The honest guide to must-haves for your newborn
The honest guide to must-haves for your newborn
When pregnant for the first time, your first visit to a nursery store can be fraught with overwhelm. What the frick are all these weird contraptions? And do you even need half of them? You might get so lost in the treacherous maze that you grab one of everything (guilty!) and don’t have funds left over to invest in the really worthwhile stuff. In keeping with our ethos of ‘buy well; buy less’, Our Joey’s honest guide is here to help you navigate the maze.
Invest in these …
The crib will be the centrepiece of your baby’s room and it’s natural to want the most gorgeous one you can find. What I didn’t realise as a first-time mum – fast forward six months and your teething baby is going to munch on that masterpiece like a hungry beaver.
Captivated by the allure of an heirloom crib for my babe, to last her until she left the nest, I invested in a bassinet, convertible cot. Once my babe would out-grow the bassinet, some of the pieces would be used to construct the cot. Then, the cot promised to convert to a toddler bed and, later, a sophisticated-looking double.
The most important thing about baby’s nursery furniture, and crib especially, is that it is constructed using non-toxic materials. Much furniture today is manufactured using MDF, a fibrous material constructed of wood and glue, before it is coated in chemical paints and sealants. These contribute to poor indoor air quality because they emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which have been linked to headaches, asthma, allergies and cancer.
Babies spend more than half of their lives in bed and are particularly vulnerable to toxins in their environment, as their organs are still developing. Look for low-VOC, or zero-VOC, brands, with Greenguard Gold Certification. Babyletto, Stokke and Oeuf are all fantastic.
The second-best part about these cribs? If you select a natural timber finish, without veneer, the crib can easily be sanded back and refinished with a zero-VOC stain, like Ecolour’s Polyclear, when those chomp marks appear. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a healthy crib, either – Babyletto’s Hudson Crib, crafted from New Zealand pine, is my eco-(and wallet)-friendly pick.
Your baby’s mattress is the most important piece you will buy for their nursery, but it’s often treated as an afterthought. The conventional mattress is another major source of VOCs in the nursery and, being so close to said mattress, much of the time, your baby will inhale everything that wafts out of it.
Care to avoid the chemical omnishambles? Organature and Blessed Earth are two gorgeous Aussie businesses offering mattresses in organic cotton and organic wool, from bassinet size, up to king, if you’d like to upgrade, yourself.
Sure, organic mattresses are a few hundred dollars dearer than regular mattresses, but you probably wouldn’t think twice about spending the same amount on a crib, which is mainly for aesthetics. I would rather invest in my children’s health, than a fancy nursery, any day of the week.
Save on these …
The booger sucker
I spent something ridiculous, like $60, on one of those electric booger-sucking things, and my kids wouldn’t have a bar of it. They’d thrash about whenever I tried to use the buzzy, intimidating-looking contraption and I’d risk hurting them if I persisted, so I gave up. Save your money and buy a manual nasal aspirator, by Nosefrida.
As with the mattress, bedlinen is an important aspect of your baby’s nursery, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. After all, it will be spit up on, peed on and washed countless times - any fancy lace or embroidery is going to go through the wringer and come out worse for wear! It’s a good idea to opt for quality, organic bedding, that will last the distance, over the fanciest linen you can find.
Having a summer baby? The most you’ll need is a couple of fitted sheets and swaddles. Our Joey makes thick, uber-soft organic cotton cot sheets and swaddles that will withstand the frequent wash cycles. Winter bub? Add two organic cotton or wool blankets to that list, and a winter sleeping bag and you’ll be aces.
The steam steriliser
These are so handy to have on hand – much easier than boiling bottles and dummies, for time-poor parents. Don’t bother buying the most expensive one you see – you’ll only need it for bub’s first year, after which time, sterilising isn’t necessary. I bought one of the supposedly ‘better’ brands, only to have it conk out on me, with baby number two.
Think twice …
Room and bath thermometers
I have no idea why I ever thought I’d need these – I guess I was so confused by the maze of products out there. Humans have an amazing sense, called touch, which tells us whether it’s hot, cold or just right in a room, or bathtub. Babies are more sensitive to temperature than we grownups, so bathwater should be little more than lukewarm. And when it comes to dressing bub or putting the right amount of covers on them at night, trust me, you’ve got this!
Baby monitors and breathing sensors
This is a controversial one but, for me, these monitors were redundant because I believe that babies should sleep in their parents’ rooms for at least the first year. After that time, the likelihood of cot death drops, tremendously. Our species evolved without these fancy contraptions and our ancestral mothers slept close to their babies, to better respond to their needs.
Our breathing monitor set off a few false alarms, causing more heartache than it was worth, for the mild peace of mind I enjoyed with its presence. When my second bub arrived, I ditched the alarm, attached her cot to my bed, rolled over to feed when she woke, then rolled back and went to sleep. James McKenna, PhD, offers some fantastic, evidence-based insights into safe co-sleeping.
More information is coming to light about the harmful effects of electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) and, another reason I’m wary of monitors and breathing sensors, is the near-constant exposure, so close to our babies’ tiny bodies. There now exist monitors, which babies wear as a sock, emitting WIFI and Bluetooth signals, as they sleep. I can’t help but feel that these monitors trade short-term peace of mind, at the possible expense of our children’s long-term health.
I’m not advising that you don’t buy – different things work for different families – but opt for a less tricked out monitor and read customer reviews to help you select a quality brand, which doesn’t play falsies!
Keep in mind that SIDS rates peak between 6 weeks and 6 months. Keep a closer eye on bub than usual if they have been lethargic, or shown signs of illness or allergic reaction, breathing monitor or not – you don’t want to wait until they stop breathing to respond to a problem! One last important point – without infant first aid training, a monitor won’t be of much use at all. Being able to administer infant CPR is a vital skill, well worth a day at a St John’s ambulance course.
The diaper genie
If you don’t know what it is, that’s a great first sign that you don’t need one. Diaper genies are those nappy disposal units which twist the nappies into a scented waste bag, to lock in the smell, and they come out looking like a string of sausages. Sounds great, right? But they don’t hold many nappies, so you have to empty the damned thing every.single.day. And it’s fiddly to do. Here’s a tip – buy some compostable bags and nappies and put them in the green bin, or opt for modern cloth nappies, so you can empty them into the toilet and pop straight in the washing machine.
All that’s left to do now is enjoy the peace of mind that comes from creating a toxin-free and clutter-free haven for your little love.
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