My weekly Inhabitots newsletter is often filled with photos of “eco” baby and children’s toys. This week’s also had an article on washable cloth swim diapers. I’m all for such things, but I got to thinking about the times I’ve been asked by expectant first time mom’s, “what do I really need to get before the baby comes?” First of all, the fact that they trust me enough to ask me this is an honor. But my answer to them often comes as a bit of a disappointment. The answer, in short, is, “not much.” This is disappointing to some because we’re so excited to have a child. We want to make lists and go shopping, set up a nursery! A quick word about nurseries: If you put in the time and money to set one up, one of 2 things will happen. 1. You’ll never use it and a few years down the road will be selling unused baby gear and décor. 2. You will you use it, which is far worse. I’ll get more into that in a sec.
So, what does baby need?
- To start with (and I wish I’d know this before I became a mommy), they need parents who understand and view children for what they are. Angels. Purity. Knowledge. Truth. Light. Divinity. Be prepared to stand back and let their wings unfold naturally as they grow. Don’t talk down to them. Don’t assume they don’t know more than you do (they know far more about the important things). Before having a child I HIGHLY recommend reading at least the first 4 books of The Ringing Cedars Series.
- An outdoor space. Yep. Forget the nursery, set up a cozy space outside. A place you can sit and “just be” with your baby. Where he can feel the breeze on his skin. Soak up the warmth of the sun. Feel the grass with his tiny hands. Watch the bugs and the birds. A space where he can contemplate the universe. This space should also include a garden, or at the very least potted plants he can help with as soon as he’s able (about a year old). As he grows he should be given his own garden space (or planters) where he can grow plants all on his own. If these are edible plants, all the better.
- A plan to bring him into the world peacefully. Birth is traumatizing for most of us and we carry that on a subconscious level all of our lives. Show your child love by exploring your options. Go un-medicated (yes, you can do it, you were designed to!). Look into Hypnobabies, homebirthing, midwifery, doula services, water birth, maybe (dare I say) even consider an unassisted birth. After you research your options, let go of fear, look inside yourself and feel what is right for you and your baby. The answers to all things are within and all around us.
- A bed rail or some other barrier for your bed. If you have a deep mattress, a bed rail will not work, unless they’ve come up with a taller option since I last looked. I’ve made my own and also just used a body pillow. I’ve even seen a bed body pillow that has fabric that attaches to your mattress by wrapping around it. You might also consider a co-sleeper, but ideally your baby should be against your body while sleeping. Not only is the brilliantly convenient for breastfeeding (you don’t even have to sit up or stay awake, just latch on and go back to sleep) but it also reduces the risk of SIDS because the baby’s body rhythms will follow your own.
- Several of those nightgowns with an opening at the bottom. Ideally organic cotton. A few other simple outfits, if you’d like. The nightgowns are best for elimination communication if you are planning on doing that (which is ideal but perhaps not convenient for everyone… although I would counter children are not intended to be convenient).
- A sling or wrap that puts baby against your body. You can make your own using several yards of jersey fabric (no sewing required).
- A good supply of cloth diapers, if you’re diapering, or a book on elimination communication.
- You may want to invest in a simple breast pump, or know where you can rent one in an emergency. Your milk will come in fast, sometimes so fast and so well that the baby cannot latch on until some of the pressure is relieved. I once spent 12-hours alone in an apartment, crying my eyes out over my hungry baby, doing every trick known to man to get my milk to let down and express by hand to no avail. Eventually, after a hellish adventure through Tacoma my husband arrived, heroically, with a pump. After which I got stuck in the pump, and those suckers have a vicious snare on already compromised nipples… but that’s a story for another time.
- Plain glycerin or coconut based bar soap. No need for fancy baby shampoos that will only cause baby harm.
- Apricot oil for after bathing, if you’d like to be lavish.
- Baby nail clippers, or you can chew them like you would in nature (they’re very soft), your call.
- Homemade baby wipes.
- Car seat. I recommend one that coverts to a booster. These will last your from birth to age 8.
- You may like a stroller, but it ideally you will carry your baby in a sling or wrap for the first year.
- You might like a nursing pillow, but any pillow will work, or just lying down is very comfortable.
- Books. Never underestimate the power of good books! I don’t like to have a lot of “stuff” but I am certainly not minimalist when it comes to books, assuming they are quality books. Start when you’re pregnant by reading poetry and classics to baby. Continue reading to him from birth to forever.
- Safety items. These won’t really be needed for another 6 months, but you might consider outlet covers, a safety gate (if you have stairs) and some cupboard latches for places you might keep sharp objects.
- Bulb syringe. These are great for removing mucus from baby’s nose before he can blow on his own, but that isn’t their intended purpose. They were actually made for administering enemas for baby. When your child (or you) begin to show signs of coming down with any kind of illness ALWAYS do an enema immediately. Miracle cure. Not too long ago this was standard procedure upon admittance to any hospital for any illness.
- “Diaper bag.” Any bag will do. I bought a backpack at Walmart for $7 11 years ago and it’s still going strong. Always carry an extra set of clothes for baby and you.
Items for you:
- Nipple butter. Good to have just in case. Sometimes the first 3-weeks can be rough as baby perfects his latch.
- Breast pads. You can buy organic cotton ones, or make your own.
- Nursing bra.
- Perineum spray. Saved me.
- Cloth menstrual pads for postpartum bleeding, and peroxide to soak them in.
- A supply of disposable pads in the freezer. Before freezing run a quick strip of water or sitz bath “tea” down the center.
- Sitz bath herbs.
- A plan for the placenta. Seriously consider consuming it, you will not regret it! You can also plant it, make placenta prints…
- A good birth plan. You wouldn’t get on a boat without a life jacket. Don’t go into labor without a birth plan. And if you’re seeing a doctor, make sure it is signed and that you both have copies. Also keep a copy in your car or purse for emergencies.
- A birth support partner. Husbands are sometimes great at this, but some are not. Consider a doula or a close friend or relative. Someone you are comfortable with and who understands the vision you have for your birth.
- A Hypnobabies home study course.
- Hemorrhoid medication, just in case.
- A plan for after pains. It’s best to avoid OTC pain medications, if possible. Take a good liquid cal/mag supplement during labor and throughout the week following. Use an herbal tincture like Contract Easy by TriLight or Afterease by Wish Garden. I’ve heard Arnica is great too. Make a hot pack by sewing rice into a dish cloth, heat in the microwave and place on uterus while nursing. If this is your first baby you might not have any pains at all, but they will increase in intensity with each subsequent child and are strongest while baby is nursing.
- Perri bottle. Fill with warm water and slowly squirt on perineum while eliminating on the toilet. I suggest getting two and having them both full.
- Several yards of cheese cloth. Use it to wrap your abdomen snuggly. This helps your organs to move back into position and is also said to ease after pains. They do make an item that is said to accomplish this, but I found the cheese cloth MUCH more comfortable, however the belt is easier to put on by yourself and doesn’t have to be readjusted so much.
Okay, well now that I look at it that actually seems like a whole lot of things! But probably different from the things most people expect to buy. Of course if you’re having a homebirth you will also need supplies for that. One last thing I highly recommend is setting yourself up on mothering.com on the discussion forum. The women there are such a phenomenal, and knowledgeable, support.