A funny thing happens when you find out you are expecting your first child – you become obsessed with making sure you have everything you need for the new arrival. Because, the shops shut when you have a baby, or something like that. Also, you just know that if you fail to prepare and amass every.single.thing. you will fail utterly as a parent. Because Harvard graduates all had electric bottle warmers when they were little.
Becoming a parent for the first time is like joining a secret club, full of bewildering paraphernalia and jargon. What is a onesie, and do I need it in 0000 or 000? Argh! What sort of wrap or front pack is best and what one may damage my child’s delicate spine? How can I possibly choose from the vast range of strollers that look like a cross between a tank and Optimus Prime?
There are loads of definitive must-have-for-baby lists out there, but forget about baby slings, white noise machines and baby wipe warmers. Here’s the real list of what will be indispensable.
6 things that you really need when you have a baby:
1. A very good washing machine. If your current machine is on its last legs, think about upgrading it before your baby arrives, because trust me, you don’t want it to conk out when you are knee deep in baby-spit. The amount of washing that one tiny person can produce really should be the subject of in-depth scientific investigation along with the Bermuda Triangle and the Loch Ness Monster. You will do ridiculous amounts of laundry during the years your child is with you, so get a machine that can go the distance.
2. A slow cooker. Your slow cooker is your new BFF. Dinner time isn’t known as the ‘witching hour’ for nothing. Soothing a whining or cluster-feeding baby whilst overseeing bubbling, boiling things on the oven is a recipe for frazzled nerves. When my daughter was tiny I would throw ingredients into the slow cooker when she went down for her morning nap. When my son came along I would make up the meal the night before so I could simply take it out of the fridge and flick the on switch in the morning. Slow cooked meals are wonderful for when you have company over but still have wee ones running amok. Slow cookers are more economical than ovens to run, and you can buy cheap cuts of meat which will melt in your mouth by dinner time.
3. Lots of little face cloths. Like, a million of them. Those little squares of fabric will see endless tours of duty. I must go through at least 10 of the darn things a day. Wiping mucky faces and sticky hands, cleaning up globs of weetbix that didn’t quite make it into a mouth (some days it’s mine), umpteen sponge baths, sippy cup spills and more. I love these things so much that if they weren’t in such revolting condition by now I’d turn them into a patchwork quilt for posterity’s sake.
4. To be part of a clothing chain. Buying cutesy, ikkle clothes is loads of fun, but crikey these tiny outfits can be expensive. If you’re not blessed with a projectile vomiter, rest assured that your 0-6 month old will not require too many outfits. Once they are moving…well, that’s a game changer. Kids need to play like tired parents need to sleep. All the time. They need clothes that fit well, don’t impede their movement, and that they can get mucky in. It can be tricky to find decent second hand clothing for toddlers – for good reason. They trash their clothes. This is why clothing chains are worth their weight in gold. Friends have given me loads of clothes for both my children – so much that I will only need to buy a few items each season for the next few years. And I have gladly passed on clothing to friend’s babies in return.
5. The ability to sleep at will, anywhere, anytime. Just like your new baby. I struggle with night feeds because I have serious trouble getting back to sleep. Usually I can’t get back to sleep until 6am. Right when my kids wake up…Having spoken to many mothers about this, I know that I am not alone. Blessed are those who can nod off back to sleep in a jiffy. It also helps in those early days to be able to sleep in strange positions, like sitting upright. This is because your crying baby has finally fallen asleep. On you. And you don’t want to move a single muscle in case they wake up and start bawling again.
6. Non-judgmental friends and family on speed dial. Have one or two friends who you can call to vent, or even better, to come over at once without question. The early weeks are rough. Unless you’ve spent significant time with a newborn, you will be unprepared for how much they can cry. Their crying is hardwired to upset you, and if you can’t make them stop it’s incredibly difficult to bear. When you are having a day when you’d quite like to throw your baby out the window, some one you can call on for help is a gift from God.
What would be on your list?