Babies are a total money pit. I think that’s something we can all agree on. Particularly when you are pregnant with your first and all you have to go on is those baby planning lists from retailers, desperate to convince you that you definitely NEED that specific brand of weaning spoon. And I for one was so excited about our impending arrival that I was totally suckered in. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, me and my other half now have an imaginary line in the sand when it comes to our purchasing decisions. It’s roughly pre-baby and post-baby.
Pre-baby us bought a beautiful Moses basket cover with lovely frills that needed IRONING (I mean, seriously…). Post-baby us would know that babies mostly don’t know they are born for the first few weeks and would rather sleep on you, and will immediately vomit on anything frilly, dry clean or that requires ironing (as a side note, anyone else forgotten where the iron is??)
Pre-baby us thought that a canny investment was lots of expensive and beautifully patterned muslins. Post-baby us knows that the muslins should be cheap and plain, boring white so you can basically boil wash the shit out of them (sometimes literally).
Pre-baby us imagined ourselves dressing the newest cutest family member in lots of adorable soft knit onesies that did up at the shoulder only (even the thought now makes me shudder). Post-baby us knows that there’s a reason they sell babygros in multipacks… That multipack is there to sum up what your life will become: an interchangeable mess of pretty identical babygros that are quick and easy to whip on, whip off and shove in the wash at 60.
With all this post-baby knowledge to hand, and as the first of my close friends to have a sprog, it has fallen to me to pass on the tricks and tips that child-rearing has thrown my way. Each time a friend has announced their pregnancy, I’ve taken them to one side, explained the chances of tearing (I’m GREAT fun at a party, honest) and handed them a bag with the following 100% awesome things that we didn’t know we needed pre-baby:
1. Milton Wipes
These are indispensible! Just like any old anti-bac wipe, except they are safe enough that you can use them on a dropped dummy or teething toy, wait 30s and then give it back to baby. Come into their own once you start weaning… (The. Mess.) But also good for sanitising baby change tables if you get the wobbles, or that family heirloom toy that your great aunt thrusts upon your newborn without a thought for where it’s been for the last 30 years….
2. Teatree Oil
This was a tip from my lovely midwife: put 6 drops of teatree oil in a shot glass and fill it up with milk – then mix that in with your normal bathwater to aide the healing of stitches. If it’s quackery, at least you’ll smell clean!
3. Lanisoh (or any other lanolin nipple cream)
I was so dubious about this, but it is a wonder product really. It’s basically lanolin, which is naturally-derived moisturiser (made from wool!) that they use in lip-balms and all sorts. Great for soothing tender-getting-used-to-breastfeeding nips. And so natural, you don’t need to wipe it off before feeding baby. Also good as lipbalm, on eczema and on nappy rash.
4. Nasal Aspirator
Babies are expected to get approximately 8 colds in the first year of life, which is one every 6 weeks or so, and sometimes it can feel like one massive, endless cold… As they are preferential nose-breathers for the first 6 weeks of life, keeping their nasal passages clear is really important – and this is the tool to do it with! Although, you may need to hold your stomach the first time you suck snot out of your own babies nose – not for the faint hearted!
5. Sterimar Baby
On a similar note, this is the best saline delivery method we found (the drops were to fiddly and the other sprays clearly designed for adults to use on their own snozzes). Just salt and water, it helps de-clog blocked little noses and is suitable from birth.
You may not need this, but it’s handy to have some around just in case. My son was a mega-possetter, bringing up a tidal wave of partially digested milk after each and every feed. This helps thicken the milk once it hits their tummy so in theory they bring up less afterwards.
(Obviously I’d heard about these next 4 things before baby, but I didn’t realise how important they’d become…)
7. Eye Mask
This is for the classic easy-to-ignore advice of sleep when the baby sleeps. Please do this! It’ll properly change those first few weeks of life… Even if you don’t sleep, just take that quiet time to re-set and get yourself in order.
8. Leave-in Conditioner
Everyone tells you that you’ll need dry shampoo, but no amount of conditioning treatments could touch my ravaged-by-night-feeds endz, apart from this. Total game changer.
9. Dark Chocolate
Giving birth can leave you a bit iron-deficient, and apparently dark chocolate helps?! Who cares if it’s true or not, let’s all stock up now just in case.
10. Tiny Bottle Of Wine
So I didn’t know this, but it is actually okay to drink small amounts when breastfeeding. You don’t need to pump and dump as such a tiny amount actually makes it through to the milk. As long as you aren’t feeling the effects, a small amount of booze is 100% fine – hurrah!
Feel free to share this with your pre-baby friends and let me know what you’d add to the list.
Heather Davies-Mahoney is a radio producer, who can’t help producing in her spare time too. So far she has produced a marriage, a mortgage, a mini-me and a mountain of possety muslins. In her NCT group she was the instigator of Boobs & Boxsets afternoons. You can follow her on Twitter and find more on her blog