Baby Essentials, Extras & Useless Crap
When you are pregnant for the first time, there is an overwhelming list of endless products that you simply ‘must have’ if you are to survive parenthood. Some of these are really essential, but many are at best personal preference, and at worst just clever marketing ploys. Second time around I’m treating myself to a few extras that I didn’t have last time, that I wish I had – and like the true hoarder I am (sorry dear husband), I’ve kept everything from the first time anyway, so our house now resembles Mothercare.
Firstly, lets think about what your baby actually does definitely need.
- Somewhere to sleep. This could be a moses basket, a crib or a co-sleeper depending on what you think will work best for you. Remember a moses basket is most portable, if you want to be able to carry it to different rooms in the house. I went for a crib last time, as it felt sturdier and more ‘proper’ and lasts a bit longer as it’s bigger than a moses basket (important if you consider that SIDS advice recommends that baby should be in your bedroom until 6 months, and not everyone can squeeze a full sized cot alongside their bed). Thirdly, the newest arrival of the three, the co-sleeper. These are essentially a crib with a fold-down side, that attaches to your bed, so that you can feed and settle your little one without actually having to get up and down. It also helps with transferring a sleeping baby back to his/her own bed as they transfer sideways without you having to drop them over the side of the basket / crib (which can startle newborns awake – fun!) and allows you to safe co-sleep / bedshare, if that’s something you wish to do. For me, the winner is the Snuzpod – the best of everything: Portable top basket section, sturdiness of a crib (and can be used as a rocking stand alone crib) but also connects to your bed as a co-sleeper too! Every eventuality covered!
- Something to eat. Well, drink. Well, milk. I wanted to breastfeed and with some hard work at the start we managed. For that reason I’m not going to give advice on bottle feeding as I’ve no idea. You don’t actually need anything for breastfeeding (other than a lot of patience!!) but I’d highly recommend stashing away some lanolin nipple cream (it really helps in the early days when you’re both working out what you’re doing!) and breast pads. Breast pads were something I started off buying the cheapest, and after being given some posh Lansinoh ones, I never looked back! They’re so much more comfy, less sweaty and more absorbent.
- – This time I’m treating myself to an electric breastpump too. I know people who have got on well with the manual ones, and these are much cheaper (in fact I got mine second hand for about £2!) but I found that I can pump far more milk with the electric pump as I could mentally zone out and relax and let it do the hard work.
- Somewhere to poop. Nappies – disposable or reusable. Remember that at first the advice is to only wipe baby’s bot with cotton wool and water. For me, second time around, I’m worried about the mess factor with a toddler upended everything. A great alternative / next step is water wipes: baby wipes made with 99.9% water and 0.1% fruit extract making them suitable from birth, and much easier when you’re ready to go out and about.
The short list above shows that babies actually NEED surprisingly little – however there are many many things that will make your life a little easier. This is what is in my baby-arsenal second time around:
- A sling. Babywearing is akin to baby whispering – it calms them down and keeps them content, knowing that Mum or Dad is close by and that they are safe to relax. When my son was little we had an old style baby bjorn which did the job, but wasn’t great in terms of supporting baby’s legs and hips. When he turned 6 months I got an Ergo360 and loved it. It’s comfy and once you learn to use it, easy peasy to get on with. It can be used to carry your little one facing you, facing the world, on your hip or on your back – again, covering every eventuality (as these babies come with their own opinions, you know!) Ergobaby also sell an infant insert so that you can use your carrier from birth (or as soon as your baby is 7lbs).
There are many options for babywearing, so my best advice is to check facebook for your local sling library, then pop along, get some advice and try a few out – if you’re pregnant, they have dolls that you can practise with. When I went, I found the Hana stretchy wrap and that’s what I intend to use with my newborn around the house until she is big enough for the ergo.
- A bouncer and/or swing. A bouncer hugs your baby as they sit and watch the world – in my experience, one with vibrations is likely to keep your baby happier for longer, and with a few hanging toy too you’ll be buying the most peace possible! A swing works in a similar way but physically swings your baby back and forth just like you try to do too – brilliant for extending nap time! This one also plays soothing music and folds flat to take to Grandma’s.
- A sleepyhead. My first baby did not sleep. I would have (and did) try everything I could to try and help but by the time I summoned up the courage to click buy on the sleepyhead, but son was about 7 months old, so we went for the bigger version. To be honest, it didn’t make that much difference, but I wonder if that was because he was so small in a the big pod that it didn’t have the chance to really do it’s job. This time I’m getting the baby version and intend to use it right from the start.
- A poddle pod. This is similar to the sleepyhead except it is intended only for naptime use. It’s like a big cushion with a non-padded section in the centre, so as you lay baby down the sides pull in and hug him, making him feel as if he’s being held and snuggled, but freeing you up to do all sorts of important things like pee, or actually find some food.
- Ewan the dreamsheep. A cuddly toy that can be attached to baby’s crib and plays soothing tunes as well as womb music and white noise all helping baby fall asleep / stay asleep that bit longer. Different things work for difference babies, but lots of my friends have a big soft spot for Ewan so I’m giving him a go this time.
Obviously there are some other big purchases that most people go for; a car seat, a pushchair, baby monitor, high chair etc, but there is so much said about them already and so much of the decision there comes down to personal preference and lifestyle. Talk to friends about what features they like and dislike about the one’s they bought and you’ll learn a lot more than if you just speak to a salesperson in the shop. And remember, you only need the basics to begin with, everything else can be left a few weeks until you know what helps your baby – and how much you are willing to spend to see if something will help!!
Finally, useless crap – and there is a lot of it out there. Here’s my top 5 things to save your money on.
- Baby books that tell you how to parent. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, but they will only make you feel like you are doing something wrong. These books are often written by nannies and not parents, and while you might be able to stand and listen to someone else’s child cry themselves to sleep, leaving your own flesh and blood to do it is a whole different kettle of fish. Chuck them out, and trust your gut – it knows far more than you think.
- Cotbumpers – pretty yes, but SIDS advice states that they are a risk to safe baby sleep.
- Expensive nappy bins – these always feature on pointless baby product lists, yet other people swear by them. If you’re in a flat with flights of stairs between you and the bin, then I’m thinking it would be a good shout, whereas if you can sling them out the nursery window onto the patio and pick them up later (yes, a friend does this!) then save your money. TIP: Lookout for sales when they change the design slightly – I just picked up a Angelcare nappy bin for a fiver and there are videos on youtube of how to restock the cartridges so you don’t continue to get ripped off.
- Nursing tops. Buy a stash of cheap strappy vests that have enough stretch for you to pull them down over your boob – I got mine from next for a couple of quid each. Then just wear any of your normal tops that are big enough to pull up comfortably over your boob. Vest down, top up, boob out the middle – Boom!
- A top and tail bowl. I was given one and never really understood the need. The general gist is that you keep the water that you use to clean your baby’s bottom, separate to the water you use to wash his face. Errrm, yep, pretty sure you can remember that without a £10 special bowl!
Good luck parent to be! Comment below and let us know what else you’d add to your list of extras – we always love to hear about things that may help! Come and find us over on facebook too to see how we’re getting on with this parenting lark.
NOTE: All opinions in this article are my own, I have not been paid to promote these products, nor have I received free sample products, however all links above are affiliate links.