Chicco Next to Me Crib

7 Newborn Essentials I Couldn’t Live Without

Earlier this month, I asked my Instagram followers if there was anything they’d particularly like me to write about now that I’m back to blogging again after my short maternity leave.  A few people asked me to do something on my newborn essentials, and, yeah, here I am finally getting around to doing that when my baby’s 8 weeks old, and probably not even technically considered a “newborn” any more: WHOOPS.

Anyway, better late than never and all that, so here’s a short list of my personal newborn essentials – with the obvious caveat that all babies/new parents are different, and given that I’ve only been at this for 8 weeks, I’m so far from being an expert that anytime people ask me about this stuff, I have to quickly look over my shoulder to make sure there’s not an ACTUAL grownup standing somewhere behind me. There isn’t, though – or not on this occasion, anyway – so these are the purchases I’ve found most useful in my first two months as a parent…

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine
Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine

If you’re bottle feeding – or even just supplementing with formula – the Tomme Tippee Perfect Prep is your new BFF, seriously. And, OK, the beeping noise it makes when the bottle’s ready will probably haunt my dreams for the rest of my life now, thanks to all the times I’ve had to listen to it at stupid o’clock in the morning, but no, really: if you think there’s even a possibility of you having to make a bottle at some point, I’d recommend this – although I’ve just this second realised there’s a cool retro blue shade available, which would look WAY better in my kitchen than the boring white version we actually have, so I’d totally recommend THAT one instead. Ahem.

So, the Perfect Prep is a bit like a coffee machine for babies, only babies don’t actually drink coffee, obviously (Or, at least, I hope to God not, because I can’t even imagine what Max would be like if he was caffeinated…), so it makes milk, instead. Now, thanks to this little gadget, I’ve never had to prepare a bottle the “old fashioned” way, but I’m led to believe it involves some kind of lengthy procedure in which you have to boil water, then leave it to cool for 30 minutes or so, all while performing some kind of ritual sacrifice to the Milk Gods or something. Max is just not about that life (Seriously, that boy goes from sound asleep to ‘If you don’t feed me RIGHT NOW I’m calling Childline…” in about 2.5 seconds, so no way would he be waiting 30 minutes for lunch…), so the Perfect Prep has been a lifesaver for us, as it does all of that for you, but in about 2 minutes rather than 30.

(It does not perform a sacrifice. Because I made that bit up. The Milk Gods are totes real, though, just FYI. In fact, I think they were the support act for Arcade Fire one time…)

I’m not going to do a full review here, because that’s what Google’s for, but suffice to say, this has been a true sanity-saviour during those long, dark nights when the baby’s hungry and you don’t have a spare 30 minutes to faff around with a kettle etc: because ain’t nobody got time for that.

Just behind the Perfect Prep in the photo above is another of our newborn essentials, namely…

Philips Avent 3-in-1 steriliser

Philips Avent 3-in-1 steriliser
Philips Avent 3-in-1 Electric Steam Sterisliser

Before Max arrived, one of the things I worried about most was the thought of all of the endless ways I could inadvertently harm him by, like, only washing my hands 101 times a day, rather than the requisite 102 times, say, or allowing him to touch something that hadn’t first been cleansed with fire. That kind of thing.

So, as it turns out, you don’t have to be QUITE that paranoid with a newborn, but you can’t just throw things in the dishwasher either: bottles etc all have to be sterilised before use, and that’s where the Philips Avent Sterilser comes in. Now, full disclosure: we were actually sent this to review, so we didn’t buy it ourselves. We have, however, used it every single day since we brought Max home, so it’s definitely been one of our newborn essentials, because while you obviously CAN sterilise things the old fashioned way (Again, with boiling water and ritual sacrifices), this is just much quicker and easier – especially if you’re lazy, as I am.

When both this and the Perfect Prep arrived, I was a little intimidated by them, assuming they’d be a bit like our TV, say, and that no matter how hard I tried, I’d NEVER be able to work them. Happily, though, most newborn essentials are designed with sleep-deprived parents in mind, so they’re easy enough for… well, not quite for the newborn himself to use, but definitely easy enough for ME, and, honestly, if I can use ’em, anyone can.

(I’m also happy to report that, since Max arrived, I’ve learned how to work the TV. So I’m basically superwoman now.)

This steriliser has two compartments: we put larger items like bottles in the bottom, and then smaller ones like pacifiers or bottle teats in the top, and you literally just pour water into the designated space, press the button on the front, et voila – five minutes later, everything is sterilised and ready to use. It literally could not be easier, and I hope you all know I’d NEVER use the word “literal” in anything other than the, er, LITERAL, sense, so you can trust me on this.

Chicco Next to Me Crib

Chicco Next to Me Crib

Chicco Next to Me side-along crib

Chicco Next to Me co-sleeper reviewAs soon as Max was born, I – predictably – started having a huge amount of anxiety about our nighttime sleeping arrangements: in fact, when we were in hospital, I refused to go to sleep until Terry promised me he WOULDN’T sleep, and would just stay awake and watch over the baby instead, and I think it was only the sleep deprivation that stopped me doing the same thing once we were home.

The thing that’s helped me most here is having a side-along crib. Ours is the Chicco Next to Me, which was a gift from my parents: you can use it either with the side up, like so…

Chicco Next to Me review

… or with the side down, as shown in the top set of photos. I used it with the side up for the first week or so, because I was totally paranoid that the duvet would go over his face and suffocate him or something, because these are the kind of fun thoughts I’ve been having lately. The side is made of a mesh fabric, so you can see through it, but it still wasn’t ideal, so once I’d gotten over my fears, and realised that the duvet could only reach him if I sat up in bed and yanked at it with both hands, I took the side down, so now he’s literally right next to me, but still far enough away for me not to have to worry about rolling over and crushing him or something.

The other good thing about this crib is the fact that you can elevate one end of it: I’m not sure if you can see it from the photos, but we have the top end of the crib higher than the bottom, as Max has reflux, which means he can’t be laid flat right after a feed. This arrangement lets us elevate his head without keeping him awake – win!

(Oh, and the little nightlight attached to it is this one: I’m not sure I’d call it an ESSENTIAL, exactly, but it is pretty handy in that it’s activated by the baby crying, so if he starts fussing during the night, the light comes on, and projects differently coloured stars onto the bedroom ceiling. That doesn’t do much to distract Max if he’s hungry or whatever, but it does give me enough light to be able to see him clearly, and work out what’s up with him, and it’s also quite a pretty effect, so…)

Inside the crib, we’re also using the…

Sleepyhead Deluxe pod - newborn sleep pod
Sleepyhead Deluxe Pod

(Er, just taking a quick second here to weep over how absolutely TINY Max looks in this photo, even although it’s only a few weeks old, brb…)

This was another PR sample which we ended up using constantly, as you’ve probably gathered if you follow me on Instagram – I think almost all of my Stories have featured Max in his Sleepyhead for the past few weeks! So, the Sleepyhead Deluxe is one of those items that appears on almost every list of newborn essentials out there, and that’s because it’s AWESOME – it’s as simple as that.

This is, as the name suggests, a sleeping pod for newborns. It’s made from a breathable fabric, so it’s safe for them to sleep in, and it basically “hugs” the baby close, a bit like swaddling does, so he falls asleep feeling nice and secure. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Max won’t sleep without this, because he does, but we’ve found the Sleepyhead really handy, in that it’s completely portable, so you can use it pretty much anywhere:


newborn baby in Sleepyhead Deluxe Pod

sleepyhead deluxe review

One thing I would say here is, for the love of God, GET A SPARE COVER FOR IT. Yeah, I know it’s expensive, and it probably seems like an expense you don’t need, but if your baby is anything like Max, and has a tendency to spit up when you least expect it, you’ll be really grateful for that spare cover, trust me. We’re doing much better these days, but in the first couple of weeks, I felt like the cover was never out of the wash: I won’t lie, it’s a bit of a pain to change, and makes you feel like you’re trying to put tights on an octopus or something, but, then again, your newborn will already have prepared you for that, so, yeah, GET THE SPARE COVER. Or, if you have the cash? Get two.

While you’re at it, also get…

As many burp cloths as you can buy, seriously

Yeah, we all laughed at my mum when she spent my entire pregnancy buying burp cloths, but my mum had the last laugh, because we’ve used all of them, and have even bought MORE. In fact, some days it feels like we use all of them IN A DAY, that’s how useful they are. Now, to be fair, Max’s reflux means he spits up more than most: I genuinely couldn’t have gotten through the last few weeks without my trusty burp cloths, though – like, if I ever won an Academy Award, say, it’s the burp cloths I’d thank first, not even joking.

Scandanavian style changing table
Tommee Tippee Nappy Pail

While we’re on the subject of other people’s bodily fluids, I’d also like to thank our nappy pail for its services to humanity : well played, big guy, we couldn’t have done it without you…

It’s not glamorous, obviously (It’s the white plastic thing to the left of the changing table, btw), but, well, it’s a receptacle for crap, so whaddya expect? This is actually quite a clever little contraption, though: you put each nappy into the hole at the top, turn the handle, and the nappy is automatically wrapped in its own little plastic bag, which seals in moisture and, um, odour. You could, of course, just take each nappy downstairs and put it in the bin there (or outside, ideally), but I’m guessing that would get old fast, so we find this a lot more convenient. (Well, assuming you don’t try to empty it in the middle of the night, that is…)


motorised baby swing - review
Ingenuity Swing-2-Seat

A baby swing was one of the things we didn’t think we’d need… until about four weeks after Max arrived, when we realised that he much preferred to sleep in our arms than anywhere else, and that, because of that, it had been a full month since Terry and I had eaten dinner at the same time. He has all of his longer sleeps in his crib, but for those times when we need to put him down, and he’s just not having it, this has been a huge help, because it allows us to rock him to sleep in our arms, and then transition him to the swing without him waking up. As I said, we use it for short naps rather than longer sleeps, but he seems to enjoy it, and, actually, now I come to think of it, this blog post wouldn’t actually exist without that swing – another one for my Oscar speech, I guess. That speech is getting lengthy, huh? (Also, please tell me I’m not the only one who writes thank you speeches in her head, even although she isn’t even an actor…)

7 newborn essentials: products that saved my sanity as a new parentJust to quickly repeat the caveat at the start of this post: everyone’s list of newborn essentials will be different, and we’re already learning that what works for one baby won’t necessarily work for another. So I’d love to know…

What are your newborn essentials?
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  • Myra


    This seems very comprehensive and very helpful.

    February 23, 2018
  • Alice


    Interesting, isn’t it – everyone told me I would need lots of muslins (and bibs) and I had no use for them whatsoever!
    (Fortunately my baby didn’t have reflux – but also, when she started weaning, all the food went in her hands, on her hair, etc, so a bib wasn’t much help in keeping things clean!)

    February 23, 2018
  • Alice


    I found the sleepyhead very useful too though in hindsight I suspect the cheaper versions are just as good. But as a new parent you don’t dare buy the cheap version!

    February 23, 2018
  • My sister has that bottle heater thing at the top of the list – she got it when her second daughter was born (not sure they made it 6 years ago when Pops was a baby) as the health visitor told her about it and said everyone raves about how good they are. I recognise the bottle steriliser too, so I’m pretty sure my sister has that one as well. x

    February 23, 2018
  • Hazel Ann


    I bought loads of burp cloths and muslins for my first … he never burped or was sick ?
    But then my second was this whole other thing and we used them all and more!
    I’ve breast fed all my babes so not needed the milk machine or steriliser – the boobs seem to sterilise themselves…
    I’ve got a mamaroo this time which has been amazing and I wish I’d had it for them all!

    February 23, 2018
  • Lila athanaselis


    To make a bottle of milk I always used cold water that had been boiled and put the made up bottle of mik in a jug of boiling water to heat up, it literally took 2 minutes.
    Do people still do this nowadays?

    February 23, 2018
    • Fiona


      My friend has the perfect prep and I think the difference is that it does the ‘hot shot’ of water to sterilise the powder before adding the rest of the water to make the milk the right temperature to feed straightaway.

      This is such a cute post. I mean, such a *useful* post. But also, adorable photos!

      February 23, 2018
  • Brenda


    LOOK AT THOSE TINY TOES!!!!!!! My heart!!!!!

    February 23, 2018
  • Gila


    We have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle so we have no need for the sterilizer machine. I actually sort of panicked when I read the bit above that “you can’t just throw bottles in the dishwasher” because that’s exactly what we do! Quickly googled and discovered that not all dishwashers have the sanitize setting that ours does which is probably why you wrote that. Gave me a scare!

    February 23, 2018
  • I’d say: a play mat with dangly things (from about six weeks onwards) and, if you’re using public transport, a stretchy wrap (a K’tan or Caboo rather than anything which relies upon you being any good at knots). We have a chair thingy, too, which both of ours have hated being strapped into, but it’s handy when I need my hands free for a few minutes!

    The only gadgety thing we use is a microwave steriliser, but it’s SO MUCH NICER than having to reach into a cold bucket of stinky sterilising fluid.

    Oh, and I totally have the same duvet-smothering fear with our bedside crib – and how much of a pain is it to change the sheets with a crib strapped to the bed frame?! – but I do love it. It’s so much nicer having the baby right there, within easy reach.

    February 23, 2018
  • Amy


    That top formula-making gadget is amazing! What a great idea. We never bothered with sterilizing bottles except before the first use — our pediatrician said a regular dishwasher cycle was totally sufficient for babies with normal immune systems since our water supply is clean. You’re months off from needing a bib, but one of our later baby essentials was Bumkins waterproof bibs with the little crumb catching pocket in the front.

    February 23, 2018
  • Trudy


    I don’t have kids, but when my sister’s kids were a bit older, she found a Bumbo seat absolutely essential. You can use it as a makeshift highchair anywhere, or just sit them on the bench so they can see what you are doing. Not exactly an essential for newborns though sorry!

    February 24, 2018