Coming Home. What do I need?
From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I couldn’t wait to decorate the nursery, but being a little on the superstitious side, I waited until the last trimester. As with many a first timer, people saw me coming!!! I ended up with 4 moses baskets and stands teamed with not only fitted sheets, but top sheets, blankets and cashmere blankets to go on top, just in case! The maternity nurse took one look at them and with a shake of the head, sent 3 out of the 4 packing. I realised quickly that I had no idea what was really needed for a new born. With the second, things were easier and it was far less complicated getting things ready.
This list is personal to me and I’ve included all the things that I found helpful. It won’t be for everyone, as we all have different ways of doing things. Hopefully you’ll find some inspiration from it!
Moses basket. My children slept in their moses basket for the first few months, until they grew out of it. It makes them feel safe and they’re easy to move around from room to room. I placed mine on a rocking stand, which is a personal preference. Many people think they get used to the motion. I only rocked in emergencies.
Cot. There are so many on the market but I like the simplicity of The White Company ones and my son has one by Oeuf, which has a ‘toddler conversion kit’ making it last for years to come. When your baby is ready to go in a cot, make sure they go to sleep facing up with their feet touching the bottom of the cot.
Sheets. I made the mistake of buying every type of sheet under the sun when all one really needs is a few fitted ones. A few to fit the cot and a few to fit the moses basket. The moses basket sheets can also double up for the pram, if you go for one with a flat carrier (see prams). I also put a large muslin, tucked in well where their head rests to save washing and disturbing them, if they posset in their sleep.
Bibs. Plastic backed bibs are very practical, and I’m mad about the Aden and Anais Burp Cloths.
Mobile. Not to be confused with a phone, think old-fashioned merry-go-round above your bed! My children both loved the Tiny Love ones which are bright and garish.
Sleeping bags. These are revolutionary when it comes to sleeping safely and weren’t on the market when I was a baby. Many brands like Bambino Merino make theirs from breathable, natural fibres that regulate body temperature; something babies can’t do by themselves. It also erases the worry of them getting stuck under sheets. JoJo Maman Bebe do great lightweight ones for the summer.
Boulster. Babies love to wriggle and I found this funny little sleeping boulster which kept mine in place. I also think it makes them feel safer.
Snuggle pod. My brother bought me one of these and I thought it was a total gimmick. Boy, was I wrong! You zip them up like a Mummy and hey presto, they feel like they’re back in the womb and sleep for hours.
Swaddles. My husband found the best swaddles quite by accident while in the States. Thankfully they’re so popular now, they sell all over the world. They are by Aden and Anais and in essence, they’re giant cotton muslins. If you’re new to swaddling, they have a wonderful website with a ‘how to swaddle’ page. Very simple to do and again, it makes them feel safe and usually they sleep longer when swaddled.
Moses basket and stand. You can buy old-fashioned moses baskets at almost any baby shop but try to find one with a standard size mattress – easier for sheets. I kept mine in a moses basket for sleeping until they grew out of it at about 3 months old. In the last few weeks, I put the whole basket in the cot for the odd nap to get them used to it. Babies crave routine and familiar surroundings. I had a rocking stand but only gave it a nudge in emergencies when it was the last resort. I hear from friends who over rocked that babies quickly get used to the motion, which was a pain when trying to sleep train. If you have other children, the stand can be quite dangerous, especially the rocking ones!
Night-light. I found a the same night light I had as a little girl at Trotters and both my children love it.
Chair. I had the most ugly rocking nursing chair from Dragons of Walton Street. I had it covered in white linen, big mistake, but the chair was a huge success. Made for breast feeding or snuggling with the little one at night and extremely comfortable.
Side table and lamp. I had a side table and lamp next to my nursing chair and during the time that I breastfed, I always had a stack of muslins and bibs ready and waiting, a book, a huge bottle of water and a few snacks. Breastfeeding is exhausting and uses masses of energy. I found myself feeding every three hours and it was easier to have a little snack and a bottle of water next to me so I didn’t need to move.
Blankets. Any blankets will do but I bought a mixture of cotton, wool, fleece and cashmere depending on the temperature. If they’re not too big, they can double up as pram blankets for when you’re out and about.
Wardrobe. I found a very old French wardrobe that I had re-painted.
Hangers. With my first I wanted gorgeous little linen hangers and collected them from all over the world, but found it was far easier to go with the big packets from John Lewis.
Clothes. For your first child, one is normally showered with little outfits but I filled the wardrobe with the basics and built on that. I bought mainly 0-3 months, not newborn and asked my friends to buy a few newborn sleep suits as that’s what they live in for the first month or so. Victoria Kids do the most adorable and soft ones and have stockists all over the world.
Basics. I bought these from John Lewis. If you make an appointment, someone will walk the floor with you and I found this very helpful. You must go with a list, and try not to be side tracked into buying things that you don’t need.
Sleeveless bodysuits. Your baby can wear these under anything.
Short sleeve vests are useful.
Sleep suits. I always go for the ones with cuffs that turn over to act as mittens. Babies often scratch themselves and I found that mittens always fell off and were a waste of time.
Sock-ons are brilliant. They go on over the socks to stop them falling off and they really work!
Hats. I favoured the plain cotton ones. I found cashmere ones made their heads sweaty but if it’s really cold, a warmer one with a fleece lining is a good idea.
Household soap. My maternity nurse swore by this for stains before popping things in the machine.
Napisan. Another goodie for soaking whites when stained.
Non-Bio washing liquid. Their skin is very delicate and some liquids are too strong.
Wool lite. Great for hand washing.
Gym. Babies need time to themselves and a play mat / gym is a great way to get them used to entertaining themselves. Start by putting them on their back, under a play mat / gym for a few minutes while you wash bottles but never leave them on their own. Mine loved the Fisher Price Rainforest but there are lots of good ones from Baby Einstein and Lamaze. Amazon offers an enormous selection.
Toys and teddies. I found the best selection of toys on Amazon, narrowing the search by age. Almost all of our teddies are by Jelly Cat and are the softest, most cuddly teddies on the market. My son sleeps with their little blue bunny, which is attached to a blanket.
First Aid kit. Always good to have one in the bathroom cabinet.
Thermometer. I swear by the electric one by Braun. It’s so easy to use and most doctors use the same one. They also sell packets of ear buds to keep things clean and infections at bay.
Sponge. They’re so expensive but I love the natural ones and they last much longer.
Nappy bin. I find these a bit of a pain. I have used them for both children but they always smell and I think it’s much better to throw smelly nappies in a bag and then in an outside bin.
Thermometer. I’m a huge fan of the Phillips, Avent Bath and Room Thermometer. It tells you what temperature the bath should be and you should always stick with that!
Mini bath or float. There are many baby baths on the market and they change all the time. I had an old fashioned mini plastic bath from John Lewis and a friend bought me one that floats which was great. They grow so quickly.
Towels. I went for ones with the hood, to keep them warm. My favourite ones come from The Nursery Window on Walton Street.
Top and tail bowl. Every morning I top and tail my children and started this routine on day one. A special bowl helps divide the water so you never make the mistake of washing their bottom and then their face with the same water.
Cotton wool pads / balls or mini muslin squares. I found these little squares at Mothercare, and they were hugely useful. Half are white and half yellow, so again you know which to use for the face and which for the bottom. Good for drying too.
Saline. Most doctors say it’s a waste of time but when my little ones get a cold, I find a drop of saline up the nose works a treat. Things like this I always keep in the bathroom cabinet, along with Karvol and Olbas Oil, and a gentle vapour rub (not to be used for the first three months).
Changing station. The White Company do a great one with shelves below and space on the side for nappies and extra bits. I keep it in the bathroom but never leave my children on them alone. Some babies can roll at a very early age and I have heard horror stories of them rolling off the station.
Things I like to keep on the changing station for ease are:
Nappies. I like Pampers but lots of my friends use and swear by Nature Babycare. I found my son smelled of wee when I tried the eco brands.
Nappy bags. I’ve used almost every nappy bag on the market and think Earth Friendly is the best.
Hand sanitiser. I use this after changing nappies, before putting the new one on.
Oil. I used olive oil from birth and moved on to Bamford Baby Oil at 4 weeks. It smells like bedtime.
Ear buds. Boots do ones called Safety Buds that stops the bud going too far inside the ear. They’re also good for cleaning the belly button which falls off after about 10 days, that area must be kept clean.
Nail clipper. I still hate cutting my children’s nails and they seem to grow like weeds. Best to be done after a bath when they’re soft and even better when they’re asleep. Make sure you have enough light though.
Hairbrush. A soft, baby one.
Stack of clothes. When you’re dealing with a newborn, it’s good to have a stack of clean sleep suits. You go through about five a day and it’s always good to have to hand.
Feeding Station. I set up a feeding station in the play room but this can be anywhere in the house as long as it’s out of reach for little ones and can be kept clean.
Bottles. I used and loved Avent bottles with my son but I did find that the odd one would leak. My daughter is intolerant to dairy and had a big problem with reflux. My Dr suggested Dr Brown bottles, which are incredibly expensive and fiddly to clean, but easy one you get used to it and I think are the best bottles on the market.
Pump. I hated my breast pump and would suggest you get the latest on the market.
Pots. I found little plastic formula dispensers from Boots which made feeding easier when in a rush or on the go. You can pre-fill the dispenser with the right amount of powder. I also love Tommee Tippee single milk powder dispensers for when you’re on the go and only need a single feed with you.
Kettle. I bought a new one that was just for filling bottles. The kettle must only be boiled once and left to cool and should be kept scale free. I de-scale mine on the first on every month.
Washing up liquid. I like Ecover.
Paper towel. I always use paper towels to dry my hands as hand towels are breading grounds for bugs.
Milton. I love Milton. It can be used to sterilise almost anything. Very good to take on holiday! They also do tablets, which are handy.
Steriliser and tablets. I use the Avent steriliser which is very easy to use and clean. Again, I de-scale with tablets on the first of every month.
Detol wipes. These are great to wipe down surfaces. One can go mad with hygiene but in the first few months, it’s very important.
Monitor. I have tried and tested so many monitors and I still love my BT one with its built-in thermometer, torch and speaker so you can sooth them without being in the same room when they’re older. I also like the video monitors! I think it also depends on the house and thickness of walls for distance. There are new apps coming out all the time with built-in monitors which are worth a look.
iPod doc. From a very early age I played music for my children during sleep, and still do. A friend of mine told me to down load Bed Time Beats which has the same rhythm as a human heart beat. It usually takes half a song, and they’re out for the count!
Nappy bag. My sister-in-law has a company called Pink Lining producing the best nappy bags in the business. She has three children and knows what people really want.
Pram. This is something I’ve looked into with serious care. I started with the ‘cool’ Bugaboo Cameleon that has a flat baby carrier, which is good for their backs. A few months later I found out that I was pregnant again, and would therefore need a double pram. My husband bought me the Bugaboo Donkey, which is my guilty pleasure. It’s so easy to use and can be made smaller with a few clicks if you’re only out with one. In the place of the other chair you have a little shopping basket, which sounds absurd but is very useful. It’s impossible to collapse so I leave mine by the door ready to go. The Bugaboos have great fleecy foot muffs in a range of colours for the winter months and I like to use the cup holder, which is an extra. If I ever go out with a single pram, I attach the buggy board for my son to stand on which acts like a skateboard. For travelling I have a Quinny, which is pretty amazing, it folds down to nothing, and is small enough to act as hand luggage. I also have the McLaren X for travelling which I love, because it lies flat and can be used from birth.
Papoose. These are amazing for the first months and my husband loved using it. I swear by the Baby Bjorn for good support.
Car sear. I love Maxi Cosi but there are so many good ones on the market. Make sure you buy a baby head rest to secure them for the first few weeks,
Bouncer. There are so many out there. Mine was very basic and I think if I had my time again, I would opt for an all singing all dancing one from Fisher Price.
High chair. In my opinion, Stokke do the best high chair in the world called Tripp Trapp. Stokke also does a brilliant add-on called the Newborn Set which means the baby can sit up to the table from birth. My daughter grew out of it quickly but loved it and so did I. I’ve also had chairs from Ikea, which have worked well. They also do nifty little inflatable inserts that sit inside the chair to keep the baby in place.
Here is a lift of a few random bits that I found helpful to have at home ready for my return:
Bras. Nursing bras a few sizes bigger. I went in for a fitting a few days before I gave birth and they gave me a rough guide. I love figleaves for their selection and Marks and Spencer. Elle Macpherson also has a great range and are more feminine.
Lanolin. For sore and cracked nipples. Use after every feed and you won’t have a problem.
Pillow. I liked the typical V cushion and the DreamGenii at different stages of pregnancy and after. I also bought a Widgey pillow for breastfeeding, which gave extra support and the baby rests on it comfortably.
Epsom Salts. Great healing properties! Most women get piles and I don’t think any of the ointments or creams work. A wise Dr said to sit on a bag of frozen peas covered with a flannel for five minutes and then hop in a hot bath with a handful of Epsom salts. It can be very sore after giving birth and a friend told me to use a hair dryer instead of a towel, which sounds crazy but was great advice.
Snacks and water. Keep stashes all over the place!