I am very much a believer in “what I don’t know could fill a book” so I would love to literally fill a book with the things I’ve learned since having Charly… But, since I can barely get to the things on my current “To Do” list, a series of blog posts put together on my cell phone as I feed her will have to suffice. Everybody thinks they know what they need for their new baby, most things can wait until quite a while after birth.
As you all know by now, I am a lady of lists and I used those lists to stay relatively sane in the run up to having my baby girl. I was recently asked by one of my favourite people from University what I considered to be the “must have” items she would need for her first baby. I had a list for this; one I had created two years ago when my best friend fell pregnant that I had updated when my sister fell pregnant and then again in my pregnancy. When I looked at it before sending it, I realised how much of it was unnecessary or hadn’t worked for me and so I updated once again, adding notes as I went.
As I did this, I started viewing it as a blog post and so now I am updating it once more for all the soon-to-be mommies out there. What makes this list different to all the others I’ve stumbled across is that it is purely from my experience or what I have learned from new mommy friends and none of the brands I mention are paying me (though looking at this list now Baby City, Babygroup and TAKEALOT.com should be!). So it is important to remember this is totally subjective and every mommy you meet will have their own version of it, probably directly contradicting mine. Every baby really is different and what works like a charm for one will send another over the edge of hysteria. I hope this helps all the same.
Campcot with changetable – This is the best thing we own. You could probably survive without any other big buys until baby is older. My in-laws got us the gorgeous Chicco Lullaby Magic from Baby City; but you can also find really this one and other good ones on TAKEALOT.com and Babygroup.co.za. I was in love with the Chelino 6-in-1 cot before we were gifted ours.
Campcot mattress – I was surprised at how reasonably priced a quality baby-safe mattress was from Baby City.
Sleep Positioner – I have one that is 2 wedges attached using velcro, so it is easy to adjust as they grow. Babies should sleep on their side only, preferably alternating sides after each feed.
Burp cloths / towelling nappies – Charly is a very sicky baby, she spits up loads and I have about 25/30 towelling nappies that I send to the laundromat twice a week.
Fitted wedge pillow – also from Baby City, especially for reflux. In my experience it works brilliantly; I have one for Charly’s campcot and for her changing table.
Fitted waterproof sheet – Baby City has really nice ones that are soft but waterproof. With this kind of item I would recommend at least 2, so if one is in the wash you have a spare.
Mosquito net – I would definitely recommend buying one of these ASAP if you are due in Summer; Charly was eaten alive the first 2 weeks she was home and everyone was sold out because of the season.
Night light – A low light for nighttime changes and breastfeeding without waking baby (or hubby) completely. I had ordered a great 2-headed floor lamp with dimmer switches which never arrived. I was using my bedside lamp which was awful, waking the whole family completely at every feed. I eventually discovered a way to use the torch on my iPhone, positioned with the flip cover that works for us.
U-shaped maternity pillow – Baby City had them. The maternity one is the best thing I bought; I used it for back support on the couch, belly support when I slept, and I still use it for breastfeeding and it supports Charly when she sits.
Nappies – Huggies New Baby or Pampers Premium Care. Every baby is different, but these are the 2 top brands and least likely to give rashes. Buy only a couple of packs of the small sizes; Charly is 21 weeks and already on size 3 of the PPC. Most Baby City’s will allow you to swap unopened nappies, which is particularly useful if you have the situation like ours where Charly could only use the Huggies New Baby until she was 3 months old and now can only use the Pampers Premium Care.
Wetwipes – Charly reacted terribly to all the Huggies wipes; the Pampers Premium Care gave no rash but I found them very wet. The only wipes she has had no reaction to are the Dischem BabyThings brand even though they are aloe lanolin wipes; they are super soft, lovely smelling and much cheaper than name brands.
Bottles – Medela Calma bottle; I got mine from TAKEALOT.com. It is expensive, but prevents nipple confusion if breastfeeding; it has a special design that makes baby use the same sucking motion as breastfeeding to get milk. Start giving expressed milk in a bottle no later than 6 weeks or you might struggle to get them to take a bottle at all.
Bottle steriliser – My sister and I have both used the Nuk microwave one and found it works really well; you just put a tiny bit of water in the bottom and 5 minutes in the microwave later you have sterilised bottles.
Dummy steriliser – The Clevamama was the one thing my sister says she couldn’t have lived without and she bought me one too. A tiny bit of water and 1 minute in the microwave and it’s done. I also use mine to sterilise the syringes I use for colic mixture.
Baby bath – with stand. I got mine on TAKEALOT and it is specially molded for baby. It was great when she was little, but the molded shapes are all just in the way now. So essentially we have only got 6 months use out of it. The value to me is the stand means you don’t have to struggle to bend over a bath or basin. Many people bath baby in the big bath with them; the only reason I don’t is bathtime is the only 100% me time I get.
Washcloths – You should use a fresh one at every bathtime. Anything that can hold the dirty bath water, including bath toys that don’t have proper seals to keep water out, carry an immense number of bacteria. The words that sold be on this are “human body soup” – ick. Better safe than sorry.
Pram – If you buy a travel system with car seat and pram, be sure to check the materials they are made of (not easy to do online!) I bought mine online and found it a little too hard for my liking; but it is a personal preference thing. A lot of moms prefer the slightly firmer materials as they are easier to wipe clean.
Car seat – Always choose an infant specific car seat as opposed to a 0 – 36kgs one!!! A seat fit for a toddler is NOT a good fit for a baby. Baby car seats MUST be rear-facing. This can be extremely hard for moms with babies that don’t like the car. Something I invested in that seems to have helped – a mirror that allows me to see her and her to see me.
Baby Sleeping Bag – Safer than sleeping with blankets. Keep in mind there are Winter and Summer versions, so make sure you get the right one for the size. Parental Instinct makes an amazing mosquito repellant one too!
Receiving blankets and swaddling blankets – I have dozens of blankets of different materials and sizes and I use them for everything.
Diaper / outing bag – I got one from Dischem; one from Brett as a Christmas gift and one from the hospital. Thus far, we have only used the hospital bag as it is just the right size for everything we own to fit into; I’m hoping to change over to the more stylish one from Brett soon. Keep in mind moms, this becomes your handbag too, so you might want to treat yourself to a nice one.
Dummies – Nuk or Avent. Not all babies take to dummies; Charly hasn’t taken one since she came from the hospital even though I have tried repeatedly. *Update, from the time I tried to wean her, she has been suing a dummy and now at 3, I can’t get her to give it up The only ones she uses are the Avent.
Formula – I would recommend buying a small tin of hypoallergenic formula in case of emergency. If for any reason you can’t get baby to feed at 3am, you will be so glad you have something you can cup/syringe feed.
Medical and Toiletry kit – Digital thermometer, nasal aspirator, blunt-ended scissors (use instead of clippers, less likely to cut baby fingers or toes), medicine dropper/syringes, surgical spirits, Infant Panado Drops (Pain and Fever: make sure you have this on hand for after vaccinations), something for teething (we have tried Teejel, Prodol, Pansoral and Ashton & Parsons), Saline nasal spray (I use Sterimar), Bennetts Colic Mixture (I tried Telament drops, Gripe water, Buscopan and Gaviscon; Bennetts has been the best by far for Charly).
Hair brush and fine tooth comb – These often come in the medical kits.
Cotton wool/ cotton pads (I prefer the pads as the wool often comes apart), Cotton ear buds (get 1 box of the special baby ones, you will use it to clean the belly button with surgical spirits).
Elizabeth Anne’s baby products – This is a preference thing again; I adore this range. My favourite is the shampoo which can be used to wash hair and body.
Oh Lief products – For very sensitive skin, Wellness Warehouse stocks it and you can buy it online.
Bum cream: Vaseline unless baby gets a rash; use loads more than you would think you need. Sudocrem seems to be the best for standard rashes. If baby gets a severe rash, check with your pharmacist, they often make up special creams.
** You should try to avoid baby powder when baby is very little as it can cause serious damage to the lungs. I started using it from when she was about 3 months, putting it on my hands far away from her and rubbing them together before approaching her and rubbing over her body after her bath.
I will only be moving Charly into her nursery in Summer. Most of the moms I know aim for 6 months, so often the heavy cost items below can wait til then if that is your plan.
Duvet inners, covers, pillow
Changetable mattress – For changing baby on hard surfaces.
*2017 update: I never used her cot, compactum, duvet or pillows. I think she slept in her cot 4 or 5 times at most. At 3 years old, we still use the campcot to change her and we use it for her to sleep in if she is very sick and i want her close to me and when we went away.
Babygrows – Machine washable, anti-pill. I suggest checking that the buttons go all the way down both legs, my experience has been that it’s a nightmare to get the one-leg ones on and off a squirmy baby, especially at night!
Vests – Remember that baby needs 1 layer more than you need to be warm at all times.
Bibs – Lots, preferably with buttons as opposed to velcro as the velcro can be scratchy. These will save you having to change babygrows constantly because of sick or drool.
Booties/socks – Charly has only used 1 pair of socks since she was born, but I often dress her in 2 babygrows.
Hats – Baby’s lose a lot of heat from their heads and cannot regulate their own body temperatures, so it is useful to have a few of these even when the weather is warm.
Mittens – These are to stop babies from scratching themselves; their nails grow so fast and are insanely sharp.
For Babyshower gift suggestions, add the season your baby will be wearing different sizes, it helps people to shop. i.e. Summer 1-3 months, Winter 3-6 months, etc.
Newborn Size: you need a few of these outfits; depending on baby’s size they move to the 0/1-3 month size at about 1 month.
Breastpads – The best I have found are the Pigeon brand; and I have tried all of them. You will be horrified by how many of these you use. You should technically change them at every feed at least, as leaving them damp can cause infection leading to mastitis – which I had and you do NOT want. Better safe than sorry.
Breastpump: Tommee Tippee electric. It’s a great pump, very gentle and easy to take apart to clean. It also comes with it’s own microwave streriliser which doubles as a storage box.
Maternity Pads – The post pregnancy bleeding lasts approximately 6 weeks for most people. It can be quite bad the first 3 weeks, but then it is like a normal period. The maternity pads are far more comfortable than regular pads and you can’t use tampons at all for this bleeding.
Nipple Cream – The sisters at the hospital recommended Bepanthan, which is also a baby bum cream. It is expensive; but it works very well. Start using the cream after every feed from the very first feed. Cracked nipples are VERY common in the first week while you and baby are trying to learn how to latch properly and it is crazy sore.
Feeding Bras – Try get a feeding bra for every day. Woolies sells great 2 packs that are comfy. You wear bras 24/7 from the day you start feeding, so comfy ones you can sleep in are a must. Also your breasts may leak through the breast pads and breastmilk smells awful. This mommy stuff is NOT glamorous.
Breastfeeding tops – Cherry Melon sells great maternity tops that are also breastfeeding friendly. If you invest in maternity wear, try find items that you will be able to feed with after. That way the investment is well worth it.
Disposable Panties – I preferred cotton \”granny\” panties from Woolies. The disposable panties are gauze material (and expensive) and can often cause a rash in Summer.
Baby swing – Some people swear by these (my sister included). Charly hated hers so it was a terrible waste of money for us.
Baby Wrap Carrier – Again, a highly recommended item that most babies adore and most of the mommies I know could not live without. It makes baby feel safe and close to you while allowing you to use your hands (you will not believe what a luxury that becomes ;)). Most of my mommy friends could only get their babies to sleep in the day using these.
Playmat – This is a big, but very worthwhile, investment; they are bright coloured and are great for teaching baby reaching skills, as well as for making tummy time (which most babies hate at first) fun for them.
Sophie the Giraffe teething toy – This is the most extravagant gift I got Charly, but also a great investment. From tiny Charly just \”got\” that it was a teething toy; she also found it easy to hold and chatters to it non-stop and it has been a god-send since she started actually teething.
Comforter / Security blanket – I only invested in one of these recently, which I regret. Charly is now attached to the ratty towelling nappies I use as burp cloths which are very big, so I don’t like to let her keep them when she sleeps. She seems to be getting there now with her Sophie comforter, but I would recommend getting baby something safe earlier so they have an appropriate self-soothing object.
Books – Plastic, cloth and cardboard small books. Keep an eye out for specials as these are crazy expensive and you will need them earlier than you might think.
Mommies, if you think of anything I’ve left off here, please let me know! I would love this to be as complete as possible for our soon-to-be-mommies. X
*This post was adapted in 2015 and can be found here.