Below are my 8 essential newborn items that have formed part of my new mum survival kit! They were a great help in the first few weeks with my new baby when I felt pretty clueless! You can also read my Survival Series posts about how to survive with a newborn baby, starting with specific tips for mums, then all about baby behaviour and finally breastfeeding.
My 8 must haves for a newborn
Baby Essential #1: Ollie the Owl from The Gro Company
When my husband and I got back from the hospital with our new baby boy, I soon realised we didn’t actually have much of a baby-friendly vibe to our bedroom (except for the Moses basket for Rowan to sleep in). We were, understandably, a little overwhelmed (and a lot tired) since becoming parents for the first time, and in our naivety we simply expected Rowan to go to bed like we did: turning out the lights, tucking ourselves in and heading off to the land of nod! Rowan quickly showed us he had other ideas and I soon understood why there are so many products out there that play lullabies and shine ambient lighting around the room! I told my mum and sister about our severe lack of a comforting bed time atmosphere, and they came to the rescue with Ollie the Owl from the Gro Company.
Ollie the Owl is a sound and sleep aid with four different music options: white noise, heartbeat, rainfall and Brahm’s lullaby (I use the lullaby setting most of all as it is very soothing for us as well as Rowan!). It also has a nightlight in its belly with different brightness settings – we don’t use this feature at the moment but when Rowan is in his own room I think it will come in very handy.
The best design feature about Ollie the Owl has to be that it is sound-activated: When you first select the sound you want it to play (by squeezing one of its wings) it then plays that music for 20 minutes; after that, when it detects a sound like a cry, it starts playing again and will continue for another 20 minutes. This sound detection has a great level of sensitivity and responds to a variety of noises (including a loud fart from Rowan which had me giggling even at 3am!).
The furry finish is very soft and there is a Velcro strap on the back which we use to hang it from the handle of the Moses basket. It takes four AA batteries which, from my experience of using it virtually every night, lasts around 3 to 4 weeks.
Baby Essential #2: the Kinder Valley Nursing Pillow
This nursing pillow was recommended to me by a friend who had used it with her new baby. It was a lifeline in the early stages when I was very weak from post-cesarean surgery and needed all the support my arms could get for holding Rowan while feeding him. It also acts as a great little ‘bed’ for him to lie in when you need to put them down somewhere other than their Moses basket or cot.
I did find, though, that I became a little dependent on mine for taking all the support while breastfeeding and I realised I wasn’t holding Rowan in the best position (I was letting him lie too far onto his back rather than on his side). It wasn’t getting in the way of feeding but it wasn’t ideal for his latch so I stopped using it for a little bit when I felt stronger, to make sure I was holding Rowan in the best position. After a week or so I went back to it and realised I just needed to not have it quite so close to my body (basically to accommodate Rowan’s ever-increasing size!). So I would recommend that anyone who purchased one of these just be sure to keep adjusting it into the optimal position for you and your baby.
Baby Essential #3: Colic Drops
In my research about what to buy before baby is born, colic drops was often listed as a must-have. My husband was skeptical about buying something like this before knowing if we really needed it, but my logic was that it was better to have it and not need it than wish we had some at midnight when Rowan had been crying inconsolably for hours! Sure enough, when one night Rowan was red-faced and screaming and pulling his legs up in the colic way, we were glad we had the Dentinox Colic Drops in our medicine cupboard. We were both a bit reluctant to use it (giving medicine to a newborn didn’t seem right somehow?!) and when syringing the thick goop into Rowan’s mouth he cried even more which was truly heart-wrenching! But after about 30 seconds the crying suddenly stopped and he remained much calmer until finally dropping off to sleep.
Though we haven’t used the colic drops frequently, we have since purchased the Infacol drops to give them a try. The Dentinox colic drops is very thick and you have to use what feels like quite a large amount, whereas the Infacol uses a smaller amount and the consistency seems a little more manageable. It’s also orange flavoured which I think was a little more palatable for Rowan!
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway!) to always follow the instructions on the product label and that if you are concerned at all about the health of your baby you should seek medical advice from a GP or your health visitor.
Baby Essential #4: Muslin Cloths
We were told by almost all our friends with kids that muslin cloths are a definite must-have. In the first few weeks we wondered why as Rowan didn’t do much spitting up at all. However, after about week 3 we suddenly saw what all the hype was about! I lose count of how many cloths we get through in a day now so it is definitely true that you can’t have too many muslin cloths. We have a nice drawer-full in the nursery, though most of them now go straight from the tumble dryer into several places stashed around the home for rapid retrieval!
Baby Essential #5: Bed Jacket
Now you may be thinking I’m speaking from the 1950’s, or you may be wondering what exactly is a bed jacket? But this item of clothing totally transformed nighttime feeds for me! A bed jacket is a garment that you can wear over a nightie to keep your shoulders and arms warm. And that was precisely the difficulty I was having – cold shoulders and arms when breastfeeding at night. It may not seem like the biggest problem in the world but at 2am on a January night in the north of England, being cold as well as awake was just one discomfort too many! So my mum came to the rescue (again!) and suggested a bed jacket and I actually managed to source one that wasn’t too just-out-of-a-time-capsule.
Baby Essential #6: the Gro-egg Room Thermometer
Another great product from The Gro Company is their egg room thermometer. It shows the temperature of the room on a digital display and glows a corresponding colour depending on whether it’s too cold (blue), just right (yellow) or too warm (red). The glowing light also acts a nightlight and I find it’s a nice ambient level of brightness (and I usually have to sleep in total darkness!).
My favourite thing about the Gro-egg is that you can quickly see the temperature from the display and at night (when your brain’s processing power is less optimal!) you can quickly gauge the room temperature just by the colour that is showing.
Baby Essential #7: a nasal aspirator
This does what it says on the tin – you suck out the gunk from your baby’s nose when they’re all stuffed up with a cold! It’s not pretty, but it is clever, and when Rowan got his first cold we were very glad to have it on hand (though I couldn’t stomach using it, so it was my husband’s job!).
Baby Essential #8: the Luxa Star Pyramid light
This isn’t strictly a baby or child-related product and in fact it was something I spotted at a garden centre among all their Christmas decorations for sale. I was immediately in awe of how soothing it was to watch and thought it would be great for providing ambient lighting when getting up to feed Rowan in the night. It’s too big and bright to be a nightlight but it’s ideal for providing just enough light to see by without resorting to the main bedroom lights or table lamps which, at 4am, burn with the power of the sun on your sleep-deprived eyes! And, as I mentioned, it is so soothing and hypnotic to watch that it helps keep a calm atmosphere – and when Rowan started being able to see it, he was hypnotised too!
We got ours from a local garden centre where I first saw it but you can also find them on the Luxa website. Ours is the ‘Star Flower Pyramid’ and there are a few other styles to choose from – all totally transfixing!
So what products could you not live without for life with your newborn baby? Leave a comment below! 🙂