Elise's top 10 essential baby items
Recently, René, a reader of ours, commented on Alex’s newborn survival guide and asked how she can prepare for the arrival of her first child. Elise dug into her treasure trove of knowledge and penned down what she thinks—in retrospect—are some of the must-have baby items. If you’re a first-time parent like René, have a read! Otherwise, if you’ve friends or family members who may find this blog article useful, please share it!
Hi René! Thank you for contacting us! Being a first-time parent is not easy, let alone preparing for parenthood during coronatimes. These are the ten baby items—in no order of importance—that I’d have bought if I knew what I know now and it’d have saved me a lot of time (and money). In fact, I’m a bit of a minimalist so these are the only newborn items I’ve kept in case we have a new addition to the family. Alright, are you ready to dive into the recommendations? Sit tight and here we go!
1. Nursing essentials
The Bonds’ hidden support singlet is hands-down the best maternity singlet. You can easily nurse any time and if you wear a regular t-shirt over it, you can breastfeed without showing boob or belly. Embarrassingly, I still wear these daily because it’s just too comfortable and perfect for the warm and humid weather in sunny Singapore (I’m currently wearing it as I write)! This maternity singlet is multifunctional; you can sleep in them, wear them all day, have a walk in them or even wear them out (I’d layer it under clothes but my thinner friends didn’t always).
If you’re interested in breast pumps, you can consider the Haakaa pump! Here’s a cute picture of my firstborn, Pete, “using” Mama’s pump. Jokes aside, the Haakaa silicone pump hails from New Zealand and it’s both non-electric and hands-free (*gasp* Hands-free! Extra pair of hands!). They currently have three versions, and the one that I have is the Haakaa breast pump with suction base.
Onto bouncers, I’ve two other brands before my current Baby Bjorn Bouncer (ref image above). Previously, I also had the Chibebe snuggle pod, which is an adaptable baby bean bag (ref image below). Having used all these different brands, the Baby Bjorn bouncer is so simple to use and by far the best I’ve ever had. The Baby Bjorn bouncer is also lightweight and portable; it was my best companion back when I had to head back to the office with my then-newborn.
3. Baby Clothes
Next, clothes! If there’s something that’s more durable than Bonds (who, incidentally ship orders over $100 to Singapore for free), cuter than Seed Heritage and cheaper than anything, it’ll be Lagom Kids! They feature clean lines and comfy designs in natural fabrics for both baby and kids up to five years old. Here are some pictures of my boys in their Lagom wear:
4. Baby Cot/Crib
The cots from IKEA are so good that I had two of them at one point! However, I kept flip flopping about their mattresses; we got the pricey one at first but one of our rental flats had terrible mould! Then, I got obsessed with mould and have been buying the cheap mattress to change out every six months or so. I’ve just heard from my cousin about Growbright’s airnest mattress and gosh, they look amazing!
Some parents may prefer to have co-sleeping cribs. In that case, if I had my time again and wanted one like that, I’d go with the Chicco Next2me Co-Sleeping Crib! I kind of hacked my IKEA cot so that it went up against the bed with the shortest side to the bed, but it was a bit average (better than nothing, I guess). Perhaps you can also have a look at the Moses basket, I used it a lot with my second and third child, which was really good because it allows me to move them around easily without waking them. I placed the basket in the cot for most of the first few months and then beside my bed on the floor if I needed him closer. I’d probably get one of those again if we have a fourth baby (it wasn't small to store, so I gave it away)!
Baby Robbie in the Moses basket. Shot by Kerry Cheah.
Bathtime’s not my favourite - it can be a little bit tricky especially if you don’t have a good tub to make the entire process easier/smoother. I’m not talking about the baby bathtubs with all the bells and whistles (ie. cushion insert, temperature sensors). I wash all my three kids in the kitchen sink, and we convert the sink into a baby bath with the Puj Tub, which helps to support the baby. Plus, with the baby tub, you won’t need to bend over the bathtub to shower your little bub (read: no more aching shoulders)! It also has magnets and so you can conveniently attach it to your fridge.
To be honest, some sinks I had to put a bowl underneath this where the apex is.
6. Cloth Nappies
Robbie's wearing a cloth nappy with a PUL cover
Alex and I are huge fans of cloth nappies, we really really really like them! I found Green Mountain Diapers to be the best source of information and I ended up buying from them too, even though the shipping was pricey. The lady behind Green Mountain Diapers has put up a lot of information on her website, you can have a look! We used the Workhorse fitted nappies with either wool covers (that my grandma knitted or the Disana brand) or PUL covers in the beginning. They were great, but the elastic in the fitted nappies wore out after one kid. All in all, my favourite system was to use prefolds (which last FOREVER) together with a polyurethane laminate (PUL) cover with snaps (and these I'd replace as they wore out) - my favourite brand is Thirties. The prefolds however require quite a bit of getting used to, so take note of that.
7. Baby Carriers
Next up, baby carriers. I had five of them and I could easily decide that the Baby K'tan Original Baby Carrier was the best for me. It’s hands-free, hassle-free and buckle-free, how convenient! You can get them from Warabee, which specialises in baby-wearing/carriers. The founders of Warabee, Kai Hui and Jia Vui, are certified baby-wearing consultants and they can help you out with the sizing. I was at a BumpWise seminar when my third child, Robbie, was two months old and he slept through the entire event in the Baby K’tan! You can wait until your bub is born and then book a house consultation with Warabee.
Speaking of Bumpwise—let me digress a little bit here—Johanna, the founder of Bumpwise, is a birth doula as well! She was our doula for my first (image below) and second child and she’s really amazing! They’ve a mothers’ group too, you can check it out if you’re interested. Another community you can look at is the Stork’s Nest Singapore, it’s got amazing resources as well. It was set up by Jani, who used to be one of the midwives at Mother and Child.
When our third child was born, we got an in-hospital newborn photo shoot by Julia Whale (she's left Singapore). Our dear friend, Kerry Cheah from Redbus Photography, came to our house later and documented our candid moments at home with a new addition. She's super incredible, you can check out her website/socials!
9. Travel Cot
Alex and I were avid travellers pre-COVID, and we started travelling with our kids when they’re as young as five months old. I should probably recommend the phil&teds traveller, since we have it on our web store and my friend absolutely swears by it, but the mattress on the Baby Bjorn Travel Cot Easy Go is just as good as a regular cot. Gosh, that dilemma!
10. Car Seat and Buggy
In retrospect, I should have gotten the Cosco Scenera NEXT right from the start. The Cosco is suitable for use from birth until four to six years old (read: long-lasting, good value!). It’s also lightweight and portable, perfect for parents who don’t have a car. Did I also mention that the Cosco Scenera NEXT is officially compatible with Mountain Buggy prams? It can also be hacked onto many other strollers, you can have a look at our strollerhacks database.
My perfect pram scenario is something like this: I’d get both the Mountain Buggy nano and duet. I’ll use the duet as a single initially and then use it as a double after the second baby arrived. Here’s a video from Mountain Buggy demonstrating how you can use the duet as a single/double stroller.
Ta-daaa! This sums up my top ten must-have baby items. Have a look at all the products that I’ve mentioned and let me know if you’ve got any questions! Talk to you soon, take care. xx Elise