There are a million and one guides for newborn baby must haves on the internet. I'm by no means a baby expert but I wanted to pull together some of the things which worked for us. I also think you should bin the pull out guides you get in baby catalogues which advise you to buy a ton of stuff most of which I'm sure you will never use. 'Baby stuff' is a realm of consumerism which plays on the excitement and uncertainty of being a new parent and they will flog you absolutely anything at a time when most people are looking to spend less, not more.
We aimed to buy sensibly and only what we would actually use. We bought the best quality we could and were lucky to have generous family and friends who kitted us out too. Of course having a baby is such a special time and buying things for your little one is exciting but no one should feel obliged to buy stuff which seems ridiculous and uneccessary. If it seems ridiculous, it probably is.
We bought a fairly traditional Emmaljunga travel system. We went with it because it seemed really sturdy, the bassinet was a great size, the wheels were small enough to fit in the boot of our little car. The car seat also fitted onto the wheels with the help of an adapter which was very handy. Baxter will definitely use the bassinet and car seat so from that point of view it's been good value. Also the seat unit and car seat have 5 point harnesses, rather than 3 point which was important to me. The seat unit I never felt was very comfortable, the kids were too small in it to be comfortable until they were about a year old and when the seat unit was on there was no way to access the basket - very annoying. They are also made in Sweden and not China like almost all other prams if that matters to you. I would buy this brand again but not this model. Try and think long term with prams/travel systems, what will your needs be at the next stage/next baby?
We bought a Baby Bjorn when Brodie was tiny. I hated it instantly - big boob problems - but Greig far prefers it and enjoys carrying babes in it. Bjorn carriers get some bad press because some feel they don't have babies in the best position but our babes were never in it very long, only at weekends, seemed comfortable and it was comfortable for Greig so it worked for us. If you are concerned there are about 8 billion other carrier options.
I also have a stretchy wrap, a ring sling and this BECO. Love them all for different reasons and different stages. It's a truism that sometimes it's just easier to carry a small baby than try and negotiate a pram through a crowd or rough terrain. It's also really pleasant to carry your baby providing the carrier you use is comfortable for you both. There is lots of information out there so do your research but I would buy them all again.
Baby baths are one of those things that make me scratch my head. Unless you don't have a big person bath I really wouldn't bother. Just something else to find a storage spot for. We did use one of these supports when B was tiny and used it for G and will use it for Baxter. For bigger babies, especially with splashy siblings this was good. I love Ramen sponges, you know my thoughts on baby toiletries and I found a hooded baby towel handy and lets face it, CUTE! Bath water thermometers seem ridiculous to me unless you have some sort of nerve damage which means you don't recognise scalding water. A top and tail bowl is handy for changing the early nappies with water and cotton wool and newborns really don't need a proper bath very often - honest!
Both of my eldest littles have been exclusively breastfed. They both were happy to drink breastmilk from bottles from about 3-4 weeks. I have no idea what witchcraft made this possible because I know lots of people struggle to get babies to take bottles. I think Greig consistenly fed them at least one feed a week which helped and I never tried to feed them from a bottle. I was kindly given some John Lewish vouchers which I used to buy this breast pump which I think is fab. I had two manual pumps which both snapped before getting this - see buy the best you can afford - and even though I didn't have to pump very often an electric pump was a lovely luxury to have. When Grier was born I replaced the tubing and valve parts and will do again this time. Brodie always used Medela bottles and Grier used this Born Free bottle from birth to 13 months with no issues. I'm a glass bottle fan and have these ones to try with Baxter, and they can be drinking bottles for a toddler later on by changing the teat for a spout top.
If you can express and your baby will take a bottle - always handy. For days or nights out and when Brodie was rushed to hospital when Grier was three months old I pointed Granny in the direction of the freezer and knew she wouldn't starve. I used these bags to store milk which were really handy.
I didn't ever leak much breast milk but breast pads are a good idea to have, fabric ones are obviously more sustainable.
My last tip for feeding is one of these Boppy cushions. I didn't have one with Brodie and just used normal bed pillows but this so much more useful. It's quite firm so your newborn won't flop about on it, it fits close to your tummy and helps to get baby in the right position for feeding without straining your back or neck. Grier and Baxter were also comfortable snoozing on it - supervised of course. If you are hoping to breastfeed I can't recommend this highly enough - it has made feeding so much easier for me, I wouldn't be without it - and if breastfeeding doesn't work out for you I imagine it would still be comfortable for you and baby during bottle feeding and can be used as a safe place to rest.
With all of our babes we've used disposable nappies early on.It's just a step too far for me to think about washing nappies on top of everything else. I'm hoping to get Baxter into cloth this weekend - but don't hold me to it - he'll be three weeks old or so so I can live with sending three weeks of disposables to landfill - preserving my sanity is key with a newborn. Cloth nappies deserve a post of their own but we had these for Brodie. The aplix (velcro) was completely done by the time he potty trained at 22 months. We had mostly these and these for Grier which are still in great condition for Baxter.
Even if you don't fancy cloth nappies give a thought to cloth wipes.
Baby clothes and bedding - John Lewis do the best quality longest lasting bedding in my opinion. Don't buy those weird cellular blanket things - they are about 10 times the size of an average baby which really confused me, although they are recommended by midwives. Clothing wise because Brodie had quite extreme eczema from a few weeks I was fussy with clothes, who am I kidding, I'm just fussy with clothes. M and S have seam free stuff which is great and don't dismiss supermarkets for basics. Gap baby socks rock.
Swaddlemes - absolute essential. I read about these somewhere online and the only ones I could track down on ebay were pink and purple. Still Brodie used them for every nap. They seemed to make him feel more secure and settled and I never got to grips with swaddling babies in a normal blanket. It's worth bearing in mind that the Back to Sleep advice advises against tightly wrapped blankets. My kids slept with only a Swaddleme, no other blanket. If you are worried get advice from your midwife or health visitor but for me these were a fantastic buy.
As much as I'm currently snuggling our sweet baby boy as much as possible when you do have to set them down to perhaps pee or something important it's nice to have a simple playmat. We bought one from IKEA for Brodie which is still in use for Baxter, they don't make it any more but here is the updated version.
As your baby gets bigger you will likely find you need more 'stuff'. Or maybe not! If there's anything you feel was absolutely essential please leave a comment and help a new Mama ( or Daddy, or Granny!) out. Or if you think I'm a loon and completely disagree, wade in, I would love to hear your thoughts.