Speaking to a friend of mine the other day over tea, I was informed I’d have to make a list, when her time came to join the mammy-hood, of the essential things she’d need to have. I myself made use of many of these lists, including this one from the lovely Sinead at Bumbles of Rice. There are so many of them all over the internet, that you spend your pregnancy looking at, and worrying that you won’t have enough, or that you have too much (the more likely one). These, however, were my absolute must-haves; the survival kit which made life easier, which is definitely what you want when your world has been turned upside down by a tiny (cute) tyrant.
As always, bit of a disclaimer: these are the things I found absolutely essential, they could very easily make it onto your “I wasted my time trying this out” list, but hopefully these will help you along the way as you settle into new parenthood. It’s not the easiest journey but it’s so worth it, and these will hopefully help you get some of the precious gold dust that is sleep with a newborn!
These are two different things yes, but I’m lumping them both in together in plum position because of how important I found them. Blankets be damned, I had a kicker-offer, and unless its tied to him he will make his way out of it. In the early days, the gift of a swaddle blanket (think a semi-straitjacket type velcro blanket, its less strange than it sounds) was an absolute godsend! it lulled the tiny darling into a false sense of being held close and so he slept soundly. Sometimes even in his own cradle (I did say sometimes). However, he did too quickly grow out of the swaddle, and so after we eventually hit the minimum weight to get into a Gro-Bag (roughly about 10lbs, most babies will not take as long as we did!), we started with those. I suggest getting a few of these, you can get them fairly cheaply in TK Maxx or Penneys, and with lovely cute designs on them, as accidents and bedtime vomiting incidents do happen and having a spare is always better than having to wrestle with blankets that they’re insisting on kicking off.
I was gifted one of these from a lovely friend while pregnant, but didn’t get much use out of that one as he was far too small a baby to use the structured carrier at the time. Instead at six weeks old I gave in and bought a Moby Wrap, because my arms and back couldn’t take the needing-to-be-up-in-arms-and-rocked much more. A lifesaver, sanity saver, all we had to do was wrap it around us (theres a knack to it, that you get fairly fast after the first two days), tuck him into it and walk around – bam, sleeping baby. It definitely made things a lot easier, even just getting to eat a meal in the early days. Do try out a few, different types suit different people, and even at different stages – when E got too heavy for the Moby on my back, I went and tried out some Soft Structured Carriers, but he hated them so we’ve reverted back to the buggy, but I know many mammies/daddies and babies who love them and think they’re the best thing since sliced bread. We’ve just got a little boy who is far too independent for such things! If you want further opinions on the wonders of baby carriers, check out these bits from fellow Irish Parenting Bloggers Mama.ie and The Airing Cupboard who have also found it a godsend.
Wipe Down Bibs
Ah, weaning. Never will you ever have more laundry in your life – mine is looking at me from its pile which seems to be never ending at the moment. On top of the million items of clothing which will never be the same again after sweet potato/butternut squash (what exactly is in that stuff?), it also wrecks an awful lot of bibs. It just won’t wash out. I found myself avoiding using the nice bandana bibs if he was eating at all, which made the ever-growing laundry pile even harder to manage – until I found these bibs in Lidl on offer – plastic wipe down bibs. Genuinely the best two euro I’ve spent in a while; add these to your survival kit early – these have saved on a lot of mess and a lot of washing – and saved the nice bibs from an orange-smeary end. Definitely an essential – save the pretty bibs for the outfits where you are never, ever feeding them. Seriously.
These are a controversial one – a lot of people are split on them; some say they’re a lot of hocus, some say they’re dangerous, others swear by them. I’m in the swear by them camp. I read about them online when E was being difficult and ordered them having seen rave reviews. I wasn’t sure what to expect, part of me did honestly think it was a crock but I was willing to try anything to get some sleep. We put them on, and he started settling down – even still, in my head, the logical side of me said coincidence, or that I was getting used to it. It wasn’t until we lost the anklet and discovered our demon child without them that I realised just how incredible they are; I haven’t a clue what magical powers they’ve got, apart from the amber being a natural painkiller, because they make my child into a different, more lovely one to be around. We only take them off for baths now, and everyone is all the happier. As far as safety concerns, we make sure he can’t get it off him, or that it can’t wrap around too tight, and we’re satisfied that the safety catch and knotting system of the beads works. Definitely worth a try if you’re frazzled and need to try something with your teething baby. I’d definitely have them in my survival kit if there was to be another baby in the house!
A Survival Buddy
Whether this is a fellow Mammy, or a friend who can bring you back to the pre-parenting days, having the number in your phone who you can contact when you feel like you’re at cracking point is an absolute must have in your survival kit. Someone who will drink tea with you, or just tell you that it’s going to be okay, that the baby will stop crying. Someone who will listen to you talking about the good and bad of days with the baby without trying to change the subject, or make you feel bad (or worse) about things you’ve done, said or thought. Parenting is a tough job; we all need an escape, and no amount of baby books, essential buys or unsolicited advice can beat a friendly word and an understanding ear when you need it.
That list is by no means comprehensive, its merely the tip of the iceberg but a good start. What would you consider the things you couldn’t have done without?
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For more things I wish I knew beforehand, but learned on the job, here’s my 10 things I learned as a new mammy, 10 more things I learned as he got older, and some stuff I learned from the toddler.