4 months with Bea

I’m a little bit behind with these posts and time and development marches on apace so it’s almost hard to remember what was happening in Bea’s fourth month. Last time I wrote about her naps being problematic and her first real changes that made her less of a newborn and more of a baby. The month that followed seemed like a godsend of perfect calm and enjoyment.

Bea had her first cold at 14 weeks but we seem to have emerged relatively unscathed as she was mild and just snotty with it really. Fortunately it didn’t affect her sleep. Throughout the month she was smiley and happy regardless and it cleared after about a week.

Probably the biggest change of this month was to feeding. I had noticed that Bea was getting more and more fussy when she fed, pulling off and messing around instead of taking a good feed. I was still feeding her 2 hourly at this point (not on a schedule, thats just about when she wanted it,) and whilst travelling when I didn’t take as much notice of the time, I noticed she fed much better when she showed me she was hungry. As a consequence now she is fed about 6-7 times in 24 hours, 2.5 – 3 hourly in the day, then a dream feed at 10 or 11 pm and she feeds much better.

As you can see here, Bea is getting more and more active. She loves standing up and supports her own weight with only a finger supporting both of her hands, even stamping her feet up and down sometimes! It’s much more clear too what she likes and does’t like, as she kicks and wriggles with excitement or pleasure, or gives us a downturned mouth or wobbling lip before a cry (usually when she’s tired!)

Best of all, after what felt like weeks of waiting, Bea finally laughed! I had been feeling like she was on the edge of laughing for a couple of weeks and was sure she would do it while we were on holiday, then on the very last day she did, out of the blue! I had worried I was missing it amongst the other sounds she makes but it was a proper peel of laughter, although it caused me to shout so loud that she stopped just as suddenly as she started! It’s taken a while but the laughs are coming more and more often now. It’s a cliche to say it, but it really is the best sound in the world.

The other big change has been to napping in the cot now. We switched to a grobag when we got back from Florida and I also immediately started putting Bea down to nap in her cot instead of the crib, mainly so I could do things in our bedroom while she slept elsewhere. It’s been a pretty seamless transition – she doesn’t seem to have noted any difference to the crib and if she’s tricky to get down sometimes I can’t say it’s any different to when she was in the crib. We still have her in our room in the crib however in the evening and overnight.

When we got back from Florida naps were brilliant and we started getting some 1.5 hour naps in the morning, both while we were away and when we got back. The last month however has been another story… I’ll save it for next time!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Essentials for up to 4 months

This morning I’m continuing my list of essential (for us) items as we learn what we did and didn’t need and use as Bea gets bigger. This isn’t the obvious essentials (see more on that here,) for a baby, but the things that have been used every day and made a big difference to our lives, the things I’d recommend to every new mum. So here you go, the up to 4 months edition!

Baby Sleep Timer app
A Mummy essential first… this sleep timer saved my sanity! Around the 8-10 week mark Bea started to cry more than usual, particularly before sleeps. We exhausted ourselves thinking about what could be wrong and after a few days I realised we were totally missing her sleep cues and she was getting over-tired. This app tracks the baby’s sleep and as a result I know what her patterns are. When I’m out and about I find it really useful to know when she is ‘due’ a sleep (as we don’t use a rigid routine yet,) and it helps me stop second guessing myself as to what’s wrong when she is simply tired. Being able to see the patterns also helps me plan. Now she is 4 months we’re working towards a 3-4 nap routine and knowing what time her last sleep of the day is and when bedtime is due has made life so much easier. It essentially means we work with her sleep routine rather than trying to bend her to ours – far less painful!

Giraffe Squeakaboo Squeaker and Rattle Toy
This rattle was a gift and is one of her favourite toys. It is the perfect size for her tiny hands and that’s why it’s a firm favourite for practicing her grabbing, plus there’s a bonus jingle when she finally gets there and safe gnawing!

Bigjigs Toys BB050 Mini Roll Rattle (Blue)
This is also a favourite toy – it contains a bell, a squeak and crinkle in the stick part and she love to stare at it when I shake the bell and try to grab it. There is also textured fabric and it invariably goes straight into her mouth!

Mamas & Papas – MAGIC – Stargaze Stripe Playmat
On the toys front, this is hands down the best, well actually the only ‘baby entertainment’ buy we made. There are many cheaper baby gyms on the market but we bought this at 6 weeks and having bought her no other toys thus far, I felt it was worth splashing out on. The other reason we went for this over standard gyms was the integrated lights and sounds. I reasoned that at 6 months she didn’t really look round much and certainly wasn’t grabbing, so a static gym with hanging toys wasn’t going to do much. This has lights built in to the canopy that twinkle with very relaxing (spa-like rather than nerve-jangling baby) music! There’s a kick plate to change the lights and music, and dangling bits that do the same. She is absolutely transfixed when she’s on it and after 3 days gave a big smile the minute the music came on. Every morning she goes on there while I get breakfast and have a bit of me time to plan the day.

GroBag We used to swaddle Bea but when we came back from Florida and the temperature had dropped, plus Bea had grown big enough, we transitioned to a GroBag. I actually bought a neutral one from Mini Club at Boots, but any brand with the side poppers to adjust the size is essential, particularly if you have a small baby, due to the large age range on them. It’s one less thing to worry about knowing she can’t smother under blankets, particularly now she naps in the cot and blankets would have been harder to tuck in.

Mamas & Papas Baby Snug Raspberry
Now Bea is 4 months she is napping less and taking much more interest in the world around her. She’s not even close to sitting yet but we wanted her to be able to sit with us sometimes, to get a different view of the world, as otherwise she is always lying flat looking up. We don’t have a bouncer so it’s great to give me some hands free time when I’m eating, or preparing food and I imagine it will be useful when we start weaning with the built in tray. I also like that this one grows with the child, as the coloured insert slips out – perfect if you have a big baby!

So readers, do you have any of these items? Have I missed anything that you found a life saver at this stage?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS!
Essentials for the first 6 weeks

Bea’s first holiday // Flying with a baby (3 months)

Way before Bea was born my mum suggested a family holiday to celebrate a significant birthday. I was nervous about the thought of taking a baby away so young, for so many reasons, but had always vowed if I was going to have children, I wouldn’t change my life drastically, so I had to finally put my money where my mouth is. We just got back yesterday from Florida and managed to navigate the 8+ hour flight each way, including a night flight on our return and the 5 hour time difference so I thought I would share a little bit of what helped us.

Firstly, Bea is an easy baby and sleeps well which helped immensely, although I have to say it actually was the thing that worried me the most. Before she was born I thought, what’s the difference between sitting in my front room bouncing her, feeding her and getting her down for naps, to doing it on an aeroplane? I didn’t worry about jet lag as I figured she wouldn’t have a routine anyway at 14 weeks when we left. It turns out she did and we were just getting a pattern of sleeping from between 7.30 to 8.30ish until a dream feed, then through the night. I had no idea how to negotiate the jet lag for her. Secondly, we flew with Virgin Atlantic, choosing a direct flight to Orlando, as although it was further from our destination, we figured she would sleep in the car on route to the villa, and we wouldn’t have to haul our stuff and a potentially fractious baby through an airport transfer. In the end she was so good, I wouldn’t worry about doing a transfer at all in future.

Bea was almost 15 weeks when we left so I didn’t find packing too bad at all. I had bought summer clothes for her before she was born which she never fitted because she was so small, so we had plenty of warm weather stuff. Going to America made things much easier as did staying in a villa – I packed only enough nappies for the journey there and the next day, then bought more in the supermarket along with cotton wool for nappy changing. We only took a select few rattles etc for distraction, her bath time toiletries, a multitude of muslins and bedding for incase it was chilly at night.

Virgin allowed us to take a pushchair and a car seat as part of our baggage allowance so I bought a generic car seat cover (iSafe Universal Car Seat Travel Bag) to protect it and the Uppababy Vista Travel bag. This wasn’t cheap but comes with the guarantee that if the travel system is damaged in transit, they will rectify any damage. I’d thoroughly recommend it as it not only protects and stows the contents but it’s easy to pull around, with handles and wheels in all the right places. (Look out for the full review on the Uppababy coming soon…) We also used the bassinet part of the Uppababy as her crib to sleep in while we were away, and the full coverage was perfect for keeping her out of the sun when we pushed her around too. Lastly, we also took the wrap sling on the plane and walking on the beach with a (last minute purchase) hat as it kept her well covered from the sun again. We paid extra to fly with Virgin and direct but I don’t think it was worth it in retrospect. The flight flew by we were so busy with her and we only got a bassinet on the way out for her to sleep in – we were basically awake all night for fear of smothering her on the return leg because we couldn’t put her down safely. We had been assured that whilst not guaranteed, the sky cots are allocated on basis of need and there was unlikely to be 12 babies younger than Bea on board, but apparently those with disabilities got all the seats as a priority.

For the outbound flight I packed 3 baby gros and vests, (in case of poo-splosions etc!), 8 nappies, wipes, nappy bags, a blanket, 2 toys, 2 dummies, 2 muslins, plus my own mini toiletry bag for flying (with lip balm, hand cream, toothbrush and paste and alco-gel in case of needing to clean my hands without a sink!) and purse. Pete carried my magazine etc. All of this might seem a lot of detail but I agonised about what to take, where she would sleep etc in the run up, so I hope this helps someone. Oh, and a spare top in case of vomit related incidents, dribble bibs those disposable change mats I mentioned – perfect for a mid-transatlantic nappy leak in the worlds smallest changing facilities.

I decided on the outbound journey I would try to extend her normal daily routine of an hour or so awake, followed by a nap, beyond her normal bedtime until it was the right time at our destination. The flight was easy enough, although harder than I anticipated. Bea didn’t react to the white noise of the plane, in fact it seemed to wake her rather than soothe her, so she only slept for a few 30 minute stretches throughout the 8.5h flight and had a couple of fractious periods due to tiredness as a result, but on the whole she was great. We landed at about 4.30pm local time, which as 8.30pm our time. She was completely flat out as a result so I woke her, fed her and tried to keep her awake until we got in the car later. I let her sleep the 2 hour drive to the villa, then woke her as if it was her normal dream feed.

The first night she slept until 5.30am, the same the next, then almost 7am, and day by day she slowly readjusted. Other than in the afternoon on the first day when she was really unsettled and crying when we realised it was bed time for her body clock and she was exhausted, she adjusted brilliantly, going to bed earlier in the evening than usual which suited us anyway for eating out and the early waking for a few days didn’t bother us either as we were jet lagged and waking early too!

We’re still going through the aftermath of the return flight. It was a night fight, departing at 7.30pm and I figured I would feed her to sleep on the way up and not wake her for a dream feed, and get her up at the other end as though it was a normal day. We were slightly scuppered as we didn’t get allocated a baby bed for her which meant we both sat awake all night holding her. She was blissfully unaware and after a few startles and wakes at the beginning of the flight, very quickly soothed by feeding, she slept all the way through until we got in the taxi to go home. That was partly because it was 4am Florida time when we landed here at 8am, but I applied the same principles as the outward journey, although I felt like I was torturing her when she wouldn’t wake up. She napped throughout the day as usual (other than a very long one yesterday morning when we also had a cheeky snooze,) and will no doubt go to bed later than usual for a couple of nights as she adjusts back into her usual routine. I’m actually going to use it as an opportunity to get her into a bedtime routine and napping schedule for the first time ever. I’ll keep you posted in the comments later ;)

The holiday itself was worth any minor tiredness we suffered getting there and back. Bea had her first trip to the beach, her first dip in the sea, went swimming in the pool most days and got to play with Daddy every day! :D To be honest the hardest part was keeping her out of the sun which we managed by either using the wrap and a hat, or taking the bassinet on the beach and not going to the beach until the sun was pretty low.

If you’ve got any questions about anything I have missed out, or if you’ve got any great tips for travelling with a small baby please do share them. To be honest, I really don’t think travelling with a baby is much of a challenge compared with a toddler or active older baby, but as with everything new about having a baby, it can be a really daunting prospect. It’s never as bad as you think and it’s worth every moment of family time in the sun!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Family lifestyle: family-friendly eating out

Hello readers!

It’s been a while since I’ve had the time to blog. To be perfectly honest, this ‘family lifestyle’ blogger is feeling like her lifestyle is work, run around after a toddler, cook, housework, crash in front of the TV, sleep, more work… And repeat. Daily. That’s not to say I don’t LOVE being a mum to a busy, energetic, happy toddler – I really, really do – it just doesn’t leave a lot of time for things like painting my nails, or catching-up with friends, or blogging. But I’ve missed it, so here I am, avoiding housework and writing!

One subject that I’ve been wanting to write about for an age is options for eating out with a little one in tow. It’s something we don’t do that often, and so when we do take Freddie out we like to know it’s going to be a success. Here are some of our favourite family-friendly restaurants and cafés.

Wagamama

We took Freddie to our local Wagamama on his first birthday after hearing good things about their kids menu, and we were not disappointed. Six months later, I’m yet to be as impressed by children’s menu offerings as I was at Wagamama – not only are the options a bit different from the normal sausages and pasta, it’s great value (all the main courses are less than £5) and it’s all healthy. I really liked that the elements of the dish were separated, with the sauce on the side, and Freddie had 3 vegetables to pick at – something I’ve never seen in any other restaurant. A huge plus also came from the way the waiter didn’t even bat an eyelid when he saw the pile of sweetcorn and rice on the floor. We’ll be back.

The Volunteer Tavern, Bristol

The best Sunday lunch we’ve had since Freddie was born was at the Volunteer Tavern in Bristol, which we visited with my best friend and her husband a few months ago. Despite being a pretty ‘hip’ place, the young staff instantly took a shining to our son who was bopping away to the reggae they had on and happily produced a toddler-sized portion of their chicken roast for about £4. Highly recommended. 

M&S café

In our town we are blessed with a multitude of excellent independent cafés, serving delicious coffee and homemade cake (our favourite will always be Corleone, if you’re visiting), but they are often too busy to find a space for us all or even get the pushchair in – never mind nab a highchair. If I’m meeting fellow mums for a drink and snack, both of us with little ones in tow, I always suggest the Marks and Spencer café. My husband always mocks me for this brand loyalty, but sometimes you just need to know that there will be highchairs in abundance, clean toilets with changing facilities nearby, toddler-friendly snack options (Freddie particularly likes the cheese scones) and space for two pushchairs. Plus there are usually a few friendly pensioners ready to coo over your well-behaved child (excuse me while I fall off my chair laughing…). I save the tiny, cute cafes with the free newspapers and coffee in easy-for-little-hands-to-grab cups for solo trips.

See also, John Lewis cafés.

Woody’s, Kingston-Upon-Thames

Walking around Kingston with friends on a particularly hot day this summer, we realised we’d forgotten to bring anything for Freddie and so grabbed a table outside Woody’s at about 11.45. After a quick look at the menu we realised we’d discovered a gem. A box of lego, a healthy carrot and dip starter, delicious main course and refreshing fresh melon for desert (all for around £6) later, we were hooked. The staff were busy, but friendly and welcoming and brought the bill instantly when Freddie decided he’d rather chase dogs than stick around.

My tips for a successful family meal out

  • Do your homework. Book ahead for the best tables at the busiest places and always have a back-up plan if you haven’t. Make sure the place has a toilet and a highchair available.
  • Go early and order the kids’ food straight away. I liked this line from this article: “the child prepared to patiently wait half an hour for a plate of chips hasn’t been born yet.” Very true.
  • Be confident and go with it, but be prepared to leave quickly if you need to. The few times we’ve gone out for lunch or an early dinner with a larger group and Freddie I’ll admit I’ve been anxious that he’ll ruin it for everyone and we’d have to leave not having eaten anything. But when I’ve given into him wanting to sit under the table and zoom his cars over the chairs we’ve all had a better time.
  • If all else fails, order a jacket potato with beans. Never fails.
I’d love to hear your favourite independent family eateries. As for chains, I’ve heard good things about Pizza Express and Giraffe for toddlers – anyone taken their little one?

Love, Esme.

Find Esme on her blog Esme Wins or on Twitter @Real_Married

Found: The Nursery Paint Company

When we were preparing for Bea’s arrival I decided against a moses basket in favour of a swinging crib for our room and were lucky enough to be given one just like the one I was going to buy. I had however planned to buy a white one and this was a natural wood crib so I decided to paint it. Because it was going to be so close to her head and all around her while she slept, I decided to look into baby-safe paints and was recommended The Nursery Paint Company .


The finished crib in ‘Twinkle’ by The Nursery Paint Company

Their paints are VOC free and made from natural soya beans so there’s no nasty vapours being released around the baby, and they are all toy grade paints – meaning they are safe to be chewed. They also happen to be antibacterial and have a good range of colours, including a few greys which pleased me. ;)

The paint was beautiful to use and whilst not cheap, went a very long way. I thought those of you looking for baby safe paints might like to take a look…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

3 months with Bea

Bea’s 3 month milestone has been and gone, and again so much has changed in a few short weeks. I write these posts for my own records but also as I imagine many of you will identify with the changes and perhaps have advice or stories you want to share, so please do pitch in in the comments box below.

This last month has been bittersweet for the first time. As Bea gets older she becomes so much more alert and more fun. Her smiles are consistent now and the beam I get in the mornings or when I get her up after a nap makes my heart burst. A few people have commented about the way she looks at me, describing it as ‘adoration’ and when she was younger I didn’t really get it, thinking she couldn’t love me back but recently it’s like there really is a bond between us, from her side too.

The bittersweet part is that already I see her stopping doing little things that she has grown out of. She used to make an ‘O’ with her mouth, almost a pucker, which I called ‘kissy lips’ and caused me to cover her in kisses, which she doesn’t do now. Her grasp reflex is gone and that gorgeous back arch and bum out thing babies do when you pick them up from deep sleep is so very rare now. However, now she holds my finger out of free will, calls out for my attention and seems to notice the whole world instead of things close to her. Sounds startle her and she looks to them, she follows me with her gaze out of the room and notices when I come back in, and has officially found her voice. Several times a day she really gets going with shouts and ahh’s and ooohh conversations which are so much fun.

Her sleep at night is still great and she has slept through every night since the beginning of last month, but other difficulties have emerged. Now she sucks her thumb to sooth herself, the car seat is becoming enemy #1 as she can’t get her arm round the wide infant straps to get her thumb into her mouth, leading me after a long journey in the back or the car with my finger in her mouth and other times when I was driving and couldn’t loan a finger, to resort to a dummy.

We seem to be floundering a bit with naps too at times… we had long episodes of crying around the 8-10 weeks mark in the day before she would nap and I realised fairly quickly I was totally missing her sleep cues, so she became overtired and couldn’t sleep. Once I got them and got her down* as soon as she showed signs of tiredness, everything got better and she would sleep within minutes. (*When I say get her down, she falls asleep in my arms 9 times out of 10, apart from the odd occasion I have put her down and turned back round to find her asleep, which never works when I purposely try it.) I used advice from the EASY routine to help me get to this point and she was sleeping for roughly an hour, after around an hours awake time, 4 times a day. More recently however things aren’t going as well, with her not sleeping until about 1.5hours after she last woke up and then she often wakes around 30-40 minutes into the nap but then seems ready for another short one soon after. I feel that we should be moving towards condensing these catnaps into a longer morning nap and 2 afternoon naps but I don’t know how to extend her nap times. I also know she is capable of putting herself to sleep if caught at the right point but can’t reliably put her down to sleep* by herself at all. (*With the exception of after her dream feed at night, when she goes to sleep herself as soon as the light goes out, if she wakes at all.)

Half of me thinks does it matter while she is small? and how sad I’ll be when she doesn’t fall asleep in my arms, but the other half is so frustrated at pacing the floor trying to get her off when she’s clearly over tired and my back is aching after a long day without Pete, that I wish we could improve things. Her napping is also the only time I have to get things done and I’ve realised those precious minutes make me feel so much better able to handle her when she’s awake too.

It’s a minor niggle though when she really is still the best. thing. ever. We go swimming to a baby swim class once a week and have started doing a mum and baby post-natal yoga class so we have classes 3 days a week now. The days we don’t can be hard, as they coincide with Pete being gone until 7 or 8pm – a very long time on an unsettled day, but they also let me get house jobs done and see friends or just do nothing. Which sometimes, is just what you need to do.

Have you got any advice on getting a good nap routine going with your little one? I was recommended the Ferber book, but at this stage I can’t justify letting her cry for even short periods or mentally square it with my personal comfort zone. What do you think readers?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Reviewed: Pacapod Napier changing bag

A while back, before Bea arrived, I mentioned changing bags. I wanted something wipe clean, not too big, with a cross body strap, and that fitted my style. I eventually settled on the Pacapod (I am a sucker for an organisational system) and was thrilled to be offered one to review so I’m here to dish my thoughts on it.

First up, I love it. It does everything I need and I like the way it looks too… here’s a front and back view for you. I chose the Napier, in charcoal.

It’s got 3 main ‘area’s: The pod section which I consider to be baby’s, with 2 velcro in ‘pods’ They are designed as ‘feeding’ and ‘changing’ pods, i.e. one for bottles (or snacks later on) and one for nappies etc, but I use them for changing and changing(!) as we don’t need lots of feeding supplies just yet and a poo-splosion is much more likely.

As well as all the compartments there are several other ‘extra’s’ like the changing mat, and bottle insulating sleeve, that I like. The pods are roomy and the changing pod has extra pockets for nappies, elastic to hold your wipes, and side pockets for whatever else you might need. The feeding pod is insulated, but as you can see I keep a change of clothes in there, bib, and some spare breast pads. There’s also a wipe clean bag for dirty nappies or clothes not shown here.

I often hook the changing pod onto the pram if we are nipping out or throw it into our pram basket, to save taking the whole bag.

The rest of the bag has a large middle compartment and 2 front pockets. I use the middle one as a combination of my stuff, ( I often carry a change of top, just in case,) perhaps a book or magazine and laptop, my camera, purse, a bottle of water, a toy for Bea and a muslin.

Then the front pockets hold my stuff. There’s a zip pocket for my phone, lip balm, hand cream and pen. Then I tend to stuff things like the Red Book, or my diary and post to be sent in the front pocket, along with a couple of cereal bars for emergencies.

And my favourite little gizmo is the key clip – no more rooting around in the bottom of a huge bag for my keys on a rainy day!

I am really happy with the Pacapod – its big enough for us to use for swimming trips with Bea’s towel etc and we have even packed it up for a couple of nights away with friends – it holds plenty of nappies and clothes. I have it ready packed and restock it after we have been out a couple of times. It’s always ready for us to go, so I never have running around the house getting ready nightmares before we go anywhere and best of all I know exactly where everything is.

Have you got a Pacapod? Would you consider one after reading this – I really can’t recommend mine enough.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Disclaimer: Pacapod sent Rebecca the Napier changing bag for review but all reviews featured here are 100% honest and genuine. If I didn’t like it, you wouldn’t be reading about it.

Bea @ 6 weeks and Nursery sneak peek!

A few weeks ago now Laura and Pete came over to capture some images of Bea while she is still tiny. We had discussed when would be the best time when we did my maternity shoot and one thing Laura said stuck with me, ‘You’ll never want to do it, you’ll never feel ready, don’t worry about tidying and everything, just get us round.’ So at 6 weeks we bit the bullet (once she was smiling,) and arranged a date. In typical fashion we had a bad night prior to them coming, and Bea then proceeded to have the most out of character day she has ever had, grizzling her way through the photos. I was tired, managed to do my hair and not much else, even throwing on some everyday clothes. But you know what, I didn’t care. I wanted images of us in our daily life, just celebrating the every day joy that Bea brings us. And that’s exactly what we got.


Head on over to the Lawson photography blog to see the whole post AND some of the photos were taken in the nursery, so you’ll get a sneaky peek of that too. :) Full post on the nursery coming soon…

Thank you so much Laura and Pete – you really do amaze me every time with the moments you capture forever.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Would you… Express?

Hardly as controversial as the title sounds, today I’m looking for a bit of advice.

So far (10 weeks in,) I haven’t expressed any breast milk at all. I haven’t had any need to or wanted to really – I’m quite happy feeding her myself, although I can imagine I might have tried sooner if she wasn’t sleeping as well! The only thing that has tempted me is the thought of an ‘emergency’ and the benefits of having a stored milk supply. This week I also have a work meeting to attend in the evening which I will have to take Bea along to, and I’m starting to see how much easier it would be to be able to leave her with daddy for 2 hours, worry free.

I didn’t buy a pump at first as I knew I could buy one quickly if I needed it (I know some people use them early for babies that won’t latch properly, or to build supply etc…) and I planned to follow the advice on not expressing until your milk supply is stable. So now I have 2 questions: Can you recommend a pump and do you have any advice on when/how to pump and store/re-use?

I’m also thinking ahead a little here as Bea already refuses a dummy and I’m worried will refuse a bottle. It’s not an issue now but I will be going back to work at around 8 months and if all is well at that point with the breast feeding still, I would express at work for what she needs on top of solids she is taking. (I don’t even know anything about this! How much of her requirements would be met by food at this stage? I’m guessing not so much?) So I need her to be taking a bottle well before then to minimise back to work stress.

Thanks in advance for your advice and thoughts readers! :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Essentials for the first 6 weeks…

This is an epic post as an update to the one I wrote before Bea arrived. There’s a lot of information around on what you NEED for a baby and I thought it would be useful to document with what we managed with. These are the things we had and actually used for the first 6 weeks. Bookmark it for the future and if you are already a mum and can add an essential that you found invaluable (because this is what worked for us and I fully acknowledge everyone is different,) please do add it in the comments. I have linked to products we used and discussed what and why below.

Travelling
Car Seat
Car mirror for rear seat rest
Wrap Sling
Pram, plus 2 sheets that fit the pram
Changing bag
Giant muslins x 3 (ALDI)

Bathing
Baby Bath
Baby shampoo and body wash
Baby sponge
Baby towel (or hand towel)
Baby nail clippers or scissors (+/- hair brush)

Changing
Changing mat
Cotton wool pads (not pleats or balls)
Bowl for water
Nappies (6 x 24 lasted us 2 weeks)
WaterWipes for out and about

Clothes
Sleepsuits x 12 (2 x NEXT first size, 7 x JL/M&S newborn, 3 x NEXT 0-1m)
Short sleeve vests x 7 (H&M baby, George at ASDA, GAP)
For hospital: Hat for first 24h, optional scratch mitts.
Blankets: 1 for the pram, 1 for car seat, 1 for around the house. (But you could easily have the same one for all of these.)

Sleeping
Grobag Swaddle x1
2 x Cellular blankets (ALDI)
Crib/moses basket/cot
2 x fitted sheets for crib
Pampers Changemats

(Breast) Feeding
Breast Feeding App
Lansinoh Nipple cream
Lansinoh Breast Pads
Muslins x 11 (5x M&S, 6 x ALDI)

For you
Maternity pads
Giant knickers
Something to wear to feed in at night
H&M stretchy vests for day
Snacks
Braun Thermometer

Travelling
This really depends on what kind of person you are but if you were looking to save money you could make do with just a wrap sling. We also had the Ergobaby but this was invaluable and I would say should be a pre-baby purchase for all parents to be as it’s so useful around the house too. Don’t forget sheets for your pram (we did,) or we use giant muslins doubled over and tucked in like a sheet (as I still haven’t got around to buying more fitted sheets!)
A changing bag could be seen as a luxury but I love our Pacapod and it makes life so easy leaving the house when it is ready packed. I just empty and top it up when nappies have been used or clothes changed in the evening and when we need to go out we just pick it up and go.
We also found as soon as we were taking Bea out and about in the car we wanted a mirror to be able to check on her from the front seat while on the move. This one doubles as a seat back iPad holder for later!

Bathing
We didn’t bath Bea for 2 weeks (top and tailed instead,) and the first time we did was in the sink but I felt it was very hard for her to be lying in and as a result we have used the IKEA baby bath since, which she loves kicking around in. She has also been in the bath with me so you don’t ‘need’ a special bath, it’s just a preference. Also, you can use a baby bath anywhere (kitchen worktops, floor, the warmest room etc,) and we fill ours pretty deep to keep her warm and let her kick around, which would take a lot more water in the big bath. We forgot to buy baby wash stuff or a sponge which you obviously need, although you could use a soft flannel if you have one. Equally, you don’t ‘need’ a special baby towel but I included it here because I like the little hood on them that keeps their head warm as soon as they come out of the bath. :) Scissors or nail clippers are a must to avoid scratched faces! (We didn’t bother with scratch mitts as she didn’t need them but she did cut her face a couple of times grabbing her face until the nails were dealt with.) We also have a bath thermometer which I don’t feel I need to use but Pete much prefers to, so that’s an individual preference too.

Changing
You don’t need a changing mat but you do need something waterproof to put baby on to change them in case of sneaky wee’s when the nappy is off or nappy explosions! We opted for cotton wool pads to prevent cotton wool fluff getting in all the creases and WaterWipes were a saviour when out and about as they don’t irritate sensitive newborn bottoms yet make life super easy.

Clothes
We keep Bea in sleepsuits most of the time. As she was a summer baby we also used to dress her in bubble or romper suits a lot because it was hot and I thought they were super cute ;) She was 6lb 5oz when she was born, and even the tiny baby stuff was big on her. By 6 weeks she had grown out of those but she is still comfortably wearing her newborn and 0-1m size baby stuff and 0-3 is still drowning her (at her current weight of 9lbs). We had more sleepsuits than vests as we didn’t always use them, plus initially we needed to change her outer layer more often than the vest. You will probably need equal numbers for a baby at any other time of year though. As I said, we didn’t use scratch mitts, booties or socks as her feet were covered (all sleepsuits seems to have built in scratch mitts now too.) We used a hat in hospital for the first 24 hours only then it was too hot. It’s a little known fact (I think) that babies thermoregulate to the external temperature after 48 hours so don’t need to be wrapped in a million layers, plus not allowing them to overheat is part of the safe sleep guidance.
We had a lot of blankets as we bought 2, and were given some too. I love our aden + anais swaddle blanket which we don’t use for swaddling (although we could) but made a perfect blanket when it was warmer and we now use on the car seat. I prefer having a few as we spread them out on the floor to put her down and it saves hunting for ‘the blanket’ when you’re going out if there is always one ready.

Sleeping
For sleeping we use our Grobag Swaddle every night. We swaddle Bea under the arms as she doesn’t like having them tucked in and she kicks her legs free every night but it stays on her body and better than a blanket. At other times (when the swaddle is in the wash) we use a single cellular blanket doubled over and tucked in on all three sides. At almost 9 weeks, think we will be graduating to a Grobag at 3 months as she is almost getting too long for the swaddle.
One of my best discoveries has been Pampers Changemats (you can buy these in many forms, these are just the ones we picked up.) We kept having to wash our crib mattress cover (that zips off) along with the bedding as Bea would be a little bit sick in the night and we would find it wet. It was quite thick and took ages to dry so couldn’t be done in a day but then I found these lifesavers. Now we have them on the crib mattress and the pram and it means if she is sick we just change the sheet which is so much easier to dry quickly and replace.

Breast Feeding
I was told Lansinoh Breast pads were the best so bought them, but found out for myself when I forgot some on a trip home and had to buy Tesco’s own. It’s hard to explain the difference but I guess it’s the difference between an old fashioned or cheap sanitary towel and Always! They are more absorbent, don’t leak, stay put and keep you dry. Don’t bother with anything else! I had 2 tubes of Lansinoh cream and was very lucky in that I didn’t have any soreness so only used the cream after every feed for about 2 weeks, then morning and evening thereafter until about 2 weeks ago. Now I don’t use it at all and for that amount of use I’ve only gone through 1 tube, but I liked having one to hand in my BF box and one upstairs with the fresh pads.

I have put muslins in this category as I use them to tuck under my boob (between my folded down bra and skin) to catch dribbles and squirts when feeding. Realistically however you can use them for so many things – burp cloths, swaddles, blankets, to wipe up with… and my favourite use is in the cot or pram folded in half and tucked in across the head area, again to keep the sheet clean and swiftly/easily change instead of the whole sheet coming off. We only have 11 which has surprised some people but they drive me mad being all over the house so I have a system of replacing them daily (different patterns help to differentiate with this!) and keeping one on the bed upstairs and one with me downstairs, then one clean one in the changing bag although I often grab the one I have and take that out too. I find I’m washing that often that this is just enough, but I could easily use another 5, particularly when you have a day that burns through them with leaks and sick etc! The ALDI ones are actually softer but nothing beats aden + anais.
I haven’t expressed yet as I haven’t wanted or needed to and we didn’t buy a pump or bottles, and I can’t comment on the requirements for bottle feeding as obviously I have no experience of it!

For Mum
Lastly, there’s you to think about in those first few weeks too! I think it’s really tough planning what you will need as you don’t know how you will feel or what kind of delivery you will have. These are the things you will definitely need though. Big knickers are a must – probably labelled ‘full briefs’ I bought 8 pairs, 4 black and 4 patterned from Primark. You will need them if you end up with a C-section but you also need them for the giant maternity pads as they simply don’t fit normal knickers. Speaking of maternity pads, they’re not glamorous but they sure do work. They are extremely absorbent and without going into too much detail, I found when I really needed them they worked brilliantly, despite my skepticism and with no leakage despite their lack of ‘wings’. I bought Boots own.

In the day time, initially I lived in H&M mama or normal vests which I pulled down to feed in. Use a muslin to cover the top half of your boob and chest if you feel self conscious. You do need to give some thought to feeding at night though – I have been through a a variety of things – specially designed nursing nighties, stretchy nighties to pull down, crop top sports bra’s and just my normal nursing bra. My Boobs are still huge, and as a result the biggest problem I’ve had is keeping my boobs in place inside the bra (as I lie on my side,) so the pad can prevent leaking. The best thing for this has been my normal bra’s and a soft sports bra I have from Primark. I did buy their crop top style bra’s but they were far too small even in the large (I’m about a 34E currently.) On colder nights now I’m using low cut jersey tops pulled down over my usual bra. In the winter I imagine I’ll keep a cardigan to hand to throw over my shoulders or feed lying down.

I also added a baby thermometer here for 2 reasons. Number one, as a GP it drives me mad when people say their child is feverish or has a temperature when they haven’t actually checked it. Children feeling hot and having a temperature are 2 different things – a baby can feel hot but not have a temperature and vice versa so it’s worth being able to tell unequivocally one way or the other. Secondly, if you are nervous they are too hot (and I have even done this,) when you check their temperature it will give you instant peace of mind, or conversely alert you that they need medical attention.

As a last note, the absolute best thing you can give new parents is food. Bake a cake or take food with you to visit and don’t expect to eat it with them or bring things that still need cooking other than just shoving in the oven. Lasagna, cannelloni, shepards pie or similar are perfect. Think carby all-in-one meals that need minimum effort and perhaps consider avoiding spicy things – I haven’t had problems with Bea but some people feel spicy foods affect their breast milk and hence the baby’s digestive system too. I promise, nothing will be better received than a meal!

Please do add any essentials that you couldn’t have lived without if I haven’t included it here!

Love,
Rebecca
xo