Considering we’ve been doing this new baby lark for almost 10 weeks, I thought I’d reflect on some of the things that I’ve found to be useful with baby N. I know there are a few soon-to-be-mamas out there so I hope this is helpful!
Firstly, newborn babies need hardly any stuff despite what you might think if you go to any baby shop. For the first few weeks all they do is eat, sleep, poop. So if you have the essentials for those activities then you’re covered.
You might want to consider getting multiple sets of bed sheets as it took me a bit of practice to get the nappy/diaper application good and thus we had some wee leakage issues in the early days. Also, the more sheets you have, then you don’t have to worry about needing to do a load of washing often.
If you have a big house you might want to consider some kind of day bed for the baby to sleep in during the day. I had a Moses basket which had the advantage of being portable so I’d put it in whatever room I was in. I also had it in our bedroom for the first few weeks until the sounds of the baby sleeping – babies are VERY noisy sleepers – drove me nuts and I put him in his own room.
I didn’t love my Moses basket as it was not good quality though. It came from Mothercare so I don’t recommend that brand. There are other places that make nicer ones though such as Mamas and Papas (UK audience only I think).
What I do wish I’d bought though is a Sleepyhead (called Dock-a-tot in the US). They sit in a larger bed/cot/crib and make the baby feel cosy. I also borrowed a Cocoonababy for a few weeks and it helped with brilliant sleeping but the transition to the cot was HARD!
I was super excited about Ewan the Dream Sheep as a sleep aid but I’ve not seen any evidence of it helping. It didn’t make things worse either but seems a bit of an oversell to me. Lucky he’s cute though as he is now primarily decorative.
I totally love my Bugaboo Chameleon stroller but I confess it is huge and it takes up the entire boot/trunk of our SUV. Perhaps when we transition from the bassinet seat to the stroller seat it will be smaller but if space is an issue for you then make sure to choose a stroller that collapses to a more small size. I kind of wish I’d bought a more sensible one now.
Swings and bouncers
As I’ve said before, I’d caution against using swings/bouncers. While my guy loves his Mamaroo, it didn’t help his flat head. If you’re going to get one, commit to only leaving the baby in there for short periods and don’t let them sleep in there.
I do think something to wear your baby with is helpful, be that a sling or a carrier. I have an Ergobaby and I think he’s quite comfy in there. I plan to use it more when it’s not so hot here as he gets warm quickly in it.
Clothes wise, when you’re super sleep deprived you do not want to be dealing with 1000 buttons to change a nappy. Choose simple clothing for the baby and make your life easier.
I have a wonderful nappy/diaper bag by Skip Hop which I love. It has lots of great pockets and it easily attaches on the stroller. I no longer use a handbag but just put my essentials in one of the pockets. I keep the bag fully stocked – I.e. When I get home I re-stock anything used so that it’s ready to go for next time with the exception of feeding items. This makes getting out of the house with the baby a little easier and faster and I always have everything I need in there.
Babies are pretty low-tech but do get things like a thermometer in case of fever, a bath thermometer so you get the bath water temperature right, and some kind of baby monitor if the baby will be sleeping in a different room to you. All other gadgets are not necessary.
If you plan to breast feed then do invest in a breast pump from the start. If I had one in advance I would have tried to rescue my supply from the start of my problems. You’ll also need a steriliser machine, bottles and bottle cleaning tools.
Newborns do not care for toys so don’t go crazy buying loads in advance. Also people tend to give you gifts of toys, especially soft toys! I have a few nice toys that make crinkle sounds and have nice mirrors and it’s only about now – nearly 10 weeks in – that he’s starting to be interested in them.
At the hospital
I optimistically packed a bunch of make-up for the hospital stay. Hahahahaha! I did use some blusher one day to look more alive but really it didn’t need to be packed. I did find that by day 2 I wanted to be in comfy non-PJ clothes during the day. This is both to distinguish night from day but also so I didn’t feel totally awful when accepting visitors. That said, I did meet my husband’s new boss for the first time while wearing flamingo PJs!!
At home clothes
Invest in advance of the birth in some clothes that are non-maternity but are a size up on your regular clothes. Unless you are a supermodel, you’ll carry some baby belly for a few weeks and it’s depressing only having maternity clothes to wear. If you’re breast feeding, look into tops that button down for easy boob access.
Feeling good about yourself
We all have a different level of commitment to beauty regimes so apply this advice as required. In order to feel nice about myself I have been making sure I shower each day and wash my hair. This may sound ridiculously simple but it’s not. Decide what your base is and try to stick to it. I also made sure to have my hair cut and coloured the week before my delivery and had a pedicure. This meant that I looked relatively put together for the first few weeks. It also means I REALLY need to go see my hairdresser again soon!
Getting out of the house
I cannot emphasise enough how good it is to get out of the house after having a baby. It is also waaaaaaaay more complicated to do than you can imagine. Expect to find the first few attempts to leave the house to be time-consuming and exhausting. It gets better. One thing I’ve found useful if I’m pushed for time is to have some make-up essentials in a small make-up bag that I can throw in the baby bag. This means I can apply make-up in the car (if I’m a passenger) or at the destination.
In this bag I tend to favour make-up sticks such as by Nars. They do great stick blusher and eye shadow. You’d be surprised what magic can be done with tinted moisturiser, basic eyeshadow, eyebrow pencil, mascara, blusher and lipstick. I can do all of this in less than 5 minutes.
A little extra
Another thing that used to drive me wild when pregnant is people always telling me to sleep now before the baby comes. I found that ridiculous because my sleep when pregnant was appalling! However now I know what they really meant. No matter how entirely awful your pregnancy sleep is, it will still be 100x more satisfying than your “sleep” with a newborn. So if you’re pregnant and thinking things will get better when the baby comes, you’re wrong. Basically enjoy not having your sleep held to ransom now by a tiny dictator. 😀