Saving keystrokes, baby advice….

A friend emailed today asking for input – he’s having a baby in the near future and was a bit lost about what to buy and what to avoid (particularly around clothes, which is why this post focuses on it.  I wrote a long email, and then Kat wrote her bit of it, and by the time I was finished adding to it I thought we’d leave it here to serve as an update of sorts – in many ways it’s less about advice and more about our experiences… .

Congratulations! 

Two facts about clothes – 
  1. you WON’T be able to move for people giving you new clothes
  2. they’ll miss out lots of important bits.  
This is an excellent time to start going to car boot sales – almost all of Nova’s clothes were bought for about 20p an item in a field. Quite a lot of the rest were hand me downs.   Anything with buttons is cursed, poppers are where it’s at. 
Important purchases: 
Useful facts: 
  • Going to the prenatal classes isn’t particularly good for information (Drinking game: take a shot every time the person in charge avoids a question by saying “Whatever works for baby”), but is good for relaxation – turns out that you guys are more ready that most of the people there (and you’ll find yourself *vastly* more ready than most to-be fathers).  It’s also good for your partner to start making her baby friends. This is essential for lots of sensible mental health reasons and it’s amazing how much the mummy groups  are the de-facto information source.  
  • Gender reveal scan – is fucking awful because it’s also the anomaly scan.  It’s thorough and it’s brutal to go through.  In advance agree to get the gender written down on paper (if you are finding out early) so that you can find out at home when you have calmed down. 
Kat will now take over the email… 
Hi XXXX, congratulations, how exciting! I got super confused about clothes (and actually most baby gear too :)). Top tips are:
Sizes – Newborn/First size means items they can wear for the first month. If you have a baby bigger than 8lbs, you probably only need a few this size as they’ll only be in them a week or so! 0-3 is the next size up and obvs will last until they are around 3 mths).
 
Items – I’m still unsure about the difference between a babygro/vest and a sleep suit! With Nova, at the beginning we had her in a babygro and sleep suit at night (and a sleeping bag/gro bag on top – these are great as the baby doesn’t kick them off). Now it’s summer, we have these old fashioned nighties, which mean you can change her nappy in the night without having to do loads of poppers. I think if I did it again, I’d prob have her in nighties (and babygro) from the beginning. Sleepsuits are still good for wearing during the day when you want to have a simple outfit (i.e. rather that nightmare for changing trousers and socks combo). I’d suggest you get 5-7 baby grow and 5-7 sleep suits to start off with (remembering Joe’s point above that EVERYONE gets you clothes :))
 
Baby gear – There is SO much out there, especially baby sleep aids. We used a moses basket but I’ve heard really good feedback on the next to me cots (CHICO I think is the brand). Try and get second hand (buy a new mattress) though as they’re only in them for 4 mths. One of the best bits of kit we got for Nova was a baby sling. I think she could go in it from 6wks and it gave me my arms back as she’d happily rock in there for a bit (whereas she got fed up with lying down for too long).
 
That’s the main bits I can think of from top of my head. Feel free to msg Joe or me  any other qs that come up – having a baby is like learning a new language, there’s so much to take on board, but it is wonderful!

EDIT for 2020:

Some other opinions of mine from the inbox…
In response to ‘books for my partner who is going to be a father’
Almost all the books directly aimed at fathers are complete wastes of paper and are more written for comedy than anything else. Reading ‘What to expect when you are expecting’ was good, and in general ‘Reading the same books as the mother because then you share a frame of reference’ is a good plan.
I got more about parenting from Freakonomics (including names actually) than I have from any other book.  In general I found that most books about ‘evidence based parenting’ weren’t anything like as useful as ‘normal’ pop-science books that happened to use parenting as an example for a chapter.   I also got a lot of value out of this one, but it’s long term.
Totally honestly – the best thing an expectant father can probably read is a big stack of ‘dealing with your emotions’ books, along with another big pile of books on sexism and gender roles.  The practical STUFF – nappies and washing and the rest of it, is all trivial, particularly for people like us who naturally think in terms of processes – the books are for later.