Tips & Tricks

Must-Haves Top 10

When you are expecting a baby, you will likely be overwhelmed by the gazillion things you are advised to buy before the baby arrives. As a first step to not getting lost, I recommend to check online, where you will easily find useful lists of the standard items you will need to buy, such as nappies, changing pad + covers, muslin cloths and hot water bottles.

Here you can find an example of an English checklist and here you will find a checklist in Dutch.

To provide some further guidance, I would like to share with you the following list of must-haves (in no particular order) that in my experience will be of great added value.

1. A baby-bathing bucket such as the Tummy Tub.

I know, you might think that a regular baby bath is much more convenient because of the space in the bath. However, after having spent a lot of time in the womb, a baby will be used to sitting in a confined space with no room to move around. In fact, precisely for that reason, your baby will feel more secure sitting tightly in a bucket filled with luke-warm water instead of a regular baby bath on a stand. Also, the bucket should fit right in your sink, which will be at an ideal height so as to avoid back problems. An additional advantage is that you will then be able to use the counter top as a dressing table. In my view, this is by far the most efficient way to bathe a baby. We used it until the babies were roughly 6 months old. Thereafter, we continued bathing them in the sink, but then without the bucket :).

2. Anti-colic drinking bottles such as Dr.Brown’s bottles.

These bottles reduce the amount of air the baby will swallow while drinking. As this air can cause pressure and gas in the babies’ tummy, the bottles should help prevent, or at least reduce, cramps and discomfort after drinking. Note: not all babies are sensitive to this, but better be safe than sorry.

3. A Feeding pillow (plus extra cover).

In our case this was a must! We fed the babies simultaneously by putting them in the feeding pillows. Even when you “only” have one baby it can be very convenient to feed a baby like this once in a while. For example, if you have other children running around and you just need an extra set of hands while feeding. You can put the baby on his/her side with one shoulder tucked in the pillow and put a muslin cloth under the bottle so that it can’t move. This way the baby can stop drinking whenever he/she wants. Make sure to use the anti-colic bottles when using this method just to make sure that the milk won’t flow too quickly.

4. Good breathable large swaddles (at least two).

You can use these to swaddle your baby in case he/she moves a lot while sleeping. Swaddling will likely help your baby to sleep more steadily. Even if your baby doesn’t appreciate being swaddled, the swaddle cloth will still be of great use as a towel after bathing.

5. A microwave steam sterilizer for all the bottles and pacifiers.

I didn’t have one when the twins were born so I used a large pan with hot boiling water instead. Although of course that did the trick, boiling large pans of water took a lot of time that I could well have spent on other tasks. Also, the bottles became very tarnished in the end. When the triplets arrived, I got a steam sterilizer. It has proven to be a great investment as I am still using it today for the drinking bottles.

6. Breathable protection mattresses such as the Aerosleep covers.

At first, I thought the mattresses were a waste of money: they are rather expensive and experts have doubts whether those mattresses actually help in avoiding SDIS (sudden death infant syndrome). Soon, I found those mattresses are actually worth every penny and here is why:

· Three out of five of our children sleep on their belly (from the moment they were 6 weeks old!). As we all know, it is not advisable to let your child sleep on his/her tummy because it can lead to SDIS. Not really the thing you want to hear as a first time parent. As much as we tried to let them sleep on their backs, they would roll over as soon as their heads touched the mattresses. The fact that the mattresses and covers have an open honey cone structure that is designed to allow a baby to breathe even when facing down, was very reassuring to us!

· Also, when the babies were newborn they threw up a lot while lying in their beds. I loved the fact that I was able to put the protection mattresses in the washing machine at 60degrees Celcius and put the spare one on the bed. Even now that the triplets are bigger, we still use the covers everyday and they come in very handy for all those ‘leaking diapers’ and ‘sick toddler’ moments. These are long-term investments that will save you a lot of hassle in the event your baby’s bed needs an unforeseen, middle-of-the-night change! Moreover, the protection covers will prevent that the mattress of the bed is ruined, which is a plus if you want to use the cot/crib for a second baby or in case you should want to sell it on later.

7. A high-quality bouncing chair such as the Baby Bjorn Bouncer.

These chairs are great to put your baby in when he/she is awake. You will be able to use almost from the moment your baby is born. In addition to the playpen, the chair will avoid you having to hold the baby all the time, and at the same time help your baby develop some balancing skills. Also, you can use the chair to let your baby drink as soon as your baby is old enough to hold on to its bottle by himself/herself. The good thing about the bouncing chairs of Baby Bjorn is that these can be used until your child is around 1,5-2 years old.

8. Baby phone with camera.

Okay, I should be honest with you: we thought it would be a waste of money (again ;). So when we were expecting the twins we didn’t buy one. Instead, we bought a good one without a camera. We didn’t really miss the camera option until the twins were old enough to stand in their cots. Yes, that was when the real fun began! Every time we heard a strange noise or we heard crying we had to check on them to make sure nothing was wrong/they lost their pacifier/stuffed animal, etc. So, when we were expecting the triplets we did buy one with a camera. It saves us a lot of unnecessary running up and down the stairs to check out if everything is okay.

9. A playpen!

Yes this sounds like an obvious one, but I know many people that bought one, but actually never used it because their baby “doesn’t like it”. I wouldn’t be standing up straight today, if it weren’t for our playpen! Unless you want to be carrying the baby all over the house all the time, the playpen will prove to be of great use as it will allow you to leave your child in a safe place in case you will need to be doing other things (such as running the household;-)). In order for your baby to enjoy sitting in the playpen, you will need to make a (small) effort:

– make sure there are a few (not too many) toys in there for your baby to play with or look at;

– often change the toys that you put in the playpen to avoid that your baby will get bored;

– try not to use the playpen as a means to discipline your child whenever it is being disobedient or naughty; and

– never let your baby fall asleep in the playpen as it will eventually mess up its sleeping routines (on which subject I will dedicate a separate post soon).

We are still using our playpen for the triplets on a daily basis and they are totally fine with it.

10. Good breathable sleeping bag(s).

In the first weeks you will be using a nice cosy blanket (preferably one made from natural materials) and maybe you will swaddle your baby during the night, but as soon as the baby starts to move more, I would recommend using a well-fitting sleeping bag (preferably one made from natural breathable materials) such as the ones from ErgoPouch. It gives me much more peace of mind when I know the children won’t have slipped blankets during the night, which would make them feel cold or make their sleeping environment unsafe.