When it comes to writing a checklist of what you will need in preparation for your new arrival, whether you need a bib or not, will always divide opinion. Some seasoned mothers will tell you you do not need them in the early days.
Simply grab a muslin cloth or use the cuff of the shirt you are wearing and wipe up that bit of dribble, saving the need for bibs until you begin weaning. Other moms will swear you cannot survive without a pile of bibs on rotation when you have a newborn. You then end up with 20 of them gifted to you at your baby shower.
Let’s not forget about the dreaded teething stage in the middle causing havoc on your baby’s clothes and skin. So the question is how many do you need and when do you need to introduce them?
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Does breastfeeding or bottle feeding affect how many bibs I need?
Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your newborn could determine how early you introduce bibs and how many you need. This is often a question that circulates parenting forums. So let’s discuss it.
Most newborns are less likely to make a mess whilst breastfeeding due to the shape of the breast encompassing the baby’s whole mouth compared to the teeth on a bottle. Another cause for dribble with bottle feeding may be the flow of the bottle teat.
Bottle teats have different flows which can lead to the baby taking in more milk than they would whilst suckling at a breast. Thus causing them to dribble out of the side of their mouth. So if you are choosing to bottle feed you may find putting a small bib on during feeds eliminates the risk of that after feeding dribble dampening the neck of their sleepsuits.
All babies both bottle and breastfed need to be burped. Which position you find most comfortable to burp your baby in can also be a factor in deciding if you put them in a bib or not. If you choose to perch baby over your shoulder to burp them, then you may favor a large muslin cloth that covers your shoulder and back.
If you choose to burp your baby in the sitting position then it can be tricky to balance holding their head and a muslin cloth at the same time. Making a strap-on bib an easier option. It is important to remember that newborns need to be fed on average every two hours.
So you may find keeping a soft bib on as part of their outfit stops you from having to scramble around to find a muslin cloth in preparation for every feed. If your baby suffers from reflux they will likely be fed more frequently, as they throw up more of their milk, making the need for a bib more of a necessity.
How Many do you need?
So you have decided to add bibs to your list of ‘essential’ baby items. The next practical question you are asking yourself is how many do you need?
Scrolling through pregnancy forums will show you that this is a question that gets asked of other moms often. Although each woman will give a different specific answer, the consensus is that you need ‘a lot’. The average, it seems, is between 10 to 20 bibs for the newborn stage.
This seems to be quite drastic, but babies have a lot of accidents. If your baby tends to dribble you will find it more efficient to change a bib than an entire outfit. Being overprepared will save you from sitting there at 2 am having to change your baby out of her sick-covered sleepsuit because all of her bibs are buried in the wash pile.
In fact, if you are not the type of parent who washes your laundry every day then you may even want to have more than 20 available. Let’s face it, who wants to be taking time away from snuggling with your newborn on the sofa to put a wash load on because you are down to your last bib again.
You will, of course, also need more if you have more than one baby – make no mistake the 10- 20 bracket is per baby NOT per household.
So we have highlighted the need for bibs as a way to make your life a little bit easier during those first few sleep-deprived weeks. But when else will your baby need a bib and which option is best?
It isn’t just during the newborn stages that a bib will come in handy as a way to stop dribble ruining an outfit. From as early as 4 months old some babies will start teething, with all babies starting the process by 6 months.
With the emergence of teeth comes constant dribble. Not only does this constant stream of saliva dampen, and often stain babies’ clothing it is also very uncomfortable. Left unattended, wet clothing can irritate the baby’s chin and neck leaving red skin and rashes.
To avoid this it is recommended that a teething baby wear a bandana teething bib. These triangle-shaped bibs strap comfortably around the baby’s neck using velcro and are made of soft absorbent cotton. The triangle shape is designed to cover a larger surface area of the torso, whilst being able to be lifted and used to mop the chin and mouth.
Nowadays you will be able to buy these bibs in almost any pattern making them an accessory to the baby’s outfit. You can even buy ones that have a silicone textured corner that offers the baby something to chew on to relieve their gums.
You may have been lucky enough to make it through the newborn stage with little mess. But this will be unavoidable during weaning. Around 6 months old (yes, when your baby starts teething) you will start to introduce solids to their diet.
Whether you decide to go down the spoon-feeding route or the baby-led weaning route it is a certainty that you will be met with a mess.
With both methods, there will be instances where your baby doesn’t like the taste or texture of what is in their mouths so simply spits it out. With spoon-feeding, you may also find that the sensation of having a spoon put in your baby’s mouth after being used to breast or bottle feeding might be confusing.
For this method, you might favor a double-lined dribble bib. These can be used to tackle both teething and the first few spoonfuls of food.
They are easy to wash and are double-lined meaning that the first mouthful of mashed-up fruit or veg is not going to bleed through to their outfit.
Baby-led weaning refers to the method of letting babies explore the taste and texture of finger food rather than starting off being spoon-fed blended foods.
It is a very messy process. There are a couple of different bibs available to prevent outfits from getting ruined. Firstly there are silicone bibs with trays on the bottom.
These are easy to wipe down and the tray catches any food the baby drops minimizing wastage. Secondly are bibs with sleeves. These are waterproof so can be put in the wash with your normal laundry.
They have sleeves designed to cover a baby’s entire outfit. You can even go as far as buying ones that clip onto a baby’s highchair creating a blanket that catches food being dropped onto your baby’s trousers.
With both methods of weaning the bibs can either be wiped over or put in the wash. So you do not need to buy more than a couple that can be cleaned up after each meal.
Most major bib manufacturers offer disposable options. These are reasonably priced, making this the preferred option when out on a day trip or even away on holiday.
Whether you have a baby that dribbles a lot from birth, and so decide to make the bib a constant part of your newborn’s outfit.
Or find accidents are rare and so you can get away with a muslin cloth to mop up the small messes. You will inevitably need to buy a bib sooner or later.
If you are facing a dribble waterfall during the teething stage which starts as early as 4 months old. Then a bandana bib with every outfit will feel like a lifesaver, to stop your baby from feeling even more uncomfortable.
By 6 months old your baby will start to explore the world of food making incredible messes so a sleeved bib or a silicone tray bib will stop her clothes from picking up new stains after every meal.
How many bibs you choose to buy depends entirely on your baby and your situation. It could be as many as 20 or as little as 2 but one thing is universally agreed in the parenting community – it is better to be over-prepared than under.