So why is this list of things to buy enormous?
It's to keep you happy. You could carry baby everywhere but your arms will get tired before you even get to Tesco. You could let baby nest in a drawer but where are you going to keep your socks? You could forget about cupboard locks and leave everything you own either littered around the floor or in the fridge. You could do without nappies but baby is just going to find the place you've put your socks and do her business on them while grinning broadly and saying, 'Daddy. Sock. Pooooooo!'
See what I'm getting at? So, hold onto your wallet, and here we go...
Things to Buy
- New house
- Thinking of moving? Do it now while you still have time and energy to organise it and before you have to cart all this extra stuff along with you.
- Baby will require a place to sleep. Keep it simple. The only real feature you need is the ability to have the base higher or lower depending on baby's age. That way you don't have to bend too much when she's small. You're not going to faff with a side that goes up and down and risk waking her. A changing tray that sits on top is asking for disaster and a change of sheets. An oval mattress is just stupid. Fitted sheets are handy and waterproof undersheets are essential.
- Crib or Moses Basket
- Baby should share a room with you for the first six months so you can lie awake at night trying to make out whether she's still breathing. You'll also not have as far to go and fetch her when she starts screaming for yet more milk. If the cot doesn't fit in your room, you'll need a smaller container. Again, keep it simple. A Moses basket can be carried around the house. A crib is sturdier, bigger and easier to clean. Wipe-clean mattress essential. Rocking system unlikely to do you much good.
- Travel System
- If you thought maternity regulations were complicated, wait until you try and buy a pram. It's easier (and sometimes cheaper) buying a car. That's partly because you know what you're looking for when buying a car and you can discard the two-seater convertibles before you even enter the dealership (sorry). In the same way, think about what you need before you have your brain melted in Mothercare for several hours. Options include:
- The Transformer
- This is a chassis to which you can attach a compatible carseat or carrycot. The carrycot can be tilted and folded to create everything from a flat bed for a newborn to a throne for an older child. You can transfer the carseat directly from the car to the wheels without setting baby free. The carrycot is big and comfy and high-up so you can treat the whole thing as a Moses basket on wheels inside the house. It's almost as big folded, though, and weighs as much as Optimus Prime.
- The Reliant Robin
- The three-wheeler buggy was really in a while back. Good if you want to go jogging off-road (yeah, right). Otherwise, it's low and bulky and doesn't fold well. Also, if it has pneumatic tyres then it can get a puncture. Imagine trying to change the front tyre on the High Street with the aid of a screaming child. Moving on...
- The Super Buggy
- This is the light-weight option - a buggy in which the seat can tilt back flat for newborns. It folds easily and is good in enclosed environments such as John Lewis' china department. Unfortunately you will hang shopping from the handles, stick a buggy board on the back when number two comes along and store lead in the underneath basket. It will die.
- The Juggernaut
- This is similar to the transformer but the carseat simply attaches on top of the buggy/carrycot. Great if you're a weight-lifter with an enormous car and learning difficulties. Comes with optional gun-turret for invading Poland.
- The Hernia
- You could always go for a baby-carrier which straps to your person. These give you the best mobility. You can hop on buses, use escalators and even thread your way through the second-hand section of GAME. Some carriers go on your front and can be used from an early age. You can see baby and zip up your coat around him if it rains. Once sprog's older, he'll have to go on your back where he can get soaked. Luckily you won't be able to see him and you'll be happily oblivious. Strapping on a carrier takes longer than throwing baby in a buggy. Also, you will get very hot and tired. In August, you will die.
- Bottles, pump, steriliser, brush, freezer-bags, etc
- Breast is best but, since you're intending to pack your partner back off to work, that's going to be tricky. You don't need to practice baby with a bottle before necessary but a stock of milk in the freezer is very useful. The Avent stuff worked well for us. You can even get holders and special teats so you can feed the milk directly from the freezer bags (worth thawing them first, though). A steam steriliser lets you do a lot of stuff in a relative hurry. Sterilising tablets might be useful on holiday but you could just boil the equipment.
- Changing Unit
- Changing a small baby can be very messy (wiping-poo-off-walls messy). Changing a toddler often involves prolonged wrestling. For the sake of cleaning and your back, it's worth having a changing unit that's at the right height and holds the changing mat in place. If you're using cloth nappies, you'll need somewhere to store all the stuff anyway. Don't bother with a fitted cover for the changing mat - it will attract a pee disaster and then be impossible to get out of the way. Instead of a cover, use two muslin cloths. That way you can quickly replace the one under his head when he's sick while still using a fold of the one under his bottom as an emergency shield.
- You'll probably go through sixty disposable nappies in the first week. Many of these will contain a substance which looks like tar but is in fact pure, concentrated evil. Once this has dried up and been replaced by Tikka Masala (Do not taste), you could move on to washable nappies. This will involve a little more work at each nappy change and an extra load of laundry most days. You will drastically reduce your household waste, however, and be able to feel smug at parent-and-toddler groups. Be warned that both you and your partner will need to be committed to the cause in order to resist the tempting convenience of disposables once the initial eco-enthusiasm wears off. You don't want to spend a lot of money buying all the stuff and then give up.
- And boy is there a lot of stuff. If you thought choosing a travel system was bad then prepare for your brain to melt. All-in-one, wraps or plastic pants? Pins or velcro? Liners or fleece? Shaped or folded? Boiled or soaked? Laundry service or DIY? This, that or the other? Buckets, boosters, cloths and plastic sheeting. Oh, and breakdown cover for your washing machine, don't forget that, whatever you do.
- If you want details try the Real Nappy Information Service. There might even be someone in your area to come out and talk to you.
- Clothes (some)
- Buy a stock of vests and babygrows (all-in-one suits with feet). These and a blanket will get you through most situations and then you can wait and see what you're given before buying anything else. Cute clothes are all very well but small babies can easily go through a handful of outfits a day. Stick with practical. Always buy babygrows with poppers down the front and vests with poppers at the crotch. Lying a small child on its front to do up its clothes is just encouraging dribble and vomit. They really don't need encouraging. Tip: Vests with wide necks can be pulled down-the-way to avoid getting leaked poo in baby's hair.