Looking after a baby is HARD WORK! Especially the first 12 weeks, when your baby is just getting used to the world and you are responsible for everything – feeding, burping, nappy changing, getting your baby to sleep, figuring out why your baby is crying. Of course it is very rewarding and heartwarming when you get the smiles, the happy baby and getting to dress her in all the cute outfits.
I have somehow made it through the first 12 weeks with Honey Nut, and I think she is a content baby. Well she’s miraculously been sleeping through the night since 8 weeks, although she is quite intense in the day with an ear-piercing cry. There are a few things that have helped make my life with a newborn easier so far. So I thought I would share them with you, and it was a good excuse for me to practice my graphic design – I quite like this image I created 🙂 Now, nothing on this list is an ‘essential’, but I am truly glad I had these items.:
1) A Baby Carrier – for burping baby, getting on with housework and for popping to the shop
This is something I had not considered buying. I thought I wouldn’t need one as I’d be using my buggy. What I didn’t realise was that these are useful for wearing around the house. Now ignore the old wives tales that say you will spoil the baby if you always carry her, you’ll create a bad habit blah blah blah. Wrong! Keeping baby close to you in the first 12 weeks is good for the baby, she needs to hear your heartbeat as that is what she heard for 9 months. She needs those 3 months after birth (known as the fourth trimester) to slowly get used to the outside world. Keeping her close to you eases this transition. Keeping the baby upright also helps with getting the burps out naturally.
We were always walking around patting Honey Nut on the back trying to get the burp out. Putting her in the baby carrier made burping her so much easier, and it gave my arms a break from carrying her. It left my arms free and when she fell asleep in it, I would blog with the laptop on the kitchen counter or watch TV, put the laundry out, do the washing up. I learnt to pick things up off the floor with my feet. It was also useful for popping to the shop with her, and for short journeys. I have a Hauck baby carrier and an Amawrap Sling, but I never really got the hang of wrapping all that fabric, and while she was crying I would go for the Hauck as it was quicker to get on. As soon as she went in, the crying stopped, I would honestly say the Hauck baby carrier was a lifesaver!
2) Rainforest Cot Mobile
Our Fisher-Price Rainforest Cot Mobile has been Honey Nut’s entertainment since the early days, it has kept her mesmerised for ages. Usually after she is fed and burped, or when she wakes in the morning, she looks at it and gurgles, even shouts at the toucan. It has really helped when I need to tend to the older one, I know she’s not being neglected as she has her rainforest friends! We got it from Argos half price when Tyler was a newborn 4 years ago, then I lent it to my cousin for her son, and now Honey Nut is using it, so it’s gone through 3 babies and still going strong! I just needed to put in new batteries.
3) Changing Table
I have a funky Cosatto Changing Table that was a gift from my work when Tyler was born. It is so good for storage as well as somewhere to change nappies. It gets rid of all the faffing about finding your changing mat and the nappies, wipes etc. It’s all kept in this table, so when baby needs a nappy change, you just put her on the table and all your stuff is ready for you. It’s also good for your back, less backache and less bending down. Just don’t leave baby unsupervised on the table top.
Another life saver, and a controversial one, all the advice says not to introduce one, delays speech, bad for teeth blah blah blah. I agree, don’t introduce before 6 weeks as you want to get baby’s feeding established. I gave my baby it at the end of 7 weeks, as I noticed she wanted to suck when she wasn’t hungry. She’d push my boob away with her mouth and try to suck her hand. So I got out the Tommee Tippee Fun Style dummies that I had bought before she was born and stertilised them.
I sort of had to teach her to use the dummy, cupping the side of her face with my hand until she learnt to suck the dummy. She has been such a content baby since this day! When she is distressed, this soothes her and I was no longer afraid to go out in public for fear of her screaming, as I now had something to soothe her. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she started to sleep through the night (9.30pm – 7am) the day she started using the dummy. I think she took more milk in her actual feeds because she had the dummy in between feeds, so being more content helped her sleep better at night. That’s my theory anyway.
5) Night Time Nappies
With my first baby, we used to change the nappy after every night feed. Night times really felt like a chore. With my second baby, I started to use night time nappies from the second week. These are the green Pamper Baby Dry nappies in the smallest size (size 2) that stay dry for 12 hours. So when I did the night feeds, I could put her straight into the cot after burping so she’d go straight back to sleep, rather than being woken with a nappy change. Instead I changed the nappy after the first morning feed around 6/7am. Obviously if she had pooed I would have changed it, and I could tell if she had pooed as I would hear her straining (it’s quite funny hearing a newborn poo!) and you can smell it.
6) Bouncer Chair
I had kept Tyler’s bouncer, which is a ‘Please look after me’ Bouncer Chair that my dad bought from Mothercare. Honey Nut has loved being in this chair since about 3 weeks. She has been so content sitting in it looking out of the window, and I have often taken it to my parents so she can sit outside in it or in the kitchen or living room. I think it being a bit more upright than just lying on the floor is what she likes about it. They don’t make this chair anymore, but I think any baby bouncer would do the job, although one that folds up would be great.
People say babies always want that feeling of being cuddled, swaddled etc. But we have a baby who likes to spread out! We realised this at around 4 weeks, when suddenly she stopped crying when we lay her down on our playmat. This is Tyler’s Safari Friends playmat from Mothercare that was a baby shower gift from my cousin. We used it without the arches for the first few weeks, so it was literally somewhere soft for her to lie down on our living room floor. Then from about 8 weeks I added the arches with hanging toys and mirror as she wanted to look at things more, and she really does like gazing at herself in the mirror. They don’t make this particular playmat anymore, but you could use any colourful playmat with arches.
8) Boppy Cushion
My friend lent me her Boppy Cushion, and in the early days I found it much more comfortable to breastfeed my baby with her on top of the cushion, especially when I was on the sofa. Newborns are so little and fragile, and having her on the cushion just made it easier – somewhere to rest her on, plus it wrapped around my tummy which was also quite fragile in those early days! I used mine until about 10 weeks, when she was big enough to just rest on my lap while I was feeding her.
9) Giant Muslins/ Muslin Sleeping Bag
I won a giant bamboo muslin in a competition – it’s a Bambini and Me one, and it is soooo soft, in a lovely shade of yellow and a cute duck print. I also have loads of giant swaddle blankets from TK Maxx that I kept from Tyler’s baby days. I would half swaddle her as she likes to sleep with her arms up, and when we had the heatwave in July, they were a nice light cover just loosely over her. At around 10 weeks she started kicking it off, so I got her an Angel Dear muslin sleeping bag from TK Maxx. It’s just as soft, and such a light fabric that I feel it’s really suitable for newborn babies. I love it as I don’t have to worry that she is cold at night, as she can’t kick it off.
10) Box of rattles and maracas
From around 8 weeks, I realised Honey Nut didn’t just want feeding when she was awake – she wanted to be entertained! I started doing baby yoga with her (basically opening and closing her arms and legs while singing to her), and Tyler and I started to do our own version of Rhyme Time with her each day, shaking maracas and singing songs. She loves it! The smiles are the best. I had slowly collected loads of maracas and rattles during Tyler’s baby years, so I kept them all in a box, and now we just bring out that box when we need it. She seems to like the brightly coloured wooden maracas in the picture, I guess simple colours are more eye-catching. I got them from Wilkos. She also loves her Bright Starts Chime Along Owl rattle, the sound is actually really pleasant, like a windchime, and it keeps her happy.
So those are my 10 baby products that made my life with a newborn easier. I hope this is helpful to any mums-to-be and new mums reading this.
If you have had a baby, what have you found useful for making life that little bit easier?