I wrote a post recently about all the utterly useless things you get given as a parent. So now it’s time to list all the really wonderfully useful things, those things I couldn’t live without and which make my life as a parent just so much easier.
Here they are, in no particular order:
- The baby monitor: We heart our Angelcare one. In fact, my Mom gave us ours so I always feel a little closer to her when I’m using it. The movement option also gives you peace of mind that baby’s still breathing, especially when they’re really tiny and you feel compelled to sneak into their room every two minutes to check.
- Babysense sleepy sacs: We have 1 Winter one and 1 Summer one and have used them for both babies. Once your baby is old enough to move around, they frequently start kicking off their blankets – so we found these essential for a good night’s sleep.
- Babysense taglets. The most important thing about a taglet is that YOU NEED TO HAVE A SPARE ONE. If you lose yours, you will often need to replace it in order for your baby (and you) to go to sleep, so it’s always best to buy a well known brand that won’t discontinue a certain product. Babies love these soft comforters and Ben rubs it over his face when he is sleepy and wanting to go to bed.
- Playgym: These are quite expensive but worth every penny. From about 3 to 6 months, both children spent ages under there occupying themselves while I got dressed, or made breakfast. They have a relatively short shelf life of the months before they start crawling but during that time, you’ll use it a lot.
- Bouncy chair: As they get a bit older, babies want to be able to see what’s going on – they feel left out lying on the floor and are a lot more active. Cue the bouncy chair which is incredibly useful for keeping them entertained once they’ve moved from the playgym phase (or even before).
- Epimax moisteriser: It’s cheap, fragrance free and lasts forever. It’s perfect for those harsh Joburg winters and the whole family ends up using it. You can also use it as soap when your baby is still tiny (cover them in it and then wash it off) and then you rub it all over them again after their bath.
- Calpol: I don’t really need to speak about the wonder that is Calpol. My mom was a pharmacist and for some reason this has made me very wary of medication – I only take something if things are VERY BAD. But I certainly give medicine out to my kids when the time is right and they have a temperature, are teething or are generally miserable.
- Sun shields for your car. I know our parents just used to stick in an old towel and then wind the window up, but that was hardly convenient when you were opening and closing the car doors all the time. Window Sox will send you ones that fit your car windows perfectly and keep the sun off your baby’s face.
- Books, books, books. If you know me, you’ll know that I love giving books as gifts before any other toys, because I think that they’re gifts for life and encourage so much that is good about the world. For a list of the favourite books in our house, take a look at this post I wrote a little while ago.
There are obviously lots more things you need: the bottle steriliser, the formula dispenser (so useful!), the pram, the car seat – I could go on and on. And every parent is different – one may swear by her baby sling and the other may never use it.
But hopefully the above list will give you some ideas if you’re going to a baby shower and need to buy a gift (okay, maybe not that bottle of Calpol), or you’re a soon-to-be parent. And parents who have been through it all and are going through it still – would love to hear what your favourites are/were? Let me know.