Clothing: In general, you want soft, comfortable clothing with no irritating tags or seams. You’ll be changing your baby’s clothing several times a day — babies are messy — so make sure outfits are uncomplicated and open easily for diaper changes.
Babies outgrow newborn sizes quickly, so buy big — at least three months ahead. But do choose one or two newborn outfits that you love just for the psychic lift of dressing your new baby in an outfit you consider adorable. While we’ve included rough guidelines on quantity, how many of each item you need will depend on your own preferences and how often you plan to do laundry.
One-piece outfits (4-7): One-piece bodysuits (often called “one sizes”) dramatically simplify dressing. Look for clothes made in a soft fabric with wide head openings and loose-fitting ankle and leg cuffs. Also, look for finished seams (so there are no rough or scratchy parts), and avoid zippers (which can pinch tender skin), and try to get them in a soft fabric.
One-piece pyjamas or nightgowns (4-7): Nightgowns with drawstrings at the bottom are useful because you won’t have to fuss with snaps during night- time diaper changes. Make sure that whatever you choose is warm so your baby is more likely to sleep comfortably.
Cotton shirts (4-7): Choose soft shirts, preferably with snaps at the neck for easier fitting. Undershirts are good for layering and will also protect your newborn’s skin from any seams or roughness in his outer garments. Choose undershirts that snap under the crotch so they don’t ride up.
Sweater or jacket (1): Most babies don’t like having clothes pulled over their heads, so warm up your baby with a sweater or jacket that buttons down the front.
Fleece wear or snowsuits: If you have a winter baby, we recommend finding a one-piece fleece suit to keep him warm on your outings. They’re often hooded and come in many styles. Snowsuits are a little more expensive, and not necessary since your baby is unlikely to be playing in the snow. In either case, buy big.
Socks and booties (4-7): Stores may sell shoes for newborns, but you don’t want them for the simple reason that your baby isn’t walking. So warm your baby’s feet in socks or booties.
Cap or bonnet (1-3): You’ll want a broad-brimmed hat for a summer baby, or a soft, warm hat that covers the ears for a winter baby.
Much about your life in these early weeks involves changing diapers. So you’ll want to be prepared. About 80 percent of parents opt for disposable diapers. Others choose a professional diaper service, and even fewer wash their own at home.
Decide which kind of diapers you want to use and stock up ahead of time. Keep in mind that you’ll be going through ten to 12 diapers each day during the first few weeks. If you do plan to use disposables, we recommend buying at least three large packs (about 150 diapers). If you plan to use cloth, you’ll need six to ten packs (12 diapers per pack) of pre-folded diaper-service-quality diapers. For cloth, you’ll also need a diaper pail, diaper covers, and rubber pants. Go with diaper wraps made with Velcro otherwise you’ll be stuck using pins or clips.
Front pack or sling: Newborns love being held close; the warmth of your body and the thump of your heart will soothe like nothing else. A baby carrier also leaves your hands free to do other things.
Stroller: For a newborn, you’ll want a stroller that reclines — babies shouldn’t be propped upright until they’re about 3 months old or until they’ve developed strong neck muscles. If you’re shopping for a new stroller, look for wide wheels, adjustable straps, and easy steering.
Mealtime: Bibs (4): Bibs keep spit-up and drool off clothes — need we say more?
Bottles and nipples: Even if you plan to breastfeed exclusively, having a few bottles and newborn nipples at home is a good idea. If you plan to use formula exclusively, you’ll go through roughly ten 4-ounce bottles a day.
Crib: You can get by without a crib at first — your newborn can sleep in a padded laundry basket or drawer if necessary. But unless you plan to have your baby share your bed, you’ll need a crib eventually. You’ll also need a firm mattress, a couple of sheets, and blankets.
Receiving blankets (4): Use this versatile item to swaddle and comfort your baby, as an extra layer for warmth, in place of towels, for catching spit-up, or whatever else you can think of safety.
Car seat: The law requires that your child sit in a car seat while riding in any car — even on the way home from the hospital. For a newborn, you have two choices: an infant seat designed to be used until your baby weighs 20 pounds, or a convertible seat, designed to be used by both babies and older children (though not at the same time).
Plastic bathtub: Using a tub specially designed to hold a wriggling baby will keep yours safe and give your back a break as well.
You’ll need to stock up on a few things as well.
Nursing bras (2-4): Because pregnancy changes the size and shape of your breasts, it pays to buy nursing bras from a store or catalog that takes returns. For comfort, buy 100 percent cotton without underwires. Some nursing bras unhook from the strap and others unsnap between the cups. You may want to try a couple of styles to see which you like best.
Nursing pads (disposable or washable): Inserting two of these in your bra can keep your shirts dry between feedings. Like diapers, pads come in both cloth and disposable styles. For disposables, look for pads with a self-stick strip. Cloth pads are usually made of flannel and need to be washed frequently.
Maxi-pads/Panty liners: You’ll want a couple of boxes of overnight-quality maxi-pads. When the lochia discharge slows, usually within two or three weeks, you’ll also want a couple of boxes of panty liners.
How do I trim my baby’s nails without cutting his fingers?
The best time to do this is while he’s sleeping. The easiest way to trim the nails may be to just peel the ends off with your fingers. Your baby’s nails are so soft that they’ll easily rip right along the tops of his fingers. And don’t worry — you won’t rip the whole nail off this way. You can also file them down with an emery board, if you have the patience and can keep your baby still long enough. Otherwise, you can use a pair of baby scissors or clippers made especially for this purpose. Leave a set in the car so you can do the job while your baby’s asleep in his car seat.
If you decide to trim your baby’s nails with clippers while he’s awake, get someone to help you hold him and keep him from wiggling too much while you clip. Or get someone to distract him so that he’ll let you hold his hand still for the clipping. Make sure you have enough light to see what you’re doing. Press the finger pad away from the nail to avoid nicking the skin, and keep a firm hold on your child’s hand as you clip.
Should I trim my baby’s nails?
Yes. Your baby’s nails may be softer and more pliable than yours, but make no mistake — they’re sharp, and a newborn, who has little control over his flailing limbs, can easily end up scratching his own face or yours as he reaches out to explore you. Little fingernails grow so fast you may have to cut them as often as a few times a week. Toenails require less-frequent trimming.
If I do cut a fingertip, how do I stop the bleeding?
In the harrowing event that you do nick a tiny fingertip, don’t be too hard on yourself — it happens to everyone. Wrap a tissue around your baby’s finger and hold it above his heart. In most cases, the bleeding will stop in a minute or two. If it continues for more than couple of minutes, it’s still not likely to harm your child, but the blood will get all over if he gets restless and squirms out of your arms. In that case, put him somewhere safe where bloodstains won’t be a problem, such as a highchair if he’s old enough for one, or let him crawl around on the kitchen floor, if it’s clean. Resist the temptation to try to get a bandage on his finger — the bandage will likely come off when he puts his finger in his mouth, and he could end up choking on it. If you want, you can use a liquid bandage product that’s approved for children. These products are non-toxic, and they dry quickly and slough off with the dead skin cells when the wound is healed.
When should I use a bulb syringe?
When your baby has a cold or a stuffed-up nose, you can use a rubber bulb syringe to remove some of the mucus. If the mucus has hardened or become crusty, you’ll need to apply saline drops first to loosen it up.
You can buy saline drops at pharmacies or make them easily at home by dissolving 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water. Make a fresh batch each time your child gets sick. (You may want to boil the water first to sterilize it if you get your water from a well.)
How do I use it?
1. Begin by laying your child in your lap with his head between your knees and his feet against your tummy; let his head drop backward slightly.
2. If saline drops are needed, place one or two drops in each nostril with an eye-dropper (or a squirt or two if you’re using a saline spray). Wipe the dropper clean after each use. Try to keep your child’s head still for about ten seconds.
3. Squeeze the bulb of the syringe to create a vacuum and gently insert the rubber tip into one nostril. Slowly release the bulb to collect mucus. Remove the syringe and squeeze the bulb forcefully to expel the mucus into a tissue or the sink. Wipe the syringe and repeat the process for the other nostril.
4. If your child is still congested after five to ten minutes, apply drops again and re-suction. (Don’t use the saline drops for more than four days in a row because they can dry out the nose and irritate the nostrils.)
Remember: This should be a gentle process. If your child is struggling a lot and you end up suctioning too aggressively, the nasal tissues can become inflamed, which can aggravate the congestion. If this seems to be happening, let it go for a while and try again later.
NOTE: We do not intend this section to be a substitute for medical advice. Regular communication with a trusted paediatrician is one of the most important ways to safeguard your children’s health. However, as more and more parents become concerned about personal health and helping their children avoid many of their bad habits, we have tried to touch on those areas that you might want to explore further with your doctor or medical provider.