I will admit that despite having a degree in this, I was the classic first time mama and read every newborn essentials list, asked everyone I knew for their opinion, researched, googled it all and in the end, just bought everything in sight. Two, please. You know, just in case.
So with that in mind, I want to share the newborn essentials I didn’t know I needed to have, but were a tremendous help to me during those overwhelming and amazing first days.
1. Hands-free pumping bra
When I first started to build my frozen breast milk supply, I took out all the pump parts and was so overwhelmed. It felt like some sort of sci-fi experiment! Then I learned about these amazing pumping bras that hold both bottles at the same time so your hands are free to do whatever while pumping. It literally just snaps on and you’re done.
Mine was Simple Wishes from Lazada. Also available from Parkson or any Medela retailer.
2. First Years Sure Comfort Deluxe Newborn To Toddler Tub
This was great especially in the first few days when you are so afraid you’ll break teeny tiny or drop her. The mesh support gave me the confidence to bath her alone and I think it was really comfortable for bubs too. We used it in our kitchen sink to save our backs! You can use it for a bath up until toddler years as it has different positions so it is a good investment.
We got ours from First Few Years in Curve
3. Car seat & stroller travel system
I was sad to part with our infant car seat travel system after 18 months. It was so amazing, especially those first few months when they are teeny tiny and still sleep all that time. It is great to go from car to stroller to mall to wherever and never worry about having to wake the baby up to. She slept well in it even as she got older and loved her little car seat. It went with us everywhere: different countries, on airplanes, trains, subways. It’s bulkier than just an umbrella stroller but that also means that it can carry a lot of your stuff and has better suspension for walking everywhere – cobblestones, unpaved roads, grass! Our personal favorite combo was the Chicco Keyfit 30 with a Bugaboo stroller (requires an adapter). A true newborn essential, regardless of brand!
There is a standalone Chicco store in 1 Utama and we recommend Bebehaus for Bugaboo.
4. Cocoonababy nest
Oh my goodness you guys, Ella Grace slept like a dream in this. The first night we brought her home, I had set up a little basket for her in our room and she was up every hour. Then mama tribe said run to the nearest store and get this obnoxious pricey gadget – that turned out to be a newborn essential! The second night we put her in it the in the crib in her room and she slept like a dream. Amazing stuff!
I will note though that I’ve been told that it really only works if you introduce it early when they are still wrinkly, tiny newborns. It’s ideal for the “fourth trimester” and is safe to be used only until baby learns to roll over (about 3 months). Because of the short life cycle, try and see if you can get one second hand, just get new sheets!
Available at least at Babydots, Bebehaus BV or Baby Loft Publika
5. Manduca baby carrier
When colic hit I was desperate for anything that would keep her calm while still being able to function. We started babywearing when she was two weeks old and the rest they say is history. For years, if she was fussy or just needed some comfort, I popped my little joey into mama’s little roo and we danced, walked, did our thing. An added bonus is being able to breastfeed on the go! I love this particular carrier because it provides structured support, grows with baby from infant (no extra insert or gadgets needed), has three different carry positions and is comfortable both on my 5’3″ frame and on my husband’s 6’4″ frame.
Check current stockist here.
6. My BrestFriend Breastfeeding support pillow
This was seriously my best friend the first few days. It provided so much support and backup especially during midnight feeds when I was so exhausted and constantly worried that I would fall asleep and drop the baby. If you get one, bring it along to the hospital so the lactation consultant can begin to teach you how to feed with it and it will make the process much less overwhelming. Our amazing midwife taught me to flip it to the flat side up and it made a world of difference too.
Available at Parkson
I won’t lie, I am totally a crunchy mama and was so convinced that I would only ever consider organic balms. Then fate laughed at me and like you will find out with all things baby, it rarely goes according to your plan so roll with the punches. Ella Grace had the world’s most sensitive skin. She was allergic to everything and would break out into the worst diaper rashes from the wrong cream, the wrong diaper, the wrong detergent, the wrong air. The only thing that worked and still works a treat in preventing and curing diaper rash is Bepanthen. All hail the chemicals.
Available at most major pharmacies
8. Bamboo muslin
Pure love! In fact, I buy a set of these newborn must-haves for every new mama I know and love because I love these so much. It is so soft and versatile and easy to wash. I bought a kazillion different swaddling contraptions but a plain swaddle using a muslin cloth was one of my favorites because it kept her tight and secure yet was still breathable and I think the softness of the bamboo was comforting too. I have also used it as a burp cloth, emergency breastfeeding cover, blanket, lovey, diaper changing cover, to block out the mall lights while she sleeps in the stroller cover, rolled up to secure her tilted sleeping head into a more comfortable position, padding underneath in case of a pooplosion, safe clean play area wherever, and so, so many other ways!
Aden + Anais available at Mothercare
9. Newborn onesies
Lastly, when we were buying clothes while pregnant, I had no idea how tiny babies were and bought mostly 0-3m sizes. I had absolutely no clue that there was a newborn size until I tried to fit her in her going home clothes at the hospital and realized just how small she was! Oh my! Every advice I got was don’t buy too many clothes because they grow out of them so fast (so true!) but I made the mistake of not buying her any at all! Needless to say we went out and got her a few newborn clothes that she wore in heavy rotation for at least the first month or so.
Also, I had no clue until I had a baby but always always get snap buttons. Never evil buttons (because who has time for that?) and try to always get stuff that zips from bottom to top and down the middle not right shoulder to left shoulder because you will be changing a kazillion diapers and most of the time while you are sleep deprived or it is in the middle of the night and just trust me, you want anything that makes your life easier and to not have to expend anymore energy or brain cells to decipher.
10. XL car seat mirror
Still one of my favorite top tips, get an extra large mirror for the car then turn it lengthwise and you’ll easily be able to see the baby without straining and causing an accident while worrying about the baby.
We have an amazing one by Britax that we purchased from First Few Years in Curve.
But in the end, remember that this stuff is all just stuff – and everyone will have a different list of their newborn essentials. You will read hundreds of lists with hundreds of things that different people tell you you need but remember every baby is different. When your little one comes, and if you don’t have what you need, you can always send someone to get it or order it online.
Racheal Kwacz is mama to the most curious, fiercely independent, joyful little two year old foodie and whom she hones most of parenting techniques and workshops with. For more info, follow their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.