Buy for Baby
Buying for a baby opens up a whole new world of shopping opportunity. If you’ve never had the pleasure before, you are in for a lovely time. At first you’re likely to find the sheer range and choice almost overwhelming, apart from being impossibly cute. Clever marketing makes baby retail an industry which completely bypasses the brain and goes straight for the ah! factor in all of us. So even if you’ve had a baby before, you’ll find it impossible to resist the temptation of buying just a few little extras for your new baby.
What’s the latest in baby gear?
Research into safety and design elements are progressing continuously. You’ll be amazed at how quickly developments are made. What may have seemed very up-to-date for an older child just a couple of years before, can seem almost dated by comparison today. But your baby will not care what it has or what you have bought for it. The only things which really registers on its radar are having lots of loving care, a full tummy, a dry bottom and having its needs met.
As parents it is easy to get caught up in thinking that what we buy for our children is a demonstration of how much we love them. If we spend more and this is obvious, then it follows that our children are more precious and valuable to us. But this is not the case. Consumerism is not important to babies, they have very simple needs.
Will I get the pink or the blue?
Apart from the must have items, such as a cot, a pram and car restraint, there’s also a world of choice when it comes to baby clothing. If you don’t know what sex your baby is before it is born, it is safest to go for white, lemons and soft pastels. Some women feel so strongly about their baby’s sex that with utter confidence, they fill the nursery with only pink or blue items. Be prepared to be unprepared if you do this, as even pregnancy intuition can be very wrong. So can ultrasounds, which is why most sonographers won’t give a 100% guarantee of the baby’s sex.
When is the best time to start getting organised?
Just when is the right time to start buying for your baby? There is no right or wrong time because this is too open to individual choice. Some women err on the side of caution and wait until the second or third trimester before they start and others have been collecting baby related items for years. If there are other babies in the family, you may find yourself sharing the basic equipment. Borrowing makes sense and saves money. If you’ve had a baby before, chances are you’ll be able to recycle most of what you’ve already got.
If money is tight, include some baby related items each time you go grocery shopping. Bath wash, washing detergent, softener, disposable nappies and wipes can all be stock piled so you can avoid an expensive money outlay all at once. If your friends and family offer you a baby shower, accept graciously. Apart from being a lot of fun the presents you’ll receive will help to ease your own financial outlay.
Go shopping to buy for the baby with your partner, even if at first he doesn’t seem keen. This is a great way of prompting dads to become involved in pre-baby preparation and it can help them feel they have a role to play. It’s also fun to go with a sister or a girlfriend and bounce ideas off each other regarding what is a good buy. Shopping and buying for women is linked to our hunter gatherer ancestry and fulfills an important function in our biological makeup. Honestly!
- A cot, a pram, a baby bath, a baby sling or pouch, a change table and a high chair from around 6 months. You will need a comfortable feeding chair which provides you with good back support and which is easy to get up and out of. (Check feature article titled Baby Equipment for more details).
- Baby clothes are a must when you consider what to buy for baby. A range of weather appropriate singlets, jumpsuits, t-shirts, leggings, all in ones and nighties will form your baby’s wardrobe basics. You are likely to be given clothing when it is born so make a point of using it, even if you think some of it is too special just for wearing at home. Babies grow so quickly and they soon outgrow their small clothing sizes.
- Cot linen which is suitable for the season. You’ll be amazed by how much linen your little one can get through in a day so make sure you have a good supply. A waterproof mattress cover or mattress protector is a “must have” practical item.
- A washing machine, dryer and hanging options. Going to the Laundromat when you have a baby is a trip you won’t want to make. You won’t find the thought of putting your precious baby’s clothing in an industrial, public machine very attractive.
- Most parents find they need to buy a rocker chair to place their baby in for those times when they need to place them somewhere safe. They vary enormously from the very ornate to the more basic, generic type. One with a hanging frame which supports some toys is good.
- As your baby gets older you will need to think about safety around the home. Some gates to fit across doorways, baby latches for cupboard doors and electric socket plugs are all important. Bathrooms pose a particular risk so investigate hot water safeguards, slip resistant mats, brackets for hair dryers and lockable medication cupboards.
- The New Zealand National Poisons Centre is a 24/7 Poisons Information Service available to all New Zealanders. Become familiar with their helpline number 0800 POISON (0800 764 766) for information and emergencies regarding poisons and poisoning.
For the car
- As a driver you must make sure any child travelling in your vehicle is correctly secured. From 1 November 2013 child restraint laws in New Zealand are changing to improve safety. The new law says you must correctly secure your child in an approved child restraint up until their 7th birthday. The law will continue to require all children aged seven to be secured in an approved child restraint if one is available in the vehicle.
- It is strongly recommended that to keep babies and toddlers safe they travel rear-facing until 2 years of age. Whilst this is not a legal requirement, it is a recommendation based on best practice (source: The American Academy of Pediatrics) and one that is endorsed by Plunket in New Zealand. Older children should stay in their forward-facing child restraint or booster seat until they outgrow it.
- Individual brands and their designs vary, though are generally rearward facing for babies up to 13 kilograms, forward facing restraints for children from 9-18 kilograms and booster seats for older children from 18-36 kilograms. Select a restraint which is approved to an accepted New Zealand Safety Standard. If you or your partner are confident about fitting the child restraint correctly to your car, then do so following the manufacturer’s instructions. If not, you can find a trained child restraint technician from Plunket or via the NZTA for assistance with fitting.
- For more information on using child restraints safely, including changes to the child restraint laws, check the New Zealand Transport Agency website and their fact sheet on child restraints or call them on 0800 699 000. Also, take a look at our article on protecting your most precious asset.
- It can be useful to have a couple of toys in the car to distract and occupy the baby when you are driving. Keeping some favourites which they don’t play with all the time can save your sanity on a long drive.
- A shade cloth for the window so your baby is not exposed to the sun. These usually attach with suction caps and have the advantage of being transparent enough to not impede driver visibility.
- If you are formula feeding, you will need a small, portable insulated carrier to transport cold formula. Alternately, you will need to have small, sealable containers to store dry formula so it can be mixed with water just before feeding.
For the home
- Somewhere for the baby to sleep. Your baby will need to have a safe place where it can sleep undisturbed but still be heard if it cries. Some parents like to use intercoms and feel a sense of security if they are linked to their baby via one. See baby equipment for more information.
- A colourful floor rug or mat. Many have bright prints and a detachable frame which can hold toys for the baby to look at. Have a small range of toys which are age appropriate. Young babies can see black and white so look for toys with these as the primary colours. Don’t forget a couple of books. It’s so important to start reading to your baby from birth, so some board or cloth books would be ideal.
- Some parents still like to use a play-pen to place their babies into. Not so much to confine the baby, but to keep inquisitive siblings at a safe distance when parents can’t be right there.
- Even if you aren’t a fan of dummies, buy a newborn one just in case it’s needed. A late night dash to the pharmacy is not uncommon in households where newborn babies need some extra comfort.
When you’re out and about
- A nappy bag with a supply of Huggies nappies, wipes, tissues, disposable change mats, nappy waste bags, creams and any number of “emergency” items. The contents of some nappy bags could support a family on a desert island for a month, but taking too much can be annoying, especially if you have to carry it around.
- A sun-shade or pram cover plus a rain hood for the pram. Most prams have a tray or detachable bag included and these are very handy when shopping. Keep a fold-up umbrella on board for those times when you’re caught short. Remember a hat for the baby or better still, buy a couple. One for the house and one for when you’re out. Don’t forget to buy baby sunglasses as well. Protecting babies eyes is as important as protecting their skin, especially in the New Zealand climate.
- Don’t forget your own needs when you’re out. It is easy to forget yourself when you’re so focused on what the baby needs. A water bottle, sun protection and comfortable shoes are a must when you’re out and about.
- Think about investing in a new handbag which doesn’t require you to dig around too much. One of the secrets of being organised is being able to place your hands on what you want with the minimum of fuss.
- The range of toiletries available for babies is staggering. Most of baby specific products have been dermatologically tested and are hypo-allergenic. Some parents find a range they like and stick with that and others are not so brand loyal.
- The minimum requirement for bathing is some baby soap or bath wash which can be used as a shampoo as well. Don’t forget a soft bristled hair brush. Gentle scalp brushing each day helps to prevent cradle cap.
- A soft towel and washer which is used only for the baby is important. Sharing towels and bed linen is one very effective way of transferring infection between individuals in a household.