Are you expecting a new baby? Do you live in Hertfordshire? If you do you'll know we're pretty short on supply when it comes to baby shops. I really don't know how expectant parents manage during their 1st pregnancies now, following the closure of Mothercare in Stevenage which I think was the local go to for most new parents in Hertfordshire, there really is not many places to go and have a browse, chat to the shop assistant and get advice. I still remember going to Mothercare during my 1st pregnancy, and the shop assistant Ann who looked after us was SO helpful, and gave me so much advice over products I did and didn't need to purchase. I ended up ordering everything that day and felt so much happier once it was all organised and ordered.
I feel really sad that there's not many places left that offer this level of service and information for new parents, not locally anyway!
So I've decided to write a blog about my top 5 favourite baby products I absolutely couldn't have lived without. Baby shopping can be a minefield and I always prefer to go on the recommendation of another Mum myself so hopefully this might help a few people, if you're currently pregnant and shopping for baby bits then this blog is for you!
My absolute favourite baby purchase EVER was my next to me bedside crib. There are several different versions of these on the market with a considerable price range between them, but I opted for the Chicco Next to Me.
This is the one I had, I chose it because the side could be dropped easily with one hand, which was a godsend in the middle of the night when I was holding the baby with the other arm! I wanted a crib that was easy to get the side up and down so I could have the side up for safety whilst I slept, and drop it easily for feeds and to settle baby if needed. It really was a godsend, it's slightly larger than some of the alternatives on the market which meant it lasted us until my son was 8.5 months making it really good value for money for us in comparison to the Moses basket I had for my eldest which lasted 6 weeks before he outgrew it! For reference, my babies were 9lb and 8lb respectively - they are very long babies! So with a lighter baby or at least one with not quite so long legs it could potentially last longer. It collapsed really easily and came with a carry storage bag which made it perfect for taking away with us if we went away for a weekend or stayed overnight with family.
A bouncer chair is a pretty standard baby purchase. They're ideal for popping baby down in and letting them have a look around, it's great for little ones who suffer with reflux or wind after feeding as it allows them to be more upright as opposed to lying down. I opted for a larger bouncer this time with a longer seat, learning the hard way after my 1st who was always tall for his age and outgrew everything really quickly! It reclined completely flat which was a godsend when my son fell asleep in it as it meant I could leave him there for a little while without having to transition him elsewhere and risk waking him. The model I had has actually been discontinued now but there are lots on the market that have this feature. It's also definitely a good idea to check that all the covers can be easily removed as you will need to wash them often, I lost count of how many times Zach was sick on ours! But the covers washed up lovely every single time. For this reason I would avoid the suede and velvet style materials that lots of this chairs seem to be designed in. They're impractical and will show wear quickly. My top tip is to always put the cover back onto the chair frame before it's fully dry to avoid shrinking.
A baby carrier. Living in rural Hertfordshire this is really something I couldn't have lived without in my early days. There are so many of these on the market, with my eldest I had a Baby Bjorn as I assumed that would be the best, being the most well known brand. I found it really uncomfortable and he never sat quite right in it and as a result we hardly used it. This time I started off with a sling style wrap for the first few months whilst he was still tiny, I liked that this kept him super close and I could put it on before leaving the house, drive somewhere wearing it and be ready to pop him in when I arrived. As he got bigger (and heavier!) I wanted something sturdier with more structure.
I purchased my sling wrap from Amazon for £17! Bargain! It came with a handy carry case too which meant I could easily pop it away afterwards and just left it in my car for emergencies or if we turned up somewhere and found it particularly muddy I always had that option rather than use the pram.
The structure baby carrier I used was this one - https://www.argos.co.uk/product/9155925?istCompanyId=a74d8886-5df9-4baa-b776-166b3bf9111c&istFeedId=30f62ea9-9626-4cac-97c8-9ff3921f8558&istItemId=ilpqpamiw&istBid=t&&cmpid=GS001&_$ja=tsid:59157%7cacid:629-618-1342%7ccid:9563523546%7cagid:102230967270%7ctid:aud-734784713267:pla-889069634082%7ccrid:423314715305%7cnw:g%7crnd:6387457254522414415%7cdvc:c%7cadp:%7cmt:%7cloc:1007113&utm_source=Google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=9563523546&utm_term=9155925&utm_content=shopping&utm_custom1=102230967270&utm_custom2=629-618-1342&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI8P3eu-DT7wIVrIBQBh29yQZtEAQYAiABEgLuAfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
from Argos. I loved that it could also be used to carry an older toddler on your back, we had lots of fun with this and it's something I really miss now that he's too big for it! Both were definitely must buys for me, and they are reasonably priced enough that I could have the two different styles.
Slings and baby carriers are very personal to the user and I always recommend trying before you buy if you can.
The Hertfordshire Sling Library is a great place to start - it's currently closed in line with current government guidelines due to the Coronavirus but it will hopefully be reopening soon!
The Baby Shusher. If you've been to Baby Buntings for a newborn photoshoot then you'll have experienced this handy little contraption. There's lots of different white noise machines on the market but this one emulates the noise of Mum or Dad gently "Shhhh"ing baby to sleep. It's very natural, not too harsh on adult ears and works pretty much every single time! It's so successful in fact that it's not uncommon for Dads to also fall asleep to it during the session! Of course you can make this rhythmic shhing noise yourself, but it's easy to become puffed out and feel light headed. This is small enough to take out and about with you, and it runs off AA batteries so rarely runs out of gas!
I know lots of my clients have been so impressed by this little gadget that they've gone ahead and ordered it whilst they are still at their newborn photoshoot! It might not be the cutest or the prettiest white noise machine but for me it definitely is the most successful and I wouldn't be without it, in the nursery or in the studio.
Digital baby thermometer. Ok I know this is a boring one but hear me out. Most of us before we have children don't own one of these contraptions, we've probably never had a need to have one in the house or any particular desire to know our exact body temperature prior to embarking on this new journey into parenthood. But this is the sort of thing that you don't ever think to purchase until you need it, and then it's too late. They are an expensive last minute purchase, if you shop around in advance you can get some brilliant deals. Trust me when your baby is running a fever in the middle of the night you will be so glad you have this in the house. It is really hard to tell whether a young child is hot because they are clingy and worked up from crying or whether they are actually running a genuine fever. Whether it gives you peace of mind, or confirms that your child is in fact running a high temperature, you will be glad you have it handy either way.