I remember being so frustrated by the advice I found online. It was either exceedingly vague (your baby will need clothing and a place to sleep – no really?), ridiculously specific (3 long-sleeved onesies, 4 sleeper suits, 5 burp cloths, 4 muslin cloths…) or downright ludicrous (I never bought the highly recommended organic cotton hand-woven blankets and can’t say either I or my baby have suffered).
A year later I am definitely older, marginally wiser and a lot sleepier. Funnily enough I stand by most of what I wrote in the pre-baby days – all expectations to the contrary there’s nothing too cringe-worthy or naive, although my attempt to estimate the exact number of onesies my baby will need is perhaps pushing it a bit.
I have, however, learnt that motherhood really does teach you to expect the unexpected, including that every technophobe is just a baby away from installing broadband internet and coffee is a major food group. And so, without further ado, the four items I never thought I would need and now use every day.
1. The best smartphone money can buy. Seriously, for your baby shower, forget the cute baby dresses and shoes and ask your friends to upgrade your phone. My friends are probably laughing right now, as a year ago I didn’t even own a mobile phone. Now my life is run with one hand and 3G internet. Emails, shopping lists, blog posts, medical appointments, photos… all just a one-handed click away. The top three features to look out for are: speed, size (has to fit in one hand) and a good camera.
2. A huge futon. Ok, this may seem like a major overhaul to your sleeping arrangements but it is so so worth it. On arriving in Portugal without a bed, we bought a massive Japanese futon that just sits on the floor over some tatami mats. My husband was sceptical at first (oh ye of little faith…) but now even he agrees that it has completely changed nights and naps for our little family – we finally have ample space for the three of us and there is simply no way the baby can fall out of bed. As an added bonus futons are relatively cheap and great for your back.
3. A ring sling. Argh. I know I bang on about this, but seriously,if you are expecting a baby, know somebody who is pregnant, or going to be a grandma, or just thinking about having children, get them a ring sling. They cost less than 40 euros and are so blooming versatile! Carrying the baby, changing the baby, rocking the baby, a sunscreen in the car, a strap to tie the baby to the dodgy restaurant high chair… I still can’t believe this was the carrier I bought “just in case” when I now use it.
4. A standing baby bath. A year ago I was all minimalist and going on about how you could raise a baby with just a pencil spring and chewing gum. And I still believe that. But then I experienced the joys of the standing baby bath lent to me by a friend. Hallelujah! Yes, you can wash baby on the floor or in the sink or in the shower but it won’t be half as much fun. In our family bath time is daddy time (meaning I can count the times I’ve bathed baby boy on one hand) The raised tub means my husband’s back is happy, baby is safe and mummy can have her own long shower/watch an episode of friends/meditate knowing the two are having fun (and in the first few weeks those precious moments to yourself are exhilarating)