just take a picture and add all the details in the app later. We used it to record every one of Olivia’s firsts – it made it great for sharing with the family far away and to print for my albums in a way that would keep track of all her firsts.
I still use it! Potty training, new friends, even just a particularly funny moment, can all be made better with a bit of decorating.
5. Anything that transitions from baby to toddler
Anything. No really, anything. If you’ll get more life out of it, if it will be one less thing your toddler needs because you already have it, it’s a winner. I’m talking prams, car seats, tables and chairs, toys. Anything and everything.
Baby high chairs that become little kid study tables that become teenager chairs? – perfect!
Those amazing Joie car chairs that go from 0 to 25 kg? – omg yes please! (we have this one https://uk.joiebaby.com/product/stages-fx/ and we love it!)
The cot that changes into a toddler bed and then – whaaaat? – into a big kid bed? SIGN. ME. UP
I did not get enough of such things, and I could kick myself for it.
Some of these things can seem a bit costly – never fear! There will always be one available second hand. Baby things are usually so easy to find because they are generally made really good quality, and because they’re being used by a baby they stay in fairly good condition.
And if you can afford brand new but you’re not sure if you want to, remember that you, too, can put it up for sale once you’re done with it!
Of course, there are some things that you shouldn’t buy, and to save you some heartache I can name 2 for you right off the bat:
1. A Highchair That Has Any Sort Of Non-Wipeable Fabric
Don’t do it! we received a beautiful highchair as a gift. It folded up and had a padded red fabric seat that was bolted onto the frame. I kept it out for show from the minute we got it until our first foray into solid foods. The minute it came time to cleaning, I got rid of it. the problem was that it couldn’t be wiped down to a point that it looked clean, and in order to wash the fabric the entire thing had to be unscrewed (with a screwdriver!) in 12 different places from even more different angles. It was not worth it to have to wash that thing after every single meal! Our second chair was just the plastic bucket seat on the frame and it was amazing. We live in a very hot climate and we often eat outside, so when baby was done eating I’d turn the hosepipe on the chair and voila, ready for the next meal!
It’s likely that you will need newborn sized nappies (there is a chance that you won’t though). But you won’t need them for very long. Babies grow so fast. SO FAST. That your baby will be in size 1s before you know it. So, if you go to an expo or grab a great special, or you’re just getting stocked up, try get more 1s than 0s. At the very least, keep the receipts… maybe they’ll let you exchange them if you need to.
2. Newborn Sized Nappies
All this talk of first babies and baby things! I get a little lump in my throat thinking of my little Olivia as a newborn. It really does happen that quickly. One minute you’re stressing about what you need to keep another tiny human being alive and happy, and the next second said tiny human being is rampaging around your house with you wrapped around her finger.
Ah the joys!