Anyone starting the journey of becoming a parent for the first time will discover that you suddenly need to buy a ridiculous amount of stuff. Yes, there are the new baby essentials such as a car seat, pushchair and nappies but be prepared for so much more.
In this post, I want to share my top 10 baby essentials post birth, just some of the things I found most useful after having my daughter. Alcohol, coffee and cake have not been included but deserve a mention as they have all saved my sanity on countless occasions too.
Breastfeeding and establishing a good latch is such a painful and awkward experience which no one warns you about until your new-born is thrust onto your breast shortly after delivery. I remember being in the hospital feeling deliriously tired after a gruelling 48-hour labour with a screaming hungry baby and feeling completely terrified of breastfeeding. My daughter was desperate to feed and because we couldn’t get it to work properly she developed an angry friction rash all around her mouth and chin. Lanolin cream was a life saver for both of us. It protected what was left of my shattered nipples, quickly cleared up her rash plus it was safe to use whilst feeding.
Electric Breast Pump
If you do decide to stick it out at breastfeeding then there will be times when you need to get your life back for a few hours, invest in a good breast pump, and honestly, the only way to go is electric. It will save so much time and effort compared to manually doing it yourself. Banish those thoughts of being a dairy cow for a few moments and just plug in, get comfy and start pumping.
As we introduced bottles to our baby it meant we had to get a steriliser. There are a lot of models out there, but we simply wanted to find one that did the job quickly, safely and was free of any chemicals or fragrance. A microwave steriliser was the best option as you just fill up with your bottle bits, add some water, pop in your microwave for a couple of minutes and voila job done. Another bonus, it was pretty cheap too.
A baby monitor was another important purchase for us as we wanted that peace of mind. We were nervous first-time parents who needed that extra reassurance when our daughter was upstairs napping in her Moses basket but also as she got older and moved into her nursery.
Lots of my mummy friends chose video monitors which seem to be very popular, but we just went for a basic audio monitor which played nursery rhymes and had a skylight projection feature (although I think these features rather excited than soothed our daughter before bedtime). This piece of kit has been reliable, hardwearing and has travelled well so gets all-round thumbs up from me.
When she moved into her own room we did splash out on a sound and movement monitor. This type of monitor is designed to detect your baby moving (even their breathing when they are sleeping) and will alert you if no movement has been felt for 20 seconds. To be honest we only used this until she started rolling off the sensor mat as it would trigger the alarm and send us crashing out of bed in a blind panic to check she was still breathing in the middle of the night. Not for the faint-hearted!
Our monitor choices were the BT Digital Baby Monitor and Angelcare Sound and Movement Monitor. *Our version has since been replaced by the BT Digital Audio Baby Monitor 450 Lightshow seen above.
Your baby is going to get poorly from bugs or teething, so it is important to monitor them closely as they can deteriorate faster than older children and adults. I remember reading that babies can catch as many as 8-12 colds in their first year alone! Hand in hand with runny noses, coughs and occasional rashes will be the dreaded high temperature so a good thermometer was on our essential list. We chose a digital ear thermometer for its accuracy and ease of use (can even be used on a sleeping baby!). It does require replacement caps for hygiene reasons, but this is a small price to pay for knowing you can quickly establish how poorly your baby is and if you need to seek further professional advice.
The Braun Thermoscan 5 has been a true essential for our baby. *Our version has since been replaced by the Braun Thermoscan 7.
Get one if you can, it is, in my opinion, an absolute essential. When they are very small it isn’t such an issue as they sleep anywhere but as soon as they get bigger and napping schedules start to dominate your life then a blackout blind will be your new best friend. They also help when the clocks go forward in the summer and you are trying to wrestle a toddler into bed who can’t understand why the sun is still up. We got ours especially fitted but blackout curtains can be just as effective. There are also some good travel blackout blind options available which are affordable and can be used for holidays or when staying away overnight.
Home cooking will become the norm once you are on maternity leave. It is so important to eat well when you are a new mum, especially if you are breastfeeding, to help cope with the never-ending requirements of your little one. It is very easy to go down the route of ready-made meals and takeaways when you feel so exhausted and time-strapped. A slow cooker became my favourite kitchen appliance in those early days and it meant I had no excuse not to get a nutritious meal on the go for the evening or batch cook for the week ahead.
Our daughter wasn’t officially our ‘first born’, a lively cocker spaniel puppy joined our little family 9 months earlier (I found out I was pregnant the first week he arrived, truly impeccable timing!). Taking a puppy on a lead with a buggy out on a walk was stressful when I was on my own so using a sling was a no-brainer. Not all babies will get on with slings – we were lucky (or she had no choice but to get on with it) but our daughter liked being close to me and when she was older loved facing out on our walks.
There is no denying that these inflatable rings look like a beach holiday accessory but what a brilliant product. When our daughter was old enough to start sitting up on her own I would put her into her playnest which she absolutely loved as it was brightly coloured with different sensory activities to keep her entertained and allowed me to get a few bits done at home with peace of mind she wouldn’t fall backwards and hurt herself. The playnest can also be used from birth and is easy to wash.
In those very early days when going into town with a new baby seemed too much of a daunting task, I would often turn to Amazon which was a godsend for buying nappies in bulk or finding last-minute birthday presents (forward planning and baby brain were not a good mix). We also found the reviews genuinely helpful when researching baby products. And what is not to love about free next day delivery with Amazon Prime.
Disclaimer – This is not a paid or commercial placement. All products listed above have been purchased, used and recommended by the author. Some links may be affiliated to support our editorial team.