In a spare five minutes this morning, I was reading the current issue of Gurgle magazine. As we all know, first-time parenthood is all about the stuff, or at least that's what the manufacturers and media would have us believe!
- Your boobs - breastfeeding your baby, for as long as you possibly can, provides all the food and comfort they could possibly need. See all our breastfeeding articles for help, advice and support sources.
- Your arms - that's where your baby should be, I'm afraid, not in a baby swing/rocking chair/Moses basket/cot/whatever else, at least not for the first few weeks and months. Yes, I know you need to go to the loo/take the laundry out/make a cup of tea, but it's amazing what you can learn to do one-handed, or stick baby in a sling. Result: you're hands free & can 'get on'; baby is cuddled up close to you & happy.
- Your lap - ditto. If you're sat down (if not, why not?!) and baby's asleep, have them lying in your lap, or if they're awake have them sitting or lying in your lap so you can interact with them. Remember, your baby is learning all the time, from your facial expressions, how you move your mouth to speak, eat or drink, etc.
- Your voice - that's how your newborn knows you. Their vision is very limited for quite some time so your smell and your voice are the most familiar things to them. Your voice is also the best source of comfort, alongside your milk and your touch.
- Your smell - see above.
|Sophia holding Nanny's hand, 5 weeks old|
- Your hands - your newborn is reassured when you hold them confidently and firmly, but gently. Your hand stroking their brow or head will send them to sleep quicker than any manmade device. And what could be nicer than drifting off at your mother's breast with her face just in sight, her touch on your brow, and her voice singing you a lullaby?
- Your partner who, in most cases, will have all of the above except the boobs! Yes, your newborn knows you best, but they will recognise your other half's voice from being in the womb, and if given skin to skin contact with your partner a short time after birth will be familiar with their smell, hold and touch too.
Well look at that, you already have all of those things, without spending a single penny! Seriously, as I said in a previous post, all your baby really needs is YOU. No, you won't be making a rod for your own back by soothing them to sleep; yes, you will be able to breastfeed*; and no, your baby won't be missing out by not being surrounded by lots of expensive kit.
|Me with Lara a few hours after birth|
You will, of course, need some stuff for baby, but the beyond-the-essentials list is fairly short. I'd suggest:
- Muslins - a large stock of. They're something you never understand parents raving on about before you have children, but they are handy for everything, so buy loads!
- Sling, baby carrier, or several. Take a doll shopping with you (seriously!) and try them out. Find what type works for you, then buy new if you can/want to, or scour e-Bay and nearly new sales for a secondhand one (or two). If you get into babywearing, you may even end up with a whole library of slings...
- A feeding pillow is useful, but a couple of normal pillows from the spare bed work fine too.
- Cotton wool/top'n'tail squares. Ideally you shouldn't use anything on your newborn's skin other than cotton wool and tepid boiled water for the first six weeks,so no harsh wipes. After that you can buy fab little muslin top and tail squares, which are perfect for cleaning faces and bottoms, and just get slung in with your cloth nappy wash.
- No toiletries is also the ideal up till six months, but if you desperately need to use something, make it organic. But remember that babies don't actually get dirty, cotton wool and water cleans most things, and nappy rash can largely be avoided by giving baby lots of nappy-free time.
- From about three months on you will need some toys and books to entertain baby. Sophia is just starting to look at and play with Lara's old Lamaze toys, and the Manhattan Toys Whoozit toy is always a favourite! I've put a few ideas at the bottom of this post.
And that's it! If you'd like some more suggestions on how having a baby needn't cost you the alleged thousands bandied about in the press, take a look here.
Do you have any other tips for newborn and early baby care? What's worked for you? Did you buy things you wish you hadn't? Or do you think there are other vital things for life with a newborn?
You can find lots more baby ideas and advice on our Parenting page
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