Buying for a baby is an absolute minefield. I swear there are at least 1,000 varieties of each product available that all claim to do the exact same thing. When shopping around before Annabelle arrived, I genuinely had no idea what we’d need. I figured we’d probably need a pushchair and a cot. After that I had no clue what else! And then there are multiple varieties of pushchairs, carry cots, travel systems, car seat attachments, isofix bases…it snowballs! And the cot wasn’t simple either. Moses basket or crib or one of the other hundred varieties of practically the same product on the market.
I downloaded a load of apps that I thought would help. Worse. Idea. Ever. Total overload. But I sifted through and ended up becoming totally fixated on the Mothercare app which I found really useful. It has a checklist of things I’d need to buy which I felt was really realistic. And for a retailer, I didn’t find it too ‘pushy’ for sales either which I always appreciate.
I also relied on the advice of others who have tried and tested recently, and I really appreciated their guidance. I genuinely didn’t know what would be useful once she’d arrived, so it was great to get tips from people who’d recently had a baby too.
There have been so many things that we’ve bought that I absolutely couldn’t live without. So I thought I’d share the things that we love that have worked for us. They might not be for everyone, but we totally love them!
Poddle Pod (£30- £50)
A what?! A poddle pod. I totally stumbled across this by accident, as it came up as an advert on Facebook. I didn’t know anyone who had one so I did some research and figured it would be a useful purchase. It’s a cushiony type pod thing that Annabelle can lie in for naps and general wriggling during the day. (That description was terrible, look at the photo for a better idea!)
I like the way it is intended to simulate being held as the raised edge would cradle her as if she were in my arms. Some people had compared it to the popular Sleepyhead that’s on the market. The main difference is the price and that babies can sleep in the Sleepyhead (as the name would suggest!) whereas the Poddle Pod is recommended for naps, not sleeping through the night. But at a fraction of the price, I felt it was something worth getting and trying before splashing out and buying a Sleepyhead. As with everything when she was newborn, Annabelle wasn’t too sure, but after a couple of weeks, she was totally comfortable in it and now at 4 months Annabelle has all her day time naps in it and sometimes just lies in it to have what I like to call cosy play. And it’s cover comes in loads of cute patterns and is removable and washable, you know, just in case.
Snüz Pod (£199)
I didn’t intend to purchase so many items that contained the word pod! I’ve loved the Snüz Pod. We only ever really considered the Snüz Pod and the Chicco Next to Me for her crib. I didn’t fancy a Moses Basket as I know many who have grown out of the basket much earlier than expected. With Adam being a long baby and with the midwives predicting I was going to pop out an enormous sprog, I figured a Moses Basket would be a waste of money. I also really liked the idea of having a crib that attached to our bed and had a fold down side so Annabelle could be right there in the night. We chose the Snüz Pod over the Chicco because it was longer in length which we hoped would last us longer, and the top can be lifted off and used anywhere in the house. This proved to be really useful when we were trying to get Annabelle used to her crib as we could use it in the living room too.
I’ve been really impressed with it and love having her right there in the night. I don’t even leave the bed during the night, simply scoop her up for a feed then plonk her back in afterwards!
Shnuggle Bath (£19.99)
The number of people who told me I didn’t need a baby bath, just the kitchen sink, was shocking! Now I’m not someone who buys something for the sake of it, but I did not entertain the thought of bathing Annabelle in the kitchen sink. For starters, my kitchen is tiny! Someone recommended that we buy the Shnuggle Bath and we absolutely love it. And more importantly, so does Annabelle! It hardly uses any water and Annabelle is able to sit up and splash about. Plus she looks totally cute in it!
BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One (£90- £130 depending on current offers)
Before Annabelle arrived, Adam unintentionally sparked ‘The great baby carrier debate’. His point was, we’re having a baby in the winter, so we’re not going to go out for long walks until she’s older, therefore we don’t need a carrier. My point was, yes we do, we’re getting one.
I’d heard about all these sling libraries and how I could go along and try different ones to see what I found comfortable. I could even take it away and try it before buying it. Well I didn’t. I just bought one. Looks like my nearest sling library was miles away and I really couldn’t be bothered! I plumped for a Caboo as it claimed to be best for a newborn, hugging them to your body, easy to put on, yada yada yada. I did quite a lot of research and read many reviews, but every carrier had a load of both positive and negative reviews, which immediately cancel themselves out! But they came in nice colours (and I found a major discount offer) so I was sold and bought one.
Close Caboo Lite (if anyone’s interested)
We tried Annabelle in it a couple of times over the first couple months of her life and she hated it. I didn’t find it too uncomfortable to wear, it is a bit faffy to put on, but I was put off by the screaming child that was now strapped to my chest. In the end we gave up. Annabelle has always been more interested in sitting back so she can see what’s going (nosey little thing, no idea who she gets it from…) So I started to hunt around for another one with a more rigid structure and found the BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One. It had more good reviews than bad ones so figured it couldn’t be that bad. I also loved the fact that it was able to be used as a front back-facing carrier, a front forward-facing carrier and a back carrier. In other words, it would serve us until she’s about 3 years old. Sold.
The first time Annabelle went in it, she cried a bit, but was immediately distracted by what she could see around her. Her maiden voyage in the BabyBjörn was to the beach (and the ice cream parlour, obvioisly) and she slept beautifully. I’ve used it around the house when vacuuming and just to pop to the shops. I love it. And at £90, I feel that I got an absolute bargain considering it’ll last her for years!
Do I regret buying the Caboo? Not really. Hopefully we can use it in the future, or pass it on to someone else. I really like the design and how it felt when I was wearing it, I just didn’t know what kind of carrier my baby would like! Although I do regret paying £45 for something that would only have lasted her 6 months max, whereas we paid double for the Baby Bjorn and it’ll last her at least 6 times longer.
OK, so not strictly a baby product, but as a result of having a baby, I needed this in my life! Towards the end of my labour, I tried gas and air for a few minutes which I hated. It made me light-headed and dizzy and it also screwed up my breathing pattern I’d established to help me when I was in ‘the zone’. So I gave up on that and carried on without it. But apparently it hadn’t finished with me. My lips, even now nearly 4 months on, are ridiculously dry and chapped. I kept applying vaseline in between contractions and afterwards, but it didn’t make any difference. A couple of weeks ago I tried Carmex and noticed a huge difference almost immediately. They still aren’t quite back to normal (whatever normal is these days) but at least huge clumps of skin aren’t hanging off anymore!
Hopefully this has been useful for some people, if not, a fun read nonetheless. My conclusion is, do your homework, ask for advice from other mums you can relate to, but ultimately pick what you think will work for you. And don’t be afraid to return stuff. It’s all guess work until the baby arrives and hates everything you’ve bought anyway!