Reflecting On The Early Days – Tips For New Parents
With Robin turning 10 months old (seriously when did that happen?!) I have been doing a bit of reflection on the early days (first 6 months). I am sure I am not alone when I think of the amount of money we have spent on things we did not need. Not to mention learned some tricks along the way I wish I had known. So I thought I would put a list together so I could pass on some of my findings to other newbie mums or dads.
1. Your Baby Week by Week Book by Simone Cave and Dr. Caroline Fertleman
This book was a great resource for me and the only parenting book I have read from cover to cover. It guides you from the day your baby is born up until they are 6 months old. As the title suggests the book covers what you can possibly expect each week. Subjects covered every week are sleeping, feeding, nappy info, play and development and what is happening to mum. In addition there is info about illnesses, vaccinations and so much more!
In the early days this book provided me with comfort and hope. Is Robin eating enough? How many dirty nappies should I expect? Is (insert concern here) normal?
Every week I would read the week that had just passed and reflect on what had happened. Then I would read the week we were entering so I knew what to expect. It was a great comfort to know this information. And in the really early days I would flick ahead mostly for reassurance that whatever difficult phase we were in would pass!
2. My Old School Cold Water Steriliser
Yes I bottle feed, I didn’t want to or plan out to but that is just what happened. I hadn’t even thought about bottle feeding so when the time came to leave the hospital Daddy had to run out and buy all the stuff we needed…and didn’t need.
You need a steriliser if you are going to do bottles. It is so easy for milk to remain in the bottles and grow bacteria a good wash isn’t good enough. So until your child is 1 year old you need to sterilise their bottles. There are numerous ways you can do this. Cold water sterilisation or steam by microwave or by electric steamer.
We got an electric steamer from Tommee Tippee. It was a pain in the ass. The thing would be full of bottles and although sterilising was quick, as soon as you took the top off and had taken your bottle out everything else needed to be re-sterilised. This meant taking the shelving out, emptying the water into the sink and popping in new water EVERYTIME! Believe me when I say you end up doing this a lot. I finally got sick of unplugging the unit and carrying the whole thing over to the sink to empty it. Surely their must be a simpler way?!
Cue cold water sterilisation. Take one sterilisation unit (ie. Plastic box), 5l of cold water and add in some sterilising fluid or a sterilising tablet. Pop in your bottles, dummies etc. and leave until needed. You only need to change the water once a day and take out what you need when you need it. Bingo! When it comes to sterilising doing it the old fashioned way is by far the easiest! It is also easiest when travelling.
3. Dummy and Dummy Clip
I know dummies divide opinion and again it was something I never thought about. But for us Robin having a dummy has been magic to settle him when he is upset or needs to sleep. It has also provided him with comfort whilst teething. I seriously couldn’t do without them.
4. Gro-bags or own brand equivalent
So much better than blankets especially if your baby is a restless sleeper. Robin got to the stage where he would always kick off his blanket which was a worry in the middle of the night. We got Snoozie sleeping bags which are Mothercare’s own version of the Gro-bag and we have never looked back!
5. Two Dressing Gowns for Mum/Dad
Quite simply you will get covered in sick, pee and poo multiple times, it is a good idea to have more than one dressing gown. I swear there was a phase when as soon as I put on my newly washed white dressing gown Robin saw it as a challenge to somehow get poo on it. It is horrible!
So buy an extra gown, you don’t want to be cold in the middle of the night especially in winter.
6. Tumble Dryer
We didn’t used to have one as we always hung up our clothes in the spare room, but we have now lost that space. That along with multiple washes a week of baby clothes that have either been sicked on or been collateral damage thanks to an explosive poop and having a tumble dryer comes in handy. It is also a source of entertainment.
7. Simple Clothes Fastenings
Sounds boring but practicality is the key. Your baby will probably hate you changing or dressing them so why make it harder for yourself? Sure the knitted baby grow is adorable but who can be arsed fiddling with wooden buttons?! Poppers all the way! I even managed to buy a pair of dungarees with no poppers at the legs and bum. What the hell was I thinking?! It is a changing nightmare!!!
8. Buy Clothes for the Season
Even Scotland this summer has been warm meaning the woolly dungarees and knitted sleepsuit I bought Robin will never be worn!
Think about the seasons when you shop. And if you buy clothes in bigger sizes make sure you think about the time of year. Who needs a snowsuit in June, I mean great you have one in size 3-6 months but it may be the middle of summer then!
9. Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine
Cue bad mum (I am not but the perfect prep machine has caused quite the controversy!) I use the perfect prep machine rather than boiling a kettle and waiting forever for it to cool because when my baby wakes up he wants fed NOW not in 20 mins. I don’t think Robin quite gets the concept of waiting. So why wouldn’t I use the machine to make a bottle to the perfect temperature in 2 minutes ?! A modern must have if you ask me! Don’t believe all the crap in the media about them, I have never had any issues with mine. Parenting is hard so cut yourself some slack and make something easier for yourself. And if you are one of the Perfect Prep haters then fine don’t use one but don’t criticise another mum for deciding to use one.
10. Toys at Birth – no stress
I would always be worried I wasn’t stimulating Robin enough with baby toys. But truth be told babies aren’t generally interested in toys until they are older. Remember everything is new to them so you can find things around the house that they will love.
11. Muslin Cloths Galore and Bibs
You can never have enough. Handy for all sort of spillages, not to mention the teething induced drool.
12. Sleeping Routine For You
Everything is much worse when you have had no sleep. Believe me, the things you can normally cope with suddenly become the trickiest things on earth. Make sure you get sleep and try and figure out some kind of routine. For me in the early days I would go to bed at 8pm until about 1am so I would get some uninterrupted sleep. Daddy would look after Robin whilst I slept and then I would be on call the rest of the night for feeds etc. We managed to do this because we bottle feed. But however you feed your child make sure you work out how to get some sleep!
13. Black Out Blind
We bought a travel blackout blind which has come in very handy. As Robin was born late Feb it wasn’t long until the light nights showed up so blocking out the daylight was really important at bed time. We didn’t use it for daytime naps as Robin slept fine in light, but many people do. Now that Robin is in his own room we have a more permanent blackout blind and curtains in his nursery so the travel blind will revert back to holiday use now.
14. Bouncer Chair
One of the best things I had for Robin. It was somewhere safe I could put him whilst I had to go out the room. Not only that but it allowed me to have a shower knowing that Robin was safe playing in his chair. Unfortunately the chair is no longer of use as Robin is far too active and too big now.
15. Extra Bed Sheets
Robin spends alot of time in our bed, in fact at the moment he is co-sleeping with one of us each night. Similar to the dressing gown make sure you have spare sheets so you can tackle that 3am leakage easily.
16. Car Mirror
With car seats facing rearwards you will never be able to check up on how your little one is doing. Enter the car mirror. Quite simply you put it on the headrest facing your child and adjust so you can see them in your rear view mirror. Bingo! Happy mum, happy baby!
17. Gro Egg Thermometer
Everyone freaks out about how many layers your baby shoud wear. As a general rule it is one more than you wear. We use a room thermometer in Robin’s room to help guide us as to what he should wear and night and reassure us his room is optimal temperature.
So there you have 17 tips which may be worth a thought. Truth be told there is probably lots more, perhaps another post in the making!
Camilla – Erika x
Written by Camilla-Erika Campbell for her blog, Mummy’s Winter Robin.