Moms-to-be these days are absolutely bombarded with advertisements for baby products, but are all of these must-haves really, well, must-have? With a few friends expecting babies right now (and a couple more who are hoping to be) I thought this would make a valuable topic to explore.
Some baby gear can wait (your baby won’t be in the exersaucer or jolly jumper for at least a couple of months) and you can count on receiving some things as gifts after baby is born (receiving blankets, onesies, toys, and gender-specific outfits) so when doing your pre-baby shopping, focus on the items you’ll need to have waiting when your little one arrives.
I consulted Marnie Scott, manager of The Cuddly Bunny (both an online business and a small-town store located in Port Perry, Ontario), to see what she considers to be essential pre-baby shopping. Keep reading for her advice, and to find out how you can save 10% on your next Cuddly Bunny purchase!
Marnie’s Top Ten (with my thoughts in parentheses, of course. I’m sure my loyal readers have noticed my fondness for these curvy little creatures):
1. Car seat
(three-in-ones are an economical choice as they will last the longest, but removeable infant carriers are very convenient, especially if they fit in your stroller. Refer to your seat’s directions, but your baby must ride rear-facing for at least the first year. You should install your seat well in advance of your due date, and you might want to consider attenting a carseat clinic to ensure it is installed properly.)
2. Bassinet, crib, or travel cot (I went with a bassinet for the first three months and moved to a standard crib afterwards.)
3. Diapers, wipes, and skin care products (I have to admit that I used disposables, but it’s worth stressing that cloth diapers have come a long way and are definitely worth exploring. Have a couple of bags of newborn-sized diapers ready to go, as well as wipes and a gentle all-in-one wash. I also kept zinc oxide cream on hand to use at the first signs of any diaper rash, and while it worked like a charm on my girls, all babies are different and will respond accordingly. You’ll have to go with trial and error.)
4. Baby bath tub or bath seat
(Marnie recommends the Daphne Bath Seat
, shown at right, as it allows for hands free washing, prevents baby from slipping when they have little head control and is portable. “They”, meaning the experts who both educate and scare the heck out of us, advise against bath seats and rings, but the fear is that they will be taken advantage of and used as safety devices which they are not intended to be. I used a small plastic tub inside the big tub for the first few months, then moved to a bath ring when my girls could sit up independently.
5. Layette and linens, including a waterproof change pad (You will want a few sleepers, onesies, hats, and socks, but as I said don’t go crazy, as these are popular gift ideas. We aren’t supposed to be using bumper pads or puffy quilts anymore, so the required linens are just fitted bassinet/crib sheets, a few blankets, both receiving blanket-style as well as some soft and cuddly ones, some washcloths, and perhaps a hooded towel. If you’re planning for a second child, going gender specific might mean completely repurchasing when the next baby comes — and really, what if that ultrasound wasn’t right?? We’ve all heard those stories!)
6. Sleep sack
(I highly recommend swaddling your baby, and The Cuddly Bunny carries a few products including the Kushies Swaddle Blanket
– shown at left – which would make an excellent gift for a pre-baby shower or newborn. Swaddling is recommended up to the age of 3 months.)
7. Soft music or a Sleep Sheep for the nursery (Huh? If you’re wondering about the Sleep Sheep, it’s a stuffed toy which makes soothing sounds such as mother’s heartbeat, crashing waves, etc. Sort of a white-noise machine for the newborn set. With Frannie, we rocked her to the first track of an instrumental lullabyes CD before putting her down drowsy, but awake. Eventually she would hear the first few notes and immediately start to squirm and fuss, knowing what was coming, but then settle knowing that resistance would be futile!)
8. Bottles (more on those later), and nursing necessities
(If you are planning to breastfeed, nursing pads will be essential to avoid the oh-so-embarrassing leak marks, and even if you are bottle-bound, your milk will come in nevertheless and a few pads might come in handy. Next, you absolutely must get nipple cream. The Cuddly Bunny carries a lanolin-free product called Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Nipple Butter
. Lanolin-free is good in case of a wool allergy, or if you’re worried about trace pesticide or antibiotic residue which may be found in lanolin. When pregnant for the second time, I was given lanolin-based Lansinoh and it made a night and day difference compared to my first breastfeeding experience — when I used nothing– so quite frankly I didn’t care what was in it.)
9. Diaper Bag
(Let’s be honest. Your carryall does not
have to be something which is marketed as a “diaper bag”. Various backpacks, fashion purses and tote bags will do the trick, but some bags are designed with special features such as side pockets for bottles, waterproof materials, etc. I had originally intended this post to be strictly about economical choices, so again, pick up at $30 bag at Zellers and you’ll be fine, but I just had to show you this gorgeous Magz Bagz Mezza Messenger
…at $110 it’s no steal, but isn’t it beautiful? Now, if you plan to have 4 kids, you can average it out to less than $30 per child, which really is a bargain. Click on the link to see other colours and patterns.)
10. Stroller (Ah, the stroller. Mommy and Daddy status symbol of the third millenium. This could be a lengthy post all by itself, but here’s the bottom line: shop around and buy what you need. We have a small umbrella stroller for going in and out of shops, etc., jogging strollers, single and double, for our dirt and gravel roads, and a Snap N Go, which is a simple metal frame on wheels which the infant carrier snaps on to. Research abounds on the various brands and styles of strollers, so check out the features and costs, being realistic about what you actually need.)
For moms-to-be who are overwhelmed about registering and choosing baby items, Marnie says “first-hand experience is the best form of research. Speak with as many new moms as possible.” She also advises taking advantage of free services like new parent consultations, offered in stores such as The Cuddly Bunny, and registering at a store “with a knowlegeable sales staff who will explain the products to you and answer any questions you may have.” Finally: “Plan ahead. Ensure you have the necessities well in advance of your due date. Being prepared early will relieve stress.”
As for the moms I know who are back in babymaking mode after a few years away from it (you know who you are!) I asked Marnie about what has changed in the last few years that these moms need to know about. The highlights:
-no bumper pads, and use sleep sacks or swaddlers instead of crib blankets, to help prevent SIDS
-try organic skin-care products, which “offer a chemical-free alternative. Baby’s skin is 5 times thinner than an adult’s,” she says, “therefore they are much more susceptible to chemicals.”
-choose glass or BPA-free bottles if bottle-feeding. With Frannie I favoured the plastic Avent, which were recalled right around the time of Maggie’s birth. They do make BPA-free now, but at the time I went with BornFree and was very pleased.
-cloth or chlorine-free disposable diapers are the safest choices
These are updates that your mother and mother-in-law might not be aware of, and it may take several reminders, and perhaps reference to quality literature (such as this blog post, of course!) to make them realize that times have changed, and no, you can’t use the bumper pads from your childhood crib, put baby down on her tummy, or use your cousin’s hand-me-down bottles.
So, there’s the lowdown. Thanks to Marnie for sharing all of her expertise, and also for this great offer for This Mom Loves readers: use code 032810 and you will receive 10% off your next Cuddly Bunny purchase, either in-store or online (mompreneur marketplace items excluded).
Did we forget anything? Are there any other items that you think parents absolutely must purchase to be ready for baby’s birth? Leave a comment and let us know!