My top tip when planning for a new baby is to avoid getting sidetracked with the latest gimmick. At the end of the day, no fancy-schmancy crib, vibrating chair or state-of-art stroller will replace mama – you’re the one piece of equipment that feeds, rocks, kisses and cuddles, and nothing will come close to that. Baby can survive just fine with you, milk, and a stack of nappies. Anything more simply helps the mothership run a little smoother, especially in those early weeks.
Here are my top 10 items that I would use time and time again - and a few extra - that helped me survive the fourth trimester.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t sleep a wink when we brought Greta home for those first few days. From feeding around the clock to the crippling newborn anxiety, I was on high alert. One helpful tool for checking on her 100 times a night was to have her sleeping right beside me, safely in her own little nest so that I could hear the snuffles and watch her chest rise and fall. I used the Snuzpod bedside crib for both babies – its solid wood frame has a rockable stand, which comes in handy when I’ve used up all my arm-swaying energy.
Love To Dream Swaddle Up
This was a recent discovery and I’m gutted I didn’t know about this strait jacket-like contraption earlier. Babies fill their nappies 24/7 and they don’t care one iota about our beauty sleep. Picture this: I’ve fed, burped, swaddled and rocked my little crinkled babe to a delicious sleepy state, only to hear the dreaded squelch of a nappy being filled.
If the cleaning up of her bottom didn’t wake her, the unswaddling definitely did. Enter the Love To Dream Swaddle Up, and its two-way zip mechanism that allows me to expose her bottom half without completely unwrapping her. My husband and I never nailed the original swaddling technique, so this sleep bag eliminated any confusion, too. To note, they come in several sizes and babies tend to grow like weeds, albeit cute weeds, so I would suggest buying the newborn size for the first week and then let your infant’s growth guide you from there.
Baby Sleep Pod
I reckon 99 per cent of experienced mums would recommend the Sleepyhead, because it does exactly what it says on the tin. First time around I popped Greta into the sleep nest, and sandwiched her between my husband and I in our kingsize bed until I was ready to move her over to the crib. With Alba I use it to create a moving nap station all over the house for her to rest her sleepy head. They say babies love it as they feel snug and cocooned as they were in the womb – anything that will buy us some extra shut-eye, hey?
A well stocked nappy kit
Changing diapers on floor can be crippling for your back, so a good changing station is essential. Next, organic cotton wool balls for washing, and a healthy stack of reliable WaterWipes. For nappies, I used to start and moved on to more eco-friendly varieties after the first week. Lastly, diaper balm – I like the Organic Larder Diaper paste – which keeps rashes at bay.
Spit-up catches, breastfeeding covers, nappy mat sheaths and mama turbans – your life will no longer feel complete without a stash of muslin cloths. My favourites are from Little Unicorn that come in a variety of fun prints Although I can never seem to find one when I need one…
Haaka Breast Pump (for breastfeeding mamas)
When it comes to baby apparatus, my biggest regret is not getting this silicon breast pump when my firstborn arrived. It’s a hands-free pump that catches the letdown milk from the free breast when I’m nursing on the other side. Especially handy if you have a generous supply, it attaches via suction and catches a feed which you can stash in the freezer to use when you’re ready to be apart.
A no-brainer, but I couldn’t leave it off the list as it’s a crucial bit of kit. Rather than push my personal favourite on you – which, if you’re interested is is the BabyZen Yo-Yo with the Newborn Pack – it’s important that you think about what you want from a stroller before investing. Will you be lifting it in and out of cars? Walking along pavements, or on bumpy terrains? Travelling lots or keeping it local? Personally, I find the YoYo super light-weight, easy to flick open with one hand and perfect for the pathways in my neighbourhood. The best part is that it can be folded and stowed in the overhead compartment of an aeroplane.
The Boba baby-wearing sling was possibly my most-used baby item for the first three months after giving birth. It enabled me to be hands-free when putting my newborn to nap while playing with my toddler, cooking dinner or having a cuppa, and quite frankly I’m not sure I could have survived without it. Once baby was slotted into place, she would calm instantly listening to my heartbeat and nod off after a quick jiggle.
Not a necessity but personally I feel a pram blanket should be on your list. It’s a special memento that you will treasure forever and, when the times comes, pass down to future generations.
I don't over complicate bath time with fragranced products, balms and butters but instead keep it simple with a small baby bath, bath seat, bath thermometer, organic natural sea sponge, Dr Bronner’s fragrance-free soap and a jar of the versatile organic coconut oil that’s brilliant for massaging and treating baby acne and cradle cap.