Infant Care: Necessities and Extras
So you are expecting a little one soon? Congratulations! You’re soon to discover one of the great ironies of life—that something so little can require so much stuff! It can be a bit overwhelming, but this guide is designed to help you narrow down what you may need to welcome home your newest addition. This guide is only designed to provide information on the things you’ll need in the first few weeks after your baby is born. To learn more about things you will need after the first weeks, we suggest you check with other parents to see what has worked for them. It’s always best to use other’s experiences when possible. Let’s get started! We’ll divide things into necessities and extras.
First of all, your baby needs something to wear.
One of the key items your baby will wear is a bodysuit that snaps in the crotch, often called a “onesie”. You’ll want plenty of these as they will be a staple of your baby’s wardrobe for a while. Depending on how often you do laundry, you’ll probably want 1-2 per day. So if you do laundry once per week, you’ll want to have 11 to 14 on hand. If for some reason your baby does not like things that go over its head, which a lot of babies do not, you may want to get some shirts or onesies that snap or tie on the side instead of being pulled over the head. The onesie generally doesn’t have legs, so you will also need some soft comfy pants to go keep your baby’s legs warm. Because you will probably be changing the onesie as often as the pants, you’ll probably want the same amount of pants as onesies. To keep baby’s feet warm, you’ll need socks and booties. Get tons of these. (If you think your adult socks disappear into the dryer’s black hole, just wait until you try to keep up with these tiny things! A great tip to keep them from disappearing is to keep a lingerie bag handy and toss the dirty socks in there so they all get washed together.) For sleep time, we suggest getting footed pajamas or at least pajamas with legs. One change per day with a spare is probably sufficient. For feeding time, you will need bibs and burp cloths. Until your little one’s tummy starts to mature count on using 2-3 bibs or cloths per day.
To bring your little one home from the hospital, you may want a special take-home outfit that will be photogenic. Depending on the weather, you may also want a couple of sweaters and knit caps. If you have the budget for it, go ahead a get a few fancy outfits for showing off your baby. Remember though that newborn babies grow rapidly and each outfit may get worn only once before it’s outgrown. Also, to keep your baby from scratching itself, you may want to invest in some mittens to put on your baby’s hands after you cut its nails. Depending on your family’s faith tradition, you may want to get a christening, dedication, or other ceremonial gown to help welcome baby home.
Getting your baby home
Most states now require a carseat while transporting infants and children. You will need a rear-facing infant car seat. These are often available in a combo with a stroller and snap into a base. As these seats are designed for a range of infant sizes, make sure that your baby is secure in the seat, even if that means adding some padding around your child’s head to prevent him from tipping from side to side. Most likely the hospital staff will not release your baby until they are satisfied the child is fastened in the seat correctly and the seat is correctly seated in your car.
If the weather is cold you may want a car seat cover to keep your baby warm. You may also want a mobile or toy of some sort.
Next, your baby will need a place to sleep. Let’s set up the nursery!
Unless you are planning on cosleeping, you will need a crib and its ancillary items, such as a crib mattress, mattress pads (we recommend two so that one can be on the bed and the other in the wash), and crib sheets (3-4). Make sure that you get a fairly new crib, as older models often don’t meet up-to-date safety requirements. To keep baby secure and warm, you’ll want to have 3-4 adequately sized receiving blankets. (Get someone at the hospital or a relative to show you how to wrap your baby. We affectionately call this wrap the baby burrito.)
You will also need a dresser and/or a changing table. This is a back saver. With as many diapers as you will be changing in the first few years of your baby’s life, you will appreciate this item. There are many styles on the market now that are combinations that have a removable changing table top with a dresser beneath. You will also need a changing pad to go on the changing table, along changing pad covers. We recommend at least two pad covers.
To keep things tidy you will want a clothes hamper and shelves and bins for books and toys.
Let’s admit it. A baby’s room should be a fun and stimulating space. So, as your budget allows, consider adding things to make your little one’s small new world a lot more enjoyable for you and baby. There are multitudes of nursery items on the market, and there is something to fit almost every budget.
To make rocking your baby back to sleep, you may want to consider a glider or a rocking chair. A glider is like a rocking chair, except that instead of rockers that move back and forth on the floor, the bottom stays stationary and the chair is suspended on rails from the base. The glider is therefore quiet and smooth. If you choose this option, you may want to consider a matching glider ottoman. For the fashion conscious, a glider is simply not as attractive as a traditional rocking chair. The only drawbacks to a rocking chair are that they can squeak and the rockers can possibly be a safety hazard for little toes and fingers.
To make reading to your baby easier, and to find your way around in the night, you will want a lamp or at least a night light. For the lamp, make sure you get one with a fairly dense shade so that the light is not so bright that is wakes up your baby when you turn it on. Speaking of light, if your baby’s room has a window, you may want to consider a light dampening shade to help your baby nap. For safety reasons, don’t hang blinds in an infant’s nursery. To dress things up, you may want to hang a valance or some festive, washable curtains.
For the closet, you may want to purchase a hanging organizer or some other type of removable closet shelving. Your baby’s clothes are short! With the right equipment, you can hang more than one layer of clothes from a bar. Remember too that you may want to get some infant clothes hangers. The hangers in your closet are way too big for that cute baby outfit.
To dress things up, you may want to consider getting a crib bedding set. Many designers today make a lot of matching accessories to help pull together the room. There may be artwork, rugs, light switch plates, valances or curtains, and lamps or lampshades, just to name a few items.
Taking Care of Baby
Let’s face it, babies are high maintenance. Here are some items that are necessary for the proper feeding and care of you new little one.
If you are planning to breastfeed, you will need several items. First of all you will need at least one box of disposable breast pads or six to eight washable breast pads. You’ll also want several nursing bras along with nursing tops and pajamas. Although not an absolute necessity, an incredibly useful item is a nursing pillow, such as a Boppy, on which baby can rest while nursing. This can be an incredible arm saver and will allow you to enjoy bonding with your baby in this special way and not have to work so hard holding them. Also, just in case, you will want to have some Lanolin lotion on hand to sooth sore nipples. Also, to allow for more extended time away from your baby, you will want a breast pump with the ancillary bottles and accessories. If you plan to mainly bottle feed, you will need 8-12 bottles, newborn nipples, a bottle brush and drying rack, and of course a good supply of a high quality formula.
To help keep your baby clean you will need a baby bathtub that will either fit in your kitchen sink or in the adult bathtub. To go along with this you’ll need five or six soft washcloths and some baby soap or shampoo. Baby soaps are ph-balanced to prevent stinging your baby’s eyes. You’ll also need a couple of hooded towels to keep the little one warm while drying off. Also, you’ll need alcohol and cotton swaps to care for the umbilical stump until it falls off.
To keep baby clean and dry you will need lots of diapering supplies on hand. As a rule of thumb so that you don’t have to run out often for diapers, you’ll want to have eight to twelve infant diapers a day available. Stock up! You definitely don’t want to run out! (If you are planning on stocking up, just make sure you hold onto the receipt and don’t open packages until you are ready to use. Babies grow fast and you don’t want to get stuck with new packs of diapers you can’t use.) You’ll also need baby wipes (including a travel size container), diaper rash ointment, a diaper bag, and something to dispose of the diapers in. At a minimum you will want gallon sized zip-top plastic bags to keep down on odor.
Check with your pediatrician about specifics, but at a minimum you will want to have on hand some infant pain reliever and fever reducer. You’ll also need a thermometer of some type. There are lots of choices available today including, rectal, digital ear, and temporal (Do not get an oral thermometer for an infant). To keep your baby’s nails trimmed you’ll need infant sized nail clippers. Also, to help remove mucus, get a bulb syringe.
Here are some extras that, although not necessary to caring for an infant, may make life easier and more enjoyable. If your baby has lots of hair, you may want a small, low powered hair dryer with warm and cool temperature settings to help dry the hair. This can help prevent tangles and keep the baby from getting chilled. You may also want a soft hair brush designed for babies and children.
If you find that diaper odors are a little bit over-powering for you, you may want to purchase an air-tight diaper pail. As a reminder, these containers often require special sized bags that are only available from the manufacturer.
To keep baby occupied during bath time, you may also want some simple, soft, mouth-safe bath toys that are easy to clean.
Babies are only babies once. As a new parent, you’ll want to remember all of those special moments along the way. All of these items are optional but purchase what you can afford. You and your child will appreciate the effort you went through to capture this time in their life. At a minimum you will probably want a decent quality digital camera. Baby’s move around a lot and will not stand still to pose for you! Digital will allow you to see what you just shot to see if you are satisfied with the results. If you can afford it, get a video camera also. After you take all of the pictures, you’ll need a scrapbook or a photo album to store the pictures. You might also want some nice or cute picture frames to show off those special photos. To keep up with memories you may choose to keep a journal or write down your memories on a special 13-month baby calendar. These often have stickers to help commemorate baby’s first steps, first bath, first tooth, first solid meal, etc. To keep all of those special keepsakes, such as the hospital bracelet or first haircut curls, you may want to get a special storage box. You may also enjoy a personalized item such as a blanket or toy.
No matter what items you choose to use, enjoy your baby and those special times you will share. Remember, they’re only little once.