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The Minimalists Guide to Newborn Essentials

Since becoming a mamma myself I have decided to edit this article to add a few more tried and tested essentials.
Please note I am in no way the expert on this scary mind field of parenting, but I have sought out the advice of my very own panel of experts, who have graciously offered their wisdom and guidance, and I am very excited to see if this really is the ultimate minimalist guide for newborn baby essentials.
My panel of experts have a few things in common:
• They are all moms, to multiple little munchkins,
• They have tried and tested a whole host of products,
• They have been manipulated by the salesman to buy unnecessary crap that ends up taking up space, and burning holes into wallets, and have researched further to not let that happen again.
• Most are alternative Doctors, Homoepaths, Chiropractors, Midwives and doulas; these are parents who have focussed on Newborn care without all the added toxic ingredients.
• They have found products that are kind to them, kind to baby, and easy to use.
Another very important factor for me was how much hassle is involved in using these products. I am a no fuss, no mess, practical kind of woman, and I am loath to buy or use anything that doesn’t have multiple purposes, or can be used for long periods of time.
This is a list of essentials, there are certainly no frills attached, or aesthetic benefits, the colours probably won’t match the baby room, but one thing I do know for sure, is that you should feel empowered by the end of this article, and a little stronger in your ability to stand up to the commercialism that is “new born baby products”.
You see the new baby industry has tapped into one of our deep underlying fears, that we are useless, uneducated, inexperienced human beings who are bound to end up harming our newborns if we don’t have all these extra goodies to make us better equipped at parenting, but it turns out, this is nonsense; if you have boobs for breast milk, arms for cuddles, a relatively calm environment for your newborn to adjust, and a support system that you can connect to, you can kind of survive.
This gives me hope, and reminds me that even though I am inexperienced in the parenting territory, I do have an inborn parenting gut instinct, and a lot of these ‘Essentials” fall under the “ I thought that would be a good idea feeling”, which further boosts my faith in myself, and guess what, self esteem and trusting your gut actually lead to a far happier parenting experience, as explained to me by my panel of experts.
So lets have a look at the list…..
Post Birth Body care:
Because a Happy mom, means a Happy Baby.
  • Epson salts with a few drops Lavender and Tea tree essential oils provide great relief for the sore tired muscles that come from any birthing experience.
  • Maxi pads (super long), because contrary to what you may have been told, you will bleed for at least 1-2 weeks post birth.
  • Rescue Remedy, and the Homeopathic remedies: Arnica Montana 30ch and Hypericum30ch, will help to heal wounds, calm the nervous system and provide some much needed rest for the post birthed mum.
  • Support in the form of mums, sisters, friends, neighbours (This was so highly recommended, it came on top of the list from everyone). When someone says “is there anything I can do to help”? Say yes!
  • Accept help in the form of ready made meals, help around your house, running errands, grocery shopping. Human beings are social creatures, we need help, support and community, there is no room for pride in a newborns world, the best thing you can do for you new family is to accept all the help you can get.
  • If you are able to hire a postpartum doula do so; these are professionals who come to your home and help new parents with breastfeeding, caring for mum and babe, and help to settle dad.
  • Rest and stay at home for the first few weeks, being sure to feed, hydrate and sleep yourself, before you open your home to too many visitors.
Baby Wraps:
These genius inventions keep your baby close to you and your partner, allowing for a mode of hands free moving about, whilst still addressing your newborns fundamental need to be close to you at all times.
•NooNoo pie,
• Bug a boo,
• Ring sling
• Snuggleroo Nurture shirt  is a stretchy elasticated shirt, where you pop baby inside the t-shirt, allowing for complete skin to skin, whilst still wearing modest clothing ( I personally Loved this wrap and got 2 so I could wear one and wash the other ).
• Ubuntu BABA stage 1 – this was my go to from month 3-12
A great resource to check out and join is the facebook group: NINO Babywearing South Africa.
Muslin clothes:
They are light weight, easy to wash and dry in the same day and have many benefits:
• Swaddle baby to help your little one fall asleep,
• Keep baby warm and cosy,
• Use to clean up baby’s spit, vomit, and other exciting bodily discharges.
• Can be used a breastfeeding cover.
Pregnancy sleeping pillow:
These wonderful things provided great support during your pregnancy sleep, and can be used as a nursing pillow (vital to preventing back, neck and shoulder tension) and moulded to provide support if you are co-sleeping.
Nappies and a nappy bin:
Clothe or disposable?
For the first few weeks, it has been advised to use the disposable nappies, as babies are so little, and they poo so very often.
There after try your hand at a few different cloth options, until you find the ones that work best or the shape your babe, even better ask a friend who has already used cloth diapers to come on over and give you a lesson or two in how it all works.
Cloth is far gentler on babies bum, better for our environment, and pretty easy to use, once you know how.
Resources: South African Cloth nappy users group.
Baby skincare products:
Did you know babies are not dirty when they are born? The vernix is a waxy substance that coats the skin of a newborn baby. It protects your baby’s skin from the amniotic fluid whilst in the womb, and provides a protective barrier to microbes, bacteria and viruses outside of the womb. It also regulates your newborns temperatures. It is best to rub it into your baby’s skin, and delay the first bath for 24hours to up to a week.
When you do decide to wash your little one, all you need is good clean warm water, some sea salt, and a few drops of essentials oils like tea tree, lavender, rosemary etc, or a very mild soap like castille soap (available at most health shops).
Great advice regarding bathing: wet babies are very slippery, and you need to be careful. If you are calm, baby will be calm, if you are stressed, baby will be stressed, so plan your first bath to be a time when both you and your partner can be involved, remember supporting each other goes a long way in easing tension.
Your baby doesn’t need a whole host of beauty skin care products either; Coconut or almond oil work best as a lubricant to moisturise dry skin, most healthy bums only need a bit of coconut oil for nappy protection, it is best to save the bum creams for a nappy rash, when they are indicated, as opposed to everyday use.
In the case of nappy creams, go organic:
• OH Lief
• Gluki Organics
• Pure beginnings

 

Breastfeeding support:
Again the unsung hero of skincare support: coconut oil for nipple protection can be used before and after the feed, it’s non-toxic for your little one, and doesn’t have any strange or weird tastes, it has anti-microbrial properties, it moisturizes, heals and protects your very delicate skin.
•  Lanolin nipple cream 
• Nursing bras- for day and night
• Nursing t-shirts, dresses, clothing that allows for easy boob access
• Medula Swing Electric breast pump (you can get your medical aid to pay for this- just look for the nappi codes and submit your proof of payment).
• Along with the breast pump you need, milk storage bags, and a breast-like bottle.
• Bottle Sterilizer
Even if you want to breastfeed exclusively, having a bottle or two on hand is vital, it gives dad the opportunity to feel involved in feeding his babe, it is a easier way to dispense medication, and it gives mums the chance to rest her boobs, and enjoy some very important “Me time” once in a while.
• Boob Tubes: If you have clogged ducts or the dreaded mastitis, a boob tube will help relieve the pain, and increase the milk flow, which will ultimately reduce the clogged ducts.
• Nursing cover: Most mums want to breastfeed, and most mums feel shy or insecure about breastfeeding, having a cover will give you and your baby the privacy you need to nurse in public, which will allow you to relax, and make the experience for you and babe a whole lot easier and enjoyable.
Sleeping arrangements:
Along with the lovely crib you may have already started to set up in your little ones room, one thing that has been highly recommended to me by all mums is a bassinet or co-sleeper for your room.
There will be nights that baby is niggly, and needs to feed on demand, there will be nights when baby is sick, and needy and wants to be close to mum, these are the nights that having a bed for your little in your room will make your life, and your sleep much better.
Other important bits and bobs:
• Nebulizer, Shop around and see if you can get one on sale, again this is something that has a nappi code, and you can claim back from your medical aid.
• Ear Thermometer- nappi code, medical aid
• Some form of a nappy bag- big enough to carry nappies, bum cream, a change of clothes, your bottles, and your essentials like cell phone, wallet, and car keys, but small enough not to cause back pain.
• Foam mattress for baby’s crib; they are firm and supportive, yet light weight enough to make changing sheets a breeze.
• A nice big car mirror to place in front of baby’s car seat- safety regulations insist that baby must be in a rear facing car seat, and a mirror for you to see their little faces is very comforting on drives when it’s just you two in the car. TRUST Me, this was a life saver as my little one absolutely hated the car and would wail from point A to point B; I might add a few wast going sounds tracks, happy baby songs and some RESCUE remedies for both baby and I have helped too.
Great parenting reads, because knowledge is power:
• Gentle First Year- Dr Gowrie Motha
• Primal Health: Understanding the critical period between conception and first birthday- Michel Odent
• The mind of your newborn baby- David Chamberlain
One last final note:
Research has found that human babies tend to be more content when their first environment resembles life in the womb. If they are carried a lot, fed frequently, kept at a comfortable temperature, and can hear parents bodily sounds, like heart beat, voice or breathing, they tend to sleep better, grow faster, have stronger immune systems, and are far more relaxed and content.
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