These are the things that I have found very useful and worth the investment in our household! Everyone is different and uses products or different solutions so have a read and work out how things can fit into your life and make babyhood easier for you and your family!
When looking for a pram make sure it has:
- Good wheels.
- Tall enough handle for you and your partner.
- A good distance between handle and wheel bar so you can walk really fast with it (otherwise sometimes your feet hit the pram which is annoying). This is difficult to ascertain in the stores but don't feel silly taking it for a quick speed walk to try it out! Especially if you or your partner have long legs!
- Get a bassinet option with it (so you can use it as a portable cot when out and about, we didn't and I do wish we had).
- Have the option to go to a double-this is actually important! If you want kids fairly close together (even up to 3 yrs apart) you'll need a double pram at some point so don't buy one pram and then have to get another one when you have the next baby.
Other than it being made of solid wood or the timber type, I have found there is no difference between brands. I would suggest choose your cot based on:
- Size (this will be important if you live in a small house or flat) most cots are very large even though mattress size is very similar to more streamline designs, they are just bulky and take up a lot of room.
- Style (obviously get one you like the look of).
- You don't need to have a wooden bassinet, especially if you have a pram bassinet. We only got one as our room at our first unit wouldn't even fit a full sized cot but it was outgrown by 12 weeks!
- We bought the Stokke cot set and it is brilliant simply because a) it's on wheels, b) it fits in and out of standard door ways which means you can move it from room to room if baby is sick and you want them to stay in their cot but just next to your bed, or if renos are happening you can wheel it to a darker/quieter room etc. (We have done both of these, plus if guests are coming to stay we simply wheel the cot into our bedroom to create more space or a quieter sleeping arrangement).
- If you do buy a second hand cot it is essential to buy a brand new mattress from an actual baby store-this must be Australian standards for SIDS reasons.
Baby Carrier (to wear them on you):
- We use an Ergo 360 so I can't really comment on others but most people I know have used these and if they bought another one initially ended up replacing it with an ergo.
- The '360' version means they can be forward facing, not all models allow this but this is good from approximately 12 weeks when they want to see out.
- This model comes with an infant insert which is to secure the newborn nice and snug, not all carriers allow you to put newborns in them, we did use this a lot from 0-15 months.
- Very easy to wash I chuck mine in the washing machine and it comes out clean and doesn't affect the fabric, clips or velcro, I am very happy with it.
We just bought a white plastic one from target or ikea. $20-40 max initially I did want a pretty one but I'm sooooo glad I didn't get one as they just get so dirty! Cleaning is super quick and easy and they are quickly packed away for travel. We actually use the seat and tray (take the legs off and leave at home) of our highchair for picnics in parks and at the beach. This has been amazing for toddlers who can't seem to sit still to eat their meals as the can eat their food off the tray like they do at home. Nice and easy + we get to enjoy our meals out too.
We have a monitor that has a camera attached which is very helpful and we have used it since birth.
- You can get this in a package deal with the breathing sensor mats (they go under the babies mattress and sound an alarm if baby stops breathing) I would recommend getting these if you are planning on baby sleeping in its own room, it really helped me to sleep deeply and not worry during the night.
- Breathing mats + camera monitor have been wonderful for us but some people don't worry in a small house, so it's a personal decision and can come down to budget too.
- We have happily used Oricom brand and we've had no problems with it at all.
- Some prams allow you to have a removable infant capsule instead of a bassinet so baby stays asleep from car to house etc so this attaches to the base of a car seat in your car too.
- We didn't do this as I wanted baby to learn to transition from car to house or pram if she fell asleep in the car. But lots of friends love these as they can quickly click baby in and out of the car for shops or little visits and not have to set up the pram and move bub in and out, it's certainly a personal choice this one.
- Every brand sold in Australia has extremely high standards of safety so my advice is just choose the best quality you can afford, one you like the fabric of, colour, and if possible, one that can be used from birth -4 years not all of them do this and you would unfortunately need to buy new car seats every time baby outgrows it.
- We have 2 of the same one as it's awesome and bought both on sale at different times. We have the Britax SafeN Sound Maxi Guard Pro in black/grey.
- Also we have a little mirror that attaches to the head rest of the back seat so we can see Eve from our drivers review mirror with out having to turn around while driving.
Travel cots are wonderful if you plan to be out at night or go on road trips, and we used ours as a portable play pen in our garden and even at the beach a few times once bub was a little bit older.
- Get a light weight one. We got a really big one and it's pretty heavy to lug around or put in the car. However we did use it as a portable play pen in our house and garden which meant I could do jobs while baby lay around with toys and she could see me from inside.
- You can also get tent versions, I have a friend who uses this regularly, it simply folds up and down like a mini beach tent with a comfy mattress for bub inside and it is brilliant for when they are out at other peoples houses as it blocks out the light, and is super light weight and easy to carry around!
- Cot (as above).
- Rocking chair or couch: make a decision simply based on space-don't buy feel you must buy a specific feeding chair if you won't want it once babyhood is over, try and find an armchair that you could happily move into your lounge room once you don't need it in baby rooms anymore, but it does help to be comfy!!
- Change station: I have and will do for all my babies just have a change mat placed on top of a chest of drawers as it means I can use those drawers once baby is a child and doesn't need a specific change 'table' also means more storage for a small room but this is up to you! I find we move things around a lot in our house so most of our furniture is multi purpose in that it could be used in multiple rooms for different purposes at different times.
- Really you just need a cot, comfy chair for yourself, storage for baby clothes/nappies and bedding, a lamp of some kind and a nice rug on the floor (I like sheepskins) a nappy bin, and somewhere easy to change baby.
- I have just gone with Avent for pump & bottle brand simply as it's a well known brand and I've had no problem. The plastic bottles are BPA free which is good and fair priced compared to some brands. For my second baby we are going to use the Avent glass bottles but we used the BPA free plastic bottles the first time for months and they washed and wore very well. I have also read that the teats on bottles are ok for long periods of use and exposure to high temperatures such as dishwashers because the silicone isn't compromised due to temperature changes. However if you are going to use plastic bottles regularly I would probably suggest replacing the set for each baby as I wouldn't trust plastic to last the distance.
- I found expressing milk very helpful simply because it meant someone else could feed the baby for me if I needed sleep or we were going on an outing and I wanted to bottle feed rather than breast feed i.e.: at a wedding. I used Avent the first time around and was very happy with it once I got the hang of it! I actually bought my kit off Qantas store with points too.
- My advice is don't go too big! I still use my handbag that my girlfriends bought for my baby shower first time around and I love it. I've found I really only need nappies, wipes, a dummy and some blankets/change of clothes for baby so that can fit in a nice handbag. A handbag does the trick for me and something like black leather is even better as it cleans so well! (Although my husband wishes it were a backpack not a handbag!)
- Brands I use and that I have found wash really well are: bonds, target, cotton on baby, Next online (UK website).
- Shoes from Hubble & Duke, they are real leather and last and last but I choose one pair from them over lots of cheaper options as the cheap ones fall off, are uncomfy etc so I'm happy to pay for them, we have got a lot of use out of them.
- If you can help it, I bought a lot of clothes in neutrals and a few feature colours as we had hoped our babies would be close in age and I could reuse the more expensive items like winter coats, vests and boots etc. I also do this with our Bonds onesies, and sleeping bags as they are good investments and I would love them to be used for more than one bub.
- Sleeping bags or swaddles have been used every nap and night time sleep since birth at our place and we love them! We just have two thicknesses one that does the summer and warmer months (most of the year in Perth actually!) and a good thick one for when winter sets in. We take these when travelling too so bub has known it's bed time on the plane or at someone else's house. Our first little one escaped every swaddle on earth from birth so keeping bags have been brilliant!
I really haven't wanted to put any products on such little skin so I endeavour to use as little as possible. Things I have found helpful when dry skin, sunburn, nappy rash, insect bites, or cuts and scratches occur include:
- Essential Oil Mixes (all appropriately diluted in coconut oil for baby use)
- Lavender & Myrrh for nappy rash or dry skin
- Tea tree, Lemon and Lavender for congested breathing
- White Fir, Lavender, and Frankinsence to calm upset baby
- Clove, Tea Tree, Frankincense and Lavender for cuts and scratches
- White fir, Lavender, Clove and Frankinsence for teething baby
- Lavender for insect bites & in the bath water
- Diffuse Cedarwood to promote restful sleep for baby
- Coconut Oil
- For general moisturizing
- For baby massage if there is a blocked tummy or just general upset baby
- For sunburn or dry skin after swimming
- For nappy rash
- Organic Paw Paw Ointment
- For extreme nappy rash as it creates a bit of a waxy barrier on baby's bottom
- My doTERRA Hair Conditioner
- I didn't actually wash baby hair but when it gets knotty as it's grown longer at the back it occasionally needs a little bit of conditioning to untangle!
- Natural Sunscreen
- Brands that are good to try include Moo Goo, and Milk.
- Cotton cot sheets for summer & fluffy flannelette for winter.
- Mattress covers to put under the sheets, these protect the mattress and are easy to wash plus add an extra layer of warmth under babies back.
- A good soft teddy or mini fluffy blanket type thing-this is one of the self settling tricks we learnt early on, giving bub something to rub on their face when they need to resettle rather than a long cuddle or feed. They then become best friends once toddlerhood hits, but they are helpful and we have now bought multiples of our 'bunny' as he is a highly prized item in our household!
- Large muslin wraps or one good sized pram blanket. These are good to over the pram while baby is sleeping out and about, to be used as a play mat for when you visit someone or are out in public and baby needs a roll around on something soft, plus they are good for bundling up an upset bub and giving a good cuddle in! I really love Kip & Co Nap Wraps as they are huge and are in funky patterns but any large sized will do and there are lots of organic bamboo options available now too.
- Natural rubber dummy if you are planning on using one, we also found dummies to be a useful self settling tool and helped little bub to suck away long after milk had been removed. They are good sleep time indicator along with the sleeping bag and teddy and we love them in our house! We are going to use some by 'Make U Well' this time and so will let you know how they go. Rubber is a better option than plastic as it has: no BPA, no chemical softeners, no parabens, no PVC, no Phthalates, and they are almost on par price wise now.
I hope this helps if you're needing to make some decisions! We found it so overwhelming when we had to buy things the first time around as there is just so much out there and everything seems essential until you bring the baby home and work out what you do and don't use!