Expert Advice of the Month:
Baby’s first layette: What do you really need when you become a parent?
Bed? Dummy? Bathtub? Pram? Nappies? When a new member joins the family, the thoughts of the expectant parents revolve around one question: What do we have to do so we are ready for the little miracle and have a good start as a family? Parents expecting their first offspring are often overwhelmed by the flood of information coming their way. Also, large acquisitions are synonymous with lots of money, which is why we want to help dial down the “useless” stuff to a minimum.
For this reason, our expert and midwife Katrin from our German team wrote down what you need for a seamless start with your baby, and where you can scrimp. In today’s experts’ advice, she’s not only sharing a handy checklist, which you can find below, but also giving some valuable advice!
The first thing you should know is that a newborn baby doesn’t need an extensive range of care products. Instead, it needs closeness, physical contact and primary products tailored to its needs. So, it all comes down to you. Just buy what is necessary, wait for the birth and stock up from that point. You should acquire those necessities five weeks prior to the expected birth so that you can relax the last couple of weeks.
Many baby products are used on a short-term basis or have high longevity. These are a great choice, as they allow you to save some money along the way. With car baby seats, though, you should be extra careful and inspect them thoroughly before buying: A used baby car seat should ALWAYS be accident-free and not older than six years. All seats should meet legal requirements too. Another way to cut back on costs is by creating a wishlist for friends and family. This way, you can let them know exactly what you need for the baby. By the way: a gift card for baby carrying consultation is a nice present, too. So is a cloth nappy consultation (if this feels like something you’d like to try) or a breastfeeding consultation with a certified lactation consultant. Besides looking after you during the pregnancy and in the puerperium, your midwife can also give you many other valuable tips.
While our checklist below contains all the useful products for the first few months of your baby’s life, I want to take a closer look at the following sections:
The 4 most essential commodities in the “Sleep” section
- Bedside Crib (1.2-1.4 m or smaller)
- Breathable mattresses with washable cover
- A sleeping bag which fits the size of your baby’s body
- Swaddle Bag
A secure sleeping environment is crucial for the health and development of your baby. That’s why it should sleep with you IN the same room in a bedside cribs for at least the first year or maybe even longer. It is important to note that this does NOT mean your baby should sleep with you in the same bed, as this increases the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Babies grow fast, so get a height-adjustable, 1.20-m cot. This allows you to leave one side of the bed open initially so that it can be attached directly to the parents’ bed at the same height. A breathable mattress with a washable cover and a cotton sheet complete the safe sleeping place for your child. A fitting, temperature-adjusted sleeping bag is equally important. You can find out the right size by applying the following formula: Size of your baby — head length + 10 cm for extra growth. Note that a sleeping bag NEEDS to fit right from the start, and you should not let your baby grow into it. Also, the head opening should not be more significant than the head itself so that the baby cannot sink into the sleeping bag. For the time shortly after birth and whenever your baby is restless, you can use a swaddler to recreate the feeling of narrowness in the womb by giving the baby physical boundaries.
The 5 most essential products in the “Transport” section
- Ergonomic baby car seat
- Ergonomic baby carrier and/or elastic baby wrap
- Ergonomic stroller/buggy
- Ergonomic electric swing or spring cradle
- Ergonomic high chair for dining table
The easiest way to find a baby car seat is by going to a specialised car seat retailer (e.g. Maxi Cosi or Mamas & Papas) and getting counselling regarding ergonomics, weight, security and suitability for your car (not all test winners fit in every car).
Modular Systems based on Isofix are preferable. Beware that a car seat is created solely for the actual transport in the car and is generally not suitable to be carried from your home to the car! Since babies are in a somewhat immobile position in a car seat, it is better to use an ergonomic baby carrier, a baby wrap or a pram to do this kind of transportation. To find a carrying aid suitable for you and your baby, consult a specialised carrying consultant or a midwife with experience in the topic. For the first weeks and months of life, a soft, elastic and cuddly material is a smart choice, as it gives an intimate and comfortable feeling. An ergonomic buggy or stroller is a viable alternative if you cannot carry your baby for physical constraints, hot temperatures, or if you’d like to put the baby down from time to time.
Besides the baby carrier and the stroller, one of the most critical baby products is an electric baby swing. Every new mother knows the feeling: when a newborn baby is around, your life turns upside down. You’re tired; it’s 12 o’clock, and you’re still wearing pyjamas and walking around the house with dishevelled hair; you still need to go grocery shopping, and breakfast is still sitting on the table. Women can be multitasking, but there is only so much we can get done by ourselves. When there is no helping hand within reach, the perfect solution is an electric baby swing. It’s best to choose an ergonomic model that supports the baby’s natural position; the chin doesn’t press on the chest, and the head doesn’t move to the side. When shopping for a baby swing, try it with the baby or check the product review videos online. For additional comfort, choose a compact model that you can quickly move from one room to another.
Also, it is advisable to use a high chair at the dining table right from the start. Many manufacturers now offer dedicated solutions for newborns and babies who can’t sit straight yet — besides the regular high chair. If you can keep your baby at eye level at the table, it will integrate into the family much faster, all the while learning how to sit correctly. Even feeding the baby in this position is a treat to your back!
Print out our handy Baby Essentials List and tick everything off as you go!