Now that my second baby is almost 12 months old I’ve been thinking about which things were most useful for both babies. There are lots of things that were pretty much useless but a few items that were totally invaluable and that i’d definitely buy again for another baby or as a gift for a friend. I’ve been mulling these items over for a while but i’m sure there are a few things that are now soo intrinsic to our lives that I’m forgetting there was a time before we had them and so missed them from my list.
My children have quite different personalities and preferences so I like to think these things are pretty universal. There are a few other things that have become pretty handy now that we have a toddler in tow but I’ve decided to keep those things separate.
So, mainly for my own personal reference and so that I don’t forget them I thought I’d jot them down. In no particular order – just as I think of them….
Babies’ nails grow like weeds and despite being very soft they are also very sharp and a nightmare to keep short. I tried nibbling them, trimming with scissors or nail clippers and filing (this was most successful) but the easiest way to stop the little cuties from scratching themselves was to keep their hands covered. Scratch mitts, mittens and gloves NEVER stay on in my experience so sleeves that flip over at the ends are brilliant for keeping little hand safe and warm.
2. Milk and Food storage cups
Really handy little cups with measures on the side that can be used for milk storage (bags always seemed to split in the freezer) and then attached to a teat using a little adapter so you don’t need to transfer the contents to a bottle. You can attach them to your breast pump too. They can be used for food storage so are great for weaning and for carrying about snacks. Very useful. I have loads of them. Some in the freezer filled with baby dinners and some in my handbag filled with raisins, crackers, cucumber sticks, grapes, all sorts.
3. A nice Nursing Dress
Brilliant for feeding discreetly, quickly and easily when out and about.Such a well thought out design. Comfortable, practical but not frumpy or odd looking like alot of nursing wear. I’d buy about five of these for another baby.
I tried a few insulated bottle bags for keeping breast milk cool in hot weather or hot water very hot for safely making up formula. Most of them didn’t really work very well at all but these bottles were amazing. In fact they were so good that the first time I tried it out i scalded myself because I really hadn’t expected the water to still be soo hot! Super handy on camping trips, for middle of the night feeds, when travelling etc. etc
5. Cloth baby wipes
These get used for allsorts in our house and the chamomile oil that they come with smells divine. Both my girls have got very sensitive skin which goes bright red if i use normal baby wipes on them. I’ve found a few brands of disposable baby wipes that we can use when out and about but I still prefer these when i’m organised enough to pack them.
With my second baby i used these instead of cotton wool and water from birth. They just went in the washing machine on a 60 degree wash with all our towels and the other baby clothes that had got hit in a poonami! For both children I’d used these for non poo nappy changes. I now have another set of colourful wipes that live downstairs and are used for wiping hands, faces, tables, floors whatever. So handy, kind to skin, the environment and my purse too!!!
6. Steel drink bottles
After learning a bit about the nasties that leach out of plastics when warmed i had really wanted to exclusively use steel or glass baby bottles for my second baby but I found lots of things prevented me from doing so. Thats a whole blog post on its own though! Instead I decided to never warm milk in a plastic bottle and that both girls would have steel sippy cups. I tried out a few different types but these are my favorite. They are indestructible and come with a teat and a spout. My toddler has had hers for two and a half years yet they still look brand new. They’ve had quite a beating and been all over europe with us. The top fits any standard wide neck fittings so you can put in a standard Avent teat or sippy spout for example or Dr Browns teat or a Boots one. Whatever you prefer.
7. A baby monitor with movement sensor
A lovely friend named Sarah told me about breathing monitors when I was pregnant with my first baby. She said it was the best thing she ever bought and I agree with her. I thought We would only use this when baby was tiny but as we battled through colds, chest infections, fevers and all the other illnesses babies pick up, I felt reassured to put my baby down and go to sleep myself knowing that she was ok. On the few occasions that we have stayed away from home and had to use a standard sound only monitor I just couldn’t sleep quite so soundly.
Our daughter continued to sleep on this until we changed her bed to a cot bed when she was two and a half. It was invaluable right up until the end because it alerted us to the fact that she had escaped her cot and was running around upstairs on a number of occasions!! Thankfully she couldn’t get far or up to much in the 20 seconds before the alarm went off. It has lasted well too as it is now being used by our 11month old. A definite best buy.
8. Cloth Breast Pads
Disposable breast pads are pants. They look like you’re hiding crisp packets in your bra and crinkle soo much they sound like it too. They never stay put and wriggle their way around inside your bra and they just feel icky.
Bamboo breast pads are soft on sore nips, they’re antibacterial and they wick the moisture away from your skin gently. No strange crinkly noises and you cant see them under you clothes. You just wash them with the rest of your clothes. Brilliant and another winner for the planet and your bank balance.
9. Wadded Walk in Sleeper
Once little people get moving baby sleeping bags hinder them a bit. These little suits keep them warm toasty and safe but also let them crawl/toddle about without tripping over. Both my baby and toddler sleep in these 2.5 tog suits. You can put a vest or body suit underneath for added warmth and when camping we put a babygrow or pyjamas underneath them. Whenever these are on sale I buy a couple of the next sizes up. Oh and up until the 6 months size they have flip over sleeves.
10. Slipper socks
Very similarly to mittens and gloves, socks and shoes are almost impossible to keep on babies feet. I tend to prefer to just keep them in babygros to solve the problem but when I have put my little people in dresses or footless rompers slipper socks have been the only items that have stood a chance of staying on. Great for giving a bit of grip when they’re just starting to take those first faltering steps
11. An ergonomic baby carrier
Like lots of other parents when we imagined using a babycarrier the first image that came to mind was of a Babybjorn. We bought a Babybjorn active and used it alot on holidays until our daughter was about 4months old and just seemed to uncomfy in it. When I started to look into our next carrier I learned alot about good posturefor babies and how bad narrow based outward facing carriers are.
After that I put some serious research, a few loans from sling libraries and friends and a baby wearing consultation we settled on a Boba. It worked for both our newborn and our toddler and could be worn front or back by either me or my husband. It even has a little clip to keep your bag on your shoulder. Brilliant.
12. A pushchair that suits my lifestyle.
The things I want from a pushchair are:-
– easily switched from parent to world facing
– a seat unit big enough for a toddler
– I admit it. I want it to look nice. Less important than the others but still important.
We put a lot of thought research and money into our first pushchair and it paid off as I still use it on an daily basis almost three years on. It’s been on planes, trains and ferries and its navigated snow, sand, gravel and pebbles without any parts failing or needing to be replaced.
We didn’t appreciate how good it is until we tried something else. For holidays, lots of other people seemed to buy little buggies. So we decided that must be the way forward and bought an umbrella fold pushchair. We hated it and so did our daughter. It got taken on a weekend trip to London and on a few day trips before it was relegated to grandmas house before being sold and we took our original pushchair on holiday with us. I’ve been lured into trying out a couple of other pushchairs since then – including the same brand but smaller version – but none have matched it.
It’s the perfect height to be a high chair when there isn’t one available and the handle bar can be clicked entirely out of the way. It lies right back for naps and the carrycot doubled as a Moses basket and travel cot. Finally it has adapted easily and successfully to being used for both a baby and a toddler at the same time. And all this whilst looking pretty too!
It does have a couple of downsides that I should mention. It can be tricky to access the storage bag when in pram mode and it is a bit tricky to steer when you flip it into ‘off road’ mode. That’s it.
Expensive but worth every penny in my opinion.
13. A cuddly toy which plays heartbeat sounds
We’ve had two different types of these. I love the sheep because all four of the different sounds he makes (hoover, tumble dryer a song and a womb sounds) all incorporate a heartbeat sound. Unless my baby was really upset i found that turning on any of these sounds instantly soothed her. Even as she’s grown bigger he has proved invaluable in the middle of the night if she’s woken a little but isn’t hungry. I always try just turn her sheep on first and often – not every time – she will just roll over and go back to sleep.
The similar bear that we have doesn’t seem to be quite soo effective and I think its because he doesn’t have the same heartbeat sounds BUT what he does do is respond to sound. So if my daughter wakes and starts to cry he starts to play whatever he was playing last automatically. Clever. Now if only the people that make the sheep could incorporate that into him he would be perfect.
14. A Convertible high hair
I know most people don’t begin thinking about high chairs until there baby is about three months old. Me being me I researched and questioned friends about them long before our firstborn arrived. Two seemed like strong contenders and because of how much we travel about and due to long distance relatives we ended up with both. One was from £11 from IKEA and does a grand job. It’s easy to clean, has a small footprint and sits right up to the table (I don’t really like the trays on highchairs). It was fine for our first daughter but our second is like Houdini and needs a restraint system that she really can’t escape from.
Our Stokke highchairs is quite an old one because I bought it second hand but it’s still brilliant. It’s been used every day since our first child was about 6weeks old. We eat all our meals at the table and both of our babies have joined us using the newborn set that attaches to the seat. It easily clips off so you can take baby wherever you’re going. At around 5.5months we converted the seat using the baby set (also second hand) and then at around 20months we removed the baby set and converted the chair into a booster seat/standard chair. There aren’t many highchairs that can be used from 0-100yrs.
We’ve just put the baby set on so we can take our second child out of her very good IKEA chair and put her in the Stokke one for safety. If only we had two of them…….
I’m sure I’ll think of some more and update this but that’s it for now. I could have written a whole blog post on the pros and cons and alternatives for each item. No doubt other people will completely disagree with me on these!