Here are my top 10 must have baby products for new parents and parents-to-be, to help you through the minefield of the first few months and make life just that little bit easier.
A baby gym/ bouncer
or any bright plastic monstrosity. It may be an eyesore in your living room, but it will buy you 15 minutes to shower or make a cup of tea. During pregnancy I said I would get things done while the baby napped, but you don’t always get what you ordered. My child is a serial nap refuser so… needs must.
Ikea Antilop highchair
It’s £19, can be dismantled and put in the dishwasher and it has a wipe clean cushion insert for babies that still need propping up. Simple choice. Scandinavian design at it’s finest.
A baby carrier
If you can get to a sling library then do, they can help you find the carrier that is right for you and your baby. We have a Connecta, but there are plenty of styles available for every parenting team and however you do it, baby wearing is wonderful. I am a huge advocate for attachment parenting anyway, but if you want to get anything done during a particularly fussy period then sometimes strapping your baby to your chest is the only way. They love the closeness, you will too and bonus – they may just fall asleep on you.
Ewan the Dream Sheep
I cannot recommend this wonderful sheep enough. The idea is that he makes womb noises which send the baby to sleep. He seemed pricey for a musical sheep so we didn’t buy one until desperate times, but when it came to desperate measures he was well worth it. We use him every night and his batteries are still going strong.
Find a community of like minded parents
This one isn’t a product; more of an asset. Whether it’s a due date thread on Mumsnet, a Facebook group, an app like Mush that brings parents together or even the Insta community. You will need 3am support from a fellow sleep regression sufferer and when you get it, you’ll be glad. There’s a lot to be said for internet friends, mine are my wolf pack and they keep me going everyday.
A baby monitor
I am a massive worrier and motherhood has hugely accentuated that. We bought an all-singing, all-dancing one with a movement sensor and it has made leaving Ozzy in his cot for those rare naps much easier. When we move him into his own room at night next month it’s going to halve the amount of time I spend checking on him. I am a sucker for buying peace of mind, but it’s important to me and anything that means I can have more sleep is a winner in my books.
Haakaa breast pump
I breastfeed, on demand, which at first was every hour. I love it, but oh my word did I need a break. I hate expressing and feeling like a cow, but the Haakaa is a silicone breast pump that works on suction alone. It literally draws the milk out while you sit there doing nothing (or 100 things). Most effective when you are feeding from the other side, it has meant I can siphon off enough milk to fill a bottle during a regular feed, and then throw the baby to my husband while I twirl out the door in a real bra, underwire and everything.
Staple hat or outfit
The cuter and more unnecessary the better. Ozzy has a strawberry hat and everywhere we go he receives compliments. When he has a public meltdown it saves us from judging stares and best of all it hides his ridiculous bald patch. Dressing a baby is fun, so make the most of that. It’s not something we needed, but it makes me smile each time we go outside and I like to think it makes other people smile too.
A decent camera
Take those photos, fill your camera with them. Buy more memory cards and fill those too. Create photobooks and calendars and show photos to anybody you meet. I know everyone and their Grandma will tell you “they don’t stay little for long”, and that can be hard to imagine during the first few weeks which seem like groundhog day, but trust me, it goes quickly. I have taken over 2000 photos since Ozzy was born. Each one shows how much he has grown, and suddenly he doesn’t smell like a newborn anymore. I don’t have enough photos of his first few days (reader, I have about 250). They feel like a lifetime ago and even though the ones we have are beautiful, I wish I had more. I wish I took photos of his first nappy change and his first feed. I wish someone had taken a photo of me the first time I dressed him. I wish I could see the look on my face when my mum held her first grandchild. Take all those photos and buy another camera if you have to. You will think you look awful but 5 months down the line you won’t care how you looked, you’ll just be pleased you captured the look on your face.
WWRT: What Went Right Today
This one isn’t a product either, it’s a piece of advice which I was given, but I stand by it. Find something good about every day. On my Facebook group of Nov ‘16 mums, we have a wonderful daily thread entitled WWRT: What Went Right Today. Parenthood is beautiful and hilarious and it is also impossibly difficult. We whinge and we rant, but then we look for something good to end the day on. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t done anything worthwhile, but I kept a tiny human alive and fed so that has to count for something.