Your first few weeks after delivery will be easier if you prepare as much as possible now. If you stock up on all of the baby supplies you'll need, you'll save yourself the aggravation of running out of diapers or diaper cream in the middle of the night. Stocking up can also save you money if you buy in bulk at discount stores or sales.
Diapers. Newborns go through 10-12 diapers in a 24-hour period, so do some quick math and see how many you'll need to have on hand. If you choose disposable diapers, shop around to find the best prices. Don't assume brand-name diapers are the best; many mothers find less expensive store-brand diapers to be every bit as good. Take this helpful hint: Major manufacturers of diapers send money-off coupons to customers who register at their websites, so log on today. The companies also send coupons to parents of multiples.
If you prefer cloth diapers, buy them several weeks before your due date, because they should be washed several times before use. Advocates of cloth diapers say babies who wear them develop fewer cases of diaper rash than babies who wear disposable diapers. However current research shows that in the last few decades, as improvements have been made to disposable diapers, there has been a significant decrease in diaper rash.
Cloth diapers are easier to use now than they were in your mother's day. They now come pin-free, with options such as Velcro closures, disposable liners, and colorful covers. If you choose to use cloth diapers, you can wash dirty diapers yourself or use a diaper service. If you plan to wash them yourself, buy enough to last between washings. If you plan to launder cloth diapers every four days, buy at least 48 diapers for your newborn. Diaper services rent diapers to clients and usually come once a week to pick up soiled diapers and deliver clean ones. To find a diaper service near you, contact the National Association of Diaper Services (610-971-4850; www.diapernet.com).
Wipes. Disposable wipes are an easy way to clean your baby's bottom. For a newborn's tender skin, choose unscented wipes. Cloth wipes are also available and are sometimes sold by companies that sell cloth diapers. Or you can use paper towels and warm water.
Diaper cream. Every baby gets diaper rash, so it's a good idea to have diaper cream on hand. There are two basic kinds: petroleum ointment, which is good for minor diaper rash, and white zinc oxide, which is thicker and better for more stubborn cases of diaper rash. It's also stickier and messier than petroleum ointment.
Bath supplies. You'll need a baby bathtub, gentle baby soap, no-tear shampoo, and soft washcloths.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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