Thursday, 22 July 2010

Must-have Items For New Parents

This will be a very individualistic list, but it's the sort of thing I asked a lot of people for when I was about to become a dad.  I'll explain why these things are so good, so you can judge for yourself whether it's appropriate for you or not.

1) Babybjorn carrier.  Get the one with the triangular back support and airtex cooling material - well worth the extra few quid.  This one is more for dads, as having a young baby on your chest can be uncomfortable for breastfeeding mothers, not to mention confusing for the baby.  But for dads wanting to be close to their child and help out as much as possible, I make it the number one acquisition.
I used ours from about 2 months onwards for long walks and even coming up to a year it is a great alternative to carrying freehand if my boy needs a few hugs to get to sleep.  At worst, in emergencies, I have lulled him to sleep and then slid onto the sofa and nodded off myself.  Usually he nods off with some rhythmic bobbing to a fast-paced music channel track.  I then leave it a minute before dancing into an adjacent quiet room, slipping off the two shoulder ties and one at the waist, gently hoist him onto the opposite shoulder and then clutch to me, supporting his head as I lay him down on the bed.  Bliss.  Very rarely fails.  Good for maintaining fitness and helping your partner put your child to sleep, utilising your strength rather than either of your patience.

2) Medicine dummy.  I include dummy (aka pacifier) in this recommendation.  Obvious drawback is that child might not take to it, in which case I say "unlucky"!  The medicine dummy has a flip cup to the back with mini-syringe that you fill with Calpol or other paracetamol or neurofen.  Easier than a spoon and gives them a slow dose in a soothing way with minimal spillage (as long as you prepare them before you go to bed - I spill loads at 3am!).

3) Moses Basket.  Short-term but soooo convenient for those first few weeks, when everything else seems so difficult.  We borrowed ours, as many people do.  Especially useful if room temperature in your home gets difficult to manage - too hot or too cold.  You can de-camp to the most appropriate nook with baby beside you.

4) Bouncing rocker.  Many babies take to these springy rockers that put them in a half-reclined, half-upright position.  Often with vibrating and musical backgrounds, they'll buy you precious time to yourself in the first few months and might even get them to sleep in the day without much effort.  Again, you might be able to borrow or buy this second hand as people only use them for a few months.

5) Bumbo.  I'd never heard of this before I became a dad.  It's like a thick rubber potty that acts as a seat to prop up babies who can't sit up straight on their own whilst also securing them in place.  From 6 months on this has been vital, taking over from (4) as the most useful.  I put my boy in the bumbo while I attend to my daily bathroom routine - great to find a way to do this while they're awake and relatively calm so that you can get presentable and ready to leave the house at a moment's notice.  Since a walk is always high on my list of ways to get him to sleep, I want to be dressed with mobile, keys & wallet firmly in my pockets before I meet the distraction of the day.  (lesson learned via a trip into Central London with little boy to get wife's spare keys in time for his next feed and before he needed a change - no pressure there then!)

There are of course all the mundane things you'll "need", but I promise you the 5 above have been at the centre of my fluid daily routines.  You'll notice they revolve around keeping your baby calm or asleep - sounds intuitive enough?!


  1. For me, a must-have once both my boys got to 5-6 months, was an activity station that they sit in. They were both bored by the bouncer by then and didn't want to sit in the Bumbo so the activity station was fab for having somewhere safe to put them for a while when I needed to get something done!

  2. Thanks KB, good one. My boy certainly uses one around his grandparents' house... but he never really sat in it - he loves to hold onto it as he walks around the edge, so partly defies the point!

    Maybe our next one will sit quietly though!