When we found out we were pregnant, we were half excited and half shocked. I told a few of our closest family members but wanted to wait until our 12 week scan before we officially announced it to everyone else. When we did announce it, the response we had was amazing but I definitely didn’t expect to be offered up so much advice so early on and to be told you need this and that and this and that! Oh and ‘I have this you can have’, ‘did you want our moses basket from the loft’, ‘are you going to breast feed or bottle feed’… what??!! We’d literally just started to accept we were actually having a baby and I’d suffered with bad morning sickness too so all I could think about was that. The last thing I was thinking about is if we needed my cousin’s hiking carrier…!
When I did start thinking about what friends, friends of friends, family and pretty much anyone who knew I was pregnant were telling me I needed, it got me thinking…where do new parents start without bursting into tears with info overload?
There’s so much info about everything you might need but where do you find out the total essentials that your baby will actually need? Nuby had approached me about being one of their mummy bloggers when I was pregnant and we thought it’d be great to share some of my pregnancy journey and tell things like it really is (they call it ‘real talk’) …so I jumped at the chance and we decided it could be useful to create a list of the absolute essentials they offer because it wasn’t something I’d come across when I needed it most... So that’s what you’re getting here – my list of essentials, I’m calling it ‘Michelle’s must have edit’ – think what Holly Willoughby does for M&S but for slightly less glamourous items…which is made up of the items I really couldn’t have done without (confirmed by tons of mummy friends and family), a few pointers for what to look for with those items (if you want to look into other brands too) and a little edit of ‘nice to have’s’ as you never know who might ask you for little gift ideas along the way (never going to be someone who turns down a gift!)
1. Change bag backpack
All that needs to be said about one of these is it’s a life-saver and just one of the best things you could buy. They can be called all sorts but basically what you’re looking for is a backpack style change bag.
Not only do they look ‘cool’ and don’t scream ‘I’ve got a bag filled with baby bits’ but they’re really practical and mean you can have a spare set of hands. The weight of whatever you’re packing into it is more evenly distributed too. Mine has SO many pockets. Like loads. If you didn’t get it already I LOVE to be organised so lots of pockets was a big tick for me.
Choose one that comes with a change mat because you’ll need one – sadly not everywhere has had the memo that parents need places to change their babies that don’t involve the floor…so this will save you from putting your baby on an actual floor – been there, don’t recommend it!
Make sure you look for a backpack with adjustable straps so anyone can wear it and look for an option that has padding for extra comfort too.
The one I bought is here but have a scan around to see what the best deals are / what colours are available etc…
2. Muslin bibs/squares
Really soft, absorbent bibs x 500+ (possibly a slight exaggeration!) are high up there on my list of essentials. You can never have too many and it’s just worth accepting you’ll be doing a lot of washing (so absolutely check they’re machine washable before you buy)! I started breast feeding then switched over to bottle feeding so can tell you however you’re feeding your LO, they’ll make a right old mess.
You can get different shapes with different fastenings – I’m more of a neutral fan but there’s cute patterns in loads of colours available and I’d suggest looking out for ones that are easy to fasten so you can easily put them on and off because you’ll be doing that A LOT and with complicated fastenings and a wriggly baby, that just isn’t fun! I learned that one the hard way!
Nuby have some gorgeous options – these are my favourites right now but so long as you know what you’re looking for you can’t really go wrong with a little muslin number.
3. A decent steriliser
There are SO many sterilisers available and they can be quite pricey so I made sure I did a fair bit of research comparing prices and reading shed loads of reviews. Head frazzled, I ended up buying two options so I had an option for taking with me to my parents (a microwave one) and an electric steam one that you need to plug in at a socket. You don’t NEED two but a second option loads of friends told me would come in handy and they weren’t wrong. The microwave one we used wasn’t our main one but we did leave it at my parents and it was handy to have (it holds 4 bottles, you add a bit of water and you can still put other items in too - it takes literally 4 mins).
The electric ones I came across could generally fit more bottles in and the microwave ones were smaller as you’d probably expect. Both styles do what you need them to though and that’s sterilise! Don’t forget what the basic function you’re looking for is when there’s endless features of different ones.
Price was also a factor for us and not knowing what bottles our baby would take (initially we weren’t thinking bottles were 100% going to be used anyway). The steriliser we mainly used was this one and we ended up choosing it because you could use most brand bottles in there (and we’d picked up a few different bottles from different brands initially to see which ones worked best for us) and it had a shelf for breast pump bits which I thought would be dead useful. It did help it was good of course but if money was no object, I’d probably still have chosen this one because of how well it worked.
Not to over complicate anything but this particular one has different drying functions we used and found really good (we just selected them and let them do their thing for 30 mins) but the main thing is it sterilised quickly and did what it needed to do! So if you don’t care about bottles being dry you can still just sterilise in 5 mins. Extra points for keeping it simple!
4. Breast pads
There’s not really a lot to say about these but I am a BIG breast pad fan and think you can never have too many. There are some reusable options that I was told about but I decided I’d rather use disposable ones. As long as you’ve got something to help keep your leaks at bay you’ll be winning!
What you’re looking for in a good breast pad (never thought I’d be writing this…!) is that they’re absorbent! Obviously there’s a high chance you could end up with a few patches now and again but generally an absorbent breast pad will just make you feel more confident and in control. I think I’ll end up wearing them when I don’t need them because they’re part of my routine…! The ones I used also had a waterproof lining to prevent leaking when they were in and had some non-slip tape that helped them to stay put too – so eyes peeled for options with tape!
The other thing worth thinking about is colour too. Sounds silly but I live for a bit of coordination and there’s so many pads out there that are available in white…there’s no way I would be putting a white pad in my black bras…maybe that’s just a me thing but I used these ones because you get a mix of colours!
5. Back up bottles
My mum was one of the worst for it but as soon as I mentioned the word PREGNANT, I was told the brand of bottles I should definitely use because they’re just ‘THE BEST’…! My own mother was genuinely insisting that I bought no other bottles than the brand she used for me because my baby will do everything I did..! Really? All I thought with that was ‘are you mad?’…
I’m happy to have recommendations but believe me when I say she was insisting and when I refused she got me some anyway…stubborn runs in our family. Anyway…I ignored her as much as possible on this one and did some research and ended up deciding the best thing to do was to get a few single bottles including this one from a few different brands (and my mums ‘gift’ could remain in the cupboard in case needed…) rather than buying loads and loads in case a) we didn’t use them or need them and b) because I’d heard loads that babies might accept some and not others….
I mean there’s some key things I looked for – the standard things everyone talks about… breast-like teats, anti-colic (didn’t have a clue what that meant at the time), at least 180ml but generally 240ml or bigger are good options too, good grips at the side, teats that don’t ‘collapse’ (again didn’t have a clue what that meant), BPA free, dishwasher and microwave safe. I found a fair few bottles that ticked most of these bottles and in all honestly it’ll be what your baby accepts when they arrive.
Some brands do offer sets like this newborn starter set which do come with lots of extras and aren’t too big an investment early on if you want to be a bit more prepared than I was. I’d also check what comes in other items like your steriliser too as with the Nuby ones, we also got bottles.
When the Nuby bottle arrived, there was a message on it too about a Money Back Guarantee which I hadn’t realised was a thing. Basically, if you buy any of their bottles you can get your money back if your baby doesn’t accept them! That to me is just amazing and more people should know about it because like I’ve harped on about enough, you could have the ‘best’ bottle that works for everyone else’s baby that you know but your little one just won’t accept it! With Nuby bottles you don’t lose anything!! If they don’t take them you can just take them back!
6. Silicone Breast Pump / Collector
I’ve actually put an electric breast pump in the ‘nice-to-have’ section below because although you may intend to breast feed or use a pump, it’s not guaranteed that’s how it’ll all work out. My plan was to get a digital one if I ended up breast feeding (which I did) but until then this little number was perfect for collecting milk from the boob my little one wasn’t feeding from. They’re not expensive at all, can be used as a manual pump but I just squeezed the bottom to suction it onto my boob and voila, my milk collected in there vs. going all over the couch.
7. Baby Bath
The first couple of baths we gave Theo were terrifying! He just seemed so tiny and I was convinced I was going to hurt him or upset him. This Nuby bath was ideal because we could use it from when he was newborn and there’s a little line to show you where to put the water up to. This bath was a good size that we could use for a good while too (some baths are only really useful for a couple of weeks before your baby is too big for them) and there was a seat to stop Theo sliding down too.
8. Bath Thermometer
It’s always good to have one of these to check the bath water temperature. What may seem like an ok temperature to you, may not be right for your baby. This 3-in-1 cute turtle design flashes and beeps when the water’s too hot or too cold (I’ve always stuck to approx. 37°C). It’s not a big purchase but does stop you worrying at bath time and when your baby is a bit bigger they’ll probably use it as a fun little toy so worthwhile having!
9. A cleaning brush
Pretty boring and not a big purchase but something that’s essential when you’re using bottles or breast feeding equipment because you usually need to rinse these items first before you put them in a steriliser (another thing I didn’t know before Theo arrived). Yes you can use anything to clean with but having a long-lasting brush that you just use for baby related equipment was really useful. I just couldn’t accept the idea of a brush that we clean our food dishes with touching Theo’s bottles. Just no!
Brushes come in all different shapes and sizes but choosing this bottle brush was a bit of a no-brainer for us because it had silicone bristles (which last longer – ours still looks as good as new), had its own stand with a draining dish so any excess water can drain out plus it comes with a smaller brush that you can use for hard to reach areas like teats. This won’t be an item you get rid of once bottle feeding or breast feeding is over either because you can use it for baby cups too.
10. A Comforter
You may end up with loads of these but it’s always good to have a few for your baby in case one ends up in the wash from being covered in dribble. There’s loads of designs available with different patterns and characters but I’d say finding ones that are machine washable is what’s most important and will make your life way easier. Theo became obsessed with his comforter so we actually had to buy two because however much we tried to give him a different one, he just seemed to KNOW it wasn’t his favourite…
It’ll also be useful to find ones that are really soft as it’ll be in your baby’s hands and will likely spend a lot of time touching their face too. This gorgeous fox option from Nuby even has a teether for when your baby has sore gums which isn’t the most fun time for you and your baby to go through when they’re in pain.
Essentials in the bag! That covers off some of the most important things you’ll need and actually use. Other ‘nice-to-have’ things that I loved, I’ve listed below if you wanted to check them out but remember your best getting to know your baby first as you can always get these later on.
Baby carrier, Electric Breast Pump, Dummy Steriliser (so so useful), soft blanket, nursery accessories including a night light and a cot mobile, oh and a bottle warmer can be useful too.
One final tip from me would be don’t panic buy everything, take time to think it all through – if you need something desperately that’s what having next day delivery is perfect for.
Happy browsing and shopping 😊
Michelle is a working mum with her little whirlwind Theo keeping her on her toes and awake most evenings (something she’s finding taking out day time naps is really starting to help with…) She spends any spare moment she can writing her real experiences on being a Mum with the joys and challenges that come with that title.