I was SO underprepared when Ted was born.
I’m not even referring to the fact that I turned up at the hospital without clean underwear, pyjamas, water or indeed ANYTHING OF ANY USE WHATSOEVER – although that DID happen, and probably gives you an indication of my limited brain function at the time.
(In our defence, we’d planned a home birth that went awry – which is another story for another day.)
No, I mean I hadn’t actually thought past the labour and birth stage.
Not really in a burying my head in the sand way, but in a superstitious way.
I really wanted to make sure that my baby was here and safe before I even started thinking about how I’d feed him and what tricks I might try to help him sleep. (Note to old self: you probably ought to have looked into that, you twit.)
Obviously, we’d bought the BIG, essential things: a car seat and some clothes – because we’d have got some funny looks if we hadn’t (not to mention not being able to leave the hospital) – plus a crib and a Sleepyhead and a pram.
We even had a nicely-decorated nursery, which I ensured Graham completed in plenty of time before Ted’s arrival in my usual laidback, un-dictator-like manner. Ho ho.
But I definitely didn’t think about the smaller details, didn’t allow myself to think about the nitty-gritty of how we’d get through the first few months until we were there, living it.
(‘Living’ is probably a bit inaccurate considering I’d have been snapped up for a part in the Walking Dead during those first months, but you get my point.)
Anyway, I thought I’d jot down some of the little things that mostly never even crossed my mind until Ted was here, but that I ended up buying (usually in a panic and via next-day delivery after reading an article that told me that this next thing, whatever it was, would be the answer to my prayers and therefore I needed IMMEDIATELY).
Hopefully, this list will therefore save you some panic and next-day delivery fees and you can spend the extra delivery money on cake instead.
Miracle Swaddle Blanket
Swaddling is one of those things that I didn’t know much about until Ted had been home a while and I was starting to get a bit desperate at our lack of sleep.
I think I thought swaddling was bad, because people can get it very wrong and it can be dangerous. But when done correctly, it helps with making baby feel more comfy and settled.
I read about this blanket, ordered it and prayed for an ACTUAL miracle.
It’s not miraculous, alas.
But it did help, and I would definitely recommend it over any other swaddle blankets. (We tried a few, and this one was least likely to come unravelled / not do what it’s supposed to.)
White Noise Machine
We’ve only just stopped using ours, because it finally gave up the ghost after 18 months of use. I’m not sure if 18 months’ wear is good for this type of thing, and for the cost involved? But there are a few different models around the same price available (approx £25 – £30), and perhaps another make would be more durable, who knows.
Obviously you can also get white noise apps on your phone, but I preferred having a separate machine as I could then use my phone for endless scrolling during those endless night feeds.
As I’ve said before, not only are these machines good for settling baby (the noises replicate sounds from the womb apparently) but they are excellent for blocking out other noise, which can be a bloomin’ godsend.
Bit of a left-field entry, and granted not needed if you’re formula-feeding, or if breastfeeding ends up being a doddle for you, but an important little entry all the same.
I plan to write more about breastfeeding, given that I feel like an expert after 19 bloody months – and counting – of the blasted subject, ho ho. Before I do, I’ll just say that nipple shields definitely saved my nips, if not my life, in the very early days of feeding Ted.
And they get a bad rep, for no medical reasoning whatsoever.
Yet they are quite marvellous. Especially the Avent ones. Do not bother with the Boots ones – I have tragic memories of sticking the Boots ones to my chest with surgical tape (WHAT THE ACTUAL EFF) in the early days because they wouldn’t attach properly and making my skin quite sore in the process (AS IF I WASN’T ALREADY SORE ENOUGH).
So don’t do that.
But do consider using nipple shields if you become sore through early feeding, while you and baby get used to it.
Baby Massage Oil
When Ted was 10 weeks old, we did a free baby massage class at our local children’s centre, and while I’m not sure it was transformational in terms of helping with his colic / general grumpiness, it was nice to do something each night before bed which felt like it might be making him feel a bit better.
A lovely former client of mine sent us a gorgeous StorkSak gift set when Ted was born, which included some massage oil, so we used to use that.
There are tons of different types of oil available, some more pricey than others. (I think in the council-run class they might have used vegetable oil?!)
I liked using something a little bit luxurious-feeling, because it made me feel a bit better, even though it was Ted getting the massage and not me. Alas.
Babywearing was another thing I’d done zero research on before Ted arrived, and didn’t actually attempt to do it until a couple of months in. I think I thought it was a bit ‘hippy’ (says the woman who did hypnobirthing and planned a home water birth).
But I’d definitely recommend trying a sling from the early days onwards – they can get pricey so see if you can borrow one, and in fact many places have sling libraries where you can try different versions and see what works for you.
(I admit though that this all seemed like far too much hassle to me when Ted was tiny, and I ended up panic buying a Wuti Wrap because they had it in stock in Mothercare and it had decent reviews).
Bath Kneeler Mat
This little mat to kneel on is such a daft little thing but it really helped me (and mostly Graham, who usually does bath times) – because let’s face it, when you’re exhausted, kneeling down directly onto a hard bathroom floor is not an attractive prospect.
Yes there are various other bath-related devices you can buy that are designed to make bath times easier, but the little mat we bought from Mothercare was cheap as chips in the sale and made a difference. This one is similar.
And three things I wouldn’t bother spending money on:
A fancy changing bag
I spent quite a lot of money in the weeks after having Ted on a lovely leather changing bag from Jem + Bea. I hardly use it these days, because it’s easier just to chuck everything in an old rucksack.
I think I wanted the bag as a treat to myself, but I probably should have waited and chosen something I really wanted, instead of panic-buying a bag I like but don’t love.
Another expensive panic-buy from the early days when I wanted breastfeeding to be easy and to know I was doing it ‘right’. I thought the cushion would help get Ted in the ‘right’ position and everything would be rosy. I tried it and couldn’t get on with it and never used it after that, wasting about £70 in the process. Yikes.
Ewan the Dream Sheep
I think I asked my mum to buy this for us because I’d read it was great. I’m not dissing my mum’s lovely present! Ewan is gorgeous and lots of people rave about him, but for me, a white noise machine is a much more practical, if uglier, purchase: Ewan only plays for 20 minutes at a time and if you’ve got a grumpy, colicky baby, you need a louder, longer-playing noise device. Sorry Ewan. Sorry Mum.
Bye for now x
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