It can be overwhelming as to what you actually need when preparing for your little one to arrive into the world.
On the realisation that the cost of a pram alone could fund a fabulous weekend on foreign shores, it didn't take long to work out what was indispensable and what was just a 'nice to have' when I had my daughter.
As a lover of lists when many a pregnant friend asked for my must have recommendations, I created this edit of my original excel monologue. With them in turn sharing it with their friends I felt other parents may also find this useful.
A caveat before you read on... the below items are purely my recommendations born from personal experience. Everyone's experience of adapting to life with a newborn is different. For me in the first four weeks it was feeding that threw up the biggest challenges. From six weeks the sleep deprivation. On reading this again there is a clear theme in terms of things that helped take the anxiety and overthinking away, and also made my life just that little bit easier!
I am sure there are loads of other brilliant indispensable items out there that other people have discovered on their own journeys. So do see this as an ever evolving list and please add your own suggestions to the bottom.
I've also included links for some of the newer brands below that aren't just an Amazon click away, and in the spirit of transparency no brand has asked me to post any of the below. Many of the brands I've mentioned are not even part of the Panda Bear family.
So without further ado, here is Part 1 of the Panda Bear edit on the essential items to buy before your little one arrives...
MAGIC IN MOTION
A bouncer: Perhaps one of the three most used items in the first six months and aka 'The liberator'.
This appeared in every room in the house and was brilliant at keeping my daughter stimulated by what was happening around her, while giving me the freedom to perform seemingly simple tasks with her safe a secure in my line of sight - like having a shower or making a cup of tea.
We chose the Baby Bjorn model for two very different reasons - the design (my choice) and the functionality (the husband's choice), however there are loads of brilliant brands out there.
A carrier: With my daughter arriving a few weeks early it was a while before she was big enough to go in a carrier, however once she could this was effectively the out and about version of the bouncer for us! Again we went with Baby Bjorn, again for the very same reasons above!
Many friends would also pop their little one in the carrier in order to get tasks done around the home - one of my NCT baby's was renowned for his love of falling asleep on his dad while he hoovered the house!
My advice would be to buy one once your little one is born to get the right style, fit and size for you.
A Pram: Very much a personal choice and it's essential to test some out - John Lewis are brilliant for letting you get hands on with the ranges they stock.
My tip... bring something of weight to pop into the pram/s you are testing to get a real sense of what it's like pushing them around with a little person in.
Also really think about where and how you'll be using the pram to make sure you get something that works for your lifestyle.
For example, will you need to regularly lift it into your car boot or off and on trains, and therefore need something light & portable. Or are you thinking of having another child soon (I know, hard to digest when the first one hasn't even arrived!) and therefore looking at whether the model can be easily adapted for two.
We opted for the iCandy Peach due to the husbands assessment of it being brilliant on snow and sand... I am not 100% sure what led him to the very misguided belief that by living in London we would be faced with these conditions on a regular basis, however while it is brilliant for the park I would have gone for something a little more lightweight in retrospect.
There are a whole host of pram accessories to add on however the essential top 4 are:
1. Sun and rain covers. You'll need them, often on the same day. iCandy do an amazing sun shade which has UVA 50+ protection and enables you to keep an eye on your little one and ensure you protect their delicate newborn skin.
2. The Mummy Clip: Fantastic at securing your bag to the pram. I have heard countless stories of parents having their bag stolen as let's face it, you are hardly going to give chase when you're with a baby, so this gives you that little extra piece of protection when needed.
3. A pram liner: Regulating your little ones' body temperature when out and about is essential and one of the best tools for doing this is a sheepskin pram liner. We went for a standard plain liner when we had our daughter however gorgeous new brand Binibamba has combined practicality and style so we'd head there next time.
4. Pram toys: We all need some time out / essential coffee stop, so to keep little eyes engaged when out and about include a couple of toys on the pram.
It was actually while on the hunt for a great monochrome toy to stimulate my daughter's senses that the idea for Panda Bear was born* and one of my favourites is the Done by Deer set in our Sense & Play collection.
*You can read the full story about how Panda Bear came to life in our 'About' section, along with finding out more on the importance of black & white to stimulate a newborn's senses in the early months.
The Angelcare bath seat: A game changer for bath time. Never underestimate the volatility of a squirming wet newborn baby coupled with the new parent fear of drowning them.
A bath thermometer: While some people scoffed at my not just using an elbow, my husband and I have very different opinions on what constitutes hot and scorching so this provided essential peace of mind!
A standard thermometer also came into its own after the eight week injections.
Wearable towels: Who knew these even existed! However we found this genius little invention on Amazon - essentially a towel that looks like an enormous adult bib with poppers to clip around your neck.
Allowing the towel to hang down while you picked up your little wriggling bundle of gorgeousness avoids you getting wet and ensures they are wrapped up quickly.
CHEW & CHOMP
Feeding is one of the most delicate subjects when it comes to newborns. My advice would be to do what is right for you and your baby. Ultimately it is about ensuring they are fed, how you then chose to do it is your decision.
I personally found breastfeeding the hardest part of adjusting to life with a newborn and my experience certainly wasn't quite the dream the NCT sold of the baby independently crawling up your chest, latching on and being happy ever after!
The below is based on my experience so please do only take the elements that you feel work for you...
A breast pump: This made many an appearance throughout the first few months and for me was an absolute essential.
When my milk came in I experienced blocked ducts and almost tore this out of the Amazon delivery mans hands when it arrived. It actually took a rather more large scale hospital pump to get things moving again, however had I had this to hand earlier it could have been a different story.
Pre-made formula: Aptamil do a brilliant starter pack of single-use bottles that are worth having on hand as you just don't know what is going to happen in the first few days.
When the above blockage occurred this helped ensure my daughter had essential hydration.
Ongoing I then found them really handy to then have in my nappy bag for occasional top-ups when on the move and breastfeeding wasn't easily possible.
The Tommee Tipee Perfect Prep: Essentially an espresso machine for formula milk. A godsend at 3am. Couple it with the brand's steam steriliser and you're all set.
Bottles: Every baby is different and we went through a couple of brands before we found one that worked for us. My advice would be not to buy 10 bottle all the same but rather try a couple of different ones and see which one works.
Our final bottle of choice was the MAM anti-colic bottle, which had the added bonus of being able to be sterilised in the microwave - insanely handy for overnight trips away, saving valuable luggage space by avoiding the need to bring a full sterilising kit.
Breast pads: The power of the unexpected leak is both fascinating and alarming. Especially in the dark, in the middle of the night.
A feeding cover: The Bebe-Chic feeding cover was my NCT group's uniform.
Many a time as would we sit in a line on a park bench a beautiful rainbow of feeding covers, and they were brilliant at giving us all a little more confidence about feeding in public in those early days.
As little ones become more alert it also help's avoid them becoming distracted by everything going on around them, keeping them focused on the task at hand.
The gorgeous Bebe Chic black & white design is part of our Chew & Chomp collection.
12 x bibs: Bandana bibs are incredibly handy to catch any little spills and avoid having to change a whole outfit, with more traditional bibs useful when feeding.
12 x muslins: Don't underestimate how many of these you'll go through! It does feel excessive however so is the truly astonishing level of washing in the early months.
If you do want to drive some added value from your stash, our collection of muslins double as great tools for sensory stimulation.
Look out for Part 2 next week which will focus on the essential items to keep your little one safe and snuggly at sleep time, the must haves to make changing time as painless as possible and what gorgeous goodies to invest in for early month sensory stimulation.
Follow us on Instagram @pandabearbabycompany to find out more and shop the whole range here.