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Recipe Rifle goes shopping: BABY ESSENTIALS

When it comes to baby kit, especially with your first baby, I say get everything. EVERYTHING. A tummy tub? Why not. An £8,000 buggy? Go for it. Fourteen different kinds of dummy? Great!

Because all babies are different and they like, weirdly, different things. And some things might work for you, others not. Both Kitty and Sam for example like Avent bottles and dummies and immediately spat out any dummy that was not made by Avent.

Avent’s anti-colic bottles do, I think, work in reducing what is known in my family as “squirty tummy” in newborns. ALL BABIES have “squirty tummy” to varying degrees, whether you use an anti-colic system or not because they are new and rubbish at everything and their stomachs don’t work for ages, resulting in “squirtiness”, which is an unspecified gas/digestion problem that makes them screw their faces up and go “meerrggghgh” or even “WWAWAAAHHAHHAHHAHAH!!!” I like to try to avoid this.

So I also use Infacol, which is an orangey-tasting liquid that helps babies bring up their wind. You can give it to babies from birth, but I find that wind problems only emerge at about 3 weeks onwards. You give them a little dropper of it before a feed and then they bring up lovely rich, orangey burps and sleep like logs and are less “squirty”. Kitty lived on it for about 3 months.

I also believe, with swivel-eyed evangelism, in swaddling. This, for the uninitiated, is when you wrap a newborn up very tightly in a long strip of cloth to replicate the squashed-in feeling of being in the womb. There are some cloths specially designed for swaddling called Grobag, which are very good

and also the terrific giant muslins from Aden + Anais, which used to be very niche and hippy when I had Kitty, but now everyone uses them. They are absolutely brilliant for all sorts of things, from swaddling to using as a blanket, a sunshade, rolling it up into a sausage to wedge newborn into sleeping on its side if you feel a bit neurotic that the baby is going to puke in its sleep and choke on it, (but are too scared to put it down on its tummy), using as a vomit sheet to stretch over the bottom sheet of a cot belonging to a child with noro – you get the idea. They are quite expensive but they will last you for years.

There are millions of swaddling tutorials on YouTube – I urge you to look them up if you are about to have your first. Just do it before every naptime until they are about… I dunno… six weeks old.

Chloramphenicol antibiotic eye drops.

Available over the counter at any pharmacy. If your baby’s umbilical cord is taking its sweet time to come off and is starting to stink, slosh this over it to prevent any infection. It is mild enough to go in your eye, so it’s perfectly okay to use on a tummy button.

Lansinoh cracked skin balm

This will rescue your nipples if you are breastfeeding – put it on every time you breastfeed or any time you express, or any time you remember to. Buy one for every room in your house so you are never without it. You can never have too much because it has a million other uses – it mends cracked heels overnight, works as a basic but effective night eye cream and is officially the world’s best lip balm (second only to Lanolips – available at Waitrose).

Gap make the only socks that babies will not kick off.

Seraphine make very nice nursing bras. They have one that comes in a small, medium and large and another that comes in traditional bra sizes. I’d say that the one that comes in traditional sizes is better.

I’ve got this bra in a size 1 million. And also some others that I had specially made… BY NASA

Aptamil formula. I fed Kitty a combination of formula and breastmilk from pretty much day 1 and have done the same with Sam. My personal attitude to breastfeeding is this: I do not like hearing babies cry and if I don’t have to, I don’t want to. So if my child is crying or unsettled because it is hungry, and I do not have enough breastmilk to sort it out, I give them formula. I partly breastfed Kitty for about six weeks and will probably do the same with Sam, unless with two children in tow breastfeeding and expressing becomes completely impractical, in which case I will stop sooner.

For expressing, I use a Medela Swing, which is about 10 years old, but gets the job done. Muy sexy, no?

I must also give a plug to a company called notsobig.com, which sent me a lot of babygros for Sam. They couldn’t possibly have forseen that babygros with slogans on the front are my least favourite thing ever, but it was a kind and thoughtful gift. And one with LOL on the front, did make me smile, although I cannot guarantee that Sam will wear it. Looking at their website, they have all sorts of terrific things on there without hideous slogans, so do give it a go. 
Little Clothes Mouse – littleclothesmouse.co.uk – sent me some excellent newborn stuff for Sam, including a Petit Bateau hat that actually fit his weeny head (he was not born small – 7.5lb – but 0-3 month stuff was HUGE on him). In general, the website sells discounted designer childrens’ clothes and is a small company run by a very nice lady, so I heartily direct your business to her. She has also kindly and generously offered Rifle Readers a 10% discount at checkout with the code RIFLE. Use it or lose it ladies (and germs). 

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