Newborn essentials

After posting yesterday’s post on surviving the first 3 weeks with a newborn, I’ve thought of a few more things that I wanted to add and I’ve also thought of a few things that I couldn’t manage without. Some of these are things I had when Pip was little, so here’s another round up. Hope that it helps someone.

I should add that yesterday’s post didn’t really mention the baby in anyway. This is really because I don’t feel qualified to give any advice on the actual baby – all I can say is that it does get easier (even the *easiest* baby is still hard work to look after, particularly in the first few months) and that trying to be flexible and take each stage as it comes rather than having preconceived ideas about what will and won’t be the right choice is quite helpful. Also, just as you think you’ve cracked it, the baby will move onto the next stage…

Things to get before the baby comes (and some tips)

  • Clothes for the baby – we found we were given loads, both from people who’ve had a baby and are keen to offload and as presents. Nothing beats buying the first ones for your own baby though – I think as a minimum you probably want several (5 – 7) each of long sleeved long legged, short sleeved short legged and long sleeved short legged. Then a couple of hats, a cardigan or little jacket and a couple of blankets and you’ll get by. I couldn’t possibly recommend a specific brand as there is no accounting for taste or budget but you wash everything *a lot* to start with. For what it’s worth, I love the Petit Bateau plain suits I picked up second hand – they are expensive, come up small but wear really well, and I also like Imps and Elves for really soft cotton suits but there are hundreds of options. We have some knitted cardigans and I also really like this little jacket which we were kindly sent as a newborn gift and filled a hole in his wardrobe nicely.
  • Nappies – my experience suggests that you shouldn’t worry about whether to do cloth or disposable until you’re more settled into a routine and used to the baby. Also, if you need permission to use disposables, then you’ve got it. Do not expend stress on nappies. Get several packs of size 1 and size 2 nappies before the baby comes  – we set up two changing stations, one in Pip’s room and one in our room, both stocked with identical stuff in a basket. It may sound like stating the effing obvious to you once you’ve actually got the baby, but before Pip came I had no idea what I needed:
    • Nappies – obvs, but get some different sizes. When the poo starts leaking up the back, try a size up as they straddle the weight bands. The frills round the legs should poke out. You can fold the front down so it doesn’t rub on the tummy button cord whilst it is drying/healing. We use Nature Babycare as they are biodegradeable, plain white and don’t smell. You will be horrified how many you use. Don’t worry, it settles down after a few weeks. You get used to the weird yellow mustard poo very quickly and it only starts to smell after they start eating proper food.
    • Nappy bags (essential for when you’re out – handy for the house if you have a particularly full one to get rid of).
    • Cotton wool or wipes. I think official advice is cotton wool and water, but to be honest, that’s a right PITA. We use WaterWipes which are chemical free. I buy them by the box from Amazon which makes them much cheaper.
    • Nappy cream – I started using one this time after a few days. I use Weleda at the moment and have a Green People one ready to go, but also like all of these that I wrote about when Pip was small. You’ll probably get a couple of samples in the free stuff they give you from the midwife.
    • Changing mat – you could definitely get away without one but it does make life easier. We have this one which is great for stopping rolling in due course. I have a pretty cover for it, but a pillow case also works as does a hand towel or muslin.
  • Somewhere for the baby to sleep, and something to sleep on, and under. I’m not going to get into any discussion of the merits or lack thereof in relation to sleeping as I think it’s a personal decision, but you will need some sheets, blankets, swaddles and so on. I think we have 3 sheets for our cot which is working well, a waterproof under sheet, and 3 muslin swaddles. As I mentioned yesterday, we layer the sheets and add an extra muslin square under the head to make night time vomit induced changes less horrendous. I wouldn’t get too set on a particular arrangement in advance as it will all depend on the baby when it arrives.
  • Muslin squares – get lots – even if you don’t have a particularly sicky baby there are myriad things they are useful for. I think these John Lewis white muslin squares are the best quality white ones, but this time, I’ve gone for a load of grey, eau de nil and so on, mostly bought when I was in Copenhagen (they are Cam Cam, Circus and Done by Deer) as I find the colours more pleasing… make of that what you will!
  • Clothes and so on for you – I wrote yesterday about breastfeeding, so I’m copying and pasting that here again, and it’s probably worth getting these and some bigger pants in advance, as you’ll want to take some to the hospital or have ready post birth:
    • I use Lansinoh nursing padsLansinoh HPA Lanolin Cream and have 3 breastfeeding vests, 2 breastfeeding bras and 2 sleep bras. They’re not a perfect combination but they’ve been manageable. My favourite vest is by Boob Design which I bought in a sale in Copenhagen. The bras from M&S aren’t as bad as I thought they would be – they aren’t very glamorous but they have washed well and are extremely comfortable. I also have a shit ton of muslins and a good supply of Infacol.
  • A water bottle. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, I think it’s pretty useful. If you are breastfeeding, it’s really thirsty work. After some extensive research, I settled on a Klean Kanteen and also got an extra sports cap for it. It doesn’t make the water taste of anything, is plastic free, goes in the dishwasher and also hangs off the buggy on a clip or sits in the cup holder. Bonus – I haven’t bought any plastic bottles since I got it, somewhat offsetting the hundreds of nappies which I’ve sent to landfill…

Other things I’ve found useful and wouldn’t like to be without

You could get these in advance, or see what you need when baby is here as what works for me might well not suit someone else. I did a lot of shopping from my phone in the middle of the night when I was feeding!

  • A thermometer – we have two. One room one which I think I got from Ikea, which sits in his cot and means I can judge how many covers are needed. It’s not a specific baby one. We also have a Braun Thermoscan which we got when Pip was born. We chose this one on the basis it is the one that the GPs all use – I think it is hands down the thing we use the most often and is comforting to know when we should be taking action or not.
  • A buggy and car seat – this needs a whole post on its own and I can only comment on the 3 we’ve had during the last 4 years but if you’re city based and need to use public transport, bear this in mind when choosing! We also have a car mirror which hangs on the passenger seat and allows you to see the baby from the front seat.
  • A sling – we’ve only started using this in the last week, but I’m loving my Solly wrap. Last time I had a Baby Bjorn which was great too, but I was the third person to use that particular one and it eventually broke. We also have an Ergo which I loved with Pip, and I may well get a newborn insert for it.
  • We were given a newborn sleepsack as a newborn gift which I am very keen on – it is basically a sleep suit but with a zipped bag at the bottom, which makes night time changing much easier. It’s the same weight as a sleep suit, so I put a blanket over, but it’s great. We also have a couple of nighties which are great too, but this zipped one makes all the difference I think.
  • Hooded bath towel – we have one from The Little White Company which is great. Of course you could use your existing towels, but this one has ears, is super soft and only for the baby.
  • Toiletries – personal preference of course comes in here but you will probably want something gentle to wash the baby in. For what it’s worth, I love Mustela Dermo-Cleansing, Weleda, this one by Green People, this one from Burts Bees, and the Neals Yard baby range and would recommend all of them. We also have an excellent flower for the sink from Blooming Bath so he doesn’t have to go in the bath but it is smaller and easier to store than a whole plastic baby bath, nail clippers and saline nose spray.
  • A clip for the buggy to hang shopping/handbag from. I have the unappealing named Mummy Clip as that was what the shop had when I picked it up when Pip was tiny. It really is very useful.
  • Some kind of changing bag/mat that you can take out with you – I’ve had a few of these in the last four years, so am planning a whole post on that in due course with some I’ve bought, some I’ve been sent to review and some gifted.

I’m going to stop there as this has been quite the essay. I really hope some of this is useful to someone! Now, back to writing my birth story…

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8 Comments

  1. Slummy single mummy May 17, 2016 / 2:27 pm

    There are so many things on this list that I never had – no wonder I always felt so underprepared! Can you believe I’ve never owned a single muslin square?! Terrible mother.

    • thelittlepip May 17, 2016 / 2:31 pm

      Ha, yes, its definitely a subjective list of essentials!

  2. Jess @ Along Came Cherry May 17, 2016 / 6:56 pm

    Really helpful post and those water bottles sound great. I need them to go in the dishwasher otherwise they just seem to go mouldy inside and I end up chucking them! x

    • Rachel May 17, 2016 / 8:46 pm

      Yeah, the dishwasher possibility was the main reason I chose non insulated and the stainless steel one. No one has time for cleaning additional bottles with a newborn, particularly not if you already have a million in a steriliser!

  3. Lori May 17, 2016 / 7:40 pm

    wow this really sends me back! I can’t believe F is six this year. Fab list and spot on. I think if I did it again I would give the sling another go. x

    • Rachel May 17, 2016 / 8:48 pm

      Thanks – I wasn’t sure about fabric wraps last time but I’ve loved the Solly one every time I’ve used it. Maybe it’s because it’s striped and also much lighter than the ones I tried last time. Pip also has a Solly Dolly wrap for her baby!

  4. Alice | More Than Toast May 19, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    This is all such great advice! 4 years on since I last had a newborn and I still fond muslins everywhere 😉

  5. Kathryn May 21, 2016 / 7:04 pm

    Would definitely try to do more baby-wearing if I had my time again! xx

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