Sunday, March 20, 2005

Bringing Home Baby: The Necessities

We would all love to be able to bring our newborn babies home to fully furnished nurseries stocked with all the toys and supplies we could fit into the room. But for many first-time parents, that scenario is just not financially possible. Although it goes without saying that each baby's individual needs may vary, in this article I will tell you which basic items you probably shouldn't try to do without in the first few months after birth. Most everything else can wait.

Transportation
There are laws requiring that children, including newborns, be strapped into car seats when traveling in a motor vehicle. Some hospitals will even send staff members out to inspect your vehicle to make sure you have a car seat installed prior to releasing you. When shopping for a car seat, be sure to buy one designed specifically for infants. Infant car seats are smaller than toddler car seats and offer more support for weaker newborn bodies.

For mobility outside the car, you will also need a stroller with a reclining seat. Newborns cannot sit in an upright position (and shouldn't be propped up for long periods), so the reclining seat is a necessity. Please bear in mind that public carts and strollers found in supermarkets and shopping malls are not suitable for infants. Do not count on using those for your newborn.

Bedding
Newborn babies spend approximately two-thirds of the day sleeping, so you will definitely want to have a comfortable place for your little one to rest. Most babies sleep in cribs or bassinets. New cribs are expensive, and many parents hesitate at spending so much money on a piece of furniture that will be used for such a short time. Buying a second-hand crib is a reasonable option that will certainly save money. A bassinet is cheaper than a crib, but will be outgrown sooner.

As an alternative, you might want to consider purchasing a playpen. Playpens these days often come as "combination" models, with both bassinet and changing table attachments in addition to the play area. Once your baby outgrows the bassinet, it can be removed and you can still get a lot of mileage out of the playpen. The removable changing table, with sloping sides and a safety strap, is also a very handy piece that can be used for a long time. Most playpens are portable, which is great for giving your baby a sense of home when you are on the road.

Regardless of whether you choose a crib or a bassinet, you will need to equip your baby's sleeping area with proper bedding materials. A firm mattress and properly sized sheets are a must for safety as well as comfort. Seasonally appropriate blankets are necessary, too.

Clothing and Diapers
Newborns go through a lot of clothes in one day because they spit up quite a bit. As a general rule of thumb, you should plan on having at least four clean outfits available per day for each day of your laundry cycle. For example, if you do laundry twice a week, you will need to have about 12 or 16 outfits in order for your baby to get through the three- or four-day period between washings.

Newborn clothing does not have to be fancy. Your baby's first wardrobe should consist mostly of one-piece bodysuits, bibs, several pairs of socks, some sleepwear, and seasonally appropriate outerwear, including hats and caps.

Diapers, along with wipes and baby powder, are another essential part of a newborn's first months at home. Be prepared to change your baby's diapers every 2-4 hours throughout the day and night. Whether you choose disposable or cloth diapers, you should budget accordingly and make sure you always have plenty of new diapers on hand to keep your baby clean, dry, and comfortable.

Bottles
If you plan to give your newborn formula, you will need to have several baby bottles, plus nipples and caps, available for daily use. You can definitely get by with two or three bottles, as that number gives you time to sterilize between feedings. Realistically speaking, however, you will soon get tired of having to sterilize bottles immediately after using them. Therefore, you should probably have six or eight bottles, which will be enough to get your baby through an entire day of feedings. Even if you plan to breastfeed, you will still need to have bottles (although you can get by with fewer) for those times when you use a pump.

Miscellaneous
In addition to the above-mentioned items, I recommend that you purchase:
  • A baby bathtub with a contoured seat area. Baby bathtubs can fit inside a large sink and are designed to help you hold your infant in place more easily. This will make bath time less stressful for you, and safer for baby.
  • A comprehensive baby reference book. There are many excellent reference books on the market, so spend some time browsing through them and choose one that looks appealing to you. A good reference book tells you which developmental signs to look for in your newborn at different stages of infancy. The book might also describe common problems you may encounter with your baby, such as colic, and give suggestions for dealing with those problems. This will be an invaluable tool for inexperienced parents.
The first few months at home with a new baby can be overwhelming enough for first-time parents without having to worry about being able to afford all the latest "must have" gadgets and equipment. The truth of the matter is that you can raise a perfectly healthy and happy baby with just a few basic necessities.

1 comment:

My Urban Child said...

parents always concerns about there child's safety and Comfort:in choosing Toddler Car Seats Your baby will enjoy a more comfortable ride if you buy a well-padded seat with plenty of head and back support. Just make sure he can move his arms freely and check out the view.