Since having baby number two, I have had so many people ask me what my ‘essentials’ have been. While every baby and each parent’s situation is different, the two fundamentals are without a doubt, milk and love. It really is that simple. They don’t need a wardrobe filled with Instagram-worthy outfits or a Pinterest-inspired nursery. And they definitely don’t need that expensive bassinet they will grow out of in a few short months. When I was asking myself what I needed to buy before my daughter Ari arrived, I kept coming back to the concept that less is more.
Though one month into parenthood for the second time, there are a few things I’ve found particularly helpful and thought other parents might too.
A baby sling and/or carrier
This was also top of my list with my first-born but it’s even more of a must with a second. Everything from making your own breakfast to continuing to parent your older child requires two hands, and when your new baby demands to be cradled in your arms at all times, being able to wear them makes life so much more manageable. Plus, there are so many benefits to wearing your newborn baby (not including, but my personal fave, being able to smell that delicious newborn smell on demand). I personally love and wear Chekoh Wraps.
I didn’t bother with what I deemed ‘unnecessary’ items with our eldest child but as my due date drew closer, it dawned on me that casually placing my newborn on the couch or floor or bed as I did the first time wouldn’t be as practical with an inquisitive, curious and overly excited three year old around. So, I borrowed a Nuna Leaf from a friend, I pulled our Babyhood Bouncer out of the back of the wardrobe and I breathed a sigh of relief when my Dockatot Deluxe arrived—this, my friends, is worth its weight in gold.
It’s an award-winning baby lounger that I use daily. It makes the juggle and life-admin so much easier as I know she’s safe and happy—and given we spend a lot of time at the beach as a family, it’s perfect for keeping her sand-free, comfortable and secure.
I know, I know, it seems like an unnecessary purchase for a self-proclaimed minimalist mother, but our house is tiled and considering you spend a LOT of time on the floor with babies, I needed something comfy, affordable and wasn’t covered in unicorns, butterflies or brightly coloured characters. I did a little shout out on Instagram and I was introduced to jnr.life, a brand new company designed and launched by two mums. Minimalist, luxurious, and complementary to adult interiors, the Boom Boom Round in Rust was perfect for our playroom.
Plus, they’re passing on $2 of every purchase to St Kilda mums—a volunteer-lead organisation based in Melbourne, Australia where pre-loved nursery and children’s goods are recycled and re-homed to support families in need.
For obvious reasons, a car seat is an absolute must. We were so happy with our Maxi Cosi the first time round; we went with the brand again. We choose not to use a capsule and opted for the Euro Plus which is compatible from birth to four years. Because we live in Byron where the climate is generally pretty warm most of the time, the addition of mesh in this seat elevates the fabric properties and provides an additional layer of ventilation—meaning a much less sweaty baby!
Love to Dream Swaddles
Our first born, Sunny hated her arms being down—she fussed, grunted and literally houdinied her way out of any swaddle so for Ari, we didn’t even bother trying. Instead we opted for Love to Dream swaddles on the recommendation of many mum-friends. The arms up position is meant to replicate baby’s behaviour in the womb and if the punches in my ribs while she was in-utero were anything to go by, it was obvious Ari wasn’t going to like having her arms fastened to her sides either. We have three different swaddles on rotation, the Love to Dream Newborn for nights.
And again, because we live in a warm climate, we also have the Love to Dream Lite and Love to Dream Bamboo Lite. The latter two have lower Tog ratings, which make them best suited for warmer weather. They’re also super, super soft, lightweight and breathable. So far, Ari has been loving them and they’ve fast become a cue that it’s time to sleep.
Haakaa Generation 3 Breast Pump
Imagine a baby that finds breastfeeding overwhelming and distressing. A baby that coughs, gags and fusses when fed because her mum is producing too much milk. Unfortunately, that is the case for me right now and I am working on strategies to continue to feed my baby without us both feeling miserable. What I’ve found so far is that by expressing for a couple of minutes before she feeds, the flow regulates and allows her to more effectively and happily feed. Enter, the Haakaa Breast Pump, a simple, manual design for quick and effective pumping.
As well as expressing pre-feed, the Haakaa pump allows me to capture ‘spilt milk’ from the opposite breast as well—and as anyone who chooses to breastfeed will know, spilt milk IS something to cry about in this regard.
Ok, I have to admit, this one sold me on the hype: “Glow Dreaming takes the battle out of sleep time”; “This thing actually works! My daughter is sleeping better and longer”; “28 day refund policy”. If you have read any of my previous articles or follow me on Instagram, you would know my eldest daughter wasn’t much of a sleeper—she’s still not. I’m not in the business of trying to force sleep on a baby and really do just go with the flow, but I didn’t think there was any harm in trying something that has such glowing reviews.
Ari is only five weeks old and sleeps in our room so funnily enough, this magical lamp is currently in our three year olds room in an attempt to stop her yelling out for a cuddle at 1, 3 and 5am. We’re a few days in and it’s recommended you use it for at least six days before you see results, so watch this space.
A Baby Bag
I remember thinking how good a backpack would be when I had Sunny. I wore her in a wrap or front pack for the first year of her life so carrying a shoulder bag just wasn’t practical. Now with two kids, a backpack is even more of a must and I was so thrilled to stumble across Alf the Label, and then to find they had a 3 Way Backpack aptly named, The Ari. Of course I had to have it. The Ari has eight internal and two external pockets to hold everything you might need, plus it comes with adjustable straps to convert it from a backpack to a satchel handbag style if that’s your preference.
In terms of other ‘things’, I kept it really simple. Target does amazing organic cotton onesies and Nature Baby is always a go-to for me. The quality, simplicity and exceptional customer service keep me coming back time and time again. For basics worth investing in, I can’t go past Millk but the realty is, Ari has been living in nappies and a singlet (I love the new Bonds Newborn Range).
I have also invested in a cleaner. It was something I always considered to be so unnecessary as I am perfectly capable of cleaning my own home - but I’ve come to learn that parting with that cash every fortnight gives me more time to spend with my children and it has truly been the best investment I’ve made.
Just remember, whatever your version of parenting is, your essentials are bound to be different—these suggestions are simply those that have worked for me. Above all, I remind myself daily of those very important fundamentals—milk and love people, milk and love—and I encourage you not to get caught up with too much more than those too.