New Baby Checklist

Baby no2 is now 5 months old and we’re finally settling in to the new normal.

Living in London, it’s quite unusual to find someone at the age of 29 like myself, with two children already. I’ve been the first of a lot of my friends to have any children at all. To my great pleasure though, baby bumps are sprouting all over the place now and I’m very pleased to offer tips and parenting tidbits to my blossoming friends.

I find the most popular thing I’m asked is for a list of things you need to get in preparation for a newborn.

So today’s post is a…

The following is by no means a shopping list of essentials but more a checklist of the things I needed and found made life a lot easier.
You’ll prob find that quite a few things can be borrowed or you can refer to the list for family and friends to buy gifts from.

Hospital bag:

I find that nhs website has quite a thorough checklist for this:

At home:

Clothing:

7x sleepsuits
7x vests (arm length depending on season)
2x cardigans
1x pram suit with feet built in
1x fleece sleepsuit
4x Pairs of Mittens (for scratching)
1x Hat (woolly or cotton depending on season)
1x Outdoor mittens

Sleeping:
Moses basket
4x Moses basket sheets
1x cellular blanket
1x fleece blanket
Gro sleeping bag *1
Cot
2x cot sheets
Cot bumper
Cot mobile
Baby monitor

Changing:
Changing mat
Changing table*2
Nappies
Wipes*3
Sudocrem
Alcohol gel
Cotton wool balls
Very small plastic basin (for warm water)
Top and tail towels ikea *4
Nappy bin (with tight lid)*5
Cotton buds*6

Bathing:
Baby bath
Soft sponge
4x hooded towels
Mild top to toe wash
Mild baby moisturiser

Laundry:
Non biological washing power/liquid*7
Bucket/basin*8
Old/cheap new toothbrush
Stain remover soap*9

Out and about:
Car seat
Pram/travel system
Changing bag with compact changing mat
Small toiletry bag*10
Buggy blanket
Sling/carrier*11

Feeding:
5-10 tea towel sized muslins
3x larger muslins*12
Nursing pillow
Electrical breast pump
Milk freezer bags
3/4 bottles with newborn teats
Bottle steriliser
Bottle warmer
Specialist bottle cleaning brush

Extras:
Dummies (if desired)
Chair Bouncer
Play mat/play gym
Sophie giraffe
Gummy glove
Manhattan skwish classic toy
Dribble bibs
Phone app with “shusher”*13
Baby Nail clippers
Soft hair brush
Electrical Thermometer
Nasal aspirator
A dim-able bed side light for night feeds*14

toys

For mum:
Hand cream left next to sink
2xNursing bra (at least)
Nursing pads
Nipple cream
No snag hair ties
Clothes you can breast feed comfortably in
Books, magazines and DVDs to keep you awake in the night feed

You can also click HERE for a pdf printable of the list.

Baby checklist

Notes:

1* In the first few weeks you might feel more comfortable using blankets but I find that when they start moving around more gro bags are good for keeping them covered all night. You can use them from newborn.

2* essential I think for csection mums and probably better for your back anyway.

3* in the first weeks it’s recommended to use cotton wool and warm water as it’s milder on the skin. You can buy water wipes which are 99.9% water based. When buying wipes I recommend buying in bulk and supermarket brands are just as good if not better. Also try get wipes that have the clicking lid to keep wipes from drying out. My favourites have been asda fragrance free ones.

4* a large pack of colour tagged face cloth like towels. I use the blue/green ones for cleaning faces and the yellow/orange ones for drying after first nappy changes and shielding me from unexpected pee shooting little willies!

5*you can buy specialist nappy bins with built in nappy bag lining to control the smell. These can be expensive. We had them with our first baby and with the second we still have the same bin but just use supermarket basic value disposable bags that are less than 20p for 100.

6*for gently cleaning around belly button as umbilical chord heals and detaches. I would use cooled lukewarm boiled water with a little salt. Dip in cotton buds to water and clean around the chord. Don’t rub hard! Just wipe gently enough to remove excess blood etc. Allow to dry and fold down nappy at the front a little to avoid rubbing.

7*having had two children with sensitive skin and eczema I know not to put fabric softener into their clothes wash. You may be tempted because of the lovely smell and the softness of the clothes but the chemical will be more of an irritant. Try also buy the best brand you can. Wash the rest of your household laundry separately and in whatever you like to keep costs down.

8* for dealing with washing and soaking of poop explosions.

9* I like to use a pre wash stain remover rather than an in wash one so that it can be rinsed off before put in the washing machine for less irritating chemicals.

10*with one baby you can get away with having a small toiletry bag that you keep in your buggy at all times for small trips out to the shops. A larger bag may be needed for longer day trips away and for older or bottle fed babies.

11*I used a moby fabric sling for both my kids. It was soft, snug, warm with breathable fabric. They were very content to be there as it kept them very close to my body warmth, heart beat and smell and I believe replicated the conditions of the womb as close as you can do.
It’s tricky at first to get the wrap right but once you master it, it becomes second nature.
People are fearful or suffocation with these. I’ve read up about cases where this has happened and it tends to be with babies who have colds or breathing difficulties already,who are very young and carried in the bag style lying position.
My moby sling always held my babies upright with their faces kissing distance from me with a clear breathing space between the fabric and my body. ALWAYS follow the instructions given with your sling.

12*large muslins have a multitude of uses. Draping over you while breast feeding for privacy if you require it. Hanging over buggy for shade from sun whilst still providing ventilation. A cool loose cover for the baby in the heat. A light weight transportable large play mat for them to roll around on at other people houses.

13*I use an iPhone app that can record feeds, pumps, dirty nappies etc. I think it might be reassuring app for those with tricky feeding babies so you can see how they are doing but I don’t recommending getting too obsessed with recording everything if your baby is thriving.
The part of this app we use the most in our house is the “shusher”. It’s a noise making function that makes either a white noise or running water sound. It’s supposed to replicate the amniotic fluid of the womb and reassure the baby. If you have the white noise on loud it also creates a noise that is so distracting for baby they cannot concentrate on anything else and it then calms them down if they are distressed. Both send my baby boy off to sleep in minutes when he’s struggling, if I place it next to him in the cot or pram at nap time.

13*a dim-able bedside light has been one of my best investments for feeding in bed. It allows you to maintain night time mode so the baby doesn’t wake up too much and think its day light. It also doesn’t disturb your partner (even if you actually want to kick them up the arse for being so soundly asleep when you are awake). We use a Lumie alarm clock and light that’s also good for S.A.D as the bulb has got a good gradient from dark to light. You can also set it off when you’re giving your bedtime feed so that it gradually dims as you do so.

Homemade Floral Baby Hair Band

In recent weeks Isla, who is now 14.5 months old, has had a sudden growth of hair. She was born with a full head of dark hair but (like many) lost this after a few weeks.
Today, it’s grown back into beautiful blonde hair that’s just starting to thicken out. She’s a proper girly girl with it; whenever she finds a flower or a hair-tie of mine she always tries to stick it on her head. Unfortunately, it’s still a bit too fine and short to be tied up. I have tried it and although ridiculously cute, I worry it’s a bit too tight to hurt her head or damage what little locks she has.

Hair bands on the other hand are perfect! Especially as she has a few wispy bits at the front that are always getting into her eyes or food! I find they are great at completing a pretty little outfit, especially for a party of special occasion.
We’ve got given quite a few of the classic Alice bands which I’m getting addicted to. But at £5 a pop it could soon start becoming an expensive addiction!
Therefore I decided to attempt my own…

Homemade Floral Baby Hair Band

Hair Bands

This is a really easy project. The flowers I have previously made for my Sensory Play Mat.

The following items were bought for £2 from my local haberdashers and it could make at least 4 hair bands. Today I’ve made two.

Materials

You will need

  • 2 pieces of craft felt in different colours
  • 1m thin elastic
  • Some buttons to match felt
  • Some thread to match the felt
  • A needle
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue (preferably non toxic for chewing babies)
  • Small bit of paper or card

First get your small piece of card (or paper) a cut out a 5cm circle for a template. With this then cut circles from each of the felt.  Also cut two extra smaller circles approx 1.5cm diameter.

Template

Next cut your elastic to your desired length. Find this out by wrapping it around your childs head for a snug fit.

Thread your needle with doubled up thread at around 30cms (when folded) and tie a knot in the end.

Flower Steps

Take your felt circles and fold twice into quarters.  Sew through the outside edge and then 1/4 way along through to the front again, then back through another 1/4 way along and then finally through to the front again at the inside edge. Repeat for all 5 circles.  Scrunch the petals tightly together and then take the needle and thread back through the petal.  Once at the end again, pull tightly and tie the two ends in a knot (image 5).  Next thread through the opposite end petal and stitch at the back a few times, then trim and there you have your flower.

Button

Next take the small circle we cut earlier and glue this in the centre of your flower.  Once dry, sew your button securely to this circle.  You may wish to stitch this to the flower also for extra security.

Elastic sew

Next take your elastic and stitch the end to one side of the opening on the back of your flower. Take the other end of your elastic and overlap this by approx 1.5cm, going over the opening, then sew through both layers of elastic onto the flower.  Make sure your elastic isn’t twisted!  For neatness you can also cut another bit of felt and glue over the join.  This might also be less of an irritant for your little one!

And there you have your cute little outfit topper!

Isla wearing her hair band

Homemade Cardboard Dolls House

As well as all the many joys of becoming a fulltime mum, there is the inevitable purse tightening following the loss of one salary to the household!  We have been doing fairly well so far with it all.  Thankfully, there are a lot of free things to do around London.

Over the past year I’ve been able to attend a few free baby groups in my borough of Haringey, where Isla has played with lots of babies and I’ve made some truly amazing friends.  Recently as she has gotten more inquisitive we’ve had a trip to The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.  This houses the largest collection of childhood toys and objects ranging from 16th Century to things we use today.  My favourite collection being its wonderful dolls houses.

I’ve always had a love for dolls houses and perhaps that’s what led me to study architecture.  I never had my own traditional dolls house.  I did have a few Barbie and Sindy interpretations but the one I remember the most fondly is the classic wooden Edwardian one that sat in the window of my great Auntie Joan’s house.  I don’t think we were actually allowed to play with it but I always looked forward to visiting my Auntie Joan if only to be able to admire it.

One of the hardest things for me being on a budget is not being able to spoil Isla with all the toys and clothing out in the shops.  Thankfully we do have extremely generous family and friends so she is far from short of either!  Even still I like the feeling of giving her something from me. So taking inspiration from our recent trip but still keeping frugal, I decided to make her a…

Homemade Cardboard Dolls House.

Completed Dolls House

Most of my architectural training has gone out the window in this exercise.  This will be for a 14 month old toddler, so she won’t notice if there are no staircases, windows or if the sofa is as big as all the kitchen units put together!

Through bulk buying a lot of nappies and wipes we always seem to have a large pile of cardboard boxes lying around the house, most of which are too small for re using as storage.  Two boxes that used to contain packets of wipes were perfect for my first try at a dolls house.

I first cut off two of the long edge flaps from one box and one from the other.  I then glued the two boxes together giving the basic two floors of my house.

Boxes

I then painted the entire outside, the side walls and top floor ceiling of the boxes and one of the previously cut off long flaps, with white paint.  Where I cut the flaps off, left the corrugated inside exposed which was difficult to paint, so for a better finish I glued some white paper over the joining point of the two boxes.  This left me with a clean white ground floor ceiling and 1st level floor.

Next I took the extra and now painted flap to make a pitch at the top of the boxes.  What was handy here is that they had already got cut outs which will make handles for easy transportation.

Painted boxes

For simplicity the house is made up of four rooms.  Living Room, Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom.  This made the dolls house split into equal quarters.  I then needed to cut two internal walls.  For extra support when gluing these I made sure to have two extra flaps to secure to the back wall and floor.  Because the back walls and floors of the boxes are not completely flat due to the box makeup I made the walls and flooring as panels to give a smooth finish.

Wall and Floor Panels

I happened to have some left over carpet perfect for the bedroom and living room and then I printed out some floor patterns found here.  Where you will find a fantastic selection of wallpaper patterns.  You could also choose to use wrapping paper, where the smaller the pattern the more realistic the wallpaper.  I however managed to find some fantastic origami papers that were perfect from Tiger shop, which can be found here.

Gorgeous selection of papers

I then measured and cut panels for the four back walls and two floors and then covered them with the patterned papers making sure to go over the edges of the floor plates for neatness.  I also covered the partition walls with white paper like I did the central join.

Covered walls and floors

Now for the fiddly bits…the furniture! 

I started by making the sofa.  The little figures that were going to “live” in the house are in permanent standing position so the sofa needed to be big to allow them to recline.

I made the sofa with the below cardboard net and then covered with some soft blue fabric that I had in a bag of scraps left over from my sensory play mat.  I also had a bit of sponge wadding that I covered by hand sewing for a cushioned back and seat.  Probably not necessary but I got a bit carried away!

Sofa net and completed

Next I made the lamp shades.  Using thin white card, I covered with some more of the patterned papers and then cut to size and glued into tubes.  For the ceiling pendants I glued an X shape to the top and threaded through the centre.  I then used a big needle to make a whole through the ceilings in the two rooms and then pulled through the thread with the shades attached and secured at the other side with glue.

Boxes with threaded pendants

I also used some of the leftover pieces to make a small lamp made the same way but with a smaller plain white tube for the stand.

I then made two small white tables.  The top was made from a simple 3cmx3cmx1cm open bottomed cuboid. For the legs I cut 4 3cmx2cm rectangles which I then folded down the middle and cut from the top corners to the bottom centre line to create a pointed leg.  These were then glued to the inside corners of the top.  For the living room table I glued on the lamp I had made and for the bedroom a simple folded card with a clock drawn on.

Side tables and bed

The bed was made with another cuboid covered in scrap material and then with a covered card headboard.

The kitchen units were made using two simple cuboids stuck together in an L shape with an L shape cardboard worktop on top.  I kept the finish simple by keeping the brown cardboard look and adding details with a black marker.  The finishing touches then included a covered card splashback which holds the entire kitchen together and a small extractor hood.

Bathroom and Kitchen

Finally the bathroom is made up of a bath tub which was an old piece of plastic packaging from some safety catches we had bought.  To keep the shiny affect I only painted the inside with a few coats of white paint.  The toilet was made with a small box with a piece of long thin card bent over the front and back to create a curved edge which I then topped with a flat piece of card in with the shape it created.  The sink is made of a simple box with and upturned cuboid on top, all backed with a tinfoil mirror.  The shower curtain is then a blue straw with a piece of rubber fabric threaded through.

For the exterior, I cut a large piece of cardboard to cover the front of the house which I painted white.  I then cut four 9cm x 9cm window holes to the centre of each room.  For the details I added window frames, a front door and some more of the patterned paper for blinds.

I then decided to cut some of the flaps I had left on the boxes on one side and used the other to glue as hinges to the front panel.  Finally I painted the roof green to match a pretty ribbon that I found to tie the front of the house closed.

The great thing about putting all the wall finishes and flooring onto panels and keeping all the furniture loose is that you can change everything as you like in the future.  It meant that from here in there was no more gluing, just putting the pieces together.

Et Voilà!

Finished dolls house!

Isla playing with the dolls house.

Baby Sensory Play Mat.

A few years ago I was given a sewing machine for Christmas by my lovely mother in law.  By now I had expected to be making all my own clothes with a beautifully decorated home full of my handmade curtains, blinds and throw cushions.

Well it’s been three years and I did manage to make some curtains for our living room (which still need to be hemmed) and a few cushions to match, but the sewing machine has been looking a bit sad in the spare room collecting dust!

That was until recently when I brought it back to life for a labour of love.

I recognised a gap in the market for toys for the visually impaired when I was looking for a gift for Lennie, one of my gorgeous baby friends.  So I took it upon myself to make my very own:

Baby Sensory Play Mat…

I started to make this a few months back, but you can imagine having a very inquisitive one year old, its taken some time.  But yesterday I finally finished it and here is the result!

Finished Result

I started out by sketching a few ideas for noisy toys and came up with an animal themed play mat.  Given my skills in computers, I drew this all up on CAD to give me a printable and scaleable image…

Initial CAD image.

From my computer image I was able to print templates for all my animals and pieces.

The main body of the mat itself was made by sewing together two large panels of soft blue washable (always helpful with toddlers) fleece.  Before sewing together I also machine sewed the grass fabric along the bottom of the panel that would be the front.   I then machine sewed three sides of the fleece together leaving an opening at the bottom for the same size square of wadding.  I then secured it all shut by folding in the ends and doing a double machine stitch along the bottom.

Most of the characters have a small Velcro baking so they can be removed and played with as individual toys.

The birds and squirrel were constructed by hand sewing together two identical cut pieces of fabric using the templates.  Before sewing they were each stuffed with washable wadding and a toy squeaker. The detailing included some buttoned eyes, feathers and some furry pipe wired, all bought from a craft shop.

Squeaking Feathery Birds

Squeaky Furry Squirrel

The caterpillar was made using two pairs of brightly coloured tights sewn around some bunched up wadding with crinkly plastic inside each ball (its been eating a lot of crunchy leaves), apart from the head which contained a rattle ball.  Again this was given some matching button eyes.

Crinkly Rattling Caterpillar

The Sun is made by two pieces of yellow felt with a circular piece of wadding with ribbons attached, inside. On the outside I hand stitched some clear pvc to make it feel nice and shiny.

Shiny Sun.

The rest of the pieces are not removable.

The flowers were made using the type of method found here. However the largest flower had a rattle in the centre instead of a button.  I also suggested to my friend that she spray the flowers from time to time with her own perfume that the baby might recognise.  I then stitched the bottom run of the flowers securely to the mat using my sewing machine, allowing most of the flower to be loose for rattling and pulling.

Fabric Flowers

The clouds were the easiest part as these were made from car shining pads which I sewed directly by hand to the mat.

Fluffy clouds

The tree was made by again hand stitching two pieces of fabric together with wadding inside.  This time the front piece of fabric was smaller for a nice layering effect. The bark of the tree was made using a rolled up brown toweling fabric which at the ends I cut into branch shapes and hand sewed onto my green fabric.  I then very securely sewed bells for apples onto the tree.  Be very sure you make these extra secure as these are perfect size for a baby to choke on.  I had my little girl road test it a few times to make sure!

Jingling Apple Tree

To finish I made a small handle with a button close so that the mat was easily folded away and moved around where needed.

Folded Mat

And there you have it.  Ready to be played with!