A first-time pregnancy can be rather overwhelming, especially once you start collating a list of things to prepare for the grand arrival. Deciphering, decoding and then making your way through this checklist is daunting to say the least.
Speaking to other mums – both expectant and experienced – really helped me get a handle on assembling it all; and so in the spirit of paying it forward, I’ve gathered together these essentials, along with nursery inspiration to nudge your nesting instinct. While the list isn’t exhaustive, it’s illustrative of buys to make life easier and certainly cheerier in these precious early months!
Pick a theme and plan ahead so you have time to pull together thoughtful touches, from wall art to accessories.
Inspired by my second home (guess where!) – the highlight of our nursery is a triptych featuring the many moods of Paddington Bear (sourced through Amazon UK); as well as, a set of bespoke prints bringing home the best of all that we love about London (customised by the incredibly talented Debbie Cerone on Etsy).
A nursery doesn’t need much by way of furniture for a newborn. Just a cot; chest of drawers-cum-changing table, feeding chair and open storage for books, rattles and toys.
Our cot conveniently converts into a bed as the baby grows up (from Mothercare) and is dressed with a cosy pile of organic cotton bedding (from Masilo and Good Earth). During these early months, a large chest of drawers (custom-made) proves perfectly-roomy for storing all of Junior’s things (from his swaddles and onesies, to massage mats and extra blankets). We’ve designed it such that the changing unit on top has a super handy compartment built-in on the side to make it easier to store and reach for nappies, creams, lotions and the like too!
Bathing & Changing
Bathtime has fast become a favourite ritual, both for Junior and for us. We’re using the Moby Smart Sling 3-Stage Tub (from Skiphop), which has a netted seat providing perfect support to newborns. The tub grows with the baby through stages and I’m looking forward to the day when we remove the sling seat, so that Junior can splash around in the tub with gleeful abandon! Other must-haves:
- Hooded baby towels. For when when you thought your baby just couldn’t get any cuter!
- Soft hairbrushes, ideally sporting natural goat hair bristles to help prevent development of cradle cap.
- Changing mat. We use a simple foam-filled mat from Mothercare, with an easy wipe-clean surface and removable towel lining (we have two, with the second used for a massage mat). Make sure you have lots of cotton balls, diapers (or nappy pads) and diaper cream ready. Speaking from experience, olive oil or virgin unrefined coconut oil also work wonders for soothing that inevitable diaper rash, while also doubling as natural massage oils.
- Swaddles. We’re utterly enchanted by the iconic prints of Aden and Anais‘ organic cotton and bamboo swaddles – they even have a Harry Potter collection! In terms of usability, their swaddles are versatile and comfy for baby, ensuring the cosiest snuggles too!
- Jablas. While I’ve really tried not to go overboard with Junior’s early-age wardrobe (they outgrow everything so fast!), I simply can’t have enough of the super-soft jablas (loose-fitting clothes), hand-woven by the talented artisans of Sir Ratan Tata Institute. The breathable muslin fabric is especially ideal for Bombay’s balmy weather, while the bespoke option lets you put your own personal stamp on baby!
- Breastfeeding pillow. I stopped using mine (from My Brest Friend) once Junior turned three months (switching over to a regular pillow, after); but up until then, it was definitely the more comfortable way to nurse, especially during the early days spent learning and adapting to the art of breastfeeding.
- Muslin burp cloths & cotton bibs. You can never have too many of these on hand. There may in fact come a time, when you’ll always be wearing a burp cloth on your shoulder to pre-empt the need for one!
- Breast pump. The decision to express and give your newborn bottle service is of course a very personal one; if you do decide to do it – Elvie, Medela and Spectra are all great options for electric pumps; whilst Dr. Brown’s anti-colic bottles remain a trusted name (with good reason!).
- Nestilo Sleeping pod. This cosy contraption from Masilo creates a convenient bed for baby wherever you plop it down. We even used it to angle Junior by the window for morning sun to battle his newborn jaundice.
- Baby gym. A colourful and interactive baby gym is really worth it’s weight in gold, providing baby with hours of educational entertainment. It’s incredible to watch how their activity heightens over just a few short weeks, shifting from awe and wonder – as they start to process all the colours, shapes and patterns – to agile movements as they swing their chubby little fists and legs at the intriguing toys hanging overhead. We have the Gymotion® Activity Playland™ by Yokidoo, which is set apart by its fantasy theme figures riding back and forth on the company’s Magic Motion Track.™ Like most good baby gyms, this one also grows with the baby through stages, with options for Lay and Play for newborns; Tummy & Play to support tummy time; and Sit & Play for when baby is older.
- Baby Bouncer. We were a bit wary and cautious of using this really early on as Junior was a bit of an underweight newborn; but now we simply can’t do without it. Our’s is from Baby Bjorn and has an option for attaching a wooden toy bar to keep baby strapped in and happily occupied whilst mummy works from home or is having her lunch. The gentle swinging motions are also a great aid in putting baby to sleep, leaving mummy free to put her feet up and kick back for some down-time too!
Finally, collect books. Lots of them! It’s never too early to start reading to baby (especially in different voices!); and as a friend astutely says, whether you read them The Hungry Caterpillar, or Proust and Rushdie – they will listen to you with equal glee. Here are a few recommendations to get you started, co-curated with the help of all the lovely mums who commented on my recent Instagram post:
- The Adventures of Little Nutbrown Hare, by Anita Jeram and Sam McBratney
- The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See ; Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? ; Panda Bear Panda Bear What Do You See, by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, by Mem Fox
- Any and all books by Emma Dodd
- DK’s popular Baby Touch and Feel series
I’ll definitely be adding to this list in the coming months, so do check back or follow me on Instagram for more updates!
Note: all opinions & recommendations in this article and mine and mine alone. None of the products have been sponsored and I will not be earning any commission on affiliate links.