The 3rd assignment of Blogging 101 is to write a blog which speaks to your audience – to imagine who your readers are. I imagine my readers to be parents themselves, or expectant parents, and so I decided to put together a list of all the items I have found to be essential during the first 9 months of Charlie’s life. Including what I packed in my hospital bags and what I currently take out with me in the changing bag. When I was pregnant I really had no clue about what I needed, it was mostly through the advice of friends and the internet that I was able to stock up on everything. Hopefully this will be helpful for expectant parents, new parents or parents who already have their own essentials – feel free to comment with the things that you couldn’t go without.
First I will start with the hospital bags – I had these packed and waiting weeks before I was due – ever the organiser! Here are the things (that I can remember) having in my bags:
HOSPITAL BAG ESSENTIALS
- Baby Grows
- Sudocrem, cotton wool, nappy bags
- Maternity Pads
- Breast Pads
- Baby hats, scratch mitts, booties, socks
- Going home outfit (for mummy and baby)
- Toiletries for mummy
- Small battery operated fan, plastic straws for hubby to give me water.
- Nightdress, dressing gown, slippers, underwear
- Phone charger, camera/camera phone
- Drinks, snacks, music, books, magazines
- Car seat
- Maternity record
Thankfully my labour was over pretty fast and I was only in hospital for one night before coming home, so I didn’t actually need a few of these bits but I’m so glad that I was over prepared. I certainly had no time to read a book or a magazine! Ha!
In the first few weeks after leaving hospital I found Witch Hazel liquid to be a necessity for the stitches, and I started taking post-natal vitamins straight away. I also carried on using the bio oil that I’d been using throughout my pregnancy.
What’s in my Nappy Bag
- Dribble bibs and a food bib
- Baby wipes
- Milton dummy steriliser capsule
- Nappy sacks
- Dettol wipes
- Change of clothes
- Charlies sippy cup & some snacks (Organix)
- Mummy’s water and a snack (Quest Bar)
So for the everyday “staple” items that I found to be essentials with a newborn baby. First of all I only breast-fed for the first few weeks, then moved straight on to formula. I hired a breast pump from my local authority during this time, it was a Medela pump; very good but so expensive to buy – if you are planning on using one I would suggest checking with your health visitor or midwife to see if there is anywhere that hires them.
Bottles and Steriliser
I used, and still continue to use, the Milton Cold Water Steriliser. They are super simple, just fill them with water up to the line marker, put in your bottles etc, drop in a Milton tablet, and in 15 minutes they are sterilised, ready to use and stay sterile for 24 hours. We ended up buying 3 of the tubs because you can only get about 4 bottles with all their parts in one tub.
The bottles we opted for were Dr Browns Bottles, they are anti-colic and we found them to be great. Charlie only suffered with wind occasionally during the first few months.
This is a LIFESAVER! In the middle of the night when baby is screaming for a bottle, this makes one in 2 minutes! I seriously don’t know what I would have done without this! The filter needs changing every 3 months; filters are only £8 or so.
SMA Comfort – We have always used SMA, there is no reason why we chose this particular brand but this is the one we went for. And it has always been fine for Charlie, we buy the comfort version because it seemed to be easier on his tummy when he was first born and we have always stuck with it. All babies are different and may be better on other brands and types of formula.
SMA Travel Bottles – Most brands do travel bottles/cartons of their milk. It’s already made up and can be used at room temperature or warmed up. I don’t buy these now that Charlie is weaned on to solids, but when he was on milk only then I always made sure to have some travel bottles in the nappy bag.
Tommee Tippee thermos – This is basically a thermos as any other, except with a large lid that covers and screws over the entire thermos. When you are ready to use it, you just unscrew the cover, fill it with the hot water from the thermos and put your bottle in the water to warm it up. Restaurants and coffee shops are usually good at providing hot water for you to warm bottles but we found this quite convenient and we like novelty things like this.
Pampers – Always gone with pampers from day 1. We tried Boots own, and some other shop brand ones but we found that Pampers were least likely to leak. But I have heard a lot of people say that they prefer shop brand ones. It’s all trial and error, we’ve had some leaks in Pampers, mostly during the night, but we moved up to plus sizes and that seems to have helped.
In the first few months when I changed Charlie’s nappy I only ever used water and cotton wool pads to clean him, rather than baby wipes. Just because I didn’t want him to have any reactions. Also, a cotton wool pad strategically placed can prevent you getting sprayed if you have a boy 🙂
Muslin Cloths, Bibs, Dribble Bibs
No explanation needed really – muslin cloths protect your clothes from milky burps, sick etc. You can never have enough dribble bibs once your baby gets in to the teething stage!
Baby bath, towels, baby bubble bath, thermometer
We bought a pack from Mothercare that contained a baby bath, sponge, wash it, towel and thermometer.
i stocked up on Johnsons bubble bath – specifically the hand pumps bottles, because it’s much easier to use when you only have one hand free!
We went for a BT Digital Baby Monitor and Pacifier – we decided not to buy a video monitor because I would constantly be watching it! We love the monitor that we have, the sound is very clear, you can control music, a nightlight and a light show from the handset. The handset displays the room temperature, and an alarm sounds to let you know if the room gets too hot or too cold.
Bouncy Chair & Playmat
From 2 months to around 6 months Charlie spent his time either in his bouncy chair or on his playmat. Both were priceless, tummy time was fun on the play mat, and the bouncy chair was great for setting up on the kitchen or the bathroom so that I knew Charlie was safe while I got on with doing other things and he loved to watch. There’s so much choice out there for chairs and mats.
Walker, Jumperoo, Ball Pool
Now that Charlie is older he spends his time whiz zing around our laminate floor in his walker, or bouncing energetically in his jumperoo. I’ve also recently set up his travel cot and filled it with plastic balls – he loves the ball pools at soft play so this is ideal. I usually pop him in the ball poll while I stand folding or hanging up washing.
Non-Bio washing powder & liquid
For a short while recently I just used the normal detergent that I use for our clothes, but I started to notice that Charlie’s skin was developing some dry patches. So I have moved back on to all non-bio products and it has sorted out the skin issue. Plus he smells so gorgeous 🙂
Moses basket, mattress covers, blankets
We used a Moses basket and then a small crib in our room. Make sure you have PLENTY of spare mattress covers and blankets – we practically had to change these very night for the first few weeks.
The BabyCook machine was given to us as a gift for when we started to wean Charlie. It’s been amazing and made it so much easier to batch cook meals. It steams food, defrosts meals, reheats and also blends food.
For recipe and meal ideas I have exclusively used Annabel Karmel’s weaning book – I tend to choose 3 or 4 different meals and make up batches to store in the freezer, the. When I’m ready to use one I defrost it in the BabyCook.
Bowls, spoons, sippy cups – we use bowls with suction bottoms so that we can put these on the high chair tray without them being chucked over the side. Spoons with a chubby handle are great for getting baby to try and feed him/herself. I tried a few sippy cups with Charlie and found that the Philips Avent cup with a silicone teat has been the best – Charlie caught on really quickly with this one and now drinks from it independently no problem.
Freezable pots – choose the size suitable for your stage of weaning, as their appetites grow your pots have to as well.
Calpol – useful for after immunisation shots and when baby is teething.
Gripe Water or Infacol – Charlie suffered with a little bit of wind when he was younger. There are age restrictions on these products, we found Gripe Water to be best.
Teething gel – for those poorly gums.
Baby Vitamins – My health visitor advised that from 4 months old babies should be given Vitamin D supplements. These can be purchased as just Vitamin D drops, but I opted for a full baby vitamin liquid by WellBaby
Recaro Privia – from the research I did when I was pregnant, the Which website found this car seat to be safest. So we opted for this, and we loved it. It uses the IsoFix system to fit in the car and it was just so easy to fit. Charlie grew out of the seat at 8 months old.
Recaro Young Sport Hero – suitable from 9kg, we opted for this car seat because we like the brand, and this particular model can be adjusted as they grown and should last a few years.
Sun blinds for car windows – something we hadn’t thought of until the sun came out!
Mirror – we bought a mirror with toys and pictures on which clipped on to the backseat headrest, so when Charlie was rear facing I could look in my rear view mirror which showed the reflection in Charlie’s mirror – so I could see his face! Great idea 🙂 I got ours from amazon.
Graco Evo XT – this was purchased from Mothercare, it has a pram fitting for newborns, and a pushchair fitting for when they get older. It is easy to fold down and put up, it stores well in the car and is the all terrain version – great for us because we go for walks with the dog. The rain cover and fluent also came with it. Graco also make car seats too which fit on to the frame. Also don’t forget to buy a sun umbrella or sun shield.
A strong resolve and a sense of humour
Finally, an essential for being a parent, is to have a strong resolve. It is the most amazing thing in the world to be a parent, but it really tests your strength – mentally, physically, psychologically. It also can be a real test of a relationship. So many things happen that could either make you break down in the tears, or break down in laughter. I have found that it is important to be realistic about what you can do, nobody can be “perfect”, all that you can do, is do your best. Try not to take yourself too seriously, have fun with your baby, and when things happen that are frustrating (like your baby having a poo when you’ve already been trying to leave the house for the past hour) just smile, laugh, have a sense of humour. Enjoy every minute, good and bad, because the time goes by so fast.
I hope this blog is useful. I’d be interested to read comments from other parents about what their essentials have been 🙂