New baby must-haves #1: the nursery*

*According to guidelines, a new baby should be sleeping in your room with you for the first six months, so really we’re talking about your bedroom here – or whichever room Mummy and Baby are cohabiting at this stage…

As a new mother we are inundated with ads for “must-buy” items, many of which we will never use. Heck, there’s even an ad on TV just now which takes the p*ss out of first time mothers, saying that at least by the second try we’ve sussed out what we actually need:

Of course, there are two provisos to all my advice as given here. One is that I am coming at this from my own experience, and my experience is TWINS! A singleton might be an entirely different matter. The second, is that this is what worked for me personally, living in a one-bedroom, detached bungalow, with very minimal free space, no spare room, no neighbours to speak of, and nowhere out of earshot of my babies’ cries. Every new mother will have different ideas and experiences, and every new mother will find different equipment useful to her situation. I’m just telling you what worked for me!

Ok, so, in the nursery, my must-haves were:

A rug: I didn’t buy a rug, I didn’t know I would need one, and frankly when Uncle Ben turned up with one I laid it down on the wooden floorboards thinking that its only function was to pretty the place up! But if your bedroom floor is anything less than seriously plush, you’ll need something in place to cushion your feet – because you’re going to be doing some serious night-time pacing, jiggling and bouncing, I promise you! This has been a godsend!

Something stimulating above the cot – for baby: For us, having something to distract Twin 1 whilst we clean/change/feed Twin 2 is an absolute necessity. But we also find this distraction useful when both are in their cots and just kicking about. I made a cot mobile from felt, based on this free tutorial and pattern, but there are ample available to buy.

Ballons

Along the same vein, we bought a Chicco Musical “Goodnight Moon” night light for the cot, which plays Beethoven’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which we switch on at bedtime. The boys have already started to make the association between the lights and music and sleep, making our lives much easier at night!

Something stimulating on the wall – for you! Not actually something we have in our nursery, but a brilliant idea I picked up from a contestant on Pointless! On reaching the final, this new mother chose Geography as her topic, because she had been studying a map of the world on her baby’s nursery wall every night for several months during nighttime winding sessions. What a great way to learn something new!

A mirror: For checking whether that limp baby over your shoulder is actually asleep. I recommend acryllic, for safety reasons, and because you can get hold of them in every shape and size to match the nursery decor, and stick them to the wall with adhesive pads – no need for DIY to hang the thing!

Changing mats (plural): I would recommend two changing stations, if remotely possible, one in the nursery, and one in another room. As a new mother you will be seriously sleep-deprived, and should be taking advantage of any trustworthy visitor who offers to watch baby whilst you catch 40 winks. Every precious “wink” counts here, so the more time you can spend in bed and not getting changing things together for the “babysitter”, the better! Also, great for those occasions that Daddy whisks baby out of the room to allow you to sleep longer – because I’m sure Dapper’s not the only one who’s thoughtful like that…

Room thermometer: This needn’t be fancy – our most oft-consulted is a cardboard number that came free with a pair of secondhand, pirate-themed gro bags purchased from ebay. I know you can also purchase them online for a couple of ££s (try The Lullaby Trust, formerly FSID) and some Health Visitors hand them out for free. We splashed out some of the vouchers various friends had given us on a monitor system with in-built thermometer, which we consulted for accuracy those first few precious weeks, but rarely any longer.Which brings me neatly onto…

Baby monitor: NOT a must for us, as it turns out. We went overboard on this, buying one with sensors to alert you if baby stops breathing, a common mistake made by parents whose babies have been in IC, and are used to the reassuring blip of heart rate monitors. (I heard that bloody blip in my sleep for weeks after we left the NNU behind us!) We only ever used it for two functions: 1) as a room thermometer (see above) and 2) as an alarm when I wanted to wake Dapper, sleeping on the sofa bed, to come and help me out! (We bought Angelcare, which has a “panic button” for this purpose). But as I said before, we have the luxury (?) of living in a teeny tiny bungalow in which there is no escape from the cries of our babies – so a traditional audio monitor really would have been wasted on us!

A V pillow: As well as a feeding must, this has been great for visiting small people who wanted to hold babies, and a must for propping up Mummy’s arms when babies have dozed off unexpectedly in the most surprising and usually uncomfortable of holds, and offered me a few precious snatched moments of peace! In fact, I usually ensure I’ve a variety of different shaped and sized cushions within grabbing distance, to shove under aching arms and legs to help me hold a positition whenever the need arises!

Blankets: cellular blankets, micro-fleeces, crocheted lap blankets, knitted shawls – these have all proven invaluable, for wrapping up baby, laying over otherwise unfriendly surfaces, providing padding for outfit changes and floor play, and draping over Mummy’s exposed bits too!

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