Newborn Baby Essentials | The (Less Obvious) Products I Couldn’t Live Without
Buying the essentials for our first ever baby, we barely knew where to begin. Launching head first into parenting books and baby shopping events, we had expectant parent written all over us. But all these expert advisers with their newborn must buys were just overwhelming and if we’d listened to it all we still would have got it wrong somewhere.
In the end we just went back to basics, thought about what could make life a little easier and learnt along the way. It seems hypocritical to go on and offer my own advice to new parents, as with Reuben just 8 months old we’re still pretty new to the game. But, being four months away from our first year as parents we’ve certainly learnt a thing or two, and funnily, the most valuable lessons didn’t come from those experts.
So what did we find most useful bringing up baby in those newborn months? What saved our skin and made life that little bit easier being new-to-it-all parents? Aside from some of the more obvious such as a changing mat, nappies and a pram, these are the products I never expected to prove so invaluable in raising our newborn.
You can never have too many muslins. When we were gifted several muslins after buying a ton of them in Aldi’s baby event I thought we had way too many – we didn’t. In the first several months I was constantly putting them through the wash. Just flimsy squares of cotton, they have a million uses: burping and spit ups, mopping up milk during and after feeds, as a pee shield during nappy changing and giving bottoms a quick dry after cleaning. Just make sure you don’t use the same muslin for both ends of baby!
2.Cotton Wool Pads
I first used cotton wool balls on the recommendation of just about everyone when I went into hospital to have Reuben, but I quickly found it mega frustrating to work with. I ended up trying my cotton wool pads that I buy to apply toner and remove make up; well, these were so much better than balls! You have a flatter, broader surface that cleans up with far better ease and without the fuzzy bits too.
With the filthy baby grows (and yep, those muslins) all covered in milk, poop, sick and who knows what else going in the wash, I liked the peace of mind in using a laundry disinfectant to kill off any nasty bugs when washing at a low temperature. You just pour a couple of caps of the liquid into the fabric conditioner slot. Dettol do a lovely lavender scented disinfectant, but you can buy a cheap 99p equivalent too.
5.Tiny Nail Tools
I learnt something about babies – their nails grow quicker than my own and they’re as sharp as cats’ claws. Reuben always manages to scratch himself (and us) something silly, and those little scratch mitts only worked when he was a baby baby. The tiny nail clippers you get in luxury Christmas crackers are the sort that work best, and a quick file down softens the edges nicely.
The Baby Nails Thumble is great if you’re afraid of using nail scissors or clippers. It’s a clever little device that fits over your thumb or finger tip and helps you to file baby’s nails down with ease. While I do like using clippers, these are good for filing down edges and buffing torn nails.
As a formula feeder this was a lifesaver. In hospital we used the mini UHT formula bottles to feed Reuben but once home we got onto the milk powder and our Tommy Tippee Perfect Prep. While some people thought it was hilarious to think we needed such a gadget, using the machine to make up Reuben’s milk ready did help – after all, my anxiety was an all time high and waiting for milk to cool or warm up could not have been an option for me. The Perfect Prep puts in the right amount of water for each feed, ready to serve at breast milk temperature. Nowadays we use the system that we adopted for feeding on the go which is effectively the way Perfect Prep works – mixing formula with a small amount of boiling water topped up with cooled boiled water.
Blankets always come in handy with a newborn; as long as they’re relatively small, soft and cosy, you’ll find a use for one. As you need to be careful wrapping a baby up in a dozen layers in their car seat, a snuggly blanket is perfect for draping over and tucking in to keep them cosy. For sleeping in a cot or moses basket where baby has the ability to move around, it’s much safer to use cellular blankets – those lightly knitted blankets with holes. Right from newly born Reuben never liked being swaddled or cooped up in a sleeping bag so cellular blankets were perfect for him. Through the winter I’d double up for extra warmth, and always had a few in his pram.
For months Reuben had issues with his nose and struggled with breathing. At birth he had a squished nose and fluid on his lungs, and for quite some time he had narrow nasal passageways that caused problems when the doctors couldn’t fit tubes down his nose in hospital. He was always bunged up and snotty, which for a baby who cannot blow their nose is distressing to experience and watch. You’re limited with what’s safe to use with babies (even then, Reuben had a bad reaction to some Snufflbabe nasal spray) so the only option we had was to manually eliminate the bogies. We tried both kinds – the bulb sucker and the suction tube that you suck on, and the latter was better. It’s the grossest thing you’ll do but so satisfying when you clear a blocked up nostril.
Baby towels with a hood built in are the best towels for wrapping a baby up into. If you’re taking baby out of the bath or just washed their hair, having a cosy hood popped over their head makes being all wet much more bearable. The shape of the towel helps with wrapping them up in it too; the towel worn at an angle means there’s two corners to wrap around baby, and I found it really easy to wrap up even a wriggly Reuben. He’s outgrowing his baby towels now but you can get more toddler sized hooded towels, which is something I’m definitely going to do.
I used to feel that overwhelmed with the amount of nappy changes and the unpredictable pee incidents, I used to go through so many baby grows and vests just at nappy time. Not only do you need to make sure you’ve pulled the clothes up and behind the head to keep them clean, but you have to watch pee pooling up the mat, which was what always got me. In the end I tried using puppy pads (which I use for the house rabbits’ potties) and I’d lay Reuben on one before taking his nappy off. If he peed, he’d pee on the puppy pad and his clothes would be okay. I went through them like hot dinners and they’re not the cheapest thing to use, but in my desperation it worked every time.
Our church is vibrant and loud, something that goes down well with babies when there’s cool lights projecting around the building but not so great when the music is a bit too loud for little ears. Babies’ delicate hearing is best protected and I certainly wanted Reuben’s ears looked after. Reuben’s ear defenders are specially made for babies so were perfect for my brother’s wedding and for when we go to church. They’re light and fit perfectly for his little ears, securing with an adjustable elasticated band around the head so they don’t bother him – and you can’t argue that he doesn’t look so adorably cute!
If you’re shopping for your soon to be born baby, what are you wondering about buying? If you’ve already been there, what products did you find were invaluable when raising your baby? Which product did you not consider when buying for your newborn? I’d love to hear your input in the comment box below.