After months of expectation (and heartburn!), welcoming your baby into the world is such a special and unforgettable time – but with so many products on the market, understanding what you actually need can be overwhelming! The good news is that you really don’t need many products at all. In fact, the whole newborn experience can be navigated with nappies and milk and just these 13 essentials to hand:
1. Muslin Squares
Whether you choose breast or bottle feeding, muslin squares are universally helpful and you can never have enough of them! These versatile, soft cotton cloths are useful for draping over your newborn’s front while feeding, so you can mop a milky mouth and catch or clean up baby posset. Strategically placed muslins can help to protect your own clothes as you burp your newborn – and the extra large ones can be also used for swaddling, as comfort blankets or as privacy cover for nursing mums.
2. Nursing Pillow
A nursing pillow is a Godsend! Despite being tiny, a feeding baby gets heavy after a while and then the arm ache sets in – but not when you have one of these! The horseshoe-shaped pillow fits around your middle and provides the comfort and support your baby needs, while freeing up the arm that would be taking the baby’s weight. You are therefore free to have a snack, change the channel or use your phone – phew! Incredibly versatile, this product can also be used for back and sleep support in pregnancy and will be handy when your baby reaches the sitting stage but is still a bit wobbly and requires tumble support. If you plan on using your pillow for the long haul, you might want to choose one like this which comes with an extra washable cover to ensure it stays fresh.
A good steriliser is an essential to make sure your baby is safe from tummy bugs. They are great if you are using bottles for formula and expressed milk but you’ll find your steriliser also comes in handy for things like teething toys and dummies if you use them. There are lots of options, from compact and efficient microwave sterilisers to electric steam sterilisers which complete the process in minutes, are large enough to accommodate things like breast pump accessories as well as several bottles and keep the contents sterile for 24 hrs.
4. Breast Pump
Breast-feeding mums who want to share feeds with other family members will need a breast pump to express milk into bottles. Expressing milk means you can take some time out from your baby, going out with friends or maybe to an exercise class when baby is due to feed. You can choose between manual or electric pumps, with a double electric pump being the best time-saver.
You’ll need an abundant supply of bibs to keep your baby’s mouth, chin and neck dry because babies drool a lot and you’ll want to avoid chin and neck rashes as well as uncomfortable wet clothing. Super-soft, natural and absorbent bibs that easy to take on and off are best for newborns. When you are buying, note that some dribble bibs only fit very small babies, whereas others fit from newborn to around age two.
6. Sleeping bags
Getting a good night’s sleep is very important for everyone in the house. Newly born babies can nod off almost anywhere – in your arms, a bouncer chair, a crib – but one thing is for sure, they move around a lot, kicking off blankets as they go. So whether you have a crib, cot, moses basket or a fancy sleep pod of some sort, you will still want your baby to be cosy – and a sleeping bag is the answer to keeping wriggly babies warm! Baby sleeping bags come in various designs and tog options for both summer and winter nights and usually close with a zip for convenience. Other options have also been created with both cot and travel slumber in mind and work well with a car seat belt.
7. Changing Bag
You will never regret having a hard-wearing bag that’s roomy enough to carry around things like wipes, nappies, bibs, spare clothes, muslins, bottles and toys! Some prams or travel systems come with a sturdy, co-ordinated bag but if yours doesn’t, you will need something which is roomy, like this stylish one, which comes with a comfortable changing mat, or this luxury bag also comes with a changing mat, as well as handy labelled pockets and an insulated bottle tote.
8. Sling / Baby Carrier
Many parents enjoy carrying their baby close to them with a sling, many of which can be worn in a variety of ways. This one can be worn with baby front-facing, back-facing and on the parent’s back and will last until the child weighs 15kg (approx age 3); an alternative option is this carrier which has four positions, including an extra high position for new babies, allowing for eye contact – and a waist belt which helps to avoid back and shoulder discomfort.
9. Travel System
Buying a travel system is a good investment and will serve you for years. In those early days, it will provide you with a set of wheels and storage space for bags etc, as well as a coordinated rain cover/cosy toes for those early, proud walks; and when your child is older, your travel system usefully converts from a pram to a pushchair. All travel systems include a car seat and you should choose one which is easy to assemble and disassemble, such as this one. Sometimes a carry cot is part of the package, which means you don’t need to buy a separate crib – and some travel systems, such as this one, throw in a coordinated leather bag and luxury fleece liner.
10. Car Seat
11. Moses Basket
Another item you should have is a moses basket, so that you can settle your wee one down to sleep and easily transport him/her as you move from room to room in your home, doing chores, showering etc. You might find yourself settling your baby in the basket in the lounge while you have dinner and catch your breath in the evening – and then carrying your precious bundle to the bedroom later to settle (hopefully!) for the night. A moses basket without a stand is great in itself, however there is also the option to buy one with a stand that will gently rock your baby to sleep.
12. Bouncer Chair
All mums need to free up their hands to do things, even if it is to simply have a cuppa – and a bouncer chair is a great way to make sure your new baby is safe and secure. There is a huge range of bouncers on the market and these chairs provide a safe place for your baby to relax and have some quiet time. Bouncers vary widely, from a version which is comfortable and secure, to luxury bouncers which come with enhanced features such as movements that mimic parental motions and can be controlled via IOs and Android devices.
A playpen is an excellent addition to a bouncer chair for keeping baby safe; something like this is ideal for newborn tummy time – and provides an essential barrier from loving pets when you need to pop into another room. Some parents opt for a travel cot, which is a portable playpen for your home, for visiting friends or relatives and gives baby somewhere comfortable to sleep when you’re on holiday.
We know that you might be thinking “but what about the baby bath or baby gym”? but in all honesty, they aren’t essential; they are ‘nice to have’ items. If you stick with these 10 essentials (other than the obvious milk, nappies and wipes, of course!) it should make caring for your lovely newborn much simpler…and hey, if you get a chance, let us know if you agree or disagree with our list!