When it comes to what you need for a newborn, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement. Before you know it you’re knee deep in babygrows, bouncers and goodness knows what else, wondering how such a little person can need quite so much stuff. The reality is, they don’t. Whilst the majority of us get swept along in a tidal wave of great marketing and promises that ‘this will change your life’, I can guarantee you’ll look back and wonder what you were thinking, safe in the knowledge that next time, you’ll make entirely different decisions. With that in mind, there are some items that truly are newborn essentials, in my eyes at least! So, as we prepare for the newborn whirlwind to take over our house for a second time, here are a few of our must haves, those newborn essentials I’ll definitely be making space for this time.
Newborn Essentials You Really Need
A Baby Carrier
Prior to having a baby I was skeptical about whether I’d need one of these. I genuinely believed they were verging on hippy-ish. Oh how my views have changed. If you’re looking for a way to keep your baby close WITHOUT having to hold them constantly then you need a carrier. They’re perfect for going for walks, getting on with jobs at home, even working! Our son would only sleep during the day whilst being held and bounced so our carried allowed me to do that whilst having my hands free for other things. Most of the time this meant going for walks with the dog (far easier than taking the pushchair) or doing fun tasks like prepping dinner! As he grew, it allowed me to have an easy way to transport him tucked into the footwell of the car and was one of the only ways I’d get through the Tesco shop. We’ve used multiple different carriers; structured ones from BabyBjorn through to buckle carriers and even stretchy wraps. If you’re unsure which would suit you, I’d recommend trialling a sling library, either online or in person. They’re the perfect place for letting you try various types, giving you advice and allowing you to rent a carrier to test. Best of all, a carrier will come into it’s own when you have two children so it’s worth finding one that you like!
A Travel System
Ok, so this really depends on if you drive a car or not. If you don’t then the chances are you won’t need a car seat and you’re better going for a pushchair rather than a travel system. If you do drive though, I would strongly recommend researching a decent travel system. What is a travel system? It usually comprises of three or four components; a newborn car seat, a pushchair base, a carry cot and a pushchair seat. Out of these, the carry cot is really optional; some pushchair seats will lay flat enough to be suitable for newborns without the need for a seperate cot. Frankly, we used our carry cot twice, and both of those times were inside the house… mmmm hmmmm, a pricey mistake! The idea of a travel system is to make transporting your newborn as simple as possible. So you put them in the car seat for the car journey and once you get to your destination, you move the car seat itself on to the wheeled base. It means you don’t have to wake your baby (always a win!) when you’re out and about. I have friends who have managed without travel systems and been absolutely fine but for me, it’s an essential. Especially as I was blessed with a child who really struggled to settle; the idea of waking him every time we wanted to move from car to pushchair gives me nightmares. Just be careful about how long you leave them in the car seat for as there are guidelines to this!
The Chicco Next2Me Crib
We were firm advocates of a moses basket for the first week or so, until every single one of those nights left us sat bolt upright holding the baby whilst he slept. Around week two we decided to switch to a side-sleeping crib and didn’t look back. There are many different models on the market but the Chicco Next2Me edged a win for us based on it’s flexibility; it tilts to help colicky babies, can be alongside the bed, stand alone and packs up easily to act as a travel cot. It’s also one of the larger types of side-sleeper available meaning it lasted us to six months and would’ve kept going (were it not for the fear of him leaping out by the end!).
Yes, it does the same job as a moses basket and yes, at around £150 it’s not cheap. However, for us, it gave us a great balance between bed-sharing and him having a safe space. It made getting him for those 3am feeds an absolute doddle and lasted far beyond our moses basket would have. After six months of solid use, it still looked as good as new, which is great because they do seem to keep their value well should you want to sell on afterward, selling for around £100.
Are you even a parent if you don’t find these everywhere?! From wiping little mouths to acting as emergency changing mats, these little squares of muslin wonder will become your best friend. I think most parents follow the cloth-over-shoulder-under-baby look which is a guaranteed winner. We had a mixture of muslin ‘musy’ cloths and squares, with my favourite being those from Marks and Spencer and a set of aden+anais ones. Both are larger than average which gives you more mop-ability, more coverage and more space to lay them out on should you need a clean surface! Whilst you’re at it, we also loved the aden+anais muslin blankets a far larger version which are ideal for swaddling!
Vests & Sleepsuits
As cute as it is to buy your newborn a selection of outfits (shoes included, obvs!), the reality is that you’re going to be changing them multiple times a day. Suddenly that expensive three piece set is less adorable when you’re frantically fiddling with buttons whilst trying to avoid a tidal wave of baby poo… trust me. In reality, the main chunk of your newborns clothing should be vests and sleepsuits to go over the top. Depending on the time of year, you can go for different sleeve lengths and thicknesses; our son (a May baby) primarily wore sleeveless vests with a long sleeve sleepsuit over the top for the majority of his first few months. He even wore the same at night… a style guru in the making clearly! Yes, you’ll need outerwear for going outside; a cardigan, hat or snowsuit but trust me when I say, you really won’t need all those super cute outfits, despite what your hormones are telling you.
Obviously, if you’re intending on bottle feeding then you can skip this bit (although I’d still strongly advocate nursing pads, as you’ll probably get leaky boobs still… glamour). If you are intending on breastfeeding then you’ll need to make sure you’ve got some basic equipment. For starters, as I mentioned above, you’ll want nursing pads. They’ll capture any leaks and protect your underwear, especially disposable ones which can be changed frequently. After extensive research, I found the Lansinoh ones to be the best – they stay in place, are thin enough that they don’t show through your top and ultra-absorbent. They also come individually wrapped which means you can keep them in your nappy bag ready to change at a moment’s notice. Secondly, you’ll want some nipple cream. Even those who have no issues with breastfeeding, still find their nipples have to go through a lot. After all, they’re about to be in a baby’s mouth for 75% of the day! Again, I loved the Lansinoh lanolin cream. It’s BPA free, uses 100% natural, medical grade lanolin, is recommended by midwives and doesn’t need to be wiped off before your baby feeds. It’s amazing for healing cracked or sore nipples as well as just giving them a good moisturising. My tip? Pop it down your bra or in your pocket to warm it up before you use it, making it much easier to apply.
If you do breastfeed then you may also want to invest in a breast pump and storage bags. Whilst you want your milk supply to naturally adjust to suit your baby’s needs, there are many reasons why you may want to also pump; you may need to express off the first bit of milk if your letdown is too forceful for your baby, you may want your partner to be able to take over one of the feeds, you may just want to store a little as a back up. People find different pumps suit them depending on their needs, many only need a hand pump if it’s for occasional use, others may invest in an electric pump if they intend to pump more often. Make sure you get good storage bags that are suitable for storing milk either in the fridge or in the freezer. We used Lansinoh milk storage bags which allowed me to write the amount and date on the bag itself, making it easy to know what needed to be used first out of the freezer. Also, I pumped and stored for over a year and never had a leaky milk bag!!
If you’re using a breast pump, bottles or even a dummy, you should be using a steriliser to make sure you’re keeping it as clean as possible and protecting against germs. This continues through the weaning stage as well with cutlery etc so it’s good to get something you can get comfortable with. Many people use microwave sterilisers but we found the Milton Cold Water Steriliser to be the easiest option for us. Just fill the bucket with cold water, a measure of Milton and off you go; a steriliser. It takes just fifteen minutes to sterilise things and the water stays sterile for 24 hours, meaning you can set it up each morning and just pop your items in once you’re done before replacing the water the next morning. You don’t even have to rinse your sterilised products before you use them!
WIN! WIN! WIN!
I’m very excited to say that we’ve teamed up with the lovely people at Lansinoh to offer one lucky reader a selection of breastfeeding goodies. Just enter below for your chance to win a manual breast pump, milk storage bags, nipple cream and breast pads from their range; the perfect starter kit for anyone considering breastfeeding!
Prize is one manual breast pump, pack of breast pads, nipple cream and milk storage bags, there is no monetary exchange available. The prize will be distributed by Lansinoh direct to the winner, Devon Mama cannot be held responsible for lost prizes. All winner decisions are final, the winner has 48 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be drawn. Contest closes at midnight on Monday 2nd April. UK Entrants Only.