20th November 2016

What to expect when a newborn invades your home

An Englishwoman’s home is her castle. But it’s one that is vulnerable to attack from the smallest of beings. If you’re wondering what to expect when your home has been invaded by a newborn, it’s time to think less baby-proofing and more baby all-conquering, says Cat Neilan…

1. More laundry than Dot Cotton

It’s just as well the washing machine helps your little one fall asleep, because it will fast become your most treasured possession. Within hours of your little bundle of joy’s arrival, your home will begin to resemble a laundrette with literally hundreds of muslins, baby grows and tiny mattress covers for tiny mattresses covering every available airing surface. If you’re lucky, you might have space to throw a bra in the occasional wash.

2. A bed for each night (or day)

You’ve got the Moses basket. Then you get the co-sleeping crib. You might find yourself – probably at around 3am – buying an overpriced lilo (aka a Sleepyhead). Then there’s the cot, which may have made an appearance on Instagram, but it’s only being used in your dreams. Of course, he’s not interested in any of this – why would he be, when he has mummy to sleep on? Note to self: your baby’s sleep is not directly proportional to the number of places for the baby to sleep in.

3. Spaced out

If there’s one thing that all these items have in common – other than places intended for, but not actually, being slept in – it’s that they are bulky. Throw in a buggy, bouncy chair, obligatory cushions, changing unit, bath inset, baby gym and toys, and you will find the home that once comfortably housed two full-sized adults is now straining at the seams. And this is when they’re still only two feet tall…

4. Milking it

Breastfeeding mums will have towers of pillows and dads will find their spot on the sofa out of order. There may even be a pump standing by for that rare moment when the stars align and you’re able to express some milk (when it will feel like your home begins to resemble a dairy farm).

Those using formula, meanwhile, will have stacks of bottles in various stages of sterilisation (“washed but not sterile”, “good to go” and “can’t remember, should we risk it?”). You will always find yourself without any usable ones that crucial moment…

5. Make it nappy

Newborns poo a lot. But just to be sure that you are within the specified amount (eight to 12 wet nappies a day), you’ll start collecting them so you can keep track. By the end of the day your stash might resemble something from the winter of discontent when the bin men went on strike. But it won’t stop you starting a new collection each day…

6. Plastic fantastic

Ignore the adverts and scoff at your frenemies’ social media posts. Babies are not interested in beautifully styled neutrals: plush grey soft toys, mobiles and rattles will not distract them for a second. They want bright, brash colours (their sight not being as good as ours – and their taste taking a little longer to develop) and you want wipe-clean surfaces. You might start out with the most tasteful nursery in town, but pretty soon you’ll be resorting to gender-typed plastic like the rest of us.

@mushmums @catneilan

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