10 Useful Tips on Preparing for Your First Newborn

03Apr08

When you’re a first-time parent, the urge to buy tons of cute, new stuff for your baby is overwhelming.  There are so many cool gadgets, products, clothes and more for your little one … not to mention all the already-parents telling you what you absolutely have to have in order to survive as a new parent.  I am 38 weeks pregnant with my first child — a boy named Quentin (whom we already call “Q”) — and I really do believe that it will be possible for my fiance and I to maintain somewhat of a simple lifestyle.  Am I living in a dream world?  As of now, we buy only what we need in terms of food, consumer products and clothing — so why should having a baby change all that?

Well, there’s a laugh!  It just does, doesn’t it?  And those of you who are already parents probably know exactly what I mean.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about raising a “minimalist” baby.  I think it’s completely possible, but I want to hear feedback from the clutter-ridden to the absolutely minimalistic.  Although we are not total minimalists, we thrive on having a simple household — I truly believe there is a happy medium in which we buy and keep things that we love, use or need.  And that’s it.  If anything doesn’t fit into one of those three categories, it goes to charity, the recycle bin or — as a last resort — the garbage.

Here are 10 useful tips (I’ve found) on preparing for your first newborn: 

1.  Wait until after the baby shower to buy.  So far, we’ve had a baby shower and we received many items that we will definitely use (products and such).  My suggestion is to not buy anything such as baby shampoos, soaps, wipes and diapers until after your baby shower.  People will most likely buy these things for you.  You will also receive gift cards, and these will come in handy to buy the things you still need after the shower is over.

2.  Definitely have a baby shower for your first baby.  Even if you only invite a few people, a baby shower is a time not only to receive special gifts and wishes from people you care about, it’s a time to celebrate the new family member that will soon enter your lives.

3.  Keep your baby shower simple.  Forget center pieces.  Forget renting a hall or restaurant space.  Invite people that are closest to you.  Have it in your home if at all possible.  Order catering (so you don’t have to cook/prepare food).  Obtain the help of a friend or parent to help you clean the day before.  Enlist another friend to help with handwritten or computer generated invitations and keeping things organized on shower day.  People understand that you are close to giving birth, and they will not expect you to be the hostess of the year for your shower.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget how sympathetic others are — there is no need to pull off the “perfect” shower — just have fun, open gifts and enjoy your guests.

4.  Do not feel like you have to use the “must-have” newborn checklists on mega baby store websites.  These lists are designed to get you to buy as much stuff as possible.  From the layette to toys to bottles to strollers, it can all be very overwhelming.  The best things I did to see what I absolutely needed was to 1.) ask friends that already have babies what they absolutely needed and what they could do without and 2.) read the book Baby Bargains – it answers so many questions for first time parents and tells you what you absolutely need and what you do not.  You can get it used or new from Amazon.com, or borrow a copy from a friend.  Even if you don’t have the newest version, you’ll still benefit from reading it.

5.  Get creative and stay simple when decorating your baby’s nursery.  Why must we paint the baby’s nursery pale pink or blue and buy all the fancy “trimmings” like quilts that can’t even be used in the crib anyway?  Let me be the one to tell you … the baby does not care what his or her nursery looks like.  He will not remember.  Do you remember your baby nursery?  Buy or use furniture that will grow with the child instead of baby-looking furniture like white or pale wood.  I think it’s important for a child to love his own space once he’s old enough to appreciate and remember it — it’s something you can do together once he’s old enough.  But, as for an infant, do what doesn’t require 1.) a lot of work, 2.) a lot of paint, and 3.) a lot of “fuss” (too many stuffed animals, blankets, toys, etc.)  Simplicity starts from the very beginning, and if you want to instill that mindset into your child, you must start from day one so things don’t start accumulating.

6.  Breastfeed if you can.  This eliminates the need for extra bottles, nipples, formula, bottle warmers (which don’t work well anyway and aren’t recommended even for formula) and burp rags (your baby will spit up less with breast milk).  Breastfeeding is the best possible food for your baby — not only that, but it’s also the simplest!  You can go anywhere and always have food “on hand” (or “on breast” … however you want to look at it!)  Don’t give up early if you feel you just can’t do it … keep trying, and your baby will thank you in more ways than one. 

7.  Don’t feel bad buying second-hand clothing or accepting hand-me-downs from friends and family.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with using second hand clothes for babies.  Think about it — babies outgrow their clothes about every three months until they are in school.  Why would we buy all new clothes everytime they have a growing spurt?  The great thing about this is, used clothes clean up like new with some fragrance free detergent and fabric softener.  No one will ever know but you … and maybe your “baby” when he becomes a teenager!

8.  Buy or use products that “transition” into something else.  Some examples of this include:  cribs that transition into toddler and then full-size beds, carseats that can be used as carriers and also insert into your stroller, carseats that transition into bigger carseats (so you don’t have to keep buying new ones), pack ‘n plays that can be used as a bassinet, changing table and playpen.  These products will last longer and transition with your baby as he grows older.

9.  Create your own list of baby needs and wants.  Start from scratch with a list of things you think you may need or want with a new baby, and then think of places or people that you can get these things from without buying them (or getting them dirt cheap … ebay is a great start!)  Stick to your guns when people try to tell you you need something when you clearly know you don’t.  Chances are, you won’t.  You definitely need the basics when taking care of a baby, but the “frills” are for the parents sake only — not the baby’s — you just don’t need all that extra stuff.  Truly think about what will make your life easier for you and your child during those first few months, and that’s it.

10.  Simplify your own home.  This entire website is about simplifying your life.  If you haven’t taken action to simplify your own life before this new life comes into your life, now is as good a time as any.  You may have that nesting instinct kicking in, so take advantage of it, and perhaps enlist the help of a spouse or friend to go through your home (little by little) getting rid of things that no longer serve your new life.  I promise you, once you get on this “kick”, it will carry over into your life as a new parent, and you’ll want to keep things simple even with your new little one.

I hope this list helps you get started and takes away some of the overwhelming feelings that come along with being a first time parent.  You really don’t need all the stuff that stores and even well-meaning friends and family press upon you.  Be who you are, stick to what you believe and continue your minimalist-like lifestyle, even with a new baby in the mix.



22 Responses to “10 Useful Tips on Preparing for Your First Newborn”

  1. 1 Jaime Chet

    So well written my chet friend! :) Definitely some good pointers on here!!! #3 is SO you! The shower was definitely you and Chris. Simple. Will your life be simple after Q is born? I think so, but I still think you’ll cave and buy that navy blue sailor outfit, complete with white hat. LOL. NOT.

  2. 2 melissa

    soooooo helpful! makes perfect sense, and well written!
    i will use this advice, and pass it along! thank you!

  3. 3 samuraistrong

    FANTASTIC!

    I have the same feeling, although I refer to it as Sacagawea parenting. She traveled across the country on foot with the baby and a sling. No diaper bag, travel system, pack and play, bouncy seat, bottle warmer, etc.

    I feel like such an un-mom, pregnant with my first b/c everyone else is going consumer crazy.

    I want the basics and the things we need for this kid, not the million and one plastic gegaws cluttering up our home.

  4. I stumbled on your website looking for info on must have baby basics and your post expresses exactly what I am feeling. I hate clutter and the thousand fancy gadgets people carry when they have a new born. Will check out baby bargains and thank you for giving me hope that it is possible.

  5. 5 Harry

    Thank you. Its like a breath of fresh air amidst all the consumer madness.

  6. 6 cez

    work well done

  7. I like how simple you’ve made things. I especially like tips 9 & 10. They help expectant parents further understand how they can be in control of simplifing their life in preparation of their newborn baby. One thing I didn’t see was reference to figuring out how to name a newborn baby. If you don’t mind, you can have your readers visit my site on ways to choose baby names – uniquenamesforgirls.com
    I suppose determining a baby name could be included in tip 9 as a list item of preparation.

  8. 8 MvuzoG

    This way good info. I’m overwelmed by this newcomer in the family, my first! So u can imagine the excitement!

  9. 9 NaomiNYC

    Good information! I hate clutter and stuff around my apartment! we are saving money to buy our first house and that’s another reason why I don’t want to go crazy buying thousand things for our first baby.

  10. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Anyways, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking back frequently!

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    I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get feed-back from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thank you!

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    Thank you for the help. So happy and can’t wait for my little one to arrive :D

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