Things you MUST have BEFORE baby arrives.

Over the summer, I received a Facebook Message asking for my opinion on what “Essential Equipment” parents-to-be NEED to have before the baby arrives & I really couldn’t make the huge list that I felt was being requested. It’s been rattling round in my brain ever since & here’s what I’ve been able to come up with….

  • Breasts (or other means of supplying milk, eg, milk donor or formula),
  • Clothing & nappies (single use or reusables),
  • Reusable wipes (less wasteful than using cotton wool & water),
  • A well-fitting sling, that you know how to use safely,
  • A car seat – if you drive, or regularly use a car.

Now, there are many things that you MAY also wish to also have but, I’m not sure that you NEED.

You MAY like to have a pram or buggy but, I’m not sure that you NEED one. How often do you hear new parents talk about how much their baby “hates” the buggy – so why spend money on one before the baby even arrives? If you need to go out, pop the baby in the sling/baby carrier. Getting some shopping while you’re out – what about a Granny Trolley? They can be really handy, carry more than a pram basket & are massively cheaper than a buggy that’s the size of a small family car! As the baby gets bigger, you can get a buggy/pram if you would like one but, you don’t NEED one before the baby arrives, particularly if you’re short of space!

You MAY like to have a cot bed but, I’m not sure that you NEED one. If you follow the guidelines for safe co-sleeping (as seen here with Infant Sleep Information Source), then you may not need a full-sized cot. Some people co-sleep full time, others use a Moses basket or co-sleeper cot part time. If you are short of money, or space then buying a full-sized cot/cot bed may be completely unnecessary before the baby arrives.

You MAY like to have a Moses basket or ‘infant seat/recliner/bouncy chair’ but, I’m not sure that you NEED one. This one often comes about due to people saying you NEED somewhere to “put the baby”. Let’s face it, babies often don’t like to be put down. This is where your well-fitting sling comes in. It enables you to keep your baby close, where they’re designed to be, & yet have your hands free to be able to do the things you need to do. Babies have an expectation of close contact with you, they are comforted by your smell, the sound of your heartbeat, & the movement created by your breathing & moving around. By keeping them close you are meeting this expectation &, for the baby, all is right with the world.

You MAY like to have Toys but, I’m not sure that you NEED them. We bought a few toys, teddies & a wooden a-framed baby gym for our eldest, before she was born & when she arrived, she had absolutely no interest in them whatsoever! Newborn babies love to look at your face (when they’re awake). Researchers have shown that newborns prefer faces over alternative views every time & their eyesight only allows them to focus for a distance of about 20-30cms, or approximately from your arms to your face. Once they are awake more often, & can see slightly further, they are easily entertained by being with you & taking part in your day/seeing what you’re doing. There’s plenty of time over the first few months to work out which toys your baby may enjoy but, you don’t need to have them all before the baby arrives – toys will take over your home soon enough!

You MAY like to have a Baby Monitor but, I’m not sure that you NEED one. It has been shown that the safest place for baby to sleep (including daytime naps), is in the same room as you, therefore you may not need a baby monitor. Again, a sling or baby carrier may help you out – baby can nap but, you can still do the things you need to do. People are often concerned that letting their baby nap in a sling will create ‘bad habits’ but, research suggests that creating positive sleep associations when baby is small, means that when they are ready to sleep alone, it may be an easier transition.

You MAY like to have a Nappy changing table/station but, I’m not sure that you NEED one. The safest place to change your baby is on floor with you sitting next to them, as there is no chance that they can roll off during that split second when you take your eyes off them. Having a foldable & washable changing mat that you can roll out onto the floor also saves you a ton of space! However, you also need to be aware of your limitations & some people find that they are unable to get up & down to & from the floor several times a day. If you do invest in a changing station, you must be sure to never leave your baby unattended during a nappy change.

So, I guess what it comes down to is, when you see one of these “100 Must Have’s” style lists – take them all with a pinch of salt & weigh up whether or not you need to buy things BEFORE the baby arrives, or if you can afford to wait & see whether or not they will be useful for you. Not only may you save some money by working out that you may not need something but, by not buying unnecessary stuff, you’re saving it from ending up in landfill.

(If you need advice, or help with a sling or baby carrier, you can find your local Sling Library or Babywearing Consultant via Sling Pages.)

Sarah – South London Sling Library