Baby supplies: What you really need and what you don’t

Jennifer and Thomas were going to have their first child. Jennifer was 7 months pregnant and actively getting ready for the birth of her son. She read baby magazines, she searched online baby sites and scrolled through Instagram to learn how to be a mom and to find out about all the hot new baby items everyone was buying. Thomas was concerned about all the supplies that Jennifer was purchasing. The extra costs were putting stress on their monthly budget. Thomas didn’t understand why a small baby would need so many things but when he tried to ask if what Jennifer wanted was really necessary, she would say, “I just know the baby needs this!” and then wait until Thomas approved the purchase. Thomas always gave in because he loved Jennifer so much and wanted her to be happy and enjoy the process of becoming a mother.

Jennifer is like many first-time moms. She was super excited for the arrival of her baby and had the desire to be the best parent possible. By reading information, searching the Internet for advice, and buying lots of baby clothes and items, Jennifer thought she was doing what was needed to make sure her baby would be healthy and content after birth. What Jennifer didn’t realize is that baby companies are very savvy and market directly to the excitement and desire that new moms have to get everything right. By understanding that the most important thing that a new baby needs is a loving and caring parent, first-time parents like Jennifer can avoid wasting money and focus their attention on how to care for their baby in ways that will maximize their health and safety.

Most new parents first focus on the material things a baby will need. In reality, babies do not need a lot. This short list includes:
• Diapers, cloth or disposable
• Basic clothing, such as long or short onesies, socks, hats
• Lightweight blankets
• Car seat
• Crib or cradle
• Breast milk or formula; if using formula, baby bottles
• Optional: Winter outerwear, if baby is born during cooler months

This is all that is necessary during the first few weeks to welcome a new baby into the world. It is wise not to purchase too many clothes because it is impossible to know how big your baby will be – they may be long and lean or short and chubby. Some newborns weigh very little and others are born quite large. The labels on baby clothes, such as 0-3 months or 3-6 months, are relative. There are no industry standards that guide the labeling of infant clothes. It is best to wait until your baby arrives before buying a lot of clothing. Also, your baby will grow quickly, so you don’t need to invest in a lot of garments to keep them dressed as they sprout up.

There are also lots of baby supplies that are not really necessary, such as fancy velcro swaddling blankets, infant bathtubs, toys that make sound and light, motion swings, and many more gadgets. These things are marketed as “must haves” but they are not needed nor positive for your newborn baby. Newborns are already overstimulated with all the changes of moving from the womb to the outside environment. They don’t need any more stimulation as they adjust. Your protective arms, warm snuggles, soothing voice, and consistent, appropriate care is all they need. So, you can feel confident about skipping all these unnecessary items and costs.

The one thing that new parents should invest in is quality information. If you are having problems breastfeeding, find a lactation consultant. If your baby has switched their days and nights, reach out to a developmental specialist. If your baby is colicky, find a pediatric specialist. Looking for information on the Internet is not always a good idea. Anyone can post information on a webpage, even information that is false or misleading. Not all books are written by authors with the appropriate training or expertise. Seek out and invest in information that comes from professionals who have education and experience in the themes you want to learn about. There is nothing more important than finding the right answers, when you need them, to help you and your newborn.

Avoiding the marketing hype that comes with being a new parent will help you buy less stuff and focus your investment on getting quality, professional information to help you learn how to care for your newborn and start them off on the right foot.

Sources:

Diaz Meneses, G. (2013). Breastfeeding: an emotional instinct. Breastfeeding Medicine 8(2), doi: 10.1089/bfm.2012.0079.

King, D. (2014). Marketing wearable home baby monitors: real peace of mind? British Medical Journal, 349.g6639. ISSN 0959-8138.

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About the instructor
Proactive Parenting
Dr. Deanna Marie Mason PhD
More than 20 years of clinical experience helping families:
Bachelor's Degree in Registered Nursing, Master’s Degree in Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and PhD in Nursing. University professor, patient education specialist, pediatric researcher, published author and reviewer to first-line international scientific journals, continuous philanthropic activity related to health promotion and education, wife and mother of two children.

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