First Time Parents – Preparation for the New Member of Your Family

ImageA baby is coming in a few months’ time! After the happy news, you want to go straight to the stores and buy all those cutie stuff.

Hey! Cool down a bit. That will be the worst mistake you can make. There is no hurry at all. After all, you have at least another 6 months to do all the shopping which you can actually do in two or three days. The time can be better utilised to make sure that you don’t buy too many things or buy all the wrong things.

How?

You reach the store, bursting with enthusiasm to buy all the good stuff (after all, only the best will do for your baby). But before long, you are completely overwhelmed by the range of products available in the stores. Not only are there so many different kinds of products manufacturers try to convince you that either you or your baby will need, within the same product group, e.g. bottles, there are so many different types you really don’t know which to buy.

So how? Take time to do the following :

1. Research – read up, check the web, etc. Visit the stores to look at the products first.

2. Ask around – ask your friends, relatives, parents what they find useful/useless, etc.

3. Find hand me downs – it’s the cheapest way to have a feel of the products before going out to buy new ones for your baby. To save money, let your baby use the hand-me-downs.

When to Buy?

Try to buy during sales period, such as year end sales, Christmas sales, etc. You will save a lot of money. If there is a sale going on now but your baby is not due for another 5 months, don’t worry. Wait. There are sales all year round. Sometimes, department stores have special baby fair where you can get everything in one place, instead of running around several stores.

Some people prefer to take their time, buy a bit at a time, so they start earlier. For me, I prefer to do all the shopping in one go. It is wiser not to start too early (e.g. when you are 3 months pregnant) ‘cos you may realise later on that ‘cos you didn’t take the time to research, you bought the wrong things. People may pass you hand-me-downs or give you gifts later on. Also, you may not want all the baby stuff to clutter up your home, taking up space and collecting dust.

Yet on the other hand, it’s no good to do everything last minute. It really depends on your condition. Some women with problematic pregnancy may need more bed rest during the 3rd trimester. Even for women with normal pregnancy, it gets more and more tedious to walk around, or stand on their feet too long, during the final trimester. Furthermore, some of you may have your babies born early. Therefore, it is not advisable that you do the bulk of your shopping during the final weeks of your pregnancy.

Conclusion : Shop later but not too late.

Where to Buy?

Most department stores have pretty decent baby department. Research to see which ones tend to be cheaper. Several factors to consider are :

1. Whether generally the store sells cheaper?

2. Whether the store carries sufficient product range and type to worth your trip there?

3. Whether you have the store’s discount card?

4. Whether the store is having a sale/fair?

5. Whether the store carries the things you want?

6. Convenience.

E.g. My husband and I prefer to shop at Tangs, Robinsons/John Little and Isetan, because we have the store cards. Among all these places, we usually buy from Robinson’s/John Little because my husband’s office is near them. All these places have pretty decent baby department.

Specialty Shops

I find specialty shops, such as Mothercare, tend to be a bit more expensive than department stores. On the other hand, they carry certain products not available in department stores.

Neighbourhood Shops

Neighbourhood shops can be really good! Especially for baby clothings. It is pointless to spend a bomb on newborn clothes because babies grow so fast. So it is useful to buy ‘4 for $10’ type of clothes. The quality is not bad too! Also, certain ‘traditional’ things may only be available in neighbourhood shops. I bought my automatic sarong from a neighbourhood shop in Ang Mo Kio.

Buy Online

Of course, at this day and age, you can get a lot of things online. At the moment, I don’t see many local (Singapore) websites specially for baby stuff. Most of the websites are US sites. What I like about some of these overseas sites is that they sometimes sell things that are pretty good but unfortunately not available locally. E.g. I bought some cloth diapers from Earthbaby.com which are much much better than what you can get locally.

What to Buy?

Wow! This is a really major topic because there are so many things. But I shall start off with some basics. I will give you some general guidelines and general list of things you may need. I have also included my own personal preferences for certain products.

General Guidelines

1. Don’t buy too many things.

You will find that you really don’t need so many things. Just buy whatever your baby needs in the first two months of his life. You can always get more things later on when the need arises.

2. Buy later where possible

What I mean is that your baby will eventually need a highchair, for instance, but you don’t have to buy now! You only need to buy it when you baby can sit up and starts taking solids. In the meantime, people may pass you hand-me-downs, give you as a gift, or you can take time to do more research to make sure that eventually you buy something that you really want.

Also, it will be good to delay buying certain things until your baby arrives, and you have more or less established a certain routine of doing things. Then you can decide whether the certain item you had in mind to get earlier on really works for your particular situation. For example, you have wanted to get a cot as well as a playpen. But when your baby arrives, you realise that you really don’t need both. Or you may decide to get the playpen later on, when the baby is older.

3. Where possible, don’t buy things that are exclusively for baby use, or have many functions attached to a single item.

For instance, if you are going to buy a cupboard or a chest of drawers to keep all you baby’s clothing and stuff, do not buy those that are specially made for babies, or serve multiple functions (e.g. those that are partly a changing station). If you buy a normal chest of drawers, firstly, they tend to be more sturdy and you can actually choose one of good material to last you a long, long time; secondly, when your baby grows up and does not need a changing station anymore, he can still continue to use his chest of drawers until he is quite old. The chest of drawers will not become an eyesore to him in his ‘big boy’ room. In case you decide years later to re-decorate your baby’s (by then, a big boy) room and buy him an entire set of new furniture, you can still use that chest of drawers for yourself.

4. Just one type per item will do

No point getting pacifier of different shapes and sizes, for instance. Or different kinds of bottles. You can always get more later on when you find it necessary.

5. Where possible, buy things that can be useful for a long time.

This somewhat ties up with point number 3 above. A simple example would be not to get too many newborn clothes because you baby is just going to outgrown them very very soon. Instead of newborn clothes, get a few size larger.

6. On Hand-me-downs

Hand me downs are great in helping you save costs. Most baby stuff are only useful for a short period of time and they are still in very good condition even though they are not useful for the child anymore. This is especially true for gears like rockers and highchairs. A lot of parents will be more than happy to get rid of their stock of things lying in their store room, so you can tap on this source. One word of caution is that some of them are so overly frugal (that they keep things that are in pretty bad condition) and yet so wonderfully generous (that they are more than willing to pass you their stuff) that they will literally dump their ‘dumps’ on you. You house risks becoming their store, full of not-very-useful-and-very-old things. Well, everything has it’s down side.

Basic List of Things to Start Off With

Remember what I said right from the beginning. Every baby is different, every family is different. This basic list applies in most situation but of course what you really need will depend on you, your baby and your family. If you are going to let some other caregiver take care of your baby later on, you may need to get 2 or 3 sets of the same thing.

1. Baby clothes – including booties and mittens

2. Feeding bottles

3. Steriliser

4. Diapers/diaper liner (if necessary)

5. Baby cot – or playpen, etc. Basically something for your baby to sleep in.

6. Stroller – you can actually buy this later.

7. Baby sling/carrier – can be bought a little later

8. Towels – including swaddling cloth, face towels

9. Diaper bag – if you don’t already have something to double up as one.

10. Pacifier – if you so choose

11. Baby bath tub

12. Baby bath lotion

13. Baby wipes

14. Bottle brush

15. Formula container to bring formula out (if you are giving your baby formula)

16. Baby Monitor – if you think you will need this

17. Changing Mat

18. Car Seat – if you have a car

I would like to add a short list for the mother also because during the days immediately after giving birth, you are going to need these things but you may not be able to go out and buy.

For the Mother

1. Breastpads – especially if you are breastfeeding.

2. Breast cream – if you are breastfeeding

3. At least one piece of nursing wear – if you are breastfeeding

4. Sanitary napkins – I find that it is not necessary to get the maternity types. But please buy the heavy/night time use kind. Buy a lot.

5. Nursing bra – if you are breastfeeding

6. Some loose clothings – if you need, because most likely you won’t get back in shape immediately and within the first month or two, you may need to go out (e.g. post natal check, baby immunisation, etc)

7. Breast pump – you really don’t want to wait until you are suffering from engorgement to get one.