What does a new mum really need?

Gift Ideas!

So you are pregnant and you’re aware that you need some stuff… Lots of stuff… But which stuff?

Or maybe your friend/sister/colleague is having a baby and you want to get them something really useful, but you have NO IDEA what to get them. (Don’t worry – you’re not the first person to freak out over this and I’m here to help you out!)

If you go to baby expos and department stores, you can get so blown away by all the things on offer. I don’t blame you. I certainly remember the overwhelm when I hit the London Baby Expo at Earl’s Court a few years back – I’d never seen anything like it!

The media would have us believe that we need all manner of things that wriggle and jiggle (and at times, sing), plus a linen collection that would rival that of Harrods when we have a new baby. But do we really? What “stuff” do new mums find the most useful?

To help you out in this predicament, I did a little survey of some new (and not so new) Mums to get their thoughts on the matter.

I asked them which 3 things that couldn’t do without as a new mum.

These were the most popular responses – in no particular order. I’ve added my thoughts and experiences in here too…

(Disclosure – You may notice the links to Amazon on the page, for which I may get a small commission. They’re not the reason I wrote this article, but if you want to help my coffee budget feel free to use them!)

1. Food

New mums need nourishment. Simple as that. You want (no…need!) great quality food to be able to recover from the birth and also to be able to produce breastmilk for baby (if you are breastfeeding). The best gift family and friends can give is a freezer full of tasty grub. Or a membership to one of those food delivery services! When you are sleep deprived and somewhat stuck at home feeding a little one, having someone feed YOU is such a blessing. Do not underestimate the gift of food to a new mum!

So what kind of food is best? Well, the best kind of food is obviously something that you are going to enjoy, but a combination of high quality protein, healthy fats and a range of vegetables of different colours is a great start. Something that can be pulled out of the freezer and heated up easily is going to be a winner. Casseroles, lasagnes, risottos…you name it.

2.   A good baby carrier / wrap

Most mums mentioned that their baby carrier/wrap was essential to life as a new mother. Being able to have 2 hands free while carrying a baby is certainly not something to be sniffed at! Most babies LOVE being worn too-  snuggling into Mum or Dad’s chest, feeling lovely and warm and sensing that heart beat (just like being back in the womb). Heck, you can even do some baby salsa while babywearing if you really want to!

I find that some shops don’t have the best service when it comes to baby carriers and wraps, so if you can go to a local babywearing group or find a consultant, you definitely will get the best out of your new purchase! These groups will often allow you to try out all manner of designs so that you can find one that suits YOU best. Some groups will even allow you to borrow some slings/ carriers to try them out. How’s THAT for service?

A good carrier should feel comfortable for you, without tugging harshly on the shoulders or causing back pain. Keep in mind that different carriers and wraps do not suit all people – your sister might have loved one type but you might actually find it uncomfortable. Make sure you try it out and if it doesn’t feel right, check the adjustments and then try something else if you can’t make it work for you.

I had an Ergo Baby, which I absolutely loved (there is newer, much more fancy version these days!). I wore my daughter in it until she was about 3, when she started getting a wee bit too heavy. My husband loved wearing the kids, and I remember trekking up big hills in the Lake District, England, with my hubby carrying my daughter. It really did enable us to explore more.

FYI if you would like to learn about the “M” position of the baby’s hips when babyweaing, check out the hip dysplasia page.

3.   Muslins / cloths for spit up

Now I would consider these items essential. Let’s face it – most of us have/ had babies that spewed or slobbered everywhere. A handful of muslins or cloth nappies in the change bag and throughout the house are a necessity. So if you don’t have any, grab a few packs.

The large muslins can be really useful as swaddles, especially in the warmer weather. My son ended up using his muslins (or “mussies” as he calls them) as his comforter when he got a little older- cheap and easy to clean!

4.   Trailer for bike

Now obviously this is not something that new mums need to worry about, but it certainly might be worth looking into once the baby is a bit older. Several women commented that they LOVED having a trailer, especially once they had a second child, as it meant that they could get out and about more and didn’t feel so claustrophobic, stuck at home! Keep in mind though, that your child will need to be able to sit up and wear a helmet, so 12 months is often recommended as the minimum age.

There are many different brands, so it’s best that you do some research. The consensus seems to be that you get what you pay for, with some of the more expensive models displaying better safety features and longevity.

5.   Swaddles and / or sleeping bags

I feel like this market has expanded exponentially since I had my children! I think there were only a couple of different brands of one type of sleeping bag back then, and now there are so many that I cannot keep up!

Sleeping bags are fantastic though, as they help stop baby from kicking off blankets and getting cold in the night.  SIDS and Kids recommend that the sleeping bag has a fitted neck, arm holes and no hood.

If you do want to wrap your baby up for sleep,  there are some guidelines to stop you swaddling too tight and to help prevent hip dysplasia.

6.  Baby bouncer

This was an interesting addition to the list. Sure I had one when my kiddies were little, but I never really thought of them as being “essential.”

When I talk about baby bouncers, I’m not talking about those things that hang from doorways, but rather those things that have a horizontal bit and then some diagonal bits with some cloth over the top. (Yeah ok, just look at the picture to the left!).

So anyway, these are really handy when your bub doesn’t want to lie flat anymore but is super-nosey and wants to be more upright so she can keep an eye on you. Some have all manner of stuff hanging off them, and can sing songs and vibrate, but you don’t really need to go to all that expense – some of the simple ones work a treat! Some of my mums bring these to pilates class as the bubs really love them (for a while…)

7. A good feeding chair

Oh yeah…I totally agree with this one.

Babies need feeding…a lot! Whether you choose to breast or bottle feed, you definitely want to be in a chair that is comfortable and supportive. Deep couches are a bit of a nightmare to get in and out of and encourage way too much slouching. You can use lots of cushions to help with this or opt for a more supportive chair.

A nice chair in baby’s room is not a bad investment, so that you can feed comfortably in the nighttime without having to leave the room. I had one very similar to the one in the picture, which I borrowed from a friend. It was great when we had our second child too, as we could rock while having stories. Some women find that rocking chairs can be really useful for relieving wind pain post c-section too…an added bonus!

8. A breast pump

Whether or not you choose to express breastmilk is totally up to you and it is sometimes worth chatting to a lactation consultant about, especially if you have any supply issues. For me personally, I wanted my babies to take expressed milk from a bottle so that their Daddy could give a night feed and (heaven forbid) I could have a night out from time to time! I had a manual Avent breastpump which worked a treat for me. I know some women find different pumps work better for their breasts than others (maybe it is a shape/design thing?). If you think you will be doing a lot of expressing, then an electric version might be the way to go.

Did you know that some hospitals rent out breast pumps – esp if you had a premature baby or twins? Ask your hospital and see what the go is there. You might be able to test one out prior to forking out some money!

Breast pumps can be super helpful for keeping milk supply up, relieving discomfort from full breasts (eg when travelling or when baby drops a feed), feeding a premature baby and collecting milk to feed your baby when you can’t be there.

9. Wine

Haha, I did laugh when this popped up on the survey, but some new mums do want a glass of wine having gone a substantial period of time without it!

But how much alcohol should we be drinking whilst nursing our children?

The Australian Breastfeeding Association does give some guidelines as to how long alcohol stays in your system for, after you have a drink. Basically, the amount of alcohol in breastmilk is the same as in your blood. Therefore it takes about 2 hours for most women to get rid of the alcohol from one standard drink.

My midwives recommended to me that if I wanted to have a glass of wine to actually drink it while feeding bub (or soon after), as it would be out of my system by the time I came to feed next.

So perhaps put aside a nice bottle of something nice for when bub is born!

10. A good quality pram/buggy

This definitely would be high on my list of priorities for new mums. I firmly believe that if you are going to spend your money, then this is where it should be, especially if you like doing a lot of walking. Here are some things to think about:

What is your lifestyle like? Are you going to be putting the pram in/out of the car (think of the weight)? Do you like walking off-road or will you be sticking to flat surfaces? Will you need to go up and down a lot of stairs? Do you want to be able to fit groceries in it?
Will you be having a second child soon (and therefore need one that can be adapted for 2)?
Is it easy to work with? Practice walking around in the shop with it. Does it steer well? Is it easy to put up and down?
How do you feel when pushing it? Is it a nice experience? Can you adopt a nice upright posture or does it make you hunch over (due to the rear axel positioning)? Does it have an adjustable handle so that your partner can push it too?
I had a Mountain Buggy Urban when my children were little and that thing has been everywhere! It has been around the world several times (thrown in the back of a few planes), been in the snow, up and down mountains and cross country often. It was perfect for me in London as I could shove heaps of groceries underneath, and it handled stairs and cobblestones with ease. It suited my bang/crash lifestyle and personality!

But find one that works well for you, taking into account all those questions above.

Of course there are many many other things which could go on this list: baby monitors, cloth nappies (the new kind), cleaner, massage, toys etc etc but you can probably tell from this list that anything that helps make life easier for the mother is the way to go!

Let us know in the comments what you would put on your list!

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