How many of us went out during pregnancy and spent an absolute fortune then days after baby arrived were wondering how on earth we didn’t have in our hands the most basic of things? Just me?

Here I’ve compiled a list of the ten most essential things we used in the first few months of Dexter’s life as well as getting input from other Mums.

  1. Grobags / Sleepsacks

These fabulous inventions give us so much peace of mind. They are basically zip up sacks that you can get in a range of togs. You place baby within them and he is nice and cosy warm without the need for blankets. It saves you the worry that baby is going to kick off the blanket and get cold or worse still, kick it over his head and put himself at risk for SIDS. Dex was born in the summer so we used 0.5 tog sleep sacks from Mothercare to start with. These retail at £13 apiece. Now we are in winter we have moved onto a 2.5 tog GroBag which was kindly gifted to us. Everywhere seems to sell them these days from Primark to Home Bargains and you can pick one up for as little as £4.

2. Teething essentials – powder, gel, dribble bibs.

It comes out of the blue, one day baby is content, without a care in the world, the next he is screaming the house down and nothing will pacify him. It can only mean one thing: teething. Luckily we were more than prepared. I advise you to get the stuff in even before baby is born because although most babies tend to teethe at 4 months+ some start much earlier. We use Ashton & Parsons powder day and night. I don’t know how it works, but trust me, it’s a godsend. We top up with teething gel throughout the day and during the night when he wakes. We’ve used both Dentinox and Bonjela which have been great. As for dribble bibs, I bought 100s to make sure I had one for each outfit. Little did I know that I would be changing them five times a day. When they start teething they dribble and drool like never before! At least it gives me an opportunity to go and buy some more!

3. Infant paracetamol

Easy to administer, tastes great (although Dexter always pulls a face as if I am trying to poison him when I give it to him) and works almost immediately. Again, make sure you always have a bottle handy, it works wonders to ease the pain of teething plus you never know when baby might start with a fever. It also needs to be administered after the first and third vaccinations. The bottle comes with a syringe so you can sneak it in baby’s mouth, usually after the first taste they are happy to have more. Dexter, not so much!

4. Cotton wool balls 

When baby is first born his eyes are so sleepy it’s unreal. No, I don’t mean he’s tired all the time (although he is that too!), I mean there’s mucous coming out of his tear ducts and it seems to never end. I honestly thought Dexter had an eye infection until the Health Visitor explained it was normal. The best thing you can do it dip a cotton wool ball in cooled boiled water and wipe the eye clean. Then repeat with a dry ball. It clears up after a few weeks when the tear ducts open up. We must have gone through ten bags of these, they’re also super handy to use to clean baby’s ears and neck.

5. Sleep suits with built in scratch mitts

Babies are born with long scratchy nails which you can’t cut because they are still attached to the skin. It is recommended to leave it for a few weeks before doing anything. Meanwhile you dress your newborn with scratch mitts which they promptly take off at every given opportunity and end up clawing at their faces leaving a multitude of scratch marks. Sleepsuits with built in mitts are fab because it’s so much more difficult for baby to escape from them (although still possible!) Babies have this tendency to claw at their faces when they are hungry, even now at five months Dex will do this and no matter how short his nails he always manages a little scratch so I always try to make sure I cover up his hands while I quickly make the bottle.

6. Giant muslin cloths

These are super handy for wrapping baby up, clearing up any milk spillages/sick or using as a comfort blanket as baby gets older. You can get a whole range of patterns and I bought mine off eBay from China for £3 a piece. They are soft and beautifully designed. Dexter takes one with him wherever he goes.

7.  Snufflebabe

Not only do babies have mucousy eyes but they have a lot in their noses and chests for the first few weeks. A handy bit of advice is to take them in the bathroom with you while you shower so the steam can clear out their lungs (but who has time to shower with a newborn to look after amiright?) The alternative is this amazing stuff called Snufflebabe. The drops by the way are useless…I ended up squirting half a bottle up Dexter’s nose but the spray is fantastic. Two squirts up each nostril and baby sneezes most of the stuff out. Whatever’s left can be sucked out with a nasal aspirator. I have found it really tricky to use this and it would be nigh on impossible without the snufflebabe to help me.

8. Flask and little pots for formula

If you are going to bottle feed you could buy those premade cartons of formula to use while out and about but I found them expensive, wasteful and Dex started to hate the taste of them. When they are tiny they only need a small amount from the carton and the rest then gets chucked away which can be an expensive way to do it. By carrying around a flask and little pots with the formula already measured out, you can make the food on the go. I always try and make the bottle up around an hour before he is going to need it so it has sufficient time to cool down. Not always easy with a newborn who isn’t yet in a routine but who really wants to be out and about for hours on end when you’ve just had a baby anyway?

9. Vests

Vests are just so handy for using to layer your baby up in warm clothing. Dexter always has a vest on under his outfit. I wish I’d been given and bought more of these instead of wasting money on newborn outfits he was never going to wear. When they are tiny you just want them in soft, comfortable clothes that are easy to take off if they’re sick or have a poo explosion.

10. Comforter

We were gifted a gorgeous Mickey Mouse comforter and it now never leaves Dex’s side. I began using it at bedtime as a sleep tool but now he comes everywhere with us incase Dex has a little meltdown. When baby gets upset and cries and you are comforting them with cuddles/milk/food, you also get out the comforter. They then learn to associate being comforted with their comforter so if they get upset during the day or at night you have this handy tool to help ease their tears. 

Don’t bother…..

  • Tommee Tippee sangenic nappy bin

Sorry Mum! It was a really thoughtful gift and actually a great idea in theory. You pop the dirty nappy in the bin and it wraps it up in a bag and stores it hygienically until you can get out to dispose of it. Great when living in a flat and you can’t pop up and downstairs every time you change a nappy. However, the cartridges that go inside it cost a bomb and despite them alleging they will last for a few months, they last days. It was more cost effective for us to use plain old Morrisons nappy bags and keep the nappy bin in our bedroom for those late night nappy changes.

  • 200 styles of clothing in newborn size.

There were so many items of clothing Dexter never got to wear in newborn size because he quite literally only fit in them for a few weeks. To be fair, Dexter wasn’t a very sick baby so he didn’t need to change his outfit several times a day. I must have had 50 sleepsuits in newborn and 0-3 month size and nothing in bigger sizes.

  • Manual breast pump

It broke after one day of use, which actually I was quite thankful for because it hurt my hands so much! I then invested in a Tommee Tippee electric breast pump which was much simpler to use and easier on my poor hands. If you want to breastfeed, invest in an electric pump. It will mean that you can pump to get extra supply or build up a stash of milk. Some women (myself included) have trouble getting baby to latch and so the having a pump ready will give you peace of mind that you can still feed your baby. I was in the position where my rubbish manual pump broke, I had to wait 24hours for the new pump and my baby wouldn’t latch. It was horrendous and put me under so much stress. The electric breast pump is only around £50 and in my eyes is an absolute bargain.

What other Mums have to say:

Louise, founder of Mama Meet UK

My essential item? Muslins, muslins, muslins. What I wish I hadn’t bothered with- Ewan the dream sheep!

Samantha from Trying for our Baby blog

Essential item has to be a carrier, couldn’t have gotten through 5 months without my maxi-cosi or Tula! I wish I hadn’t bothered with a swing, Harriett only started liking it at about 4 months… not what I thought would be the case after £100 spent!

Rebecca a member of 2013-2017 Babies UK/Ireland Facebook group

Ready made formula bottles if formula feeding! Was so grateful for them when our little man arrived early, we left the hospital at 4am and were inundated with visitors from 9am onwards and neither the steriliser or prep machine were cleaned and set up!  Not useful would be cot bumpers and bedding, 5 months and it’s still in the packaging, we’re using grobags so can’t see us ever using it?

Becky from Little Big and Me Blog

Essentials – the TT Perfect Prep – it is a lifesaver for those night feeds. I also think our changing table has been fab. I wasn’t going to bother with one but we have it downstairs and it houses loads of stuff as well as being really good for the back. I could have gone without Ewan! We thought he worked but actually a £2.99 app (sound sleeper) is better as it senses when child wakes and plays automatically.

Jess from Three Men and a Crazy Lady

A swaddle was essential for us! He was such a wriggly baby he wouldn’t keep blankets on him. The swaddle trapped him like a cocoon and kept him all snuggle. We bought a baby monitor which is our most useless purchase. We lived in a flat where we could hear Teddy anyway, plus we always seemed to be with him. I think we’ve used it once in his ten months!

What was on your list as most essential item? I’d love to hear from you!