Third trimester –preparing for baby number 2!

I can’t believe how quickly this pregnancy is going and now I’m well into the third trimester I thought I’d share some preparations we’ve been doing for baby number 2 – both practical and emotional 🙂

preparing for baby number 2

Preparing Archie for his new sister

Given his age (currently 20 months), we haven’t really explained to Arch that he’s going to have a baby sister because we feel he’s too young to understand and any mention of it seems to go ignored at the moment! But he has started going to nursery for 2 mornings a week to get him well settled in before she arrives. This is the first time me and him have really spent apart and selfishly it wasn’t something I was too keen on but I think it’s definitely best for the long-term. My attention will obviously be split when the new baby arrives and I want to make sure he gets enough stimulation and social interaction. Plus I’m already finding that I can be more focussed during the time we do spend together so hopefully it will benefit him in both ways.

Practical preparations

The new baby’s nursery is coming together well and although it’s not necessary for it to be fully ready as soon as baby is born (because she will sleep with us for the first few months) it’s something that I want to do so I can feel fully organised. All the furniture is in and it just needs a bit of organising and a few pictures up for it to feel finalised. I’ve also been sorting through all of Archie’s old clothes and seeing what we can reuse or anything new we might need. I’m yet to start the mammoth task that is washing it all though – eek!

Although I plan to try and breastfeed, I’m also getting everything sorted for bottle feeding (new teats and bottles, setting up the Perfect Prep machine and sterilisers) so that we have a Plan B should we need it.

We’ve now bought the adapters for our pram (iCandy Orange) so we just need to work out what combination will work best for it to be converted into a double.

I’ve also read that it’s a good idea to get all toys/ equipment out for the baby 2-3 weeks before our due date so Archie has a chance to familiarise and will no doubt lose interest in them by the time baby arrives.

Childcare during labour

Although we don’t have family who live near us, my parents are about an hour and a half drive away and have kindly offered to stay at ours and look after Archie when the new baby arrives. This is a huge weight off my mind because it’s a potentially unsettling time for Arch but I know with my mum and dad around he will be spoilt with attention and probably won’t even notice we’re gone. My husband commutes daily into London which is about an hour and a half away too so I’m just hoping if I go into labour, I will spot the signs early enough for everyone to get to me in time! Having been induced last time, and because I laboured quickly, this is something that’s playing on my mind a little but I do have some lovely mummy friends locally who could hopefully hold down the fort in the meantime, if it really came to it!

Introducing the siblings

I’ve been giving this quite a lot of thought and although in my head I always pictured a sweet moment of Archie meeting his little sister in hospital, I’m now thinking it’s probably best for Arch not to come into hospital at all. I think it would be really unsettling for him, especially if we have to then say goodbye and I can’t leave with him. So hopefully I won’t have a long stay in hospital and we can bring his sister home to meet him instead. I’ve read up some tips on how best to introduce your second born to your first so I thought I’d share these in case they’re useful:

  • Don’t hold your baby when first introducing– make sure your arms are free to give your first born as many cuddles as they need for reassurance
  • Introduce baby as “your baby sister”
  • Try to make the environment as non-medical as possible so it’s not frightening
  • Ask firstborn if he’d like to stroke or cuddle his new sister but don’t force it
  • Allow and accept any reaction – it’s a big confusing moment for them
  • If you want to document the moment then get someone else to take photos/ videos – you want to be there to support your firstborn as much as possible

Preparing to feel all the mum guilt

Ah this is one which I’m already feeling to be honest with you but I know that it’s just the beginning! I think it’s important to know it’s totally normal to feel like this though and that it just reflects how much you care and love your children. The below are a few areas of guilt that I’m expecting to feel but no doubt the reality will be slightly different:

  • Turning Archie’s world upside down and any negative reaction from him
  • Not being able to devote as much time to the new baby as I did the first time with Archie
  • Breastfeeding guilt – something I experienced quite badly first time round so I’m hoping to be much kinder to myself this time if breastfeeding doesn’t work out
  • Feeling like I’m not doing anything well and we’re just about surviving!

Interestingly that last point is something I felt constantly during Archie’s first year and I found striving purely for survival quite a depressing prospect to be honest. But having lived through it, I know that things do get easier, the good days do get more frequent and parts of your old life (before children) do come back again so I’m hoping that I don’t forget this easily and it can help get me through when everything feels a bit overwhelming.

Expecting chaos!

It’s strange looking back to the first few months of having Archie because I remember feeling like things were chaotic then and a bit all over the place (I’m a typical Virgo in that I love routine so this was tough!).

But this time round, I know there will be plenty more chaos in the house! And I’ll probably rarely feel on top of everything which is a bit daunting but I’m hoping that maintaining Archie’s structure (of sleeping, eating, nursery, classes) will help to give me a bit more of the routine I craved last time.

One thing I’ve heard from speaking to other mums is that it’s easy, particularly in the early days, to let someone else look after your firstborn whilst you get to grips with the new baby. But that actually this can be unsettling for your firstborn so it’s important to give them as much love and attention as you can as a way of reassurance.

I’m also aware that the firstborn can display a few behaviour changes as they deal with the emotions that can come from having a new baby in the house. This could be being more clingy than normal, not wanting affection from their parents, eating regressions, problems sleeping, increased tantrums etc. So I’m preparing myself for this and will try to be as understanding and as empathetic as I can, knowing it’s not personal, but just a time of adjustment for us all.

Self-care

It sounds a bit cliché and self-care seems to be the new buzzword, but one of the main things I’ve learnt since becoming a parent is that to be the best mum I can be, I need to take care of myself and ensure that I’m not always bottom of the priority list! For me, doing some form of physical exercise has always helped with my mental health so I’m hoping I can get back to doing maybe just one quick HIIT workout a week or a short run every now and again. But more importantly just finding a little “me time”, even if it’s just 5 mins of time to myself to clear my head and gain a little perspective – it’s very easy to get caught up in the bubble and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Are there any second-time parents out there who can offer more advice/ reassurance? I would love to hear it 🙂

Bonding with your baby

When I gave birth to Archie, I was lucky enough to feel an instant bond with him. When I first held him, it was like I’d known him for ages and I just felt an overwhelming sense of love and protectiveness towards him. Unfortunately, a few weeks later and (I’m ashamed to say) that I no longer felt like his mummy and the initial bond we had seemed to be fading. 

bonding with your baby

I know I’m one of the lucky ones for feeling an immediate bond with my baby because not everyone does. I think partly it was down to the fact that he was 2 weeks overdue and there were honestly times when I thought I would never even meet him! So I just fell immediately in love with him and I know it sounds strange but I felt like we instantly knew each other and were just meant to be mummy and son.

I’m sad (and embarrassed) to say that over the next few weeks, I really struggled to connect with him and we grew further and further apart. It stemmed mostly from my inability to satisfy his hunger with my own milk (read more about our feeding journey here). He was constantly angry about this (understandably!) and would scream for hours on end unless attached to me. I felt like a complete failure and dreaded every moment I had to be alone with him.

It definitely wasn’t the way I’d read about it in the books or heard about it from other breastfeeding mums. They spoke of the amazing bond they felt with their baby when feeding. For me,  I just never felt this way.

Breastfeeding seemed to just tear us apart. I felt so disconnected from him. It was like I’d been handed someone else’s baby and I just didn’t feel like his mummy anymore.

I looked forward to the times when other people were around and could hold him for me. To give us some physical distance. And he seemed so much happier in other people’s arms which made me feel like such a failure (in hindsight it’s probably because they didn’t smell of milk like I did).

Luckily, introducing formula and (ultimately) bottle feeding helped to bring us closer together. I realised I could do so much more for my baby beyond feeding him. I became better at comforting him and knowing what he wanted. Simply making him smile/ giggle was (and still is) one of my favourite things to do!

It took a good few months to feel like we’d bonded again and it breaks my heart to even admit that we were so disconnected for that long. But I wanted to be honest and share my experience in the hope that it’s of comfort for anyone experiencing similar. And to know that there is hope – it really does get better and I can honestly say it hasn’t affected us in the long term.

Combination feeding

When I was pregnant I was constantly told I had 2 feeding options – breast or bottle. I had no idea that some people do a mixture of both, known as combination feeding. For a short while, this is what I did with Archie and so I thought I’d share my experience on here for anyone unfamiliar with it like I was.

combination feeding

I’ve written in detail about my feeding journey with Archie previously (see post here) but essentially Archie was a very hungry baby and for whatever reason my own milk supply just didn’t seem to satisfy him. So, at about 4 weeks in, we introduced formula.

At first, I intended it to be just at the bedtime feed to slow down the evening cluster feeds. But because of my poor mental state at that time I quickly lost faith in my own milk and I was topping up more and more with formula at every feed.

At one point I was either breastfeeding or bottle feeding at every hour of the day to ensure I was switching from one to the other and keeping Archie satisfied. That was most definitely not sustainable and I wouldn’t recommend it!

At about 10 weeks old, Archie refused to breastfeed and from then on we moved purely to formula. It was an incredibly emotional time for me and in those first few months I felt like I’d failed Archie. His constant hunger translated into hours and hours of screaming a day and this really affected our bond.

Luckily, moving to formula feeding really helped bring us closer and it was no longer a battle – he was finally satisfied when feeding even if he did still feed every couple of hours.

A year later and I’ve learnt that actually combination feeding is very common. In fact most of my breastfeeding friends gave their babies a bottle of formula at bedtime – even if they kept it from the health professionals who wouldn’t approve!

I’m honestly shocked that my health visitor wouldn’t contemplate adding in formula to my situation given the state I was in. But I’ve since learnt that the health professionals will only support breastfeeding – and won’t provide advice on anything else.

Looking back, I do wonder what would have happened if I’d continued with just formula at the bedtime feed to begin with. Perhaps our breastfeeding journey wouldn’t have come to an end so quickly. Maybe not but who knows.

I do know lots of mums though who said combination feeding worked well for them. Some gave their babies formula at the bedtime feeds and also whenever they needed someone else to take over. I’m not sure every baby would be this amenable but it’s worth knowing that for some it really can be that flexible!

So if I’m lucky enough to have a next time, I’ll definitely consider combination feeding as another option if breastfeeding isn’t working out for me. And if not, having seen how much Archie thrived on formula, I won’t beat myself up about it if that is the way we need to go again.

What are your thoughts on combination feeding? Is it something you did as well?

 

NCT Antenatal course – Is it worth it?

A couple of weeks ago one of my pregnant friends asked me about my experience of my NCT antenatal course and whether it was worth the time/ money. So I thought I’d share my experience on here too for anyone thinking about signing up.

pregnant antenatal

Please note all views are my own and are not endorsed by NCT or anyone else. 

NCT Antenatal courses

For anyone not familiar, NCT stands for National Childbirth Trust and they are a UK charity set up to support parents in their first 1000 days through a number of resources – one of which are their antenatal courses. NHS antenatal courses vary considerably by region so lots of parents-to-be choose a private course like the NCT ones.

There are a number of different courses to pick from but we opted for the NCT Signature course consisting of 2.5 workshop days over 2 weekends. The cost will vary depending on where you are but for us it cost £200 which is quite expensive so I did debate whether it would be worth it. However, I didn’t know anyone locally in our area and I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet 7 other mums with babies due at a similar time. We attended the course about 2 months before my due date and partners were encouraged to join.

The 2 full days focussed on labour/ the first few weeks of parenthood and the 0.5 day focussed on breastfeeding. Following the course, the instructor helped facilitate a reunion at which we all met up at a future date post our babies being born.

So, would I recommend it?

In terms of the content, I’d say it was too focussed on labour/ birth. It covered a lot of detail about the various scenarios you may be faced with which was useful for background but I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed and scared afterwards! And when the time came the reality was very different to the ‘textbook’. Plus there wasn’t really enough information about what to do after you brought your baby home – I definitely could have done with a few more pointers!!

The fact that they can only cover breastfeeding (and not bottle feeding) was something I didn’t even question at the time but is now something I find really disappointing. A bit of background on how to sterilise, the different bottles/ teats, how much to feed, how often etc. would have been really useful.

However, in terms of meeting my initial goal, of meeting other mums locally with similarly aged babies, it really was a godsend for me in those early days. For the first couple of months we regularly messaged on our WhatsApp group and it was so reassuring to hear others asking the same questions/ sharing the same struggles. Even during the night feeds there was usually someone there at the end of the phone which was such a comfort.

The reunion was a really nice touch and it was so lovely to get together as a group again. Sadly we haven’t all met again since and there are only a couple of mummies who I regularly see/ keep in touch with but they have become really good friends so I don’t think that’s bad going to be honest. So all in all I am so glad I did it and I would recommend it if you’re looking to meet other mummies in your area.

If it’s too late for you to join an antenatal course and you’re looking for ways to find new mummy friends then please don’t panic! I’ve made some of my closest friends outside NCT through various different baby classes. I’ll cover off baby classes in a separate post for anyone interested but in the very early days (first 8 weeks) you’re unlikely to feel up to committing to a class. So here are a few ideas for meeting new mums in your area:

  • Health centres – your local health centre will run coffee mornings/ weigh-in sessions so ask your health visitor for more details
  • NCT Bumps and Babies (check your region) – weekly informal get-togethers for new mummies
  • Local village halls/ churches – often there is a weekly coffee morning held in these so if you have one near you it might be worth a look
  • Garden centres – there are lots of baby/ child friendly activities held at garden centres such as story/ music sessions so worth checking out your local one
  • Library – similar to the garden centre, usually there is a weekly story/ music time so worth checking out on your local council website

I really hope this is useful for anyone considering an NCT antenatal course and I’d love to know how you get on.

 

Tips for surviving the fourth trimester

I’ve mentioned before about my struggle with the fourth trimester and whilst I believe nothing can prepare you (and everyone’s experience is so different) I do look back and wish I’d done a few things differently. So, as always, I thought I’d share in case it’s useful for anyone else.

foruth trimester

I always knew the fourth trimester would be difficult and it’s one of the reasons I was so anxious in the latter part of pregnancy. But nothing prepared me for the physical and emotional strain it had on me when the time came.

As well as my struggles with breastfeeding (see post here), I was overwhelmed by the feeling of not knowing what I was doing and not feeling in control of what was happening. My life was being dictated by a tiny little human (!) and I felt lost without any structure to my day/night. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a bit of a control freak and I love routine so this was really hard to deal with. Not to mention the ridiculous number of hormones circulating in my body and a body which was still recovering from a pretty intense labour.

I felt like I was just about coping until my husband went back to work 10 days after Archie was born. Suddenly I felt solely responsible for keeping our precious baby alive and well and it all got a bit too much. Looking back there are definitely a few things I could have done to help ease the pressure:

  • Accept that it’s just a phase and it will get easier – this is probably the most important and something my mum told me a lot but I just couldn’t see the woods for the trees at the time. Your baby will change quicker than you can ever imagine and I can assure you there will come a time when things feel so much easier. Parenthood is all about riding through the changes – nothing stays the same for long so when things feel too much just be reassured that it won’t last for long.
  • Remember you’re not alone – the support from your family and friends will be a massive lifeline – don’t be afraid to ask for help or to tell someone you’re struggling. Finding mummy friends with similar aged babies is also really helpful – just having that reassurance that you’re not alone in your thoughts/ feelings will be such a godsend.
  • Have a breastfeeding back-up plan – health professionals (and probably many others) will tell you that if you really want to breastfeed you can. But what they often forget is that there are 2 parties to satisfy here and you can’t always predict what your baby is going to do or how you’re going to feel when the time comes. Have a back-up supply of things you will need to bottle feed (bottles, steriliser, and formula) just in case.
  • Be kind to yourself – when you’re feeling overwhelmed imagine what you would tell a friend in a similar situation and tell yourself the same thing. Often we’re so much kinder to our peers than we are to ourselves and now is not the time to be self-critical.
  • Try and find just a little bit of time for you – I know it will seem almost impossible but even just giving yourself 5 mins in the day to enjoy a hot coffee will make such a difference to how you feel.
  • Get out of the house as often as you can – don’t go overboard with this one because you can definitely overdo it but just going for a 15 minute walk and getting out of the house will make the world of difference to how you’re feeling.
  • Don’t just eat junk food – it will be very tempting to eat everything in sight and you will no doubt have a treat box next to your bed for the night time feeds (I’d recommend this if not!) but try to make sure you have some fruit/ veg in there too because it will only make you feel worse in the long run.
  • Invest in some easy meals – whether you batch cook and freeze before baby arrives or buy ready meals to have on hand it will make your life so much easier in the first few weeks not to have to think about what to cook.
  • Believe in yourself – no one knows what they’re doing – even if they look as if they do. You are just as capable as everyone else so just keep the faith and believe in your own ability. Yes you’ll get things wrong but so does everyone. There will be plenty of differing advice/ opinions from those around you (including health professionals) so you can rest easy there isn’t a right way of doing anything! Have the confidence to do what you feel is best and don’t be afraid to go against the crowd.

You may be thinking I’ve missed one important one – the magic word of SLEEP! But I’m pretty sure I don’t need you to remind you to sleep when you can because you will be doing it already 🙂

If you’re pregnant and have read through to the end then thank you and I really hope I haven’t scared you. It’s tough but also a really precious time. You’ll soon look back and think where did my baby go?! Why didn’t I just embrace the chaos and every sleepy cuddle whilst I had chance?

Bottle feeding shame

Until recently I wouldn’t have been brave enough to share this photo. I hated the thought of being judged because I was bottle feeding. Looking back, I know that most of it was driven from my own paranoia and my own insecurities. But if you’ve ever wanted to breastfeed and not been able to then I’m sure you will know that it can be a bitter pill to swallow.

bottle feeding

I never knew my desire to breastfeed until it didn’t work out for me. I’ve talked in detail about my journey before (see post here if you’re interested) but essentially I had a very hungry baby and for whatever reason I just couldn’t seem to satisfy him with my own milk. And it was seriously taking its toll on my mental health. Despite some unhelpful comments from a few health professionals (and a few fellow mummies in fact), I had an incredibly supportive family around me, including my husband who ultimately made the decision I was too afraid to make. We started to introduce formula (at around 4 weeks) and we combination fed until Archie was about 3 months old, at which point he decided he’d rather just have formula.

So that’s how our bottle feeding journey began. And almost 9 months later, as much as I still feel a sadness that breastfeeding didn’t work out, I know that we 100% made the right decision for us. Archie was a much happier baby, so much more content, and has thrived ever since.

But for a long time I remember feeling ashamed that I was bottle feeding. I dreaded people asking the question as to how I was feeding. My answer always involved a detailed explanation as to why breastfeeding didn’t work out as if to justify my choice. But it never felt like a good enough reason.

If I went out on my own, I remember timing my outings so we were never out of the house for more than 2 hours (which is how often Archie needed feeding) just to avoid having to feed him in public. I would carefully place the bottle I took (for emergencies) at the bottom of my bag so that if I opened it no one would see and hopefully no one would know.

I was nervous about seeing friends that I hadn’t seen in a while because I didn’t want them to judge me. I didn’t want them to assume I’d taken an “easy route”, especially because they hadn’t seen the impact the whole experience had on me.

And what’s crazy is that apart from a handful of people, most had never judged my decision. It was mostly self-inflicted driven from my own paranoia and the feeling that I was a failure.

Of course, the constant endorsement of breastfeeding doesn’t help. I completely understand the need to promote it but sometimes it feels it’s at the detriment of the mothers who can’t or choose not to. Yes encourage those who can and who want to but there doesn’t need to be a counter effect to that. And often the praise handed out to mums that breastfeed can feel like a critique to those who can’t (or don’t want to). It would be great if there was equal support for both. The fact that the NCT can’t cover it as part of its antenatal course says it all.

So for any bottle feeding mums out there that are struggling with this too, I want you to know that bottle feeding doesn’t define your ability to be a good mummy. You never need to explain yourself or worry about your explanation being good enough. As long as your baby is happy and thriving that’s all that matters. Well actually that’s not entirely true, YOU matter too. Your happiness is just as important. So don’t waste time feeling bad/ ashamed/ any other negative feeling. As long as you are making the best decision for you and your family then ultimately you are doing exactly the right thing and should be proud of that. And I, for one, think you’re doing a great job.

Baby shopping list

One of the most exciting things about preparing for a baby is shopping for all the essentials you will need. But I also found it pretty overwhelming. Establishing what you need (vs. what’s in vogue) can be difficult. So here I’ve put together a list of what we bought and where relevant a very short review of whether it worked for us. It’s pretty comprehensive (because we got sucked into buying everything!) so I’ve split into sections. I really hope that it’s useful for any parents-to-be!

baby shopping list

Please note that all views are my own, products paid for by myself and there are no affiliate links.

Sleeping

  • Bedside crib
    • Snuzpod – worked well for us but we didn’t use the co-sleeping functionality which is its main selling point so any crib (as long as it fit the Sleepyhead – see below) would have worked fine in reality.
    • Sleepyhead – it’s hard to say whether this helped Archie sleep any better because we used it right up until he was about 4.5 months (at which point he was in his main cot so he didn’t need it). However, he was a snuggly baby so I think he would have been too exposed in the Snuzpod without it. Plus when we travelled we took the travel cot and put the Sleepyhead inside it which maintained some consistency for him so I think that worked well. It’s also useful for daytime naps as it’s easily transportable. It is an expensive purchase and definitely not essential but we found it worked for us.
    • Sheets – the Sleepyhead ones are ridiculously expensive so if you’re using I would recommend maybe having the one and using a muslin cloth over the top which you can then wash instead. For the actual crib we bought the official Snuzpod ones and they were useless as they barely fit the mattress. So I would probably try a standard bedside crib sheet from Mothercare next time.
  • Main cot/ cotbed
    • Mamas and Papas – we bought a fairly standard cotbed and it’s been brilliant. I’m not sure you can go too far wrong although I’d look at the size of the space/ drawer underneath as it’s useful for storage. The mattress needs to be bought separately and costs almost as much as the cotbed itself! We went for a Pocket Sprung Dual Cotbed Mattress one from Mamas and Papas.
    • Fitted sheets – the ones from M&S were the softest and washed well in our experience but I think they’ve since stopped selling them..! We tried a few from Mothercare and they were pretty good too.
    • Mattress protector – recommend getting 2.
  • Swaddle/ sleeping bag
    • Swaddle – some babies like to be swaddled and some pretty much hate it! But we found Archie couldn’t sleep without one for the first few months as he had such a strong startle reflex. Would highly recommend a wrapover one to start with and then moving on to one with an arm up position.
    • Sleeping bag – some babies will prefer this from birth so probably worth having one on hand and seeing what works. Archie has used sleeping bags from about 5 months and we love them because he’s such a wriggle bum that a blanket is totally pointless! We personally prefer the ones which zip up on the side and you can get them from so many different places but we like the Sainsbury’s and The White Company ones. They come in different togs so I would recommend buying a couple for the summer months (1.0 tog) and a couple for winter (2.5 tog) – make sure to buy the right sizes for the seasons!
  • Monitor
    • Angelcare – this is completely personal preference but I really wanted a monitor which had a movement sensor for peace-of-mind in the first few months and Angelcare are renowned for theirs. So we bought one which had a camera and wireless monitor with it which has been particularly useful since Archie moved into his own room (at about 4.5 months). Most have a thermometer built-in which is also handy.
  • White noise
    • MyHummy – for the first 6 weeks we used a 10.5 hour YouTube video of background car noise which worked well but drove us crazy! We already had a Ewan the Sheep too but the noise only worked for a short amount of time and you had to keep pressing it back on again which also drove us crazy! So we caved and bought a MyHummy which has a sleep sensor that activates the white noise if baby starts to stir or if there is an increase in background noise. It was an expensive purchase but has been a godsend for us. I’ve since seen that’s there a Ewan the sheep deluxe which does a similar thing and is cheaper so that might be worth checking out.

Feeding

  • Bottles and bottle brush
    • We tried the Tomme Tippee bottles but then quickly moved to Dr Browns as we found they helped to prevent wind. I probably wouldn’t buy any of the small bottles because they will become redundant as soon as your baby drinks more than 5oz. 6 bottles is probably fine to begin with and then you can see how you go. Make sure to buy the right teats – level 1 for newborn usually – but then as your baby grows you can start to increase the flow by moving up to the other levels. I’d recommend the Boots bottle brush over the Dr Browns/ Tommee Tippee ones.
  • Steriliser
  • Formula
  • Breastfeeding essentials
    • We bought the Medela electric pump as it was the best reviewed online when I purchased but I didn’t use it enough to be able to review it properly (it’s probably something you can wait to buy).  
    • I found the Lansinoh breast pads were far better (and more absorbent) than the unbranded ones so if you can find them on a deal it’s definitely worth investing. Some mums find they don’t need to use them at all so buy just a small pack to begin with and see how you go.
    • Nursing bras – I was shocked at the selection when I came to buy these – Mothercare and M&S have a small range and you can get fitted in store. But personally I found the Emma Jane bras the most comfortable and I wore them when I was pregnant too.
    • Nipple cream – In the early weeks this will be essential and I recommend the Lansinoh one.
  • Nursing chair
    • The official nursing chairs are expensive and quite clunky in my experience so we bought an armchair from Ikea which has worked fine.
  • Muslins and bibs
    • If you have a sicky baby you will go through a lot of these so definitely worth buying a few to start with. We found the muslin cloths from TK Maxx were great (any brand) and for bibs we went through so many that I stocked up from Tesco/ Sainsburys (the popper fastenings are better than the Velcro in my experience).
  • Dummies
    • Completely personal preference and some babies won’t take to them (like Archie!) but can be very soothing so might be worth having a couple of newborn dummies to hand.

Travel

  • Car seat and isofix base
    • There is a huge choice so it can be overwhelming – we went for the Maxi-Cosi Pebble Plus as it was the only one which was i-Size compatible at the time. It’s useful to choose one which fits onto your pram (although most do with the right adapters – usually sold separately). The car seats which swivel can be useful for getting baby in and out of cars but not all fit onto prams. I’ve since learnt that there are in-car safety centres where you can book a consultation and get more in-depth advice on what would work best for you and advice on installation so that might be worth a look.
  • Car mirror
  • Pram
    • Again an overwhelming number to choose from! I’d recommend trying a few out in the shops and getting a feel for what you like. Most people go for a “travel system” which incorporates a bassinet for the first 5-6 months followed by a seat which can last as long as needed. It’s handy to have one which a car seat can fix onto too (to avoid any transfers when baby is asleep!). Go for one that’s not too heavy, has good suspension, is easy to fold, has a good sized basket and fits easily in your car boot! We went for the iCandy Orange and we love it for all of these reasons.
  • Blankets
    • Have a few for the different seasons – cellular for summer and warmer ones for winter. Would highly recommend the chenille blankets from Asda.
  • Baby carrier
    • Some babies will like and some won’t (Archie fit into the latter!). Useful if you can borrow from someone to try out initially or there are quite a few sling hire services where you can try before you buy. For indoor use a fabric one usually works better and for outdoor use you will need something harder-wearing (e.g. Baby Bjorn).
  • Travel cot, mattress and sheets

Changing/ Bath time

  • Change mat
  • Change table
    • We didn’t have one and I’m glad because you only use them for a very short time (before baby is too big/ wriggly). Changing on the floor has worked fine for us!
  • Change bag
    • Not essential to have an official changing bag although they usually have lots of pockets/ compartments which are handy. I got one in the sale from Cath Kidston and would recommend. Usually come with a portable changing mat.
    • Items to include – nappies, wipes, nappy sacks, nappy cream, spare change of clothes, bottle and ready-made formula (if formula feeding), Milton steriliser wipes, dummies (where using), hand sanitiser.
  • Nappies
    • Completely personal preference in terms of brand. Pampers are great – a couple of packs of size 1 should be fine to start off with. As Archie’s got older I’ve moved to Aldi’s which I would also recommend.
  • Nappy sacks
    • You can’t really go wrong with these as they’re all pretty much the same but I like the close system on the Aldi ones.
  • Nappy bins
  • Wipes
    • Again completely personal preference so worth trying a few brands. I found Water Wipes too wet so we use Pampers now.
  • Nappy cream
    • We use Sudocrem at every nappy change which is great and prevents rashes. For stubborn nappy rashes we occasionally use Bepanthem which is very effective.
  • Baby bath
    • Would highly recommend the Schnuggle Bath which has a raised support so baby can sit comfortably and makes bathing so much easier when they’re small. Archie outgrew this at about 4 months.
  • Bath support
    • For use in the main bath, we bought the Angelcare bath support which has been great and made hair washing so much easier!
  • Baby wash and sponge
  • Bath thermometer
  • Hooded towels
    • Any would work fine – I bought a couple from TK Maxx.
  • Medicine kit
    • Colic relievers – Infacol/ gripe water – neither worked well in our experience but if your baby is colicky then it would be definitely worth trying.
    • Paracetamol – Calpol (2 months+) – useful to have on hand when baby is old enough for teething, colds, and vaccinations.
    • Cold remedies – Snufflebabe vapour rub, nasal aspirator, vapour plug-in – all useful for when your baby is really suffering with a cough/ cold
    • Teething – The only medicine (aside from paracetamol) that has worked for us has been Anbesol Liquid (over-the-counter).
    • Thermometer – very useful to have – we bought a digital one which inserts into the ear and has an age adjustment feature.
    • Cradle cap – not all newborns get cradle cap but lots do. I would recommend the Dentinox cradle cap shampoo.
  • Manicure kit
    • Nail scissors – wouldn’t recommend any of the child ones – I just use the blunt side of ours. Nail clippers are a definite no-no for me.
    • Hair brush – We use a standard one from Boots.

 Clothing

  • Sleepsuits
    • It’s so much easier to dress newborns in these than actual outfits so I would buy a few packs of these (with in-built scratch mitts) – in newborn, 1 month and 0-3 month sizes. Sainsburys/ Tesco/ Next/ M&S do a good range.
  • Vests
    • Either long- or short-sleeved these should be worn under sleepsuits (unless very warm) so buy a few packs of these too.
  • Pram suit (winter)
  • Socks
    • If you do buy any outfits you will need socks so maybe have a pack of newborn socks to hand.
  • Hat
    • It’s so hard to judge the size of this until your baby is here so maybe buy one newborn and one 1 month to start off with.
  • Cardigans
    • I was lucky enough to have a Nana who knitted us several cardigans for Archie and they were great for adding another layer. We also had a soft jacket from Tesco which was brilliant.

Play time

  • Bouncer
    • Our bouncer was an absolute godsend in the first 3 months because Archie generally didn’t like to be put down but liked the vibrating sensation of sitting in this. We bought the Joie Dreamer Baby Bouncer (when it was on offer – which these tend to be a lot of the time) and I would highly recommend.
  • Play mat
    • This is also useful from around 3-6 months so not worth spending a lot of money on but useful for providing stimulation and for tummy time. We bought a very bright coloured one from Mothercare (also on offer) which was great.
  • Toys
    • Pram toys – useful to have a few of these (ones which play a lullaby are useful for newborns) and I’d recommend the Bright Starts range.
    • Teethers – You probably won’t need any until around 4 months when babies start chewing on everything! I’d recommend the Matchstick Monkey which you can sterilise easily too (Sophie la Girafe is popular but is bigger so better for when they’re older and also it’s harder to wash because it can’t be submerged in water).