1. Muslin Squares
Everyone says it, and everyone is right. You will need them for everything from mopping up milk on your little one, to mopping up boke on you; from emergency changing mats when you forget yours to emergency bibs; from sunshades to playmats; they can (just about) cover your boob if you are caught out & need to breastfeed in public and can be used as an alternative to cotton wool to top and tail your little one. I have always used one as a comfort blanket as they are so light and breathable and Maggie still uses them now. They are, in a word, indispensable. Just make sure you get enough of them! You can get them everywhere: Boots, Asda, Mothercare, Amazon – the cheapest I found were at Tesco for less than £1 each – but there are prettier ones too. These ones are from www.toysrus.co.uk £6.99 for 4
2. An iPhone
Or similar. Apart from the obvious benefit of taking great quality photos and videos of your little munchkin, it also becomes an essential lifeline for the new mum (well, me anyway). It saw me through those early, sleepless nights in so many ways..online sudoku games, online shopping for newborn essentials, being able to read a book or magazine with just the nightlight and your iPhone, all while your little one doesn’t sleep or tries to sleep. Once the fog of those first weeks have lifted, it is great to be able to share photos, update your Facebook and Twitter friends, email your new NCT mums to arrange coffee mornings, book your trial class at Gymboree, write a blog (!), without it feeling like too much of a chore.
(Of course, as your little one grows it will become his or her Favourite Thing too, but that’s for another day and another post). If you don’t own a Smartphone now, you should! Believe me you’ll never look back.
3. Lansinoh nipple cream
Nipple cream is essential. This one was recommended to me by lots of mums. Thankfully I didn’t get it too bad myself and only used about 1/4 tube throughout the whole BF episode, but I know some mummies who had to lather it on constantly & went through quite a few tubes! Just buy one to start with and see how you go.
4. Aden & Anais Muslin Swaddling Blanket /Muslin Squares
Brilliant for all the reasons listed above as they are basically very large muslin squares, but a friend told me that they would be the most useful present I received and she was right! Especially for summer babies, these are so soft and light they make perfect swaddling blankets to keep babies warm without overheating (all new mummies freak out about this, right?) Apparently a big hit in the US amongst celebrities like Gwen Stefani and Julia Roberts, they are becoming a big hit here too. I got mine from my friend Anna from www.amazon.co.uk
5. Ariel Whitening Powder
You will get a lot of what my sister and I call ‘up the backers’, where literally your little dote has pooed and it has gone up and out the back of the nappy. Could equally be called ‘out the siders’ for the same reason. When this happens his or her little vest tends to be full of the stuff, so you need to steep it straight away in this. This miracle powder was recommended by my sister-in-law mum of 3 after a particularly nasty up-the-back incident which threatened to ruin forever Maggie’s new, white, designer sleepsuit (a gift, of course). But no, steeped in this (you can add it to your main wash too), the stain disappeared like magic. Miracle stuff I tell you.
6. Geraldine the Giraffe
It doesn’t have to be Geraldine herself, of course, but very early on Maggie adopted her favourite toy, and the two of them are best friends still. Geraldine is great because she has black and white crackly feet (baby’s favourite colours apparently) and lots of rings which she had used to reach for, grab onto and chew on as she has grown. Now the pair of them just chew the fat and have a good old yarn.
7. A Rocking Chair
A great place for your little one to chill out, go for a snooze, mooch in, play in, sit in while you have a sneaky shower or pee (!) and later reach for and play the mobiles attached to it. One friend took hers everywhere as their little one loved it so; another swore that the chair on vibration was the only thing that chilled hers out when he was little.
They do grow out of them quite quickly so try to borrow one from a friend if you can. Our friend Susan lent us hers which was a huge help as you only need it for about 6 months.
8. A Bucket Bath
I was very confused about baby baths when I was pregnant with Missy. The books didn’t help – the advice seemed to swing from a baby plastic bath to no bath at all (one suggested taking a bath with your darling one every time they needed it. I did try it – but it’s hard enough getting your little one out and dried and powdered and nappied and creamed without doing the whole thing stark naked!) So I called upon my Facebook mummies and the resounding consensus for those first few months was a bucket bath. I don’t think this is the actual name but it’s what my mum called it when she first saw it: ‘What? You’re going to bath Maggie in a BUCKET!?’ (I’ve just googled it, it’s called a Tummy Tub). Not only do they look very cute in them, it really helps bring up wind and they get to sit up in lovely warm water almost unaided from such an early age. It helps make bathing a very relaxing and enjoyable experience for everyone.
9. Cloud B Sleep Sheep
A strange one to recommend on my Top 10, as I didn’t actually buy one! But I was very lucky as Maggie was a good sleeper from the start. For those of my friends whose little ducks didn’t sleep so contentedly, many of them swore by the Sleep Sheep. They rated them up there with other ‘white noise’ devices like the Hoover and the hairdryer to help settle their little ones.
10. A Baby First Aid Kit
Along with general First Aid Kit essentials, this collection should include :
For every ailment- Calpol
To check baby’s temperature- a good quality digital thermometer. Many people (me included) have the Braun Digital Ear Thermometer
For colds/blocked noses- saline spray, decongestant rub & a plug-in vapouriser
For ezcema- every baby is different so you’ll end up trying everything! I have found Cetraben Emollient cream or Epaderm is best for everyday moisturising and Hydrocortisone cream (sporadically) for bad patches.
My friend’s mum swears by a herbal remedy Chickweed, but I’ve not tried it, so ask your health visitor and health shop to advise you.
For teething- Teething gel & powders. I found the powders worked better (Nelsons) but used both for bad cases
For nappy rash- typically linked to teething, sometimes you need Canesten if normal nappy cream isn’t clearing it.
Until you get to know your own little bundle & what particular things might ail them you’ll just need Calpol. And cuddles.