If you are anything like me, you will want to buy everything for your baby as soon as you find out you’re pregnant- Don’t! If it is your first child you will have so many people buying you things and wanting to help, I didn’t have any kind of baby shower but I was still showered with lots of generous gifts. With already doting grandparents there was very little left for us to buy. Having survived my first ten weeks as a mother I feel it’s a good time to share what we actually needed for our new born- despite the many stand offs I spent in Mothercare beforehand with my husband insisting I needed at least three sets of matching bedding or I would be a terrible mother, we didn’t need them and I don’t think I’m that bad a mother after all. So here are the things that we couldn’t have done without!
- Storage, Storage, Storage
It sounds mad that the first thing you would do would be to invest in storage but it is probably the most important thing. Babies have a lot of stuff, I spent hours picking out gorgeous nursery furniture but not as many thinking about the storage I would need. Thankfully we realised long before Baby D arrived that we were very short on actual storage- we have invested in drawer dividers, boxes, bags and a few toys shelves and racks! It also helps to organise- the nesting phase is real my husband went to work one day and came home to a pop up nursery with everything in its place!
Somewhere for baby to sleep whether it be a Moses basket, a crib, a cot or a cot bed it has to be something that will work for you. We opted for a crib so that we can have baby beside us until he is at least six months old, although it looks like we will be squeezing the cot bed in soon as baby is growing very fast. Also we managed to buy wheels and attach them to the crib, in the early days this was fantastic, baby could nap whenever he liked and we could have him beside us. You will also need a few cellular blankets to keep baby warm, cellular blankets are great as they allow airflow but keep baby warm and you can add or take away blankets accordingly for the temperature of the room. Generally we use two or three at a time.
You need a way of getting baby from A to B, we opted for a travel system which is fantastic because it is very adaptable, we have wheels that accommodate the car seat, carrycot and buggy seat. We also opted for the isofix base for the car which is great because you don’t need to spend ages trying to get the car seat in when you’re trying to juggle a baby, shopping and a husband. What I will say is make sure it can be manoeuvred by both of you, I didn’t and when my husband went back to work I found it hard to get used to doing it by myself but in the end it’s worth it to have a solid system. We have also invested in a couple of slings for baby- a sturdy one with buckles and a good support for when we are carrying baby outside and material sling for carrying baby in the house if you are doing the odd job around the house, in a supermarket when baby inevitably has a meltdown and you’re on your own or simply a nice way to soothe baby to sleep.
Not all the clothes in every shop you see, as I again found out the hard way when I was struggling to get baby in all the lovely outfits we had as he was a big, fast growing baby. All you need to start with are vests maybe about ten, about five sleepsuits, about five pairs of socks, a few pairs of scratch mittens, a few hats, a few cardigans (We again were very fortunate and my mum and aunt knitted us some gorgeous cardigans, enough to last until Baby D is Toddler D) and a few pairs of trousers. (We had a summer baby so we didn’t need coats or anything too heavy) People will buy you clothes and you will end up with more than you know what to do with. Organise your clothes for baby early and sort them into weight rather than age (some new born clothes fit up to 9lb some as big as 14lb), this way baby gets a wear out of everything at least once. It is also worth waiting to see what kind of baby you have; we have a very hot baby so we can’t put too many layers on him, one is more than enough for him. We have also found most shops will exchange clothes for the bigger size if you keep the tags on them, even if you don’t have the receipt.
- Changing and Bathing
You need a good system for changing nappies- whether it be a table or a handy changing mat to lay wherever you are. We had both, for a quick change or when you are still aching in the first few weeks a pull out mat for the floor is great, a changing table is probably better for your back in the long run as you’re not bending too low. You will also need a few packs of first size nappies, cotton wool for wiping in the early days and a small bowl to fill with boiled then cooled water for changing- we used a top and tail bowl but it has to be what works for you. When baby is over six weeks you can start using wipes and lotions, we gradually introduced products one at a time on a little patch of skin to make sure baby wasn’t allergic. For changing on the go I suggest a large changing bag, you need to take a little bit of everything so a big bag with pockets will work well, a bag with its own compact changing mat is ideal as most baby changing facilities only have hard plastic changing tables. After much deliberation I finally picked out a baby bath which I love, it has foam inside to stop baby sliding, an attachable shower head with toys to amuse baby and there is a foot rest to keep baby in place, you need to find the bath or seat that works for you- in the early days Baby D ended up with a few baths in the basin when the hubby was at work and I needed to quickly clean an explosive nappy!
To start with you need almost nothing if you are feeding yourself which I did (with formula top ups) you need a breast pump (I had a manual then switched to an electric) both were as functional but the electric obviously does the work for you. You will also need a few first size bottles, we bought anti-colic but again that was just personal preference. My parents kindly bought us a starter box for feeding which is fab as it literally has everything you need to get started which included dummies, first size bottles with teats, larger bottles with teats, a cleaning brush, and a steriliser. If you are bottle feeding you are given formula in the hospital which we just continued when we got home.
- Playing and Learning
A baby only needs your face to learn the first few weeks but me being me bought everything age appropriate under the sun. We bought a bouncy chair which has been invaluable as it has handles meaning you can carry baby anywhere with you- handy when you’re on your own and you would like to shower, eat or well pee, everything you do now you do in front of baby! We bought loads of soft books which baby is now starting to love. We also bought and got given lots of teddies that sing which are a fab way to soothe baby. We were gifted a mobile which is fantastic at getting baby to sleep and distracting him, we were given a top model so it plays music, lights up and swivels but there are many options out there. We also have a fabby turtle night-light that projects stars and moons onto the ceiling which can be used anywhere as it is battery operated. Now that baby D is getting bigger he is starting to engage with his hand-held toys more but most people bought us toys or gave us vouchers so you don’t actually need to buy much. We were also gifted a play mat which baby D loves (at nine days he was already swinging for the toys) the model we were given is fab as it grows with baby so he can use it on his back, sitting up and on his tummy- definitely a more cost-effective way of buying a toy. We have also recently bought a colourful play mat with toys on the actual mat so that baby has a soft place to play with his toys, this is also a great addition as it can be folded and taken anywhere even more so as we picked a mat with handles.
So in short babies need a lot of stuff but I’d say in the beginning try to buy as little as possible and wait and see what your baby is like before you invest in too many things. You may end up with a very small or very large baby and need to exchange lots of things!