The Happy Baby Project

A happy baby needs a happy mum


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The Material Mum – the stuff I ACTUALLY needed for my newborn (0-2 months)

I wrote about what I had bought for my baby when I was pregnant, but then I didn’t really know what he’d use. So this post is for the pregnant mummies who might be tempted to clear the aisles at Mothercare before baby is born, or drag poor partner round John Lewis on a weekly basis, buying each and every product they’ve read or heard about. Here’s the list of what I’ve actually used, and what was a waste of time. Remember he’s only 9 weeks so other things may be useful in due course, but this will keep you going in the first few weeks:

Clothes

I am amazed at how quickly he’s grown out of his clothes, some of which he’s only worn once before they were resigned to an ever-growing “too small” bag (for which, these oversize storage bags are really useful – also good for storing your preggie clothes when you want to start using your old wardrobe again).

To put this in context – by 3 weeks, he had grown out of all newborn and 1 month clothes and was wearing 0-3 month clothes. Now, at 9 weeks, he’s wearing 3-6 month clothes and almost growing out of those already.

Sooo I would say spend as little as you can on baby clothes for the first few months. Friends and family will buy you lots and apart from a few new essentials, I found the eBay baby bundles brilliant – you can buy a batch of clothes for under a tenner, containing tons of trousers, sleepsuits, bibs, vests, socks etc which have hardly been worn. Just look for good quality brands and check the photos that they are in good condition. For example, I got 6 Next sleepsuits for around £2.50.

What you need is:

  1. 1 or 2 cute little outfits to get them home from hospital & to show them off to visitors (any more is a waste of money as unlikely to be worn much)
  2. From September – April you’ll need 1 pramsuit when they are outside
  3. 1 or 2 pure cotton clothes sets containing matching hat, socks, vest, sleepsuit, bib, cardigan etc – try going for the “up to 1 month” range to fit them from newborn onwards as newborn clothes lasted about a week for us! – I found M&S starter sets great for this
  4. 1 or 2 cardigans – remember they get really cold to begin with and also great to shove on when you take them out in the pram
  5. 1 or 2 hats and mittens for going out
  6. 5 pairs socks
  7. 5-10 plain vests & sleepsuits to live in for the first few weeks (to be added to by pressies of clothes – honestly you will get loads)
  8. Some Vanish spray to tackle those lovely mustard yellow poo stains that inevitably end up on your brand new sleepsuit (and vest, and socks…)
  9. Tons of muslins – at least 10

Sleeping

We found blankets are actually great pressies to receive as you use them all the time – to wrap up shivery newborns, to transport in prams and car seats, and to wrap up tight in the moses basket. Our baby boy loved being swaddled, and I found the Swaddle Me bags the easiest way to do this as the Velcro means you can tie them up tight. We then put a blanket on top – I love the rainbow blanket from Jojo Maman bebe or try Kath Kidson, or get some cellular blankets as they let the air out and don’t let baby overheat (I think Mothercare does better ones than John Lewis).

Otherwise, I bought a few sleeping bags for when he grows out of the swaddle – Grobags are obviously great (again I managed to find a nearly new one on eBay for around £3!), and M&S and Jojo Maman bebe do some nice ones from birth.

So, once you have a swaddle bag & sleeping bag, you don’t need much else. Our baby boy managed to sleep well in his moses basket (although some mums swear by the NCT-rented bed nests) – which we put in the cot, so you just need a couple of fitted sheets and that’s it, and maybe a flat sheet in case it’s too warm for a blanket.

Bathing

Most mums said they didn’t think they were worth it, but I like our top & tail bowl as its easy to carry water to the nursery, and to hold cotton wool and body lotion, to top and tail him every morning. Otherwise, all you need is a baby bath and bath thermometers are helpful to check quickly the water is the right temperature, and we put in some Johnsons bedtime baby bath for bubbles and to wash him.

For towels, I find the Cuddle dry apron towels the best as you don’t get soaked when carrying squirmy wet baby out the bath for a cuddle.

I know newborn skin is delicate so you don’t need to use products, but I do love the Waitrose baby body lotion for him, and the baby bottom butter has been amazing for my post-baby skin. Yes, really.

Feeding

It was actually quite useful to have some formula / express feed stuff in place as poor baby boy got dehydrated in the second week and we had to express and formula feed to top him up from breastfeeding. We had all this stuff in the house (mostly borrowed) so it didn’t mean a late night pharmacy trips like some mums have to do.

A little note on breastfeed “covers”. I personally didn’t find them helpful. I bought the Mamascarf but it didn’t work that well and I ended up selling it on eBay. I also realized whenever I see someone wearing an apron / cover for breastfeeding it actually makes me look more as I reckon they stand out. So, I think all you need is a bit of confidence and a nice pashmina to cover up your boob. What  I used is:

  1. A box of Aptamil in case you can’t feed or need to do top ups.
  2. A steriliser (we have the Tommee Tippee one but many have better reviews)
  3. Some bottles (again we have Tommee Tippee ones but lots out there – and Dr Brown is good for colic apparently)
  4. A padded bottle bag so you can take formula or expressed milk out with you if you aren’t quite ready to breastfeed in public
  5. A pump – hand pumps are great for quietly expressing while watching telly at night (I got a Mam one free when I subscribed to Mother & Baby magazine), but I love the Medela mini-electric pump which works in about 10 minutes
  6. A bottle brush & small washing bowl for washing bottles and pumps (I’m not precious about hygiene, far from it, but nicer to keep them separate from last night’s curry pan)
  7. Breastmilk freezer storage bags for when you have rock hard boobs and want to save that milk for a night oot

Medical / pharmacy stuff

  1. Obviously nappies, lots of (we used Pampers newborn)
  2. We used wet wipes from the start as cotton wool & water was a faff – the H20 water wipes are really sensitive and baby boy only had nappy rash once in 9 weeks
  3. Johnsons bedtime baby bath & Waitrose baby body lotion
  4. Nasal aspirator to suck bogeys out his nose when he gets a bit snuffly (amazingly satisfying)
  5. Baby nail clippers (amazing how much his nails grow)
  6. Dummies (great for when they just want to suck, better than on you…)
  7. Infacol for wind / colic and sudacrem for nappy rash and mummy’s dry skin

Travel

My pram (second hand Bugaboo Bee) is now adorned with a million accessories, but some are really useful. The cup holder is great for always having bottled water as I’m continually thirsty. I use the rain cover in bad weather and the parasol to keep him out of the sun and as a shade when we’re in the park. The Snooze Shade is good for keeping him asleep although he doesn’t need it too much if we’re moving.

I also bought a lock for the pram as you often have to leave it in health / GP clinics and I’ve heard they can get nicked. The bag hooks I bought are also great for carrying shopping when I’m out.

Slings are great for strapping them to you when they won’t stop crying and just need some cuddles, but you’re also starving and need to make some lunch. Try before you buy is my advice as I didn’t like the Babasling and Close slings I bought as they were too complicated and he didn’t sit right in them. The Babybjorn is excellent (buy second hand if you can) but it isn’t great for my back and I’d like to find a sling where I can carry him on my back when he’s older so I’m going to shop around for another one once he’s bigger.

Toys and entertainment

Don’t bother buying much as even at 9 weeks, he is more interested in ceilings than toys. Plus you’ll get loads as pressies which I can’t wait for him to play with.

We are finding now that mobiles and anything dangly are coming into their own, and play matts are perfect for them having a kick around and for dropping NCT babies on when they come round for tea. When he was really little, the Mamas & Papas playmat and gym with raised sides (try to borrow one as its so expensive) was perfect from birth as it was nice and enclosed and non-scary (the baby gym we have was too open when he was newborn but he loves it now). Now, a play gym is great for letting him have a kick around while mummy can get breakfast, daddy can watch the cricket and he tires himself out. I also bought this By Carla changing matt with activity arc (£12.95 with Bounty offers) which he is obsessed with and can keep him occupied for hours.

Summer hols / swimming

We’re going on holiday in a month or so – hurrah – and I’d actually love some advice from mums on what I need. I’ve already bought some swim nappies on advice from a friend who put hers in normal nappies and watched them fill up with water and sink like a stone! I wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. We got gorgeous swimming trunks as pressies and I bought a wetsuit and hat to protect him from UV rays. I’ve also bought him a second hand Zoggs swim seat which looks very cute and I love the look of the Jojo Maman Bebe towelling ponchos.

I’m also thinking of getting him a sun tent as mummy & daddy plan to spend a lot of time reading books on the beach – are they worth it? And also a sun shade for the car window as we’ll be driving through France during the day.


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On Nesting

11 weeks to go before baby no 1 makes an appearance and I’m feeling pretty good. My skin is still dreadful but I’ve shaken off the vanity that has pervaded me for much of my 20s and 30s and accepted that I am likely to look a little rough until several months after the birth. The huge bump intrigues me and makes me happy. I’m excited and energetic.

But, let’s face it, I’m MANIC.

I realise all-knowing mothers will be shaking their heads thinking don’t sweat the small stuff, or wait til you get to number 2 and you’ll be dressing them in a second –hand bin bag, but this nesting instinct is pretty powerful.

Since New Year, I’ve felt I’m on the home stretch, and The Nesting is all-consuming. It’s a sickness that invades my sleep and manifests itself in lengthy to-do-lists, stressed out moans to the other ‘arf who is trying desperately to understand Mental Wife, and all sorts of phone and diary reminders. I feel like I still need so much Stuff, have so many books to read to work out what to do with all the Stuff, and there’s so little time left!

Since New Year:

  1. A new package from frantic online shopping has arrived almost every day, much to the bemusement of The Chef.
  2. I have bought eclectic objects for the house that seemed Very Important at the time. Like a tie rack and a spice rack. The Chef has since pointed out he never wears a tie and we never use spices. And it continues. I want new cushion covers! I want to move furniture around! I need new house plants!
  3. I keep booking up time to meet up with friends, as if post-March I am disappearing off the face of the planet.
  4. I am obsessed with doing all the odd jobs in the house that need doing before baby arrives. Damp-proofing, carpet-mending, dusting, gardening. Sitting down and relaxing (which I am advised to do more of) is a becoming a rare event.
  5. I am training myself to become a domestic maternal goddess. I bought cake tins! I cooked my first pie! And sticky toffee pudding!
  6. I am noting down every mummy recommendation and acting on it. My baby will be swaddled, carried in 2 types of baby sling, with white noise and coloured lights. At this rate, I will be fanning the little tyke with peacock feathers while recreating the birthing noises of a giant whale.
  7. I am finishing off the dream nursery that I have decided we must have. We have cot and chest of drawers and shelf, and now I want a glider chair and some stickers and the moon on a stick. For a baby who will be unable to focus on much for the first few weeks. But STILL.
  8. To add to our growing nursery, I am buying “essential” baby gear. Like a sheep that plays wave music, toy boxes for an unborn child who will be unable to pick up toys for several weeks, and a cow-patterned baby towel.
  9. I have a spreadsheet, a SPREADSHEET, of all the baby stuff we still need and booking up every remaining weekend from now until D Day with shopping trips for me and The Poor Chef.
  10. I am obsessively budgeting, saving, then spending my savings on Stuff. Then crying over lack of savings. Then buying more Stuff.

HELP!