First-Time Dad Survival Guide – Final Instalment
Isn’t it amazing how much a little person needs? You’ll find as they get older how the things you carry around with you will become less and less. If you’ve been reading our installments on checklists for a first time dad, it may have been like studying for a degree. Being prepared for your little one in as much as knowing the things you’ll need will save you so much time and stress in the long run. We’re almost at the end and if your wallet can take a bit more of a beating, we’re here to talk you through what you’ll need for food, feeding, bath time and toys
Food and Feeding
Muslins x 6 - 8
Muslins are thin cotton cloths that are great for a number of baby related things. To name just a few - An alternative bib, wiping food off baby, wiping food off you, catching spit up of baby, wiping sick from you, an emergency mat to change them on, boob hiding for baby’s mum during breastfeeding, buggy sun protection… the list is endless. Most muslin cloths are made from 100% cotton and wash well. You’ll be using these a lot.
Bibs x 4
Perhaps not as much use for bibs in the very early days as muslins take care of feeding needs, but definitely worth having once they are able to sit in a high chair. When babies move on to solids, you’ll definitely want some bibs. Cotton with Velcro at the back or plastic wipe clean ones are great. Bib for them and overalls, mask and helmet for you.
Breast Pump x 1
This will need a bit of research as to the make and model you buy but online reviews are great. Only worth buying for mum’s who breastfeed solely, (as in no formula) and are not with the baby when they need a feed. Once milk is pumped it can even be put in the freezer for you to bottle and feed the baby yourself.
Steriliser x 1
This is only needed if you’re planning on using bottles (not needed for babies who are only breastfed). It’s vital to protect your baby against germs and infection and once on bottles you’ll need to make sure these are sterilised before use. Harmful bacteria can grow in milk quickly and handling any baby feeding equipment with hands means germs can spread easily. Sterilising bottles and teats when they’re small is essential and will need doing for every bottle used at least until your baby is one year’s old.
There are three types of steriliser that you can use – Cold water, Microwave and Electric Steam. Look out for our feature on ‘how to buy a steriliser’. The most important thing to know is that if your baby is being fed on expressed breast milk or formula, you will need bottles, teats and a good steriliser.
Bottles & Teats x 3 or x 6
Only needed if baby is not purely breastfed. If you’re unsure what will happen when the baby is born, it’s worth doing your research before hand so if it’s something you suddenly need to go and buy, the hard work is done. If your baby is having a combination of breastfeeding and the bottle, start with three bottles. If purely bottle-fed, you’ll need double that.
Varying sizes of bottles and types of teats can get confusing. It’s worth buying a steriliser that comes with standard bottles and teats and seeing how you go. Some bottles don’t fit into certain sterilisers so if you start buying everything separately things can quickly become complicated.
High chair x 1
This is really for when your baby can sit up alone. Buy one where you can strap them in. You’ll be amazed how easily they can slide down when you turn your head. The table section should be plastic and easy wipe clean. Some slightly pricier ones have great clip off table sections on trays that you can detach and wash in the sink properly.
If your baby’s mum is breastfeeding, she will be constantly hungry. Remember she has to fuel herself well in order to produce milk and feed the baby. If you’re not on hand to do the cooking, top up food in the fridge regularly and buy lots of easy to prepare food to keep her going.
BATHTIME & TOILETTRIES
Bath or large washing up bowl x1
This comes down to personal preference. Just have a dedicated place to wash your baby in. A baby bath, washing up bowl or clean sink. You can even put them in your own bath if you buy a seat to sit them in. Some baby baths can sit in the same stand as a Moses basket, which will save money and your back from hunching over.
Cloth bath seat x1
When they’re very small it’s really hard to bath a baby on your own. These seats are great for placing your baby in, as it will hold them secure, leaving your hands free to wash them. Take a look at our roundup of bath accessories for a great cloth seat. They’re also easily portable and can be used in a baby tub or your own bathtub.
Sponge or flannel / face cloth x2
It’s good to have designated cloths to clean their face and separate sponge or flannel for their body. If you already have some at home, just use these. There’s no need to purchase lots of separate things for your baby unless you really want to.
Baby wash x 1
Baby’s skin is very sensitive and any soap can irritate them. Avoid bubble bath and just use something mild to clean their skin. Any high street or baby store will have a selection of baby washes for you to choose from.
Hair wash x 1
Again, something mild and designed for babies is a good start. You don’t have to wash their hair with shampoo every time you bathe them. It’s not like they’ll have locks of hair to begin with, if any at all.
Towel with hood x 2
These are great for wrapping up your baby after a bath. They are designed so that you can put it over your shoulder before you lift them out of the bath. You then place the hood over their head and wrap them up with the rest of the towel to keep them warm while you cream and change them.
Cream / Oil / Baby balm x 1
Start as you mean to go on and choose some baby balm or oil with no nasty ingredients, something natural for their skin. You’ll soon get into the habit of creaming them up after every bath. It’s also a great thing to do for bonding time as babies find baths and moisturising very relaxing. It calms them ready for bed.
Sudocrem x 1
Something essential to keep on hand, sudo cream is used for sore bottoms. Most babies at some time will suffer from nappy rash or sore skin. With that much poop and changing of nappies it can make, it’s inevitable. This cream dabbed on sparingly will ease any irritations and upset.
Nail clippers x 1
Baby nails grow super quick and babies are often born with long fingernails. Buy some clippers especially for babies as they are easier to use, gentle on their fingers and cheap to buy. As their hands start moving babies often touch their face. If left unclipped, they can start to scratch.
Comb x 1
Only necessary if your little one has any hair to comb. If you have a cute baldy you may not need one for some time.
TOYS / ENTERTAINMENT
The toys are just as much for you as they are for your baby. Don’t forget that whilst your baby is entertained, you can collapse for a breather.
Comforter or cuddly toy x 1
We looked at comforters in the first installment of our survival guide for new dads. It’s nice to give your baby something they can cuddle up to for when mum and dad need a break.
Rattle or activity toy x 2
As they start to develop their movement skills, it’s good to have something to entertain them with, especially if you’re on the move. A great addition to your changing bag too. Buy something touchy or feely to start developing sensory skills.
Mobile above their cot x 1
Once they are in their own room, placing a mobile above their bed will allow them to become familiar with the place they sleep. Familiarity is essential for a baby’s sense of security.
Bath toys x 2
This is again more useful as they begin sitting up in the bath and can interact a bit more. It makes bath time fun for them and a good place for some daddy-baby time.
Activity mat x 1
An activity mat is a great place for developing sensory skills, if you can afford to buy one. If you have generous family and friends, this is one for the gift list. Look at our roundup of activity mats for a great choice of what’s available.
Bouncer x 1
Some parents never feel the need for a bouncer as a baby can grow out of it quickly, especially once they start exploring. It can be useful in the early months as they can be buckled in to sit more upright and take in their surroundings. Some bouncers come with musical tunes and play toys to keep them entertained in them for longer. It’s not an essential in this guide but something to consider if you have the money.
In all the excitement and rush, don’t forget your camera. The days when a new baby arrives can all merge into one and become one big haze. Don’t regret not having a camera on hand to record the best moments. Make sure your batteries are all charged up and ready for the new arrival.
FINAL WORD …
And there you have it. There’s a lot to take onboard and if this is your first child there’s lots of learning involved. Don’t be fooled into thinking that we’ve gone overboard with our checklists – babies really do need a lot of stuff. If you need to refresh on our first two features, you can find them here: http://www.dad.info/article/kit/baby-gear/first-time-dad-survival-guide
Being a parent is hard work and it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with it all. Thrown in the deep end is where you’ll be but as the years go on and that feeding pooping crying machine becomes a little person, you’ll realise that it was well worth it.