I got the idea for this post from Lorraine (TheCurrentCustom) who requested I put together a list of essential items I've found the most useful over the past few months. I actually think this is a great idea, especially for expecting/first time moms! I certainly had no idea what I would or wouldn't use/need and both Jonathan and I were very cautious about buying into any hype or fad items because there are SO many out there! So I have broken it down to these few essentials or must-haves that I think would be very helpful to any new mommies in the first five months! (Of course I'm excluding the absolute obvious here...nappies/formula/breast milk, you get the idea!)
First on my list are Water Wipes. These are all we've ever used on Emilia's cute little bum other than cotton pads and water (in the first days of her life) but you can use these from newborn. They are made from 99.9% water and 0.1% fruit extract, all natural, preservative/chemical free and I firmly believe that it is because of them that Emilia has never had a bad nappy rash. I would say she has only ever had a tiny hint of redness about three times since she was born and it has always gone away very quickly. So these are amazing! If you live in Ireland you can get them at Tesco...otherwise they're also available online.
Her Graco Lovin Hug Hedgerow Swing is one of the more expensive items we've bought but it was worth every penny! Although I think Emilia is just coming up to the time where she's almost growing out of it, this was an absolute life-saver these past few months! It puts her right to sleep, plays music and white noise, has six different speed settings and she loves it. I would recommend this to any parent! It's the best problem-solver/baby-sitter for all those times when you just need to put your baby down for a minute while you get stuff done, answer the door/pick up the phone/do housework and you know he/she is safe and content. Definitely a must-have! (FYI: The front base part of our swing is actually on wrong...Jofus fixed it this way and then realised it wasn't on correctly and just left it like that, ha ha ha!)
Emilia's baby bath-tub is another thing we use everyday and she has still not grown out of it. It's so much more convenient than filling up the whole tub...plus it's quite easy to use. Initially I was kind of kicking myself that we didn't get one of those sponge "moulds" for the baby but apparently they're not so great because they grow out of them very fast. Now she's almost at the stage where she wants to sit up and it still works perfect! I got this in Mothercare.
This was actually recommended to us by our accountant! I remember him saying "You guys will get SO much unsolicited advice and people will tell you that you need this, that and the other. But the one thing that was recommended to us that actually ended up being a godsend is this." It's the AngelCare Baby Monitor which comes with a sensor pad that goes underneath the mattress in the crib/bassinet. This monitors your baby's heartbeat and basically lets you know at all times that he/she is alive and breathing! It sounds extreme but it really does give you peace of mind. I absolutely love this because as a new parent you worry CONSTANTLY and this just helps manage that worry...ha ha ha!
This is just a picture of our carseat which is an obvious necessity for a baby but what I love about ours is that it slots into our stroller as well as our isofix base in the car. I definitely recommend the isofix for easy access...you don't have to fiddle around with straps or seatbelts and it is so simple to click into place. If you can manage to get a stroller that works with your carseat I think this will save you a lot of work too! Emilia always falls asleep in the car and it's so easy to just lift out and then click into the stroller without waking her, plus then you have a very lightweight, easy to use stroller that isn't bulky or heavy to get around with. She's just about to grow out of this now which I'm really sad about because it was so convenient! :( The stroller we have is the Baby Elegance Beep Twist in purple.
A product that we've had for a while but is proving most useful lately is the Armsreach Co-Sleeper which is basically a little bassinet or travel cot which you can attach onto your own bed with one side down so that it's like a little "side-bed" for your baby. We've just started putting Emilia to bed here and I find it's a great transition piece for eventually getting her used to sleeping in the crib in her own room. I love that you can easily see your baby and he/she can see you, you can reach in and comfort her and it's almost as if she's in bed with you yet you have more room/freedom! It's definitely not as pretty as a bassinet but it's very functional! I got this from JellyBean but I'm not sure if they stock them anymore.
Before Emilia was born Jonathan and I went back and forth for the longest time trying to decide whether or not we needed a changing table. While I'm really glad we opted not to get one (because of our nifty little built-in furniture unit at our new house!) I do recommend a changing mat. You can disinfect these so easily, you need one for a changing table anyway but you can use it anywhere. It's most useful if you are on a budget or simply don't want to fork out for a changing table. We were very lucky with how our house already had this built-in counter and drawers underneath to stock all her nappies, toiletries, etc. but even without it you could use the mat on the floor, the bed or any table! We got this mat from JellyBean also!
I'm not sure if this is really a "must-have" but when I think of items I use everyday Emilia's pink fuzzy blankets definitely come to mind. Hers happen to be pink and cupcake themed but it's the warm fuzziness that appeals to me the most! At the moment it's very cold in Ireland so I like to always put a blanket around her legs whether she's in her swing, nursing or on her playmat. I am rarely without one of these and alternate between two.
When thinking about Emilia's favourite toys, her Bright Starts Links stood out the most. She also likes her Lamaze Princess but if I had to pick just one, the links win! These can be taken anywhere, hooked to almost anything (stroller, carseat, playmat, entertainment centre) and they keep her entertained for ages. She loves the feel of them in her hands, putting them in her mouth, the colours and this is the first toy I grab to put in my changing bag if we're running out the door.
Musical toys are also a must-have, especially in the earlier months when Emilia hated getting her nappy changed. We would wind up or play one of these and she would settle right down. Anything like a music box, mobile or wind-up toy will do. As well as that, white noise is amazing for getting babies to sleep! If you want to buy a white noise machine that might help but I've found that even just vacuuming or blow-drying my hair will put her to sleep almost instantly! You can also get white noise apps on your phone but obviously I wouldn't leave that too close to your baby for long periods of time!
If you are breastfeeding, Boob nursing tops are wonderful for nursing in public. They are pretty expensive but in my opinion they are worth it!! I have two long sleeve ones (black and blue), four tank tops (black, pink, turquoise and purple) and a hoody.
In terms of clothing/basics I would suggest many of the following:
Another thing that I recommend are those baby towels with a hood on one corner. So convenient and easy to use - I would say you need about two high-quality ones and then just alternate them!
That is all I can think of right now that are definite must-haves or essentials for the first five months. I will make an updated post like this in another few months' time! Let me know what you think of posts like this and if you have any recommendations you would like to add, feel free to do so! I also think it's important to remember that all parents are different and every baby is different too! So what works for me may not work for you but at least we can all help each other as we figure it all out along the way! I can't believe my next mommy-related post will be Emilia's FIVE month update! Eek!