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When a baby is born. Can anything give a bigger jolt to the family budget?
Parental leave from work and the new routine, the nursery that you have already thought of decorating in baby colours (don’t be old-fashioned: girls like blue too and pink is for everyone), clothes, soft toys for the first months, nappies, cradle, pushchair and high-chair. It’s time to exchange your Smart Fortwo and buy that SUV you’ve been eyeing for some time.
Luckily, some people offer to help: your sister with little Riccardo’s old pushchair, your old University friend with Benedetta’s flowery blanket set, your cousin with Vittoria’s cot and car seat and his mother Raffaella’s maternity wardrobe.
Apart from the SUV, it would seem that there’s nothing left to buy. There’s a world of support and recycling that you didn’t know about. Your friends recommend certain websites and apps where you can buy and sell second-hand baby things.
But, you must know it’s not wise to celebrate ahead of time! In fact, a few months later there's an altogether different scenario: your sister – who convinced herself you weren’t too impressed when she showed you the pushchair – has decided to lend it to her neighbours instead. Your friend had to recognise that her sister-in-law comes before you. Your cousin’s wife has sold everything online.
So as not to go wrong, think of these three key words when buying things.
Read labels and instructions to make sure that the materials used don’t carry health hazards. So, no to paints and materials that might release suspicious fumes or be easily chewed up by the little ones, who, as we well know, will eat pretty much anything. Yes to water-based paints which, as well as being non-toxic, are also eco-friendly.
Make sure that there aren’t any sharp edges or small parts which might come apart and be swallowed. Check that all textiles (especially for cots and cradles) come with anti-suffocation certificates and that every material used is fire-resistant or treated so that it is.
Even if it’s difficult to believe now, one day your child will be able to tie up his shoe laces by himself, in other words kids grow up. And quickly too. So, it’s best to invest in products that can be modified to meet your child’s needs as long as possible. Children’s products – from clothes to furniture – that grow with them are really on trend at the moment. Scandinavian brands are brilliant in this field.
Your child’s furniture doesn’t have to be made by one of the big names in the industry. On the contrary: if your home is decorated in a minimalist or refined style, mass-produced kids’ products are sure to make you break out in hives and you will want to get rid of them right away, because they don’t match the rest.
This doesn’t make you a bad person, but it has to make you more aware and forward-thinking: for people like you, going to the megastore is bound to be a useless and frustrating trip. You should focus rather on the niche market and maybe on international brands, which might be more in line with your taste and will meet the above mentioned requirements. Everything is possible online.
There are women who begin embroidering bibs and buying baby things as soon as they know they are pregnant and there’s you, who’s still in the office at eight months pregnant while your partner is working in another continent. Don’t worry, e-commerce sites are built for this (too).
Let’s start with the baby’s primary needs.
Only when he decides to (hoping that you are lucky enough to get a baby that sleeps like a log), the little one will sleep pretty much anywhere: in a cradle, a carry-cot, a cot with a reducer or on a sofa covered with cushions. But, if you too want to enjoy a blissful night’s sleep, make sure that you put him to bed in the safest place possible.
For changing nappies and massaging the baby with cream, oil or talcum powder, you can use any washable surface that allows you to reach what you need for these wonderful moments, without ever leaving the baby’s side. So, you can even use a shelf as long as it’s wide enough (think about it, it could be a chance to equip the bathroom with some proper storage). But it would be useful to have several drawers for all the baby’s things!
At first, for feeding the baby there is nothing you can’t provide yourself: all he needs are mum’s or dad’s arms.
This might be what you need the most: you don’t want to go crazy being stuck inside four (really beautiful) walls all day, now do you? You and the baby need to get some fresh air now and again. Yes to the traditional pushchair and to the baby carrier and sling.
Love, a growing child just needs lots of love. But you will need space and storage for the hundreds of toys and accessories he will begin to accumulate.
Your wardrobe is already full to bursting with the evening dresses you hope to wear again soon and the skinny jeans you are aiming to fit into again just as quickly, so you haven’t any room for all the clothes they’ve given you for him. A small wardrobe becomes a necessity.
Be prepared: the main focus of the next few years will be keeping your house tidy, as you like it to be, and preventing that little Tasmanian devil from churning everything up like a tornado. Accept the fact that you will spend most of your time kneeling on the floor picking up his toys.
We suggest you invest in ample storage – baskets, bags, footstools and benches – which, thanks to their design, colour or print can be read by your child as part of the world of fun. This will be your chance to introduce him to the magical land of tidying up, and thus save your back.
It’s a little while from the time he begins to crawl (what a proud moment!) to the day he tries climbing over everything like young Mowgli from the Jungle Book. So, you need to get seating that he can interact with: to move around, to ride and to fall from...in total safety. The best option? An ottoman of course.
During the period when the little rascal will try to claim his rightful place on the sofa, just like daddy, giving him his own chair is a practical as well as a symbolic gesture which shows that he is a member of the family.
You watch him fall asleep every night and suddenly, one day, you realise that your child has to fold himself almost in two to fit into his bed.
The truth is that you wish they would never grow up and maybe that is why you’re considering having another. If you have another baby on the way or if your son already has an older brother of if he wants to invite his friends and school buddies over, bunk-beds are designed to make the most of any available space.
Do you remember the years when you were a teenager? Well, your son too will soon be spending more time hidden in his bedroom than outside in the fresh air. And even less in the common areas of the home.
This is why his bedroom has to be welcoming and functional, and easy to adapt to his various needs: playing, studying, sports and hobbies. Begin now to plan a room which is not only easy to adapt around your child’s play or sleep, but which will also foster his creativity, as well as allowing him the right amount of privacy to carve out his own personal space.
A parent has to understand and value the personality of each child. This means you have to ensure that above everything else he can have an identity which is different and separate from yours and those of other members of the family. The time will come when observing and capturing those precious moments when he is just being himself will fill your heart with joy.
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Anna Maestri e Alberto Gasparini
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