I used to say that the one thing that new parents or parents-to-be really don’t need is unsolicited advice or long lists of must have paraphernalia. It can run very close to the line that puts them under pressure at a time when emotions and hormones and lack of sleep are running riot and they need rest not bombarding. I stand by that, but a recent discussion reminded me of a few things to buy for a newborn that made my life so much easier and, well, I wanted to share my thoughts.
The following is not intended to be either an exhaustive list or initiate yet another shopping trip with a heavy bump or mewing baby. I hope that if you are expecting you might find it useful though, or if you know someone who is a parent-to-be then this might be a good starting point for seeking out a practical and long-lasting gift.
Having 3 children I am well aware that every baby is different, but without doubt the products below made life just that little bit smoother.
I’m pretty sure that every new baby list will have this on. Thinking of how you’re going to get around is essential, even if you plan to initially have quiet days at home. We went for a Baby Jogger City Mini with a pram base for our first born, and the buggy part saw us through each of our children. It is lightweight, fits through shop doors and onto buses and trains with ease and impressively can be folded with one hand. More importantly for us though, it could fit in the boot of the car we had at the time (a Renault Clio) which many of its competitors couldn’t.
When our second born came along we went for a slightly larger buggy for the baby stages which could also hold a buggy board with ease – great when you’re trekking into town with a toddler! I have to say that we quickly reverted back to the Baby Jogger when Chief had built up his stamina though, it was just the perfect fit for us.
A car seat is a must if you drive. The law has changed since Chief entered the world, but you can find the up to date requirements for the UK here. You can find car seats for sale from Kiddies Kingdom which we took a look at and felt were very competitively priced. On the subject of car seats, we also had a mirror that slipped over a headrest so that we could see our babies in our rear-view mirror (Kiddies Kingdom sell these with a lot of their first stage car seats if you search for ‘car mirror’ on the link above). Both myself and Jacob found it very reassuring when we were driving that we could have a quick glance at our precious cargo and make sure they looked ok.
Baby carrier/ sling
When The Loud One entered our lives, walking around had become a little more complicated. Chief (then aged 4) was running everywhere at speed, closely followed by Munch (then 2) but being that bit younger he tired more easily so we still needed the buggy on occasion for him. Reluctant to go back to using the big buggy and board, we looked into getting a double buggy. We very nearly bought one, but in the end we opted for the Ergobaby carrier for The Loud One. This was a game changer. Despite being a heavy baby (over 10 and a half pounds at birth!) it spread his weight evenly and comfortably. It made things so much easier for me with two hands free for my other boys or the lightweight Baby Jogger too, whilst he was snug and happily cuddled into me. I actually wish we’d had this carrier from the start as it is so versatile and lasts (with a newborn insert) from those very early days through to the toddler years.
We opted for reusable nappies for Chief and Munch and used them to an extent with The Loud One too. They were so simple to use and we felt that they fitted in with our environmentally focused lifestyle. They’re not for everyone though, so do spend time thinking through what will work best for you. I believe that you can get biodegradable nappies now too which seems like another great option!
There are lots of different options for cleaning cloths as well, but if you’re going for a variety of disposable baby wipes (which I have to say we found useful when out and about) then find a Tupperware tub to keep them in. This helps to keep them moist and fresh so an opened packet will last that little bit longer.
This is essential. Find one with plenty of pockets! If it suits, one that is in the style of a backpack might be easier as your little one grows and starts running around than one that is strapped to the buggy and temporarily discarded at the edge of the park as you dash off in pursuit! If you’re breastfeeding make sure there’s space for a cover or plenty of muslins, spare breast pads and so on. If you’re bottle feeding (or a combination of both) make sure that you have a good zipped insulated pocket for the bottle. You’ll thank yourself when the bag earns its keep by helping you get out of the house with a little more ease! My other tip for the change bag is to keep it ready too, so when you get in and unpack dirties, stock up again with clean clothes/ muslin cloths/ rattle and so on so it’s ready to go next time you are.
Travel change mat
This may seem obvious, and you might even get one with your change bag, but a decent travel changing mat can make life easier. Ours was used on top of change tables in public toilets, in the boot of the car and at other people’s houses. In fact, it was so handy that we still have it for any visiting babies that we have now. It was a slightly impulsive, not sure we’ll need it, kind of purchase, but we used it almost every day in those pre-potty training stages.
We loved the moses basket that we were gifted by friends, but with big boys who grew fast the crib that we had lasted longer. In fact our tip about cribs is one that we are told gets shared again and again by people who have tried it. We had one in our bedroom and another one downstairs. It was really handy for when Munch and then The Loud One came along. It meant that I could put them down to sleep during the day whilst keeping a close eye on them but I was also available to read and play with their older sibling/s. Jacob is certain that it helped them to get to sleep in noisy places too and settle them into a good nap routine. It quite possibly did!
I know this seems obvious, but we ended up with blankets in almost every room and had a spare or two in the car. Keeping baby snuggly is a must and we found the cellular blankets like these were perfect and could be used everywhere!
When they are old enough, sleeping bags are a great alternative to layers of sheets and blankets at bedtime. We found them particularly helpful with wiggly babies as they can’t be kicked off, and our sons always seemed very content in them and slept well. Take a note of the tog ratings to get the right one for the temperature of your nursery.
There are so many baby toys on the market it is easy to become a little overloaded with fluffy creatures in every corner. All of ours loved one like this though, that rattled or crinkled too. In fact The Loud One had a soft strawberry shaped rattle that he used to jiggle whilst he was falling asleep. I recall lying in bed with him in his crib next to me listening to it as the rattle slowed then stopped when he had drifted off.
I don’t think that you can have too many baby clothes. Our boys regularly needed a change during the day. I split out all the essentials into different drawers and even had a box of spare vests and baby grows downstairs so, when the need arose, it was easy to switch them into fresh clothes. This helped get them comfortable quickly and eased a little of the changing time stress. The same goes for pyjamas and, as they grow, outfits. Figure out what space you have and split it up in a manner that makes most sense to you.
Again this might seem obvious, but baby monitors really do come in handy, both for overnight and for nap times. Take advice on which one suits you best and always read the manufacturers guidelines as they do vary.
On recommendation we bought an in ear thermometer and it has been invaluable. It’s such a quick and easy way to check for a high or rising temperature, without your little one experiencing any discomfort.
There are so many things that you can buy for a baby, but the above are the staples that Jacob and I would both recommend. If you had to choose one item that you couldn’t have made it through the baby stages without, what would it be? Let me know in the comments below!
N.B. Huge thanks to Kiddies Kingdom who have collaborated with me on this post and provided me with images as indicated and gifted me a car seat to support my research. It will come in handy now I’ve won the two car argument! For more information or to see their latest offers, check them out using the link above. To find out more about how I work with others, take a look at my disclosure policy here.