Wersha Bharadwa is an award-nominated journalist and iVillage.co.uk blogger. She’s expecting her first baby, and wants you to join her on her adventure from pregnancy to parenting with plenty of insights, ideas, inspiration and must-have products. You can also catch Wersha at her personal website Wersha's World.
Essentials and nice-to-haves
I was looking forward to doing most of my blog and my baby reviews during the pregnancy and writing about how much I liked certain products and why. Also, I thought writing the reviews then would help me - and you lovely dolls - to make choices over what essentials and nice-to-haves, (especially when it came to sleeping) we should spend our hard-earned moolah on.
Because despite what you might think you need to rinse your credit card out for, and what high street and online stores might be enticing you to buy, the reality is newborns don't really need much.
This I've discovered since The Boy's arrival. I stressed about not having the baby's nursery room sorted out but he's sleeping in my room with me and I love the arrangement.
One essential you will need is a Moses basket.
A lot of internet sites, friends and well-intentioned others will tell you the Moses basket is an unnecessary buy because your baby will grow out of it within two months and will need a crib or cot by that age, so you can skip buying one altogether and just place your baby in a cot to begin with. Yes, the baby will grow out of the Moses basket very quickly. The Boy grew out of his Moses basket when he was 12 weeks and after that I only used it as a travel item when we stopped friends and relatives' houses or went away for the night.
But it has without a doubt been an essential item. The Boy especially likes to be held and carried (either in my arms or a sling) and I needed to replicate that snug feeling for him when he slept.
So putting him in a cot with all that open space would have petrified him to start off with. Sure, he slowly got used to big open spaces, but the important word, for our family at least, was 'slowly'.
I used to take him downstairs in the Moses basket during the day so he could nap with daytime noises surrounding him and at night he would sleep peacefully inside it (as well as being swaddled...a note on that later!).
I chose the Millie and Boris Moses basket from Mama's and Papa's from reading online reviews and also because of the size of the basket - it felt sturdy and big enough for my baby. Plus, I needed a neutral colour scheme as I didn't know the baby's gender so the soft cream beige and brown combo along with animal motifs looked classic without being boring.
The finish on the fabrics was fabulous (from aged 0-4 months I became totally finnicky regarding stray bits of cotton and fluff somehow making their way into The Boy's mouth). It's not cheap: I know you can buy Moses baskets for around the £50 mark but I found the quality of this particular maize Moses basket high and that's important for me. I liked the idea of a crib very much too whilst shopping around but the Millie and Boris Moses basket was ideal in terms of portability and price in comparison.
The basket comes with a flexible hood - however, it is not very stiff and often falls down. The good thing is that my little soldier liked to sleep in the open so it was never really an issue.
The foam mattress is sturdy and soft with special ventilation holes cut out into the headboard. In terms of size, The Boy is quite a tall baby but there is plenty of room length and width wise. All the fabrics are removable and washable at 40 degrees. The only thing I didn't use in keeping with current NHS SIDS prevention guidelines is the foot duvet.
It's really pretty and, funnily enough, I wouldn't have bought a Moses basket at the time as being pregnant without one, but now I can safely say I don't think that any Moses basket needs a foot duvet since I won't realistically be using any sort of duvet until The Boy is much older. One friend told me she used the duvet underneath the actual Moses basket to elevate it at an angle when her baby had sniffles or colic. Be sure, however, not to use it under the Moses basket's mattress as that could lead to overheating your baby.
The Millie and Boris Moses basket has been a backdrop to most of The Boy's everyday photos and is so light I carried him downstairs inside it every day too. I also bought the deluxe stand which makes it all portable and meant I could shift him around the living room depending on where I wanted him. I know they say the Moses basket is generally good for 0-6 month-old babies but this depends on your baby's height.
To help The Boy make the transition from his first 'bed' to the cotbed, I used to place the Moses basket inside the cot for him to sleep in and let him play in the cot whenever he was awake. As much as I'm glad he's growing and developing well, a massive part of me is still truly sad to have had to pack his first bed up into the loft. He's now sleeping in his cot and co-sleeping with me. I'm going to write about this too - because while I'm totally fine with whatever choices loving families make in raising kids, I'm glad there is now a good movement towards the reintroduction of co-sleeping in the UK. It is a time-tested instinctive practice for millions of mothers and babies globally (especially within my Indian heritage) and anything that creates a deep bond between you and your child, helps your child to be calm and happy and also helps a family to sleep better is something of a win-win situation for me.
You can buy The Millie & Boris Moses Basket, £85 , and Deluxe Stand £30, from Mama's and Papas online at www.mamasandpapas.com.
A note on swaddling:
I cannot rate the 100 per cent cotton Gro-Swaddle cloths from the Gro Company highly enough. The Boy slept soundly in one from the second week of his birth even though we've now progressed to sleeping bags. Swaddling did help The Boy to sleep longer, but it was in no way a replacement for skin-to-skin contact which is important for bonding and feeding.
At my hospital, the midwives swaddled The Boy in towels and jersey cotton which, while it made him a content baby, it could have, alongside the fact he was separated from me for about 35 minutes to an hour (I can't remember as I was so exhausted and my mother who was my birthing partner lost track of time also), lead to the difficulties we had in establishing early breastfeeding (a massive regret of mine was having had zero help from the midwives at my busy hospital who insisted on giving the baby formula after for hours instead of assisting with getting me and baby latching on.)
I continued to swaddle at home, however, only using the Gro Company swaddle cloths and never swaddling the Boy over his head and up until The Boy's moro reflex subsided and he was showing signs of wanting to kick and move his arms around (when you should stop swaddling in case baby kicks covers over his or her face).
It helped him sleep soundly every night. I recently read one healthcare professional said that swaddling isn't exactly good for babies, it's more to do with giving parents better sleep. What a load of garbage! I'm sure most loving parents like myself know full-well we are going to have disruptive sleep for a while because tiny babies have tiny tummies which need to be filled often. But some babies don't always know how to settle themselves to sleep in the big cold world outside of your womb and because of their short sleep cycles, they also arouse from sleep even when they aren't hungry. In the case of catnapping, they need help resettling so they don't wake every 25-45 minutes.
The Gro Company Swaddles come in T-shaped designs, are light weight, stretch well and are made out of 100 per cent cotton. They have been an essential for me every time The Boy went down for the night. I think there are other brands out there, and I have swaddled him in plain square cotton sheets too but the T-shape of the Gro- swaddle means it's faff and fuss free especially since I could swaddle him quickly without waking him up fully.
I used to swaddle The Boy tightly up until he was a month old and had that whole mori-reflex-flailing arms thing going on, then only half swaddled him and kept his arms free. In terms of washing I found they still looked brand new without any bobbling, which I can't say about some of his barely worn expensive baby grows after they've been in for a spin. On colder nights I would layer him up with a nice cellular blanket.
You can buy them at Mothercare, Boots and John Lewis from £10.99.