With my sister about to give birth any day now to my new little niece or nephew (all of the fun, none of the work! Yay!), it's not surprising that I get the odd text every now and then asking things like: 'Should I buy this?' 'Will I need that?' 'What on earth is this thing for?!' So with that in mind, I have decided to put together a list of things that I found in my three and a half years of parenting, invaluable.
Of course, this is just my own opinion, some people will agree, and others will think I'm mad.
I remember on my first pregnancy, I couldn't wait to start the baby shopping! I hung on until after the 20-week scan where thankfully we were told things looked great, and approximately 2 hours later I let myself buy something for the baby. I didn't even know what I wanted but I knew it was going to be brilliant. And cute.
Gavin and I wandered around the shops picking up things like 'snot suckers' and dying laughing at it wondering what crazy person would buy one. You literally suck out the snot. Like most things in Parenting World, I start off deciding to myself with a smirk 'Oh, I won't be doing that, thanks', and naturally find myself doing exactly what I swore I wouldn't in a heartbeat when it comes down to it. Sure, you know it all before you actually have the kid. So naturally enough, in time, we found ourselves preparing our very own snot sucker for the glamour of clearing a tiny little snotty nose! Some things we bought turned out to be great, and others not so much, so these are the products and tools that I would recommend.
This was probably the most valuable thing at the start - and throughout- for me. For the first couple of months of his life, Rian had colic - this coupled with the general upheaval a newborn brings meant that I was holding him pretty much all day. I had become aware of what they call Babywearing while I was still pregnant, and so based on advice from their website here and on their Facebook page, and from my own friends, I decided on a Boba stretchy wrap. It was an absolute godsend - I was handsfree and able to do stuff again, but the best part was the snuggles that I got to carry around with me. Best thing ever. Once he got bigger we moved on to a Tula carrier which was a fantastic gift from some family members and we love it. On Alex, I branched out and instead of the stretchy wrap, I used a Kokadi Flip sling which I had tried at a Babywearing meet up and fell in love with. It's basically portable hugs.
Once upon a time, I used to browse things like makeup and clothes online and add them to my never ending wishlist of things I wanted to buy. Then the day came where I found myself getting excited that some new bib designs were coming out soon... yes, this is a sad but true stor But.... wait til you see these bibs. Not only are they gorgeous, with plenty of options for the boys as well as the girls (not often the case in a lot of baby shops) - no amount of drool gets through these bad boys. And trust me, there were some amounts of drool and puke giving it their best shot! I would highly recommend you check out Babyboo.ie and Rain + Conker (both fab Irish companies) for some fantastic bib shopping! Yes, it's a thing! Check their Instagram accounts where they sometimes post discount codes too.
There are lots of options in the monitor and alarm departments for keeping an eye on the munchkins. I would say I'm a fairly normal, laid back type of person in the grand scheme of things but there are two topics that I am a bit paranoid about when it comes to sleeping babies - I have a fear of SIDS and so I was obsessed with checking that Rian was still breathing when he went to sleep at night, (the other topic is to do with rear facing car seats - they are 5 times safer than forward facing seats - well worth looking into). But back to the sleep alarm - we bought the Snuza Hero monitor, which clips onto the front of the nappy and tracks their breathing. I was tempted by the sleep mat type of alarms but what put me off was the fact that once he started rolling around, he'd move off the mat and set off the alarm and I'd have a heart failure each time that happened. So this was perfect for us. It sits against their tummy and if it detects that their breathing has stopped, it will first gently vibrate which acts as a nudge without waking the baby, and if after 15 seconds there's still no movement the alarm sounds. It brought so much peace of mind, I would highly recommend it.
However, when poor Alex came along, that sense of fear and panic that I got as a first-time mother with Rian wasn't quite so strong. In true 'second baby syndrome,' I think I might have used this alarm twice altogether. Or maybe I was just too tired to remember to put it on! But still, I'd recommend it.
Invest in a decent digital thermometer. That is all.
People love or hate these - I love them. Changing Rian was like changing an octopus who thinks he's Michael Flatley. There's no way I was able to change him over my knees in a million years and your back would be broken bending over him on the floor all day. Also - boys are a bit like an unattended garden hose on full power. Deploy a baby wipe over them before you attempt anything else. Also - Poonamis. My best defence was to put a sock over each pudgy little hand after I learned the hard way what happens if I don't. Let's just leave it at that and you'll thank me later.
Swivel Bath Seat
Once they are sturdy enough to not slump over - when they can hold their own head up - this was the business! They had great fun splashing and I could relax a bit and use both hands to get them washed which is a great bonus. Obviously, you don't leave them unattended in the bath at any stage, but this is a very handy addition to your baby equipment.
If you're about to have your first baby, other handy things to have in great supply are things like -
- Nice hand cream. Your hands will get so dry from all the constant washing of hands you'll be glad.
- Muslin cloths. Decent ones. There'll be plenty of things to wipe up on a constant basis, trust me! Have them close by at all times.
- Coffee or other caffeine based stimulants. Lots of it.
- Tissues - you may find yourself crying a lot for no apparent reason (other than the massive life change that has just happened, not to mention giving birth to a whole person!) - if so, don't worry. It's just those pesky hormones. Go with it!
- Calpol / Neurofen for babies / Olbas oil - for when the colds and viruses come calling.
And finally, the thing to remember is, even if you've forgotten something, the shops will still be there after the baby arrives, so don't panic. The best tip I can give is to just have the bare minimum of what you'll need because that baby will determine how and when you'll be doing everything, whether you like it or not!
May the cuddles be with you!