It occurred to me, as my 15-month old daughter poured herself a Scotch and sat with me on the porch last night, she is no longer a baby. I had always intended to write a post on the stuff I liked and used when she was a baby, but maybe because she was a baby, and there was an older brother as well, I was a bit busy, and I never got to it.
And so, here is a hastily written, half-forgotten list of some stuff I recommend if you’re having or have a baby. Second time around you accrue far less of the pretty, superfluous and fancy shit, and just streamline everything into What Will Make Life Easier.
GASSY, WINDY BABY TREATMENTS
I make lusciously gassy babies. Which means that until they were around 10 weeks old, they cried and cried and cried, and would not settle after feeds because of their unsophisticated digestive system/being pigs and drinking too fast/my milk flow being set to 100kmph. The thing that changed this for us was Willby’s Wind and Colic mix. I think I started on it when she was two weeks old, for 2-3 weeks. It’s not meant to be used for long, so I moved back to my faithful Infant’s Friend (also good for general calming) and/or Infacol. You have to call and have a consult before they will send it to you.
Before Rudy was born, I bought a Sleepyhead (same company as DockATot) on Gumtree, (because it was super $$$$ to get a new one shipped to Aus – that’s no longer the case cos DockATot has an Australian site now) cos I’d heard so much about their magical ways.
It was great for exactly one week, while Rudy was still in that heavenly, sleepy in-womb mode. But once her gassiness kicked in at about 10 days old, her laying flat was out of the question. She wailed and wailed.
A five day old lady in The Sleepyhead/DockATot
A friend evangelically recommended the Cocoonababy. I’d been gifted one yonks back when I’d announced my pregnancy, but like so much stuff I didn’t need cos you still have everything already from the first kid, it sat untouched. I unwrapped it and plonked her in it at around 3am on a particularly hellish night. It changed everything. Rudy loved it. Slept every nap and night in it til she was three months old. We took it overseas/everywhere. It cozily cuddles the baby, (it felt weird with her all alone and so tiny on an expansive, flat bassinet anyway… A bassinet I’d just bought cos I felt like I needed one on wheels. I absolutely did not) it’s on an incline, and it’s wonderful. I’ve loaned mine to three friends, bought one for a new mum friend and deeply wish I’d invented it.
For sleeping bags, I used this great Ergopouch swaddle bag above, (which has press studs so it morphs into a hands-out sleeping bag later), and also the straight-jacket-esque Ergobaby Swaddler for sleep to keep her hands down and wrapped, (as opposed to them creeping up and into her mouth and face and keeping her awake), as well as the good ol’ Love to Dream Swaddle UP for day naps. She moved out of her nest and into her cot at three months, and graduated to unwrapped with hands out (so, in just a sleepysack) at around 4 months. (That was a rough week.)
Hot tip: If you know someone having a baby, buy them a Swaddler, a Love to Dream Swaddle UP, or go in with some buddies and get the Cocoonababy nest. They will get some sleep, and you will win Best Present Givererer. Both are important.
BOTTLES, PUMPS ETC
I used the Medela Swing maxi double electric breast pump to express at home, which I had leftover from my first baby and it worked great, and the Avent manual pump for travel, but following a trip to the country where I forgot my manual pump like a dingus, and had to drive for 40m to a Kmart, I switched to the Kmart brand manual pump because it is excellent.
Whenever I would get a plugged duct, or mastitis would threaten, (or blatantly storm in) I immediately took Nurofen, and would either jump in the shower and hold a hot face washer on the boob in trouble, or use this electric heatpad (which I loved more than even my darling husband during labour) for 10-15 minutes before feeds, then use an icepack on the book for 5 minutes after the feed. I would also gently massage the lump towards the nipple as I fed, or feed her on all fours. It was a very glamorous and not at all annoying routine. (I trust KellyMom and ABA, and La Leche League for BF advice. And NURSE-ON-CALL OH MY GOD I LOVE NURSE-ON-CALL! Any time a baby has a crazy rash or fever, I call them straight away: 1300 60 60 24.)
When Rudy was gassy and very little, I bought the Dr Brown Options Wide-Neck Newborn bottle (with a Pigeon wideneck SS teat) to use in her dreamfeed, as directed by our midwife/sleep whisperer wizard friend, Amanda (McGill, director of Nest Nannies.) (If your baby is having trouble sleeping, and you are at your wits end, Amanda will get your baby sleeping. She is brilliant.)
Once the gassiness settled down, I moved to a Comotomo bottle, which I love cos they are silicone and soft and squishy like a boob, and we used happily with Sonny for years, too.
We are a multi-pram family: a big hardy one for home, a light, easy-fold one for my car, and a travel pram. I used a Bugaboo Cameleon3 for Sonny, but we needed some form of double pram when Rudy came cos Sonny had just turned three, AKA that weird in-between stage where he didn’t need a pram, but can’t walk that far, and was a bit shit on the scooter. (Sorry mate, but you were.) Because I had banged on about loving my BabyJogger City Mini GT so much with Sonny, when BabyJogger found out I was pregnant they very kindly sent us their new City Select LUX for Sonny and Rudy. So that made the decision for me, because if someone is willing to send you a really good new pram, you use it.
It is a true double pram, but it can be anything (it has about 400 different combinations). I like it because instead of a ride-on/toddler board for me to constantly smash my ankle on, it has a little seat with seatbelt that Sonny sits on, right under the handle, and we have a chat. And then Rudy is in her bassinet/capsule/seat behind him.
With the bassinet. Nowdays she is in an upright seat.
It’s a great pram, is ideal for two kids and our street walks and playground visits, but there is no way I would collapse it for the car or travel. It is big, and it is heavy. I prefer something more lightweight. I gave Sonny’s old BabyJogger City Mini GT to my sister in law, but I missed it a lot. So I bought a new one, which became my car pram and eventually, our travel pram (I bought the Uppababy G-Luxe for travel but it doesn’t recline and can’t fit a toddler on it so it’s out. The Mountain Buggy Nano is good though, I rate it for short trips), and confirmed to me that it is my favourite pram.
We SMASHED the Mini GT around Greece, Italy and NYC for three months, and it was consistently best on field. Also it was a great makeshift double pram, as you can see from this photo. Sonny more often than not perched on the front while Rudy sat behind him and kicked the shit out of him. Cute.
Up until Rudy was about 10m old, and still fit in an airplane bassinet, we’d travel with the Cozigo, which I remember seeing on Shark Tank as Fly Babee, and thinking: GENIUS. It’s a little pop-up black out tent for the bassinet (or pram, so they can sleep in airports or while out and about) and it’s so handy. Now she’s bigger we just use a regular sun shade over the pram to black it out.
We always travel with a full roll of gaffa tape to tape down blinds and curtains in hotels and AirBnBs that dare to let light into the children’s room, or to stick dark t-shirts or scarves to smaller windows with no coverings. It’s up there with passports in terms of Don’t Fucking Forget To Pack This.
I packed Infacol and Infant’s Friend on flights when Rudy was young, but only til she was about 9m old I think. Maybe 6m. God, I really can’t remember a goddamn thing.
And as for their skin, I used Go-To, to be honest. If they got rashy or dry or scaly, I used my own skin care line on them, and it always worked. That’s an arrogant thing to say, but I always have a stack of samples around, I know what’s in my products, they’re wonderful for sensitive or inflamed skin that needs soothing and calming, and obviously I trust the ingredients implicity.
We used Sonny’s old baby Bjorn bouncer and carrier, though we didn’t do a ton of baby carrying due to our shit backs and impatience with complicated instructions. (I love the idea of Ergobaby, my sister won’t shut up about them, but on zero sleep, I could NOT figure out how to wear it, even with the YouTube tutorial.) I used a Stina’s Style activity mat cos it wasn’t lurid green and yellow, and used Sonny’s old Ubabub pod cot. Miann & Co do great very nice bedding. So too, Halycon Nights. (AUSTRALIANA!) (They do very cute onesies also.)
Halycon Nights. Also: thighs.
I use white noise (ocean waves, specifically) every nap and sleep for my babies, pretty much as soon as they’re home from the hospital. It’s all part of their sleep cues etc, and helpful for day time construction or sirens blasting past or noisy older siblings etc. I use an app called – wait for it – White Noise – on the iPad when we travel, and a classic nightlight sound machine thingy at home from MyBaby that is no longer available but there are loads out there that make wave noises. For calm down time before bed, which is the most ironic title I could give it cos the kids go FRIGGEN TROPPO between bath and sleep, we haul out Tranquil Turtle, which is a cuddly toy + lights and sounds that makes the room into an ocean. Day spas slash therapists should use this turtle. It’s terrifically stress relieving. (If I am super tired or hungover I make their room dark and put on an “underwater party” and just lay on the floor while they play with anything sea creature related in the house around me. Mumming to the maxxx.) Also, I’d like to say that Indestructible baby books are chewable non-rippable and super awesome and a great gift for a 1-18m old.
Oh, and don’t buy a baby bath if you already have a bath. Just buy a little terry toweling cradle thingy and use that til they can sit up properly.
Alright. That’s all the stuff I can remember. (Here’s the stuff I used with my first baby. Lots of double-ups.)
Stuff I remember not using:
Muslin cloths/wraps swaddles – I don’t wanna be doing frustrated wrap origami at 3am in a pitch black room after I’ve fed and she’s done an epic poo and is wailing because I dared to change her. Technology has moved on: there are now ready made swaddle bags and sleepsuits. I celebrate this.
Bottle steamer – what a big, dopey waste of precious bench space. Boiling water worked fine for me.
Bumbo – my daughter’s thighs were too juicy to fit into it; my son hated it. Am sure many babies love it; not for us.
Bassinet – the nest ensured that was a fat waste of cash. She was happy and felt safe in the nest, in her cot – no need for bassinet at all.
Nappy bag – I find them ugly, and also cumbersome, and an additional bag on top of my already giant tote bag. For both kids I just tossed a changing clutch/roll (this JJ Cole was indispensable) and a ziploc of snacks, (and a spare onesie when she was really young and in explosive poo mode) into my regular tote.
Wine before noon – I tried to wait until at least 5pm.
It has to be said that we mums have it SO GEWD these days. Shit is getting SO good in baby land! Waterproof baby monitors! Inflatable baby baths! Wagon slash pram hybrids! So useful, so brilliant, so clever! This no barrier to entry Ecommerce era we live in has fired up the most incredible small business-big idea combo, and WE are the benefactors. I saw this even with a difference of three years between my babies – imagine what our mums think? I slept in a WARDROBE DRAWER, for god’s sake. Or in a bassinet at mum’s feet in the car. Or safe under the warm belly of a mother wolf in the nearby forest.
Okay, bye, I love you, you’ve got this, hang in there, you are DOIN IT!!!!
Ps Keep a HUGE jug of water and a cup on the bench or table once you have your baby, and refill it every night before bed. I drank so so much more water because My Jug was there, ready to go, and I didn’t have to think about it, or search for my cup. Also, buy one of those 1L vacuum jugs and make a strong pot of tea each morning. It will stay hot all day, and you might stay awake all day.
This post is a great guideline for moms having a new baby. Looking forward to more of your post about parenting! 🙂
This is sooo helpful! Our first is due in Jan and have no idea where to begin! Do you have any thoughts on things that you received/bought that you did not use? 🙂
I’m pretty sure you and I are living parallel lives re our baby likes/dislikes/settling/sleeping/survival techniques!
I’m on to bubba no. 4…. he’s 9 wks… I’m going mental.. and am completely outnumbered 😫. It’s refreshing and heartening to read your similar experiences and struggles throughout this roller coaster of motherhood. Thank you 🙏 😊
Very helpful! I am due in March with my first bub baby aand need all the advise I can get.😊
Gro anywhere black out blinds are fantastics, velcro to allow you to change size to fit windows, and suction caps to stick to the glass. I travelled to Nth Qld recently where the sun is up at arse crack o’clock and it made our room pitch black!
Haakaa breast pump (passive pump) to catch your let down instead of wasting it soaking breast pads!
A baby carrier?? Im a bit of a fan and so have 4-5 but with a 2.5 year old and 4 month old a carrier is a MUST.
We will be travelling around the USA with our soon to be 12 week old in Jan and those travel tips I’m sure will be invaluable!!!! Thank you. Plus, I am a fellow cacoona baby lover and don’t know what I would have done without it – absolute lifesaver!
great post- I always love seeing your recommendations. However I do feel obliged to comment on the Dockatot and similar – they are not SIDs safe as you suggested , nor are any other soft portable beds. Please see http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2017/64318a-eng.php. This is important stuff.
Thank you for your wonderful post! I wanted to add that from what I’ve read from health practitioners regarding SIDS the nest style bedding, anything soft or padded poses a suffocation risk, and firm flat matressss are the safest option. Wasn’t sure if you were aware, so many women aren’t.
I’d love to know in greater detail which Go-To products you use for your babes for eczema flare-ups etc? Thanks a bunch
I often see baby bath on lists of things you don’t need, so their must be something in it, but I find mine essential! My daughter is 17 months and has only been in the big bath once, and it was misery. All 6 foot of me trying to crouch down with her (my poor knees!) And the amount of water required to fill it to a reasonable height to keep her warm.
Thank you SO much Zoe. I’m having my first bub in April and this information is extremely helpful. I have already purchased the Baby Jogger City Mini GT and when I read your paragraphs about it I high-fives myself. Having fun looking at all of your other recommendations now.
Ha, I too slept in wardrobe drawers! Thanks for these recommendations, always better to have ones that have been “field tested” 😊
Just one thing I picked up – the Ergopouch swaddle bag and Ergobaby swaddler are from two different brands. In the article you say “and also their…” which makes it seem like they’re from the same biz. x
Great article! Don’t forget that St Kilda Mums would love donations of baby gear, clothing and nursery equipment to rehome to families in need.
So helpful! Thank you so much, Zoe! I really appreciate this list and have bookmarked it for future reference 🙂 We are expecting our first in May xx
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