Like any mama before and after me, I may have gone a tad bit crazy when it came to having my son. Instead of being a 12 pounder baby like I had feared from finding out I was pregnant to giving birth to a teeny, little 5 pounder instead; I brought just about any article of clothing that proclaimed to make life easier and simpler as well as a shed ton of blankets. Turns out, I really didn’t need to worry about buying several 3-6 month old clothing sets as Blake was still wearing 0000’s at 8 months of age. While they eventually came in handy the following year, those clothes sat in a large storage container in my garage for nearly a year.
One thing I’ve learnt from my mistake of buying a ton of clothing is the second time around is always different than the first pregnancy. It’s like women who’ve had a child prior have an intuition as to what items are needed for the second, third and so on babies and which ones were purely a waste of your time, money and energy. Having consulted with a few other mamas’ who have years of experience with kiddies under their belt, I feel slightly a little more confident in what I do have and haven’t really been too concerned about not buying enough this time. However, I have gone shopping and here’s my ‘must haves’ list.
Feeding / Pumping
Good Quality Breast Pump
Having breastfed, pumped exclusively and stored my breastmilk for several months with Blake, it’s safe to say I burnt through the rubber duckbills, flanges and pumping cord to my breast pump. One thing I would say to anyone who is expecting their first or fifth baby is, if you’re planning on breastfeeding, getting a really good quality breast pump is not only worth the investment but also, your sanity. With Blake being premature and experiencing latching difficulties, to the point of wanting to give up because I was so exhausted and in immense pain, I exclusively pumped for the first couple of weeks or so. My milk supply became well and truly established, I built a nice little stash of frozen milk and I was able to grab a few hours of well-needed sleep while my family could feed the baby.
This time round with baby #2, I’m hoping to not put so much pressure and stress onto myself when it comes to breastfeeding and pumping. Instead of following a strict 3 hour feeding and pumping routine, I’m going to follow baby’s natural feeding routine while allowing myself to experience a little extra freedom and flexibility this time when it comes to pumping. I’m also going to buy new duckbills and back-flow stoppers every 3-6 months or when I start noticing a decline in pumping abilities as I’ve probably worn them past their use buy date.
A Pumping Bra
My biggest regret when I think back to how many hours and months I spent death-gripping my breast pump parts because I was afraid of spilling and crying over spilt milk was not having a pumping bra. Pumping is a time consuming task that can leave any woman feeling as if they’ve suddenly become a cow and are contemplating murdering their partners, because they will never understand! After reading several reviews on how pumping bras are often described as not only being life changers but also, possess a mysterious power of doing the heavy lifting and supporting for you; I was in my car and driving to my nearest baby store.
When it came to purchasing a pumping bra for myself, I needed a bra with reinforcement along the top edge, around the pumping openings and had the design to hold bottles securely in place as I become quite bottom heavy in my breasts when breastfeeding/pumping.
Nursing / Boomerang Pillow
I learnt pretty quickly when breastfeeding my son and pumping in addition that you spend a majority of your time, looking down and straining your neck and shoulder muscles. By the time you come up for air, you feel like you’ve been hit in the back of the neck/head with a piece of four-by-two and are dreading the incoming headache. I found after using your normal and very standard pillow as a means to propping my son up so he was closer to my breast that it was leading to all sorts of headaches and neck/shoulder/back pain. That was until I discovered how beneficial it was owning a boomerang shaped pillow as it moulds around your body, has enough length and width to lay baby out completely and still have enough room to rest your arm comfortably. A boomerang pillow is a definite must-have on my essentials list.
A bassinet / Baby Swing
One of the most commonly baby items up for sale on Facebook Marketplace are Moses baskets. While they look adorable with their little woven baskets, delicately placed mattresses and perfectly aesthetic blankets to suit the parent’s taste, they can often be highly impractical and outgrown within a matter of months. As such, I’ve decided to go down a rather controversial pathway and that’s using a bassinet.
I’ve previously found using a baby swing that could rock on its own and was battery operated, allowed me to have the freedom to use both of my hands. Especially when it came to pumping for an hour and a half as I hadn’t discovered pumping bras, eating something (I discuss this further down in the post) and chugging down a few litres of water. I also noticed it made long car rides easier as Blake was used to the rocking-like motions of a vehicle travelling and he never got car sickness. As for the bassinet, a baby needs somewhere to sleep and I’m pretty fortunate to have gotten 8-9 months out of mine before Blake was introduced to sleeping in his cot and this is something I’m hoping to do with Baby #2.
Old School Nappies / Diapers
Hands down, I love myself some terry towel cloth nappies as they are the most handiest thing you will ever buy and own. In fact, I have brought several packs for my cousin, friends and myself as well as recommending them to work colleagues. While my mum has fond memories of washing these by hand and soaking them in a bucket with Napisan (a stain preventer), I have no intention of using them for nappies and to be honest, I don’t have the time nor the patience to hand wash and soak them.
Instead, I use my old school cloth nappies in a variety of different ways like burp cloths for baby spit-up, bassinet sheet covers, extra padding for our pram and well, anything else that you can think of. I’ve also used it as a temporary towel when answering the front door when pumping, much to the surprise of our postal delivery guy! I’d recommend buying at least two packs of cloth nappies as you’ll go through them quickly (think 6 in the washing machine at any one time)and also, they’re cheap as chips and will be your most used item for Baby #2.
Warm / Light Blankets
When it came to purchasing blankets for my son as a newborn, I worked on the philosophy of having at least 4 blankets at any one given time. 2 were warm and light, that could be easily transitioned from summer to autumn/fall and the other 2 were winter-based ones. After one particular eventful night of teething-induced vomits and going through all of our blankets, we ended up being defeated and having to resort to layering several muslin swaddles over Blake.
Having discovered my mistake quite quickly, I’ve recently purchased several more seasonal-friendly blankets for both Baby #2 and Blake as he’s still sleeping in his cot. When it comes to purchasing any blanket, I tend to focus on these key points:
- Is this blanket going to be used for sleeping, tummy time or it purely going to be used in hospital photos?
- What is the quality, weave and texture of the fabric being used?*
- Is the blanket transitional from season to season (if required)
- How will the blanket hold up after multiple washes?
- How much are you willing to spend on a blanket?
- Is there going to be any special-care based instructions for washing?
For me personally as I do not have a particular aesthetic in mind, I often tend to lean towards blankets that are good quality and durable, are going to still look fresh and brand new after multiple washes and they don’t/won’t cost an arm and a leg. At the end of the day, I like my blankets to have dual purpose of keeping my child cool and warm at night but also, can be easily thrown into a washing machine and I don’t have to read any special-care instructions.
*When it comes to choosing the right fabric for your child’s blanket, it can often be an overwhelming and tricky experience for any type of mama. Whether it’s your first or 5th baby. So here’s a quick breakdown as to the different types of fabric and weaves used to make blankets:
- Cotton: they hold up well with repeated washing and are often a good choice for children/babies who have allergies. Depending on the particular weave, they can be lightweight for summer months and heavy enough for colder climates.
- Wool: provides excellent insulation during winter months or for colder climates, it’s a great choice when wanting a heavy and warm blanket but isn’t suitable for someone who has allergies/sensitivity to wool.
- Synthetics: often made from acrylic, polyester and microfiber materials and while are a great option for warmth, are generally inexpensive. Downside to this fabric are blankets are known for being good conductors of electricity, collectors of dust or any type of hair (not great for those with allergies) and often will wear quickly.
- Knit: these blankets are cozy and incredibly warm in all comfort aspects; however, can be made from synthetic or wool based materials and are genuinely more favourable in winter months.
- Thermal: cotton-based blankets are thermal based. Which means they have a loose-made weave that allows for air to circulate easily and are often favoured during summer months.
- Conventional: a very close and tight weave-style that is often excellent choice for insulating body heat.
Travel / Safety
Window Shade Covers
Whether you’re merely popping down the road or travelling vast distances as Australia isn’t a small country in itself, a travel must-have essential is window-shade covers. I recommend getting window-shade coverings only for your back passenger windows as they can assist with eliminating harsh UV rays, lowering a car’s inner temperature which can become pretty sweltering in spring/summer and also help with keeping the sun out of baby’s face. Whether you drive a SUV of some sort like I do or a teeny Toyota corolla, getting sunshade coverings for your windows that fit is vital as means they’re less likely to flap against the window when driving, causing baby to become irritated and start crying and they provide extra protection from random bird droppings. Plus, they’re machine/hose washable!
A Car Seat
This item seems pretty obvious to most parents but it can also be the most missed item as well. As a Registered Nurse, I’m pretty big on car seat safety rating and will spend hours researching, evaluating and piling a list of suitable car seats for my children. Some of the most important key factors I took into consideration when buying Baby #2’s car seat were:
- Had a high safety rating when it came to car accidents
- Didn’t up taking a huge amount of space in my SUV (which can be pretty tight to begin with!) when rear-facing
- The seat possessed the capability of extended rear-facing for 30months/2.5 years of age if I so wished to.
- It could be repositioned for height-markers easily and the straps didn’t need rethreading.
I also took into consideration when reviewing car seats safety ratings was each country has a different law regarding seats as well as different models and makes available on the market. One of the best things I did for peace of mind was travel to our baby store on the Sunshine Coast and physically looked, touched and used the car seat to see how they felt, looked and worked. Doing this made the whole process much easier than I’d expected.
Blake got to be a model for when Baby #2 was no longer rear-facing and I could visibly see if he felt comfortable in the seat as he’d either lean back into the seat with a smile on his face. Or, if it were uncomfortable as heck than it would be quickly abandoned. I practiced
adjusting/extending the head of the car seat and really taking into account how difficult/easy it was to readjust with one or both hands (as I don’t often have much upper body strength). It also made sense to do this as we weren’t purely relying upon the internet and I got to see every little detail myself in person.
An Emergency Car Kit
One thing I often find myself doing is giving praise and thanks to myself for having established a well-to-do emergency car kit, filled with all of the essentials any parent can need. While our diaper bag often contain a majority of our must-have essentials for on the go like nappies, baby wipes, an outfit change, hand sanitizer and anything mama related; I find having a few additional necessities stored away in the back of my car is just as essential as my diaper bag. I’ll be writing a post in the near future about this and will no doubt update this particular section when its available.
Large Water Bottle
Fun fact: it’s been reported that 70% of Australians are walking around in a dehydrated like-state of mind from not drinking enough water. Another essential must-have on the list is buying or having a good quality water bottle that can hold up to a substantial amount of water at any one given time. For me personally, I prefer a large water bottle that can easily hold up to a litre or more of water as I get super thirsty, has a spout that can be pulled out easily by any means and is insulated because I like really freezing cold water when feeding/pumping.
By having a large water storage in a water bottle, you keep up with your body’s increased demand for hydration and daily water intake (winning!), it’s going to prevent exhaustion due to being dehydrated and your milk supply from dropping and you becoming upset because your supply has dropped considerably. So mama, get a good quality water bottle!
The next must-have essential to purchase is snacks and lots of them! Never realising how incredibly hangry and ravenous you can get when feeding/pumping, running after a toddler and making sure the laundry is done; snacks are often a necessity for any mama on the go. I often find grazing on wholesome snacks packed with hidden nutrients and minerals throughout the day to be beneficial for me in the long run; but they also have to be time sufficient, relatively easy to make/purchase and help stimulate lactation production.
Some of my favourite go-to snack options include: trail mix packed with nuts and dried fruit, Greek yoghurt with dried cereal, fresh fruit and probiotic, fresh vegetables with hummus or cheese, apple slices & peanut butter, lactation cookies, bagels with cream cheese and protein balls.
This is everything I plan on re-using or have recently purchased for Baby #2. Must admit, I’m starting to become a little anxious at the thought of the end of my pregnancy is drawing closer and closer and before I know it, I’ll be a mama to two! Just need to tell myself to breathe and enjoy every last little moment and opportunity for our lives change. Hopefully you’ve found this helpful, particularly if you are an expecting parent yourself or know someone who is currently expecting, as I had fun writing this post and doing my first-ever collage!
If you think of something that hasn’t been included and it could potentially be beneficial for another expecting parent than leave a comment down below and help out our little community.