Thursday, September 06, 2012

Stuff You Really Need When You Have a Baby, Part Two

Part One is here.

We've covered sleeping and eating, a baby's favorite activities. Now on to the less glamorous stuff.

Peeing and Pooping
(I did not make this heading brown or yellow. You're welcome.)

1. Diapers - Well, obviously. First you have the choice to either cloth diaper or use disposables. Here's a cost comparison. The lower cost of cloth diapers will continue to save you money if you have more than one child. That being said, I used disposables, because I knew I would not be able to keep up with the laundry. As it turned out, I had three kids in diapers at one time, and I definitely could not have kept up with that laundry. But some parents do. If you choose cloth, you will need a few other items to go with them.

If you choose disposables, keep in mind that some babies react to brands differently, and different brands fit differently. My kids could not wear one particular bargain brand because the position of the stiff tabs scratched their thighs. Switch around till you find one your baby's happy in.

2. Changing Pad - When my first baby was born, I thought a changing table was a necessity. It wasn't. It was a nuisance. All I needed was a padded plastic changing pad. I could take it with me from room to room and change the baby wherever she was. This became even more useful when I had more than one child. If your three year old is in the bath and you suddenly need to change baby, you can change baby right there on the bathroom floor, on the changing pad you habitually carry from room to room. We finally ended up with two pads, storing one under the couch for living room activity.

A changing pad gives the baby a little cushion when you change him on the floor. It also - most importantly - protects your floor or bed or couch from the baby if he poops in the middle of being changed. Yep. They do that. They do that with enthusiasm. That's why changing pads should be plastic and easy to wipe and disinfect. It's also why I stopped using pretty cotton covers for my changing pad. I did not need one more thing to wash.

3. Diaper Rash Cream - Buy a tube of several different kinds and see which works best. Mix 'em up. Sometimes one worked better for one of my babies, while another baby did well with another. Keep a tube on hand wherever you keep your changing pad and diapers. Diaper rash can be horrible - even large, open bleeding sores. Anything that brings relief or prevents it is welcome.

4. Paper Towels - A lot of folks use wet wipes, and those are handy when you are traveling and there's not a sink nearby. But wet wipes are made with alcohol, and if your baby has diaper rash, the alcohol burns. Wet wipes are also more expensive than plain old paper towels and water. There's nothing a wet wipe can do in your nursery that a wet paper towel can't do just as well, and for less money. You can also wet a paper towel with warm water, which is less of a shock to a bare butt than a cold wet wipe.

I think that covers the basics for this area.

Getting Baby from Here to There

1. Car Seat - When a baby rides in a car, the baby is required to be in a rear-facing car seat. Some hospitals and birth centers give these away if you don't already have them. Ask yours. Some insurance companies give them away or subsidize the cost of them. Ask.

Do not buy a car seat used or inherit one from a friend. If the car seat has ever been in an accident, no one knows if it is still safe in case of another accident. Car seats also now all bear expiration dates, after which the plastic is too weak to meet safety standards. This is an item you should buy new.

2. Baby Carrier/ Wrap/ Sling - This was the single most sanity-saving item I owned. Babies want to be with mom all the time, but mom has things that must be done. Wearing your baby on your body keeps you both happy. Some women can even nurse in the wrap (I could NOT do this, no matter how I tried, so it's not a possibility for everyone).

There are many different options out there. I was unwilling to spend a lot of money on a wrap, but given how much time I spent in one, I wish I had asked for a pretty Moby as a baby shower gift. If your baby likes being in a wrap (and I had two who refused to be in one - they wanted the feeling of my arm holding them instead), the wrap will become part of your wardrobe. Owning more than one, and owning wraps that are pretty to wear, is a reasonable part of a clothing budget for both of you.

Stephanie at Adventures in Babywearing can offer a primer on the whole wrap/sling/carrier experience.

3. Stroller - Some parents have so much success with babywearing that they never need a stroller. I get enough back pain, though, that sometimes I needed a rest.

Strollers get a lot of wear and tear, but they are worth buying used if you find a good one. I would never buy a stroller from a catalog or online store. I want to feel how heavy it is to push or lift, and I want to see its turning radius in action. You definitely want a stroller than can be unfolded with one hand, and that fits inside your car. If you do find a used one, check safety recalls to make sure it is a safe product.

4. Diaper bag - This will effectively be your purse for the next three years, so ask for a nice one. In fact, I ended up using a big pretty purse for my diaper bag with my last two kids. Make sure it is washable, because it will carry some gross things. In fact, you might need two for when one of them is in the wash.


Babies like to play with stuff. Grandparents like to buy baby toys. This means you do not need to buy them toys at all. Seriously. That first year of life, your kid will be thrilled with your car keys or an empty Pringles can. All those lovely, brightly-colored toys in the shops? Unnecessary. Even if you really want the baby to have toys, other people will be bringing them over all the time. They will multiply like rabbits. You will not even know where they came from. So on the list of necessary expenses this does not even rank.

That's all for now. Next time I'll cover "Stuff You Need for Baby Health" and "Stuff You Don't Necessarily Need, But Is Nice to Have."

1 comment:

  1. A sling saved me! I used a basic ring sling for all four kids and loved it!

    Ditto on the toys. This means sometimes you are on the receiving end of things you would rather not have, but on the plus side, it's not your hard earned money they are ignoring (or breaking) when play.
    Cardboard boxes and masking tape keep kids entertained for a long long time.

    I found the "What to Expect" book helpful, but it might not be good for everyone. I found the more information I had, the better I was able to handle unexpected bumps, secretions and cries. Depending on your personality, a book might fuel fears and make you paranoid, rather than calming you, read "baby" books with a skeptical eye.

    Another thing I needed was a mature mom who knew what she was doing and was not alarmed by every strange colored poop my baby had. I found help in my sisters - they had elementary aged children by the time I had mine and were great sounding boards, constantly reassuring me that I was a good mom, and giving advice when I needed it. A calm, helpful shoulder to cry on is always good to have.

    The "thing" I needed most was a sense of humor - laugh at myself, laugh at some of the misery that comes with a newborn - remember it's not the end of the world. And a tough skin, because everyone else always seemed to know what my baby needed more than me, and they were usually wrong. Remember you are the mama, and even in your most fumbling, unsure moments you are the one who cares for baby and you are the one who knows what baby needs. Trust your gut!