Tag Archives: prepare

ImageMany women work up until their maternity leave starts, and for some it is the first extended leave from the workplace that they have ever experienced.  The idea of maternity leave – a paid holiday – sounds fantastic.  The idea of having at least three to six months off with your new baby sounds even better.  The reality, however, can be incredibly stressful.

Stressful?  Not working?  Don’t be silly, you might be thinking.

I would like you to imagine a normal working day.  How many people do you interact with?  How often do you need to shut the door to concentrate on something important?  Are you a pro-active person who gets satisfaction from completing your ‘To Do’ list?

Now imagine waking up thinking the same way, but by the end of the day you have not managed to meet up with anyone, the computer and phone have remained untouched and you have not done one thing on your ‘To Do’ list.  When baby first arrives this is fine, because everyone knows new mums are meant to lie back and do nothing.  After four or five weeks, however, you might feel a little differently.

Take this scenario: Baby is a couple of months old, your partner comes home from work as usual, looks at you and his precious baby lovingly and asks, ‘”So, what have you guys been up to today?”  “Nothing…” you think to yourself flatly.  We’ve slept.  I’ve changed some nappies, managed one load of washing and fed the baby so much my boobs feel like they’re about to fall off, but he doesn’t want to hear about that!  You shrug your shoulders, “Same old, same old!” you manage with a wry smile.  “Oh, so you didn’t manage to ring the gardener or buy the groceries?  Never mind darling, I’ll get a takeaway and maybe you’ll find time to call tomorrow,” he offers, supportively.  Meanwhile, you are feeling frustrated, exhausted and useless.  You start to look at yourself and make comparisons.  You think about the stimulating conversations you used to have, discussing exciting deals you were both working on, and how now you feel like you have nothing interesting to contribute.  How you used to meet him for drinks and dinner with friends after work and the fun you had together, knowing you could lie in bed all weekend if you wanted.  Now nights out seem more unrealistic than flying to the moon.  (At least you could probably take the baby to the moon with you!)  You remember how you used to organise everything at home and at work effortlessly, while keeping up with friends.  Now just one of those seems a struggle.


It is an incredibly difficult time because you are drawn to this little bundle with the strongest instinct to protect and provide and yet often, muddled in are feelings of guilt and frustration which murky the whole picture.

Don’t worry, I’m here to tell you that all of these feelings are normal and that mental preparation can make a massive difference, allowing you to really enjoy this period of your life, instead of it being frustrating and stressful.

Mentally prepare yourself for what is about to hit you as much as you can.  How, you might ask?  Well, it simply involves thinking about how different your days will be and being ok with that, rather than battling against it.  With enough preparation, you should be able to really look forward to baby and the lull your life will take, rather than resent it.  No matter what stage of life you are in, try to fully immerse yourself in motherhood when it happens to you.  Having a baby in your arms, but wishing you were out on a Friday night or working on the latest big deal, is like living in a the perfect house in the worst location or having your dream job but hating everyone you work with.  The idea is fantastic, but before long you are miserable.

One of the first things to come to terms with is that most of us are control freaks.  Even if you are not when it comes to controlling other people, most people are when it comes to controlling themselves and their own time.  Having to let go of this can be very challenging, especially if you have not thought about it before it happens.  Secondly, the exhaustion can take its toll.  Not because it’s more difficult than what you’re used to, but because it’s different.  Instead of being exhausted from mentally or physically challenging work, often being stimulated by others in the workplace, you are exhausted from the lack of sleep, and your inability to have any time for yourself.  On top of all that, when you most need to rest, baby will probably need you – it’s just sod’s law!  It’s the inability to rest exactly when you want to, which can be the most challenging part.  Consequently most mums will agree that it is much more exhausting being a full-time mother, rather than going to an office every day.  If these facts are surprises for you when baby arrives, they can be very stressful.  Prepare for them and it is a lot easier.

The combination of just these two factors, without anything else, is enough to make many mothers want to go back to work.


The argument about whether women should go back to work or not, now that Feminism has created so many opportunities and ‘equal rights’ for us, is something which I imagine will be with us forever.  If you are in the lucky position where you do not need to go back to work, and are undecided, I would advise you not to make any decisions before you have your baby.  When I was pregnant with my first, I expected to be back at work within six months, with a full-time nanny in tow.  By the time six months had passed, the idea of leaving my baby made me feel sick.  I was very lucky to be able to make that choice and I chose to stay at home.

If you know you are definitely going back to work, enjoy hanging out with baby 24/7 while it lasts!  You may take 3, 6 or 12 months off work.  Whatever it is, it’ll go by in a flash.  I understand that your partner will want ‘you’ back and probably feel a bit rejected particularly if you are breastfeeding, and of course it’s important to try and create a balance in your life.  However, it’s impossible to be everything to everyone.  Be where your heart draws you, communicate well with your partner, make him understand what your needs are, and try to listen to his.

Many women who want to stay at home get caught up in their frustration.  If you are one of these, please try to search within yourself for a possible solution, so that you can have the best of both worlds.  If being with your children is possible financially and is something you enjoy, you and your children will benefit so much the more you can be with them.

If you want to be at home but don’t know what to do outside of your existing career, try to think of this time as an opportunity.  Pregnancy has allowed you to break from your work.  It is the only time when you can have a break and no one asks any questions, so make the most of it!  Use it as a chance to have a go at something different or pick up a hobby you loved when you were younger or you haven’t had time for since you’ve been working.

No matter how much you love your newborn, everyone needs time for themselves.  Everyone!  Some women feel guilty if they have the urge to spend some time away from their children.  DON’T!  No matter how much we love them, we all need time for ourselves.  I knew I wanted to be at home with my baby, but having had my own business, the feelings of frustration, which I mentioned at the beginning of this blog where very prevalent for me and I knew I also needed something else.  My job to date had been as an independent, self-employed film producer, which I couldn’t see myself doing successfully, part-time.  So instead I started writing and researching the development of the human brain, from the womb, throughout childhood and into adulthood.  I not only found it fascinating, it made me understand how my child’s brain was developing and why they find so many things frustrating as they grow, as their bodies are capable of more than their minds.  It was what led me to start writing these blogs, two years later.


If your existing career is not something you can do part-time or from home, or if you want to change your career path, it can be very hard to think of what else might stimulate you. Keep your eyes and ears open to anything that appeals to you, or is suggested to you.  Be open to new ideas and think about what you love to do.  The latter stages of pregnancy, particularly when it’s uncomfortable to move, can be a very good time to think about what you really enjoy doing and what you think might work as a part-time job or new career which you can fit around your children. Thinking about what you like to do when you are relaxing is a good start.  It might be something as basic as reading or writing, talking to people, laughing or eating.  It doesn’t matter what it is, but if you can identify the number one thing you enjoy, try to think of doing something which includes that in some way.  The happier you are, the happier everyone is around you.

What I find amazing is when parents find a new lease of life, working or creating in a totally different way from anything they have done before.  For example, I am about to launch a Children’s Charity called Boo Bods, bridging the gap between creativity as a hobby and a career.  Now, if I was still embroiled in the film industry I doubt very much if I would be doing this and already we are helping people.  It feels fantastic.

With part-time work, however, comes the need to be very organised with your time, so that there is over-all harmony and balance in your life.

Balance is incredibly difficult and something I am constantly reassessing in my life to try and get right.  Children like clear boundaries and when you work part-time they are constantly asking whether you are working today or not.  However, children are very adaptable and I think it probably affects us (with the guilt that we are not giving enough time to them!), more than it affects the children.

What I have found key is to make sure that when I am working, I am working, and when I am with the kids, I am with the kids.  This is relevant whether you work full-time or part-time.  Again, it’s about clear boundaries.  It’s easy for the children to learn (even if they don’t want to!) that when mummy is working, you don’t disturb her.  However, asking them to be quiet for 10 minutes while mummy quickly finishes an email or a phone call is a lot more difficult.  If I try and squeeze in a bit of work when it’s my days with the kids, the result is usually that I don’t do the jobs as well as I could and everyone is frustrated.  Of course, having full days to yourself may not be a financial option for you, and in that case, you’ll become a master of grabbing the minutes when they are distracted or asleep, but it’s tricky to feel truly fulfilled when that’s all the time you can muster.

If you can, try asking for help, so that you get the time you need.  If you start to feel suffocated by the lack of ‘you’ time, do something about it before it really starts to have a negative impact on you.  See my previous blog, STEP SEVEN in Mentally Preparing to Have your First Baby: Prepare yourself to be able to ask for help & to take time for yourself.  You’ll be surprised how many people want to help you out if you ask them.  Keep a note of anyone who offers to babysit, so you and your partner can go to the movies one night, or anyone who is around in the day and can give you a couple of hours.  If I don’t make a note, I can never think of who to ask when I really need someone!

You are about to HAVE A BABY!  The joy you will bring each other, the laughter, the cuddles…  There are too many wonderful moments to even start.  They can bring you contentment and fulfilment in one.  They can make you have real perspective and look at life in a totally different way – if you let them.  Like with everything in life: the more you put in, the more you will get out.

For some people, a life full of children keeps them busier and happier than any full-time job.  Others find being at home does not suit them, or their financial situation makes their decision for them, and they go back to full-time work.  As I always say: you must do what works for you, be happy with your decisions and make the most of every day, no matter where you are or who you are with.


I am not alone in believing that Nature never intended for women to raise their babies on their own.  There are modern day accounts of African women who were brought up in a tribe-like environment and breastfed by one of several lactating women within their extended family.  I believe that we were meant to share all parts of child rearing.

Modern day mothers can often feel exhausted by the daily exertions of bringing up one or more children.  They can experience trouble with breastfeeding and find it hard to juggle all areas of their lives.  Why is child-rearing so much more stressful for us than our mammalian relatives?  The Gorilla, the closest to us, lives in closely-knit communities who work together in a family unit.  It is the same with most animals, and yet the human being, who is meant to be at the top of the food chain, often thinks that if they can’t manage on their own, they are a failure.  In fact this is a new phenomena mainly concentrated in the big cities.  If we look at our history, the importance of the family unit has been very strong. The advent of easily accessible, affordable methods of transport, and careers for women outside of the home, however, have changed this for a lot of people.  With women’s need to feel self-fulfilled and financially independent, many of us have moved away from home and cut ourselves off from our most important resource of support and security: family.  I envy those of my friends whose parents are at hand to babysit on demand, and love having their grandchildren to stay.  To have the odd night of uninterrupted sleep, and the freedom to explore your own interests without having to fork out money every time you leave the house, would be so liberating.

However, I think modern day perception has become distorted.  It seems fine to have grandma over every day to look after the kids, all the way up to teenage years, but a nanny?  Well, that can be seen as an unnecessary extravagance.  Unless parents go to work, surely they are more than capable?  And yet working parents have time to themselves every day, on their commute to and from work, at lunch, or just time at their desk, without being demanded upon by their kids.  So when are stay-at-home parents, whose families aren’t at hand, meant to have some time to themselves?  Luckily it is very acceptable to send your child to nursery school.  This is perhaps because children enjoy the companionship of other kids their age, learn simple skills and are introduced to learning, away from their parents in a safe and happy environment.  Yet this ‘acceptability’ does not sit comfortably with me.

There is nothing wrong with a parent wanting to look after their children on their own.  In fact I embrace it 100%, and do it myself.  But I need a bit of time for me, as well, and I don’t have family around the corner who I can call upon – I know I am not alone.  Being a full-time mum is wonderful but it is also exhausting, and we have no holidays.  What people without kids consider a holiday, parents see as great fun but relentless, because without school or nursery we get no time off.  What doesn’t help is that we can also be martyrs, insisting on doing everything ourselves; and of course there are the financial restrictions, which means paid help is not an option for everyone.  The result can be that we can forget about what’s important to us.

Once women have children, especially if family members or willing close friends are not around to offer help, their own interests can go by the wayside.  They forget about what they used to love doing, and do not prioritise their intimate relationships because it all costs too much money in childcare.  It can be hard to justify expensive help to sit on the sofa and read a book, have a snooze, go swimming or watch your favourite film.  Many people would feel guilty and most of their friends would probably frown upon it (weirdly, especially those who are also mothers).  It is so wrong.

If you were asked, “Who do you think is the happier and healthier person: someone who looks after themselves, works hard but also makes sure they relax and does something for themselves at least twice a week; or someone who works hard, is always tired, never has a moment to themselves and feels guilty because they have a short temper?” which one would you choose?  So many mothers I know would put themselves in the latter category, and yet, you write it on paper and pose the question in this way, and you’d think you were working for some tyrannical boss!

Ladies, (or gentlemen!) if you are the main carer of your child, TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF AT LEAST TWICE A WEEK.  If you are reading this as pregnant mother-to-be, mentally decide NOW to do this.  We are NOT MEANT TO DO THIS ALL ON OUR OWN!  Weeks or even months can go by before you suddenly realise how frazzled you are, from tiredness and a sudden lack of personal identity.  People would probably advise that if you even start to feel this way, make time for yourself immediately.  I say, make time for yourself, BEFORE you feel this way!  Don’t forget the impact hormone imbalance will have on you when you give birth.  If you feel happy in yourself, emotionally you’ll be more balanced, and balance is one thing which everyone strives daily to achieve.  Parents find it particularly difficult because they are always putting their children first.  As a pregnant woman, you can mentally prepare for this and promise yourself, that for the good of you, your child and your partner, you will endeavour to keep up with the things you really enjoy.  If you don’t have family at hand, and financial restrictions mean you can’t pay for help, try asking friends, you might be surprised how many of them would love to look after your baby.  If that is not an option for you, talk to your local health advisor or social worker.  The Community is there to help you, you don’t have to be alone.

You can also do a surprising amount with your baby.  Newborns are very mobile and sleep a lot.  As they get a bit older, it can be a bit more tricky to take them out and about, depending on how good they are at sleeping ‘on the run’.  So make the most of it while you can, if this is something which is important to you.  My husband and I are quite sociable people and love to travel.  So, when our first was tiny, we travelled a lot and accepted invitations whenever we could take him with us (breastfeeding does tie you to baby!).  By getting him ear-protectors[1] we could even take him to gigs or music events which allowed children.  A lot of people like to slow down and not socialise as much when they have kids, which is fantastic if that suits you, but if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.

Live your life and be happy.  Your kids will be happy just to be with you.

And remember: if you do feel lonely, isolated or frustrated, reach out for help.  We are not meant to do this alone and isolation with a newborn baby can bring on depression.  It is important to acknowledge how you are really feeling rather than putting on a brave face, because if you don’t, eventually the whole deck of cards will come tumbling down.  Look after yourself, do things for yourself, and remember, every now and again, to put yourself first.

Tiffany Newton

Follow me on Twitter @TiffNewt

[1] Peltor Kids Ear-Protectors.

My mantra, which those of you who have been following my blogs will know, is, ‘Listen’ (to yourself, your partner and your baby) and ‘Let baby Lead’.  The ‘Baby Industry’ has grown into a monster worth billions of pounds, selling you everything from technique to toiletries.


You may already have been overwhelmed with the amount of books out there, telling you how to do everything under the sun, which is fine until they start contradicting each other!  No knowledge is wasted, however, as long as you assess and then make judgement calls, because you can’t follow it all.

In my previous blog (Step Five), I talked about getting to know yourself, so that you can work out what will suit you the best.  An author might suggest a way of doing things that is highly recommended by twenty mothers and half a dozen celebrities, but unless it suits you as a person.  If it means rearranging the way you do everything in your life, I think that’s just too hard!  There are amazing books out there with invaluable information, wisdom and experience, it just a matter of finding the ones that suit you.  These are the top few from my library:

– ‘What to Expect when You’re Expecting’[1] and ‘What to Expect the 1st Year’[2].  I found them very helpful encyclopaedic, factual guides with no fuss or frills.

– ‘The Continuum Concept’[3].  This book gave me a fascinating insight into how they raise children in the Amazon and converted me to carrying my babies rather than putting them in a pram.

– ‘What Every Parent Should Know’[4].  Invaluable knowledge about the physical and psychological development of the human brain.  It helps you understand what your baby is capable of, when and the importance of intimate interaction early on.  It also informs you about the dangers of controlled crying.

– ‘The Happiest Baby on the Block’ and ‘The Happiest Toddler on the Block’[5].  These books helped me understand the importance of replicating the environment of the womb, while giving information about behavioural development and how to deal with it.

These are a good start for anyone, but everyone has their own taste and you must find yours.  It’s important to always bring your own opinions, likes and dislikes to whatever you read.  Don’t believe everything and trust your own instincts.  Try to look within yourself for the answers.  It is always reassuring to have an experienced voice nearby, but when if comes to the big decisions about sleeping and feeding routines, for example, these should be made by you.

Be confident in your preparation and you’ll be confident when baby arrives.  Know yourself, listen to your baby and the rest will fall into place.

The industry, however, only starts with the books.  Then you’ve got all the ‘things’ you can buy.  Cots, clothes and lots and lots of clutter!


When you move into a new house, you rarely buy all the new furniture until you move in.  How are you going to know what fits otherwise?  It’s the same with babies.  Until baby arrives it’s hard to know what you’ll be really want.  Everything changes from the moment he’s born, so try to keep your purchases to a minimum before he arrives.

With my second child I got rid of anything that I didn’t need and took up loads of space (mainly because we live in a flat in London and don’t have much space!).

This is my list of what I used and needed, from birth all the way through, with tips and comments:

Hospital Bag:

–       A couple of newborn baby grows

–       Baby blanket or warm outside baby garment

–       New born nappies

–       Cotton pads for cleaning baby’s bottom

–       Baby’s towel (if you are giving birth on a hospital ward)

–       Sanitary pads

–       A few pairs of big, comfy (granny) pants for after you have given birth (you won’t be very comfortable down there, remember, so make sure they are big and lose)

–       Change of clothing for you, including very comfy trousers (I wore leggings or tracksuit bottoms)

–       PJs for you

–       Dressing Gown or towel (if you are giving birth on a hospital ward)

–       Your music or creature comforts to make you more comfortable

–       Your wash bag with lovely soap or shower gel and shampoo

Baby’s Sleeping:

–       BABY BLANKET.  Make sure it has holes in the material so if it goes over baby’s head he can still breath.  When baby is a bit bigger, usually once he starts moving and rolling over, you may want to use a baby SLEEPING BAG.  They are particularly useful when it’s cold, because blankets come off them, baby gets cold and then wakes up.  Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t like having any blankets on him.  If the bedroom is warm and he’s wearing a full baby grow, that may be enough.  Think about how warm you are.  If you’re warm, he probably will be as well and remember nappies are really good insulators!  Neither of mine like covers on them.  In fact they are naked and uncovered whenever it’s warm enough!

–       If baby is in bed with you:

  • A BED GUARD, to stop them rolling out of bed.  Both of mine slept in bed with me for months, in between me and the bed guard (as Dad may not be as sensitive to baby’s position in the bed and could roll on baby).
  • CO-SLEEPER.  A really good way to start to move baby out of your bed.  They are the same height as your mattress, so it’s like a little bed, right next to your bed.  Baby can still smell you and hear you, so they are comforted, but you have you both have your own space in bed.  As they get bigger, even if they might want to be right next to you, your movement does disturb them and vica versa.

–       If baby is out of bed:

  • MOSES BASKETS.  Moses baskets are very expensive and only last a few weeks, because baby grows so fast.  If you think a cot is a bit big and not very cosy for baby, but you want to avoid the cost of a Moses basket, you can put something like a Snuggle Nest[6] in your cot.  They are particularly useful if your baby doesn’t like swaddling.  Snuggle Nests are very light-weight, and have little raised cushions either side of baby which you can remove as he gets bigger.  As it’s so light, you can easily carry it around with you, for baby to sleep in for a few hours during the day or if you go out for dinner.  I still use the mattress of mine as a changing mat.
  • COTS.  As far cots are concerned, where do you start?  Or do you?  My second son has never had one.  He was in my bed, he’s now in the co-sleeper, and from there he will go into a big bed.  My first son had a massive cot (over a metre long), which was his bed (when he wasn’t in my bed!) until he went into a normal single bed.  If you get a cot, budget and aesthetics will dictate your choice.
  • NIGHT LIGHT.  When baby is first born they like the dark (they have just come from your womb).  However, they learn to be afraid of the dark and as they get older often ask for a light.  I bought a night light which you plug straight into the socket.  It has a light sensor, so it automatically comes on when it is dark and turns itself off when it is light.  It means my son can see his room and orientate himself if he wakes in the night or needs the loo.

–       Changing Baby’s Nappy.

  • CHANGING MAT.  For baby number two, I used a waterproof changing mat, a towel or my Snuggle Nest instead of a changing table.  If you have lots of room, it’s quite nice to have an easily accessible table at the right height with everything on it.  However, they take up so much room and many of them do not work as a piece of furniture afterwards.  However, you can get beautiful ones in all materials, textures and colours.  Personally, I would rather have nappies etc. on a shelf and a mat I can whip out and use any time I need it.  I also don’t want to have to go to the bedroom to change his nappy.  I have one mat downstairs and one mat upstairs.  When you are first home, it is very important that you have access to a changing mat or table in the same room, or at least on the same floor, as where you are spending most of your time.  The more you walk (especially up and down stairs) when you have first given birth, the longer it will take you to heal.
  • NAPPIES.  I have always used organic, gel-free nappies.  They are more expensive than Pampers and Huggies, but the skin is the largest organ in the body, and I do not want a large portion of that being exposed to chemicals for the first two years (or more) of my babies’ lives.  I used organic cotton washable nappies from Green Baby, for my first baby for a year.  They were brilliant and saved me loads of money.  They are a bit more bulky and you do have to carry around soiled nappies, which loses its novelty, but I only stopped using them when he was 1 year old and the poo was proper adult poo.  If that got past the nappy liner onto the nappy, I didn’t want to be carrying it around all day!  Since then I have used many chemical free brands.  My favourite at the moment is Moltex, which are also biodegradable.  The most affordable and easily accessible are Nature Babycare which you can buy from supermarkets and which are eco disposable, breathable nappies.  The only time I use Huggies is at night once baby is about 8 months old.  As there is no gel in the natural nappies, they do not last 12 hours if your baby is drinking during the night; and you do not want to be changing nappies which might wake baby.
  • COTTON PADS or WIPES.  I don’t like wipes because they are full of chemicals.  There are now Water Wipes which are chemical free, but I rather resent spending a lot of money on that, when I can just as easily have a bowl of water next to my cotton pads!  I admit that wipes are great for travelling and when you’re out and about.  I use Sainsbury’s Little Ones ‘eco’ wipes which are paraben free.  At home, however, my cotton pads, water bowl and nappies are on the radiator cover downstairs and in his room upstairs.  They take up no space and are not expensive.
  • NAPPY BAGS. I don’t buy nappy bags.  I use old Sainsbury’s bags, and wrap up the nappy a few times.  If a nappy is full of poo, it stinks whichever way you look at it, and the perfume on the nappy bag doesn’t hide the smell for long!  Nappy bags fit neatly into your changing bag so people like them.  It’s a personal preference and one extra thing to spend money on.
  • OIL & NAPPY RASH CREAM.  I use olive oil (the same that I put on my salads – don’t use vegetable oil) on baby’s bottom, every time I change his nappy.  I bought a little pot (an inch in diameter) and dispensed some oil into it.  You can get little squirty bottles from Sainsbury’s and other shops, which you might find easier.  For nappy rash I use Weleda baby ‘Calendula Nappy Change Cream’, which I really like as a natural choice, although I also have a little pot of Sudocrem in my bag, in case he has really bad nappy rash.  If it’s just a bit spotty or blotchy, I just use oil, if it’s red I used the Weleda cream, but if it isn’t shifting, and it’s raw, looks uncomfortable and isn’t shifting, I use the Sudocrem cream.  As with all things that are painful with babies, (as I mentioned when discussing breastfeeding) if you let nappy rash go untreated it just gets worse.
  • CHANGING BAGS.  People have massive changing bags, with every pocket and zip for every requirement, and they range in price from about £20 (some changing bags are hundreds of pounds!).  I have a sturdy cotton bag which I got at a book launch, in which I have a bottle of water, nappies, cotton pads, oil and nappy rash cream, a small towel and change of clothes.  It fits inside my day bag when we go out, instead of being an additional bag, which I have to carry.

–       Feeding:

  • If you are breastfeeding, initially, you don’t need anything!  (Apart from plenty of water and munchies for you!)
  • BOTTLES.  Once you start expressing, introduce formula or drinking water, you’ll need bottles.  I used Aveda for my first baby, and Tommee Tippee for my second.  I did try a glass one with an organic rubber teet, which I used and liked until it smashed on the floor!  The other problem with them, is the way the teet is made.  All teets have holes in to allow the circulation of air.  The organic ones, however, don’t seem to have any kind of valve, so if you have a baby who likes to squeeze the teet while drinking (like mine!), the milk goes everywhere.  People like them because of the concern with the plastic in the normal bottles slightly dissolving into hot drinks.  You will have to make your own judgement here.  In the end, the glass bottle didn’t work for me because at 5 months baby was holding his own bottle and therefore dropping it, and once it had smashed I wasn’t going to replace it.
  • SIPPY CUPS as early as you can.  I think mine started on them at about 6 months old.  By 8 months he was drinking out of a cup or glass at every opportunity.  I encourage this, although it is messy so it depends what he is wearing and if I have a bib or change of top to hand!
  • BIBS.  I encourage my second child to feed himself which is very messy.  So if he’s eating squashy food I put him in what looks more like something he’d wear for art, called ‘In The Pocket Baby’.  It’s brilliant because he can squash banana all over himself and his clothes are not trashed!  Otherwise any bib will do, although I do recommend the ones with a pocket, so food falls into it, rather than onto their lap or on the floor.
  • NON-BREAKABLE CROCKERY.  Non-breakable bowl and cup and eventually kiddie cutlery once they are bigger, to get them used to using cutlery.
  • Feeding CHAIR or high chair.  I bought a Stokke chair called a Tripp Trapp for my first, which is fantastic and you adapt it as they grow, by taking away bits.  When they grows out of it as a high chair, you can lower the seat so it is a normal adult chair.  They do not have a tray, so baby gets used to eating at the table from day one, and it is a lovely wooden piece of furniture in your kitchen.  My second baby is used a portable canvas seat from Phil&Teds, to begin with.  It screws onto the kitchen table and takes up no room.  It is easy to store, and light enough to put in your suitcase.  Now that he is one year old, and was climbing out of the Phil&Teds one, he is in my first’s Tripp Trapp.  For very young babies who can not sit up properly on their own, the fabric bouncy chairs are great.  Try to always feed them from the floor.  If you put him in his chair on a table, so you can sit in front of him, be very careful.  Babies can bounce a lot and before you know it, he’ll be bouncing himself off the kitchen table!

–       Transportation:

  • CARRYING DEVICES.  When it comes to carrying your baby, there are slings, wraps and other contraptions, like Baby Bjorns.  I love slings.  See my  previous blogs (‘Step Two’ & ‘Me Wearing Slings…’).
  • PRAMS.  I would highly recommend not buying your pram until you have your baby, and if possible, borrow a pram initially until you know exactly what you want.  I didn’t use a pram for either of my babies until they were about 6 months old, instead I carried them everywhere.  By the time we bought one I knew exactly what I wanted: a Maclaren.  It’s one of the lightest, while also being sturdy, and it folds up small.  If you travel a lot or have limited space in your car or at home, they are amazing.  My only complaint is that they are hard to push one handed.  However, the fact that it has two separate handles rather than a bar, means you can attach many more things to it, which is useful.  There was some controversy about it being unsafe in 2009, when children in America put their finger in between moving parts which resulted in severe injury[7].  I have only had a good relationship with mine, but have always kept my fingers and my children’s fingers away from any moving parts!  Even if you want to carry your baby for the first year, I would recommend introducing a pram by six months.  Just like feeding with a bottle, if you don’t introduce the pram at all until they are much older, they might not go in it when you want them to, which is a nightmare.  Prams are incredibly useful as a portable place for your baby to sleep, and when you are out shopping to carry all your bags!  They definitely have their place, but I know that I would have bought something different from what we ended up with if we had bought one before baby arrived.
  • PRAM COVERS.  If you use your pram a lot when it is freezing cold, you will need a cover for your pram to keep baby warm.  I used a sheepskin seat cover, which he sat on and then covered him with a sheepskin rug.  You can get brilliant all in one seat covers which attach to your pram and they slip in to.  If I were to do it again, I would buy one of those.
  • CAR SEAT.  There are a million for sale out there.  I would recommend signing onto ‘Which?’ when you are ready to buy and see what is the best at the time.  Safety standards are always changing, designs are improving (especially with regard to fixing them in the car and removing their covers when you need to wash them).  Remember, the hospital won’t (or shouldn’t) let you leave unless you have a baby-seat fitted in the car you are taking baby home in.  I would recommend fitting the seat in the car before you go into labour, otherwise you’ll be standing in the street, holding your newborn baby, while your partner is f-ing and blinding trying to work out how it works!  It’s worth knowing that most car seats are not fitted properly because people do not read the instructions correctly.  It’s so important you do, because they can be very infective if they are fitted incorrectly.

–       Medicine Cabinet:

  • PRO-BIOTICS.  I swear by them, especially if you do not breastfeed your baby for the first year, it gives them a real boost to their immunity, until their own immune system is formed.  I am using Udo’s Choice Infant Blend, at the moment but there are several very good ones.  Ask your local Health Shop which one would be best for your baby, considering his age etc.  I also take them daily.
  • MEDICINE.  I never leave home without Calpol (Paracetmol for kids).  If your baby has high temperature, it works miracles.  You shouldn’t give any medication to a baby younger than 3 months old and never give more than the recommended dose.  Many people don’t believe in painkillers.  I weigh up the pros and cons: is one dose of paracetamol better than hours of discomfort for your child?  I think so, but you must decide what is best for your little one.  There is also Nurophen for kids, which is great a painkiller.  You shouldn’t give it on an empty stomach and you can give it together with Calpol if your baby is in pain and has a fever.  Always seek professional medical advice if you are unsure about anything.
  • VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS.  It is not advised to give your baby supplements on an on-going basis, but just when they need a boost.  So as soon as mine have a runny nose, I give them a dose morning and night.  Most have quite a lot of added sugar, which is best to keep away from if possible.  The best sugar-free one I have found is Nature’s Plus’ ‘Baby Plex’.  It is a bright yellow liquid that really stains, so beware when giving it, as it’s rare not to get it on something!
  • KARVOL.  When they get a cold, put some on their chest and on the pillow and it really helps them to breath.
  • SALINE NASAL SPRAY.  If your baby is really bunged up, they get so frustrated when they can’t sleep because they can’t breathe.  The saline nasal spray really works, if you can get them to hold still long enough to use it.
  • HUMIDIFIER.  If you have a young baby when it’s winter, you might be plagued with one cold after another, which is often accompanied by a cough.  The result: a lot of sleepless nights.  A humidifier can prevent that.  They are amazing.  I have the Vicks Humidifier and if my babies ever have a cough I put it on next to their bed and usually they don’t cough at all.
  • COUGH MIXTURE.  There are no medicated cough mixtures for children.  You can buy Nelsons’ ‘Children’s Cough Syrup’, but it doesn’t really do anything.  The most effective one I’ve found is Korres’ ‘Honey Base Syrup’.  It has a strong aniseed taste, however, so some children don’t like it.
  • TEETHING POWDERS.  TEETHA by Nelsons and INFANTS’ POWDERS by Ashton & Parsons are natural teething powders.  If you use them alternately they are more affective.  People use Bonjela Infant, I never have, but I think it’s very soothing for the gums.
  • ARNICA.  I always have Nelsons’ Arnica cream for the inevitable bruise when someone knocks their head, it works a treat.
  • THERMOMETRE.  I have a Geratherm which has always been very good, there are lots of different brands on the market.
  • HOMEOPATHY.  I have the basic 18 Remedies box, although I have to admit I rarely use it.  I find homeopathy often doesn’t work very quickly and can be quite hit and miss.  It is one of those things that you need to invest the time into if you want to be affect with your analysis and remedies.
  • TOOTHPASTE.  Once baby starts eating sugar, even if he only has one tooth, it’s good to try and introduce brushing their teeth.  To begin with, until they are 18 months or so, that means giving them their baby toothbrush with a tiny amount of toothpaste on it (if you put too much it’ll end up all over your bathroom!).  The Health Visitor gave me Sanderson 0PH1000 as my second baby’s first toothpaste.  For my first son, I have always used Aquafresh milk teeth, because he seems to like the taste better than the others.

–       Bathing.

  • BATHS & MATS.  Hopefully you already have one of these in your house.  If you only have a shower, you’ll need a baby bath.  Many people choose to use baby baths anyway, so they don’t use so much water.  For my first son, I used large bathing sponges: I filled the bath an inch or so, so that the sponges were soaked with water and then lay baby on top.  I then moved onto a baby bath and once he was sitting up I put a non-slip mat on the bottom of the bath.  Once I discovered how wonderful it was having a bath with him, however, I just bathed him with me.  So lovely, I really recommend it, especially when you’re still breastfeeding.  A feed in the bath, lying there peacefully together is a magical moment.  My second son always bathed with me, until he could sit up, then he started to have a bath with his brother sitting on the non-slip mat.
  • SOAP.  Don’t use any soap on your baby for as long as you can.  No matter how good it is, it dries out their skin and when they are tiny they don’t need it.  I only ever use natural soap without chemicals.  You can buy it at most Health Food shops.  One brand of liquid soap which I adore is Apivita[8], made in Greece.  They have a chamomile and honey shampoo which is particularly good for scabby scalp or dry skin.

I’m bound to have missed out something, but hopefully this will be a useful check-list for you, with some helpful hints.  If anyone has any comments or anything they would like to add, please do let us know.

[1] By Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazeland – Workman Publishing.

[2] By Heidi Murkoff, Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg, Sandee Hathaway – Workman Publishing.

[3] By Jean Liedloff – Da Capo Publishing.

[4] By Margot Sunderland – Dorling Kindersley Publishing.

[5] By Dr. Harvey Karp – Bantam Dell, Random House Publishing.

[6] Made by a company called ‘Summer’.