Travelling away from home to meet your newborn is stressful. Hoping you’ll make it there in time for the birth, that everything will go smoothly, not to mention actually looking after the baby!
We had to pack for 7 weeks away, not only with clothes for us but with what we thought we would need for Bertie. Most of the advice I was given was that you can pretty much buy anything you need quite quickly when you need it, so not to stress over whether you have enough muslins, or nappy cream, or onesies.
With that said, there were some items we wanted to buy ahead of time to bring with us, and some items i knew we could pick up on one of our many (many!) Target runs. I made a Gift list at Target, despite not having a registry (not really the done thing in the UK!) but it gave me a discount on anything on the list – so we saved on nappies, wipes and the bassinet we bought in the US.
I’d suggest bringing a car seat with you as well as anything you want to have a British plug. Plus we brought a British thermometer with us! Most big ticket items we bought in the UK to ensure that the warranty would cover us – eg buggy. We saved space on his clothes and only brought a few with us, and didn’t bother with any baby toiletries until we got there.
Here are the items that we’ve found ourselves using over and over:
I bought these after seeing online that they don’t need a proper steriliser and can self sterilise in the microwave. This was perfect for us travelling and staying in AirBnBs – I also anticipated having to use a microwave to sterilise at the airport (luckily we didn’t have to as I sterilised ALL of our bottles before leaving our hotel the morning before we flew home).
As well as buying all of our bottles from Mam, we also used the Mam dummies. I know dummies (pacifiers) are controversial, but we found them useful to help soothe Bertie to sleep in the car or between feeds to try to increase the length between them! We were finding he was sometimes comfort sucking and not actually hungry! I LOVE these glow in the dark versions, so handy when trying to settle him at night – these would make a great present for a new parent.
We have fed Bertie with a combination of breastmilk kindly pumped by our surrogate, Ashley, and formula. We decided to use a British formula that was also available in the US, and came in powder and pre-mixed options. Kendamil is made in the Lake District.
Double Zipper Onesies
These were a game changer, especially overnight and those first few trips out. Not having to fully undress Bertie, or faff about with poppers in the dark. We bought most of ours at Target but I’ve seen them in the UK at Morrisons and Amazon. Bertie was also gifted a gorgeous personalised onesie from Mori.
They currently have 25% off their Bestsellers (including the double zip suits) and would make a great Christmas pressie for someone with a little one.
Halo Swaddle Sleepsuits
They swaddled Bertie in these in the NICU and loved them. Whilst we’ve discovered Bertie doesn’t love to be swaddled anymore, we have him sleeping in these every night just with his arms out. I stocked up on 0-3 months, 3-6 months and 6-12 months from Target before leaving the US however I’ve found them in the UK here at The Hut and Jojo Maman. I’ve found them to be better value than other sleepsacks I’ve found.
After recommendation from a friend, I had a consultation with Madeleine at Sheen Slings before purchasing a carrier (she does both in person and zoom consultations!). After trying on a range of slings, I chose the Ergo Baby Embrace that is suitable from newborn but doesn’t require any ties – I was so nervous I wouldn’t wrap/tie Bertie in properly and he would fall, so I loved the secure clips around both the waist and side of this sling. We will progress onto a bigger sling when he gets older but for now, I am loving wearing him in the Ergo Embrace!
When travelling home, I wore Bertie in the airport to get him settled and off to sleep and planned to wear it on the plane if he got fussy (he was a total trooper!)
Travel System Buggy
We tried other travel systems at John Lewis but ultimately the recommendation from many friends was for the Babyzen Yoyo. We bought the Newborn pack with our frame to ensure it was suitable for Bertie straight away – it folds down (unlike the Bassinet addition which does not fold). For another option, we also bought the car seat adaptors so that we could attach the car seat directly to the Yoyo (and if you had a lie flat car seat, would eliminate the need for a bassinet/newborn pack). I love how compact the YoYo is – ideal not only for travelling but also for going to restaurants and cafes while in Charleston.
We bought the Cybex Cloud Z i-Size after being recommended it at a free John Lewis consultation. We loved that it lies flat, meaning you’re not restricted by how long you can keep your newborn in the car seat, especially in those first few weeks (advice is that they don’t spend more than 30 mins in the car seat for the first 6 weeks) I love that it clips onto our buggy and can be secured in the car with either a base or just a seatbelt. This was great for us since we didn’t want to take the heavy base out to the US with us. It is quite heavy though and you wouldn’t want to carry it too far.
I’ll be honest, we were worried that we wouldn’t be allowed to use our British carseat in the US since I have heard they are different, so we were fully prepared to send Tom out to buy an American one to leave the hospital but the NICU nurse that signed us out was happy with the safety of our seat.
It looks like since we bought ours, the updated version has come out and is now available here. However, with new updates, the older versions often go on sale – I found our car seat with a £70+ saving at Mamas and Papas.
We bought one before leaving and I used it as my hand luggage. We chose one with a travel changing mat that we used as our only mat out in the US (we bought a padded one for home). It also had an insulated bottle holder which was invaluable! Here’s the one we opted for.
We bought a second hand bouncer from a Children’s resale shop in Charleston and it was the best $30 we spent (plus we then sold it back for $20 when we left!) We’ve been given two bouncer chairs from friends but neither are as good as this Fisherprice one we found – it vibrates and plays lullabies. It is currently on sale for £45 new!
If we had more time before the birth, I think we would have spent more time trying to source a second hand bassinet and new mattress which I’d definitely recommend to Intended Parents wanting to limit their luggage. We ended up buying a travel bassinet from Target for $60 that folds down into a relatively small box and brought it home for UK nights away when he’s small.
What did you find the most valuable item for your newborn? Would love you to share this post with any soon-to-be parents, or in particular, any intended parents!