Having a baby? First-time parent? Check out these essentials that should be on that newborn must-haves list. Happy shopping!
Expecting a bundle of joy? Congratulations! You’re probably excited about going shopping for adorable baby products. With a mind-boggling variety of baby gizmos available to 21st-century parents at the click of a mouse, it’s easy to go overboard when shopping for your baby. But is all that fancy stuff really necessary? No. Babies don’t need much during their first few months, and raising a child in Singapore isn’t exactly cheap. So, let’s just stick to the essentials, okay?
Mr Stefano Colombo, Head of Asia & Emerging Markets for Baby Care at Italian baby gear giant, Chicco (which opened its first Southeast Asia concept store at Tanglin Mall this year) helps us out with six suggestions to kickstart our list for new parents. We’ve added another 12 to make this a list of 18 newborn must-haves to put on your checklist.
1. Travel system
What’s a travel system? It’s basically a stroller (you can tick that off your list) that comes with a compatible infant car seat which can be easily popped into the stroller when you’re going around on foot. Getting an infant car seat for your baby is a must as you’ll need it installed in your car for baby’s ride home from the hospital. Opting for a travel system means you’ll have snagged a two-in-one. Once bub outgrows the infant car seat, the stroller will take over for the long haul. Another plus of a travel system? It doesn’t disturb baby’s sleep when transitioning from a car ride to the outdoors.
(See also: 10 Stylish Strollers for Baby and You!)
2. Co-sleeper bedside crib
Having a baby means you have subscribed to wake-up calls in the wee hours of the morning. So you’ll want to keep your bundle of joy close by during those first few weeks or months. The co-sleeping crib is a godsend. It’s a brilliant way for you to sleep closely and safely with your tiny one as it is essentially a bedside crib with one open side. The co-sleeping crib is also perfect for new mothers who have had a difficult birth and find getting out of bed for feedings too much of a hassle. “Having your baby sleep next to you in your bed increases his dependence on you, and you might also hurt him since he’s so close to you,” explains Mr Colombo.
(See also: Co-sleeping – The Big Questions)
3. Breast pump & breast pads
If your baby is not nursing well or you need to increase your supply of breast milk, a quality breast pump will come in handy to speed up the process. These aren’t the only uses of a breast pump. New mums who are planning to return to work and wish to continue breastfeeding will need to pack a breast pump. If you think you might run into situations during which you’ll be separated from baby for a couple of hours or if you prefer to offer expressed milk, a breast pump and breast pads are newborn must-haves. Do remember to get disposable breast pads too.
4. Baby bath products
So you’ve got your hands on a infant bathtub. Now you’ll need some non-toxic body wash and baby shampoo to get your little one squeaky clean. There’s a dizzying variety of bath products for babies out there – which should you go for? Keep in mind that the products of your choice should be safe for baby’s delicate skin and should not trigger irritation. Choose products that are free of parabens, phthalates and soap. If it’s within your budget, try an organic range.
5. Sensory development toys
As your infant begins to develop, mental simulation can promote optimum development of her five senses. Sensory stimulation allows for the mastering of the five senses which are crucial for growth and development. Forget the iPad; traditional toys are best for sensory development. Mobiles that come with various shapes, colours, and sounds are great for the stimulation of sight, hearing and even touch. Other toy options for infants include squeaky toys in highly contrasting shades, as well as rattles and soft stuffed animals.
6. Progressive high chair
A progressive high chair can be used from birth to preschool age – talk about value for money! We love the Polly Progress 5-in-1 Multi-chair from Chicco. This highchair starts out as a newborn recliner, transforming into an infant high chair, a toddler booster seat, a big kid booster, and a youth stool as Baby grows. Wow! This full-featured highchair also comes with a wipeable pad, a four-position reclining system, and an eight-position height adjustment. Space-wise, it folds more compactly than any other highchair in its class!
7. Baby clothes
Simple preparation can go a long way when you’re shopping for baby clothes. Newborns can be messy, so you’ll be changing your baby’s clothes several times in a day. Buy outfits that are fuss-free and make sure they open easily for diaper changes. A general rule of thumb is to avoid anything with annoying tags or seams – stick to choosing only soft and comfortable clothing. Many babies will outgrow newborn sizes quickly, so your best bet would be to buy clothing in several sizes.
8. Diapers & diaper cream
Yes, you’ll be going through LOTS of diapers — at least 10 – 12 a day — once Baby arrives. For disposable dispaers, start with small packs from different brands in case certain ones irritate Baby’s skin or don’t fit well. Diaper rash is pretty common. Keep it at bay by slathering on diaper cream to protect Baby’s delicate bottom.
(See also: 8 Common Baby & Child Skin Problems)
9. Mittens & bibs
Newsflash: baby’s nails are as sharp as grownups’ nails. So how do you keep baby from scratching herself in her sleep? Put on some cosy mittens on her little hands, of course. Some particularly active babies might pull off those mittens, so purchase those that come with a two-part closure system to ensure that they stay on. Mittens can also help to keep baby’s hands warm in a cold environment, such as a paediatrician’s waiting room. When Baby’s starting solids, mealtimes will be messy so stock up on bibs. Might as well get those uber-cool bandana style ones to give the kid an early stylo-mylo edge, eh?
10. Baby carrier or wrap
Wearing your baby means that your precious bundle of joy gets to snuggle close to you. Oh, and you’ll also have both your hands freed up to do everything else — especially useful during grocery runs. Before popping Baby into a carrier, ensure that all the straps and harnesses are in good condition and correctly positioned. It would also be a good idea to get one that can be easily washed or cleaned. Baby wraps make for a lighter carrier option during the early months. The fabric is soft on baby’s skin and there aren’t any straps to get in the way. Putting one on might seem daunting at first, but practice makes perfect and Babies tend to be easily lulled to sleep in it so it’s a worthwhile investment.
Here’s a tricky one – to pacify or not to pacify? One school of thought discourages resorting to pacifiers to calm a crying baby. We asked Dr Mary Varughese, Associate Consultant at the Division of General Ambulatory Paediatrics & Adolescent Medicine at National University Hospital, for her opinion. “Some studies show that pacifier use is associated with a reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in young infants. On the other hand, pacifiers may pose a strangling hazard if attached to a cord, and in the early newborn period, they might affect breastfeeding success and cause thrush in the mouth,” she explains. While Dr Varughese agrees that pacifiers are useful in calming a baby, she reminds us that they do not have to be the first resort. Bottom line? If you’d like a pacifier, get one without a cord and make sure you only introduce it to Baby after breastfeeding has been established. This would most likely be beyond the first four to six weeks after birth.
(See also: 10 Ways to Soothe a Crying Newborn)
Wrap your little ones up like a burrito to keep their restless arms and legs from jolting them awake in their sleep. Swaddles also help newborns stay warm and toasty during the first few days of life before their internal thermostats kick in. Swaddles can even help to calm some anxious little ones. If you do choose to swaddle your baby, be sure to educate yourself on the proper way to do it as improper and tight swaddling may loosen baby’s joints. So go easy with the wrapping, okay?
13. Baby nail clipper
No, you should not use adult sized nail clippers on your newborn. They are too big and unsafe for those teeny weeny fingers! And let’s face it – cutting Baby’s nails for the very first time can be a terrifying and nerve-wracking experience. So buy a nail clipper made specially for babies. Oh, and here’s a tip: the best time to clip your bub’s nails is when he’s in the middle of a nap! If your nursery is too dark for you to get a proper glimpse of baby’s nails, invest in nail clippers which come with a built-in light. Yes, these do exist. Welcome to the cool world of parenting gizmos.
14. Milk bottles
If you’re not breastfeeding or if you need to supplement with formula milk, you’ll need milk bottles. But which ones to buy? Some babies will take to any type of bottle while others prefer a specific type of nipple or bottle. Certain types of bottles or nipples can help ease colic and spit-up issues. Overwhelmed? Start off with a modest selection of bottles and nipples and test them out with your bub. It would also help to read reviews and ask friends for their recommended brands. To help breastfed babies switch to the bottle easily, go for special bottles that are designed to mimic the flow and feel of breastfeeding.
(See also: Making Sense of Formula Milk)
15. Diaper bag & changing mat
Diaper bags were invented to help new parents have everything they could possibly need in one place when they’re out on the go. So finding yourself the right diaper bag can help cut down on the potential stress that comes along during a day out with Baby. From a change of clothes and baby wipes to toys and snacks, your diaper bag will hold them all to handle any parenting emergency that comes your way, so pick one that’s right for you! Some diaper bags come with matching changing mats that make diaper changes away from home a breeze for the both of you, so you might want to consider those. One thing’s for sure – they won’t dampen your style.
(See also: Diaper Bags for Fashionista Mums!)
16. Baby bathtub
Generations of babies might have had their routine scrub-downs in a kitchen sink, but do you really want to wash your baby in the same place where you wash raw food? Moreover, there’s now a wide range of plastic and foam bathtubs that can help prop up unsteady newborns, making bath-time easier for new parents. You may also consider buying a contoured bathtub. Though slightly pricier, it’s designed to provide utmost support and comfort your newborn in a wet and slippery environment.
17. Digital baby monitor
Thanks to the wonders of technology, you don’t have to watch over Baby like a hawk when she’s napping. A baby monitor comes with a transmitter and at least one receiver that lets you keep tabs on your little one when you’re in another room. Do note that the transmitter must be near enough the crib to pick up sounds but far enough to ensure that the cord (if there’s one) is out of reach. If your budget allows, consider purchasing a video monitor that will let you see your sweet bundle of joy while he snoozes.
18. Baby thermometer
How will you know if your baby is running a fever? Placing the back of your hand against baby’s forehead alerts you to a possible medical issue but it doesn’t tell you everything. You’ll need an accurate thermometer to do the job. In babies younger than four months old, even a low-grade fever can be a sign of an infection or illness, so a decent thermometer is something new parents shouldn’t skimp on. Add it to your newborn must-haves shopping list!