This post was specifically wrote for my cousin PS who is now carrying her first child. 🙂 A BIG BIG congratulations and also big hug to you and Mr. E.
So these are the 5 Big ticket items which I think is the most important before the arrival of your first baby.
- Cot, Mattress & Linens
When selecting a cot, the first thing you have to consider is the space you have. Are you planning to a separate nursery for your little one? Or will the baby be sleeping in the same room as you?
I wanted a cot that our little one could use till she’s at least 3. So, it will need to be big enough to do the job. At the same time since I plan to breastfeed, it’s easier that the little one sleep with us at that time. We finally decided on a cot which is big enough with wheels and still able to fit thru our bedroom door into the nursery.
Mattress should be of sufficient firmness and not too soft. If you think it’s too hard, you can always add a soft topper. Remember to get a mattress protector!
- Car seat (SUPER important)
Not all country has a law which forbid transporting newborn without a car seat. But, even if your country doesn’t have it, it is advisable to USE it. (Please don’t think you are strong enough, or you slow careful enough, or that your place is very nearby. It’s call an accident for a reason)
I really love using the baby carrier between newborn till about 8 months old (when baby R hit 9kg). Babies tend to sleep a lot during the first few months. So, it was really easy to transfer between the car to restaurant or the stroller. We got her the Concord Air Safe (it was on sale!).
But, if you are looking to invest in one for newborn right up to 3-4 years old, then, you have to really research into it. Most car seat that has wide age coverage usually has several shortfalls.
It’s either they don’t recline enough, or the weight limit is very small (Please take note of weight limit, even if your child can fit into the sit doesn’t means it is still safe).
Some models out there have add-ons to allow the seat to fit newborn providing sufficient support. Remember, your child neck is still very flimsy until at least 3 months when they can lift up their head on their own (plenty tummy time can help that).
Normally, the seat (in rear-facing) is meant for less than 9kg, and when rotate to front facing it can go up to 13kg. That’s where is become an issue for us. Baby R hit 9kg by the time she’s 8 months old. I would prefer to keep her in a rear-facing seat until she’s at least 24 months old (hopefully – one can hope). But, it’s not safe now since she hit the weight limit. Another problem was she’s taller and there was just not enough room for her legs sitting rear-facing. So, she gets very frustrated and cries after 15mins in her seat. This is the Concord Ultimax.
After some debate with myself, I made the wallet-painful decision to get her another car seat which allows her to be in rear-facing for longer period. This time, I spend hours doing research because I don’t want to regret again. We finally got her a new seat which fulfils the new European i-Size standard. The car-seat is suitable for rear-facing until the age of 4 or 105cm height limit or 23kg weight limit. AWESOME ! I love the Concord Reverso.
Picture from the Concord website.
Remember to always choose the Rear-facing car seat for newborns right up to 2 years old. I know many parents find it really hard to force your toddler to sit rear-facing. So, parents will have to make many hard decisions and sometimes convert to front facing earlier than the standard recommendation. Please know that Not all children are the same… so please don’t judge!
Thankfully, baby R is still oblivious to the world of front facing and is still strapped on rear facing till date (18 months ++). There were one period (around the 10months mark where she refuse to sit in her car seat). So, mummy cheated and plays the cartoons on her handphone while baby sits in her car seat. Luckily, it was just a phase and she outgrew it. After 2 weeks, she revert back to sitting in her car seat with no fuss.
- Confinement consumables : Chinese Herbs, Ginger/Rice Wine & Sesame Oil
This is mainly applied for Chinese / Asian heritage mums. I am not a big fan of Chinese herbs, myself. There are so many varieties and grade out there, its so mind boggling. There are so many horror stories out there of Medical hall selling low grade and bad quality stuff.
My Dad knows one of the Chinese Medical hall doctor quite well so I felt slightly better getting my confinement herbs. Aside from the daily herbal soup you have to drink, there’s the red date water which you are only allow to drink during the whole period. Yes – NO WATER at all. I wasn’t a big fan of the red date drink so I got my mum to make it really light and diluted.
And then, there’s the herbs which you need to boil in water to take bath in, for both the mother and the baby. Thankfully, I manage to “convince” my mum to allow me to bath everyday (even though it was herbal bath – I was happy). AND, I really tried my best to not wash hair. BUT, after 8 days I went on strike and was allow the luxury of washing my hair!
All these herbs are NOT cheap!
During confinement, the mother is expected to consume a large amount of ginger, sesame oil and rice wine (supposedly it helps to balance back the heat in the body). Hubby is shock by the amount of alcohol a mother has to drink. He thinks confinement mothers are alcoholic.
Since I was breast feeding, I kept the alcohol to really minimal level and I only take it once every alternate day (normally lunch), after I have feed the baby / pump.
- Breast Pump & Milk storage bottles / bag
There are many breast pumps out there. Some are cheaper than others. Since I’ve only used ONE breast pump, I can’t really say if it is justifiable to splurge on one.
Being a working mum, I need to think efficient pumping. So, I was really biased towards the Medela freestyle double pump. Overall, it was really easy to use except using double pump made me feel more like a cow. LOL… especially since the pump makes a sort of “moo moo” sound. Some have complained that it makes a really loud noise but I found it quite soothing especially when I’m pumping in the room at 3am!
I also love it because I can pump hands-free. Strapping on 2 pumps was really hard when I started working. So, I resort to pumping one at a time using the hands-free. It was awesome. I could continue working on my computer while pumping my milk.
During the beginning of the breast milk journey, there was just not enough milk to go around for storage. So, keeping it directly in the bottle was easier. Most breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days. You do see separation over time but it’s usually just the fat content which you can easily stir and mix well again. As for me, my milk supply was only enough for about 1 day supply (oh well…). I think I only manage to store 3-4 bags of milk in the whole 6 months plus journey of breastfeeding.
The rest of the storage freezer bags I bough were later use to keep her baby food puree.
- Changing Table
Ok – This is not really a big ticket item depending on your creativity. Personally, I didn’t really spend much. I used my existing Ikea table. The only thing I splurged on was the changing mat / cushion which come with a safety belt.
This was really useful especially when the baby starts to turn (which is usually between 4~5 months). It’s just an extra safety precaution for me even thought I never walk away while changing the baby.
It also helped to distract the baby while being strapped down. For some reason, mine was especially focus on the “tails” of the strap.
So, these 5 items which in my opinion are in the big-ticket items you should get before the baby arrives. Please note that it will be different for everyone as we all have different needs and also different culture.