- A decent nursing bra. Very important if you plan to breastfeed. I started out with an M&S 2 pack (thanks mum!) and although they were good for the hospital and the first few weeks when my boobs were like watermelons and I didn't leave the house much, they weren't supportive enough for everyday life (I do wear them in bed though - worth doing when you're breastfeeding and run the risk of boob leakage all over your new Orla Kiely duvet set). I got measured at a specialist shop and was reassured by the saleswoman that it's fine to have an underwired nursing bra - hooray! Getting the correct support and a better shape did wonders for my postpartum confidence. I got this one from Anita maternity.
- A baby carrier or sling. We have a baby bjorn on long-term lone from a friend. I use it nearly everyday. In the early days it calms your baby whilst giving you free hands to do more important things, like go to the toilet or apply make-up. Useful. You can go on walks, cruise the supermarket and easily ride the tube/bus, and your baby will love it. It used to send Elizabeth to sleep in minutes. Nowadays she loves facing out and I use it to wind her down her at the end of the day. If I were to buy one I'd go for a sling that you could breastfeed in like this one.
- A bouncy chair - doesn't need to be fancy at all - the one pictured is just an example as we inherited a pink vibrating one from a friend. Like the sling, it's good for co-existing happily with your baby. Babies don't want to be lying down all the time, Elizabeth certainly didn't. She welcomed the change in perspective and for a while the vibrations calmed her down. She's outgrown it now and really objects to being strapped in. Good till about 5 months or until your baby can sit unsupported.
- Hand cream. You will be constantly washing your hands, washing your baby, washing bottles and wiping stuff up. Your hands will get dry. Very dry. My bestie bought me this Neil's Yard Melissa hand cream after E's birth. It does the job and smells divine.
- The Nuk. This might not be for everyone but getting a baby who's used to nipples to accept a bottle can be challenging. Elizabeth wouldn't take the tommee tippee bottles we had naively stocked up on. After weeks of unsuccessful and stressful attempts we remembered a recommendation for the Nuk which (sorry this is gross) flattens out in the mouth more like a nipple. We bought one and it wasn't a miracle cure but it did work eventually. Essential if you want to do anything that involves being away from your baby for longer than 3 hours.
- A bouncer. This is just for fun. My folks bought it for E for Christmas and she absolutely LOVES it. This is the one we have. Buy for a very happy baby.
- Le Sophie. The best teething toy we have come across so far (and we have a lot), bought for E by her Auntie Eddy. There isn't a photo of Elizabeth from Christmas without Sophie's head poking out of her mouth. She goes back to it time and time again.
- Instagram. I'm a bit addicted to instagram (@julesandclem in case you were wondering) and have loved documenting E's life so far on this fun app. I can barely remember those funny new born faces she used to pull, her first smile, our first trip out together, how tiny she was. But it's ok, I don't have to, it's all on instagram! Highly recommend this free app.
What you need: the first 6 months
Now Elizabeth is 6 months old I thought I'd share a few of the things that we have found useful for life with a 0-6 month old. This is by no means a definitive guide or a guide to 'essentials', those would be more along the lines of buggy/car seat/cot, dependent on your location/lifestyle/budget and a bit boring. These are the things that have made our life easier and/or more enjoyable with our young baby.