Then there are so many books and articles containing most of the required information you can read. And of course – your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and even strangers who have had been there and are full of advise to give out…..
But what do we REALLY need?? Who do we actually listen too? The first thing I would say to anyone that asks this is to listen to yourself because at the end of the day the journey is yours…
Here is what I would like to share with you all to what we both found useful during Harvey’s first year….
Essential Items for Harvey’s First Year
- Teething rail
- Change mat
- Feeding Pillow and Feeding’s Chair
- Breast pump
- Electric steriliser
- Microwave steriliser (only for overseas travel)
- Bottles and Teats
- Sippy Cups
- High chair
- Drying rack
- Baby carrier
- Pram and Stroller
- Rain cover
- Sleeping bag (for winter)
- Stroller organiser
- Pram pegs
- Nappy bag
- Wipes, Nappies
- Nappy rash cream
- Bath tub
- Nail clipper and scissors
- Bath towel and face cloth
- Bath mat
- Sleeping bag
- Muslin Cloths
- Medicine and First aid
- Play gym
Cot VS Portable Cot
At first we were reluctant to buy a big cot as we thought a Portable cot may suffice and be more useful since we were thinking of visiting my parents back and forth. So we purchased the Baby Bjorn portable cot which is excellent for its size and assembles in no time. Within two days of being back home however, I found the height is not very Mum friendly as it is too low for my back!! So we pretty quickly went to buy a proper cot.
We used Baby Bjorn cot several times during our overseas trip and visits to friends places. It is easy to fit in the car and check-in on flights. I like the fact that we don’t have to rely on other people and we are always ready should Harvey need to go to sleep. BUT, I would not have the portable cot as one of the essentials on the list.
Note: a bassinet was never on our list and Harvey was fine sleeping in the full size cot from the start.
In addition to the cot – we have also bought a teething rail. During some of his teething, Harvey bit on the cot crazily causing damage to the cot, and oh the sound of teeth grinding on it was is very painful to hear!!!
Change table VS Change Mat
Believe it or not – a change table was the item that we bought after Harvey was born as I couldn’t decide what I wanted beforehand – and Harvey was two weeks early! So Jaz went to get a foldable change table for us – of which I didn’t really like but it did serve the purpose before it broke after a few months.
By the time it broke, I had more thought about it… and we decided to just buy a change mat and velcro it on top of a chest of drawers (thanks to Jaz’s DIY skills) which we can use to store his nappies, wipes, clothes etc…It has been working extremely well and will easily last us until Harvey is Toilet trained 🙂
Feeding’s Pillow and Feeding’s Chair
I found that both were essential as feeding pillows which gave me a lot of comfort and helped me rest my arms while holding Harvey. I found feeding chair is good for night time feeding so I didn’t have to leave our bedroom.
I always planned to pump and store the milk so I could get a break from time to time. For example. Jaz could feed Harvey and I can have about 4-5 hours uninterrupted sleep during the night (click here to see my page on my breastfeeding experience if you are interested). My milk supply didn’t fully come in until about three weeks in and once it did, the breast pump definitely became one of my essential pieces of equipment. I would definitely recommend a Medela double pump which we used. I had no issues with it at all, it was easy to clean, and can be battery operated if necessary. I would recommend a double pump as I couldn’t imagine of doing one breast at a time… as time is something you wont have when you have a new born. It is a little more expensive but I do think it is well spent.
In addition to the pump – the Easy expression Bustier will become your best friend. It is lovely to have hands free while the machine is pumping you like a cow. So I would definitely add this on to my essential list.
Electric Steriliser vs Microwave Steriliser
I love the electrical steriliser. We have done a LOT of sterilising in our time and are still sterilising Harvey’s formula bottles today. We will likely be continuing with the formula for another year so will likely continue with the steriliser in the future. We bought a Tommee Tippee electric steriliser starter kit which consisted of all we need.
For travelling we bought a microwave steriliser – which is smaller and can even go into the overhead luggage. They also do a great job, but take a little longer and have a smaller bottle capacity.
There are also sterilising tablets (e.g. Milton) as an option for travel, however we have not tried these as yet.
Bottles and Teats
As we bought the Medela Pump package and Tommee Tippee starter set, the bottles and teats were included. Obviously, prior to the purchase I had done research on the pump and bottles, and decided to give these two brands a go.
Medela Bottles: While Harvey and I were in the process of establishing the breast feeding, we used the Medela Bottle and its Calma teat. The teat is designed in a way that baby requires a vacuum for the breast milk to flow. As soon as the baby pauses, the flow is stopped as it would during actual breastfeeding.
We mainly used Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature bottles for the baby formula. Once Harvey was about 3 months old, he actually refused to take the Calma teat completely. By the time he was 5 1/2 months he was on the fastest flow-rate teats. I would recommend buying the 340 mL bottle size once you have finished with cute little 150mL bottles if you are doing formula feeding as it has more room to cater for extra volume in the future.
E.g. 1 scoop of formula requires 50mL of water which make up the total volume of ~ 56mL
To make 250mL of formula requires 5 scoops : 56 x 5 = 280mL which exceeds the bottle limit.
By the time Harvey was 11 months old we had completely converted from teat bottles to straw bottles/cups. I decided on the Phillips Avent because the straw itself can be sterilised and Harvey enjoyed drinking from it.
Harvey started using sipper-cup by the time he was four months. We use Doiddy cup as and open cup during his meal times and Tommee Tippee Transition sipper cup. We did however, remove the valve as we found the flow rate to be too slow and too much effort for Harvey. We then gradually introducing a straw cup to Harvey. I decided on B-Box sippy cup and again removed the weight at the bottom of the straw off as Jaz said it was too hard even for him to suck from it. After the weight was removed, Harvey was able to enjoy drinking from it.
High Chair and Portable High Chair
We started Harvey with a portable high chair only as we did not want our house to become a “baby zone”!!! In addition, we could take it with us wherever we go without having to rely on other people. In the end though, this was not enough – you definitely do need a more permanent high chair for two main reasons:
- It’s a secure stable place for Harvey to sit so we only need to worry about feeding him and the mess stays in one place (well mostly unless Harvey decided to do some throwing and dropping food on the floor)
- Our family loves eating and cooking and we want Harvey to sit with us during meal time, have conversation and develop his social people skills
There are so many highchairs on the market ranging from space savers to the more traditional styles. We bought Phil & Teds lobster as our portable chair choice. It is a good design, a great size to take around with you which was convenient, although Harvey was a bit too small for it initially (about 4 months old). We also have a glass dinning table which was not suitable to connect the chair in… and as it happens these days, when we do went out, most places either already had a high chair or we just feed Harvey in his Pram. So we can comfortably say that for us a portable high chair is NOT on our essential baby list.
After doing more research on highchairs we came down to two options Phil and Teds high chair and Stokke Tripp Trapp. With Stokke Tripp Trapp, you also need to to buy a baby seat for it and therefore due to the much higher price, we decided to go for Phil & Teds.
Phil & Teds Highchair
The chair itself is fine and Harvey can sit well in it. We removed the shoulders straps as Harvey was very secure with just three points harness fastened correctly (always under supervision). I personally feel that, if I have to move him out of the chair for emergency (e.g choking) – It would take longer with the five points. The tray space is wide and good size to capture the mess. The chair itself can be later converted into a small child chair and looks pretty funky to have as a part of your child’s furniture.
The negative comments I have for this product is that – it is hard to clean some of the nooks and crannies. Yes you can remove the chair’s cover and wash it but it takes too much of an effort to do every single meal or day. So Jaz has added some cloth tape to the middle part of the chair to minimise the crumbs getting through.
I have already cover the necessary items in my previous post Getting Ready For Harvey’s First Solids. You should have most of the items in your kitchen already. Perhaps non-breakable plates/cutlery that you may need to purchase additionally.
Bibs something you cannot live without. We have plenty of Bibs in our house. The cloth ones were mainly used prior to Harvey starting his solids. We like Cotton-On and Aden & Anais. Once Harvey started his solids we moved on to a more water proof bib. We like Baby Bjorn bib but Harvey didn’t really like it and kept trying to pull it off so we changed it to Bumkins which works perfectly.
- Drying rack
I liked to separate Harvey’s stuff from ours while he was a baby, hence a drying rack was purchased to cater for his accessories. We love Boon range as it looks very stylish on the bench and doesn’t require space.
ISOFIX was approved for Australia Standards back in June 2013 but it took about 15 months for the Australia consumer to process changes and Federal Government to announce the final approval. Just in time before Harvey was born. While the previous seats are still available in Australia, if your car has ISOFIX points (most cars in the last 5-10 years) I would recommend investing in a seat with this standard. ISOFIX is an international standard for car seat mounting and is safer and less error-prone than the previously used belt-through technique used in Australia.
We use the Maxi-Cosi car seat for my car, and Jaz has a more racey looking Sparco in his car.
In the first four months, I either walked or trammed with Harvey and hardly use the car in that time. Therefore, we didn’t find infant portable carrier (i.e. Capsule) would be worthwhile use to us.
For us and especially for Jaz, baby carrier was a life saver. Jaz used it so much when Harvey was little especially around the house as it gives him the hands free option to do other work. I didn’t really use it as much as him but when I do – it was so comfortable. Would recommend a quality carrier like Baby Bjorn, Ergo etc instead of the old sling carrier. Try them first before you buy and make sure it is comfortable for YOU.
To me, buying pram is like buying a handbag. You will use it so much for the first six-months to avoid being house bound. We live along a Bayside area and close to the city which I wouldn’t want any other way when having a newborn. I have spent so much time walking each day to keep my sanity and having a stylish, quality pram made me feel fashionable 🙂
For a pram we decided to go for Joolz day earth. It is a fantastic pram and we love the leather handle. The big tyres and shock absorbers are great as Harvey always sleeps comfortably in it. We used the bassinet for about 4 months and once Harvey’s neck was a bit stronger, we transferred him into the normal seat.
Once Harvey was a bit older and more mobile, we decided to get a stroller to live in our car and for travelling. Most full size prams are heavy just to pack and repack in the car. The Joolz was easy to operate but we preferred something lighter and the Mountain Buggy Nano was our choice. This is a fantastic stroller and as a big plus can fold small enough to fit in the overhead luggage on plane. We absolutely love it and we have no negatives.
The Joolz came with its own rain cover which was a bonus to us. It lives permanently in the little basket on our pram along with the nappy and change mat gear.
Winter can be cold in Melbourne and therefore instead of using blanket and trying to adjust it with the pegs, I decided to get Harvey a sleeping bag. Joolz had it own purpose made sleeping bag which fits perfectly on the pram (and also our stroller), so we decided to go with that.
Melbourne can also be extremely hot (40+ Celsius) and sunny. Again rather than using a muslin cloth to create the shed for Harvey, we just went with Joolz’s sunshade which was great and has UV protection.
Nappy Change and Bath
- Wipes, Nappies: Stock them up when they on sales. I stocked mind up during my pregnancy.
- Nappy rash cream: Sudo Cream, Bepanthen are the common cream to use
- Bath tub: We use this for about 9 months but once Harvey started to learn how to walk, he would not sit in it anymore.
- Toiletry (soap, shampoo, lotion): There are so many products range out there but I selected GAIA products
- Nail clipper & scissors: They normally come in a set together. You will definitely need a nail clipper! Oh how fast do those little fingers and toes nail grow!!
- Bath towel and face cloth
- Bath Mat: Once Harvey stop using the little bath tub, we definitely needed a bathmat for safety to prevent slippage
Clothes: This is as per your preference and determined by seasons.
- Bodysuits: We used body suits when Harvey was a bit younger and during winter’s months to cover his bare belly.
- Growsuits: Are good for night time/winter sleeping. We preferred double zips than press studs because it is much easy to manoeuvre when you need to change nappies at night.
- Swaddle: Good old muslin cloth like Aden & Anais was our choice. They have different designs and are big so you can use it as a shade cover for your pram/stroller or blanket in a hot summer day. Once Harvey was a bit bigger (probably around 3 weeks), we decided to use Love to Swaddle. It’s much easier to use than muslin cloths.
- Sleeping bag: We prefer a sleeping bag rather than a blanket for Harvey. We tried couple of Grobag/Sleeping bag but Woolbabe is our choice because of the low fire danger.
Medicine & First aid:
Essential items here are: Thermometer, Hydralyte, Nose Fess, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, Vicks, alcohol swaps, general first aid kit, and Antiseptic (e.g. Betadine).
Once a bottle is opened I would transfer it to zip-lock bag and write down a clear expiry date for future ease of identification.
I don’t believe in too many toys, just basics ensuring they are educational, good quality toys that will last such as blocks, rattles, books, mirrors etc.
Play Gym and Play mat: Great for tummy time activity
Bouncer: Not quite sure if it is essential but for a little while Harvey really enjoyed his little bouncer and even slept in it 🙂 I would think that a bouncer would be quite useful for a baby that has reflux?
And that’s about it I think…. What about you that have been there – would you add anything to this list???