There are so many options in baby products that new mommies have literally hundreds of decisions to make before their baby even turns a month old! Dozens of these choices are just in feeding products alone! You’ll have plenty of odds and ends to buy during that first year, even if you are breastfeeding your baby. There are some items that most mommies would agree you wouldn’t want to even try to live without!
Breastfeeding is the most popular choice, and requires far less equipment, but there are still a few things you’ll find necessary (or that make life so much easier that they should be).
A breast pump is one of those things no breastfeeding mother should live without, along with all the accessories it requires. You’ll have plenty to choose from (manual or electric, single or dual pumping, adjustable sucking, etc.).
* If you’ll be pumping a lot, perhaps to go back to work, you’ll be better off with a higher end electric breast pump. These are faster, easier to use, and can drain both breasts with ease. They are also bulky and heavy, so most mothers who buy these also own a smaller manual pump to carry. For cost-conscious mommies, there are some hospitals that rent high-end breast pumps for a fraction of what it would cost you to buy one.
* Even mommies who plan to stay at home will need a night off once in a while, so a small breast pump is needed to make a few bottles for a sitter. Lots of moms even pump fairly often to let dad in on the feeding. This is a great bonding experience for babies and daddies, and a good break for mommies.
No matter how often you plan to pump, be sure and offer your baby some breast milk in a bottle several times each week so that she’s used to it. The best time to try and get baby to take a bottle for the first time is not the evening of your first dinner out in weeks!
Don’t forget to store breast milk in glass containers, not plastic! Mommies who decide to formula feed their babies have a whole new set of things to decide on. The biggest question is of what kind of formula to feed your baby…which your doctor could easily recommend. If there are no special conditions that your baby needs (for example, lactose-free formula), then most standard formulas that contain iron are okay.
Once you’ve figured out which formula to buy, you need to decide how to buy it. There are cans of ready-to-serve formula that are convenient, but expensive. Liquid concentrates take up less space and must be mixed with water. Powdered concentrates are the cheapest option, and sometimes the most convenient…you can mix a little or a lot, and the shelf life is far longer than the others. There is also an advantage of the powder being considered safer, as powder cannot leach chemicals from plastic and metal containers as easily as liquids.
For the first few weeks, you’ll need at least six or seven small bottles that can hold four ounces, and several nipples. Before buying a bunch, get one or two at a time until you’ve figured out which shape the baby likes best. After a couple of months, when the baby starts eating more at a time, you’ll need to buy some larger bottles. It’s not a bad idea to keep the smaller ones as a back-up.
Pacifiers (paccies, binkies, patsies, etc.) are sometimes a lifesaver for a frazzled mommy and a fussy baby. There are plenty out there, and you can usually find them with the same size and shape of the nipples your baby uses for feeding. Make sure they are all-one-piece, or sturdy enough not to come apart, and do not tie the pacifier to the baby (or anything else for that matter) because of the potential strangling hazard.
After your baby is sitting up on her own, and showing an interest in “real” food (if she watches you eat with interest, or reaches for your food), she’s ready to begin learning about solid food. This usually happens around the six-month mark. The best thing to start with is a single-grain baby cereal mixed with a little formula. These are easy on the baby’s little tummy, and can be mixed according to the baby. Start with very thin cereal, and gradually thicken it as your little one gets better at eating it.
Introducing baby foods can be easy if you start by mixing it with the cereal that’s already familiar. Single fruits and veggies are best for beginners, and you can slowly add new foods to your baby’s diet. Adding one new food every few days gives you a chance to check for allergies easily, and gets the baby accustomed to different flavors without being overwhelmed. The first cans of baby food are usually brought in when the baby is around eight months old.
Once babies have been eating baby food for several weeks, if they can easily manipulate small objects with their hands then small, soft finger foods can be introduced. Small pieces of banana or other soft fruits are a healthy choice. There are also plenty of products made for beginner eaters, and labeled according to age (soft rice patties, easy-melt shortbread cookies, etc.).
There is no right or wrong age that is perfect for introducing solid foods, every baby is different. Your baby will ultimately decide what she’s ready for, and when. If you attempt to introduce something new, and the baby can’t seem to manage it, wait a few weeks and try again. Before long, your baby will be eating like a pro, and ready to tear into a piece of cake by her first birthday!