Planning for a new baby can be over whelming. There are hundreds of list out there telling us all the things we “need”. When I was first thinking about writing this article I happened to come across an article in the Daily Mail claiming to make it easier for new mums in the minefield of all the things we “need”. It’s list included a cot priced £450. A Pram for £755, plus the carry cot £185 and a travel Pram £339. A dresser with a changing table on top £405 and a Snuzpod £199.95. Don’t forget the baby cocoon £129.99 and a high chair £109.99. That’s over £2000, which was the amount we had put aside to fund Maternity leave, and that’s before you’ve brought any of their other suggestions, a night light, a teddy that sings them to sleep, the list goes on and on. I was however super impressed to see cloth nappies on their list. But it’s no wonder that people talk about how expensive having a baby is.
So, I’m going to let you into a little secret… babies don’t need much. Just food, warmth and a lot of love….. Ok, perhaps that’s quiet an exaggeration as you are going to need things. I was lucky enough to have lots of things handed down by friends and I brought lots second hand too to try them all out and it was all nice to have the but in all honesty some of it our baby used for less than a month or didn’t use at all, so had we brought it all new would have been a huge waste of money.
Having a new baby in the house also creates a huge amounts of waste. From the copious amount of nappies, the need for convenience food, the amount of wipes you need and the many many maternity pads you will go through (no one warns you about this). We weren’t anywhere near perfect but I think we did pretty well and learnt lots on how to save money and reduce waste during the whole new born period, so I have complied some lists, firstly my top 10 essentials for baby, the things I couldn’t live without when you have a newborn in the house, of course all with a low waste lifestyle in mind.
1. Cloth Nappies.
I guess I’m pretty predictable when it comes to my number 1. I actually made a bit of a mistake with cloth when it came to the early days as I brought two sets of new born nappies which when I put them on my daughter we just couldn’t get on with. They weren’t the softest ones and although I had heard good reviews I should have researched more and tried a few different ones rather than spear heading in, I ended up selling them on to fund others but did mean we had to use disposables for a little while and used them while we got used to cloth. The general consensus from the cloth world is to go with muslins on a new baby with a wrap over the top. Great for their skinny newborn legs, cheap, quick drying and easy to use. I also absolutely love a brand named Baba and Boo so if I have another baby I will definitely be getting some of their newborn range.
2. Muslin cloths.
You really can never have to many. I use them for everything, drying bottoms before you put the nappy back on, putting them under bottoms when changing incase of accidents, wiping up sick, wiping up more sick, as burping cloths incase of sick incidents, you get the picture, and now they work as great make shift bibs wrapped around her to stop even her socks being covered in pasta sauce. Just a note that I found the organic cotton or bamboo ones I have so much softer and longer lasting so it’s definitely worth spending a little extra on that.
Also in my very top essentials are the larger Muslins. They are great as a cover when breastfeeding in public if you prefer a bit of modesty, as a blanket in the summer and a sun shade over the pram. Oh their also good for moping up sick…… The smaller ones are now getting repurposed as dusters and I think I might cut some up to make more cloth wipes. Which brings me to my next absolute essential.
3. Cloths Wipes.
If you try nothing else eco-friendly please just try cloth wipes. They are my super duper top, must have for a baby for many reasons, number one being they actually work so much better! How to I do put this…. they are far more “grippy” when wiping dirty bottoms so less wipes are needed, no tackling a packet of wipes one handed while trying to hold down a wiggling baby.
There are also a few things I’ve never understood about single use wipes. Firstly your told not to use them on a newborn because their skin is too sensitive. Well, if their skin is too sensitive for whatever chemicals are in them at first it doesn’t really fill me with joy using them when their older either. For the newborn stage it is therefore recommended you use cotton wool and water. Have you ever tried to mop up newborn poop with cotton wool?? It’s not something I would recommend and takes half a pact of cotton wool. For this reason I’ve heard a lot of people recommend using Water Wipes but haven’t used them long term because they are far more expensive, which has also never made sense to me, because how can water be more expensive than chemicals? Either way they whole process seems far too complicated. Secondly they are also recommended as a great way of getting tar of car tyres….
In my opinion cloth wipes are the easiest and biggest money saving swap you can make, and it means your not contributing to that gross fat burg we keep hearing about (please don’t flush your wipes). A great company local to me in Sussex is Cheeky Wipes. You can get a whole set with a clean and dirty box, essential oil and all the accessories but to be honest we don’t use any of it other than the wipes and the wet bag now. I have tried all sorts of recipes to wet the wipes with but really just water does a great job. At home I have a pile in the kitchen for wiping hands and face and a pile in the bathroom for nappy changes. When I need one I simply run it under the tap, it takes less than two seconds and when used chuck them in with the nappy wash, or normal wash if your not using cloth nappies. They come out good as new and the process is repeated. When we’re out and about I just wet maybe 4 or 5, enough for the day, and pop them in my little wet bag. You don’t even need to buy fancy wipes, (although you can get some fab patterned ones) but Poundland do simple pacts of them, or just cut up a load of old towels, t-shirts, anything will do.
4. A Sling and a Pram.
This pretty self explanatory but a Pram is probably one of the first and most expensive things you will buy and obviously depending on your lifestyle you will want different things from a Pram. For us it was super important to have literally 4×4 wheels on the thing, Mat does a lot of running, we love a country walk (although she’s always in the sling for these) and I walk a lot through the muddy parks, so a pretty about town Pram wasn’t going to do for us. My biggest tip is to buy second hand. We got ours on Facebook market place and there are hundreds in great condition out there. I did quiet a lot of research and knew I really wanted a Jane Slalom Pram with the lie flat car seat, so early on in my pregnancy I asked facebook to give me a notification if one of these came up, I had time to be patient. But low and be hold a week later one did and in great condition. They retail for £700 but we paid £100, so kind on the pocket and kind on the environment. Everyone wins.
However, for me a sling is even more important as I do believe baby wearing is one of the most bonding things you can do and it also makes life so much easier when your hands are free to make a cuppa. Babies benefit from it so much, and maybe I’m lazy but getting to the super market and getting the Pram in and out of the car and then again at the next shop is just all too much when you can just pop them on you and walk around easy peasy. I was lucky and was handed down two slings, I’ve also brought a third on Facebook market place now that she’s bigger. If your not sure what you want I would recommend for the early newborn stage having a wrap sling, it holds them close to you and makes them feel all snuggled like their back in the womb (just practice with them as their not easy to get on at first) and then go to a sling library and have a try at what type will suit you as people are different shapes and sizes and so are slings, your baby will probably also have a preference, as will Daddy (Mat and I use different ones), and that’s why second hand is great because you don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on having more than one sling. Again kind on the pocket, kind on the environment.
Again this seems so obvious but really babies need very little and believe me you will be given SO much. I knew I would but thought I should have the basics just in case and I ended up with over 50 baby grows! So as tempting as it is don’t buy loads before! We are also super lucky to have friends with slightly older girls so have had so many beautiful hand me downs. And very excitingly we have a good friend pregnant with a girl so she will get lots of beautiful clothes Reeva didn’t get much of a chance to wear.
Side note if your using cloth nappies, they give babies big bubble butts, so size up or get some vest extenders.
On another side note, when packing your hospital bag pack easy to put on baby grows that have poppers. After a week or so I was an expert at getting baby grows over the head and arms in sleeves but on the first day in hospital when faced with a tiny, very delicate looking baby I could not get them on gently enough, so on went the poppers and that’s how she stayed for a good few days.
6. A Next to me Cot.
It’s a god send, I love love loved it. Baby is close and safe. We were handed down one which Reeva is still in (although she can now climb out of it into bed with us) but soon it will go to fore mentioned baby girl to be loved again.
7. A Beautiful Baby Blanket.
Again don’t buy one, it’s a great idea for a gift if someone asks. Relatives that can knit/crochet will no doubt make you one. My Auntie sent a lovely crocheted one in the post the day after Reeva was born. You’ll use them loads and love them forever.
8. Something for them to lie on sit in.
I sound like a broken record I know but seriously you can get some amazing things second hand or handed down. This is one thing I found great to have a few of, although Reeva would only happily lie on a mat or sit in a bouncer for a maximum of 10 minutes, that was 10 minutes for me to get dressed and brush my teeth, or make a quick sandwich. We kept one thing in each room, so if I needed to put her down I didn’t have to drag something up the stairs. I brought one baby mat with hanging things for her to look at and we were handed down another plus two baby bouncers. A lovely blanket that you may or may not already have with a beautiful wooden, even homemade baby gym above would also do, you know if you craftier than me.
9. A baby bath/ support.
I got an Angel Care one second hand and it was brilliant. Reeva actually loved to just sit in it anytime. She could lie back and watch the world go by, apparently it was comfier than her bouncer, go figure. However, the best advice I was given, and I tell everyone this, was by a wonderful older midwife, who when I said I was worried about giving her a bath and had read I couldn’t for a week or so told me it would be fine to give her a bath whenever I wanted (please don’t take this as solid medical advice and only do as you and your midwife are happy with) but to put her in the bath with Dad. She said that way baby would feel safe and secure and it’s a wonderful way for Daddies to do some skin to skin bonding. And she was right, Mat loved it and Reeva has loved her bath ever since. We did that for the first few weeks until she was big enough to sit and kick about in her bath seat happily.
10. Baby sleeping bags.
These are brilliant. Reeva hated being swaddled or in any tight swaddling contraption so the sleeping bags kept her all warm and cosy in her next to me. I must admit I was pretty organised with everything we needed but as it was super hot summer last year when Reeva was born I didn’t worry about a warm sleeping bag, until night number two when the temperature suddenly dropped (damn you English summer time) and I found myself putting all sort of layers on her. Mat had to run to Sainsbury’s and buy a nice warm one quickly, I guess fast fashion comes in handy sometimes.
So that’s it, my top 10 essentials, the things I believe you will need to be prepared for babies arrival and everything else you realise later what’s missing, what you could really do with and what you think is defiantly worth spending money on. I hope that helps some new Mammas out there.