Motherhood // Baby Essentials 0-6 months - honest thoughts on things we found really useful {and a few things not worth getting}

February 15, 2020

This is the kind of list that I pestered friends with older babies for when I was pregnant a year ago. Buying for a new baby can feel really overwhelming, I remember sending a text to a group of lovely mama’s asking what the difference was between a bodysuit, a vest, a romper and a babygrow?! And would I need bottoms to go with the vests, how many of each should I buy? There’s suddenly so much to learn and new parents are a marketer’s dream with the promise of buying this for better sleep or to give your baby ‘the best start’. But in reality newborns need very little to start off with and in the end, of course, we got there and learnt along the way, possibly overbuying a few bits and not having quite enough of the other but we none of that really mattered in the end. I wanted to be super organised before Freya arrived, possibly forgetting that the world doesn’t stop turning when your baby arrives and there are always people going to the shops should you need something. That being said, it’s exciting when you’re pregnant to go out and shop for your growing babe. This post has been duly promised to a few lovely pregnant mama’s on Instagram, so here is my list of honest feedback for the things we had and found really useful in the first 6 months now we have some experience and perspective. I started off by calling this an essentials list, but in the end just included a mix of everything we used a lot plus I wanted to list a few things that we didn't need/like. Although of course we just have one baby and every baby is so different, so ask around and also it’s worth seeing what you can find on local Facebook/gumtree selling pages/NCT nearly new sales.
// contains some ad/affiliate links and gifted items but none were in exchange for this post and all opinions are 100% my own. 

First up, a car seat is a must. The hospital won’t let you leave without one. We had this Nuna Pipa Lite which I’d definitely recommend. We did a lot of research into car seats and this is one of the lightest on the market which makes a massive difference when you’re lugging it to and from the car with a baby in it who gets heavier over the coming months too. Whatever car seat you go for, having an isofix base makes it amazingly easy for just slotting into place quickly and safely, you just look to check all the points have turned green - this also meant we could move it into my parents/friends cars within about a minute too which was handy. I also really liked this for the fact it fit onto our buggy base for ease of lifting her out if she was asleep/a quick dash around the supermarket and the dream cover that peels down - have used this a lot to keep a nap going. Freya had a few months of absolutely hating the car but it was nothing to do with the seat and thankfully now loves it. I’ll be crazy sad when she grows out of it which won’t be all that long. We’ve now bought the joie stages seat for the next stage which goes up all the way until she’s 7 {it adapts into various toddler then booster seats} whilst this does start from newborn so you could just get this from the start to save on money/an extra car seat, it doesn’t lift out the car so I’m reluctant to use it until she’s outgrown the nuna as I love being able to carry her out in it.

I'd also really recommend a carseat mirror to hang on the back of your seat so you can see it from your rear mirror to keep an eye on them. We got ours from the baby show but similar here

A carrier/sling {sorry I went a bit crazy with all those photos of her in them as I just LOVE and loved baby wearing so damn much}. I don’t know any babies who didn’t love being in a carrier, it reminds them of being in the womb and it means you can be hands free/get jobs done whilst wearing them. There are sling libraries where you can go and try lots on to see what feels comfortable. We used both this ergobaby omni 360 and this grey stretchy wrap on a friends recommendation daily for both walks and around the house and couldn’t have been without either of them. We still use the ergo now. The ergo has a newborn insert built in, can be used from 7lbs and was great for supportive carrying for long walks and as she got heavier/super easy to get on and off but the wrap was heaven for having her so close to us, she would nap for ages in this and it was comfy enough to sit down in with her napping in it when we got home. It took a little time to build confidence to tie the wrap correctly but once we got going, Ben and I would literally fight over who’s turn it was to wear her in it. So yes definitely loved both of these so much and they saved SO many naps. We also bought this winter rain/fleece cover which we've used whenever we've been wearing it on cold/rainy days instead of having to pad F out with lots of layers, great for removing as you go into a warm house/coffee shop without having to wake her. Plus these washable teething straps have been great for the ergo.

Angelcare bath seat. We bought this second hand from our friends and used it for every bath for the first couple of months until she got old enough to want to kick around/float in the water. It means you don’t have a slippery new baby who’s head you need to support whilst you try to wash them. Really rated it BUT if buying now I think we’d maybe go for a small all in one baby bath thing, I keep hearing about this shnuggle thing. The seat we had used a fair amount of water for such a quick bath. In the end I’d get in after most baths and top it up so it felt less wasteful. But yes, it was good for us but could find a better solution I think.

This bath thermometer was a big yes though. We still use this everyday to make sure the water temperature is around 37/38c, it just takes the guesswork out.

Cellular blankets. I bought a couple from ALDI in their baby event on a whim and ended up using them daily for the first few months. Being cellular they’re safe for newborns and both keep them cool/warm depending on the temperature. Used these at night and then in the car seat/when chilly downstairs in the day. For special outings I had bought this gorgeous cashmere version which she still uses and it feels really special {wait for a discount code to make it a bit cheaper}. 

Bedside crib. We had this snuzpod and I don’t have anything bad to say about it, we used it right up until a week before she turned 6 months and on the few occasions when we were away and used a travelcot, I missed it {and having her next to me} so much. Made it a million times easier in the night to know that she was safely next to me and I could reach out to get her for feeding {the side drops down} without having to get out of bed. Definitely definitely recommend a side attached crib.

Sleepyhead. Hmm now this one might be controversial in that pods/nests aren't recommended by the lullaby trust for safe sleeping SO I didn't even know whether to share it on this list. Of course please do your own research - we have and believe that the Sleepyhead is breathable and not like one of the positioners, but I'm not here to tell you to get one, just being honest with our use of it. Before Freya was born, Ben and I said we’d wait to see if she needed it before introducing {friends had sworn by it for their babies - pretty much everyone we knew - but we were a tiny bit concerned safety wise plus would it then be hard to take away later on?}. To start with she wasn’t bothered, I think just still in her own sleepy little world. But then? Oh then we needed it and used it every single night {even packing it for Italy and New York inside the travel cot case}, and day naps when she wasn’t in the carrier/sling plus she used to like just hanging out in there when she was awake in the day. We did a lot of reading and felt confident it was right for us to use but yes, as I said, go with the lullaby trust information first and foremost and see what you think. It’s comforting to babies to feel snug. In the end we needn’t have worried about taking it away as she just wanted to roll in her sleep by 6 months and it was stopping her so she just wanted rid of it! The toy arch over it in the early newborn days was really nice too when they can’t see very far and it was a great place to put her in the day around the house with us. It did mean we ended up carrying it up and down each day but it’s not too awkward/heavy. Personally we'd definitely use it with a second baby.

Black and white faces book. This gave her something to look at in the early newborn days when changing her. Big favourite. 

Thermometer for checking Freya’s temperature. So great for peace of mind if you suspect they might be ill or have a temperature. Have really rated this one which has different age groups to choose between before you put in her ear to take the temperature which will easily show you if it’s green or red.

Love to dream zip up swaddles. My Mum and I had bought one of these at a baby show and after the first week or so when she had just been under a blanket at night, we started using this and it made her sleep for so much longer feeling snug but not too tightly wrapped - the hips are free in it. She loved having her arms up as did lots of other babies I know. I rate these super highly, we've since bought more sizes and tog ratings, using them every single night. As she got bigger we moved onto the transition type where we unzipped the arms and eventually now the sleeping bag type. We’ve just bought some going up to toddler size whilst in Australia, big fan of the brand. Whatever swaddle/sleeping bag you decide on, I’d recommend having two in each size for those occasional yet inevitable nighttime changes/to save you rushing to wash and dry. 

Hooded bath towels. To keep them cosy after a bath and wrap them up fast. We still use these every night. Have one cute bear by the Little Green Sheep and this. 

Toys. For the first 3 months I’d say toys aren’t a necessity at all for actual play although it’s cute when you see them taking an interest in the black & white contrast patterns on toys. But from 3 months on we found toys became part of daily life. A couple of favourites from the last few months - Sophie la giraffe has been her favourite teether for months now, this handheld teething mit for when they don't have good enough hand eye coordination but want to chomp, a colourful crab with a spinning tummy from Sainsbury's, these Montessori ribbons,  this Lamaze firefly was amazing from the start up until around 4 months, sensory things as they get a bit older like an insulated foil blanket to cut into pieces, a snow globe to show them {not a toy but causes so much wonder}, the list goes on. Big yes for a nice selection of toys for the house/car/going out. But there are also so many things around the house which can be toys for them too.

Star wrap. I was gifted this unexpectedly in November and I’d heard so much about them but didn’t realise what I was missing until we got one. So so easy to put on before going out in the car seat/carrier/buggy and no messing around with zips or pushing arms through bulky snowsuits that then don’t work in the car. Easy to whip on or off so doesn’t disturb naps if you change temperature zones and not restrictive on their hips/limbs. A Winter must have I’d say. Also super cute with the hood. We use this almost everyday in the winter now. 

Huckleberry app. We literally live by this! Totally free {although you can pay extra for a premium version which we haven't needed}, we’ve used this app from around 10 weeks I think and it has just been the single biggest thing I think that’s made such a difference to all of our daily happiness. Adjusted by your baby’s age, essentially you log each nap/night sleep and it will tell you when the sweet spot for the next nap/bedtime is due. In the early days we found that just being 5 minutes too late could make it so much harder and create over tiredness. Even now we still log every nap and night sleep as so often time goes past and suddenly it’s been a few hours already and if they don’t nap now, they’ll be cranky {although at this age she can go a lot longer and we can push bedtime a bit without the wired over tired battle we sometimes used to get} . You end up living your life around naps to an extent, but it makes such a difference.  It doesn’t tell you how to get them to sleep so you just do what works best for you/your baby. The only thing you need to choose is how many naps, so younger babies would be timings from a 4/5 nap day and now we’re on 2/3 but you’ll get to learn what works best and huckleberry advises you too. So yes can’t rate this highly enough once they’ve woken up out of that deliciously stretchy, will sleep at anytime fourth trimester phase. 

Buggy. A pram is such a big decision which will be based on where you live and what kind of thing you’ll be using it for. If you’re in a town/city and using public transport a lot you might want something small? We have the bugaboo fox and it’s been really, really great for what we need and we’ve been totally happy with it, it’s adaptable to both roads and off road, pushes like an absolute dream and has some really useful features like the fact the hood which folds down more than other prams, foam tires so you never get a puncture and I love the look of it. It is bulky in the boot when it’s in the newborn bassinet stage, as are most this size I think, but v easy to put up and down once you get the hang of it. The only thing I envy on my friend’s Uppababy vista is her bigger basket underneath handy when out shopping. But yes pram shopping has so much to think about so really is best to go to a big store to see them all and test them out, fold them up and down. We've since then bought the bugaboo footmuff for winter which has been so cosy and easier than putting loads of layers on her when it's cold. The rain cover it comes with isn’t great or v substantial so think we’ll buy the performance cover next as I go out for long pram walks a lot now. Freya has been a baby that loved her buggy for the first month or so, which was a good job as it was really hot so we wouldn't have wanted to carry her all that much, then hated being in it for more than half an hour for a couple of months, then from around 5 months when we switched it to the infant seat she's loved it again and it's so nice to take her out in it for long periods of time now. 

We also have the babyzen yoyo which is game changing for travel {it goes into overhead locker side} and is crazy lightweight/tiny/easy for putting up and down, it’s amazing but I wouldn’t be able to use this as an everyday pram where we live as the wheels are too tiny.

With buggies I feel like they will get used for years and years, and then potentially/hopefully with another baby down the line too so it's worth putting some thought into what will suit your lifestyles pram wise.

Snooze shade. We only just bought this before our trip to Australia but I’m not sure how we’ve gone so long without one, full UV protection plus blackout breathable mesh to cover pushchairs we’ll definitely be using it when we’re home for easier napping if we’re out and about or it’s sunny. 

White noise. At the start I thought that Freya was a baby that wasn’t in need of white noise but that was simply because we were in that blissful not knowing she was even born phase? But after she properly woke up, we used it everyday and still do for creating comfort for going to sleep/settling her in the car. There are so many white noise machines to choose from. We’ve mixed and matched from Spotify’s crashing waves on loop {downloaded - I always put my phone on airplane mode though when next to her for long periods}, to the Snuz cloud in her crib {great, we used for months but it does go off after 20 minutes} but now we prefer constant white noise so we have a small rechargeable mp3 that Ben downloaded a loop of YouTube crashing waves onto which works well. We take this out with us now for naps as well as having under her cot at night. She associates it with sleep and helps her connect cycles plus means we don’t need to be tiptoeing around as much, gives a bit of a buffer. So yes I would recommend the cloud for the small baby stage as it's really comforting for them with the red light on/safe to be near their little heads and staps nicely onto the snuzpod, but because it goes off after 20 minutes it's not really something for all night sleep that Freya needs to connect sleep cycles after she turned around 4 months old and went through the regression.

Baby gym/play mat. From around 2.5 months+ until she could roll at 4 months we used one of these everyday. We bought this folding gym which was fab for moving around easily and attaching different toys onto the top of. It was amazing to see her develop over time from just being interested in the hanging bits to gradually reaching and eventually nonchalantly bopping them with ease. My parents had a baby playmat with an arch over the top and more to see/do underneath which was better as she got older and we ended up using this when she could roll as ours stopped being safe because of the string! BUT it was hard to move around and put away. Inconclusive as to which I’d recommend. Depends on how much space you have I guess? And which you prefer the look of.          

Stokke Tripp trapp. Not strictly newborn essential but you will need a high chair when you start weaning and the newborn insert was so lovely to have her safely up at the table with us/close by when I was cooking. It had a little toy arch on top which kept her entertained as well as being able to see us. I like to think it sets up good eating habits by being part of the table from a young age but in reality to start with there are only small windows that she was happy for in this. But still v nice to have when she did go in it. The high chair part is then fab and it converts to a child/adult seat eventually too. 

Gro egg. Used this everyday, and night, in the first few months as a really visual easy guide to the room temperature and knowing how many layers to dress her in BUT in the end had to keep unplugging it as when it hovered between two temperatures in the night the changing coloured lights would wake me up/annoy me. The summer was fine as it was almost always warm/a constant temperature but through autumn/winter it would change too much. if you have somewhere not next to your bed to put it then it might be better but it lights the whole room up so I actually think that just a digital thermometer is better? In Freya’s nursery now we just use a portable electric one and the baby monitor has a temp on too {although we find it’s normally a couple of degrees higher than the actual thermometer as it’s up higher but still a useful reference}. 

For the early days when you’re changing nappies a lot, I found having a basket of changing supplies, and a little foldable changing mat, downstairs really helpful to save going up every time. We have a changing basket by Olli Ella in the nursery which I've personally loved, I know some people think they're not practical compared to purpose made changing mats but we've loved it and it looks so nice in there. I just bought some washable changing mats to cover the inner lining {which does wash too}. I bought a couple of packs of 3 of these from Mothercare but I think they've since gone out of business but these are the same - I like that they're not cold on their backs like the plasticy ones.

Talking of nappies, Napisan {from Sainsburys} and washing up liquid have saved many an outfit from the inevitable mustard explosions. Soak them in both of these in water for 20 minutes then wash as normal with maybe a little more napisan for good measure then hang in the sunlight, even on cloudy days, and the stains will disappear like magic. 

Your baby week by week was a book we referred to in the early days to know things like a rough number of how many wet/dirty nappies we should expect and roughly how many feeds she should have/hours of sleep etc. But after a while we didn’t look at it anymore as it was quite focused towards the fact your baby should be able to sleep on their own/self settle by about 4 months which we didn’t feel ready for. But yes, useful in the early days.  

We’ve lived by the wonder weeks app for explaining development leaps which can leave your normally happy baby in a stormy, unsettled period. It’s been bang on for Freya, it goes by due date rather than birth date and it’s really nice to know the reasons behind each leap and the new skills they’re learning along the way even if those leaps can feel really tough at times! But then you get to a sunny period again and all is well. 

NCT course. Not cheap but we’re so glad that we signed up as we’ve met such an amazing group, there are 8 couples in total. It’s true what everyone says about how invaluable the WhatsApp group is at 2am and seeing the babies grow up together and have other mamas to go to baby classes with or meet up for coffee/cake each week has been a lifeline. One useful thing we found as we had a couple of different course options near us both for location and due dates was to email the course leader and find out the postcodes of the other people booked on and this meant we found local friends in one group compared to another which would have meant the others would have lived further from us. I really hope we'll all stay friends to watch the babies grow up together.

The One second everyday app. I’m so grateful that I heard about this before Freya was born as it prompted me to shoot a one second video of her everyday and put it into this easy to use app which collaborates them all together so at the end of each month/year you can see how she’s changed. I’ve loved this little project so far and can’t wait to put it all together for her first birthday. I make sure to shoot in landscape mode otherwise you get black bars at the side and I paid for the annual subscription so it backs them up. 

Clear your phone memory for all the thousands of photos/videos you'll be taking. You'll only ever wish that you'd taken more, they change so fast and you'll forget just how teeny they started off!

Stock your freezer up with healthy batch cooking! You won’t regret it - post on batch cooking here.

Oh and going back to the vest/bodysuit/babygrow thing. Get a mix of each. I’d say 6 short sleeve vests in newborn or 0-1/0-3 if you have a summer born babe or long if winter as they tend to need an extra layer under almost every outfit/sleepsuit at night too. The sizing is so hard to gauge before your baby is born. You’re always going to need 0-3 months but it’s whether you’ll need newborn and/or 0-1 before that. We ended up needing all of these, F was 7lb 15 when born and needed newborn clothes for the first couple of weeks, everything else swamped her. Don’t go mad but do make sure you’re not having to do more washing than you need in those tiring precious early days. Any you can find with scratch mits are even better and zips make life easier - M&S and H&M were our go to's plus Sainsburys.

Totter & tumble play mat. From around 4 months when F started wanting space to roll around more, this gorgeous padded playmat has been so well used already for spreading toys on and perfect to fit lots of babies on at play dates, especially as we have hard floors everywhere downstairs. Anti bacterial and v easy to wipe clean.

Have a 2 week no visitor rule? This is something a little different from the rest of the list but I had heard a lot about the ‘pulling up the drawbridge’ movement that Steph Douglas/Don't Buy Her Flowers in particular talks about as well as others. Essentially it’s preparing friends/family that you might want to limit visitors in the first couple of weeks as you adjust to your new family life. Particularly if you’ve had a complicated birth or feeding is especially tough. We didn’t know how we’d feel but we told everyone in advance to not expect to meet Freya straight away to take the pressure off those magical, exhausting, overwhelming first two weeks where midwives are popping in and health visitors drop by and you just want to catch up on sleep. In the end we did enjoy seeing immediate family {of course!} straight away and some close friends earlier than we’d said because everything had been straight forward. But I do remember putting lots of people off because the days went so quickly with all the feeding/appointments so don’t feel bad at all for just wanting a few days/couple of weeks until you feel up to it. AND Make sure nobody overstays their welcome and ideally brings you some food/offers to help with something. We’ll never forget two of our best friends turning up the day after Freya was born, not to ring our doorbell or see us but to just leave a big parcel on the doorstep with lots of yummy food {all of our favourites!} in for us so we didn’t have to go out or cook, it was so so appreciated! And that was the gift that kept on giving when I was still eating the ice cream a couple of weeks later. 

Not an essential but baby milestone cards are nice for future reference to look back and easily see your baby at different ages. I have these by Cheryl Rawlings but also nice options by paper tots and the lovely drawer depending on what style you prefer.

Finally, muslins. Can’t have too many in the early days for spit up, covering when feeding if it helps, laying over stuff to protect from spit up, as a light blanket if it’s chilly. I found M&S great for the plain white that have washed really well over the past few months, these baby Mori super soft and extra big for covering up with then some fancier ones from Scandiborn with brands like Liewood/cam cam Copenhagen/little unicorn plus musthud. 

Oh! And I forgot to mention bibs. In the early days they'd save outfits from the milk spit up, Freya was a fairly sicky baby to start with although not all are. Then later as they start to teeth you'll get weeks where everything is soaked in dribble so bibs stop them from getting damp. We go through stages of needing them. Sainsbury's always seem to have quite nice designs for girls. 

Things that were nice but not a real necessity -

Nuna leaf swinging chair. I think you’ll want some kind of swing/bouncer chair to put your baby in at times in the day whilst you shower/get stuff done and whilst this swinging chair is so gorgeous for the way it sways back and forth, is all padded, grows with them to a small child’s chair, we’ve loved having this for Freya but being totally honest we haven’t used this as much as I thought we would and it’s quite bulky to move around the house with you easily so depends on your living arrangements. 

Things we bought but didn’t end up using;

The snuza hero breathing monitor. I read so many reviews about this v the angel mat/owlet before freya was born and settled on this. But we didn’t ever use it once. Part of me wanted to for peace of mind, the other didn’t want to disturb her/ have the alarm go off in the night if we forgot to turn it off before changing her nappy. She was a healthy birthweight with no complications and she slept in the same room as us for the first 5.5 months which is supposed to remind them to breathe {the official advice is that this should be until 6 months but rightly or wrongly we started leaving her upstairs for day naps after this time}.  Truth be told we were too worried about clipping it onto her nappy wrong. So yes, didn’t end up being needed for us but some reviews say it was life saving so it’s such a tough one.

Snowsuits. I bought Freya SUCH a gorgeous leopard baby gap snowsuit thinking she’d get lots of wear out of it through the winter months. But nope, they’re hugely impractical for babies before they start toddling around. Because we used the carrier so much, snowsuits actually aren’t officially recommended as it can make babies overheat and have their legs in the wrong position. So couldn’t use it there. Can’t use in the car seat as too bulky for the straps plus hot. Can use in the buggy but she hated her buggy until she was 5 months old plus hated having to get in and out of the suit. So it’s been worn maybe twice 😭 as then we bought a buggy footmuff which was much better and easy for zipping/unzipping. What we have used instead has been the star wrap mentioned above plus thinner bear fleece suits and an ergo rain cover. 

Baby shoes. Luckily I didn’t spend much money on these, I got a couple of pairs from H&M/Sainsbury’s cheaply which look adorable in her nursery but they don’t stay on so I think in hindsight a bit pointless until they need shoes for walking. 

Top and tail bowl. We were bought us this in the early days when you use cotton wool/water instead of full on bathing her but we found it ended up being really annoying to use and store {although the thought was greatly appreciated}. We just preferred to use a couple of little bowls instead of having to fill up/move this big rigid plastic thing.

We didn’t buy a moses basket for early daytime sleep but when talking to NCT friends this is the thing they said they didn’t need. Babies outgrow them really fast and it’s then hard to store. They look really romantically gorgeous for newborns in the early days but we, as did our friends, just used the buggy bassinet or sleepyhead which could move around easier to the garden/different rooms/family houses if needed then used the side crib at night.

I haven’t included a changing bag on this as I wouldn’t necessarily recommend ours because the opening is a bit too small to easily get stuff in/out. I would say get a rucksack though with Velcro clips for ease of carrying/strapping to your buggy as this has been really handy. 

If you're still stuck then I'd definitely recommend booking a nursery appointment in John Lewis which was really helpful although from talking to friends who had similar I think it depends who you get. We lucked out with an ex nanny who was full of really insightful advice.

Ahh going through these photos has made my Mama heart feel so happy and sad in equal measure at how fast these past 6 - actually now 7! - months have gone and just how tiny she was when she was first born. It really does go in the blink of an eye so SOAK it up. The days are long but the years are short.

Finally, if you're looking for similar posts to read - I've talked all about our breastfeeding journey in this post with things I'd recommend for that, packing my hospital bag in this post and preparing for a homebirth in this post. 

I hope this has been of some help! 

R <3 xx 

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  1. Really useful post, thanks so much Rebecca! And so lovely to look over all the gorgeous photos too! ��


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