If you’ve had a baby before, you’re probably familiar with the scenario where you’ve bought products or items for baby and just never used them… Or they weren’t useful for long or worked like they said they would. It can become a frustrating waste of money and leave you a little bit disheartened. if you’ve not had a bub yet, you’ll soon know this scenario, unless you keep reading this article!
After my third baby was born in 2012 (after a decent sized gap!), I was quickly reminded of all those products I could and couldn’t live without having a newborn. The things that helped baby (and me) sleep more, cry less and feel so grateful to have them to help me through my parenting journey. Its like a breath of fresh air when something just works or really helps you!
Some of these products you may not consider “bargains” in terms of price, but when you use them over and over again and they really do work as they should (resulting in a happy baby and happy mummy) then you have a truly great buy.
So while its fresh in my mind, here are 5 great buys for baby which have made a massive difference for me, my daughter and my whole family, enabling us to have a more enjoyable, relaxed and confident journey. Of course, there are many more than 5 great things to buy, but here’s 5 big, practical ideas.
Best Buys For Baby #1: The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij
People often say that no-one has written an instruction book for a baby – but this one comes pretty close!
Based on 35 years of research and written by two brilliant Dutch Paediatricians, The Wonder Weeks is pure, solid gold, which will make stressful and difficult weeks much more bearable.
Upon recommendation, I bought this book after I had my second bub and I was blown away at how accurate this book is – and so many people I know who have read it say the same. The Wonder Weeks also has a plethora of reviews and testimonials from professionals around the world, including this one below:
“Anyone who deals with infants and young children will want to read ‘The Wonder Weeks.’ This book will open parents' eyes to aspects of their children's growth, development, changing behaviour, and emotional responsiveness that they might otherwise not notice or find puzzling and distressing.” — Catherine Snow, Ph.D., Shattuck Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Even Australian breastfeeding counsellor, Yvette O’Dowd, says that while she was sceptical of the wonder weeks when she first heard of it, she now notices that many of the calls she takes through a breastfeeding helpline tends to be busy around the specific wonder weeks.
The book includes a timeline chart (which I recommend photocopying and sticking on your fridge) which shows which weeks are the ‘stormy’ weeks, ‘sunny’ weeks and when your baby is most likely to be more fussy. It then goes into detail about the specified stormy weeks, why they happen and what you can do to help your baby through it. For me, just knowing it’s a wonder week is enough to take a tonne off my mind. I know its not what I am doing wrong, but my bub is just having a hard time while going through a big developmental leap – and she needs my help to ease through it. Amazing what difference it makes when you know that there’s a reason baby is having a hard time – and its nothing that you’re doing wrong.
The Wonder Weeks is brilliant, I can’t rave about it enough – you’ll definitely be glad you bought this book. You can purchase it from The Book Depository who offer great prices and free shipping worldwide.
Best Buys For Baby #2. A Great Baby Carrier or Sling
I am a huge babywearing fan for many good reasons, and here’s a big one: babies who are worn cry and fuss 51% less!
The first thing that some people may assume about babywearing is that it will create clingy dependent babies, but this is not so. Research says the opposite – showing that wearing your baby will make him feel more secure and content. Babywearing helps to promote a sense of self esteem, independence and security. Doesn’t that make so much sense, even without the research? Giving your bub a secure start will foster their own confidence.
Babies worn in slings are less clingy and tend to initiate separation much earlier than babies less frequently held. It allows them to be AT the centre of activity not THE centre of attention, which is a wonderful environment proven to stimulate brain development and cognitive learning.
There are many baby carriers and slings available these days, so please make sure you buy something that is good for your baby’s body. Front ‘pouch’ type of carriers put baby’s weight on their own back. Carriers like the HugaBub, Ergo and Manduca do not do this and are recommended by health professionals. Be careful of fakes or cheapies that seem too good to be true – lots of people are taking advantage of the increase in baby carrier awareness, making fakes that are not as good as the genuine product – quality and safety cannot be guaranteed.
For more info, see our article on babywearing.
Best Buys For Baby #3: Hammock and/or A Co-Sleeper
There are some great options out there for sleeping close to your baby which is highly beneficial. From SIDS and Kids ‘Safe Sleeping’ information: “SIDS and Kids recommends sleeping with a baby in a cot next to the parents' bed for the ﬁrst six to twelve months of life as this has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS.”
You may also choose to co-sleep with or without other bedding for baby, but please make sure you check out safe co-sleeping guidelines. No matter where your baby sleeps, there is a risk, no matter how small. It’s not the co-sleeping or other method that makes it dangerous, but not following guidelines, for example, you shouldn’t co-sleep if you or your partner is a smoker, if the mattress is not firm, if you or your partner is under the influence of drugs, alcohol or medication which can make you drowsy or sedated.
If co-sleeping isn’t for you, these two options are a great way to get as close to your baby as possible without baby being in your bed.
I have an Amby Baby Hammock (which I first saw being used in a mother and baby unit, when my first-born was 5 months old – almost 11 years ago!) and an Arms Reach Co Sleeper, both of which are brilliant. The Amby Hammock speaks for itself – who wouldn’t be cosy in one of those! I hope they make an adult one sometime soon! Being able to gently rock or bounce your baby to sleep without having to disturb them while you move them into bed makes this an attractive option. The Arms Reach Co-Sleeper is a great alternative to a bassinet, literally putting baby at arms reach and is recommended by many organisations baby experts.
Both are very portable (the co-sleeper comes with wheels too which is handy!) and can be moved around the house or taken on holidays with you, so baby wont be sleeping in strange smells, feeling safe and comfortable.
I co-slept with my first two children, and now my third bub sleeps with us a great deal too. But I usually put her down in the hammock or co-sleeper during the day or when she falls asleep at night so I get a chance to snuggle with my partner. When she wakes at night, I bring her into bed with us and its such a great arrangement for all.
Best Buys For Baby #4: An ABA (Australian Breastfeeding Association) Membership
This may seem a little trivial but I wish that every new mother could have a membership to the Australian Breastfeeding Association. Here’s why.
Not only are you supporting a brilliant cause to keep helping mothers, but even the best of us encounter breastfeeding hurdles and doubts. A membership will make sure you have great support right at your fingertips. Membership includes the book, “Breastfeeding, Naturally,” which is a great source of information. Every 2 months you’ll receive the ABA’s magazine, ‘Essence,’ and you’ll be able to attend member-only breastfeeding classes with trained breastfeeding professionals. There are invaluable local support groups, half price breast pump hire (quality machines) and discounts on other products.
Best Buys For Baby #5: Baby Monitor
I’m not one to advocate anything thats going to make you go crazy, over-monitoring your baby. But in our noisy household of three other school aged children (where the only quiet time is when the kids are at school), having a good monitor is such peace of mind. I don’t constantly look or listen out for the monitor, but can relax and do what I need to do, knowing that if baby wakes or cries, I will hear it and she wont be crying for long. It makes showers more relaxing (and often, longer!) too, because I don’t get crying baby paranoia – which I do get if I forget to bring it in with me!
I find I relax less if the monitor isn’t on, wondering if I haven’t heard her. We have a monitor which not only has sound but a noise level monitor which lights up, meaning there is a visual as well as sound – because we don’t always hear it. If only I could remember to turn it off each night too, as my darling daughter pointed out one morning – oops 😉
Do your research on this one so that you get a good quality monitor. Ours comes through very clear and I really like it, however it would be great if we could turn up the volume even more than it allows. Read some reviews and see what one would suit you best.