Monday, December 08, 2014

the things you really need when you have a baby

Just before we jet off tomorrow, there are two things I wanted to do:
1) Go for my last Hartbeeps (songs and play group) class (I might cry. I'm naff. I know all the songs off by heart and I sing them everyday.)
2) Write a post about the items I found most valuable during my maternity leave.

I wanted to leave something helpful on the Internet, in the case a pregnant mummy is Googling a list of things she needs to get before her baby is born and happens to come across this.

I got s twins list. The person who gave it to me had twins, so I trusted that everything on there had to be bought. They were 'essentials' not 'nice to haves.' As a result, before they were born, I had 40 muslins, 20 bibs, 8 bath towels. I still have those things, and I obviously haven't used half of them.

If there's one thing I can suggest: literally buy only the essentials. You won't need or use even half the stuff you buy, even if, like me, you thought you were bringing two home. Trust me.

The things I found most valuable, throughout maternity leave, were:

Without a shadow of a doubt, my new highchair.

You get so many types of highchair; some clip onto the side of a table (if space is an issue), some look lovely (beautifully crafted in wood, painted and have a Victorian feel about them), others look cheap and plasticy ugly but work incredibly, while very few look good and actually do the job.

I wish someone had really put emphasis on this for me. If there's one thing you should spend money on; it's a highchair that works. I went for aesthetics - the East Coast white wooden one. A bitch to clean, funny straps that don't work, he would slip through it, wouldn't sit properly, and become distracted so wouldn't eat. Looked nice, but also took up room.

I've eBayed back to where it came from and got myself a Baby Bjorn. It's small, looks better than you think, and the child is locked in.  Easy to clean, no mess anywhere, no distractions, he sits like a regal aristocrat, and he can push blueberries around the tray easily to pick them up.

My only regret? I never did it sooner. I should've got this when he was just learning to sit, as it helps them to sit upright too.

Tommee Tippee milk feeding bibs

Except I use them for any feeding. They have this dribble/milk soft thing at the neck. So nothing gets past it and seeps through.

All other bibs have a gap between the neck and the neckline. If you have a baby you'll know that by the end of the day, things start growing under there. You'll find everything under there, from last week's brocolli to hairballs to milk goo to unthinkable things. It's a catchment zone, and most bibs don't stop shit from getting stuck there.

Except these bad boys.

A few small, ceramic bowls

I found using my Granny's old ceramic bowls from her dinner service, the best thing for all of Sebastian's meals. You can safely heat them up in the microwave (heating plastic is bad....), and it seems to serve just the right amount for lunch, breakfast and dinner. I also store all sorts of finger foods in them in the fridge.

They've been the most useful things in the kitchen, ever.


Everyone will tell you to get tons of these. I was told I needed 80 for twins. I bought 40, and as you might imagine, we are overrun with the bastards. This place is one big muslin fortress.

You don't need that many. If you have five big muslin cloths, or ten smallish ones, you'll be just fine.
You'll use wipes and tissues and everything else too.

I bought some cheap cream muslins off eBay.

Dribble bibs

Different from feeding bibs. (I didn't know these kinds of things when I was pregnant. A bib was a bib was a bib.)
My baby dribbles a lot.  He has been teething for, like, eight years. If he doesn't wear a dribble bib/neckerchief, the front of his clothes are wet within minutes.

They're essential. Seriously. I need to change his over a few times a day.


Again, a bit of an investment, but it's wonderful and soft for babies and really helps them sleep in their buggy. It keeps them cool in summer, warm in winter, and you don't need to worry about top sheets and lining blankets.

White noise

Buy this app for your phone/a device you're happy to leave near your sleeping baby. Immediately. I have so much to thank this app for. It would help settle my child and help put him back to sleep at all hours of the night, for months on end.

There are a few sounds to choose from, and in the end he liked the sooothing sounds of crashing waves. But the vacuum cleaner, shushing noise and heart beat were favourites for a while. He couldn't get to sleep without it, and honestly, it really helped him realise it was sleepy time.

Car seat to pram brackets/converters

It means you can put your car seat on the pram, for when you travel. It's genius and it makes life so much simpler, especially when you fly.

Just two little plastic thingies that clip onto the frame of the pram.
We could take our car seat away, and simply put it on the pram frame when we needed to push him around. It became known as 'the travel system,' and this is what we are taking to SA too.

Goes without saying...

....the play gym I was given (things hanging off it and music, flashing lights), and the Baby Bjorn bouncer were lifesavers. Before they crawl you can put them in there while you do stuff. My baby screamed for the first two months I put him down, but after that, these two things were brilliant.

Stuff I didn't need:

Swaddling blankets

Muslins wrap them up so much better, tighter and softer. As long as you have a large size muslin, you can swaddle so much better than anything else marketed for 'miracle swaddling.'

Baby bath

Or a top-to-toe bath. I was given a  baby bath, but never used it as I already had a bath seat I could lay Seb on in the bath. I preferred this, as it was less fiddly, and the baby bath seat lasted a long time, until he could sit up.

Excessive cot and moses basket sheets

For some reason, before I had children, I was under the impression that babies regularly shat themselves throughout the night. They do pooh a lot, but they don't soil through five layers of sheets. Every single night. Especially when they are just drinking milk.

I had fuckloads of sheets, ready for two cots and two moses baskets. I have reBayed these too. You only need two for each cot and moses basket.

Scratch mitts

I was also told by a mother whose child scratched the bejeesus out of his face - never seen anything like it since - it was weird -  and told that if I don't buy at least ten pairs of scratch mitts, he will damage his face with his nails.

I cut his nails. That's what I did. So buy a baby nail kit instead. The mitts really aren't worth it.

Bumbo seat

Some babies/mummies love this thing - swear it's the best thing
ever - hmmm....meh. Sebastian didn't love it at all. For one, his legs were a bit fat to fit into it, so it didn't look helluva comfortable. For two, he twisted back, and wouldn't sit upright in it.

Not an essential, I'd say.

Now if only I could take the high chair to South Africa tomorrow....


Katinafrica said...

Go to Baby City when you get to SA and head to the baby seat section. There is a black and green seat that attaches as a high chair to any seat. I will send the name to you later when I don't have to sneak past a sleeping baby. The chair folds into a small carry bag which has space for useful things like diapers and wipes. They cost R350 and ours is a lifesaver. My 18 month old still uses hers all the time.
What I wish we could get here are those awesome swim floaties that Seb uses. Sigh.

po said...

Thanks Peas, am about to pop in a week or two. I should just say, I don't have a single muslin! Panic!! I was going to get some, but everyone here in SA goes on about recieving blankets instead so I got a few of those. No idea what I am going to use them for. As my baby will be born in CT summer I think muslin would be great, nice and light, but I have been given sooo many blankets that is feels wrong to buy more. Maybe I will just buy one and try it out to see if they are essential. But apart from swaddling, what the heck do you use them for?

Katinafrica said...

Muslins are used for wiping up spit and just about everything else in an emergency. You can buy some cheap ones at Edgars in large packs. Get the big ones. The little ones are called spoegdoeks here in SA.
If you have a big recieving blanket they are great for swaddling as well. I loved the swaddler from Sleep Sense but it isn't cheap.

Peas is right baby baths are a waste but a baby seat is awesome. The Kangol one is great if you can find it.

Peas the seat is made by Muchkin.

po said...

Thanks Kat! I somehow imagined all these blankets were for sleeping but it seems absorbing is their main function, lol. I will check out Edgars if I have time. I just bought a baby bath... oops. I just have no idea really what is useful and not but anyway, great advice!