Having your first baby is truly a venture into the unknown and before the little one arrives the list of things you think you need mounts by the day. What type of cot should we buy? What about the pram? There are hundreds out there, how will we know which one is right for us and how much should be spend? How about nappies – could we save a lot by buying in bulk, but how many will we need and in what size?
The list goes on and – let me tell you – it carries on getting longer the minute you bring your shiny new bundle home from hospital.
As my little one just had his first birthday, I was reflecting on some of the things my husband and I have bought over the past year that we’ve really valued and found extremely useful. Some of them I didn’t even want to buy in the beginning, but have since been so glad I did.
I’m currently compiling my list of Top 10 best baby buys (the bigger, pricier buys) that new mums might find useful (although ask any other mums with a one-year-old and they might give you a completely different list), and I’ll be posting it soon.
In the meantime, here’s a round-up of six, inexpensive little things I’ve found pretty useful in the last year.
Sophie the Giraffe – the best (and cutest) baby teether
This baby teether was actually a lovely present from a very good friend who’s married to a Frenchman and spends a lot of time in France. Apparently Sophie le Girafe is practically a national institution over there, as popular now as when she was first invented in the 1960s by Monsieur Rampeau, who discovered how to do clever things with rubber production and children’s toys. Sophie has more recently gained some street cred as the first choice of many a celebrity mummy (at least according to the Daily Mail!).
She may be a bit more costly than your average teether (currently selling for around £10 on Amazon) but Little A took to her straight away and I would have happily paid that much for her. She’s made from a lovely, soft, 100% natural rubber and feels lovely to touch – plus she squeaks when you squeeze her. When he was teething, my little one would gnaw away happily on her little ears, nose and long giraffe legs without even leaving a mark. After those many and intermittent months of teething, she’s still a very good-looking giraffe.
Apparently Sophie is still made in France by traditional means, involving numerous manual operations, and each giraffe is hand-painted using food grade paint – meaning that your Sophie, just like your little one – is unique!
Doidy Cup from Bickiepegs – Teaching baby how to drink
I breastfed my little one exclusively until he was around five and a half months old, at which time he started taking a healthy interest in the food we were happily chomping around him. However, when I first started giving him water, he really didn’t want to drink it from a bottle or anything with a spout. He’d only been used to the breast.
On recommendations I bought a couple of these handy (and cute!) little Doidy cups, and with a little encouragement he took to it more or less straight away. Their slanted design means that baby can easily peer into the cup to see what’s in there, and doesn’t need to tip his head right back to get a mouthful. There are a few hundred reviews of this product on Amazon, and quite a few mention that the handles are a little bit small. I’d probably agree with this – there’s not much space between the handles and the cup and it seems a little tricky even for little fingers to fully grasp – but in reality it’s not a major problem. This little cup certainly helped with Little A’s transition to drinking liquids from different vessels. He moved onto a spouted cup up a few months later.
The manufacturer claims this product is suitable for use from 4 months of age, or even for younger babies. If you’re having trouble getting started with breastfeeding and need to offer some formula milk to your baby in the early days, you could use this cup to do it.
They come in a variety of colours and are priced around £3.50 to £4.50.
Total Baby app – All things baby on your phone
I’m not much of an App person generally – despite the fact that my partner has installed a dozen or so ‘useful’ ones on my iPhone I rarely have time to look at them, never mind figure out what they do!
But I’m so glad I got this one, and I used it pretty much every day until Little A was around 10 months old. I mostly used it to log his milk feeds so I knew exactly where we were. Using a simple start and stop timer you can record the length of the feed, as well as which breast your baby fed from.
You can set up a timer to sound a regular alarm for when the next feed is due – two hours, three hours etc (really essential in those first few weeks). The App logs each feed, giving you a total feeding time at the end of the day (hours and minutes), as well as the average feed time and the total number of feeds for the day. At the end of the month this is calculated into an average.
When I look back at my records now, I’m almost shocked to see that I was breastfeeding for around six and half hours a day for the first two months. No wonder I didn’t have time to do anything else! His feeding habits gradually reduced month on month, by an average of around 30 minutes daily.
As my baby grew, this little app allowed me to plan my day a little more easily and establish a good routine. It also just gave me peace of mind that he was getting enough breast milk each day, and a great sense of satisfaction to see just how much was going in!
While I mostly used it to log feeds, Total Baby also allows you to record sleep patterns, the last nappy change, last bath time, plus you can customise some sections to log whatever you want. It has a really easy user interface (even I could understand it) and you can also store some baby pictures and enter key stats, such as your baby’s changing weight. For £2.99, this App really delivers on usefulness and usability.
Philips AVENT Via baby food storage set – Making homemade food convenient
Even since Little A self-weaned, we knew that we’d never be giving him any packaged baby food – it had to be homemade all the way. These little AVENT pots for food and liquid storage are great value (you get 20 in a pack, 10 small and 10 large, for under £10) and we’ve used them to death in the past six months. They’re starting to show a little wear and tear now – some turmeric stains here and there, plus we’ve had to throw a few away due to small cracks – but overall they’ve served us extremely well.
I usually cook a large batch of food for Little A – a chicken and vegetable stew or lightly spice lentils, for example – and pop it into a range of pots, some for freezing and some for the fridge.
The are BPA-free, as you’d expect, and have leak-proof, twist on lids that feel really secure when they’re on, and they do fine in the dishwasher. We also bought a handy little insulated bag which comfortably holds a couple of Avent pots and, some spoons and a flannel or wipes. Ideal for when you’re out and about with baby and know that you might be coinciding with a mealtime. I’d put a main meal in one, and either fruit and yoghurt in another or just some fruit pieces.
The cups are also compatible with the Philips Avent Breast Pump (I bought one of these also, but never actually pumped!). They attach and you can pump straight into the storage cup.
Polliwalks – a must-have baby footwear item (imho)
Crocodile shooOOOooes – what baby wouldn’t want a pair of these cuties? Actually I think they’re supposed to be alligators, but no matter. Before Little A was born, we bought some beautiful leather mini-me type baby boy shoes in anticipation, but when it came time for him to wear, we realised it was a bit of a struggle to get them on comfortably.
We had to squish and squash them on (he was not amused) and once on, they cut into his feet in places. Try telling a baby he just has to wear the leather in a bit.
So we bought a pair of these – gator-shaped as it just happens – and he LOVES toddling around in them. They have a thick, moulded base, a sling-back, and a lovely wide fit which I’m sure makes him steadier on his feet. There’s holes, which give his tootsies some nice ventilation, and the underside has a fun imprint to make walking in the sand more interesting. Polliwalks come in other attractive character designs, like Ellie the Elephant, Tory the Turtle and Cookie Monster. Slightly older children can more easily put then on themselves.
We also bought some plain, standard-style Crocs too, and he’s just as happy in them. Look out for deals on Amazon – we only paid around £5 per pair for both brands. For slightly older toddlers, I see you can buy some inexpensive little shoe charms to jazz things up – Peppa Pig pin-ons anyone?
Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter
Last but certainly not least, is Baby Bottom Butter from Waitrose. This was a welcome gift from a friend who loved using it on her kids’ botties. It has a lovely thick texture and a soft vanilla scent. Ingredients include olive oil (hydrogenated) and chamomile.
Apparently there was quite a bit of hype over this butter a few years ago when Waitrose’s female customers starting going mad for it as a face cream. For a few months, a pot of this was as rare as hens’ teeth. Hmm, smacks of a rather clever and successful PR stunt to me. I couldn’t imagine using this on my face, but I could perhaps imagine using it has a hand cream.
Anyway, Little A always had a lovely soft botty after I used this. However, we also use pure coconut butter (Coconoil Virgin Coconut Oil) as both a nappy cream and an all over body moisturizer for our baby.
Waitrose’s Baby Bottom Butter coast £2.89 for 125ml pot. Coconoil (you can easily find it online) costs around £7.50 for 460g, so that makes it a cheaper option.