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Where is the instruction manual?
For getting ready for this baby

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#1 balancing.act

Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:19 PM

We're living in Vietnam and have been here for more than three years. We will be having our baby over here in June. The hospitals are fine and our doctor is great but I'm far away from friends and family. The internet is very much my friend at the moment but it's pretty overwhelming.

This is our first baby and we're studying up mainly on the pregnancy at the moment. Thanks to some great input from the other mothers in this forum we've purchased a pram/capsule set that is both safe and will work over here (now I just need to pick it up in Adelaide in March!).

But.... after we've got the Moses basket/bassinette, the cot and some basic bedding what else? I'm confused about ergo cocoons vs sleep sacks vs traditional swaddling. Not to mention the other things like a breast pump and bottles (oh God, how many do we need?) We have to order most things online before our last trip back in March and  it's not easy to do exchanges over here so we have to think of the first six to eight months at least.

I've found some lists online but most of them seem to have been developed as a sales pitch. I know that many things are down to personal preference but does anybody have a basic 'idiots guide to shopping for your first baby' or can point me in the direction of one? He/she will be born in the (stinking hot and humid) summer and we'll have a very cold and damp winter to deal with at six months.

Your wisdom will be very much appreciated!

#2 ubermum

Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:31 PM

If you are intending to breastfeed, you don't need a breastpump and bottles. Granted, they can come in handy for expressing a bottle if you need to leave the baby with someone, but during the first 12 weeks when you are establishing breastfeeding, you don't need them. Any engorgement can be hand expressed in the shower. I am sure if you are near a good hospital, there is also some sort of shop nearby that will sell bottles and a pump if you need one.

Bedding for a very hot newborn. Buy some muslin wraps, singlet and nappies. If your baby hates being wrapped, a muslin sleeping bag or 3 will be all you need. Surely you can order things where you are for winter?  I live where it is very cold and damp and love our merino sleeping bags. Babies can't overheat in wool and they are very toasty. The ones I bought are expensive, (Merino kids gogo bags) but there is only one size for 0-2yrs and mine are onto their third child.

#3 axiomae

Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:33 PM

Things that I found invaluable in those first few months, although I had a winter baby so Ill do the summer version!

Zinc cream for bottom
A nappy bag with a nappy clutch (a foldable fabric bit that contains nappies and wipes)
Cetaphil cream for baby eczema
Infants friend for wind (some people don't think it works but I think it helped us)
Wraps - you would use muslim.
Basic bedding - cotton sheets and blankets
A whole bunch of face cloths which can be used for bathing, burping, etc
Onesies - a whole bunch in different sizes, starting from 0000
A hat and baby suncream for summer
A few nice outfits in different sizes
Socks and singlets
Capsule that slots into the pram - a lifesaver!
A head brace for the capsule
A lamp with a very dim bulb for evening breastfeeds (I have the lowest wattage and still put a sarong over the lamp)
Books and DVDs for the marathon breastfeeding sessions
Lanolin for your nipples
Nursing bras and tops
Washable breast pads
A soft mat or rug for tummy time
Some simple toys that are colourful for baby to look at
I also found Rescue Remedy to be great for myself when baby wouldn't settle or my hormones were playing up.
A bubba moe sling to allow fussy baby to sleep.
A hugabub for the same purpose above - one would work better than the other sometimes.
An electric swing - to help baby settle and when I needed a break from holding her.
A fan for her room (for summer).

When she was not a newborn we used a Love to Swaddle sleep sack thing - it allowed her to suck on her hands while we helped her learn to self soothe.

Despite what the PP said about not needing to express, I had to. I had low supply and was on that breast pump from the start. Could be handy to have if you're considering breastfeeding anyway. In which case, have about six bottles and teats (which will be enough to cover a day of feeds later on if moving on from BF or it doesn't work out.) Buy the larger size bottles, no point in buying the small ones, just means you'll have to buy larger ones later. You'll also need a bottle brush and breast milk storage bags or trays.

Now that my DD is a bit older (almost 7 months) the things I find invaluable (not including the bedding and clothing which is the same as above) are generally the things that keep her active self occupied when I need to do something. That is, the gadgets that keep her in the one (safe!) place!

A good quality bouncer - we have the baby bjorn bouncer which is expensive but we use it multiple times a day if we need to put DD down somewhere safe, we've taken it to the beach, to cafes etc
A play gym with a variety of hanging toys.
Simple toys to play with - fabric blocks, baby books, rattles, soft toys, teething rings
A jolly jumper
A fisher price jumperoo (she LOVES this!)
A selection of bedtime stories
A bumbo with a tray (we use this instead of a high chair too at the moment)
An ergo carrier

When you start solids, assuming you're not doing baby led weaning (look it up for later!) you'll need:

Something to feed baby in (high chair or bumbo)
Baby spoons
Small bowls
BIG bibs!
Lots of face washers
A device to puree food with.
Storage containers or ice cube trays and freezer bags
A sippy cup

For winter just rug up your LO with lots of layers and use a sleeping bag. We use Bambino Merino sleeping bags and they're great - expensive but can be used up to two years of age. We also live in a very cold area and use lots of layers of clothing and heat the room with an electric oil heater - you can't swaddle once they roll over or use any bedding at this point in case of suffocation.

Anyway I hope that helped you! This is basically all I use on a day to day basis - these are the things that I find wonderful!

Edited to add some things!

Edited by axiomae, 09 January 2013 - 07:36 PM.

#4 naturalista

Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:45 PM

Just wanted to quickly add that I am in a very similar situation to you - we're in Bangkok (from the UK) and I am sort of blocking it all out at the moment...

I will hopefully be stocking up in the UK soon, as things are either incredibly expensive or non-existent here, but try to remind myself that babies don't really need a whole load of stuff. I am a fairly minimalist person myself, so will be stocking up on cloth nappies, a car seat and a baby carrier (ergo looks good, might get a mei tai too/instead), getting a cot at ikea in Bangkok, and taking baby steps from there.

I'm starting to freak out a bit to be honest original.gif

#5 lucky 2

Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:35 PM


I am moving this topic to the Buying and Dressing for Baby forum.

Kind regards,'

lucky 2

#6 Isolabella

Posted 09 January 2013 - 10:42 PM

Clothes wise

Mothercare. Their short sleeved body suits and sleeveless ones were all my kids wore on Hot days. Also have lasted for my three bubs and my nephew.

Wrapping etc depends on the bubs. My boys hated it, my DD loved it.

I never used socks on my bubs. Didn't use singlets... Just the bodysuits.

#7 Bernard Woolley

Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:17 PM

If you're considering using a sling, you might want to consider a Breeze Baby ring sling rather than an Ergo/Bubba Moe/Huggabub, etc. They're synthetic (which admittedly, is not very tropics-friendly) but they're lightweight and quick drying. Lots of other 'commercial' slings and carriers are heavily padded - I can't imagine using them in heavy humidity would be fun...

Another piece of learning: if you're using a sling consistently, confine your baby's wardrobe to onesies - things won't ride up  original.gif

#8 Kitty Fantastico

Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:30 PM

Babies need very few things. Main ones are somewhere to sleep: cot/basinette, a pram or baby carrier to take baby out, a car seat or capsule for travelling in a vehicle, clothes singlets and onsies should do you in the heat. Wraps are great, big muslin squares are great to start with and later, if your baby likes being swaddled, there are different types of wraps with zips. Nappies, nappy cream. You can bathe baby in the sink if you don't have a baby bath. Lots of face washers are good as are large, flat cloth nappy squares. They're fantastic for burping and other things.  I wouldn't rush out and buy breast pumps etc, but maybe do some research before hand in case you do need one. A bouncer/swing can be handy if you need to put bubs down for a few minutes.

#9 CallMeFeral

Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:32 PM

Kind of unrelated to your question, but your title reminded me of it!
But when you are shopping here, maybe pick up a copy of Babylove by Robin Barker. I used to call it 'the instruction manual that didn't come in the packaging' for babies!

#10 Lishyfips

Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:43 AM

One of the best things I had for a newborn in a hot, humid climate was a large muslin wrap. I could swaddle her firmly and securely so it didn't unravel, but it wasn't ghastly hot on warm days and nights.
Cheaper than those zip up swaddle cocoons, very easy to use - you could get a few large muslin wraps for the price of one ergo cocoon so you've got backup if one gets soiled. Also no issues with hip displaysia.
I didn't bother with sleep sacks (grobags) until my kids were six months old and could sleep with arms unwrapped. They were fantastic.
Not sure about Vietnam, but when I lived in Asia I found the cost of huggies nappies sooooo much cheaper than in Australia.

#11 SnazzyFeral

Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:00 AM

QUOTE (ubermum @ 09/01/2013, 07:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you are intending to breastfeed, you don't need a breastpump and bottles. Granted, they can come in handy for expressing a bottle if you need to leave the baby with someone, but during the first 12 weeks when you are establishing breastfeeding, you don't need them. Any engorgement can be hand expressed in the shower. I am sure if you are near a good hospital, there is also some sort of shop nearby that will sell bottles and a pump if you need one.

If you are intending to breastfeed and getting a good pump will be hard for you then buy it now because if you do have difficulty breastfeeding you don’t have the luxury of shopping for the right one. It also helps to familiarise yourself with the pump so that it is less stressful if you need to use a pump soon after birth. I would also get some medela nipple shields if you will have trouble getting things on short notice. You may not need them but if you do need them having a pump and shields on hand will make it so much easier to BF. I went to an LC before DS was born and was assured that I would have no problems but my milk didn’t come in so you actually can’t tell if you will need them or not.

#12 balancing.act

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:38 PM

QUOTE (naturalista @ 09/01/2013, 04:45 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just wanted to quickly add that I am in a very similar situation to you - we're in Bangkok (from the UK) and I am sort of blocking it all out at the moment...

I will hopefully be stocking up in the UK soon, as things are either incredibly expensive or non-existent here, but try to remind myself that babies don't really need a whole load of stuff. I am a fairly minimalist person myself, so will be stocking up on cloth nappies, a car seat and a baby carrier (ergo looks good, might get a mei tai too/instead), getting a cot at ikea in Bangkok, and taking baby steps from there.

I'm starting to freak out a bit to be honest original.gif

It's odd what is available in Asia. Some things like baby monitors are available for around the same price as in Australia but then breast pumps are twice the price. We had to get a capsule and a pram system in Australia because none of the ones here seemed to meet any kind of safety standards.

Luckily toys and clothes seem to be super affordable. It's the availability that scare me a bit - sometimes there are dozens on the shelf, sometimes you'll have to wait for months so I think we'll be doing a bit of stockpiling.That said, I'm with you on the minimalist thing. Women here have babies every day and they seem to manage - sometimes we need to get out of the consumer headspace and perception of 'what we need' and just get one with it. Good luck with it all in Bangkok!

#13 balancing.act

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:52 PM

Ubermom, Axiomae, IsolaBella, S'peachy Keen, Kitty Fantastico and Call Me AliG - a big big thanks!

My credit card will be in for a bit of a shock soon but I think in our case it's better to be safe than sorry. I really don't want to go overboard since after all babies have pretty basic needs but some of the suggestions are brilliant- especially the 'just in case' items. I don't want to imagine what it would be like to desperately need nipple guards and not be able to get them. So I guess I'll look at it like insurance - an expense for something I hope I never need to use.

We can order stuff online to Hanoi but the postal system is not very reliable, especially when it comes to things you need which often go missing even if they were couriered. The other thing is the 100-200% import duty on things which can make a $30 purchase cost up to $100 and involve trips to the post office, then the duty office and back to the post office - something to avoid at all costs in any situation, but especially with a newborn.

Thanks again. EB has been a brilliant resource so far and I'll look forward to racking up many more hours in front of the monitor in the next few months.

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