Newborn checklist – getting through those first few days
The first few days with a newborn baby can be exciting – and a little scary. If this is your first baby, you may feel like you’re treading a fine line between looking for help, and being overwhelmed by the well-meaning advice of others.
Some lists of ‘baby essentials’ are so extensive, they resemble the rider for a particularly demanding rock diva. But if you have no idea how your daily life is going to change once your baby arrives, how can you possibly know what you are really going to need?
We’ve compiled a super-streamlined checklist to get you through those first few disorientating days, until you find your confidence and get into some sort of routine (even if that ‘routine’ means staying in your pyjamas all day, just gazing at your baby!). However, the awful realisation that there’s no ‘New Owners Manual’ dawns on most new parents when they leave the secure warmth of the hospital, so if you’re not having a home birth, don’t forget that in order to get your baby home, you’ll need a car seat!
It can be less overwhelming if you think of your newborn baby care preparations as being in 4 main categories: Sleeping, Feeding, Changing and bathing, and Clothing.
Like most things in parenting, this is a matter of individual choice. Obviously your baby will need somewhere safe to sleep, like a cot or Moses basket,, just make sure it has a firm flat mattress, but you don’t have to have much else in those early days – just some bedding or a swaddle (or combine these and use a Gro-snug) for the baby, and a monitor and night-light to make life easier for you.
The decision to breast or bottle feed is a very personal one. If you are planning to breastfeed, you’ll need a couple of comfortable maternity/feeding bras, and some breast pads. If you want to bottle feed, you’ll need bottles and teats, sterilising equipment and formula milk. For either breast or bottle feeding, a few muslin squares are ideal for catching any spills.
Changing and bathing
Once again, you might need to do your homework before deciding whether to use disposable or reusable nappies (or a combination of the two). Don’t be tempted to stockpile newborn-size nappies, as much will depend on the size and shape of your baby. Just get a couple of packs of disposables, or about 20 cloth nappies, some wipes or cotton wool, and a bit of barrier cream. A wipe-clean changing mat makes nappy-changes and bath times so much easier, and a small baby bath placed in a big bath saves on water. Choose some gentle shampoo, which doubles as soap, and get ready to lose hours just smelling your baby’s skin!
It’s great fun dressing your baby in new outfits, but in the early days it can be easier for everyone if you keep it simple and easily washable. Much will depend on the season or climate, but babygros with long sleeves and legs are great for colder weather, while vests with short sleeves are better in the heat. Either way, you’ll probably need about 7 to start you off. Once again, don’t be tempted to stockpile newborn sizes, as you’ll be amazed how quickly that tiny body can grow. It’s also a good idea to have a cardigan or extra layer for warmth, and a few pairs of socks – which are unlikely to stay on for more than 5 minutes!
To summarise, here’s a super-concise checklist to get you through the first few days, so you can take your time finding out what this new life is really going to be like – for your baby AND for you.
- Cot or Moses basket
- Bedding or swaddle (or Gro-snug)
- Baby monitor
- Night light
- Muslin squares
- Maternity/feeding bras
- Breast pads
- Bottles and teats
- Sterilising equipment
- Formula milk
Changing and bathing:
- Nappies (cloth or disposable)
- Wipes or cotton wool
- Barrier cream
- Changing mat
- Baby bath
- Baby shampoo
- Babygros (long sleeves and legs) or vests (short sleeves and legs)
- Cardigan or extra layer