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Some parents prefer to buy a cradle or crib for their child. If you have space for either, go ahead and buy one. Just remember that it is better if the crib could be placed adjacent to your bed, or you will need to move around a lot to feed the baby at night. And some babies refuse to sleep in a crib/cradle after 5-6 months of age. Another useful, but non-essential buy is a rocker/bouncer. If you can afford, go ahead and buy one or else you could always beg, borrow or steal one from a relative or a friend. It will entertain the baby for 10-15 minutes and you will learn in a while that even 10-15 minutes will be difficult to come by with a baby around. Baby can be placed on it for naps, with the safety straps clipped on at all times.
A couple of rattles and a pacifier (again, if you plan to use one) are other items to buy. A crib mobile which can be attached to either a crib, the headboard of your bed or a window will also entertain baby for short periods of time. A car seat and a pram are also useful to have around. You can buy a pram with an attached car seat or buy both separately. The car seat should be for babies less than 1 year old and must be rear-facing. However if you do not own a vehicle or live in a locality with uneven and busy roads, then both will not be of much use. A baby carrier is also worthwhile. It can serve as a cradle and a car seat if it is of sturdy build.
Your baby’s requirements at 3-6 months
Around this time, you will switch from simple cotton dresses to ones with a little more detailing and prints. But ideally stick to cotton or cotton derivatives, and remember to remove tags that may poke your little one. By now the baby would have grown a bit, would be moving around more and turning over, so you will discard new-born nappies for bigger ones. It works out better if you buy 7-8 new-born nappies and the rest in a bigger size. You may also need more outdoor clothes now since you will be taking baby outside for short periods.
A carry bag or carrier bag is good to have at this stage. You can buy this at an earlier stage also, but my experience is that the baby feels safer in it once their necks are strong and they start supporting their head. You can do basic gardening, light cooking or go for a stroll with baby snug and safe in the carrier bag.
Your little one would have started to grasp things and move around now.
• Rattles without sharp edges that she can hold and toys that stay upright when she bats at them will provide loads of entertainment.
• And don’t forget books. Yup, your little tyke is not too young to start reading books, or chew on them! Get books that have big pictures. She will love looking at other babies, tractors, apples, birds, and household objects. She will want to touch, taste and feel the texture of the book. So buy her Touch and Feel books and board books that cannot be torn easily. Vikas and Dreamland are two Indian brands that offer affordable baby books.
• A teether is another piece of toy that she will enjoy biting on. Choose good quality ones – Mothercare, Chicco, Fischer Price, Funskool, Tomy, and Carter’s provide excellent toys and/or clothes. The Indian brand MeeMee is also pretty decent. Make sure its BPA free
• Buying your baby a play gym will not only help strengthen her muscles but can be an alternative to placing her on the bed all the time.
Once the baby can sit up independently with support, you can buy a tiny bath tub. However, never leave her unattended in a bathtub. Bath toys without openings (so that water does not collect inside) would make bath time fun for her.
By the end of 6 months you will start weaning. Note that it is advisable to keep your baby breastfed until the age of 6 months. (Unless otherwise suggested by your doctor)
Once you start weaning, you could continue feeding up to 12 months. The following are the items you would need once you start weaning.
• Baby bottles (Baby bottles have to be discarded every 3 months. Make sure that you buy bottles that can be cleaned easily, while being age-appropriate.)
• formula (only on the advice of your Doctor)
• sterilizing equipment
• bottle cleaning brushes and detergents
• steel glasses, katoris (small bowls) and tiny spoons
A handy item to have is a baby spoon that changes colour when the food is too hot. You will be feeding your little one home-cooked porridge, apple sauce and mashed rice by now. There are bottles with attached spoons available in the market that makes feeding porridge less of a mess. Gerbers, Firstbites, Cerelac, and Farex are some of the old trusted brands that have ready-to-consume baby food. Ideally these should be given to baby only when you are on-the-go, because all said and done, home-cooked food does not have additives and preservatives.
If you are the kind of family that eats your meals together, then a movable high chair is a pretty good investment. Remember that you will need a medium-sized dining room to accommodate this piece of furniture.
Baby essentials at 6-9 months
Now is the time to seriously start baby-proofing your home. There are safety locks available for cupboards and doors, corner guards available for table corners, door jams available to prevent doors from closing suddenly on your infant’s fingers – all of which have their uses depending on the kind of furniture and layout of your house. A playpen becomes your best friend, because you can pop the baby in it with a few safe toys while you run chores around the house. Once your baby starts crawling the playpen can do double duty as a safe baby cot – to put her down for her naps. If you need a relatively hygienic, but dust-free play area in the house, invest in a good play mat. I used the mat as a feeding area too.
You will be putting away all the new-born clothes by now since she would have doubled her birth weight. Whether your baby is a girl or a boy, buy a few good pyjamas. It will keep your little one warm during cold days and on nights since most babies kick off their blankets by this age. You will want bibs and wash clothes at this stage as you would have started giving solids. Cloth bibs are better at this point as they can be used to wipe mouth and arms when they spill food.
Baby essentials from 9-12 months
Let us start with toys.
• Colourful blocks
• Toy vehicles
• Stackable toys
• Toy phones and
• More books.
Many babies show an interest in holding on to something and walking at this age. Parents buy walkers for their kids to encourage them. Personally, I do not like or trust walkers. I think babies will walk when they are good and ready. Many paediatricians also do not recommend walkers as they can develop the wrong sort of muscles and actually delay independent walking; and babies often fall down uneven surfaces when they are in a hurry. If you must buy a walker, buy the kind that allows the baby to hold on to it and push it. Not one in which you put baby down in a seat. Another option is a pull-along toy that will amuse her and also encourage walking.
Some babies are ready for spout cups and sippers by 10-12 months. You should slowly switch from baby bottles to spout cups if you think your baby can manage it. You could get her a separate printed plate and cup to encourage her to try age-appropriate finger food. Brands like Philips and MeeMee have food processors specific to the needs of infants. These allow you to maintain hygiene without having to sterilize your cooking utensils and mixers every time you prepare baby’s food.
You will be buying baby’s first pair of sandals/shoes in the next few months. On the one hand, Firstcry is one of the best sites when it comes to buying baby footwear online. They usually provide the size of the inseam and the outside too. On the other hand, stores like Lifestyle and Shopperstop have funky or miniature adult-like footwear for baby. Run your hand on the insides of all footwear that you buy to rule out sharp edges or bits that chafe.
While the list of equipment that a baby needs may seem daunting at first, it is not. You can ask family and friends to get you some of this stuff or borrow some of the more expensive items from them. In addition you will not be buying all of it simultaneously. Except for a bulk purchase of essentials for 0-3 months old, the rest is what you buy and accumulate over months. So take heart, sit back and be prepared to enjoy with your little bundle of joy. The rest will take care of itself.