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.

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)

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

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

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.)

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
Braun Thermometer

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!


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20 thoughts on “Essentials for the first 6 weeks…

  1. Great post – I think this is pretty much similar to what we used. Max would never be swaddled so he went into a grobag quite quickly – a little tip (which you probably won’t need but I am a bit slow off the mark

  2. The rest of my comment disappeared, I wasn’t trying to create suspense ; )

    Anyway, we bought a different brand grobag and there were no poppers under the arms to adjust the size and M ended up sliding all the way down inside it which sort of defeated the object! Mothercare/John Lewis ones we have are fine. You can also get the actual Gro-bag ones in TKMaxx which is handy.

  3. Great list Rebecca! Very comprehensive. The only other things that would be on my list would be a baby gym type play mat and / or bouncy chair. My eldest loved her mat from her second week. My youngest not so much but would sit in the bouncy chair for a while. It was invaluable to have somewhere to pop them down for a couple of minutes to get something done and as they get bigger they use these things more and more until about 6 months.

    • I haven’t included a baby gym on my list as we didn’t buy one until Bea was 6 weeks as we didn’t feel she needed it yet, but I know lots of parents use it from birth. We haven’t bought a bouncer either as yet…

  4. We’re only at 4 weeks but our invaluable things so far…
    – a comfy baby chair means we’ve been able to sit down to dinner every night whilst baby sleeps on the chair nearby.
    – the sleepyhead baby mattress has just revolutionised our nights. Our boy doesn’t like being swaddled but this makes him feel secure and has stopped him jolting himself awake.
    – dettol anti bac wipes which we keep with all the changing stuff to quickly clean up after spillages.
    As well as the many things you’ve mentioned : )

  5. Great list.
    For sleeping I’d add a free white noise app
    I completely agree with your clothes list. In terms of quality of baby clothes I’ve been really impressed by asda, next and john lewis. Their baby grows are made from lovely thick cotton. At the other end of he spectrum we have some from tesco, and posh US department store Nordstrom which are really disappointing quality
    The final thing that really saved our sanity on the early weeks was a graco “love n hug” baby swing. Which was the only was we could get G to settled on some colicky evenings.

  6. It’s so funny how different babies / parents are! Of your picture at the top, I wouldn’t consider any of these as essentials as we didn’t use any, apart from possibly the thermometer which we have, but have never used apart from on me when I got an infection in my C-section wound 5 weeks post-delivery.

    Evelyn HATED being swaddled or sleeping in the moses basket, so I’m really glad that we bought the cot before the birth as she went in at 3 weeks and in a Grobag at 7 weeks. We didn’t use any baby bath or products for the first 6-8 weeks, just bathed in the bathroom sink using water only, plus a flannel.

    I do however totally agree with the need for copious muslins, we probably have about 25 and still use them lots now a year on, although last night I was using one to wipe pizza off my fingers, haha!

    We didn’t bother with scratch mitts either – I personally think they are a ridiculous invention. I always think with baby stuff, consider whether mothers 20, 30 or 40 years ago (i.e. when we were born….) used this stuff and if they didn’t it means in all likelihood you don’t need it!

    The best breast pads I have found are Johnsons, they are lovely and soft, never leaked and I find they stay in place, plus they are less than £2 for a box of 30 (from Ocado), so much cheaper than lansinoh. You’re right on the Tescos ones – hideous!

    That’s my tuppence worth 🙂 xxx

    • You’re absolutely right Sophie – all babies and parents are so different. I wanted to write this because when I was planning for Bea people would say I needed x, y or z and I would think, ‘But how many sleep suits, and do I really need a baby bath?’

      Also certain things on here aren’t just what we used from the off – the swaddle for example, we tried on and off and got into a habit of using as it’s convenient – easier than tucking sheets in around her when she is asleep and risking waking her, a bit like a grobag I guess. She hates being swaddled above the arms though and did from birth – we very quickly went below the arms and it’s not that tight either so it just shows how trial, error and experience is the greatest information you’ll get.

      • So true – everyone tells you that you need different things, it’s so overwhelming! I think with swaddling babies seem to either love it or hate it, but you’re right – the best option is trial and error, to see what works best. You will be doing it forever as 1 year down the line, I am still finding that things change every week! Evelyn has never been a baby with a very strict routine though, which I realise now is somewhat of a blessing as it’s much easier to be flexible, travel and “go with the flow”.

        Def try the breast pads, although I have teeny boobs so maybe that’s why I liked them better – having said that, small boobs are supposed to leak more! x

  7. Great post! I second the bouncy chair, we were able to use it from quite early as my not so little boy (10lb9oz at birth) was very strong. It got us through many a mealtime as he could sit in it and see us.
    I always tell people with newborns about the pampers nappy wetness indicator, I only discovered it several months in but basically there is a yellow line down the front of the nappy which turns blue when it is wet. As health visitors often ask how many wet nappies you are getting it’s a good way of knowing – a nappy can be wet but feel dry on the inside if you know what I mean.
    If you don’t want to express much a manual breast pump will be fine, I was able to build up a good freezer supply in case of emergency. I always found just feeding myself to be more convenient than getting my husband to give a bottle of expressed milk however.
    I got caught out as I wasn’t expecting such a big baby, I had packed 0-1 month sized clothes in my hospital bag and they got nowhere near him! Not even the hat would fit! Luckily the hospital was city centre so my dad was dispatched to go to Next and buy babygrows, vests and a hat in the 0-3 month size which was fine.

  8. Great post. I loved using Grobags with my first daughter. She used them until she was about two and a half years. However, I find them a bit wide at the neck so not suitable for small babies. This time around I have discovered PurFlo Sleepsacs. I’ve used these since my daughter was about 9lbs. They seem to be a good fit. I much prefer to use these at night as I’m not very good at swaddling.

  9. On my Mum’s advice, I only bought 0-3 sleepsuits. When Alex was born at 9lb 14ozs, I was glad I listened to her! For the first 3 months, he lived in these as they were so comfy.

    I would highly recommend Sainsbury’s for vests and sleepsuits, especially when they have 25% off like they do now. They’re much more generous in their sizing than Tesco and come up around the same price. Their clothes have been great for groups and nursery too – they wash up well and don’t seem to shrink in the tumble drier. However, their pyjamas, for some reason, do seem to go bobbly in the wash. I also raided M&S, Next and Monsoon sales for clothes and bought ahead of the age Alex needed.

    A good monitor is also needed for when you are downstairs whilst the baby is asleep in your room. I’m not convinced by the temperature reading on my Tomy one though – even if the room felt cold last winter it never seemed to drop below 21 degrees!

    If you frequently travel to your parents’ house, get a supply of toiletries etc there too. Makes things a lot easier when it comes to packing!

  10. I used to freeze during night feeds, so I bought myself a waist length thick, fleece dressing gown thing from Marks and Spencers and couldn’t have been without it. Really easy to chuck on in the dark as, extra cosy and as its fleece quick to wash and dry when it got covered in milk and sick (which was all the time!)

  11. I didn’t have a kindle when Phoebe first arrived and it would have stopped hours of googling finding things to worry about when she was little during night feeds.
    I also keep an extra stash of nappies, wipes etc in a small bag in the boot of the car, just in case we’re out for longer than expected or there are more explosions than anticipated. Most places its easy to grab extras but some of the days out we’ve had this summer it’s been invaluable.

    • Yes I second keeping stuff in the car, we have a special “car muslin” (!) plus wipes etc. as you never know when you might need them!

  12. Our must haves included:
    From newborn…
    – box sets (for those days when you do nothing but feed!)
    – a sling (for when you need 2 hands/really need to settle your baby!)
    – a bouncy chair (still used daily at 3 months. I put it in the kitchen when I cook, bathroom when I shower etc, it’s fab)
    – Sudacrem (our boy got quite bad nappy rash and baby acne and this cleared both up in days)
    – a freezer full of food (I cooked and froze so much food which was such a life saver)
    – a water bottle with a “sucky top” (to drink one handed and not worry about spills etc when feeding)

    From 4+ weeks…
    – play mat (gives me huuuuge chunks of time to get things done as he is so happy on his)
    – sleeping bag (a must for a kicky baby)
    – bath support (my husband works late so I have to do bath time alone I stuck this in the big bath and it works great)
    – monitor with video (I was sceptical about the need for video but think us be running upstairs every 10 seconds without it! Also has thermometer so don’t need to buy a separate one)

  13. Brilliant list – particularly agree about the Lansinoh pads and the gorgeous Aden & Anais muslins. Love your blog.

    Just to say, I am a paediatric registrar and using tympanic thermometers in newborns is a big no-no, whatever it says on the packet! The manufacturer is biased! It is just too difficult to get an accurate reading and the major risk is it coming up too low. Ask any paediatric nurse to show you how to use one on a baby under 6 months old and they will recoil in horror and tell you it’s simply not possible to use it accurately. Use a tempadot or use a digital thermometer (rectally for the most accurate core temperature readings). Indeed it is frustrating when someone says their baby is feverish without having checked, but it’s just as frustrating when they’ve checked with a tympanic thermometer and you realise it’s completely unreliable. Take any baby to A&E and they will have their temperature checked with a tempadot, the nurses won’t go near them with a tympanic thermometer until they are much older (6 months to a year)!

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