Even before birth, you need to decide whether or not to breastfeed your baby. It is a personal choice that you can discuss with your doctor or midwife during preparation for childbirth.
The equipment necessary is reduced to a minimum. The nursing bra is practical and you will need at least 3.
The nursing pads (disposable or washable), slip into the bra to absorb the flow of milk between feedings. The soft breast shells are used occasionally to relieve engorgement or cracked nipples and possibly collect leaking breast milk.
Pumping the breast milk can relieve breast engorgement and provide extra milk for bottle feeding later. Pumping machines are either manual (sometimes takes longer) or electric (heavier but faster). Wait until you begin to breastfeed to see if purchasing the machine is necessary. You may decide to rent the machine from the hospital.
The first purchase will be the baby bottle. It is sold with the appropriate nipple, ring and cap.
You will need to buy extra nipples as they have a shelf life of 1 to 3 months due to repeated washing and sterilization. Make sure they fit your bottles.
Six to eight bottles are needed to begin and be convenient for parent and baby. There are a lot of options:
The material : Glass bottles are heavier and more breakable but they are more durable and can be well cleaned. The lighter plastic baby bottles lose their clearness after repeated washings and sterilizations. One can start with glass bottles and then move to plastic for convenience.
The Bottle Size: As your baby is rapidly growing and wanting more and more milk during the feedings, it is better to avoid the smaller bottle and begin with a regular size bottles to save money and time. The Shape: The standard model is cylindrical. The triangular bottle, does not roll when dropped. The angled bottle allows the nipple to be always full which avoids air intake but it is less convenient to clean and less easy to mix powder. The wide opening allows for easier pouring and mixing of the powder and the milk. Some bottle shapes are more easily graspable by baby depending of course on the age and dexterity of the baby.
Cleaning the bottle is very important. Moms use brushes to get a good clean, sterilization, and bottles that are easy to assemble.
There are some great bottle options. One bottle has a temperature gage on the exterior that shows on the bottle walls if the liquid is too hot or just right. The bottle with handles which are typically removable, allows the baby to take a bottle independently. The disposable bottle (single use bottles) can be used in a pinch but it is not very environmentally friendly. The bottle with a removable bottom allows easy cleaning although some parents complain about leaks. The self-sterilized bottle (microwavable) is great for travel.
The ideal flow of milk is one drop per second
The nipples are typically made of brown rubber (or latex) which most resembles the breast, but has a strong smell and taste that may put off some babies. The nipple lifetime is about one month as it becomes softer with time and less effective. Caution: some children are allergic to latex. There are also transparent silicone nipples. These are more resistant to repeated sterilization and changing every three months.
Some babies will prefer one over the other. The ideal is to try both and then buy the best ones for your baby.
The milk flow rate is fixed or variable. From birth to the first 6 weeks or so, your baby should have a slow rate of flow which is 1 small hole in the nipple. Thereafter you can choose nipples with variable speed. For example, a 3 speeds nipple can have one for milk and the second and third for thicker liquids like soup or porridge.
Shape: there are nipples with a round, cherry tip that allow you to choose the speed, nipples that mimic the shape of the breast and nipples with a valve to reduce the air absorption.
In conclusion, the preference of babies and parents on bottles and nipples vary. Rather than buying from the beginning a lot of bottles of the same brand, try to equip yourself with different bottles and nipples (but age appropriate) to see which ones best suit you and your baby.
The Bottle Warmer
It is possible to give the bottle at room temperature but not all babies like this. The solution is: bottle warmers.
They can heat the bottles so baby is content and satisfied. Heating the milk can be done by boiling water or steam or by a machine that warms bottles.
There are models that are electric that can also be plugged into the car for mobility.
There are some bottle warmers that combine the function bottle warmer and sterilizer for practicality.
They often allow you to program the desired temperature and some even have alarms that indicate when the bottle is ready. Some can be used in the future to heat baby food jars as well. Be sure that the brand of baby bottles that you buy, fit the size of the electric bottle warmer
Sterilization of baby bottles, nipples and pacifiers is generally recommended for approximately the first 4 months of life. Of course you can sterilize longer. To sterilize, first you should clean the item very carefully in hot water with dishwashing liquid. It is very important to completely disassemble the baby bottles before cleaning to have a thorough cleaning and to prevent the spread of germs. Two sterilization systems are available to you:
heat sterilization: immersion of the bottle and the ring in boiling water for 20 minutes (10 minutes for the nipple to prevent warping) a house pot system, electric steam sterilizer, a sterilizer will microwave (make sure it fits in your microwave). Some also used to sterilize the pump.
Cold sterilization: soluble in water tablets allow disinfection. This very simple system (water, pellet and tray) is also well worth a trip. The pellets can leave an unpleasant smell in the bottles.
The Nursing Pillow
When it is time for feeding, we want our babies to be cozy, comfortable and in a stable, sturdy place. The solution: a great nursing pillow. This cushion is multi-faceted as it helps you hold the baby in a comfortable position while eating, it can also be used during the early months of pregnancy to help mom sleep or relax in a comfortable position. Some models are can also be convertible seat (harness maintenance is necessary) or a beanbag chair for children.
High Chair and Chair Cushion
The High chair is made of wood or plastic.
The classic wooden chair with a water proof cushion can be used when child begins sitting up at about 8 months.
There are other chairs that adjust much more in height and tilt) with a full chair cushion built in which will accommodate a baby at about 4-5 months.
There are Evolutionary chairs that are multi-faceted that can convert into a chair for a smaller baby then later into a high chair for an older child, some are on wheels. They are typically available in plastic and wood.
The high chair can be cumbersome that is why folding models are usually very practical.
Options: Some chairs come with wheels to move around the house and that is locked during use. Some have a removable tray if you want to install baby at the family table. The seat can be washed separately.
In choosing your chair, think about the safety, comfort, convenience for you and your baby.
It is used from birth to protect clothing from leaks, spit and food. You can use them to wipe your baby's face as well as a soft paper towel.
You should have a substantial quantity of bibs as they will be changed several times a day.
Material: bibs are usually made of cotton, some are lined with a durable, easy clean, water resistant material to help keep your baby clean and dry.
Size: Bibs come is various shapes and sizes. Be sure to choose them for the comfort and practicality of your child.
Fasteners: Most bibs close with Velcro. This is easy and effective as it stays on well and the Velcro holds up in the washings.
There are other types of fasteners but these are not always accepted in nurseries.
There is also a larger bib that with sleeves that acts as an apron or smock. This one is very handy as it covers everything, it can also be used for messy activities.
The bib neck or bib that goes over the head like a sweater, allows for good protection around the neck and won't let spills pass underneath the bib. When your baby is hungry however he may not want to put something over his face.
There is also a semi rigid bib which is easy to clean, it can be used for meals other than milk, but it is not necessarily comfortable for baby.
The classic bib can be rectangular or round in shape.
Options: In addition to a vast selection of colors, designs, and prints that you can choose from, there are even bibs that can act as a teether for your babies sore gums. They have a plastic/rubber section at the bottom of the bib which allows baby to bite down. Some of these bibs even have funny sounds to amuse your baby.