I’m 14 weeks pregnant today, and hoping to see some light at the end of this all-day-morning-sickness tunnel soon. The first trimester was quite honestly, a challenge, so I’m really looking forward to the glowing skin, flowing hair, full-of-energy phase I’ve heard the second trimester is all about. Daily two hour naps are wonderful, but taking them just to get a break from nausea kind of dulls some of their shine.
Now that we’ve shared the news, Keenan and I are so excited to start prepping for the baby’s arrival in November. I’ve tried to avoid decision paralysis as much as possible, and not to get stuck into forums and groups, as I find them really overwhelming, and really, being pregnant is overwhelming enough as it is.
In fact, even just knowing which “essentials” to invest in and which not to bother with before the baby comes has been quite stressful, so I leaned on my Instagram community for their recommendations to help narrow the selection down (did you know that Amazon lists more than 5000 baby monitors?!) I saw some of the same must-haves coming up over and over again from the real experts – fellow parents- and these were the items dropped I in my cart almost immediately. I also received many requests from clueless newbies just like me to share the top recommendations, so here we are.
Before I share my personal list of the things I’ll be investing in before the baby comes, I want to be clear about my own expectations of the fourth trimester. Personally, I would like to keep things as simple as possible, with limited gadgets and technology overwhelming us during what will already be an overwhelming time (I sometimes still ask Keenan to “drive” the tv, so I’m not really excited about modern parenting gadgetry).
There are so many amazing high-tech baby items that do everything from monitor your baby’s oxygen levels and heart rate throughout the night to warming baby bottles in seconds at the touch of a button, but my absolute dream would be to simply co-sleep, breastfeed full-time, wear my baby everywhere and not spend 18 hours a day analysing their vital stats (cannot even begin to imagine the anxiety this would cause me!). Of course, we’re all very different, with different lifestyles and expectations, so please feel free to find a different list of essentials if this one feels too basic for you.
My Pre-Baby List of Newborn Essentials
1 Pokkelokkie Cloth Nappies
My friend Misha got me interested in cloth nappies, which will help us to reduce our unbelievable waste and save thousands in the long run. I’d like to start with cloth from day one, so I’ll be investing the Pokkelokkie newborn collection. I know many modern parents can’t imagine using cloth, but I’ve never had a baby so I figure I don’t have anything to compare it to anyway, and the environmental impact is just too appealing to pass up.
2 DockATot Deluxe+ Dock
The DockATot baby lounger appealed to me hugely as I’ll be taking the baby everywhere and want them to have a safe and comfortable cushion to sleep, relax and play in. It was recommended many many times, and to be honest, I wish they had one in my size. The nurtureOne Nesting Cushion was also recommended a lot – and it’s only 1/3 the price of the DockATot, so a lot more budget friendly.
3 Ubuntubaba Baby Carrier and 4 Noonoo Pie Tie Baby Wrap Carrier
I plan on baby wearing like its my full-time job, and the Ubuntubaba carrier has been on my radar since before I even decided to have a baby. Designed and manufactured in SA, it’s one of the products I’m most excited to try when the baby comes. Having said that, many parents also said that they preferred a soft wrap for the very beginning, so I’m also getting the highly-recommended Noonoo Pie Tie Baby Wrap carrier. When the baby comes, I’ll see which works and swap them out as I see fit.
5 Thule Travel System
Keenan was most excited to research the pram and he decided on the Thule travel system. We like that it converts from car seat to pram to bassinet and that it can be taken “off road” – our lifestyle here in Kenya means we’re planning lots of trips outside the city and to be honest, even in the city, you need an off-road vehicle. Many people recommended the Yoyo and the Doona, but these seem a little more like secondary prams for our lifestyle.
6 Willow Electric Breast Pump and 7 Haakaa Silicone Breast Pump
The in-bra design, quiet pumping and hands-free, cordless mobility sold me on the Willow. It has a patented latch that means you pump lying down, so I didn’t have to do much more research that (I really love lying down). Multiple parents have told me to invest in a Haakaa for additional milk supply, so I’m combining the two systems and hoping it works for me.
8 Beis Backpack Diaper Bag
There were multiple baby bags recommended, but the one thing they all had in common was “backpack”. I love the design of the Beis Backpack Diaper Bag, mostly because it doesn’t look like a nappy bag. It’s designed with every essential in mind: a changing pad with a nappy and baby wipes pocket, an odor-proof pouch, a teething ring and a dummy pouch.
9 Shnuggle Baby Bath Tub
We don’t have a bath in our apartment, so I’m getting the Shnuggle Baby Bath Tub and Stand for anywhere baths. It’s suitable for newborns, with a bum bump to help support tiny babies and it only uses 2 litres of water.
10 Love To Dream Swaddle Up
I don’t think I event knew about swaddling until I fell pregnant, but it seems like every parent swears by this specific swaddle sleeping bag. It came up so many times, mentioned by name, and who am I to argue? Apparently, the baby’s natural sleeping position allows them to access to their hands for self-soothing, and the Swaddle Up is the only zip-up swaddle available that allows babies to sleep in the arms “up” position.
11 NoseFrida Baby Nasal Aspirator
Honestly I had to Google this and even now the idea sounds too gross to be true, but multiple parents recommended it, and I’m not here to argue with their wisdom. I won’t explain it, you’ll have to do your own research, but apparently it is vital.
12 Dreambaby White Noise Machine
I am very much in two minds about a white noise machine. So many parents say they can’t live without it – and I think that’s what scares me. I know it’s absolutely bonkers to believe your baby will “sleep wherever”, but that is my life’s biggest dream and I worry that a white noise machine/blackout curtains/temperature controlled environment will set us up to be slaves to our baby’s sleep schedule and I would much prefer to get our baby used to noisy environments/normal ambient noise from the start? I’m probably going to end up ordering one like a week into being a parent, but this is what I’m feeling right now. Anyway, the Dreambaby is the one that was most recommended.
13 Angel Care Sound and Movement Monitor
This is another item that I am very torn over. The Angel Care baby monitor system feels like it would give me more anxiety than peace – tracking sound, movement, room temperature display, and it has a two-way radio. It also alerts you every time your baby hasn’t moved for more than 20 seconds, which I’m sure would cause me actual stress blindness. I think I would prefer a more low-tech solution, but for the first few months we won’t need a monitor anyway, so I’m not stressing about it too much right now. So the Angel Care system is not the monitor I will be using, but it is the one other parents seemed to get a lot of peace of mind with.
I fully expect to be crying into the phone with my mom on the other end, while I Google “ways to make my baby sleep” three weeks into their new life, but for now, I am trying to remain calmly optimistic and stick to my less-is-more approach to “essentials”. In the meantime, I’ll be eating salt & vinegar chips, trying to focus on something other than their arrival, waiting to meet them. If you have any must-have essentials to simplify this immense transition, please feel free to drop them below!