Friday, 23 November 2018

Newborn Baby Essentials You Really Need from A Third Time Mum


The internet is full of shopping lists claiming to include the essentials you need when you are having a baby. Having read through many lists in the past I’ve been confused why some items are recommended as "must haves". This list is different, it contains the tried and tested products I have used before with my newborn babies and that I will be using again this time. Items aren’t in here because of obligations to promote them, they are all genuinely products I intend to use and confidently recommend to others. The post does contain affiliate links, but only to items I use myself, it wont cost you any extra if you buy through these links.

A mothers hand holding a newborn baby hand


Don’t get overwhelmed by this list. There are a few baby essentials you need from day 1 and the others you can order same or next day delivery when you need them. The products you find essential when you have a newborn will depend on your parenting style and your baby’s personality. If you want to keep spending to the absolute minimum see my suggestions for most important items at the end of this post.

My Tried And Tested list Of Newborn Baby Essentials  


Essential Items For Mama Post Birth 

In the first few weeks regardless of the type of birth you have you will be uncomfortable, sore and bleed a lot so here are some items which will make life easier:

Cheap, big, black pants

Go for disposable if you want, but I prefer the comfort of proper cotton pants. And if they are black you won’t need to worry if you get a bit of blood on them. Big pants are also great if you have a c-section because they should come up high enough not to rest on your wound.

Big black cotton knickers are essential for after birth

Lots and lots of Maternity Towels or Sanitary Pads

You aren’t advised to use any internal form of sanitary protection post birth due to the risk of infection. I get a combination of the big night time ones and the thick padded ones (which are often really cheap in supermarkets). The big fat padded ones are great because they provide extra cushioning you'll be grateful for if you have a vaginal birth.

Breast Pads

However you feed your baby you are likely to leak some milk in the first few weeks so you will want some breast pads popped in your bra each day. I tend to use disposable for the first week or so and then when I’m less worried about leaks I used the Close Pop-In reusable breast pads as they aren’t very visible and they wash well.

Disposable breast pads, maternity towels, and femé pads for post birth

Ice Pads 

If you have a vaginal birth your bits will be bruised and sore. Don’t underestimate the relief you can get from a placing a cold pad against your bruising. I have used cooling gel femé pads after both my daughters' births and they have felt amazing, you can buy them individually or in a kit with other handy items (breast pads, lanolin sachets and breast soother pads). I have heard that a sanitary pad with a bit of water put in the freezer also works well.

Bath Foam

I had this Neal's Yard Remedies Arnica and Seaweed bath foam recommended to me after my first baby and loved having a long soak in it. It’s not cheap, but the blue glass bottle is beautiful and a bath in it feels very healing.


Essential Items For Breastfeeding a Newborn Baby

I have only ever breastfed my babies so I’m not going to pretend to know what you need for bottle feeding, however this post from the NHS on bottle feeding advice might help as might this post about how Thru Ami's Eye's Combination fed her baby. The only absolute essential for breastfeeding is breasts, but I strongly recommend nursing bras too. The other items on this list may help you feel more comfortable. With my first I used a breastfeeding cover when out too, but last time I just used a muslin if I felt I needed a bit more privacy. 

A couple of Nursing Bras

If you are breastfeeding you will want some comfortable bras that make it easy to feed your baby, but your boobs will change in size a lot during that first month and will be a different size to during pregnancy so it can be a waste to buy fitted bras too soon. Instead buy a couple of nursing bras like this from Cantaloop which cover several cup sizes until your chest settles down and then decide if you want a more structured bra.

A white soft nursing bra without structure is an essential for breastfeeding a newborn

A Cushion

In the early days babies breastfeed a lot and for long periods. This is totally normally but can make your arms ache. I personally don't find breastfeeding pillows comfortable, but I do tend to have a couple of cushions on hand to prop under my elbow or arm for support. There is no need to buy anything specially as any cushion or maternity pillow should work fine. If you have particularly big breasts (I’ve not had a problem at DD) then you might find this advice on breastfeeding with large breasts helpful.

A Breast Pump

There are benefits to having a breast pump in the early days: if you are engorged when your milk comes in expressing some milk will make you more comfortable and make it easier to latch, it can help with blocked ducts or mastitis and also if you have a difficult birth or there are any problems with your baby post birth a pump can be helpful to establish your supply if your baby can't. Nothing is effective as baby, but a pump can be really helpful.

I have been sent the Calypso Double Plus from Ardo to review post birth. It is a double electric pump which is an efficient way to pump and I have been sent a manual attachment as well, I have found manual pumping can be really helpful when out if you don’t want to take out much with you or you just want to express a small amount.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what this pump is like and you can read my review in January.

An electric breast pump which can be helpful to establish a milk supply post birth

Breast Soother Pads

Engorged boobs can be painful and you may also experienced blocked ducts or other problems. Having cooling pads to put in your bra can provide a lot of relief in these situations, but you might also never need them .

Nipple Cream 

I have mostly used Lansinoh lanolin nipple cream in the past, but whatever brand you go for applying a generous amount to your nipples post feed for the first few weeks can help prevent cracks. The sheer amount babies feed in the first week or so can dry your nipples out even if the latch is great. If you are having a winter baby I recommend putting the lanolin tube under your leg during a feed so when you are ready to apply it the cream is warmed, cold lanolin is pretty solid and difficult to squeeze out.



Essentials For Baby Bath Time

A Baby Bath & Bath Support

You can bathe a newborn in the main bath or even a sink, but I have found that having a baby bath inside my bath tub is easier for me and uses less water. A newborn baby bath support is also really helpful to make you feel more confident washing them, obviously you can’t leave them unattended, but it means you can use your hands to more easily wash the baby. I expect to be using my Stokke Flexi bath and bath support again. I like it because the bath is a good size (I have even used it with a toddler) and it folds away. You can currently buy as a bundle for £44 on the Stokke website.

An Apron Towel

Obviously any towel will dry a baby, but I love apron towels (especially the Cuddledry baby bath towels) because they mean you don’t need to worry about dropping the towel or getting wet. You put the towel round your neck, pick the baby up, cuddle them to you and then pop the hood on their head to keep them cozy. 


Cuddling my baby to me in a Cuddledry apron bath towel

Bath Products

You don’t need anything other than water to wash a newborn baby, you can wash them with your hands and unless they have particularly dry skin you don’t need to apply anything after they come out of the bath either. But when you do want to use something look for gentle ingredients and less chemicals.

Essentials For Baby Sleep

Co-sleeper crib

I have bought Moses baskets, twice, they were barely used at nap times and never slept in at night because my children didn't seem to like them. A cot feels far too big for a newborn so I would personally recommend a co-sleeper. There are lots on the market these days so which one you choose is up to you. Check the height of your mattress as some are more adjustable than others. I have used a couple, but I was given a Snuzpod with my youngest which I will be using again this time. Other popular options include: Chicco Next2Me, Tutti Bambini CoZee Bedside Crib. You will also need a mattress and sheets to fit what you buy.
Another alternative is a baby box if you have them for free in your area. This will give you somewhere to put your baby down safely to sleep while you see what they like (and it's useful for daytime naps downstairs).

Baby sleeping bags 

I much prefer using sleeping bags with babies than blankets: they can’t kick them off and (if you use the correct size) there is no risk to them going over their head. There are a large range of sleeping bags available at different prices, but I still recommend GroBags by The Gro Company. I have some that have been washed loads after being used with both children and they still look great. There is also a huge amount of research and testing which go into their bags to ensure they are safe, the fabric is even breathable! Not all sleeping bags are equal.

Baby Monitor

I still need to buy a baby monitor for this baby, but I have used Angelcare monitors with movement sensors for both of my girls. Baby monitors are useful to use when baby is sleeping in a different room to you (eg nap time and before you go to bed at time) and you have the choice of it monitoring for noise in the room or noise and a video feed. Some monitors can be used with a movement monitor which checks to make sure your baby is breathing. Baby Monitors have different features which might include a nightlight and 2 way monitor (so you can talk to the unit in the baby's room).
The first Angelcare monitor we had was just sound, but I found the video feed really useful with my second because you can check whether the noises are them sitting up happily or just making noises in their sleep. I also found the movement monitors provided me with a huge amount of peace of mind and I found we had hardly any false alarms. On the downside the Angelcare monitor parent unit battery life deteriorated over the first year in all 3 models I have used. I am still undecided which brand I will use this time around.


Sleepyhead Deluxe

It’s hard to know how effective the Sleepyhead is because baby’s sleep often varies night by night and week by week, but I think my youngest daughter settled faster when I put her in the Sleepyhead to sleep. Part of the reason for this could be that they are more snuggled when put in it rather than surrounded by lots of air so it probably feels more comforting. They are basically cushioning which surround the baby, making their bed into a bit of a nest. I plan to use a Sleepyhead again this time. Other people I know recommend alternatives to the Sleepyhead which are much cheaper. I would suggest looking at the relative sizes as well as safety advice about babies sleeping in the different versions like purflo, poddlepod before purchasing.


Night Light

I don’t think the amount of light in the room makes much difference to babies sleep (as long as it is quite dark), but when you are feeding them or want to check they are ok it’s helpful to have a dim light. Sarah Ockwell Smith would recommend any night light is red, but most seem to be blue or white light. The baby monitor may have a good enough light, but it depends how near the cot it is positioned so you might want a separate one.

White noise

White noise seems to help lots of babies sleep, and just like the Sleepyhead it’s hard to know how effective it is, but I will be using it again this time round. With my first I used Ewan The Dream Sheep, with my second I had a Whisbear which I absolutely love because it plays pure white noise (unlike the dream sheep which places music, a heart beat etc), it is volume adjustable, but most importantly for me it has a Cry sensor so if the baby starts to fuss it comes back on helping to resettle them. The extra bonus of white noise is that if the house can be noisy (which ours is thanks to my daughters) the white noise helps to muffle loud noises. Whisbear have recently brought out a Sloth with a linked app and lots of new features which I love so it’s on my wishlist.

Cuddling a Whisbear which makes white noise to help soothe babies to sleep


Essentials for Going Out With A Newborn Baby


A stretchy baby carrier

A baby carrier is one of the most useful newborn baby items I discovered, especially if your baby doesn’t like to be put down. I found I suddenly went from constantly having to hold the baby to having 2 hands free. Whether you are at home or out and about it makes life so much easier. I used a Close Caboo with my first because it’s effectively a pre-tied stretchy wrap, with my second I discovered that tying a stretchy wrap myself was actually pretty simple and as the stretchy wrap had less dangly bits than the Caboo I much preferred wearing it. I will be using my Boba wrap this time, but there are lots of good ones on the market. Don’t be tempted to get a wrap which is too cheap because you want to be sure that the fabric is strong enough to support the baby properly and that the dyes used are safe.


Pushchair

As much of a baby wearing advocate as I am a pushchair is still pretty essential. Like lots of people I find I mostly used a umbrella fold/ or lighter stroller once my babies could sit up comfortably, but I still want one that has a good cocoon or bassinet for the newborn days. I have used a Bugaboo Bee with both my girls, but it's now 7 years old and I would love something new (even though it's still in great condition).

A lie flat pushchair is essential for most people with a newborn

Car seat 

A car seat is essential if you have a car or intend to go on any car journeys (including getting home from the hospital). I would recommend one with an iso fix base so you can easily click your baby seat in and out of the car. Like with a pushchair there are so many options and considerations when purchasing one that it is too much to cover in this post, but if you go to a shop that has a wide range they will normally be able to advise you which ones will fit in your car properly.

Changing bag 

While you can use any bag to keep all your nappies and essentials together while out, purpose built changing bags are useful and I favour backpack style ones for comfort and convenience. I have previously written about how to choose the best changing bag for you.

A backpack changing bag for carrying all newborn essentials

The Basics Which Are Essential for A Newborn Baby

Nappies

I love the idea of reusable nappies, but I have never managed the investment or commitment. Whatever you are going to use you will definitely get through a lot in the first couple of years. Don’t buy hundreds at a time as you don’t know how quickly your baby will grow from one size to the next. You will probably want nappy sacks too, but don’t worry about a special bin; you’ll want to get stinky nappies out the house asap anyway.

Wipes

The price of baby wipes varies widely and the biodegradable versions with fewest chemicals are obviously more pricy. I know they recommend using cooled water and cotton wool for newborns, but wipes are so much easier (and more effective when cleaning up the first meconium poos). In the early days I choose the more expensive wipes like Aqua Wipes because baby skin is so delicate and I find it makes it less likely they get nappy rash or sore. I have been sent some Aqua Wipes to try out because they are biodegradeable, over 99% purified water and suitable for newborns, you can buy them from Amazon, Ocado and other retailers.


Clothes

You will need clothes for your baby obviously, but you might be surprised how many you get given (new and second hand). For the first 3 months or so I have mostly dressed my children in sleepsuits and vests, there is time enough for proper clothes when they are older. It also means you don’t have to worry about socks or coordinating. When buying items yourself think about: what sizes you will need at what time of year (you probably aren’t going to need many/ any 0-3 month sleepsuits or long sleeve vests if your baby is due in July), the size they are likely to be when they are born and how quickly they move through the first sizes. Second hand clothes are also well worth looking at as so many people end up never using many of the clothes they have.

Muslins

Don’t underestimate how handy these squares of fabric are. My first child used to spit up milk a lot so I would have a muslin on me at all times to catch or clean up the regurgitated milk. My second wasn’t so bad, but there was still some mess so I would use muslins to cover and protect surfaces and to mop up leaks. Getting a few of the larger, swaddle size muslins are also really helpful whether you plan to swaddle or not. They can be handy as a light blanket, breastfeeding cover and have countless other uses. 


Large swaddle size muslins are handy to have with newborns

Changing mat

Unless you have a c-section or you have other problems bending you might not need a changing table, but a changing mat for nappy changes is helpful to cushion your baby against the floor and protect the floor against inevitable poo and wee leaks. Getting one which is wipe clean is essential, I buy any plastic covered cushioned one. They seem to crack after a year or so regardless of how much I spend on them.

Thermometer

Even if you are the most relaxed parent you will worry at some point about if your child is poorly or crying for some other reason, a thermometer is a great way to help rule out illness. I prefer the non contact ones as they work quickly and are easier with a wiggling baby. Many of these have different settings which can also be used to check air and surface temperature (handy for bath time and weaning). If you don’t have one which works on surface temperatures (or to check bath temperature) a bath thermometer would be useful too. 


Essentials for Baby Playtime

Baby Swing

If you have a totally normal baby that wants to be held all the time then I recommend a baby swing because even with a baby carrier you will want to put them down occasionally e.g. to have a shower. The swings can be expensive but the gentle rocking will help keep them happy or lull them to sleep. I have bought mine secondhand and only used them for a few months, but there were days they were the only way my baby would nap so it was well worth it. 

Baby Bouncer Chair

If you have a baby swing then it might have a fixed position so you can use it as a bouncer chair, but I have found that stand alone bouncers are normally safe to use for much longer, including when mine have been big enough to climb in themselves. The bouncer chairs are much cheaper than baby swings and are useful for any time you want to put them down, particularly if they have reflux and you want them in a more upright position than on the floor.  They often have a hanging toy for a bit of entertainment.

A sleeping newborn baby in a fisher price bouncer chair

A Baby Playmat

As baby develops more interest in playing a playmat can be useful. They are often machine washable so you can keep your floor safe from baby and your baby away from the inevitable dirt on the floor. They are great for giving them tummy time and letting them practice skills like rolling, early crawling and sitting.

Toys

You won’t need any initially, the world (and your face) is interesting enough. I find it’s great to go to baby groups and see what toys they are interested in and then buy similar ones. Babies will still inevitably be fascinated in spoons and other non toy items whatever you buy them. 


The Absolutely Must Buy Newborn Baby Essential List


If you really need to spend as little money as possible then below is my most recommended items to have from day 1, everything else you can decide whether to get at a later date.

  • Sanitary pads, but as explained above the cheap ones work well.
  • Somewhere for baby to sleep and a blanket or sleeping bag. Even if they sleep in your bed they should have their own covers as a normal duvet is too warm and big (I have written about my experience with cosleeping here).
  • A car seat if you are going to drive them anywhere, but you could borrow one if you only need it to get home from the hospital and some taxi companies have them.
  • A sling. I would recommend a sling over a pushchair for the first few months because they are cheaper than a supportive pushchair, you can then get a cheaper umbrella stroller when baby can sit up (around 6 months), but you will need some way to carry them when out and about.
  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Clothes. Look on local Facebook groups and at Nearly New Sales for bundles of second hand clothes. 
See not such a big list is it? And if you are in an area with a free baby box scheme you will be given a few items including a box, mattress and blanket for baby to sleep in.

Please comment below to let me know which items you have found most useful and what you found you really didn't need.

A shopping list of the newborn baby essentials you really need

The Newborn Baby Essentials You Really Need and what you need post birth too

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