No Dark Magic

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What to buy before the baby is born

Posted at — Apr 18, 2021

There are many endless lists on the topic of essential buys for parents to be. I’ve tried to strip them down. One good tip is that children are actually different (gasp!), so it will be way more clear what you need after your child comes. Still, there are some basic needs to be taken care of during the first days, and the list further down covers those.

Stuff to deal with the diaper changes and other cleanup

  • diapers in the newborn size. Don’t stock up on too many packs though: the baby can grow to the next size in just a few weeks, and some of them only poop once a week according to 1177

  • wipes, disposable or reusable. I would recommend reusable ones since the baby might develop a diaper rash and then one of the first things suggested to deal with it is stop using the disposable wipes

  • a trash can or two (the second one for the reusable wipes if you use them)

  • skötbord (a changing table) is rather popular, judging by Blocket at least. Needs to have a skötbädda on top (a firm pillow with raised sides so that the baby doesn’t roll away), preferably one which is easy to clean. For some reason, it was really hard to find a waterproof one, I’ve only succeeded with the pinkorblue store which ships from Germany

  • pro tip: puppy pads aka valpmattor. Sooner or later any baby uses the brief moment in between the old diaper and the new diaper to surprise you with more stuff to clean up. You can either use old towels if you have them, or be unfriendly to the environment and buy a pack of disposable puppy pads like we did. Originally they’re meant to protect the floor while you’re training your puppy to not pee inside the house, but I’ve seen barnmorskor (midwives) using them, for example, on a scale while weighing the baby.

  • tvättlappar (burp cloths) in a couple of sizes and materials. There’s gonna be spit and similar fluids, but the exact amount and preference is impossible to predict. Bigger and flatter ones worked better for us, but any cloth has an application, really.

Something for the baby to sleep in

Popular options include:

  • babynest or sovorm ('sleep snake'): for putting the baby into the parents' bed, on the couch, etc

  • spjälsäng or a bedside crib. The main difference is the size: the cribs are smaller and might only last half a year; a spjälsäng can last 2–3 years. Some beds have the 'drop-side' option, meaning you can put the baby’s bed directly next to the parents' bed. Things to check in this case: the possible height settings of the little bed, the option to lock the wheels, the option to fasten the little bed to the big one. The bed also needs a mattress, an absorbing/waterproof layer to protect the mattress, and some bedsheets. Some beds' dimensions and shapes are compatible with more of these accessories, some with fewer. According to Socialstyrelsen, a pillow is not necessary or recommended until ~1 year.

Something to bathe the baby

The Swedish healthcare system recommends bathing the baby once a week or so. For that you’ll need:

  • badbalja, possibly with a stand, depending on the bathroom situation (shower/bathtub, available space). Some of them are not suitable for newborns since newborns can’t hold their head yet

  • a towel or a badcape (like a regular towel, but one corner is made into a triangle you can use as a hood)

  • baby oil to add to the water (baby skin dries out easily).

Some stores heavily push special thermometers to measure the temperature of the water, but putting your own elbow in the water works just as well, the baby is not made of some other material than you.

Something for the baby to wear

Newborns can go through four or more sizes in their first year, so buying too many clothes in one size is probably not smart. Watch out when the height measurements at the barnavårdscentral are nearing the next milestone (56, 62, 68 cm) — if you miss it and the clothes become too tight for the diaper, you’ll be cleaning up poop from brand new places.

  • vantar (mittens) are important for the first few weeks while the baby’s nails are sharp and the coordination horrible. The scratches on the face heal fast but look kinda weird

  • mössa (hat)

  • socks

  • something for the rest of the body. Some people hate snaps, some hate velcro, choose what works for you. Just remember that many newborns really hate clothes that go over the head. And imagine doing a diaper change every five minutes for an hour while your baby is wearing what you’re considering to buy. Clarity comes fast.

Something to feed the baby

  • if breastfeeding

    • bra inlays, reusable and/or disposable

    • two different nursing bras. The size of the breasts might change wildly after the birth, possibly multiple times, so it’s probably not wise to stock up on bras before the baby comes. Keep in mind that you might want completely different things for the days and for the nights. For example, it might be good to have support of a wired bra during the day, but painful to sleep in it. For the night bra, I would recommend skipping the 'plunge' ones and instead look for as much coverage as possible.

    • nursing chair (preferably a rocking one, with neck support, easy to get up from while holding a sleeping baby, easy to clean, comfortable to lay back in, not with too high armrests) and some sort of table to put water, snacks, burp cloths, bra inlays, and phone on. Remember that breastfeeding happens on two sides, so two tables or a movable one might work better. This whole setup is optional, but if you want it, it better be organized before the birth, not after.

  • if pumping

    • the pump with the right size of the brösttratt. You can buy the pump used if you’re fine with it, but keep in mind that the engine is only supposed to last for a set number of hours.

  • if using formula

    • a pack of formula, available in the supermarkets

  • if pumping or using formula

    • bottles for storing the milk and the right size of the rubber nipple

    • maybe a device to warm up the bottles. In our experience they’re quite overpriced (hundreds of SEK for a steam bath basically) but might be the only option during a long drive

Stuff for the mother to deal with postpartum

  • suitable pain killers

  • pads: first förlossningsbindor, then the usual kind

  • underwear suitable for the big pads

  • comfortable clothes which are easy to put on and off.

Something to move the baby around

On the one hand, this is optional, since in the very beginning the child is not that heavy and you can just carry it in your arms. But, even three kg become a challenge if you’re walking up and down the hallway for an hour trying to console an angry crying bundle while having to support its head the whole time, and if you want to go outside, you need something to free up your hands.

Sometimes it’s possible to try different things at the BB and figure out what works — second-hand market is full of barely used stuff because “bärsele just did not work for us” etc.

  • for wearing the baby, bärsele or bärsjal or both, depending on the parents' preferences. Note that the mother should be careful with using these in the few weeks just after the birth, especially if there were complications involving the pelvic floor

  • barnvagn (stroller) — commonly credited as the most expensive piece of baby gear, especially once you start adding all the possible accessories

  • babyskydd (car seat, mandatory if you have a car).

Stuff for possible emergencies

Sweden is not really a country with an abundance of 24/7 pharmacies, so you might want to stock up on a couple of things.

  • painkillers suitable for newborns

  • nässug (a tool for getting snot out of the kid’s nose).

We also got an ear thermometer to be able to judge whether the kid has a fever (quite a feat during a pandemic, by the way), but it turned out this is pretty useless for newborns since their ears are just too small to get a reliable reading.

It could be helpful to ask the midwife to write a list of what you might need from the pharmacy as you’re about to go home after the birth and get everything there and then.

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