For lots of people, learning that they are pregnant means that they also start buying baby things and decorating the nursery. I don’t think that a baby needs a nursery; I actually think that it is a bad idea. I mean, you can still have a nice room with a rocking chair for breastfeeding if you think you need that. But I would never ever put my baby in a separate room to sleep. A baby doesn’t need a nice (but expensive) cot and changing table and what not. What a baby needs is YOU. Ideally 24 hours. Your little boy or girl was in your belly for 9 months, connected to you through the placenta. Do you really think he or she wants to sleep alone all of a sudden?
Co-sleeping, if done correctly, is the safest method for babies to sleep. Mums and babies co-slept for millennia, but just in the last few decades we are told that it is not safe? That doesn’t make any sense to me. Of course, if you (or the dad) are drinking or taking drugs you are not as alert as when you are sober. Smoke, even just the residue on your clothes, is bad for a baby and neither of you should smoke and then hop straight into bed (of course you actually shouldn’t smoke at all. Unfortunately Jordie doesn’t think that way). You should also make sure that there are no pillows close to baby’s head and that all blankets are tucked away. When you follow these guidelines, co-sleeping is actually safer than putting your child in a different room.
I read about studies that show how mums are so attuned to their babies that they wake up at exactly the same time as their babies, before the baby even starts crying. Breastfeeding is so much less of a hassle if all you have to do is take out your breast and your baby can latch straight away. I’ve heard of lots of mums who don’t even know how often they wake up during the night because it is for just a moment before they fall back asleep. The baby just keeps drinking and then falls asleep again as well.
The mother’s breathing is also said to regulate baby’s breathing, so infants sleep more deeply and breathe more regularly. This all prevents SIDS, unlike what some people might tell you. In my eyes, the main cause of sudden infant death syndrome is vaccines. If doctors can’t (and don’t want to) explain how a child has died, it’s SIDS. And if that happened in the same bed, it must have been because the baby suffocated and therefore co-sleeping is considered dangerous.
If you are afraid that you might not be that attuned to your baby or if your bed is just not big enough to make sure that the baby is safe, at least have the cot with you in the room, ideally right next to your bed. You are one family, why would you not want to share the bedroom with every family member?
My top 3 baby must-haves
The only thing that babies really need is their mum. Mum means loving and protective arms and food. That is basically all they need. Babies want to be held close, not put in a cot or pram. Babies want to snuggle up to their mum’s breast, not be feed with a plastic bottle. Of course there are cases when breastfeeding really just does not work. But before you give up too soon or wean your baby too early, ask a lactation consultant to help you. Even the WHO (world heath organisation) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and then continued breastfeeding up to the age of 2 years or beyond. Anthropologically, the natural age of weaning for humans is between 2.5 and 7 years of age.
Breast milk is the perfect food for your baby, made exactly to suit what baby needs in every stage of life. The composition changes even during the individual feeds (more watery in the beginning to quench the thirst, then richer in protein to nourish baby). But a breast is so much more than just food: it is comfort, warmth, safety. Nothing you can achieve with a bottle (if you really can’t breastfeed, make sure to have enough skin to skin contact while feeding (and throughout the day too!) so your baby still gets that closeness).
2) A wrap or sling
How often do you see parents pushing a pram with one arm and carrying a baby on the other? Lots of babies don’t want to be put down where they can’t even see their mum and dad and therefore start screaming as soon as you put them in the pram.
To have your baby close to you at all times and still be able to do things with 2 hands and don’t get sore arms, a wrap or a sling is ideal. Find a babywearing consultant in your area who can show you how to wrap the baby correctly and also tell you about all the different possibilities (stretchy or woven wrap, ring sling, structured carrier) and their pros and cons in term of your individual situation.
Be careful with carriers you can buy in baby shops though. Lots of them are actually bad for baby’s posture. The spine has to be slightly arched and the knees have to be higher than the pelvis. Also don’t wear your baby facing forward. Their arms and legs wont have any support and just dangle around awkwardly. Furthermore it is important that baby can retreat from all the hustle and bustle of the world around them and snuggle up to mum’s or dad’s chest. This is not possible if they’re facing forward.
3) Muslin cloths
Muslin cloths were the first baby things that I bought. They are so versatile that they are the ultimate baby item. You can use them as: burp cloths, nappies, nappy inserts, make-shift pants, wet wipes, cool wraps against fever, protection against sun, towel, bib, swaddle, stabilising for the head (in a wrap for example), extra sheet (in the bed or on the couch for example) that can be changed quickly if wet, cuddly blankie, peek-a-boo, nappy changing mat, privacy protection while breastfeeding or as breast pads. They can also be used for other things not necessarily baby related: as a scarf, nut milk cloth, tea towel and glasses cloth.
A few more things that I think are good to have
- Clothes of course. I don’t want to dress my baby in muslins only 🙂
- Cloth nappies (but I have only around 7 because we want to do elimination communication (EC))
- nappy fasteners (for when I only use a muslin cloth)
- 2 potties (one for in the bedroom, one for in the lounge room)
- Homemade baby wipes (which are wet, cut up towels and muslins in old food containers)
- car seat
We were also given a baby bath from family which I think is nice to have but definitely not essential. We could bathe her in the sink just as easily. It is already getting warmer here again so we might be jumping in the pool again soon too!!
My most precious baby item is probably this beautiful handmade quilt from my friend Stacy that I can’t wait to use <3
What do babies not need?
Like I already said, having a separate room for your baby to sleep in is not only unnecessary in my eyes but actually bad. The same goes for a pram. Although some babies might not cry half of the night if they sleep in their own room or are being put down in a pram, the vast majority will not like it. And even if they are not crying (anymore), maybe that’s just because they have given up and have accepted their situation.
Play mats trigger the same feeling in me like cots and prams. It feels like dumping the child there to distract it with something else. Of course all the plastic stuff dangling down is interesting for a baby but I don’t think that it is necessary if you spend enough quality time with your child. Better introduce one toy than a whole lot of stuff that might even overstimulate a baby.
A pacifier in the early weeks is not only unnecessary but a really bad idea because it can cause nipple confusion. Drinking from a bottle or sucking on a pacifier is very different from drinking/suckling on the breast. Until breastfeeding is established you should not give your baby a pacifier. As I said before, breastfeeding is so much more than only food so if you let your baby feed on demand and have him or her skin to skin and cuddle a lot, you won’t need a pacifier.
I also don’t think that a changing table is something that you have to spend money on. If you want an elevated spot to get rid of full nappies, just get a changing mat and do it on a table or the washing machine. Or just do it on the bed, the couch or the floor. Especially if you are planning to do EC you might not get many full nappies anyway so there will be no need to change the baby. Irrespective of that, I think baby body care products are completely unnecessary or actually harmful. I would not put any chemicals on my baby’s bum so you don’t need an arsenal of creams and stuff near the changing table. Some cloth wipes and water will be just enough.
I don’t only do not want any chemicals on my baby’s bum but also not anywhere else. Babies don’t get dirty so why use body wash, shampoo and what not? Water (and if you think it would be necessary a dab of natural soap) will do the job perfectly. If you do want to get baby products like wipes or shampoo, make sure you read the ingredients list and google what the single ingredients really are. Actually, you should do that for your own beauty products too. You might be surprised to find out what you put on your skin (your largest organ that absorbs whatever you put on it into your body) – carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins and hormone disruptors.