What do you REALLY need for a new baby?

Congratulations to our friend, Nicole, over at HaltonRecycles who recently had a baby! Nicole wrote a post (check it out here) about making economical purchases in an environmentally responsible way. We love the post and thought we’d share some related thoughts about getting ready for a new baby from a health and safety perspective. Since we can’t help ourselves as public health nurses 🙂

As a new mom myself I know all too well that many things “they” say we “need” for baby are just simply not necessary.  Like Nicole, I also resisted the consumer urge and used second-hand products as much as I could (yes I really do use used cloth diapers! And I love them!) But as a Public Health Nurse, I know where I need to be careful when buying used.  For instance, my husband and I decided to buy a new crib and car seat.  If you must buy used, I strongly recommend you review these checklists from Health Canada and check for recalls. (You might be surprised how often cribs, strollers and car seats have been recalled in the past 3 years!)

So what DO you need before baby comes home?

  • I think we can all agree a car seat is a must (got to get that baby home from the hospital somehow!) Either buy new, or be sure to carefully check the history of the car seat, its condition and expiration date.
  • A safe place for the baby to sleep – a crib and mattress (did you know it’s actually a criminal offense to give someone a crib made before September 1986?). Stay away from those adorable bedding sets as the fitted sheet is the only safe part of those kits. Babies can get entangled or entrapped in padded or mesh bumper pads and the padded ones actually cut off air flow and can be a suffocation risk.
  • You will need diapers and wipes and, for your comfort may want to set up a diaper changing “station.” My husband and I did well with a spare dresser we had and secured a change pad to the top.
  • You don’t need anything special for breastfeeding – in fact I figured out how to nurse my daughter without pillows when she was a couple days old and was able to nurse anywhere around the house and even out and about.
  • Infant clothes and sleepwear are a tough one – try not to buy items too far in advance. Pumpkin was born average in size but quickly grew ahead of the curve. That meant she never got to wear an adorable sweater and jean set a friend bought for her because she only fit into it during the summer months.

Beyond that, it is your own personal preference. For example, we decided to buy a good quality stroller that could handle lots of walks with our dog in rain and snow.  On the other hand, I have a friend who hardly used her expensive stroller as she and baby preferred to use a baby carrier or sling. This same friend got a lot of use out of a play pen, and we hardly used ours.

Toys are another thing altogether. I’m pretty sure I could open up a fledging daycare with the amount of used toys friends have passed along! I’ve told my friends no used stuffed animals – I can’t even begin to imagine cleaning all the dust and other icky things out of these, and besides, Pumpkin has so many already. I guess the cuteness factor of stuffed animals is too much for my family to bear – they keep buying her these as gifts! Sturdy plastic and wood toys that look to be in good shape, in good working order, I keep. But before I let my baby girl touch these toys I take a minute to check for recalls.

Mom playing with babyBut to be honest, you are your baby’s favourite toy! You really don’t need a whole lot “stuff” to stimulate your child’s development. All you need is good-old-fashioned-get-on-the-floor and play with your baby! I highly recommend community groups like Mother Goose where you and your baby can learn some fun songs with actions to sing together.  These songs go a long way when you are stuck in traffic during a snowstorm and your little one is bored (ok screaming).  “The Ants Go Marching” and “Finger Family” are a couple of Pumpkin’s favourites.

In the spirit of reducing consumerism, what were your baby’s favourite activities that didn’t cost any money?

For more tips and hints about preparing for baby, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

  • Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at haltonparents@halton.ca
  • Call  HaltonParents by dialing 311 or 905-825-6000 for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)

Check out Andrea’s bio

About Andrea Scott RN

I’m a public health nurse with the HaltonParents team – you’ll find me blogging, tweeting and answering emails. I’ve been working for the Halton Region Health Department since 2006 and my focus has been on supporting parents with babies and little kids. I have two little ones myself, “Pumpkin” and “Monkey” who give me plenty to blog about! :)
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2 Responses to What do you REALLY need for a new baby?

  1. babyready says:

    The list I provide to all of my prenatal classes (and I have had the honour of teaching 6000+ couples over the last 15+ years) is that you need:
    * diapers (although I know a number of people who use “Elimination Communication”
    * a NEW car seat – NEVER used or borrowed (it’s like a motorcycle helmet)
    * somewhere safe for baby to sleep
    * clothes
    * cloths (for bathing and diaper changes as wipes always have ++ chemicals)
    * receiving blankets (make great changing pads and the floor is always the safest place to change baby)
    * first aid kit
    * thermometer (digital rectal is the recommended safe way to take the temp of a child)
    * infant acetaminophen
    * nail file
    These are the only 10 things I tell them to have in advance of baby arriving. Everything else is a “nice-to-have” but not a need. Borrow well before you buy as too often we get items we never use. And read labels! Most items marked as being “for baby” are not particularly safe for babies to be exposed to.
    LOVE that you are having this conversation!! Too often expectant parents believe that they have to spend $$$$$ to be ready for baby. Nothing is further from the truth!

    • Andrea Scott says:

      Thanks! Love your point that there are lots of products marketed “for baby” that are not actually safe for baby to use. The best examples of that are bumper pads and bunting bags for car seats. Keep up the good work 🙂
      ~ Andrea

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