In Part 1 I talked about ten things you don’t need to care for a baby. Here’s ten things that are worth buying:
1. Muslin wraps, but the wraps sold in the stores will be too small once baby is a few months old. You can make your own by getting a length of muslin and sewing the edges so it doesn’t fray. Two metres by one metre is a good size. Or, you can simply use a non-fitted cot sheet. They are about the right dimensions.
2. Trusted brand of wipes and nappy rash cream. When you find a good product, stick to it. Work out the cost per unit and stock up when you see it on special. Changing brands too much costs money. I think generic brand disposable nappies are fine, but cheap baby wipes can graze the skin. I use a simple zinc cream to prevent nappy rash. It’s a magic substance that heals skin instantly: I’d buy it by the kilo if I could. Disposable nappies are a good baby shower gift, as they really add to the cost of having a baby. Even parents who are using cloth nappies will need to use them occasionally.
3. Fragrance-free liquid wash. I use the same product as a hand-wash, face-wash and bubble bath. I even use it to wash the kids’ hair from time to time, because from what I can gather, all these products use the same ingredient, SLS, or a derivative of it. I buy it buy the litre and put it in a pump container.
4. Thank-you notes. Hopefully, you’ll be overwhelmed with offers of help once baby arrives. Going out on quick errands is very difficult with a newborn baby, so it’s best to buy a stack of thank-you notes and a book of stamps beforehand.
5. One-sentence-a-day journal. I found scrapbooking and keeping a traditional baby journal incredibly difficult with young children in the house. But this kind of journal is far less intimidating and I wish I’d started one sooner. Gretchen Rubin has one specifically for mothers, kikki.K makes a more generic one, and here is a nice one I found on Amazon.
6. High chair. Some high chairs have lots of nooks and crevices where food can get stuck. This makes them really hard to clean. But the Antilop chair from Ikea has a simple design which is stackable. You can pull them apart and they will fit in the back of the car, but as they aren’t expensive we bought some to keep at the grandparents’ houses too. One thing I like about them is that if you remove the tray table, baby can sit right at the dining table and learn to eat with the family.
7. A good video and still camera. When we started a family, we upgraded our phones and asked our parents to do the same so we could send them photos easily. We also bought a video camera which we used with our oldest child. But these days, we find the iPhone 5 takes good quality video and stills, and is a lot less hassle than using the camera (and lugging it around). Now my only problem is what to do with all those photos!
8. Vapouriser. When kids get sick, it’s stressful for everyone, so look after your own health too so you can get the little ones well again. A vapouriser helps if you use it at the first sign of a cough. Wait until you need it before buying one, as they are pricey. Most chemists sell them, or maybe you can share one with a friend. You don’t need to buy the eucalyptus drops to put in the water- they just stain the walls and ceiling. Buy the quietest one you can find. Also, saline drops in the nose, given through a special pipette, are far more effective on runny noses than dangerous antibiotics.
9. Classical music calms everyone down, but you don’t need to buy a special baby sleep CD. Our kids liked ABC Classic FM and Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunipingu.
10. A well-designed pram/pusher. This is one of the most important purchases you’ll make, as you’ll use it almost every day. For our youngest child we bought a travel system with a car capsule that converted to a pram and then a pusher. It was a big investment, but after buying the wrong kind of pram initially we knew exactly what we wanted: a pram/pusher that would see the child through from birth to the toddler years and beyond. It’s light enough for me to lift into the car and slim enough to manoeuvre round a crowded café. Four-wheeled pushers are easier to push than three-wheeled pushers. Here is a link for a Choice report which reviews 128 different models. The picture shows the exact two pushers we have in our understair cupboard. We have found both models (Baby Jogger City Mini and Vogue Cruz travel system) to be easy to use, carry and assemble/disassemble. The only thing I don’t like about the Baby Jogger is that you can’t fit a kid seat on the back for an older child to catch a ride on. This is what has worked for us, but it might be a good idea to wait until after the birth before buying your pram. See if you can borrow one, or buy a cheap second-hand one to use until you know exactly what will suit you and your lifestyle. If you make the wrong purchase, you’ll curse your pusher every time you use it. We also used our baby sling daily in the early months.
One other thing: people make fun of the ‘soccer mums in their SUVs’ but I must say that buying a small, all-wheel drive ‘soft roader’ was a good investment for our young family. It’s still fuel efficient, especially since we gave up our second car. It’s easier to put children in their child seats than with a sedan, and we can store all our gear safely behind the cargo barrier. And our car actually has been off-road! Children have to use booster seats for seven years, so a practical car like this is worth thinking about. You can see a picture of our car in this post about how to survive a family road trip.
So what baby items have you found are worth the money?