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But what do I ACTUALLY need when I have a baby?

Writing by Freya Bennett

When I had my first daughter, it wasn’t the 50-hours of labour turned emergency C- section that had me shellshocked. It was the sudden and overwhelming responsibility of caring for this tiny creature. 24-hours-a-day.

While there absolutely needs to be more education and emphasis on what to do AFTER the birth, there’s only so much you can plan for without having experienced early parenthood firsthand.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter, a lot of friends and acquaintances around me were also expecting. This meant delving headfirst into the world of baby consumerism as our conversations revolved heavily around all the things we ‘needed’.

A friend had a special glowing thermometer, was I meant to have that? Another friend spent $2000 on a pram, if I spent less, was I a bad mother? I was suddenly being bombarded with adverts on social media and people’s opinions on what I should and shouldn’t have. It was overwhelming.

Of course, after the baby is born, you soon realise what you need to function as a family and that is not going to be the same as what other people need (or want).

This time around, and after a six-year intermission, my list of ‘must haves’ before the baby arrives is a lot more condensed, and well thought through.

So I wanted to share my personal list of life-saving (literally in some instances) items you need before you have a baby:

  • Clothes, but not as many as you think. We had sooo many newborn baby clothes the first time round and didn’t get to use them all before the baby grew out of them. This time, we’ve got a few hand-me-downs but have mostly decided to wait till the baby comes to see what we will need.
  • Swaddles. I wouldn’t go nuts with buying too many before the baby comes as these days, there are plenty of options and you might want to just buy one of each to see which suits you and your baby. We love the sleep sacks so will be buying a few newborn ones and reusing our muslin clothes from our first daughter.
  • A sturdy nappy bag. The first time round we just used some of our old backpacks or tote bags we had lying around as nappy bags and to be honest, as much as I am all for reducing consumerism, a good quality nappy bag for the sole purpose of being the nappy bag would’ve made a big difference. Having everything neatly packed and ready to go means when you’re out and about, it isn’t a scramble to find everything you need.
  • An INPAA safety approved Cot. We opted for the Kookaburra cot and mattress from Koala to match our other Koala furniture. Not only is it super pretty and easy to assemble, but it is Red Nose and INPAA safety approved so we didn’t even have to think too much about it. Koala have done the work for you.
  • A baby wrap – for me, the best mode of transport wasn’t the pram, but the baby wrap. My first-born LOVED being close to me so it kept her calm and I had both hands free. I spent the early days walking with friends and drinking coffee and it just made life so easy. We bought two because vomit happens.
  • A rocking chair. My in-laws bought us a proper rocking chair and this was a lifesaver for me. Babies like to be rocked, constantly and sometimes you just want to be sitting. Because we used it SO much with my first, the fabric has torn and the stuffing is coming out, instead of buying a new one, we decided to spend a bit of money getting it reupholstered – good for the planet and good for longevity.
  • A chest of drawers. The first-time round, we tried to share our modest closet with our baby and it was all a bit of a mess. This time round, we decided to get a chest of drawers solely dedicated to baby stuff. This is also a longer-term investment for when she has her own room. We once again opted for Koala’s Wombat chest of drawers. They’re beautifully understated and they have been designed with safety in mind: no handles or knobs so your little one won’t be able to open the drawers without a parent present. And the beauty of these drawers is they will suit any age.
  • A brand new car seat. This is an item we splashed out on because a) safety is paramount and b) it will last her till she’s four. If you splash out on anything, it should be the cot and the carseat.
  • A second-hand bassinet for our pram. We have an amazing pram our friends gifted us second hand when our daughter was a toddler. This means we have the right parts for a sitting up kiddo but not for a floppy baby that cannot hold its own giant head up. We looked at how much a new bassinet attachment would be and quickly decided against it. The stage of life where the baby is happy lying down in the pram is so short lived, we couldn’t possibly justify spending over $300. Plenty of people sell their prams on Marketplace for a pretty reasonable price so we’re going second hand for this aspect. I would definitely encourage looking at a second hand pram as prams are super expensive and a lot of second hand prams are in great condition.

Thus completes my list of must-haves before the baby is born.

This will be different for everyone as everyone has different needs and every child is unique.

But don’t be swayed by every gadget you see because as with weddings, there is huge profit to be made in the baby having business and companies know that.

Think about what is most important for you, what is important to keep the baby safe and what might just be a waste of money. And remember, you can always buy things after the birth if you realise you really need it.

Happy birthing and for those first few weeks, god-speed.

Freya Bennett

Freya Bennett is the Co-Founder and Director of Ramona Magazine. She is a writer and editor from Dja Dja Wurrung Country who loves grey days, libraries and dandelion tea. You can follow her on Instagram @freya___bennett

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