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Exactly ten years ago, I became a parent.
In real life, our celebrations this week will be focused on Mister, involving Laserquest and chocolate cake. But on the blog, I’ve been reflecting on how my life changed in Autumn 2009 through this mini-series ‘Plus Baby Makes Three’, offering some thoughts to those who are currently making the adjustment to parenthood.
Whether you’re wondering how to make your family life more ethical and sustainable, what should be considered ‘normal’ in the early days, whether it’s actually possible to enjoy the newborn phase or how to connect with God through it all – we’ve got you covered, with some incredible guest posts.
We’re kicking off with Pippa, who is currently on maternity leave from her job at Fusion. Becoming a Mum back in March this year was a hugely life-changing experience for her – as it is for all of us. One of the things she did was keep track of which equipment had been particularly useful, especially where these were surprising or unusual items.
What I love about Pippa’s list is that many of these items may already be things you have around the home, which you hadn’t think would come in so handy with a baby.
(In addition, many of the more specific items can be bought second-hand (the newborn baby product market is HUGE), or even borrowed from a friend whose baby is a bit older than yours. Why not ask around before forking out?)
Over to Pippa!
When I was preparing for the arrival of our first child, I struggled to imagine what parenthood would be like.
In attempting to get ready, I found, to my surprise, that the lists of things to buy were actually helpful in painting a picture of this new life too. I could see behind every item a story as to why it would be useful and, in reading them, I started to connect with what was to come.
Everyone finds different things essential – there is no definitive list – but as I found others’ lists helpful, here’s mine, in the hope that it might help you imagine and prepare for the adventure ahead.
4 Lifesaver Essentials
What Little Skubb Box
How To carry round with you always for the first few weeks – holds paracetamol, nipple cream, phone, snacks, a pen, Infacol…whatever you need.
Why Because it’s the MOST frustrating thing to sit down to feed and realise you’ve left your phone upstairs, or for your paracetamol alarm to go off and realise it’s all the way in the kitchen. You won’t always be quite as mobile with a young baby as you imagine! These skubb boxes are lightweight, neat and don’t get easily knocked over – perfect!
Buy from Ikea
What Drinking bottle with a straw and loop
How For non-spill drinking at least ten times a day. With a loop because it can be carried around on one finger – essential when also balancing a baby and who knows how many other things. With a straw because you can drink from it lying down and its quiet for middle of the night drinking.
Why Sometimes even sitting up can be difficult, especially if you’ve had a C-section. Keeping hydrated is mega important and is the easiest thing to neglect. If you’re breastfeeding you’ll want it right there for when that thirst hits like a teaspoon of salt on the back of your tongue the second the baby latches on!
Buy from Amazon (This is my one, others are available!)
What Nappy caddy
How Keeping your baby change stuff to hand downstairs.
Why Because you’ll not be bothered to go upstairs to the bedroom/nursery ten times a day and so will end up nicking stuff from your changing bag which is then annoying when you’re heading out. Different sections make it easier for other people to restock, and it’s also really satisfying seeing it all neatly stocked!
Buy from Amazon
What Biggest size actual Fairy-brand washing up liquid, and green scourer (own brands just don’t cut it!)
How The best at getting newborn poo out of clothes/washable nappies. Use an old takeaway tub (without lid) for your laundry scourer so you don’t get confused with the one for the dishes!
Why It’s the best. Simple. Really hot water + fairy liquid + a quick scrub and the worst is out, ready for the washing machine. Saved many an outfit!
Buy from any supermarket!
6 Items that Make Parenting Easier
What Old towels
How Put on your changing mat as you’re changing baby to catch surprise wees and poos.
Why These delightful surprises happen all the time and whilst changing mats are good for wiping clean, that same shiny surface means that whatever comes out runs right down your baby’s back and all over them! Stick an old towel down first and it’ll help keep the spillage in the bum area. You can then just shove it in the washing machine and re-use. Some people use muslins for this but I found it too hard to keep track between bum and face muslins and also they were pretty and not as absorbent.
Where to buy Charity shops, ask friends to donate any old/rough ones, or sort out your towels and put aside your old ones.
What Automatic night lights for hallway/baby’s room
How These turn on for a few minutes when you walk past in the dark. Can be set to be on constantly too. We put these in the hallway next to the bathroom and in the baby’s room.
Why It’s helpful to keep things dark to encourage your baby to sleep, but practically you’ll need some light for all those night visits! I put one in the baby’s room which I switched to ‘stay on’ when I took her in there to feed, and I also found it helpful to have one near the bathroom for changing maternity pads in the early few weeks.
Buy from Amazon
What Skubb boxes…everywhere!
How To separate different types of clothes in baby’s drawers, to have under the coffee table to shove anything and everything into if you want to do a quick tidy, to keep your various drugs/vitamins etc in, to chuck too-small clothes into for putting away later…the list is endless.
Why I appreciated having easy, quick ways to sort and tidy stuff. If you’re organised, they’re your dream. If you’re not, they’re great for making you feel like you are!
Buy from Ikea
What Wet bags
How Have them in your changing bag whilst out and about to shove dirty clothes/nappies etc into
Why Most people use nappy sacks but these zip up so I feel more confident that the poo won’t escape! They’re also far better for the environment. Buy a bunch and stick one in your changing bag, one under the buggy, one at the grandparents’ – wherever you might one day need to bag up some soggy clothing! They’re washable and reusable.
Buy from Amazon
What Spare crib sheets (+ a waterproof undersheet!)
How Keep a spare crib sheet ready to go next to the crib
Why Because sometimes you have to change the sheets in the middle of the night. Simple but worth noting. I bought 2 sheets thinking that I could use them on rotation – not ideal when we had a night change 2 nights in a row. Would recommend having 3 or 4, just so you know there’s always a spare washed and dry!
Buy from Amazon (but easy to source second-hand too – check Facebook Marketplace and local selling sites)
What Endless muslins!
How Stick a couple in every room of the house. No joke.
Why For sick, for drool, for the drink you just spilt on yourself… there are so many reasons. People told me I’d need lots and I thought ‘surely not’. Surely yes.
Buy from Amazon – get more than you think you’ll need!
Our 11 Favourite Products
What Nice Hand cream
How Use on your dry, dry hands
Why Because you will wash your hands ten times a day after nappy changes, plus countless other times! This was a gift lots of people bought me and I thought I’d never use…three months in, I was constantly searching for one! The nice smell also provides a lovely little moment of feeling special.
Buy from Amazon (there are plenty, but this is Lucy’s fave!)
What Baby Feed Timer app
How Keep track of what you’re feeding baby when, also can track sleep and other things
Why This started as a necessity (we were on a feeding plan to get her feeding well and I needed to record the details) but then I found I just really liked not having to try and remember if/when she’d fed. When it came to putting more regular naps in place (around 4/5 months for us, but this varies from baby to baby), I just recorded them for a few weeks which gave me confidence in knowing roughly what her rhythms were.
Buy from Apple or Google Play Store
What Expressing pots
How To store breast milk
Why Some women who breastfeed are able to also use bottles and may choose to express breastmilk to use in a bottle. We ended up doing this for one feed a day so I express regularly (heads up, it can be lots of work!) – these little pots are perfect and I use a Sharpie to mark them with the date (it washes off easily!).
Buy from Amazon
What Polar bear night light
How Put near the cot when really little. We also used it by our daughter’s changing mat in the night to add some light.
Why It’s really cute and she loved it!
Buy from Amazon (although we got ours from Aldi, so shop around!)
What Soul food for Mums
How A weekly book looking at something going on at that point for you as a Mum and looking at what the Bible says. I found this so helpful in the early days for making me feel seen and known – each topic was so bang on for what I was sub-consciously processing at the time, you can tell it was co-written by a woman as she went through early motherhood!
Why Because when life is so different it helps to have someone say ‘isn’t it a bit like this?’ and be right. Also because I found it really hard to read the Bible at this time and this is a helpful go-to. I read it during long night feeds a little at a time.
Buy from Eden
What Backpack Changing Bag
How For carrying around your nappy change stuff + changes of clothes + your purse, keys etc.
Why To avoid backache from using a one-shoulder one. Also has good pockets! Often more gender neutral if you or your partner are bothered about that.
Buy from Amazon – this is the one we got, although there are lots of brands who do essentially the same thing.
What Cheeky Wipes
How At first we used these for drying baby’s bum after cleaning it with cotton wool and water (the best thing to wash their bum with for the first few weeks). Then we started using them to clean at nappy changes at home and these days we use them out and about.
Why Genuinely so much better than wet wipes at cleaning up poo! Plus much better for the environment than plastic-based wet wipes. Definitely more faff out and about as requires you to have a water source to hand, but I still like them best as they’re so effective.
Buy from Amazon
What Lamaze toy
How For baby to look at.
Why At the start they really don’t need toys. They can’t see very far and are not aware of their own hands and ability to engage with objects. (For the first few months, YOU are your baby’s favourite toy!) However, around 3 months is when our little one started to interact with toys and her first favourite was her Lamaze peacock (we thought it was a butterfly til she was about 5 months!) The patterns on it are really good and its still a popular go-to now at 6 months.
Buy from Amazon
What Baby Bjorn bouncy chair
How To put baby in whilst you’re getting bits done/having a shower
Why It’s nice for them to be able to look around once they become a bit more aware of the world around them.
Buy from Amazon
What Baby gym
How Starts as a clear place to put them, then they look at it, then play with the dangling toys and, in our case, the stripy poles!
Why At first it was completely unnecessary – she couldn’t see beyond her own hand – but then she became fascinated by its stripy poles , then she started hitting the toys, then playing with them…its a great way of seeing their development blossom. Ours was second hand and missing most of the toys – we just tied on other toys with ribbon and she loved it!
Buy from Amazon
Read more in this series: