I’ve shared with you how I prepared for the coming of Light here, not having a clue as to which things I really needed once she arrived. In this post, I can finally tell you what I was able to use and what things I found essential in taking care of a newborn.
I also threw in a few non-essentials here. You know, those stuff you read about that were must haves but you didn’t or rarely ended up using.
It still amazed me how my husband and I were able to take care of Light the few days after she was born. I had zero experience. Dennis had a little experience with his niece and nephews. Everything I knew about taking care of a newborn came from reading materials I found online. And I guess, a bit of common sense haha. Still, we didn’t know what to expect.
I remember when we were at the hospital, I felt silly and embarrassed every time I had to call the nurse to change Light’s diaper. I was thinking, it’s just a diaper change. I should be able to do it. But I was so scared to handle tiny Light. I didn’t tell my husband, but on our last day at the hospital, I was terrified. We were finally bringing Light home. No more nurses and doctors to call for help.
I was also never the eager type to carry babies when I see them. I usually just look at them from a distance. I never had practice with the simplest thing — carrying a baby. So I was really proud of myself when I was able to carry Light with little difficulty when she was born. But to carry her for that long, in the car, with so many things that could’ve gotten wrong, was just terrifying. I kept imagining I was going to drop her!
Anyway, I didn’t drop her. 🙂 I think we did good as first time parents. All those endless reading paid off, plus, the things on this list really made it easy for us to take care of our newborn. Aside from the obvious items, these are in my list because I found that they helped a lot in taking care of our then newborn Light.
My 7 Essential Things To Have For A Newborn
1. Wash Cloth
Muslins or “lampin” are obviously important, but having a wash cloth too will make bathing your newborn baby easier. I thought that since I received a lot of hand me down muslins from my sister-in-law that I wouldn’t need wash cloths anymore. Light was just a tiny baby so when I used the muslin on her while bathing her, I got water all over her face. Using a small wash cloth was better.
Wash cloths are also great as underlayers (or “sapin”) to protect their backs from sweat.
One of the things that shocked me when taking care of newborn Light was how fast her nails grew. It was crazy. Actually her nails were already long when she was born. Anyway, we all know how difficult it is to cut a newborn’s finger nails so sometimes you just let it grow for a while.
Mittens helped a lot in covering those tiny but sharp nails of hers. I found the garterized ones better than the ones that you have to tie up. They were easier to put on and surprisingly, they did not easily fall off. You don’t have to worry about your baby being able to take them off.
Tip: Wear these mittens inside out. It will protect your baby’s long nails from chipping off.
I forgot how many times our Fisher Price Newborn To Toddler Portable Rocker was able to soothe Light, and how many times she fell asleep while on it (vibrating feature still turned off). It really helped me do some things because I didn’t have to carry her all the time. Until now, she still loves sitting on her rocker. It’s such a great tool for babies especially when we go out on a vacation.
I think she was also able to self soothe because of that rocker. I would put her down and she would play with the mobile bar and after a few minutes, she would fall asleep.
Recently, though, I’ve read an article about the danger of letting your baby sleep on car seats and rockers/bouncers. Apparently, it can cause SIDS, too. I believe, though, that as long as you still keep an eye on your baby while they’re sleeping on these sitting/carrying devices, there should be no problem. Or you can transfer them in their cribs once they’ve fallen asleep.
4. Mosquito Net
Who would want mosquito bites all over their babies, specially with the threat of Dengue lurking? This particular design of mosquito net is awesome. It’s so easy to cover your baby with it when she’s sleeping and easy to take off too. And when we let Light sleep on our bed, we also covered her with it.
It only worked for us until she was about 4 months though. Five months was already a stretch. She kept taking it down. I was afraid that she might poke her eye with one of the ends so I just retired it now. I used to still cover her with it but most of the time, when I come back to check on her, I’d see her already awake and managed to squash it. Like really squash it with her body. So I didn’t use it anymore. But since this list is for newborns, I still recommend that you get one. 🙂
5. Thermos & Water Heater
We received a thermos as a gift on our wedding a couple of years ago and never used it. I was planning on giving it away but glad that I didn’t. We were finally able to use it when Light was born. 🙂
I placed the thermos and a water heater in our bathroom. It’s where we positioned Light’s changing table too. Since I use warm water when I give her a bath, and also whenever I change her diaper, having these are essential. I have hot water available immediately. Even though we have hot and cold water options in our sink faucet, sometimes it takes time for the hot water to come out. I also save water this way since I don’t have to run the water waiting for it to turn hot.
6. Side-Tie/Kimono, Button Type Shirts
I’ve said before to only buy a few newborn shirts (and also most would suggest the same), but there was a stage in Light’s life when she needed to change her clothes A LOT. Around her 3rd week of existence, she spit up A LOT. And no matter how much I tried to save her clothes with bibs or muslins, the milk puke managed to find its way onto her clothes. Sometimes I didn’t even get around to burping her after she fed. Just as I was about to pick her up after nursing her, she would instantly spit up. It was also around this time that we were having a hard time burping her. She would burp but out would come the milk puke too. It was all normal and she soon overcame it.
I was glad to receive a dozen of the side-tie, button type shirts from a friend. I didn’t have enough when Light was born and for a time she was wearing really big onesies. It was hard to put on with those tiny head and arms. I’d suggest to get a few extra ones in the next size, too, so your baby can still wear them after a few months.
7. Feeding Diary
Jotting down the times I’ve nursed Light helped a lot because I was able to anticipate, after a few weeks, when she’d be hungry. I was able to avoid hunger tantrums. I was also able to know which side of my breast Light should be nursing from next. With all the things going on and all the worrying, I could’ve easily forgotten which breast Light should be nursing from (something to do with foremilk and hindmilk).
Seeing that I was able to nurse Light helped with my milk supply, too. I was confident that despite seeing just a few drops of milk coming out, I was able to keep nursing Light. My husband bought the Basic Baby app a few weeks later. Check out his review here.
BONUS: If you plan to use cloth diaper on your baby, I found it helpful to use disposable diaper first on your baby’s few weeks. Using disposable diapers made me focus more on taking care of a newborn Light than worrying about washing cloth diapers. Wipes were also handy for a quick “wipe”, especially when Light was already fuzzy.
3 Things You Can Do Without
1. Swaddle Blanket (The “Pre-folded” Type)
Light never liked being swaddled. Maybe just on her first day. She liked her arms free. Almost everything I read about getting your baby to sleep comfortably suggested swaddling her. That was why we bought the “pre-folded” type of swaddle blanket. We got the Summer SwaddleMe Infant Blanket. I also asked for the Ergo Sleep Tight Swaddler on my baby shower. Seeing that she never liked being swaddled, though, made me sad that I wouldn’t be able to use these nice swaddle blankets properly. I really liked the Ergo swaddle blanket!
Anyway, I was glad to have the flat/muslin type of swaddle blanket. I used it as a regular blanket on her. I would suggest just getting these flat types of swaddle blankets instead of the “pre-folded” ones. You can also wrap your baby with it if your baby likes being swaddled. Make sure to get a big one.
I still use the “pre-folded” type, though, but I don’t wrap her arms anymore. They stay out. 🙂 If you plan to get the “pre-folded” type of swaddle blankets, you can try from Amazon. Just click the two brands I mentioned up there. The Summer SwaddleMe is just right for the Philippine weather. The fabric is not too thick. The Ergo Sleep Tight, on the other hand, is a little thick, but the fabric is soft and I like the wrapping process. 🙂 They’re snug.
2. Bulb Syringe
Seriously, up until now, I still haven’t used this. It was there on the list of things to prepare when you’re having a baby. Cotton buds (for babies) sufficed for us. It got the job done. The booger was out! I was also shocked to find that newborn could also have big boogers. But such tiny nose!
I read that putting bonnets on your baby can cause SIDS. But it was on the LIST so we got a few. When Light was born, we still tried to put bonnets on her. We were worried about her head getting cold. But it never stayed on her head. It was always coming off. So after a while, we just didn’t use it anymore. I realized that bonnets are just accessories and for pictorials. You know, when you want to accessorize your baby ‘coz they look so cute with those big flowers on their head. And you also want them to look really cute in pictures. Ok, I’m talking about a different kind of bonnet now. Anyway, if only I knew that the hospital would give us the plain bonnets, I wouldn’t have bought more.