2 December 2020

Newborn Essentials

Maggie May's Newborn Essentials

Back when I was six months pregnant, I wrote a post featuring my pregnancy essentials - think non-alcoholic gin, maternity jeans and stretch mark solutions - and it went down so well that I knew I'd have to write one for those first few weeks of parenthood. 

Baby MM was just 2.5 weeks old when this picture was taken, and it makes my husband and I go all gooey and emotional when we look at it - which, if I'm honest, is exactly what we do when we look at him now at the grand old age of 3 months! Those early days are the emotional rollercoaster everyone promises - you are hit with waves of such love, elation and joy that you end up weeping into your cup of tea with happiness, but then after several consecutive nights of 1-2 hours sleep, you find yourself crying due to sheer exhaustion. Anything which makes the transition easier is therefore much appreciated.

There were several lifesavers for us; we were lucky enough to find ourselves in between lockdowns when Baby MM was born, meaning my parents were able to stay with us and help out for the first few days. Having someone on hand to do the washing {so much washing, right from the start!}, keep the kettle boiling and provide baby snuggles when you're desperate for just a 20 minute nap is something both Mr MM and I would 100% recommend. Obviously you want your helpers to be exactly that: helpers, and not guests who expect you to be serving up three meals a day and playing the role of hostess with the mostess. In our case, Mama Maggie May ensured I always had a plate of toast lathered with jam and butter in front of me, and neither she nor my dad batted an eyelid when I didn't get changed out of pyjamas for several days. They were a godsend!

Aside from helpful parents/grandparents, we found that having the right 'baby stuff' from the start made a big difference too. It's so hard to know what to buy for your first newborn, and I spent many hours trawling the internet for reviews and articles in a bid to find out. There were a few products that we discovered after Baby MM was born, because we suddenly found a need for it, and I'm sure most new parents would agree that some of the purchases you make turn out to be rarely used, whereas late additions can prove invaluable. That being said, it certainly takes away a lot of the stress if you can do most of your baby and nursery shopping before their arrival.

Hopefully you will find our recommendations useful, and please let me know in the comments if you have any questions at all about any of the products listed. I never buy anything online without scouring the reviews first, but I know it can sometimes be difficult to find the exact answers about specifics. Feel free to quiz me!

- P R A M. Bit of an obvious one really, isn't it? Choosing your pram is a big deal, and actually a very personal choice. Amongst my friends alone there is a huge range, and it very much depends on what your intention is {Will you be using public transport? Will it fit in your car boot? Will you be using it on walks in the countryside or just pavements?} as well as your budget. It's the purchase that took us the longest to decide upon, with my husband swotting up on Which? reviews whilst I looked back at the Made for Mums award winners from the last decade... There was one in particular I fell in love with from the beginning, and luckily it turned out to be an excellent pram to use as well as look at! So we chose the Ocarro from Mamas & Papas* and we absolutely love it. There was a 6-piece bundle available at the time we bought it {along with the pushchair came a carrycot, car seat adaptors, a changing bag, footmuff and coffee cup holder} and we went for the Grey Mist. Not only does it look lovely, but it is brilliant on muddy tracks and bumpy roads, steers easily and most importantly, folds and unfolds in one quick and easy motion. 

- N I G H T L I G H T. Not something I would have thought about myself, but I stumbled across this product* while perusing the John Lewis website one evening. It's so good that we ended up buying two! It's an adaptor which fits to your usual light; if you flick the switch once, the soft nightlight comes on {and the brightness can be adjusted}, and if you flick twice, your normal light comes on. We keep the low setting on overnight so I can check him in his crib easily {see below} and see to breastfeed. We also have one in his nursery so that if we change him overnight or want to rock him in the nursing chair, we don't wake him up with bright lights. 

- C H A N G I N G  M A T. Again, another obvious one - but I was delighted to find this mattress* that isn't ugly or garish! The neutral sheep pattern looks perfect in the nursery, it's cushioned, and easy to wipe clean - a very important factor. I'd also recommend a changing table - a few people told us we didn't need one, but it is so much nicer for your back if you can squeeze one in! We bought ours as part of a nursery furniture set from Silver Cross.

- B A B Y  B A T H. Baby MM hated his first couple of baths, screaming as soon as he was lowered into the water. We went to visit my parents when he was a few weeks old and they'd bought this* for us to use when we stay with them. As soon as we placed him in it, the crying stopped and he looked around calmly. Now he absolutely loves bath time and we find it actually calms him down if he's in a grump! I think the baby bath really helps as he feels supported and comfortable, and the plug makes it so easy to drain out some water if needed - it's a product I have recommended to several of my mum friends, and they love it too! 

- N I P P L E  C R E A M. When I got this* out of my hospital bag, I was delighted when the midwife told me it was the best product out there for preventing sore and cracked nipples. I'd simply chosen the one which I'd heard of before, and had been impressed by the global five-star ratings. I can see why; despite breastfeeding for hours through the day and night, and initially having issues with a difficult latch {due to Baby MM having a tongue tie which was ultimately treated} the soothing cream provided a level of protection and prevented any damage. I found I didn't have to use it anymore after the first month or so, but up until then I made sure there were tubes dotted around the house!

- B E D S I D E  C R I B. We were incredibly lucky that Mr MM's brother and sister-in-law gifted us their bedside crib*, as it is absolutely wonderful! It attaches to the side of our bed, and with the option to open up the side it means we feel like we are sleeping cosily with Baby MM whilst being safe and comfortable for us all. If he becomes unsettled in the night, I can simply reach over to him without having to really move, and when he needs feeding it's easy to pick him up. I can't really imagine having it any other way.

- M A T T R E S S  P R O T E C T O R S. Following on from the above, it's been essential for us to have a surplus of these as we have a baby who suffers with a lot of vomiting and reflux... These ones* were included with the gift of the crib and are lovely and soft; they wash beautifully too. We picked up one of these* too and it's just as good. Unbelievably, despite Baby MM's best efforts, not a spot has made it through onto the mattress. Definitely worth the money! 

- B A B Y  W I P E S. There are so many to choose from, and although it's advised to stick to cotton wool and water to start with, before long you'll want to be armed with wipes so you can tackle all sorts of disasters! I decided to try these* at first as I liked the fact they'd been approved by the National Eczema Association, and had many reviews commenting on how gentle they were. They are more expensive than some other brands, but we both think they're a really good product and have continued to order them - we now get them in boxes of 9 packs as it works out a bit cheaper and keeps us stocked up. 

- P L A Y M A T. I spent many hours researching all of the different playmats out there, and with hindsight I think I became a bit fixated on the topic...! But I wanted one which was fun for Baby MM and good for his development without being a complete eyesore in our living room. After much discussion we chose this one*, and I can honestly say that we have used it every single day since he was two weeks old. He LOVES it. In the last fortnight he has worked out how to hit the keys on the piano and is so pleased with himself when he hears the notes! The tummy time cushion is a useful addition too, and the textured sensory book is brilliant.   

- B A T H  J U G. When I bought this*, Mr MM accused me of making unnecessary purchases, and said that any plastic jug would do. To an extent I agreed with him, but I couldn't resist, and now I think it's an excellent addition to bath time; the bright blue colour grabs Baby MM's attention, and the rubber lip is great for preventing water getting in his eyes. If you're looking for a present for parents-to-be, this would be a good one!

- M I L K  C A T C H E R. I'm not going to delve into breastfeeding in this post - a huge topic for another day! - but if you're looking for a simple breast pump which shouldn't play havoc with your milk supply, then this is the one* most people recommend. It's different to a standard manual or electronic breast pump in that you're not actively stimulating the breast to express milk, but instead using gentle suction to encourage let-down on one side while you feed on the other. On my midwife and health visitor's advice I made sure not to use this for the first month so as not to disrupt my milk supply in those crucial weeks, but since then I have managed to build up an excellent stock of breast milk in the freezer from using just this!

- S L E E P I N G  B A G. I can highly recommend The Lullaby Trust's website for advice on safe sleep for babies, and I spent quite a bit of time reading their guidance and product recommendations when I was pregnant. Based on this, we decided to get sleeping bags for Baby MM to sleep in instead of traditional blankets {although we did use blankets for the first few weeks when he was tiny!} and these* are the original and the best {we have two which are very easy to use and wash brilliantly}. Be sure to check the tog measurement and weight restriction before buying as they do vary. 

- S E N S O R Y  T O Y. You don't need to go mad with toys for a newborn - let's face it, they can't really do much! - but it won't be long before they're looking around for stimulation and exciting distractions. This little chap* is much loved the world over - rated 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon based on 15,785 reviews and counting! - and we can see why; Baby MM gurgles at him, stares at his bright colours, and gives him the biggest smiles. We're not jealous of the toy at all... 

- C A R R I E R. This* is such a lovely item to have for your little one. I personally didn't want a stretchy wrap or carrier, but wanted to get something a bit more structured for family walks and jaunts into town. Having asked a few parents what to go for, this was the product mentioned time and time again. We decided to go for the mesh version as it's a bit more lightweight and breathable - and it can be unbearably hot having a baby pressed against you, no matter what the weather!

- B O U N C E R. Chances are that if you have started looking at baby rockers and bouncers, one very expensive brand hits the top of most searches. Is it bad then that we simply weren't that keen on the look of it?! We opted for this one* instead, which Baby MM has nestled in since he was a few weeks old. It has enabled us on many occasions to be able to eat dinner together while he bounces merrily next to us! It's worth saying that it doesn't bounce so well on carpet, but gets good momentum when on a hard floor - he becomes a bit of a blur when we use it in the kitchen! 

- B A B Y  M O N I T O R. I initially thought I was being a bit over-enthusiastic by getting one of these* before Baby MM would be in his own room... How wrong I was! We have used ours frequently from around 6 weeks onwards, whether it be for daytime naps or during the evenings when he sleeps in his crib while we finish off the washing up and our bedtime cuppas. There is a more recent model than ours, but the only difference is the screen size; we therefore decided to make a bit of a saving on this particular purchase, and I would argue that ours is definitely big enough to be able to see everything in detail. 

- H I G H  C H A I R. This last recommendation* is a bit of a cheat really, as we actually only bought it this week! Why would I need a high chair before weaning, I thought - I decided to wait until the Black Friday sales before getting one, but oh how I wish we'd had this from the start! Although Baby MM is obviously not having meals yet at only 14 weeks old, thanks to the newborn insert and different recline settings the chair is suitable from birth - and he loves to sit in it! I've put him in it each morning for the last few days while I do the washing up and general kitchen tidying, and he really enjoys being able to see what I'm doing. It also means that he's at our level while we eat dinner, so he doesn't feel as left out as when he's in his Moses basket {we have one in our living room for daytime naps} or the bouncer. I spent ages scouring Google for a high chair that looks nice as well as having good reviews, but we also decided that we wanted to store it away in our dining cupboard between meals {otherwise we would have gone for the Tripp Trapp by Stokke*}. All three of us are extremely pleased with this one. 

I really hope you have found these suggestions useful - as always, I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below. Let me know if you've tried any of these products and what your thoughts were, and if you have any recommendations for fellow mums and dads, please do share them with us!

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