Far be it for me to offer parenting pearls of wisdom, I am kind of new at this! But…I have already discovered some fairly priceless bits of kit that make this gig just a bit easier, and I’m all for that. I’m also all for sharing this handy information, because I’m nice like that. So in an effort to remember all these bits and bobs amongst my new mama fog brain I thought I’d best document them in a succinct blog post – added bonus if any other future mama’s find any of these items useful, but if for no other reason I may need to re-visit this someday when we have another baby. (Yes I just mentioned another baby before my first child is even four months old – gasp!)
I know when I was pregnant I was asking all my mama friends what was the item, the one piece of baby paraphernalia that they swore by, would almost sell their first born for (but that would defeat it’s purpose wouldn’t it?) Before you actually have a baby you have noooooo idea. People tell you this, yet still you can’t fathom the clueless imbecile you are B.C. (before children). And I was fairly up with all things kid, lots of mama friends, lots of nieces and nephews, mama bear in the waiting, yet still there were some baby items I underestimated, and some I thought would be oh-so-useful…turns out they went unused. Funny that.
Let me add this disclaimer: I know every parent is different. I know every child is different. Some of these might not be your cup of tea, but maybe, just maybe, one of these items is the key to early parenting harmony*. Imagine! Yup, She Sows Seeds: helping new parents since 2014…
Hands down our #1 most used and loved item of baby gear. I can not emphasise this enough: this thing is a game changer. Eleanor gets feed, changed and put in her swing. Not for a long time sometimes (she’ll go down and play on her rug under her play gym often), and about 90% of the time we don’t have the swing motion on. It’s just somewhere for her to sit, it’s so much better than a bouncer down on the floor because she is up higher and can look around, she can see me in the kitchen, she can see me at my computer, she can watch Tessa trotting past and, much to her father’s dismay, she watches the lights and colours on the TV from her swing. The period between 5-7pm when Eleanor will often not sleep between feeds, she is in her swing. I turn it on, eventually she’ll get tired and I’ll put her dummy in, she’ll doze in and out of a sleep until it’s late enough for me to give her her ‘bedtime’ feed. Without the swing she basically just grizzles for two hours and wants to be held – she wants to go to sleep, but she wants to be fed, but she doesn’t know what to do with herself basically! The swing is the answer, the key to sanity at arsenic hour. I haven’t ever had a shower whilst she was in the swing, but I know lots of mums swear by them for getting a shower in the morning. Our swing is my sister’s hand-me-down, but she had it only for her third baby and couldn’t get over how much of a game changer it was, and wished she had it for her first two babies. Swing = game changer.
Love To Dream Swaddle
I will admit that to begin with I was neither here nor there about these swaddles. Eleanor has always been a great sleeper, never needing me to rock her to sleep, always settling herself and not a Houdini out of a snug wrap like some babies can be. I started using the swaddles as more of a sleep cue, a part of the bedtime routine I was trying to establish to let Eleanor know the difference between night and day. And it worked! Eleanor only wears her special ‘sugar glider suit’ at night, during the day I still wrap her snugly in stretchy big blankets (although I am starting to question this, she loves her fists to suck and can’t get to them when wrapped up). Now, after her ‘bedtime’ feed (anywhere between 6-8pm) she will be put in her sugar glider suit and put in her bassinet, no rocking to sleep, just a quick cuddle and kiss good night. I will give her a dummy, but most nights she sucks that for about 10 minutes, awake, then will lose it and find her fist in her swaddle. Brilliant! After a middle of the night feed I will again give her a dummy, but she will inevitably lose it and find her fist. The self soothing of the suit is brilliant, although the arm parts of her suit get so dirty from her sucking! Earlier in our breastfeeding days she would inevitably get milk all over her little arm bits in the suit in the middle of the night, I think then when she was going to sleep she would suck on her suit which was saturated in milk, keeping her nice and content. Clever!
Old School Toweling Nappies
Yes we are using modern cloth nappies, but that whole story deserves another blog post dedicated entirely. The day after we arrived home from hospital my mum bought us a pack of plain old school white toweling nappies from Kmart. They have been hands-down one of the most used baby ‘things’ we’ve used. We keep one draped over the couch arm where I feed, Eleanor likes to lean over that arm after a feed and stare at the fire while I burp her. They are used as spew rags, general towels, bibs, under a quick nappy change on the floor at someone’s house – we use them all. the. time. I always have at least one in my nappy bag, sometimes three! They are the perfect size, not too big, not too small, and obviously nice and absorbent being a towel. Before I had a baby I had visions of pretty little embroidered bibs and tiny cute burp cloths to casually throw over my shoulder. Uh, no. These are what you need. Whether you have a windy, spewy baby or not (Eleanor is really the latter). End of story. Get some. Put them on the list if you are pregnant.
This was top of our priority list early on in my pregnancy, and it has been a brilliant system. I think especially for a Winter baby, I didn’t want to be getting my teeny newborn in and out of the car and into the pram in our freezing Gippsland Winter. We bought the Phil and Ted’s Navigator pram (again, probably worthy of a whole other blog post), which you are able to buy an adapter for (basically a metal bar that attaches to the pram) whatever capsule you may have. The capsule has to be one that Phil and Ted’s is compatible with, but there is a whole list that are, ours is a Safe n Sound which we got from our friend Lou (thanks Lou!) The capsule is super easy to click in and out of the car, and then into the pram. Eleanor falls asleep in the car hands down every time, so I’ll get to the supermarket with a sleeping Eleanor, click her capsule out of the car and into the pram (she might wake up with that) but then into the pram and whizzing around the shops she’ll generally stay asleep. Capsule back into the car and sleeping continues! All whilst being covered in her blankets, undisturbed and still clicked into her seatbelt.
Big Stretchy Blankets
And I mean big. Bigger the better, can’t be big enough. I literally have about 15 stretchy baby blankets, only about 2 of them are now big enough to wrap our long giraffe legged babe. The stretch is important, I also have a handful of flannel or knitted blankets, great for layering on top of them sleeping but no good for wrapping. Eleanor gets wrapped snugly in a big stretchy blanket for every nap during the day, keeping her tightly wrapped is key to sending her off to the land of nod, restricting her involuntary jerky movements. She has started to really like to suck her fist (like in her sleepsuit at night) so a dummy is fairly key for a day sleep nowadays since her arms are wrapped up. A nice big stretchy blanket is a great baby gift, yes you get a million blankets (well at least it seems we do) but honestly the ones that get used again and again and again and are actually useful, are worth their weight in gold – and they’re the big stretchy ones. We have a grey clouds one from Target which my mum bought me when I was pregnant, it has been a winner. I’ve also made some just with two pieces of stretch jersey (the pink red stripe one is a favourite), but to begin with I was making them too small – BIG is best.
There’s loads of other items I can think of which are useful/useless. Useful: footed jumpsuits, Medela swing breast pump, Ikea play gym, glow in the dark dummies. Useless: jumpsuits with no feet (well for a Winter baby anyway), anything too hard to put on/off easily (I’m looking at you gorgeous knitted jumpsuit from Big W with buttons all up the legs!) muslin wraps (we haven’t used any for our cold climate babe), milk bar pillow (I found it super uncomfortable and subsequently sold it on eBay, I feed with no pillows, no worries).
What are your baby essentials?
Have I missed something you found saved your sanity?
Got some useless items to add?
* Unfortunately I can’t get your baby to sleep, no more than I can get Eleanor to keep a dummy in for longer than ten minutes for her day sleeps!