BRINGING HOME BABY
What you really need when you bring baby home from hospital: the essentials.
When we were preparing for our first baby, everyone kept asking us “is the nursery all ready?” What no one tells you is that you probably won’t set foot in the nursery for at least 4 weeks, and in our case more like 5 months. We had everything all ready and looking beautiful – the quilt and bunting I painstakingly handmade for her (I have no idea how I’m going to find time to make another one if we ever have a second baby, but it seems like I’m pretty much signed up for it now though), the perfectly selected and colour-matched artwork above the cot, the second hand nursing chair which I laboured over for weeks to sew new covers in a coordinating duck-egg blue.
And while this all does make for good distraction when you’re trying to avoid thinking about labour, the birth, and how you’re ever going to sleep again, it doesn’t actually really prepare you for the first day when you come home from hospital. You will most likely be spending the vast majority of your time in bed for the first few days/weeks, getting to know your baby and recovering from what is really quite a significant hit to your body (I very much underestimated this!). You will quite likely be feeding baby in bed or on the sofa while watching property renovation programmes, not on the beautifully re-upholstered nursing chair. You will be dressing baby in whatever you can get onto her without her crying, not in the oh-so-adorable denim skirt (newborn size) from Baby Gap. I took advice from Gina Ford’s book and bought something like half a dozen flat sheets for her cot. I don’t think we used a single one of them.
So here’s the low-down on what you really need when you bring baby home from hospital: the new baby essentials.
- Newborn babies look gorgeous in anything you put on them. Keep it simple for you (as you will probably be changing baby’s outfit several times a day following vomiting/poo disasters), and comfortable for them. A set of sleepsuits (the ones with fold-over mitts are great to keep baby from accidentally scratching herself), babygrows/onesies (long or short-sleeved depending on the season), and a few warm cardigans and hats (in the winter) will certainly see you through the first month. My favourite was this soft blue romper from Emile & Rose (John Lewis £29). Also, size 0-3 months does not, contrary to what you might think, fit your baby from 0 to 3 months. I had bought only these, and they were ENORMOUS on my dainty newborn girl (6 lbs 11 ounces). Daddy was sent out to M&S to buy some emergency “tiny baby” sleepsuits.
- You’ll need somewhere for your baby to sleep for the first few months before moving into the big cot. This can be a bedside crib or a moses basket – also a good idea to borrow one of these as I know many babies who hated their moses basket and it was never used, although if you do I love the Millie & Boris Moses Basket (Mamas & Papas £99) We invested in the Sleepyhead Baby Pod (John Lewis £55), which worked really well for us and can be used inside a crib (which we did) or as a co-sleeping option. I also carted it around the house so baby could sleep in it on the sofa next to me (rather than carrying the moses basket around).
- I’d also recommend purchasing 2-3 swaddling blankets. We loved these easy-to-use ones from the Gro Company (Mothercare £22.99). Most babies love being swaddled as it makes them feel secure and cuddled, and keeps their Moro reflex in check.
- Some sort of white noise is also a great idea (for both you and baby!). We bought Ewan The Dreamsheep (John Lewis £29.95), which is lovely, but you can also download several free apps on your phone that do the same thing. Trust me, I don’t know why but white noise really does help!
- Get a supply of muslin cloths. We were told these would be our life-savers, so I went out and bought about 10 of them, but really I only needed 3-4.
- Nipple Shields. These are pretty cheap, and can be a total life-saved if you’re struggling with latching, or if you are in lots of pain! So worthwhile just having on hand.
- Even if you’re intending to breast feed, have a few bottles and formula on stand-by as well as a sterilising solution or microwave steriliser. I liked these Tommee Tippee bottles (Mama’s & Papa’s £27)
- I bought a rather expensive electric pump because I thought it was what you just needed, but in reality I only used it a few times. I was lucky enough to be at home with my little girl for the whole time she was nursing so didn’t need to pump factory quantities. A simple hand pump would have been enough.
- Get yourself a big stash of nappies (you can expect to get through 8-10 per day, so a week’s supply of 56 is a good start)! I also loved water wipes (a much more handy, portable option than cooled, boiled water and cotton wool) and changing pad or towel. You don’t need an official changing table (and even less a “top-and-tail” bowl) – you can set up a changing mat anywhere. On the your bed, on the sofa, on the floor – wherever is easiest and closest.
- Nappy rash ointment is also always good to have on hand. We liked Burts Bees Diaper Ointment (Gorgeous £9.89), and Metanium for more serious rashes. If your bedroom is upstairs, set up a downstairs changing station too so you don’t have to traipse up and down the stairs every half hour.
- You will need a car seat to bring baby home from hospital (though the hospital often also has details of taxi firms who can provide one, if you’re not going to need a car seat for yourself). We bought the Maxi-Cosi Pebble (John Lewis £165)
- I’d also suggest a sling. I absolutely love our Baby Bjorn One baby carrier (Mothercare £124.99) which we still use at 19 months. It’s so handy for a quick trip to keep your hands free and not have to worry about how to get the buggy onto buses and in and out of shops. Most babies (though not all!) also love being in a baby carrier.
- Of course you’ll need a buggy, I’d go for one with bassinet and car seat adapters. If you have a car seat, it’s so useful to have car seat adapters on your buggy. If baby falls asleep in the car, you can just lift her out in the car seat and click her onto the buggy without waking her.
- This is an important one. You’re going to be pretty exhausted for a while, and unless you have an extremely helpful mother (in-law) staying with you, it’s a great idea to prepare the house for what you’re going to need to take good care of yourself. This is especially important if you’re breastfeeding. We loved COOK for their ready made, home-cooked food, and kept a large stash in the freezer so we always had solid meals available. They even offer 10% off for new parents for the first six months!
- It’s also a good idea to have snacks and water stationed wherever you’re going to be feeding baby. It’s tiring work! And of course, plenty of box sets on TV and your iPhone with the Amazon app. Online shopping is now your best friend!