Ok, so I think I’d like to back up a bit from the time frame of my last post, where I recounted how we two gay dudes had just brought our first newborn home. See, there’s a bit of prep work that went into getting our home set up as a baby-friendly zone. In doing this ourselves, we discovered the mysterious inverse relationship between the age of an infant, and the volume of ‘stuff ‘ needed to support said small human.
I’ll use this post as a way to flesh out exactly what I mean by ‘stuff ‘. And yes, this has been done before in many other blogs/sites. But do you know what? Each and every other ‘list of stuff you need for your newborn’ that I’ve come across has been written from a woman’s perspective. So, this will (hopefully) be a bit of a fresh look at “The List”.
What You Need for a Brand New Baby (ie: younger that say, three months old)
I’ve broken this list down into categories sorta based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I’ll talk about needs, wants, not-yets, and the useless ‘stuff’, and then order each item within the categories according to importance or relevance. Yes, I’m anal when it comes to lists. I find lists comforting (please just nod like you appreciate where I’m coming from and read on, ok?).
1) Things You Really Need to Get
Infant Carseat: this is number one on my list, because if you don’t have this, you ain’t takin’ your little guy home! Hospitals won’t let you leave unless you arrive with one in hand. Any brand or model you find will (well, should!) meet the safety standards of your country or region, so really, it comes down to personal choice. Some carseats are designed to combine with a stroller (they usually are sold together), so if you think you’ll use a stroller, this variety might be for you (it wasn’t for us; we rarely used a stroller).
Bottles: even if you guys are bringing home an older infant (upwards of 18mths), you’ll still need some of these. They come in different sizes (most commonly small (4oz) and large (8oz)); the small ones are more useful at first, but quickly become useless once your voracious drinker wants a full bottle. We bought a mix of sizes for son #1, but have exclusively used the 8oz size for son #2.
*glass vs. plastic? New plastic bottles are supposed to be BPA free (there was a scare a few years ago about plastic bottles); however, we use glass because all the hype about plastic bottles still has us wary of them, plus I really just like the feel of glass.
Formula: start with some ready-serve formula for the first day or so, until you see how your routine is establishing itself, then switch to the powdered version of the SAME brand, and start mixing! There’s an old wives’ tale about how babies reject the first type of formula they try, so you should buy your second choice first. We did not have that problem with either of our two boys (strangely enough, we didn’t have problems with ANY of the old wives’ tales we were told…). I won’t endorse any particular brand here (cuz I ain’t gettin’ paid to do so), and they are all supposed to be nutritionally equal… but hey – you get what you pay for, right?
If they are all out of fillet mignon-flavour, this should be an adequate substitute.
Somewhere for Baby to Sleep: babies can and will sleep almost anywhere. That being said, if you are doing a public adoption (like hubby and I did), your social workers will want to see that you have a bed set up exclusively for your new small human. Our local public health agency does not support ‘family beds’ (where you, your significant other and baby all sleep together); nor do I. I have a hard enough time sleeping with hubby rolling all over the place all night long, without having to worry about another body getting in the way of my beauty sleep. So what are your other options? Bassinet (he’ll outgrow this quickly!), or crib. We chose the latter for our first son, buying something called a convertible crib. No, it doesn’t have a retractable roof – it converted into a big-boy-bed when he got old enough to want to get out of bed himself, and can convert into a double bed when he’s outgrown this stage. If you go for a crib, don’t forget to pick up a baby mattress, along with some fitted baby mattress sheets, and a plastic sheet to go between them and the mattress.
- Disposable or Re-useable: you know what? Just make your life easy – start with disposable diapers. After a few months, when you can think rationally again, look into re-useable ones. Son #1 uses a re-useable diaper for his afternoon nap, and a disposable diaper at night (we found having a re-usable diaper on all-night-long is too hard on his skin).
- What Size to Buy: if you guys are bringing home a newborn, you probably want to get one (ONE) regular pack of ‘newborn’ sized diapers (usually marked with an ‘n’ on the box). Your little dude is likely to grow quickly – he might even be ready for size ‘1’ by the time you finish the newborn pack. At that stage, you are probably ok to buy a bigger box (which saves a bit of cash, and the odd trip to the store).
- What Brand to Use: pick one and see if your little squirter does well in them (by ‘well’, I mean does he break out in pussy rashes and angry pimples one hour after you put the diaper on?). We’ve only ever tried Pampers, with 100% success. Like formula, I’m not sure that diapers are something you want to skimp on… I suggest you be wary of no-name or store brands.
Onesies: The workdress of an infant. Comes in two styles: short-sleeved-short-legged, and long-sleeved-long-legged. Half a dozen of each should do (why so few? Because you’ll likely be getting a whole bunch more as gifts from friends and family). Oh, and hey: the fewer buttons the better. Some crazy little outfits come with flaps and double breasts with snaps here, buttons there and ties for good measure. Just go for simple one-row button-ups or (better yet) zippers; when it’s 2-am, you’re all thumbs, and you’re trying to get him back into his clothes after a particularly messy diaper change… well, you’ll thank me.
Short onesie & long onesie
Socks & Hats: You only need a couple of each of these. There will be mornings that are too warm for a long onesie, but a bit too chilly for bare baby feet. And when you’re headed outside for a walk on a cloudy, windy day, a hat will keep his little bald head warm.
*The rule of thumb for dressing your little tyke: consider how much you are wearing, and add one layer for him. No more. Over-dressing an infant may have a link to sids.
Diaper Rash Cream: every baby gets diaper rash. Some worse than others. I’ve got a whole rant coming in another post about diaper rash… In short, I believe the best way to treat diaper rash is to REMOVE THE DIAPER ! Failing that, it’s not bad to have some of this cream around, because – yeah – I know: there are times when a non-diapered baby is a non-option.
Blankies (adult spelling = blankets): you need a few knitted or fleece blankets for when your little dude is in the car seat, or to cover him and you when you are both a little sleepy after a feeding in your comfy chair (aaahhh! cuddle time with your satiated baby = daddy bliss).
Burp cloths: Ok – so you don’t NEED these, provided you have an equal number of shirts to the number of feedings you do per week (roughly 40, for the first while). Otherwise, get a dozen of these. Little secret => get a pack or two of Gerber ‘cloth diapers’, which are just large squares of extra absorbent cloth; fold one in half and throw over your shoulder = perfect burp cloth. They also come in handy for swaddling (ah, swaddling! I’m going to dedicate another post to the wonder and joy of the swaddle).
Baby Carrier: aka baby sling or baby wrap. Essentially, a device to fasten your baby to your chest. We used this in place of a stroller almost without exception. The type we used was a Snugli carrier; I’m not specifically endorsing this brand; it was simply the first and only one we tried. With complete success 😉 .
Better bonding opportunities than with a stroller!
Baby 1st Aid / Toiletry Kit: Some of this stuff can be found in your home already (see next category below), but a few things are exclusive to little humans, such as: baby nail clippers, baby pain killer, baby thermometer, baby turkey baster (yeah… we never actually used this, but it’s supposed to suck boogies out of your little squirmer’s nose…)
and the final thing you guys will need…
Quick Meals for the Two of You: for at least one week. Because the last thing either of you want to think about is cooking a meal from scratch, or even go out for take-out. Think frozen pizzas, frozen meat pies, frozen lasagnas, fresh pasta, frozen heat-and-serve fish meals, etc., etc. Or hey – got a caterer friend? Get them to drop a bunch of fresh meals off at your place.
Or invite one of your mothers to stay with you for a bit. <=nah. Not worth it, in the long run. Trust me 😦
2) Things You Can Cobble Together from Stuff You Already Have
Not everything has to be shiny and new for your little guy – he won’t notice if a thing or two looks recycled, and you’ll save yourselves a bit of cash. Root around in that medicine cabinet for stuff that’s been there for eight years (Vaseline doesn’t go bad). Feel good about re-using something that was just sitting in the garage, collecting
mice feces dust. Discover a use for something that was destined for the curb.
Diaper Bag: an essential piece of baby-kit, though not essential to be a designer model. Pretty much any ol’ bag will do (a knap sack, a small suitcase, etc.) We use a medium-sized gym bag with end pockets, and a few internal pockets. It doesn’t have to get fancier than that. Oh wait – you’re asking “what’s a diaper bag?!” Good question. Scroll to the bottom of part 2 of this post for the Diaper Bag Primer.
It’s up to you, dads. YOU’RE the ones who have to carry it.
Diaper Pail: if you intend to use re-useable diapers (we use a mix of re-useable and disposable), you’ll need somewhere other than your normal laundry hamper to drop these puppies. We use a big ice cream tub beside the toilet in our bathroom (the tub comes from a local ice cream parlour, that sells them for a dollar a piece).
Corn Starch: I used an awful lot of talcum powder on our first son – it was a great way to keep his bum dry, and cut down on the development of diaper rash. However, there is some thought that inhaling talcum powder can be harmful, and even carcinogenic (some people likening it to asbestos!). Well, corn starch – which everybody has in their kitchen – works just as well, if not better, and I’ve started using it on our #2 boy. Just don’t apply as much as you would talc – it can clump up a bit in the folds of his skin.
making your life – at night – easier
Night Lights: Guess what? You’re gonna find yourself stumbling around your home at all hours of the night with baby-in-hand. Why fumble for light switches (and wake him up in the process), when you can just plug-in a handful of these strategically throughout your place, making night-travel a cinch?
Other: petroleum jelly, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls; basically, anything you’d find in a baby first aid kit. The items in a store-bought baby kit will be packaged smaller, and come in nice-smelling varieties, but your stuff – obviously – will work just as well.
Ok – let’s take a breather here. When you come back, “The List” will continue in Part 2.