‘Baby essentials’ trumped ‘can dogs eat…’ on my google search history throughout my whole pregnancy. And I google dog food safety A LOT thanks to my hybrid dog-hoover, Axel, who takes every opportunity to snatch and swallow whole chunks of anything that is dropped from the kitchen table, mid-air, without ever touching the floor.
I’ve spent hours on end watching videos of best products to buy for newborns, gone over best baby product articles with a fine-tooth comb and read endless blogs on must have baby items. All this to make sure I find the best products that I would need for the journey ahead.
Every list recommends the basics, which is a fantastic starting point. However, what I wanted to share with you, is a list of items (with links) that haven’t necessarily made it on an essentials list before, but that I found to be surprisingly useful. Hopefully they will help you too.
1. Puppy pads
This one is potentially my favourite. Maybe because I love puppies, maybe because it’s a fantastic little hack that costs so very little. The trick is to place a puppy pad on top of the changing mat, so that every time I change Emma and she does a wee while the nappy is off, the puppy pad absorbs it. No need for excessive wiping of the surface at 2am, you just need to discard and replace the mat. It’s that easy. I’ve picked up this trick from friends who have babies themselves and found it extremely useful as it saves me so much time.
2. Cheap cotton wool pads
As you can’t use any baby wipes for the first month, I’ve gone through a significant number of cotton wool pads to make sure Emma was cleaned properly. I’ve always assumed that any given supermarket would accommodate for this within their baby range, but what I was surprised to find was that the baby cotton wool pads available were either expensive or not really bigger in size to the ones I use to remove my makeup. So guess what I’d suggest… buy the cosmetic cotton pads instead. They do exactly the same job and saved you some pennies.
As a cotton wool pads bonus point, save yourself the money and do not buy the cotton wool roll. It is the cheapest option on the market, but it is soul destroying making little cotton balls yourself every time, only to have cotton bits leftover on baby’s skin. It takes age to remove them and you will hate yourself for purchasing the roll in the first place, so really… save yourself the trouble.
This could be a very obvious choice for some new parents and completely alien to others. I had no idea that babies needed a barrier cream applied to their skin to prevent rashes from happening in the first place. I bought buckets of Sudocream to treat rashes and nothing to prevent them. So cue a bit of panic buying on baby’s first day, researching what I should be using on a newborn’s skin and what the best product would be (price – quality ratio to determine the value for money of course). Do the research and buy it in advance to save yourself the extra stress once baby is born and you’ll be so thankful to yourself. I chose Neil Yard’s Organic Baby Balm as the price is fair for a good sized jar that lasts me a whole month. And it’s organic too.
4. Almond oil
I love the idea of baby massages and once again, all products that I’ve seen come with the caution of not being used on newborns’ skin. So another nifty trick I picked up from friends was to simply use almond oil instead. A quick trip to the supermarket and our living room had been transformed into a little baby spa, with relaxing music, a nice warm bath and a full body baby massage service which Emma loved even more than I did. Yet again, an all natural product of course, that left baby’s skin velvety soft and helped get rid of the dry skin flakes that occurred during baby’s first few days out in this world. Win-win.
This one could be a hit or a miss sort of purchase – depending on what your baby prefers – but I wanted to add it as both Emma and I love it so much. As a cotton body wrap to help carry baby so close to your skin, this was the product that helped us massively during Emma’s first few days. The wrap is super soft so you don’t have to worry about it constantly touching baby’s skin and incredibly comfortable to wear for the adult too. Emma was safely asleep close to us, yet we still had the ability to move around the house to make a cup of tea. And I do say us, as both Benn and myself still love using the wrap.
This is one of my recommendations as breastfeeding paraphernalia has now become one of my pet peeves. So many brands to choose from and most of them with pretty high price tags. My advice for new mums would be to buy a cheap one to start with, just to see how it works and how you get on with it. Once you know you’ll definitely be going ahead with breastfeeding and expressing, then you can look into other options without wasting money. The cheapest one I found, which incidentally I found to be the best one was Phillips’ Avent, which is currently £10 in Boots.
Also, something I didn’t realise when I initially purchased my pump, was that there are different nipple sizes. Make sure you get the right one for you as it’s hella painful otherwise.
They are the Marmite of the baby product world – you either love them or hate them with a passion. I actually loved hearing all about the divided opinions on Muslin clothes. Some people love them and can’t live without them, while others say they are a waste of time. Turns out, just like Marmite, we joined the fan club and now have them all around the house. And jacket pockets. And changing bag. Pretty much everywhere. We’re at the point where we needed to categorise them based on their sizes and now we have a small, medium and large compartment hanging on the nursery door for easy access. Considering how cheap they are, I’d recommend buying at least a pack to decide which camp you belong to.
What I didn’t realise before having a baby is that a bottle is not just a bottle to store the milk. I mean, if anti colic bottles exist in the first place, are you even going to take a risk and not use them? Price wise the MAM anti colic bottles are on the steep side, but truth be told, Emma has no colic. Are we lucky? Is it because of the bottles? We’ll never find our as we’re never going to chance it.
Bonus points for the MAM anti colic bottles – they are easily sterilised in the microwave too so great for travelling and are big enough to use as baby grows and the milk quality increases.
9. Various sizes and brands of nappies
Now nappies is a very obvious baby essential. However what I very much enjoyed during Emma’s first week was using all the samples we’ve received from all major brands so we could try them out and decide which ones worked best for our baby. We tried Pampers, Mamia (Aldi’s own) and Lupilu (Lidl’s own) to compare them and decided that the Mamia ones worked absolutely fine for us. However, having different sizes from the beginning helped too – we had one pack for newborns (size 0) and then size 1 and 2 for each of the three brands to see which ones would protect Emma best. When you have a baby that wakes up and cries when wet (to be fair, I would be grumpy in that scenario too), you’ll be so thankful that you’ve got all these options to try out and make sure baby enjoys a dry and comfortable sleep.
This one is fairly obvious and not really unexpected, but I just wanted to publicly profess my love for this product. I can’t express enough how much I love the MAM steriliser. For the first few weeks it felt like all we did all day was expressing and sterilising. Without this product we would have had so many issues I don’t even want to think about it. It’s fantastic in every way, it fits 7 of our bottles at any one time and when you’re feeding around the clock you don’t want to mess about with anything fiddly.
So there it is. The stuff that helped me through the first six weeks so far. Can you think of any other items that I haven’t tried? Any other tricks that will make life easier for us or more enjoyable for little one? Please do let me know as I’m always on the hunt for new baby hacks!