Essential for baby: 9 must-haves for when you bring your child home from the hospital
We speak to mums, one dad and a doula to find out what parents-to-be need to stock up on
Babies need a lot of stuff. Then again, sometimes somewhat-clueless first-time parents tend to unnecessarily stockpile items that end up being a waste of money. To help avoid this, The National spoke to two mums, one dad and a doula about what we must have and what can be ignored. This is not an exhaustive list, but it certainly gets you off to a good start.
Mum-of-two Rabia Zaman, who lives in Dubai, considers the Haakaa breast pump an “absolute essential”. “Like many mothers, I was very nervous about my breastfeeding journey,” she shares.
“The first time around was quite traumatic for me, as my baby was in the NICU for 15 days and I was not allowed to breastfeed, so I was attached to a hospital-grade, electric pump every two hours for that period.”
After her second pregnancy, that all changed and the breast pump by Haakaa eschewed any leftover fears. “Not only does it collect let-down when feeding from the other breast, but it also helps to increase supply. I used the extra milk to ‘top-up’ my baby when she wasn’t gaining enough weight. In short, it was a life saver.”
Zaman found she also couldn’t live without the Close Caboo Organic carrier, which allowed her to keep her baby close and secure at all times, while leaving her hands free. “It was a saviour during the sweltering summer heat … The best thing about it was that I could breastfeed in it, so I could literally be walking around Mall of the Emirates, sipping my decaf coconut latte, chatting on the phone, all while feeding.”
Before buying your own baby carrier, Zaman recommends popping into Eggs & Soldiers, a store for natural and eco-friendly baby products founded by a Dubai resident and mum-of-four, where they offer consultations. “Buying a carrier is a very personal choice based on your body type, your individual needs and which carrier feels right for you and your baby,” adds Zaman.
Clothes for baby
Spending too much money on cute outfits for your newborn is a waste, seeing as they’ll grow out of them imminently. Blogger and journalist Helen Farmer recommends packing about five basic vests and sleepsuits to take with you to the hospital. “My bump was massive and all signs pointed to a big baby, but she was smaller than we thought, so taking a few sizes (e.g. tiny baby and newborn) might be helpful,” Farmer writes on her blog The Mothership.
Mum-of-three-boys Gemma White recommends also buying little hats and mittens. “The air con in Dubai is fierce, so don’t underestimate how chilly babies’ tiny fingers can get. It can seem, with hats, mittens, onesies and waffle blankets, that you’re wrapping them up too much, but they have just lived in a very warm place for the past nine months and need to be kept nice and cosy.”
You may find breastfeeding easy, you’ll possibly struggle or you might not want to do it at all. Whatever you choose to do, White recommends having a box of baby formula to hand from the get-go just in case. “Whether you use the whole thing or never open it, it’s good to know you have a back-up to fulfill the old adage that ‘fed is best’.”
Mums tend to have more breastfeeding success if the formula isn’t instantly available
Nicky Langley, doula
Dubai doula Nicky Langley disagrees that you’ll need it at the hospital, however. “I tend to advise mums to have some formula at home if they are intending to breastfeed,” she explains. “Mums tend to have more breastfeeding success if the formula isn’t instantly available. Obviously, if mum is intending to formula feed, she will need to have this ready.”
Farmer adds that, if you’re planning to bottle feed, you’ll also need sterilised bottles. “Newborns only take a tiny amount of milk at first, so leave the 240 millilitre mega bottles at home.”
Swaddle, sleep routine and white noise
Farmer advises taking a swaddle blanket to the hospital. “Don’t worry, the midwife will show you what to do,” she says. As baby has just spent a fair few months tightly wrapped in mother’s womb, a swaddle helps them feel safe and secure, and is used as a method to get them to sleep.
New mum-of-twins Sophie Kaila agrees this is important. “My biggest recommendation is creating strong sleep associations for your babies really early. We always swaddled with a grow bag, used white noise and made sure the room was dark. Now whenever we do that routine, even during daytime naps, they know it’s sleep time.”
Kaila co-slept with her babies and used Sleepyhead sleeping pods, as well as the Chicco Next2Me crib. “It’s really great if you want to co-sleep safely, and it’s especially good if you’re breastfeeding, because when you wake in the night, you can basically just turn and bring them straight on to you, then burp and put them back to bed without having to stand up.” Kaila swears by the white noise machine, which makes a sound that is meant to mimic the environment of the uterus. “It’s amazing,” she adds. “Even when we take them out for walks and put the white noise on, they instantly fall asleep.”
Experts recommend not playing them too loudly and keeping them good distance away from baby.
Wet wipes and changing stations
Dad-of-three Nathan Irvine, who lives in Dubai, can no longer imagine life without wet wipes. “Other brands exist, but in my personal experience, Chubs are wet-wipe royalty,” he says. “They’re soft on your baby’s behind, yet strong enough to mop up any other spills around the house.”
Just get two of everything and get a changing station on wheels that’s easy to manoeuvre
Sophie Kaila, new mum of twins
Your wet wipes should go in a changing station, along with other essentials such as a changing mat, nappies, hypoallergenic cream and a dummy – to name a few. Kaila recommends having two changing stations in the house, one upstairs or in the nursery, and another downstairs or in your living area. “It’s much easier than moving everything between the two areas whenever you need it,” she says.
“Just get two of everything and get a station on wheels that’s easy to manoeuvre. Don’t bother with a changing table, as you can put your changing mat on any flat surface.”
While some new parents might believe they will have their hands full, which they will, Irvine says not to underestimate how much newborns sleep during the day. In the first few weeks, they’re only awake for about 90 minutes at a time. “There’s a lot of time sat staring into the middle distance in the early weeks, so a constant stream of entertainment is needed,” he says.
“Yes, a good book is another option, but a boxset demands less brainpower, which is ideal when – not ‘if’ – you’re exhausted.” In the UAE, we’re spoilt for choice with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Wavo, Starplayz and more.
The UAE Traffic Law mandates child seats for children up to the age of 4 years, so this is a definite must-buy. “This is essential for the wonderful day you take your baby home,” says Langley. There are a plethora of options available on the market, but every one is designed to protect your child in the event of a crash.
Newborn seats face rearward and those sold in the UAE will have had to pass crash tests, as well as have proper labelling and classifications for different age groups and weight categories. It’s easy to get lost, but most big parenting shops, such as JustKidding, will be able to guide you to the right fit.
“Choose carefully, consider the weight of the seat and how easy it is to get in and out of the car in Dubai heat. There are some really good ‘travel systems’ available,” adds Langley.
Langley is also a mum-of-four and has eight years’ experience as a birth educator in the UAE, and has been at more than 80 births during her career. Naturally, she believes having good support in place after the baby is born is imperative.
“The postnatal period is an incredibly vulnerable time for new mums,” she says. “They need lots of reassurance and confidence-building. Consider employing a doula, someone trained to offer any support you may need.” And don’t worry about buying too many “things”, she adds. “New mums and dads can be seduced into buying so much expensive baby gear when actually mum has everything baby really needs on her body.”
Updated: March 14, 2020 12:00 PM