Ahhh, the first months of having a newborn. That realization this person is finally here and, holy crap, I’m responsible for them. I thought I was prepared for my new baby, but it got tough immediately when my son didn’t take to breast-feeding at first. Two days and nights of blood-curdling cries and insane exhaustion led me to deem myself ill prepared. It wasn’t until I broke my single breast-feeding rule and gave my son a bottle of the formula the hospital wisely packs into your baby essentials bag. Bliss arrived, at least for the night.
What does this tale have to do with what a new parent needs for baby’s first years? Everything. It’s just one of many unexpected scenarios that a new parent may experience. Knowledge and this list of 8 health and safety essentials will make your life easier — and easy is not a word you will hear often after you enter into parenthood.
1. Humidifier. There are many out there, the one I used for my little bambino barely made a peep — shaped like an elephant. My son was a heavy breather as an infant, and because I have a family of asthmatics, I was concerned. A humidifier really helped with the dry air in our home, and my son’s breathing became less heavy.
2. Nose aspirator/inhalers. You’re going to need one of these gadgets immediately so include it on your registry or buy one yourself. There are many cool designs out there, from basic to the bit bizarre, but whichever you choose, you’ll need one to clear nasal passages and get mucus out.
3. Teething gel. My poor son really went through the ringer with teething, each new tooth seem to cause so much pain. We spent many nights, just holding him while he cried. There are some babies that skate through teething, but for others it is just a miserable time. You can’t do much, but gels do help. With so many types available, from medicated ones to holistic, you can choose whichever you are comfortable with. I went more natural since I was constantly applying it to my son’s gums. Ask your pediatrician, if you have any product concerns or need a recommendation.
4. Teething accessory. To go with teething gel, have a teething ring/toy in the stockpile. I tried the plastic ones (these go in the freezer and you apply to your child’s swollen gums) but my son really loved a maple-wood ring that I bought him on a whim. He would go to town with this simple piece of treated wood. The teething necklaces, which frankly are genius, are popular also. I also love the teethers that do double duty as a toy.
5. Thermometer. We have about four thermometers that range from very simple to ones that look like NASA invented them. You may have to do a little trial and error in finding one that works. When we tried the pacifier thermometer, my son would spit it out every time, however it worked for my niece. My sister-in-law, who has a fairly relaxed baby, has tried the forehead tape thermometer, but her little girl pulls it right off. In the end a simple 8-second digital thermometer proved to be the best choice for our family.
6. Ointments, creams, band-aids. Have these in the medicine chest ready to go as it is mind boggling how your baby can go from having the perfect little bum to bam… diaper rash! And once they start crawling it’s on! Have Band-Aids and first aid creams handy, because, mama, you’ll need them.
7. Breast-feeding support. I live in an attachment-baby neighborhood so there are many support groups for breast-feeding. I was lucky that my best friend sent me a post doula, who helped me with the latching-on and was a great support. However this can be expensive, so look for free support group in your area or turn to organizations such as La Leche League for help.
8. Emergency list. Having a list of emergency numbers is a must before baby arrives. Ask other moms or read local mom blogs to find the best resources to help baby’s first years. I joined a local mom group when my son was a newborn — it is a group I am still part of and my son is now five. Through this mom group we made a google doc of what were the best places for immediate care that I used all the time.
Your list should have:
Best Hospital for Emergencies: Ones with shorter waiting-room time and a reputation for being good with newborns and infants.
Doctors: Pediatricians who are open on weekends.
24-hour clinic: One that is parent-recommended and takes your insurance.
As you grow as a new parent, this list will shape itself to fit perfectly to your family’s needs.