We recently added another lil’ ankle biter to the family and I thought it might be useful to put together a second newborn essentials must-haves list.
Here are all the articles I wrote the first time around and this article is like a confirmation/correction corner. Most of the advice remains the same but there’s some troubleshooting for newborn essentials we did this time around.
7 Baby Firsts That Will Make You an Anxious Mess
Newborn Essentials: 9 Things I Think I’ll Need
9 Tips for Surviving the First Few Weeks with a Newborn
10 Baby Essentials I can’t Live Without
Why We Didn’t Tell Anyone We Were Trying for a Baby
What No One Tells YOu About Having a Baby
5 Things I Want to Tell Meghan Markle About a Baby
Breastfeeding: Things I Wish Someone Had Said to Me
Okay, let’s go.
Newborn Essentials for Baby #2
We had a Stokke stroller with H, which was okay. It was quite bulky and we needed adapters to attach to the capsule. We got it second-hand and ended up selling it because it took up all the space in the boot and we ended up not using it because it annoyed us. We loved how high the Stokke was, we could go out for lunch and our baby was on the same level as us. I’d highly recommend the Stokke for anyone who lives in a city and can walk to cafes or parks from their house. It’s not great for people who have to drive or who live in the country with bumpy roads. We got the Mountain Buggy Nano for travel to New York when our eldest was 1 and it’s been amazing so we got the bassinet attachment for it and it’s been just what we needed. Our requirements are a bit different this time because we live in the country we need those chunky mountain wheels and it also needs to pack down easily into the boot of our car. We also got the Unirider for H and it’s been a game-changer. She’s always been a stroller avoider but also doesn’t seem to be particularly keen on walking OR operating her own bike/scooter so this has been a very niche answer to our prayers. She can hop on and off super easily without straps or help and it’s not a totally passive mode of transport for her either. In general, we’re hard-core stroller avoiders. I’d really rather have the kid in a carrier than fuss around with strollers but it’s really a personal choice.
We loaned our IKEA cot to another family so we got the Big W one this time. No complaints. We also got this baby monitor and another audio-only one from IKEA. That sounds like overkill but we had to rearrange our rooms and we’re now further away from both kids so we need an audio-only one so we’re not obsessively checking the screen monitor all the time. It kicks in when P makes an audible sound so we don’t have to hear all her shuffling and snuffling all night. The IKEA sound-only one is fantastic, especially if you’re obsessed with watching the monitor and ruining your free time like we were. It’s also got great range so we can take it out to the garden while the bub is napping and still keep an eye on her.
We got a second-hand no-frills Boori bassinet on wheels that we got from our mates. We found wheels essential so that we could relocate the kid to a quieter/cooler/warmer/darker area of the house. Especially with a preschooler around.
H hated being swaddled and we had her in Love to Dream Swaddle Ups ASAP but we realised it may have been because we were garbage at swaddling. We tried the Miracle Wrap with our youngest P, and it was fine but we tried the Swaddle Ups and she slept the same if not better so it’s Swaddle Ups for life for us. Once all the Swaddle Up stage is done and dusted we’re an Ergopouch family all the way. Our absolute favourites. Honestly, though I think our preference for Swaddle Ups is mainly projection. I would hate to sleep with my hands straight-jacketed to my sides so we switched to the Swaddle Ups almost immediately with both kids.
We got the newborn attachment for our Stokke Trip Trap chair, and it’s great. You can get it here. If you like buying things second-hand (we always try that first!) that’s awesome but people selling these second on Facebook are seriously taking the piss. It’s one of those items that they use for a few years and then try to sell for $20 off the new purchase price. They’re dreaming. We borrowed this from our mates but there’s no way we were paying almost full price for a used one. Not today Satan. We were going to get another Stokke chair for P so H can keep hers but she insists on sitting in a grown-ups chair now so that was lucky.
We kept our fancy change table because we used it for so many years and it’s great. You can get it here. It cleans brilliantly, it’s temperature neutral which means it doesn’t get super cold in winter and it’s great for making sure your little one doesn’t roll off. Keep a hand on them at all times though, obviously.
As for clothing, I’m not a fan of separates on newborns because they’re being held all the time and little tops just bunch up so we’re a bodysuits/Bonds zippies family. I can’t handle readjusting little tops and pants on babies. Drives me bonkers. We just take hand me downs for clothes and buy anything we don’t get given.
We got the Huggies newborn nappies but we switch to Little Ones when you stop having to change their nappy 400 times a day. We keep using Huggies at night though because they’re more absorbent. We also have a set of 12 Bare and Boho reusables we use when bub is awake.
I borrowed a giant beast of a breast pump with H and it was great but I struggled hard with supply and pain last time and I hated (and I mean HATED) pumping so I got this wire-free breast pump. It’s been amazing and it means I can pump without being tethered to the wall. I can even do it in the car which is handy when you live in the county and often have to travel several hours in a day. I also got the new ladybird design Hakka you can pop in your bra to collect letdown. So much better than the older bottle-shaped design. I did a lot of research and the consensus is that the wireless pumps aren’t as effective as the wall pumps, but I call hard BS on that. I borrowed a hospital-grade Medela (like you can’t even buy them privately) and had it at home and used it for 3 days and I got slightly less milk than I did from the wireless ones. By all means, run your own experiments but there’s a popular opinion that the wireless pumps are weaker and I didn’t find that to be true at all. These wireless pumps have been a miracle for me and have made pumping go from an unbearable torture activity to something I barely notice so that’s worth its weight in gold. I can make lunch, drive and wipe my preschooler’s bottom without disturbing my pumping. It’s awesome. I started with one pump but quickly bought two – I can pop them in my bra and be done in 15 mins.
We’re using Pigeon glass and plastic bottles again and they’re the best. I’m combo-feeding this time. Breast first, breast milk top-ups and formula top-ups if I couldn’t get enough breast milk and if she’s still hungry. I went properly loopy the first time trying to breastfeed exclusively. I succeeded but it was really horrible and I don’t have the brain space or time to do it again. Both my babies are long and lazy feeders and do much better taking milk from bottles, at least in the early days. I just wasn’t interested in being a martyr this time and jiggling a cranky baby who is sucking angrily on empty breasts because my body takes ages for my supply to kick in. I choose sanity. This also means I can pump and go to bed early and get Ben to do the first night feed so I can squeeze in a few solid hours of sleep. Not being precious about exclusively breastfeeding has done wonders for my mental health this time around. Especially as I have a lot pain with breastfeeding, I’ve been able to heal my nipple trauma faster using formula and pumping.
I have a few issues with supply building (seems to be sorted now) but I love the Woolies Brewer’s Yeast cookies and I’ve been having oatmeal sachets as well. I also tried Domperidone medication (it’s prescription so ask your midwife or doctor about it) and it’s been really good. I seem to be equalised now, Polly is gaining weight and is very settled so I think it’s all working.
I got this pregnancy pillow super early on in my pregnancy and it was AMAZING! I got a c-shaped one last time and it was crap. I had to drag the whole thing with me every time I rolled over. These giant U-shaped ones seemed like a big deal but I was like, stuff it. I’m doing it and I have zero regrets. I slept like a dream, in between all the night peeing of course.
I got some serious wrist pain from breastfeeding H so I borrowed one of those flat-feeding pillows from a mate. It’s been great! I have unicorn pregnancies and absolutely terrible breastfeeding journeys so there are a lot of breastfeeding recs in here. I also got Silver Mamas to help with nipple pain. I don’t have breast pad recommendations because I never leaked with either kid. Bizarre I know. The Hydrogel Breast Discs are a must though. I got intense nipple pain/damage with both girls so these are essential.
We used a Moby wrap with both girls when they were tiny and graduated to the Ergobaby Omni 360. We borrowed the Ergobaby from a mate for both our girls and we reckon it’s done the round of about 12 kids now and also randomly starred in a production of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert in Canberra. We try to borrow or get things second-hand first and only buy if we absolutely have to.
I re-read Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills and it’s just such a top-notch book. It’s non-judgey, with lots of different ideas and options for having the best birth possible. I figured out reading it for the second time that H was posterior during labour (I’m such a fool – it was so obvious, her birth was 41 hours long, intense from the very start with long contractions and a horrific amount of back pain, didn’t progress evenly and I dilated and un-dilated several times) so I did a lot of prep this time to try anything to shorten my labour and get the second kid in a good position for birth. I read Spinning Babies, did exercise every day, ate 5 dates (Emily Oster approved – the data says date eating from 36 weeks is proven to shorten active labour!), and acupuncture. Anything that did no harm that had even the slightest chance of shortening my labour, I did it. In the end, my labour with P was very short (8 hours all up but only about 2 hours of it being really intense and unbearable) so I didn’t have time to do any of the activities in the Active Birth book but it was great to be prepared.
In terms of maternity wear, I bought very few bump-friendly clothing pieces because I carried quite small with both my girls and most of my looser fitting clothes still fit at about 8 months (long torso perks!). I can only recommend not buying things until you absolutely need them, I know of a lot of people who buy a bunch of things they don’t need and never wear. I got 2 pairs of Just Jeans maternity jeans I wore with sack dresses and 2 pairs of (gifted) Active Truth maternity workout tights that got me through the final month. Over the bump FOR LIFE. I do not understand under the bump. For feeding, I went with anything with centre buttons and stretch bras I can pop a boob out over the top. Clip-style maternity bras did not work for me. They dug into my shoulder, the pads in them got all bunched up. I avoided them both times but also my boobs didn’t change much in size so that was available to me. I know lots of parents who need like a wardrobe of bras because of fluctuating boobs sizes, so do what you have to do. I have 2 Legoe side zip dresses from my first pregnancy that are great. I didn’t love any of the split-tops or nursing singlets, I rarely wear separates so they just didn’t make me feel like myself. I wore lots of existing dresses and jumpsuits with centre buttons, wore jump-suits with zips backwards and the only thing I got new was this Notperfectlinen jumpsuit and a now sold out front button H&M dress.
Boody tights, bras and singlet tops were my birthing/recovery staples. I’m a weirdo and can’t eat during labour which isn’t ideal but squeeze yogurts, Zooper Doopers and Gatorade kept me somewhat satiated throughout both labours.
My most important piece of advice? Nappy bags are just bags. You don’t need a nappy bag. We use these backpacks from IKEA and they’re ace. They fit our portable change mat, a few outfit changes and a bottle or two. They’re also great as kids get older and you can fit activities, snacks and a drink bottle for toddlers. We have 2 of these backpacks now, one for each kid and they hold everything we need. They also don’t look like nappy bags which I love. Just regular ol’ backpacks.
We have been weirdly blessed in that H seemed to get all her big sister anxiety out of the way while I was pregnant. She had some pretty shocking night wakings and other odd anxious behaviours right up until P came home but from the moment they met, they basically imprinted on each other and everything has been wonderful. Once P is on her feet and able to get into H’s stuff I’m sure that will change but in the mean time we’re enjoying this peaceful stage.
And that’s it!
I would absolutely love to hear if you did anything differently the second time. Our two things were that we combo fed and we went very small/basic with our stroller.
What changed for you the second time around?
I’m due with #2 any day now so TBD on how things are different once baby comes. But I had to laugh when I saw your comment about the pregnancy pillow. I knew even before I opened the link that it was the same one I have. I got it during my first pregnancy and it is the only way I can get any sleep. I’m a stomach sleeper usually and sleeping during pregnancy is pretty miserable. I feel kinda bad about the amount of space I take up in the bed, but that’s just a sacrifice hubby has to make. lol
Heading into newborn stage #2, I have full intentions of being less stressed if I need to top up with formula. I really fretted about it with my first, despite thinking I had gone in without holding strongly to an expectation of exclusive breastfeeding. Hopefully I can pull that off if required.
The biggest things that are different: 1) I’m still on medication after being diagnosed with PPD last time around and thus my anxiety is more under control. Huge. 2) While the pandemic isn’t over, we feel comfortable having the grandparents here to offer support. Since our first was born in late March 2020 and spent 6 days in the NICU, we had 0 support during that first month. And even after that, we were pretty limited in how much contact we had. So, all in all, fingers crossed that things are less stressful this time around!
Oh one other difference this time around: I’ve bought a lot more things to help with my recovery in advance. Maybe I won’t need them all, but I would rather have them in hand and waste a little money, than wish I had them at 3 am a few days after giving birth.