My favourite products for the first year of baby
When I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of baby stuff out there. There were so many options for just about everything- and so many things that claim to do wonderful things, it makes you wonder how on earth you can store it all!
But as I navigated through the first year of parenthood, I discovered the things I did and didn’t need, and realised that wading through all that extra crap (and believe me, there was a lot of extra crap!), I was able to settle on a tried and tested bunch of useful baby products.
And so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you! (Please note, while products are linked, nothing is sponsored, this is just to help you get your hands on them too!)
I had a vaginal birth, with a few stitches. The physical recovery was much more intense than I had expected, but these things got me through.
TOM Organic maternity pads. Like a big fluffy cloud on your downstairs- all the other maternity pads would catch on my stitches, and they HURT.
Cheap sauce squeeze bottle (from supermarket or discount store) and a big thing of cheap salt. Healing the downstairs takes time, but you can assist it with the help of hot salty water! Five times a day, in hottest water you can stand, squirt that hot salty water up and over and holy crap it helps.
Cabbage leaves. Yes, I said cabbage leaves. Whether you choose to breastfeed or not, your milk is going to come in a couple of days after birth, and mama, those ta-tas are gonna SWELL. Playboy ain’t got nothing on a new-milk set of breasts. Cabbage leaves are amazing for helping reduce the intense swelling and heat. Simply place cabbage leaves directly onto the skin inside your bra (avoid the nipple area) for a little while to help take the edge off. Don’t leave them on too long though, as they can work TOO well!
*And a tip for when you’re in the hospital: they will provide you with ice packs for soothing everything down there, but putting the ice pack directly into your undies can be painful. Instead, tear a little hole in the lining of your maternity pad, and stick the ice pack inside the pad! You get the cooling relief of the ice, without having to sit directly on it!
Breast or bottle, fed is best, but these things will help no matter which way you go.
My Brest Friend Feeding Pillow. When I started feeding Tilly, I’d hold her just in my arm, or resting on a little pillow. But by about two weeks in, my neck and shoulders had seized up, completely gone. Feeding takes a huge toll on your body and your muscles. The Brest Friend feeding pillow clips around you, so you’re not holding it in place, has a back support, a pocket for your phone, and is firm enough to hold bub and lean on at the same time. It’s bulky, but SO worth it.
Lansinoh. Those poor nipples. They don’t know what they’ve done to deserve becoming a play thing for a tiny, hungry vacuum. They get sore, and red, and sometimes they crack and bleed. Not fun. Lather them up with Lansinoh- which is also safe for babies to then latch onto, no harm if it gets in their mouth (please avoid those hydrogel nursing pads, they breed germs!).
Cloth nappies- in bulk. Tilly was a spewy baby, but even if she wasn’t, cloth nappies are a godsend. Use them on the change mat, as burp cloths, in the nappy bag, in the car, on guests’ laps. And don’t just get one pack, get two. Believe me. You can get them from most baby stores or department stores like Big W, Target etc.
Pigeon wide-neck bottles. When Tilly was a couple of weeks old, I tried giving her a bottle. She took it, no trouble, and I thought ‘oh great, easy done, she has no problem with a bottle’. Ha. Fast forward about four months without giving her a bottle again, and then trying to introduce it again, and that kid wasn’t having a bar of it. We tried so many bottles, so many different scenarios to get her to take it, nothing. One day, she at least let me put the Pigeon bottle in her mouth (a huge improvement) and eventually I found a method to get her to drink from it as well (HERE is the method we used- it actually WORKED!) and we’ve been using the Pigeon bottles ever since.
I’ll be doing an updated post on Tilly’s sleep routine, but the products that helped make getting babe to sleep in those early months were invaluable. We went through (read: I went through) a lot of different things before settling on what worked best for Tilly, and you’ll find your babes are different in what they like, but these worked for us.
Pink noise. You can buy all sorts of noise machines and sleep aids etc, but I simply downloaded and paid for the full version of an app called White Noise. It is on an old iPhone which is only used for this purpose, plugged in in her room. It runs whenever she sleeps (day and night sleeps). Pink noise is believed to be a little more harmonious for sleeping than white noise.
Blackout blinds. There are plenty on the market, but we have three odd, small windows in Tilly’s room, so I ended up buying blackout curtain material from Spotlight and making them myself, as it was cheaper than three whole separate blinds! A darkened room does wonders for helping babe understand it’s sleep time!
A real mattress. We had bought a bassinet for Tilly when she was born, but she slept badly in it (and also a Moses basket which had been lent to us). I switched Tilly to her cot when she was 10 days old, and she instantly slept so much better- and I swear it is because she was on a proper mattress, not just a piece of foam! You can get bassinets with proper mattresses too, which is amazing, and I wish I had done more research before she arrived!
Wraps/swaddles/sleeping bags. I’ve lost count how many different brands of swaddles and sleeping bags etc we tried before we found what worked for us, but the fact is, babies like to be swaddled, and they get cold when they sleep, but they wriggle, so they need to be kept ‘contained’ while they sleep. For a non-rolling babe, even though I no longer agree with the teaching methods of this book, I did love (and do love) the double swaddle (or wrap-in-a-wrap) from the Save Our Sleep site. Especially for Houdini babies, being able to wrap, and then wrap again all within the one swaddle is genius. It kept Tilly’s little hermit crab fingers tucked inside! When she moved to sleeping bags, I love the Pure Baby bags for winter, and we used an Aden + Anais muslin bag during summer (didn’t get a chance to try the Pure Baby bags in summer, as I was still in the process of trying other bags, but I’m sure they’re wonderful then too!).
Comforter. We didn’t use dummies/pacifiers for Tilly, but we did introduce a sleep-safe comforter from very early on (like a couple of weeks). Even now, ‘bedtime bun’ is one of her safety cues, sleep cues, and bedtime friend. There are many brands and styles out there- I bought one from Save Our Sleep when I was in the SOS-mad stage, but I do genuinely like the design of them, and they are sleep-safe.
Silky Tots silk sheet/cot slip. Although Tilly was a very bald baby, she did still have duckling fluff growing, and she did get the dreaded bald spot on the back of her head from twisting and turning her head here there and everywhere. I invested in a silk cot slip, and within a couple of weeks, that bald spot started to disappear. One day, when she has a pillow and enough hair to warrant it, I’ll get her a silk pillow slip too, to keep her hair smooth and tangle-free. Such a great product.
Infant’s Friend. Tilly was THE spewiest baby. I can’t explain how often and awful it was. Every feed, every day, every night. It killed me. But someone suggested we try Infant’s Friend, and OH. MY. GAWD. What a difference it made. It helped keep her tummy moving, reduced wind and gas, and slowed her crazy spew-fest (although nothing got rid of it completely, until she was established on solids). She still likes a bit of it every night now- and while I’m sure she doesn’t reeeeeally need it anymore, it doesn’t hurt to help keep things moving along nicely in there. I know Coles sells it, as do most chemists. Get a little syringe to administer it.
QV Baby. I literally use QV products for everything skin-based for both myself and Tilly. She gets a bit of eczema (not as bad these days as it was when she was very little), and I was recommended by the GP to try QV for her baths etc. I ended up getting the bath wash, bath oil, shampoo/conditioner, and moisturiser for her, which get used every day (well, the bath wash and oil are interchangeable- the oil is good especially in winter!). I moisturise Tilly’s skin morning and night- not just for looking after her skin now, but also to instil a routine of skin care for her as she grows and takes over herself!
Jack & Jill toothpaste. Once bub starts getting teeth, oral healthcare kicks in. To begin with, you can use just a clean finger or a clean, damp washcloth, but when you’re ready to introduce baby’s first toothbrush, you can also look at introducing their first toothpaste (yes, you can also use water!). I decided it was a good idea to indeed introduce the toothpaste from the beginning, because it meant she would understand that to clean your teeth, you need toothpaste on your toothbrush. This one is fluoride-free, which is perfect for milk teeth, and because it’s safe to swallow, it’s okay that they don’t understand how to spit it out!
Blooming Bath. Bathing a tiny baby is a slightly daunting task. They’re tiny, fragile, and then them being naked and slippery in a tub of water? Holy cow. I saw the Blooming Bath and thought it was fantastic- not just because it was soft and specially designed for being in the bath, but because it’s also portable, so it can go with you wherever you need to take baby. I don’t remember where I bought it from here in Australia, but there are stockists out there!
Vicks vaporiser. I honestly don’t think any house with kids should be without a Vicks vaporiser. Kids get sick. And babies don’t know how to blow their nose (omg, could you imagine if they did?! Save a forest of tissues), so they get quite congested and struggle to sleep. There’s a couple of brands out there, but I feel like Vicks is one of those brands we’ve all known forever, and I like to go with what I know. Buy the vaporiser steam liquid to go with it, and it will help make those sick winter nights a little easier (also good as a bit of a humidifier, especially in winter when heaters can dry the air a bit too much!).
GETTING OUT & ABOUT
Backpack nappy bag. I went through so many different nappy bag styles, trying to find one that would work for me. I carry Tilly a LOT, because she’s a little koala and prefers to be attached to mama, and I’d get tired carrying a bag and her (or wouldn’t be able to carry anything else!). A friend visited one day and she had a backpack-style nappy bag, and my brain exploded. I bought one that day, and now I swear by it. I can wear it and still have two hands free, and it doesn’t load excess weight on one side of my body. I got a cheap one (link goes to the one I got on Groupon), but it works just as well- and when grubby hands go a-searching in the bag (as they invariably always do) it doesn’t bother me.
MooGoo sunscreen. We all know babies have delicate skin. I knew Tilly would have fair, potentially sensitive skin, as both #thelove and I have skin like that, so I was conscious about using a baby-friendly, good quality sunscreen to protect her skin in the sun. I love that MooGoo is zinc-based, so it has an almost immediate protection, and it’s not greasy or sticky, so even when she invariably finds sand or dirt, it doesn’t stick too badly to her! I’ll be using it again this summer, for sure. And it’s SPF40, which is awesome.
Bedhead Hats. I discovered Bedhead Hats when I went to one of those baby product shows, and I loved them instantly. I started with the legionnaire style when she was super young, because it would stay on even when she was lying down, and as she became stronger and more mobile, I switched to a bucket style. They have elastic straps to keep them on, which is good for kids on the move!
Mikro play mat. A soft, waterproof, kidproof play mat is an essential. Nappy-free time, snack time, play dough time, general rough-n-tumble and playing around needs a surface that is designed just for those purposes. Again, there are lots of brands out there- we chose the Mikro mat because we liked the design to suit our living area. We have the Family size.
Tula baby carrier. I had no idea where to start when it came to baby carriers. Luckily, my girlfriend who had already had two children of her own, gifted us a Tula baby carrier, and I loved it. I tried the wraps, but I couldn’t work them out, and I didn’t feel secure enough in them, so the carrier became my go-to. It is suitable from newborn, and can be worn with babe on your front, or, as they get bigger, on your back. The hip strap is padded nicely, so it doesn’t dig in too hard to the ol’ hip bones, and it keeps baby’s legs in the optimal ‘M’ position for hip development.
Elle Collective pram garland. One of the first things I bought for baby was a pram garland. The thought of my little baby sitting in its pram (before I knew she was a girl!) playing with the little beads made me go all gooey. I loved the organic wood and silicone bead designs from Elle Collective. Tilly still plays with it now.
All I will say is, be prepared for mess. Because there will be a lot of it. But the mess is half the fun! They do say ‘food is fun until they’re one’, and in Tilly’s case, this was so true. She ate EVERYTHING, but everything went EVERYWHERE.
IKEA high chair. There are some seriously impressive high chairs out there, but for such a messy task, why go past the basics? It keeps them contained while you feed them- and because the tray is flat along the edge, you can have it up against the dining table so they can be a part of family meal time too. When they’re just starting, you can use the cushion insert too, which helps them feel a little more secure in the seat.
Wild Indiana suction bowl. These kids know how to flip bowls and plates. This bowl suctions to flat surfaces, but more importantly, the curved side lip is really helpful for getting the food out of the bowl, especially if you’re serving mashes and purees.
Bella Zailea elephant suction plate. Again, suction is genius when they’re learning to feed themselves. And sectioned plates are great as they discover finger foods. There are plenty of different brands and styles out there- we have a couple of others as well, but this one is good because it also comes with a clip-on lid, so you can save leftovers.
Munchkin Miracle 360 cup. Water can be introduced from 6 months, and so it’s a great time to introduce a cup too! The Miracle 360 helps promote what will eventually be ‘normal’ drinking from a cup, and also helps them learn how to position their mouth differently (as prior to solids etc their mouths performed eating in a different way!). Tilly started using this a couple of weeks into starting solids, and within a couple of days, was using it without hassle.
Bbox smock bib. We have an array of bibs that we use and like, but there’s something to be said for a good smock bib. Sleeves just get dragged through everything, and mouthfuls miss mouths and miss bib catchalls and end up on their laps- it’s just one big washing pile. In desperation, I bought this bib online, and while the pocket on the front doesn’t work as well as a structured catchall does, the fact that her sleeves and lap are covered makes my washing pile a little smaller (it’s designed to fit laps when they’re in a high chair- and it’s machine washable!).
These are the most helpful products I’ve found to work for us. Of course, there’s a lot more- I will add to this list if things pop up to remind me, but if you have any questions, or want to know if I’ve tried something else, just message me!