9 baby items we couldn’t live without during the first 3 months

Dress: £30, Next.

Okay okay, so maybe this is an exaggeration – we could’ve lived without these things but they definitely made our life easier over that fourth trimester where frankly, we had no idea what we were doing. But, looking back, I’d like to give myself a little high five and say – “You did good!”.

We tried not to listen to everyone’s advice (and trust me, everyone offered it), read too many things  and resisted buying too much unnecessary ‘stuff’.

By the time we had Peggy, we literally had a pram, a Sleepyhead and a crib. We then played it by ear and got a few things as we thought she was ready for…

One thing we found was that the baby marketing world will tell you you need 7 types of baby seats, jungle gyms from birth, rocking chairs that help with colic which your baby definitely will have from the day they’re born….and it’s up to you to wade through it all and decide what’s essential. And you don’t need to have everything brand new, most of ours were hand-me-downs and secondhand items (but I’ve linked to the originals for research purposes).

So I thought I’d write a little piece on the items we found useful during those first few months:

Sleepyhead: £130, John Lewis. Swaddle blanket: £15, Storksak.

A Sleepyhead

Look, I’m not saying buy one of these and your baby will sleep, it’s just more of a possibility that they will in this rather than a giant expansive cot where they feel small and cold rather than close and snuggly.

To be honest we had a Moses basket too, but we only really used it to put the Sleepyhead in and after a while just stuck to the Sleepyhead (ours is secondhand). It now goes in her crib and she is beginning to do long naps and sleep through the night (with one waking).

It’s portable too, I took it to my parents’ house the first time they looked after her so she had some consistency, and we even took to Spain to use in the travel cot. People might tell you horror stories about SIDS but none of this is conclusive re: Sleepyheads (and I’m pretty sure SIDS effects cots, too, so you’ll worry about everything if you read too much).

And obviously your baby will always prefer to sleep on you, and that’s nice, too.

A portable change mat

We didn’t have a nursery ready when she was born, so we just kept a portable change mat handy and did it wherever: the sofa, the floor, the bed, our laps. It was fine. Ours was the Baba Bing flip out mat with space for wipes and nappies and is slightly padded – perfect for those holiday beach changes too.

Ewan the dream sheep: £29.99, Amazon. Sleepsuit: Marks & Spencer.

Ewan the Dream Sheep

My mum brought this to the hospital the day Peggy was born (complete with spare batteries!) and we used him from Day 1. He plays all sorts of white noise and lovely harp lullabies (our favourite) which we used to calm her during nappy change and before we put her to bed, now she associates it with calm time and sometimes it’s just drown out noise as you creep about hoping a floorboard doesn’t creak!

Yes, you could use a white noise or lullaby app on your phone but…I don’t know about you, but I need to use my phone to take a million photos of her and then look at said photos of her whilst sat in another room…

Baby blanket

I’m talking ones you can throw on the floor for baby to lay on (our baby doesn’t actually love being cuddled, much preferring to lay on her back and kick to her heart’s content). Yes, you could just use one from around the house but a nice cotton one means your baby won’t get fluff in her mouth and will provide a lovely backdrop for photos (trust me, you’ll be taking a LOT). Plus, we learnt very early on that it’s much easier to whip this up and wash it when an unexpected toilet explosion happens, than trying to clean your one of a kind Moroccan Beni rug…

Bath cape (which we used as a blanket): £35, Willa & the Bear.

Muslins

You may have noticed from the pics already, but we used a hell of a lot of muslins over the last few months – perfect for swaddling, to be used as cot sheets, sleepyhead covers, blankets in the heat, mopping up milk spillage, dribbling…their uses are endless plus they wash well and babies seem to love them – I often just place one in Peggy’s hands in the car now or dangle over her head as a makeshift mobile. Try Etsy for cute ones (I love The Fox in The Attic), Storksak for blanket ones and Etta Loves for sensory ones to play with.

Peggy mesmorised by an Etta Loves muslin. Sleepsuit: Primark.

Extra phone Storage

My phone was due an upgrade before Peggy was born, and I made sure I upgraded to a phone with the most memory I could afford – and boy was it worth it. I must have taken a thousand photos in that first month alone. Make sure you take them off and store them though (I still use Snapfish and print photos – shock horror) or you might have to delete them later to make room for a thousand more pics.

Someone also told us about the app 1 Second Everyday, and we’ve been using it and loving it and will keep going until her 1st birthday. You upload a video everyday and it merges 1 second together to make a video you’ll want to watch and watch and watch. When I look back now, I can’t believe she was so tiny/used to cry in the bath/fitted that sleepsuit etc. I thought I’d write a journal/edit a video diary etc but the truth is you’ll get round to doing absolutely none of that so this is an ‘achievable’ thing.

Pram: Yoyo Babyzen. Dress: H&M (old).

A Pram

Apparently you’re not allowed to leave the hospital without a pram and car seat (I’m not sure how true this is) but this is the one thing we were glad we had sorted. Luckily for us, Chris’s brother has a baby a year older than Peggy so passed on a lot of useful stuff like the newborn bassinet and the car seat, so we only had to buy the wheels, really (which my mum kindly offered to buy). This eliminated a lot of the research we had to do on prams, but we were kind of set on this pram anyway.

It’s the smallest one on the market and super easy to pack away into a car (even I can do it!) and it is so compact you can carry it on a strap and put in the overhead compartments as hand luggage on a flight.

We haven’t tried any other prams but we love this and have NEVER had to ask anyone in a restaurant to move their chair in (which was my aim, to be honest).

Home-cooked meals

I have been asked by A LOT of people what the best presents we received were after having our daughter. One of them was a huge box of water wipes, and the other was FOOD. So many of my lovely friends brought home cooked lasagnes, chilli con carne or even just sent vouchers for Cook, where we could order frozen meals delivered to our door.

I really underestimated how hard it was to cook in those first few months (or even get out to buy food to cook) and these gestures made it so much easier (brownie points if, like some of my friends, they donated the dish too).

Oh, and one person sent Gower Cottage Brownies by post and now it’s all we will ever send to friends with babies – so delicious! And useful to have out if visitors come round.

Sling or carrier

You soon learn that babies don’t just go to sleep once you kiss them and lay them in a sleepyhead/crib/moses basket/anywhere and at some point you’ll realise you’ll want to get stuff done. Even just some plain old pottering or hanging some clothes up and this is where a sling or a carrier comes in.

Annoyingly, we have both. Mainly because I bought a sling from Amazon (Baby K’Tan) as I loved the idea of them being snuggly and warm and close and womb-like. I loved it BUT you buy it according to your size, not your baby’s, which meant that Chris couldn’t use it as well – so we found a Baby Bjorn in the Mothercare sale and we love that we can both wear it – and it has really come into its own on holiday. We go out for dinner, stand and eat tapas at the bar and she has (mainly) slept!

See? I make all the mistakes so you don’t have to.

So that is it, really! Note there is nothing in this list that sways/rocks/sings/lights up all at once. You’ve got plenty of time for that stuff to invade your home.

Also two books we loved were ‘Baby Week By Week’ – it’s good to use as a ‘rough’ guide on what to expect. And then ‘Sleep Sense’ which comes into its own more around 3 months – a friend sent this to me as it gives you a gentle guide to help your baby develop sensible sleeping patterns but at the same time, more importantly, gives you realistic expectations on what to expect and why. I got to page 3 of Gina Forde and decided it wasn’t for us, and liked the routine of The Baby Whisperer but found it very matter of fact and didn’t allow for much deviation (search for the E.A.S.Y method – and I also used Anneli Bush’s routine as a guideline). We found that these two books just seemed a bit more flexible for us.

We’ve just muddled our way through really and it’s all a learning curve but at 4 months now, we have a lovely happy baby so we must be doing something right.

31 Comments

  1. Isn’t Peggy a beauty!! I’ve done exactly the same and didn’t buy much then what’s in your list, literally every time bar the home cooked meals. I did however got a bouncy seat from the moment she was big enough as she loved sitting on her own and it kept her away from the dog (he loves a good baby blanket too ?) Luckily people never over shared their advise with me but I learned quickly never to look on mumsnet for advise. Oh last thing how great is the 1second app! We are coming up to 6 months and can’t wait to send the grandparents the video!

    1. Oh yes my brother in law passed one on too and we love the bouncer – I think we started using it a bit early really but now it’s great for her to just have a stare around the room as we get a few bits and bobs done! I must admit we wish our kitchen was sorted as would be great to have her in it whilst cooking etc! xxx

  2. We have a month old baby and have loved the sleepyhead and baby Bjorn bouncer (for the times he refuses to nap and we need to put him down!) It looks like you’ve been doing an amazing job and I’m really enjoying seeing your baby journey 🙂 I’m going to download the 1 second a day app now, I wish we’d used it from the beginning!

  3. Hi Alex – one thing I’d LOVE to know is how did Peggy take to the bottle? I’m ebf my 5-month-old and want to try expressing so I/OH or her big sis can give her a bottle BUT when I tried (just the once, mind) she just played with it. Anything you tried and tested? Perseverance? Patience of a saint?! I’d love a night out which is probably my main driver if I’m being totally honest! Big sis refused a bottle from 3-weeks until the year mark. Gah! (Newbie follower of yours in neighbouring Palmers Green!) X

    1. Oh hello!
      So yes, she does but not really from me – she just pushes it away and smiles at me…! We persevered from 3 weeks with one bottle at night (mainly because she wasn’t gaining much weight so we wanted to make sure she had one decent feed where we knew how much she was taking) – she is much slower with the bottle and some days isn’t as interested and went through a brief stage of not wanting it but slowly but surely she is fine now! I think perseverance is key – and maybe the teat? We tried the latex Nuk ones when she was fussy but she didn’t like them, but have heard good things from Dr Brown bottles? xxx

      1. Ah thanks Alex! I have an array of bottles from the failed attempts with my first! Will start to work my way through them. It’s finding the time to express though. I can’t seem to get my day organised. Perseverance it is then. I think I’ll aim to try at least once a day. Thank you! xxx

  4. I am 20 weeks pregnant, and feeling a little overwhelmed and this post has come at just the right time, thank you! Adding all of these things to my baby spreadsheet immediately, as well as bookmarking Anneli Bush’s post! (Though of course a Sleepyhead is already on the spreadsheet as news of babies loving that really travels!) Your daughter is gorgeous.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I went to a baby shower last Saturday for a friend of my daughter. Although the mom-to-be left with three grocery carts full of gifts, there were some things on your list that could really fill gaps and help both mom and dad be more “in the moment” with the baby. Also, thank you for giving us a little window into Peggy. She’s grown so much!

  6. I can attest that I had a baby and Alex sent me Gower Cottage Brownies, and it was a BIG hit in our house. My 2 year old exclaimed ‘oh boy’ just smelling them when we opened the box! If anyone feels they need a treat (you know you deserve one) order some of these!

    I’m also going back to the sleepyhead link. I need my 1 month old to want to sleep somewhere other than my arms. So different from my first baby, so these tips are a godsend when you think you know what to expect and think you have all you need!

  7. Lovely post Alex. Our daughter Zoe has just turned 3 months so it’s been fun following along as we’re at a similar stage.

    We’ve definitely benefited from the Sleepyhead (we came to it late – about 8 weeks in – and it was a bit of a gamechanger for night time sleeps). I might look into that Sleep Sense book too. Zoe’s main issue is napping somewhere other than my arms during the day. I’ve been trying the EASY method as it seems like a good structure but with a bit of flexibility, though not sure whether I’m spelling it right, it’s more like EAESEEAESE for me! x

    1. ha! Yes – EAESY for us too! I actually preferred sleep sense and with a bit of perseverance, we now put her down, stroke her head and she sleeps for naps and night time (albeit with a couple of back and forths – but generally it doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes now and much preferable to rocking etc!), taken about 3 weeks but worth it xxx

  8. Alex, as ever your blog posts are not just informative but beautifully crafted, and I love the pictures of your beautiful Peggy. We are due to have our baby any minute now and hoping that gifts come in the form of food and childcare (for Monty, our 8yo) rather than plastic noisy things!

    Thank you for all the tips.

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