‘Your baby’s primary needs are closeness, warmth and comfort, to be fed and have a safe place to sleep,’ says Lois Wattis, midwife and author of New Baby 101 – A Midwife’s Guide For New Parents.
Once you realise that your baby needs surprisingly few things to fill those basic needs, you can head to the shops with a clearer idea of where to start.
Sleep like a baby
In these first months your baby will spend most of her time sleeping, so it’s worth thinking about where you want her to be for both her day and night snoozes. Whichever options you’re considering, check out sidsandkids.org for more information on safe sleeping.
The most common choice is to buy a cot, ensuring that it meets the current Australian mandatory standards. A cot can be placed in your bedroom (and this is the recommendation by SIDS and Kids for the first six to 12 months) or the baby’s own room, and it can last up to the toddler stage.
A bassinet has a shorter life span, as it’s only suitable for a baby who can’t roll or move around. Be aware that bassinet safety standards are only voluntary, so you’ll need to do your research first.
There are ways to do this safely in your own bed, or you can buy a co-sleeping attachment for your bed.
Some parents find monitors helpful, especially if baby is in her own room, while others find them disruptive. The main thing is that you’re aware of your baby’s movements during all those sleeping hours.
For safety, SIDS and Kids recommends avoiding any pillows, cushions, bumpers, toys or extra blankets.
Warmth and Comfort
Tossing up about cloth or disposable nappies? Either way, you’ll definitely need to have some on hand straight away. And you’ll also need these:
Whether you choose to buy a change table or use a portable mat, it’s a good idea to be as prepared as possible for her homecoming. ‘Have the area set up, the packages open and ready to grab because there are bound to be some catastrophic disasters in the nappy zone at some point,’ says Lois.
A baby bath will be useful for the first few months. You’ll need to have some face washers and towels on hand, too. You’ll only need a few grow suits for your baby – she’ll outgrow newborn sizes fast.
Some parents have a clear idea about whether their baby will be breastfed, bottle-fed or a combination, while others aren’t sure what to expect. So, do you need to buy anything ahead of time?
There are times when pumping breastmilk into a bottle is necessary: if you’ve been advised due to your baby’s needs, or if Dad is taking over an evening feed, for example. It’s an individual decision based on you and your baby. If you’re not sure, you can always buy or hire a pump after baby is born.
If you’re planning to bottle-feed wholly or partially, you’ll need some bottles, teats and sterilising equipment at the ready. However, try not to go overboard. ‘I discourage people from buying too much equipment,’ says Lois. If you’re also breastfeeding then you may be advised to use a specific teat that’s less likely to interfere with this.
While you can feed your baby anywhere, some parents find having feeding cushions and some good back support on hand to be helpful.
Out & about
Everything you’ll need to transport her home... and away
You have two choices for the car: a capsule (which you can easily move in and out of the car) or a rear-facing baby seat (which can convert to a front-facing seat later on). Either way, you’ll need to have it bought and fitted ahead of time.
Try some on for comfort, do your safety research, and think about what will suit your movements best.
‘Invest in a good pram,’ suggests Lois. ‘The rocking motion is really good for getting your baby to sleep, and you can use the pram when you’re out or at home if you choose one that fits in the landscape of your house.’