Nesting in Belsize

Upon our announcing a couple months ago, a number of friends who have been through it all before invited us around for a chat. They’ve advised us on which books to read, what kit we’ll actually need in London, and what life with a newborn really looks like. At the time, we were still very squarely in ‘pregnancy mode’…ie denial  But, through their guidance and educating us, we have slowly come around to the idea of accepting the huge changes about to come our way. And, ultimately, feeling more prepared to handle them.

First came the baby books. We’ve read Baby Whisperer, Gina Ford’s Happy Contented Little Baby, Baby Wise, the Rough Guide to the First Year and a DK Guide for First Time Parents. Through these resources, we’ve come to understand that there are rigid, flexible and demand driven feeding routines and that everyone chooses what works for their family. Great!

Next up, the goods! I really dislike the mounds of brightly coloured plastic accoutrements that seem to accompany every newborn on the planet. And I don’t love cutesie themes. [Though I realize our child will likely LOVE them and wield the wonderland wand when the reigns of decorating their own room are in their hands.] Given our city-living space constraints and my own discomfort with all things cutesie, I’ve been  dreading the likes of Babys R Us for more than a decade. So, in speaking with friends here, we learned that a department store called John Lewis (kind of like Macy’s, I think) offer a nursery advice service to expecting parents. During these sessions, someone who has had children themselves and is educated on all things ‘baby’ leads you about the store, educating and helping you to make selections for your new addition.

Because the staffers for this service are told to be completely unbiased and to offer advice tailored to each couple’s unique situation, new parents are able to trust the advice they receive. Hence, there’s at least a month’s waiting list for time slots year round. We had our session on Saturday and Louise, our helper, was so patient and kind. While sessions are meant to take 2 hours, ours took a very full 3! I suppose we needed a lot of extra education  And they even gave us a voucher for lattes and a snack to talk through what we had saw before heading out of the store. From a marketing standpoint, I’ve got to hand it to John Lewis. We left the store with a loyalty that we’ve felt to no other store…except, maybe, Target and Apple.

Having seen it all now (or at least 90% of the most important bits, anyway), we feel so much more prepared and at ease. Baby’s room will not have to be a multi-coloured jumble of junk—well, except for the bouncy chair. [WHY, OH WHY, must all bouncy chairs be covered in brightly coloured cartoon characters OR completely uncomfortable for Baby? Bleh!]

The best part of the deal is that their system works like a registry. As we walked about the store, our helper carried a scanner and made note of the items we plan to purchase later. And everything will be delivered for free 4-6 weeks in advance of Baby’s due date. Lovely!

Aiming to knock out preparations in a single weekend, we decided to get up early Sunday and brave Ikea. After both, we’re now 90% there! Sadly, though, we weren’t able to register our intended purchases at Ikea for future purchase/delivery. My, by then, 7-month pregnant self may just have to brave going back to the store in multiple spurts in order to gather all bits that we need. But, for all the work, there’s a definite cost difference which makes it all worthwhile.

So, then, where have we landed? We’re keeping to a very loose and mature, soothing safari theme. A very simple cot and changing table (crib in American terms) for Baby. And a cubby bookshelf system with plug and play storage baskets, door  and drawer units for storage of Baby’s various  clothing and accoutrements. A couple framed photos from our Tanzania trip above the bed. A beautiful green, straw, grey and purple/blue striped rug on the floor. A floor lamp with dimmer pedal for subtle night-time lighting. A basket for a hamper and a diaper pail with lid and pedal. And, in a tip of the hat to cutesie, a 5 foot giraffe and smaller plush elephant, hippo, crocodile plushes (possibly) to peek out of a few cubbies (thank you, Ikea!).

Aside from all of the above, as we don’t have a car and walk EVERYWHERE, the baby carrier and stroller will soon be the big-ticket purchases of this chapter. And, no, we won’t have a car seat…at least until our first visit to the States

Of course, we’ll have all the essentials for clothing and caring for baby tucked away out of sight within the various cubbies and baskets. Since most of the accoutrements we’ve selected are white and rather boring in nature, they’re really not worth mentioning…but if any moms out there are curious or have advice to offer, check out our John Lewis list (list number 444727). We’ll greatly appreciate any input.  (Though, keep in mind that our dryer doesn’t really dry things, so we’ll need to have 3 days worth of most clothing on hand, even if we wash every day…hence the ‘high quants’ of onesies :)).

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