Friday, June 26, 2009

What do babies really need? Part 1

While pregnant, I asked a few mothers what "must have" things I should get before baby arrived. The lists were starkly different from each other, and reflected the different mothering styles of each mama. A year of motherhood wiser, here's what my "must have" list for the first month would look like:
  • a sling (quick and easy around the house) and a Moby wrap (your go-to carrier)
  • a stash of diapers or one month of diaper service, a handful of diaper covers, a stack of diaper wipes, and a dirty diaper bag
  • a few good nursing bras mama can live in 24/7, plus plenty of nursing pads
  • Lansinoh lanolin
  • a digital thermometer, a nasal suction (also great for sucking up spit from baby's mouth), and nail clippers
  • Lansinoh lanolin
  • an extra large bottle of Colic Ease tincture
  • Lansinoh lanolin
  • the book Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child
  • some nice soft lullaby music and recklessly loud dancing music to calm both baby and mama (our favorites include Celtic lullabies, Mozart, salsa, and reggae)
  • for a summer baby: a sun hat and half a handful of onesies (baby only needs clothes in hot weather when strapped into a car seat)
  • for a winter baby: two handfuls of onesies, a handful of pants, a handful of sweaters, two handfuls of socks, a pair of mittens, a pair of booties, and a cold weather coat and hat (separate pajamas are optional)
  • a few small stretchy receiving blankets
  • a dozen toddler size cloth diapers (for burp cloths now and nose-wipe cloths or food-off-the-face wash cloths later - smaller size burp cloths don't help much when you're dealing with a spit up artist)
  • a cute diaper bag or backpack (no need to give up class or style just because you're toting around baby stuff - I love my Coach diaper bag)
  • a car seat
  • a few weeks worth of meals frozen in individual portion sizes (no way the freezer can be too well stocked)
Past the first month and into the rest of the first year, I would add these things to the list:
  • Hyland's homeopathic teething tablets
  • lots of books
  • an Ergo carrier (for when baby gets too heavy for the Moby wrap)
  • a high chair or booster seat (even if baby isn't eating adult food yet, this starts to come in handy around seven months when baby is wiggling too much to be comfortably held on mama's lap during meals)
  • a mini baby swing (although my baby hated being out of my arms, we managed to build up to about nine minutes of scream-free swing time each day, which was just long enough for me to take a quick shower or pop a few pieces of bread in the toaster)
Things that specifically don't belong on my list include:
  • a crib, bassinet, or co-sleeper (baby can sleep in bed with mama - although our co-sleeper did come in handy as a nice storage bin)
  • a changing table (mama can change baby on the bed or floor - and I can't imagine trying to change an older wiggle-worm on a changing table without him falling off and breaking his neck)
  • a stroller (mama can wear baby)
  • a pacifier (that's what mama is for!)
  • baby shirts that don't snap at the bottom (the shirt turns into a necklace the moment you pick baby up)
  • a baby bathtub (there's no need to wash baby for the first few weeks, and when you're ready to give him a bath it's easier and more fun to just hop in the bathtub together - I'm not sure why hospitals normally bathe babies after birth, so if you've never smelled a never-washed baby you're really missing out on one of life's little known pleasures)
  • a TV or DVDs (if you want baby to watch things that move, try taking a walk, looking out a city window, watching ceiling fans and laundry machines, or making wall shadows)
  • toys (my baby's favorite things to play with this week are rubber rain boots, dropper bottles, a vitamin bottle stuffed with an old film cannister, a drawer of winter scarves and hats, dirt, and a myriad of other stuff a non-mama would think appropriate for the recycle bin)
  • contraptions that help baby learn how to walk (baby can push a box or empty laundry basket around the room)
If there's any "must have" item you think I left out, I'd love to hear about it!

Pictures of some of my "recommendations" in action:

Swaddled in a homemade blanket (thanks Ginny!):

A practical summer outfit:

Traveling in style in an Ivy cap and cardigan sweater:

Burp cloths are also good for cleaning up bloody mouths after falls:

Nasal suctions double as chew toys:

The view from our bedroom in DC provided hundreds of hours of entertainment:

Thankfully it's just as fun to put them back as it is to take them off:

Taking a break from reading to eat his foot:

A "homemade" baby walker: