Welcome to my birth and postpartum guide, item #6. Congrats on the upcoming addition to your family! Please take care of yourself and best of luck with your preparations. This is one piece of a 10-part guide. Feel free to explore the other pieces from the introduction page.
It’s true that newborns don’t need much other than a functioning caregiver and a place to sleep in those early days…but before I had my first babe I crowdsourced all the advice I could on what exactly we needed to care for a new baby. And I have since answered this question for a number of friends. One of my friends told me the only thing you needed for a new baby is to live somewhere with Amazon Now — that is, Amazon’s two-hour delivery. This is excellent advice — impractical, but excellent. If your area does have Amazon Now, be sure you are familiar with how it works — forget infant (or adult) Tylenol, you can order it — need formula or diapers TONIGHT, you can order it.
The things you should buy:
For you — all kiddo will need for the first few days is food and diapers and wipes and you — and so you need to be well-cared for:
- Perineal ice packs — you will need them and love them. These were my favorite and they worked well on my incision after a c-section too.
- Small Depends diapers, yes, for YOU — more comfortable in the early days than trying to stick giants pads on your mesh underwear with tiny little dainty “wings.” Bring them to the hospital.
- Good coffee — if you are not well-slept, be well-caffeinated. No, caffeine does not pass through your breastmilk in any appreciable way.
- If you are going to breastfeed, clip-down nursing tanks are the easiest way to go in the early days — great access for the babe while you are figuring everything out.
- Audio books — the trick with the early morning feeds is for you to be awake enough to take care of kiddo but stay asleep enough that you don’t have trouble getting back to sleep once the kid is down — I find audio books really helpful for this — they keep your brain at just the right level and then help you fall back to sleep — any good audio book will do — we really enjoyed Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime — if you haven’t read the Harry Potter series, I hear it is great for this too. We’ve also had fun with Guns, Germs, and Steel (kind of like a good college lecture) and Becoming by Michelle Obama. Also, both or all 4 of your hands will be full a surprising amount with one kid early on, so if you have an Alexa or some such, it’s great to get the audio book hooked up to it so that you can tell it to play once you get the kiddo latched (see HOW TO LATCH YOUR BABY TO YOUR LEFT BREAST IN A CROSS CRADLE HOLD IN 33 EASY-TO-MASTER STEPS)
- Larabars — put them in your nightstand now. I was completely caught off guard by how much HUNGRIER I was in the early weeks postpartum than when I was pregnant, I hammered snacks all night. Larabars will also help with that all-important postpartum poop.
- Also — get a huge water cup with a lid and a straw for your nightstand. Breastfeeding makes you sooo thirsty and you will not have the patience for a midnight spill.
- Forehead baby thermometer — it’s unlikely that kiddo will get sick in the early months, but this way, if you are worried, you can check.
- This baby carrier is the way to go — super easy to use and lasts a long time.
- A travel crib — do it, travel with your babe. We liked this one.
- A bassinet for your room for the early months. (Side note, pro-tip from one of my friends — once the kiddo is in a full crib, layer the sheets like this — waterproof cover, sheet, waterproof cover, sheet. This way, if the kid has a blow-out in the middle of the night you can just rip off the top two layers and put the kid back down.)
- Our favorite baby towel
- One trillion cheap wash clothes — if/when kiddo gets a diaper rash, one of the best ways to help treat it is to stop using wipes, so you will need a lot of water and a lot of wash clothes. 🙂
- Good diapers and wipes — we like Huggies Little Snugglers and Pampers Swaddlers for the early months
- Lots of burp cloths — we liked these for all around use. The method we copied from our friends and used for both kids was to just scatter them around the house on the furniture and throw them onto the floor once they couldn’t be used anymore — a signal that they need to be tossed into the laundry.
- At least a couple good kids books. Read to your babe. Goodnight Moon and Little Blue Truck are my favorites.
- A stroller — we love our City Mini GT around town — the wheels don’t inflate so they can’t pop — a sunshade, recline, and basket storage are important.
- A nursing pillow — This one!! THE BEST. It pulls right up to your chest, whereas I found that the boppy left this weird gap for me and wasn’t nearly as comfortable.
- Disposable changing pads/chuck pads — so helpful for babies. Use them to give the baby a sponge bath, or to line the bassinet for midnight diaper changes. If your kid gets a diaper rash and needs to spend time without a diaper on, put them on one of these. There are a million ways they can make your life easier.
- A diaper bag — I would truly not bother. Buy a portable changing station and put it into a day-hiker backpack that fits you well (I like my CamelBak Sundowner Lowrider 22). Throw in some toys for any older kids, a change of clothes for each kid, snacks for you and any older kids, a giant water bottle and some back up formula in case of an emergency and you are GTG.