So here at The Haute List we have been quite busy getting married, moving jobs, house hunting and having a baby! That has left little time for blogging… but as part of the thought process behind The Haute List is our love of lists (travel lists… foodie lists… beauty lists etc.) we thought it would be a good time to revive it for this one.
When I was pregnant this year, I only had a couple of friends who had recently had a baby and could help me prepare for all the many things these little people apparently need. Luckily, they were brilliantly organised people (probably why we’re such good friends!) and had lists and spreadsheets on hand to give me. Similar lists tend to do the rounds between friends and over time I started to build my own from hours of Amazon review-reading and my own trial and error.
I am now in the very exciting position of having many more friends who are due soon, and some have asked me for my recommendations to pass on. I’ve tried to think of everything, but inevitably every parent and kid is different and my style and approach is by no means universal. Aurora is also only 3 months old so I have yet to venture into the wonderful world of weaning (although I fear I am already on the boundaries of teething) so it’s only a list of what I would recommend so far. Hope it helps!
Let’s start with the Hospital Bag:
- 3 sleepsuits (most all newborn sleep suits have integrated scratch mitts so I never needed any) – poppers down the front not the back;
- 3 vests (either with straps or short sleeves) to wear underneath;
- 2 hats;
- a few bibs – they will dribble milk however you try to feed them so these are always useful;
- a few muslins and swaddle blankets (Aden & Anais are my favourites – so soft even after many, many washes);
- A pack of nappies (I went with Pampers Sensitive Size 1);
- Nappy Wipes (I like the Water Wipes – order in bulk like the nappies from Amazon (on that note, Amazon Prime will be your best friend);
- Nappy barrier cream (I use Bepanthen);
- the car seat (we chose the MaxiCosi Pebble Plus);
- a Morrck blanket – these are great as they are warm and fit into the car seat (with holes for the straps) so you don’t have to try to get your tiny baby into a huge snowsuit, just put them in the chair and wrap them up; and
- (optional) some ready-made formula of your choice – whether or not you want to breastfeed, just in case it’s not going so well. We took the Aptimil starter kit which comes with sterilised bottles and tiny teats.
- Pyjamas / nighties;
- Lots of large comfy knickers;
- Comfy clothes for daytime and leaving hospital – tracksuit bottoms / leggings etc.
- Spare clothes for your partner who might stay the night at some point during your stay on a very uncomfortable chair;
- Cotton maternity pads (I got a box of the Natracare ones – get some spare to have when you go home);
- Flip flops to use in the bathroom;
- (If planning to breastfeed): Lansinoh nipple cream (also a great lip balm!); breast pads (I also went with the Lansinoh and they’re great), a nursing pillow (you can just use a normal pillow though), nursing bras (M&S / H&M / ASOS do great ones – particularly the more comfy “sleep” nursing bras which are like crop tops);
- Phone chargers;
- Bendy straws + your choice of high energy drink (I went with Ribena);
- A small plastic jug – for when you go for a wee after a natural birth – pour cold water on yourself at the same time. This then becomes handy for bath time (see below);
- A fan / water spray (I didn’t end up using either but the wards can be a bit stuffy);
- Tens machine – you can hire these but Amazon had an offer at the time that was the same price so we bought one – you can use them afterwards for back pain;
- Your hospital notes (take any copies of scan photos out, as once you give birth they keep your file!)
- Arnica 200 – order these from a chemist and take them before and after labour;
- Towel and shower toiletries and make up (the air can be quite dry so I took some nice serums / night cream);
- hair bands;
- iPad / Kindle / magazines
- A cot (a cot bed is better if you have the space as it can convert into a toddler bed later);
- A moses basket or crib if the baby is sleeping in another room (we have a moses in TV room downstairs) or a Snuzpod (or similar) if baby is sleeping in your room – it attaches to your bed and friends seem to really like it;
- A nursing chair (or comfy corner of the sofa) – we went for the West Elm Graham Glider but friends like the Olli Ella one and John Lewis;
- A footstool and little side table for your nursing chair – comfort is key when feeding otherwise you will hurt your back, and it’s nice to have somewhere near the chair to put your phone / the bottle etc. when burping;
- Changing table (we up-cycled two Ikea chests of drawers with these fancy brass handles to get twice as much storage);
- A car seat – they are all ridiculously heavy even without the baby!!!;
- Isofix adapter for your car (if compatible);
- A pram – such a contentious subject. I went for the Joolz Geo Mono as I wanted something as sturdy as the Bugaboo Chameleon but this had a larger basket at the bottom (and better colour options in my opinion!) but they are both seriously heavy. We do not go on rambling country walks every day to justify it, but it does feel very sturdy and easy to manoeuvre – they’re just not great if you have no upper body strength like me. Lighter options that friends have recommended include the Bugaboo Bee (I love the grey – get the carrycot and the cocoon if you can – carrycots are really useful if you go to parents/family for them to sleep in as you can’t have the baby asleep in carseats for longer than 2 hours).
- Rain covers for the pram and car seat;
- Adapters to attach the car seat to the pram base (really useful);
- A playmat (it only really starts amusing them at around 8 weeks I found – and as much as I hate colour and loved a neutral teddy one from Mothercare, she absolutely loves this one (especially the piano at the end that she loves to kick) so I’ve had to introduce some bold colours by force!
- A baby swing – we had one initially that did all sorts of rocking, vibrating, songs etc. and even had fairy lights in the hood (the Starlite one from Mamas and Papas) – but she hated it. I think there was just too much going on at once. Maybe she’ll grow to like it a bit more but I’ve recently caved and bought the Baby Bjorn – it does nothing! But babies just seem to love it!
- A Bumbo Seat – she’s too little for it now but when she starts sitting up these are great.
- Non essentials: a sling (we went for the Ergobaby 360), a carseat blanket/footmuff (Morrck), a travel buggy (the YoYo is fab as it collapses into permissible hand luggage size).
- Cocoonababy or Sleepyhead – we went for the Cocoona and she loves it and sleeps in that in her cot – it’s moulded to suit them being slightly upright. Friends also love the Sleepyhead, and we’ll probably upgrade to the large one of that when she’s too big for the Cocoona.
- Swaddles / sleeping bags. For the first 10-12 weeks we used SwaddleMe blankets which have velcro fasteners and allow for v. easy tight swaddling (great deal currently on Amazon), and then since she’s found her thumbs we moved her to a sleeping bag so she can have her arms out. I went for the Bambino Merino one, which moderates their temperature all year round (so no need for different tog sizes) and is really cosy – and it lasts until they’re 2 years old which works out as good value. Friends also liked the Babasac ones (which have a 2-in-1 tog system) or the ones from White Company and Gap. If we were out during a nap time, I would often swaddle her in a large Aden&Anais swaddle blanket as tight as I could – this is often a handy trick at the beginning if they’re a bit over-tired and unsettled – demobilise their flailing arms –> instant calm!
- Ewan the Sheep – replicates the sounds of the womb. we still use it and think she now recognises it as nap time.
- A baby monitor – we went for this AngelCare system with the movement sensor mat. The monitor itself is a bit annoying as it always seems to run out of battery, and we haven’t used the movement sensor yet as it doesn’t work under the Cocoona. When we do use it, friends have told me to always remember to switch the sensor off before lifting the baby out of the cot otherwise this crazy alarm goes off!
- A cot mobile – we don’t really use ours but I have started to catch her staring and smiling at it when she wakes up.
- Dummies – my baby hates them but most others tend to love them – the Mam ones are great and some are glow in the dark for ease at night (added benefit that you can sterilise them on their own in the microwave using the travel case – the Mam bottles are also good for self-sterilising, particularly when at someone else’s house where they don’t have a sterilising machine). Dummy clips are also useful if you’re using a dummy so it doesn’t drop on the floor when they spit them out.
- A baby bath – we like the Angelcare bath seat as it leaves you totally hands free, and the silicon warms up to the same temperature as the water. Friends also like the Tippee Toes bath.
- A small jug (the one from your hospital bag?) and a teardrop sponge or a soft flannel;
- Some bubble bath and bath wash – we love the Burts Bees Baby range, but sometimes I use some Oilatum Junior if her skin is a bit rashy.
- If the baby has some cradle cap – we massage a bit of avocado oil into her scalp and use a cradle cap brush twice a week in the bath, and the Mustela cradle cap cream is also good.
- Spare changing mat – I struggled at first to bath her on my own and to wrap her in a towel with one hand. Having a (padded) changing mat (we like this one) in the bathroom means that I can lie her on that before and after her bath which makes it a lot easier. I also dress her in her pyjamas on that after the bath where it’s warm.
- Massage oil – again I use Burts Bees or a bit of coconut oil and give her a little massage after her bath. It’s supposed to relax them so they sleep longer (no such luck).
- Hooded towels – to lay on changing mat so that when you lift them out the bath you can lay them on that and wrap them up.
- Foam letters or anything colourful in the bath – this helps to encourage them to think of bath time as a fun activity. We love these that you wet and stick on the bath and then later can help them with spelling!!
This list really depends on whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed for the first 3 months. I did both as I was expressing at least one bottle a day if I was out or for the late feed, and have recently tried (not so successfully) to introduce formula so have tried out most of the spectrum of gadgets and gizmos!
- Nursing tops and bras – same as list for your hospital bag;
- Lansinoh breast pads
- Electric pump – I went for the Medela Freestyle double pump but ended up mainly using it for single use to keep one side full, so I wouldn’t recommend necessarily going for the double for efficiency. You can rent these for a lot cheaper than buying one.
- Compatible bottles for pumping (Medela if using the Medela pump);
- Nursing cover – I like this one and it’s 100% cotton so not too hot for the baby
If bottle feeding:
- Bottles – after much trial and error I went for Dr Brown and Mam bottles, but both using the Mam teats (size 1 is tiny for newborn, after that size 2, which is smaller and more manageable than the Dr Browns size 2 which I found way too fast – every baby is different though)
- Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine – this is basically the Nespresso machine for formula powder and makes up a bottle at perfect temperature in 2 mins. If your baby takes to the ready made bottles though, those are great and most babies will just take them at room temperature.
- A steriliser (you’ll need this if you’re expressing too) – some go for the microwave ones but we got the Tommee Tippee electric steam one – it fits 6 bottles and is pretty easy to just have by the sink.
- A bottle brush – if you get Dr Brown bottles I would recommend their brush as it has a handy little one for cleaning inside the blue filter.
- A formula powder dispenser – you can scoop the right amount of formula for up to 4 feeds if you are out the whole day, and then tip each compartment into a bottle of cooled boiled water to feed on the go (unless your baby likes the ready made bottles which are even easier).
- Formula – every baby will differ here and we are still trial-ing different ones as we’re only just starting to introduce it. At the moment, we are on the Aptamil Comfort milk (which only comes in powder form – hence the Perfect Prep machine!) as the ready made bottles were causing some plumbing issues!
Changing Bag Checklist
For the bag itself, I sort of shunned actual changing bags in favour of a trusty long-handled light nylon Longchamp tote. They have a cute feature on their website which lets you personalise them and add a stripe and monogram your initials (I like size 3). I contemplated using one of my nice handbags but decided I didn’t really want baby sick/poo/food all over them! I also found these inserts called Tote Savvy from California which can turn any handbag into an organised changing bag and has all the compartments you need – including an insulated pocked for a bottle and a changing mat. Watch the video here. You can get cheaper versions on Amazon but I found that they tended to be much smaller and not quite so handy.
My friends also bought me this amazing Baby Emergency Kit by Anya Hindmarch for when I don’t want to take a full changing bag – it fits everything for about 2 or 3 changes including pockets for dirty laundry and a changing mat and I’m a big fan of all her named compartments.
In my changing bag I will usually have:
- Water Wipes
- Bepanthen nappy cream
- Nappy bags
- Changing mat (either the one from the Tote Savvy, or I usually use the disposable ones – order a pack like this and then you can always carry a couple and just throw them away if they get dirty and open a new one.
- Bottle of expressed / formula milk
- hand sanitiser
- muslins (several)
- toy / rattle
- water and snack for me
- spare bibs
- spare change of clothes (including the vest, which is the first thing to get dirty so I often take 2 spare).
Changing Table Checklist
- Changing mat – we went for the Red Castle one which is really nicely padded and comes with a towel base which is warmer than plastic, and got an extra cover for easy cleaning.
- Cotton wool
- Nappy bin and extra cassettes – the Tommee Tippee Sangenic one is perfect – get the starter kit which comes with some cassettes. The bin on its own is £10 on Amazon so we bought a spare for downstairs so we could just change her on the couch.
- Nappy barrier cream (Bepanthen or Sudocrem)
- Moisturiser – I love the Burts Baby lotion, and sometimes use some E45 on particularly dry areas. The Aveeno oatmeal eczema cream is also great if your baby is prone to occasional rashes and breakouts.
- Hand Sanitiser
- Face towels – when she was tiny she always used to cry when having her nappy changed as I think she got a bit cold. I started putting a small towel over her tummy to keep it warm and it helped a lot.
- Muslins – somewhere easy to grab for when you want to feed
- A toy or colourful distraction – we have a Lamaze toy hanging over her changing mat now and she loves to smile at it while we change her.
I’m still quite traditional with some things – I love a paper diary for example, but with anything else I love apps. These are my favourites that I tend to use quite a lot:
- Baby Tracker – if you’re interested in keeping track, then this logs when you feed (and on which side, with a useful stop clock), nappy changes, sleeps and other handy things like how much you’ve expressed. It’s useful particularly for keeping track of her daytime sleep, as if she has a good night I can check what her general pattern was like during the day, or if I’m trying to track how much she’s eating throughout the day. This is only really useful for those of you who like a (semi) scheduled approach – if you’re against all that then this one isn’t for you.
- Baby Monitor – this is genius if you’re putting your baby down for a nap somewhere other than your home, but you need two phones (or one phone and one iPad) – it’s a free app where you can make one device the baby monitor and one the parent monitor, so I leave one phone near wherever I’ve put her to sleep and use the other to monitor her (it does sound but also uses the phone’s camera if you want to, and the microphone).
- Wunderlist – I used this a lot before the baby arrived as it lets you create all sorts of lists (can’t you tell I love a list?) and me and hubby could assign tasks to each other to get things ready. You can also email lists that you’ve made. It’s so cathartic when you can cross something off a list.
- Sound Sleeper – this creates various noises that babies tend to like – hairdryer, hoover, womb etc.
- Snapfish – for easy ordering of photos from your phone album (even square ones if you’re an Instagram addict like me)
- Wonder Weeks – who knows how accurate this is, but it’s an app based on a study of 35 years that tends to explain when a baby will (on average) go through certain development leaps. During those “leaps”, they tend to be a bit more difficult/clingy and so it sometimes helps to read up on what might be going on.
- On Pampers nappies, if the yellow line down the middle is blue, it means it’s wet.
- Vests and some body suits – the flaps on the shoulder sleeves are so you can stretch them over their arms and take them off downwards rather than over their heads – v useful if you have a poo explosion situation.
- Backseat mirrors are great in the car so you can see them as the carseats face backwards.
- Kimono style bodysuits – you can get packs of these from H&M (which is also awesome as everything is 100% cotton and generally sized per month, rather than 0-3 months which will otherwise be huge for the first 6 weeks) – these are great as they wrap around with poppers so you don’t have to put them over the baby’s head.
- A postpartum corset – this is controversial but I loved it and wore mine for a month after I gave birth. I have an awful posture and with your core muscles underperforming after they have been stretched during pregnancy, I really liked having something holding me upright. They are also meant to help move everything back into place a lot quicker (according to my mother, who says that back in the day women used to be bound like a mummy after childbirth and would lose their tummies instantly). It’s not for everyone though and I only really wore it for a few hours every day. I went for the Bellefit dual-closure corset (order from USA) but I didn’t bother doing up the bit at the bottom for the first few weeks. I also tried the Belly Bandit (a lot cheaper, basically a wrap that fastens with velcro) but I found that it rode up a lot and was uncomfortable while I was nursing, so I abandoned it fairly quickly.
- If you are nursing and your baby is fussing a bit, try bouncing on a yoga ball or walking around – most babies apparently love the motion and might suddenly latch quite quickly.
- If you are based in London and fancy a treat to get out the house in the first couple of weeks, book a session at the Baby Spa in South Kensington. It’s amazing for newborns who are given their own little sink and a flotation device that lets them paddle around. They get a little massage afterwards. They all seem to absolutely love it and it’s really calming.
- We loved the newborn photography session we had when our little one was only 6 days old. It was the first time we had left the house, it took us about 3 hours to pack the car and we probably packed enough for a 2 week holiday. Completely useless as they are usually naked for every shot! We would recommend Russ Jackson Photography based in Finchley, but make sure you book in advance as the prime time is within the first 10 days after birth.
- If you have an assisted delivery (ventouse or forceps) or if your baby just seems to have some problems with wind/reflux etc., I highly recommend cranial osteopathy. I see Shital Patel at The Osteopathy Clinic in Hendon (both for me and the baby) who is an absolute magician.
I hope that helps at least for the first few months – no doubt we will need a whole new range of gadgets and gizmos for the next phase of teething / weaning / crawling!