If you search Google for "newborn checklist" or "things to buy for baby" you'll likely come up with a list a mile long. It can feel really overwhelming to be planning to give birth and bringing a new person into the world but sometimes I feel like more emphasis is placed on the nursery than on the entire lifestyle shift that occurs. It's extra pressure you do not need.
I'll make a point now that personalised name decor, wall decals, matching side tables and trinkets are lovely but absolutely unnecessary. Instagram and Pinterest show these divine nurseries that make your ovaries ache. But I think time and money could be better spent and it can perpetuates the idea that motherhood is this pristine and glorified interior design job for some. Some people enjoy this kind of thing and I'm a sucker for wooden toys and lovely books but it's not something you need to focus on or feel pressured by if you'd rather not. You do you. You're not any less of a mother if your nursery is plainer than anothers'.
My second daughter, Asher, is five months old today and doesn't even have a nursery! I thought I'd take this opportunity to reflect and share with you what I use, what I don't and what I thought was a complete was of money the first time around. Not because I think I do things perfectly so keep in mind that this is only my opinion and everyone's needs and wants are different. It's more aimed to identify which is a necessity, which is a luxury and which is a luxurious necessity (one you could get by without but is useful to have and you'd get your money's worth if you wanted to).
You only have to scroll through buy, swap, sell pages on social media or Gumtree to realise that we often hardly use these items we spend so much on.
With Cadence, I used a change table a lot. I got up in the night and changed her every single breastfeed in a different room (every two hours or less - *face palm* - sometimes she wasn't even wet and would then poo because I'd woken her up so much). I also used it during the day and it was convenient to have all of the wipes, nappies and clothes in one spot.
When Cadence was older, I stopped using it so much because she was reluctant to leave her play area to be changed. I found it to be a much calmer experience to change her on the floor where she was as opposed to interrupting our play and moving her to another room.
With Asher, I haven't used the change table once. Actually, I think I did use it once and decided it was cold and an awkward angle to change a tiny baby at. Maybe the fact that I had a caesarean the first time was why I used it so much with Cadence. This is something to consider.
Instead, Asher is changed on the floor using a blanket underneath her. I use homemade wipes which I keep in the kitchen area (so. much. cheaper). I don't find it inconvenient in any way because she's on the floor so she can't roll off if I need to go into another room to get something. It's much easier when you have a second child to entertain too.
Verdict: The matching change table is not necessary in my opinion. You can buy a padded changed mat for $30 that you can put aside when you're finished or a plastic mat to put underneath them to change on the go. If you have a caesarean, you might find a change table useful if your mobility is affected. But even then, you could change them on the bed with something under them which is what I do in the night.
They are absolutely adorable - and I think the size is much more appropriate for a newborn. It seems cosy. But they are in it for such a short period of time. We spent $200 (after I shopped around) on one that Cadence used for 3 months. With Asher, we didn't buy one. We borrowed one from a friend with full intention of having it next to the bed but Asher wasn't interested.
Verdict: Not necessary in my opinion. But some people do prefer them and I did find it handy to put Asher down in for about two minutes while I ate dinner. It was also somewhere to put her down briefly where Cadence couldn't step on her accidentally (no sarcasm - I literally hardly used it).
Everyone assumes this is top of the list. Until they discover that babies often don't like sleeping on their own in a cot. They much prefer to arms of their parents or even their bed. Even if they did sleep in a cot to begin with, you might find you start bringing your toddler to sleep in your bed because it's easier than standing next to the cot rocking them. The Milk Meg has a great article on this and can be found here.
Cadence had a bassinet at the end of our bed - and then a cot which didn't fit in our room so we moved her to her own room next door when she outgrew her bassinet. I think I spent more time with her asleep on me in the rocking chair than she spent in her cot when she was young.
Eventually, I put a double mattress on the floor so that I could lay with her to resettle her and she couldn't fall out. Then we bought Cadence a king single that is still on the floor and she's 3.
I bought Asher a cot mattress before she was born with the intention of building a side car cot to attach to our bed. But when she starts to crawl, I don't think it would be safe to leave her in it because the side is off - even though it would be connected to a larger bed. We plan to put our mattress on the floor very shortly and add the cot mattress to the side for extra space.
It's important to note that if you put your mattress on the floor, you need to be mindful of mould.
Verdict: You could absolutely get by without a cot if you needed to if you practice safe sleeping.
Cadence had every swaddle under the sun. Love To Dream were her favourite but transitioning out of them was difficult - and they aren't in everyone's price range. Asher was swaddled a couple of times whilst still in hospital until we realised she was not a fan.
Some recommend not swaddling whilst breastfeeding and it isn't safe to swaddle if you're bedsharing like I am so I haven't bothered.
Verdict: Maybe have a couple of stretchy wraps on hand and see what your baby needs. They can be useful to calm unsettled babies and I definitely think swaddles helped Cadence to settle. But buying top of the range isn't important. If you don't end up using the wraps to swaddle, you can use them as light blankets or liners for the trolley.
I didn't buy a glider or rocking chair when Cadence was first born. I sat on the couch in a different room each time I fed her. It has a gentle recline and was very uncomfortable to feed in when I was learning how to breastfeed - I felt the need to be propped up straight. She was born in Winter though so sitting by the fire in the lounge was a blessing.
I bought a glider when Cadence moved to her own room and found it useful for a while. Especially when she needed to be rocked to sleep and my arms got tired. Being able to sit down and rock was amazing. I got rid of it when Cadence wasn't feeding so much. We would feed sitting cross-legged on the floor or while we were watching TV. When we decided to have a second child, I was a little disappointed that I had sold it because I expected I would fork out to buy another. But I honestly haven't used one. Asher likes being rocked but much prefers feeding to sleep and laying down to breastfeed has been a game changer.
Verdict: Not necessary - but some people can't live without them. I would recommend sitting in a friend's chair to try it a few times before deciding.
Bouncers, walkers etc
Cadence had a bouncer - a very basic one. The idea of one with vibration, sounds and toys attached did attract me because she was very unsettled but I never got around to buying one and I'm glad that I didn't. I feel it's a waste of money.
There's a few studies that show floor time is important for a baby's development. There's also some information coming out about Bumbos and other similar items which aren't kind to our baby's underdeveloped bodies. I think it's better for babies to be able to roll around and explore in the way their body allows them to as opposed to strapping them into something that keeps them quite still or in a position that isn't natural for them. Asher certainly prefers to kick around on the floor or be in the carrier. Distraction definitely doesn't work for her anyway but may work for other babies.
A bouncer was handy to have when I had a shower and Brad wasn't home. I'm very lucky to have his support as I know that others don't always have this.
I gave Cadence's away and haven't bought one for Asher. Asher has a very basic mobile she can play underneath on the floor which she quite likes. Sometimes I want to prop her up while I eat dinner and would buy another basic bouncer if she was unsettled a lot of the time but she isn't so kicks around on the floor next to us or I hold her while I eat until she can sit in a high chair.
I know some say that they need the support of a walker, bouncer or other item to keep their baby amused while they cook dinner or attend to other children and this is where they may have their place. I just personally find that the baby carrier is my go to for this.
Verdict: Definitely not a necessity. My advice would be to go without until you know what you would like. We're marketed products with features that aren't necessary and made to feel like we can't parent without them. The reality is that we can.
Cadence had so many clothes. Some that I gave away with the tags still on or that I washed but she never wore. Most of them were brand name. Babies are in some sizes for such a short period of time. I gave away all of Cadence's clothes until I thought better of it and kept them from size one onwards. Asher's clothes have been gifts, secondhand or scarce and I've washed them more frequently as opposed to buying more. She's five months old and has gone through 4 sizes. I know all too well how little they are worn and therefore, couldn't justify the cost and environmental impact of buying and consuming so much.
I also focused on practicality this time around. Plain clothes and lots of layers as opposed to expensive brands if they aren't better quality. I'm mindful of fast fashion and the impact it has on the environment but I'm also conscious that more expensive doesn't always mean that it's better or will last longer. Some suits are $50 and I don't even really spend that on myself even when I know that I will wear it for years to come!
Verdict: Secondhand clothes are great for the environment and your pocket. If you're having multiple children, buying good quality makes sense for them to see your other children through. You often don't need as much as the checklist says. My advice would be to buy the bare minimum and see how you keep up with the washing and only buy or source more if you absolutely need to.
I've added up how much I've spent on disposables over the years and the cost is staggering. I also cringe a little when I think about landfill. I had intense postnatal depression after I had Cadence so I do wonder how I would have coped with the labour of reusable nappies but if I knew then what I know now, I think I would have definitely given them a go. It's a cop out and I'm aware but I feel as though I would need to use reusables for two babies in order to get the monetary benefits. I make my own wipes and save a tonne.
Verdict: Consider reusables if you haven't already.
You don't need them. Water is enough. When Cadence was older, I bought brands like Gaia and Ecostore. We don't use toxic chemicals in any of our products anyway but Cadence still has her own. I haven't used anything on Asher yet and I expect I won't until the girls share a bath together.
The one thing that I'll say about this is that Cadence had a leather-look, padded high chair that we got second hand and looked very impressive. However, it was a nightmare to clean. Food got into every crease and it looked dirty even if I spent half an hour scrubbing it. When Asher starts solids, we will definitely be opting for a very basic model for this very reason. At the moment, we have a seat that attaches to the chair for when you are out and about. We may even use this as opposed to purchasing something separate.
Cadence wasn't a fan of the high chair and preferred eating on someone's lap or on a small chair at a small table. I'd be aware of this before you spend big on a high chair.
Verdict: Opt for something that's practical and easy to clean. Keep in mind that things like being able to detach the table to clean it and get your baby out is helpful too.
Things I've used more of second time around
- Reusable breast pads. I used disposable with Cadence but leaked until she was 2 and only found one brand that didn't give me a rash. I bought reusables with Asher and haven't looked back. Sometimes it can be trial and error until you find ones you like but you'll save money and the environment if you opt for reusables.
- Baby carrier. Cadence went through stages with the carrier but we did use it quite a bit when going for walks. Asher likes the carrier and probably because we used it from day one out of necessity. A baby needing to be held constantly and still needing to care full time for a toddler made the baby carrier a must. They are great for settling babies because they are close to you and your heartbeat and the rhythm of your movement is soothing. I have an Ergo and highly recommend it. I haven't used wraps but I know others swear by them. Going to a baby wearing meet to try some on can be useful as they are not a one size fits all.
I hope that's helpful! Marketing for baby products is very aggressive and we can easily be seduced into buying so many things that we either don't have the space or money for. The reality is that caring for a baby is quite simple - love, warmth, cleanliness and food is all they need. You can figure the rest out.
What about you? What did you discover when you had a second child? Did you find you used some things more than others? Or not at all?