Essential bits of kit: 0-3 months
The title says it all. This is a blog post I definitely never envisioned writing both because it will probably bore the pants off my limited audience and because well, I assumed it would bore the pants off me. You have no idea how (a) uninterested and (b) sceptical I was about the whole baby thing – child, birth but especially, expensive equipment. But here I am, nearly four months into this parenting lark and I feel an urge to share the bits and bobs that I have liked, loved or become quite shamelessly addicted.
It seems to me that parenting is every bit as individual as ice-cream preferences, so its entirely possible that none of the below will work for you, your friend or your second-cousin-on-your-mother’s-side-best-friends-daughter but here it is regardless. Admittedly, further, the things I now hold dear could either remain dear, or slide off into the landfill pile of dirty disposable nappies. (And yes, guilty: the very idea of a life filled with soaking buckets and anti-bacterial washing agent is enough to make me queasy).
So, in order of acquisition, here we go. Actually, before we go, I should add that although I didn’t pay for most of these (thank you grandparents) I’m including the prices both to provide a tiny window into the costs involved and also to highlight how the best things are not necessary the most expensive (my stroller for example is one third the price of the cult classic Bugaboo).
1. Baby Jogger City Mini - RRP $699
Stroller shopping is a huge trap.
Things that seem fun (looking at your pantone book of available Bugaboo colour swatches) or understated (how bout dat silver detailing Redsbaby) in the shop look, once you get them, back into real life, like interstellar monstrosities of obnoxiousness. And like, if that’s your jam, go for it. I picked our stroller (not even pretending that J had a vote) because it was the lightest (9.5kg), least offensive (black) stroller I could find that you could use from birth (which to most people will sound odd but in fact most strollers require the purchase of an extra ‘lie flat’ capsule costing another 300-odd bucks to be used for your precious eggplant resembling newborn).
I love it. I feared it might be funereal with the black (I was really taken by the scarlet Bugaboo) but whack in a pram liner (ours is sheepskin care of one of L’s doting G’mas) and a couple of Lamaze toys (courtesy of the other doting G’ma) plus of course a baby, fully clothed, and it’s a festive riot of fun. Plus it goes easily over all terrain, can be driven with half of one hand and turns on the spot. None of which is true of my car.
We were gifted this but and actually, if I had to buy myself a stroller I’d cough up the moolah. Totally recommend.
2. Red Castle Cocoonababy Nest – RRP $299
This was a gift and I have to say I was a bit sceptical (aren’t I always). But I was wrong. So wrong. This thing is the bomb. Like if my best friend had a baby tomorrow I’d pop this on the joint account as my present to her, fiscal sense be damned. Developed by French Paediatricians (no, you’re a wanker), this little piece of moulded foam magic keeps your newborn at a slight curved incline, which is meant to remind them of being in the womb and thus help them sleep.
I can’t say whether the association holds true but we did find it wonderful for L to sleep in when he was new. Both because it does hold them secure (not like a SIDS-risk-inducing-cot-bumper as another new mum helpfully suggested to me late one evening, but as a hand on top and one under the bum) and because it means they sleep pretty much anywhere as you can easily take it anywhere. We took this back and forth visiting relatives numerous times and L always slept well (like 7hrs at a time which is no mean feat for a tiny pickle) in it.
You’re meant to stop using it once they can roll (estimated at 3-4 months) but L’s such a dumpling that he was too big for it by about 10weeks. For us this was another generous gift from the grandparents but I would have paid the money myself, such is the sanctity of a sleeping newborn.
3. Skip Hop Heather Grey Pronto Signature Changing Station – RRP $49.95
I didn’t know this had such a silly name until I googled it but there you go. We just call it the change pad because ah, that’s what it is. It’s slightly padded and totally wipeable mobile change station and it can be folded and unfolded one-handed (which is necessary as the other hand is likely holding the squirmy smelly infant).
I love this because it means we can (and I have) change L anywhere from on grassy verges to the forecourt of a petrol station (don’t judge it’s not like I dipped him in petrol). Untethering you from the (usually gross if provided at all) facilities of public rest rooms it removes one of the many impediments babies present to the continuation of normal daily activities.
Again, I didn’t realise how very very useful this would be. Indeed this is an item I was gently strong-armed into (if that is what one can call a gift) by my insightful mother-in-law who’d experienced its usefulness firsthand with her own daughter. If I’d had any comprehension of what babies require before birthing one this is the sort of thing I would have put on my baby shower wish list / registry (as it was I left the list at ‘books you liked as a child’ which, though less practical, is a request I do not regret at all). I also saw a very similar device in Kmart the other day for about a quarter of the price so pretty sure you could skimp on this one.
4. Spectra 2 Hospital Grade Double Electric Breast Pump – RRP $299
Apparently new mothers aren’t actually meant to express milk for a few weeks as doing so can disrupt natural rhythms of who-knows-what. But as our natural rhythms were thrown out the window by L’s hospital stint I was encouraged (nay, badgered) to express from day dot. Cue: many hours attached to the hospital’s buttercup yellow milking machine that made one feel a bit like Daisy the Cow. Once home I kept up the good work this the help of this much smaller white and pink job which handily also has a tiny nightlight for night time feeding (or expressing if you’re that committed to the gig).
I remember talking to one of the special care nurses in hospital and her insistence that I didn’t need to express post-discharge as L was quite a good feeder and that if I ever felt ‘overfull’ I could just ‘chuck him on’. Oh the beautiful imagery of that sentence. I was sceptical at the time and am incredibly glad that I didn’t end up heeding her advice. Had I done so, I would have been essentially stuck to my infant 24hrs a day (babies sadly not being inclined to feed to any sort of schedule). Having a pump meant that I could express and escape! For such luxurious indulgences as a solo walk to the shops (don’t) or even a swim at the local pool (bliss). Such periods of separation honestly helped keep me sane in the first month and for that reason alone I’m a huge fan of expressing, al bovine likenesses notwithstanding.
Obviously an electric pump is not necessary. I was just spoilt by my mother who ordered this one for me (“if nothing else, it will help with weight loss”).
5. Love To Dream Swaddle – RRP $39.95 - $59.95
I discovered these late and by chance (thank you online mothers group). L has hated being swaddled since day dot, which let to a lengthy process of settling him until pretty-much-actually-asleep then trying to quickly and covertly wrap him without waking. It was stupidly annoying and fraught as if he woke during the wrapping process (which he frequently did) he would strenuously object to his bound state and the entire feed-soothe-settle process would have to begin anew. Joy.
These little cotton baby straightjackets (honest, they look like mini asylum escapees) allow them to sleep with their arms above their head, which is the favoured baby-on-back sleep position but prevents them from startling themselves. What do I mean by ‘startling themselves’? I’m glad you asked.
Newborns (until 3-4 months) come with a – fantastically outdated - inbuilt survival instinct that sees them literally startle themselves awake by thrashing their arms at imaginary foes. Who knows really what purpose this evolutionary hangover used to serve but I can assure you all it does it make both parent and child teary from lack of sleep. Traditionally this instinct has been addressed through swaddling but the suit does take it up a notch as it allows them to move more freely within the confines which means they don’t even realise they’re all tied up. Suckers.
When L grew out of his Cocoonababy I was devastated, foreseeing a resurgence in sleepless nights. I found these, and bought two. Brilliant. We’ve just swapped from the lightweight summer one to a winter weight one for ‘transitioning’ babies (no, not gender, it means the awkward bit when they can kinda roll and kinda not) where the arms zip off and they’re both excellent. Awkwardly, I now see these are the only things I actually bought myself. (Cheers for the generosity grandparents!). But yeah, they’re excellent.
Honourable mentions must also go to Palmer’s Bottom Butter which is the nicest smelling ointment ever (and does also seem to work so that’s a bonus) and Bonds Wondersuits, which are just so excellent for the days-that-are-also-like-nights (looking at you first 8 weeks). Doesn’t hurt that the Bonds baby designers are on fleck this season and the prints are to die for. Like if I could have a bodysuit festooned with coral and cobalt cockatoos I totally would. Plus they’re pretty cheap particularly since Bonds seem to have continual 40% off sales.
Self-test: What did you find helpful? (Don’t say contraception, kids. That’s not funny.)
Ps. In case it needs to be said, none of the above products were freebies from the manufacturer / gifted for the purposes of review (though like, totally hit me up babygoody makers) and all views are my own.