Congratulations parents-to-be! So you are busy planning the arrival of your little bundle of joy, but haven’t really shopped for anything just yet. A lot of expecting moms have constantly asked me for my baby shopping list as I always bought what was most essential and practical. Minimal is me. A lot of wonderful people contributed to my list and in sharing things they no longer needed for their kids.
There are soooo many people and so many varied forms of advice that’s coming your way, and you don’t know just where to begin. A quick stop at a big ‘Mothercare’ or a ‘Mom & Me’ store makes you even more confused with what all is there and you can’t even begin to make sense of what a Muslin Cloth pack is used for, and how it’s different from a Burp Cloth set? There are nipple creams and diaper rash creams, and some disposable underwears, but how do you know whether you will need them all or when to use them? In anxiety you’ll feel as if you ought to buy just about everything you see in the store.
From the fancy bedding set, to the set of onesies; from a body wash to a shampoo to a body lotion and a body cream…one wants to buy everything. Momma-to-be just take a deep breath and hold on. You are preparing for a hurricane (cos everyone has told you it will be one), but you really don’t need everything at one go.
Here are few tips that helped me go about the baby shopping list which I felt was an absolute necessity.
- We created a Baby wish-list on Amazon where we kept adding and removing stuff after reading up and talking to new parents.
- Towards the end of the 7th month, we went to a large Mothercare store in Promenade Mall, Delhi, with our list and spent about 3 hours there and shopped pretty much everything that wasn’t on the Amazon wish-list.
For the Baby:
1. Invest in a Baby cot. A lot of parents feel they will start using a cot when the baby is slightly older, but more often than not, babies tend to reject cots if started on it too late. A baby is always safest in a cot and it reduces the risk of SIDS by a large percentage. The right time to start using a cot is in fact the first month itself, and not when the baby starts turning and rolling when she is 3 months old. Cots prevent lots of accidents.
How to identify a good cot?
How to identify a good cot?
- A narrow cot saves space but the baby also outgrows it faster. Hence buy one where the width and length are good.
- It’s important to buy one where the height can be adjusted. At around 7 months infants start standing up with support. That’s when they can surprise you with their strength and muscles, and result in them jumping off the cot if left unattended.
- The latch needs to be on the outside. Babies find it fun to play peekaboo in their cot and can hurt themselves if the latch is on the inside. Also, they might even learn to open it on their own.
- We got a major hand-me-down wooden cot which my parents used from the time of birth of my first sibling. So its around 35 years old, but the space is amazing.
- Price of a spacious and sturdy cot ~Rs.14000
- A cot-musical is a good idea as it helps the baby focus better and flex their hands and legs in an attempt to reach the music and toys.
- Mothercare has great bedding sets, but know the size of your cot before buying the bedding.
- Price ~Rs.5000
- Add a dry sheet to the set, which can also be used for placing under your own bedsheet (especially if the baby is on cloth nappies).
3. A Cot bumper is a useful item if the cot is not cushioned on the sides. Babies tend to jump around a lot in their cots and can hurt themselves on the side of the cot if the sides are not cushioned. The cot has wooden bars which can also see the baby sticking their arms and legs through eventually. So a high level bumper set can prevent this.
- We bought one from Mothercare which covers the cot from side to side.
- Price ~Rs.4500
4. Pillow: One can make a pillow for the baby’s head at home or buy a ready-made one. Baby pillows help shape the soft head and helps in making it rounder. A regular flat pillow makes the baby’s head flat from the back. Constantly making the baby sleep on the one side may lead to flatness on that side of the head.
- Mothercare had a soft baby pillow which is good and doesn’t cause flatness.
- I bought a pillow make of mustard seeds, commonly known as a rye-pillow in India, from a First Cry store in Delhi.
- One can even make a rye pillow at home using half a kg of mustard seeds and sewing it in a soft muslin cloth, and then place that inside a pillow cover. I renew the rye-pillow every 4-5 months now.
- Price ~Rs.500
5. A Baby bather is an absolute must. Our moms and grannies and japas are experts at bathing the baby in their lap, but new moms may feel they aren’t ready just yet. The baby bather I bought on Amazon was useful to us till the kiddo was about 11 months and was such a handy piece that bathing became easy and comfortable for both me and the baby.
- The cloth used on the bather lets water pass through easily and is super soft on the baby’s skin. It can be easily removed and washed in the washing machine
- A soft removable pillow is there for a new-born’s head to rest comfortably
- Make sure to let the bather dry outside after bathing the baby so that the cloth on it can dry completely
- Here is the link in case you want to buy it: https://amzn.to/2NRQKvm
- Price ~Rs.1100
6. A Feeding pillow, also known as a Boppy pillow, is a life-saver if you plan on breastfeeding the baby. Using random pillows and cushions to position the baby, and prop against your back can be really harmful for the mother, and more often than not leads to back pains which leads to a not-so-pleasurable breastfeeding journey.
- Use a donut shaped pillow without a back support. For the back you will need a separate pillow which I will come to in my new point.
- Chicco offers good nursing pillows, but if you are looking for a slightly more reasonable and equally good option then here is what I used till kiddo was about a 10 months old https://amzn.to/2LAuoS6
- Price ~Rs.1000
7. A Back-support pillow. A new mom spends a lot of time in bed post delivery. Not only does the infant require frequent nursing but the mother is also recovering from either C-sec stitches or Vaginal delivery stitches. Siting correctly is extremely important. Normal pillows used at home are too soft for the body to be in an upright position. Alternately one can use a comfy armchair for feeding.
- I used a hard back pillow from Sleepwell, which was purchased from a Sleepwell showroom.
- Price ~Rs.1100
8. Buy a Pram/stroller in advance. When can you start taking the baby out for a walk in a pram? Well, it depends on when you feel like. Babies love being outdoors, even if for a short while. It’s safe to take the baby out for a walk once they are a month old. At that time you may not have the bandwidth to select a pram, hence it’s good to keep it ready towards the end of your pregnancy.
- A lot of good brands like Chicco, Graco and Mothercare have a pram cum car seat set where the car seat can be fixed in the pram, and used as a bassinet.
- A car seat belongs in the car and its best to use it for the baby from the time you arrive home. A car seat is the safest way to travel anywhere in the car. In the US, it’s a rule for the parents to install the car seat before talking the baby home.
- Should you buy a pram or a stroller? A pram is a sturdy and a more cushioned option, hence babies are much more comfortable in the pram. A stroller is handier when travelling out to the mall or for a holiday. However, buying a sleek and compact pram can be a good solution, as it serves the purpose of both pram and stroller.
- A good pram can be used upto the age of 3years.
- In addition to this I also used a pram mattress which is made of cotton, as I felt the pram surface was too hard for the baby. However take a call to buy this once you have bought the pram. The mattress was purchased from a First Cry store and cost ~Rs.1500
- Price of a pram ~Rs.8000-18000 depending on the brand
9. Toiletries: Honestly, there are just too many baby products to choose from, but trust me, you don’t need most of them. Here are some absolute essentials:
- Massage oil: After trying various oils for babies from Himalayas, Patanjali, Johnsons, Mamaearth, Dabur, I have come to the conclusion that nothing works wonders on a baby’s skin the way coconut oil does. Buy a cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, and use it 365 days of the year. Coconut oil never gives allergies and even helps sooth nappy rashes.
- A top-to-toe wash is sufficient for the first few months and you need not buy a separate body wash, soap or a shampoo. Amongst all brands I have used, I found Chicco and Aveeno to be the mildest ones.
- Body lotion and Cream: Sebamed body milk is superb, and for dry months you can buy a small tube of Sebamed cream. Although I hardly ever use lotions or creams on the baby since I don’t apply too much body-wash regularly and the coconut oil provides a lot of moisture as it is.
- Nappy rash cream: Yes nappy rashes are very common, and can happen on the baby’s bottoms even if the baby is on cloth nappies through the day. It’s a part and parcel of raising a baby. If you notice any pinkishness in the bum area, use a small dab of coconut oil after washing and drying the area. Let the baby remain without a nappy/diaper for 15-20minutes. If the area is red with slight inflammation, use Sebamed’s Rash Cream which is a miracle cream without being harsh on the newborn’s gentle skin.
- Nail cutter: Babies have extremely sharp nails from the time of birth and scratch themselves ever so often. Every morning you’ll find your baby’s face covered in war-like wounds from all the scratching. Nothing is more intimidating for a new mom than cutting a new-born’s soft nails. One way is to cut their nails every week or two, but at all other times you can make them wear mittens.
- That’s it folks, no need to buy anything else please. You don’t need talc, as it clogs the pores. Air out the bum instead of loading it with powder.
10. Laundry detergent: A baby’s clothes require gentle care. Avoid using harsh detergents to wash the baby’s clothes. Pigeon and Mee Mee have good liquid detergents for washing a baby’s clothes, and can be used for both bucket-wash and machine-wash. Its best to wash a baby’s clothes separately till they are 3-4 months old. I often put mine and the baby’s washing machine load together (separate from the rest of the family). To sterilize the baby's clothes, first soak them in a bucket of water with one cap-full of Dettol for 30 minutes, and then wash in detergent. The liquid detergent can be bought on First cry. Link: https://bit.ly/2At5n6y
11. Diapers, nappies and baby wipes. Ok, so the first month is going to bring about a lot of nappy changes. If you choose to keep your baby diaper-free then stock up on atleast 25-30 nappies, or you can choose a combination of nappies in the day and diapers at night. Nappies can be made at home using old cotton sarees (checkout Youtube if you want to go the traditional way), or just buy them on First Cry.
- I simply loved using the newborn size (extra-small) cloth nappies by Baby Hug brand. Stock up on about 15-20 of these, and they will last you till the baby is almost 2 months old, and gradually buy bigger sizes. A pack of 5 costs ~Rs.250 on First Cry. So 20 nappies will cost ~Rs.1000. Not bad right! You can buy these in various colours on First Cry: https://bit.ly/2LM18XP
- Now coming to diapers. While most people recommend Pampers Premium, I found it a bit harsh on the baby’s skin, and the fit was not great. I switched to Huggies Ultra Soft Diapers after a friend recommended, which was softer, and has a much better fit for newborns. In the initial 2 months it’s better to use diaper rather than the elastic pants. Remember to change the diaper as soon as the baby poops else it leads to a rash immediately. If there is no poop then you must change it in 3-4 hours. So for an infant who is exclusively on diapers, that’s about 6-8 diapers a day, which is almost 240 diapers in a month. So yes, do stock up for a month, else you’ll find yourself running out of diapers in the middle of the night. I bought Huggies Ultra Soft diapers on Amazon https://amzn.to/2OrwW2X
- Baby wipes: An infant’s skin is about 30% thinner than an adult’s skin. Since most baby wipes from Himalaya, J&J, Chicco, Mothercare are made of synthetic material and contain chemicals they are extremely harsh on the infant’s skin, using wipes too frequently can erode the top layer of the skin, plus it does no good to the rashes. Use wipes to clean poop or pee only if travelling out of home. Use only organic wipes from Mother Sparsh or Mamaearth if you must. No need to use wipes at home. Instead use a cotton ball dipped in water to wipe the area, or else take the baby to the washroom to clean-up.
12. Diaper bag essentials
- Invest in a handy diaper bag without too many frills, but make sure it’s a good quality one. The bigger it is, the clumsier it will be to handle. Often parents seem like they are carrying a baby and a diaper bag to war. Buy a reasonable size, with just 2-3 sections, and a smooth zipper. Over time parents become smarter in carrying only the essentials.
- Buy a small diaper change mat that helps you change the baby’s diaper anywhere. The change mat is useful even at home.
13. Baby clothes: Ah so here’s the part you’ve been waiting for. This part of the shopping list is my favourite and no doubt you’ll love it too. Here I will bust some myths and share some practical information. While a lot of traditional families ask the parents to not buy clothes for the newborn and use only old passed-down clothing from siblings or cousins, it is completely safe to buy new clothes as long as you sterilize them before using.
- Onesies/romper: Onesies are cute and smart, but not so practical if you don’t intend to use diapers all day. Also, full body onesies are absolutely impractical because if the baby soils the clothes, the entire top to bottom has to be changed. I suggest buying just 1 set of full-body romper (contains 3 rompers) for use at night time to keep the baby well covered. As a general rule, an infant requires just one extra layer of clothing than an adult in any kind of weather.
- Pyjamas: You’ll need couple of cotton pyjamas as infants can soil their clothes ever too often. Diaper-leaks are the most common culprit. A set of 7-8 pyjamas is essential in new born size.
- T-shirts: Babies tend to burp out milk very often in the day, almost after every feed. This soils their tops easily. Another reason why onesies are ruled out because changing the entire onesie is cumbersome than just the top after an acid-reflux. A set of 6-7 t-shirts is good enough for start. Buy a mix of half-sleeve and full-sleeve t-shirts.
- Frock: Skip the frock for first 3-4 months (except for outings if you like) and opt for practical top and bottoms.
- Vests: A pack of 4-6 vests is enough. Remember to always layer the baby, and a vest provides a comfortable layering.
- Cap: 2-3 soft cotton caps are a must, as infants lose maximum heat through their heads. Ensure it is not tight, or makes the infant uncomfortable.
- Mittens: Buy a set of 3 mittens and wash them on a daily basis. Infants tend to scratch their face often. It’s also good to keep their hands warm, especially in winters. Buy cotton mittens with soft elastic. The ones I bought from Mothercare were extremely loose and would come off easily. I found the ones I bought from First Cry store were much better and softer.
- Socks/booties: Keeping the infant in socks for most past of the day is advisable as their feet tend to get cold easily. The best way to check if the baby is feeling cold or too warm is by touching their hands and feet. Buy around 3-4 pairs of socks as they don’t get soiled so easily, and one pair can last for the entire day. Make sure the socks don’t have tough elastic else it can hamper with the blood flow.
- Bath towel: Buy a bath towel with a hoodie. I found the brand Abracadabra at the First Cry store and the material is by far the best I have come across in any bath towels.
- Swaddle sheets: a set of 3-4 swaddle sheets is good enough as babies need to be swaddled for the first 1-2 months only.
- Burp cloths: A set of 3 burp cloths is sufficient. Instead, one can even use hand towels to place on the shoulder to give the baby a burp.
14. Other miscellaneous things that were useful:
- Forehead thermometer is required in the beginning as after every vaccination for the first 3 months babies get high temperature. Monitoring the temperature is important. Usually it goes up to 101 deg and can be treated with Calpol medicine, but needs to be treated differently if fever goes too high. If finding forehead thermometers is difficult one can even buy a simple digital thermometer and take the temperature through armpits. Add one degree to the temp seen on the digital thermometer to judge the actual temperature.
- Baby carrier: Always invest in a good quality carrier. We bought one from Mothercare which can be used from birth upto 2 years. Its easy to wear and ergonomic. However there are various kinds available and one can read up more to find one that suits the most. This is not an immediate essential hence can be purchased later too.
- Play Gym: One can start placing the baby in a play gym around 2 months, as they strat developing motor skills.
For the Mom:
1. Nursing Bra: While you may feel like wearing your regular bra or none at all, a nursing bra is the most comfortable option. Invest in a good brand and you will thank me later. Breast tend to sag easily as the quantity of milk weighs them down. Giving them support at this time is important to maintain their shape. A nursing bra also helps in easy access anytime the baby is hungry. I loved the ones from Mothercare. I bought couple of underwired bras for the outings (the fit and shape is amazing- the colours are simple- black, white and cream), and a couple of non-underwired ones for wearing at home. Infact switching to a nursing bra in the 8th month itself can make one feel so much more comfortable.
2. Breast pump: A breast pump is handy if you plan to get to get back to work after 6 months of maternity break and want to keep your baby on breastmilk even then. However I rarely ever used one and found it extremely cumbersome, plus the baby never accepted BM through any other medium except for the breasts. Keeping a manual pump handy can be good idea, as one may face days of over-production or engorgement initially. Pigeon brand’s manual pump costs around Rs.700 on Amazon. Buy a bottle and a nipple in addition to the pump. An electric pump from Medela is an excellent purchase if you intend to pump regularly.
3. Feeding cloak and nipple cream: These are two of the most overrated items and I find them both utterly useless. A feeding cloak is clumsy to handle and babies often feel very hot under it. Its best to use a cotton dupatta, as it doubles up a feeding cloak and a cover sheet for the baby. There is no better way to cure sore nipples than applying a bit of breastmilk every few hours. Nipple creams have chemicals which are harmful for the baby.
4. Bio-oil: Using bio-oil even post-delivery is useful, as it helps ease out the stretch marks.
5.Sanitary napkins: Stack up on extra sanitary napkins as one usually bleeds for 2-3 weeks post delivery, though the flow varies from person to person.
For the Dad:
1. Read and Guide: You may feel a little left out, and must be wondering where you can help. Buy ‘What to Expect’ and read along. Download the Baby Centre app on your phone, and track the baby’s development week on week. This way you can guide your partner on what she needs to improve upon, go out of your way to pamper her and buy appropriate baby care products.
2. Book Lamaze classes: Check with the hospital where you are delivering if they have child-prep classes for expecting parents. These classes prepare the parents-to-be for labour, child care and breastfeeding. A lot of myths too will get busted in these sessions. Book the classes around the end of the 7th month.
All the best for the wonderful journey! And there is a surprise at the end of each day. Trust me, God is watching over you and you’ll be a fantastic parent. Stay strong, and ask for help when you need it.