Getting Started on Weaning ... Cutlery

Age - 4 months +
Price - £3
Rating - ****

Once you've read up on weaning and decided that your little one is ready to try their first "solid" foods, its time to get in some essential kit.

There is not a lot that is a must-have but a soft-tipped weaning spoon is a good idea. If you chose to use pouches of puree rather than making your own then a spoon really is all you need, as you can squeeze straight from the pouch.

Using a soft tipped spoon is essential to prevent any nasty accidents with metal cutlery and to protect your little ones gums.

Top Tip: I always give my little one a spoon to hold and play with in addition to the spoon that I use to feed them. It helps them feel involved and develops their motor skills as well as keeping their little hands out of the bowl and off the spoon I'm using to feed them

I will cover more on kit needed to make and store your own puree's later, however the other piece of kit you may need is a bowl. This can be any plastic, BPA free, dishwasher safe bowl. I however like these Tommee Tippee Explora Bowls.


Do your research .... weaning

Age - Four Months +
Price - £6.99
Rating - *****

If you are starting to consider delving into the wonderful world of weaning with your little one it's time to buy this book. It covers all the basics, the do's and the do-not's and has some handy recipies so that you can start preparing some first foods for your little one.

Annabel Karmel is a weaning expert and this DK book is simple to follow and straight to the point. It's worth having a read of this before sooner rather than later whether you decide to start weaning at four months or six months (as recommended by the NHS).


Discrete Feeding - Nursing Covers

Age - Newborn +
Price - from £3 (ebay)
Rating - ****

I found these nursing covers to be really useful especially during the early days of breast feeding. They are similar to an apron that sits high up and covers you and the baby whilst you feed.

There are a variety of different nursing covers on the market, many designs and colour schemes too and some which are wired at the top so you can easily see down to your baby. It's also much cheaper than many of the nursing tops that are on the market.

They are very useful but can be a little cumbersome at times and can flop down onto baby's head but as my little one is getting older I also find it useful to stop him from getting distracted whilst feeding in busy places.


Our favourite thing at ... four months

After hearing other mums recommending one of these, we purchase a JUMPEROO for our little one. He started in it at about three and a half months, but the age and suitability is really dependent on the size and weight of your baby as well as their head control.

There are lights and sounds to encourage your baby to bounce, different songs and different activities around it, and it rotates around so baby can enjoy the different activities. As well as a parrot and frog dangling from the leaves above. We find that our little one gets over tired if in it for more than twenty minutes at a time, but even so, twenty minutes of contented happy baby is worth it for us.

Fisher Price Rainforest Jumperoo (from £65)
There are three height options, our little one is already in the second option so I can't imagine that he'll be in it for very long. However there are many available second hand and the resale value is pretty high.


Bedside Sleeping ... Our Top Cot

Age - Newborn to 12 months
Price - £79.95
Rating - ****

When looking for our first cot to bring our little one home to from the hosptial, there were so many choices. Many parents opt for a moses basket or bedside crib or snooze pod. We were concious that our little one may be a "big baby" and didn't want to invest in a cot that they'd grow out of in the first few months and were pleased to find the Mamas and Papa's petite cot.

It's smaller than a standard cot so fits comfortably next to our bed yet should last us to at least six months (which is the recommended time to have baby sleeping in your room) as it has two height levels like a normal cot.

Luckily it has the same mattress dimensions as a travel cot, so it's easy to get fitted sheets and bedding to fit too.

The only downside is that it is more flimsy than standard cot/cot beds, otherwise it would get a five star rating from me !


B(r)e(a)st Pads

Age - Newborn +
Price - £3.99 for 60 Pads (John Lewis)
Rating - *****

As a breast feeding mother its important to feel that you are secure and leak proof when out and about and equally at night when many women find their breasts can become fuller and leaky.

I've tried and tested many supermarket and chemist own brand breast pads but these Lansinoh pads are the best by far. They are more expensive however they are the only pad I've found that is up to the job and can be used day and night. They are individually wrapped too, so you can easily take some with you in your changing bag/handbag.


Newborn Bathtime

Age - Newborn +
Price - Various
Category - Bathtime
Rating - ****

Baby's first bath time is a special and nerve wracking time for new parents. There is no right or wrong as to where you give baby their first bath - or even when to give it. Some recommend leaving baby's skin a week before immersing them in a bath whereas others prefer to bath their babies sooner.

We opted to bathe our little one at one week old using a baby bath set from Mothercare. There are so many options out there, moulded baths, baths with separate seats, the normal tub at home, bathing with your baby in with you or without and even in a washing up bowl in the sink.

We (stupidly) bought a bath seat from mothercare which didn't fit in our baby bath - so watch for the size and fit if you opt for a separate bath seat. We can use the bath seat in our big bath however our little one doesn't like the seat as the water doesn't come up high enough and he gets cold too quickly.

The set we bought came with a top and tail bowl, thermometer, towel and sponge. The thermometer is useful to begin with until you learn to judge the right temperature and the top and tail bowl was most useful in those first seven days before we bathed him to give him a sponge bath.

Top Tip: Babies get cold very quickly when they have wet, exposed skin. Try and keep their body and limbs under the water and wash their head and face last to avoid them getting too cold too quickly.



Wrapooh ... the cheaper Sangenic cassette alternative

Age - Newborn +
Price - 14.99
Category - Nappy Changes

Rating: ****

As mentioned in the previous post about the Sangenic Nappy Bin the cassettes are expensive at 10.00 for three refills. The solution to this is the Wrapooh, this product is a roll of continuous liner which you cut to size and use to refill the cassettes. At 14.99 for the equivalent of ten refills it is less than half the price of the genuine refill cassettes.

It is a little fiddly to do, but once you've got the hang of it you can refill five or so cassettes in quarter of an hour or so. The trick is to save enough cassettes that you can do a batch of refill in one go as once you have the hang of it, you can quickly do them all.


Snuffly Noses & Restless Nights Sleep

Age - 3 Months +
Price - Plug In £5.00 and Nasal Spray £3.00
Rating - ****

It seems that if anyone has a cold, your little one will be the first to catch it. It's no secret that children are super-spreaders of germs. And when your little one is feeling miserable with a blocked nose and unable to sleep this Calpol Spray and Plug-In will come to your rescue.

Whilst they are made by Calpol, they contain no paracetamol, the nasal spray is a saline solution which comes out in a fine mist and the plug in has essential oils.

The plug in is a combination diffuser and night-light, it smells of chamomile and lavender - it is not unpleasant and I used it in our room when both little one and I had a cold and it definitely helped clear my blocked nose and little one slept much better with it too.


Messy Nappy Changes

Aldi £1.99 for 10
Age - Newborn +
Price - from £1.99
Category - Nappy Changes
Rating - *****

When our little one first arrived we used Muslin Squares or Changing Mat Liners to protect little one from the cold changing mat and to prevent any "accidents" from running back down the changing mat toward his clothes.

Boots £3.79 for 12

Then we discovered disposable changing mat pads, which are basically incontinence pads, which are super absorbent. As our little one is getting older we find that we use them less but certainly in those first few weeks they were a vital part of our changing kit. I also use them on our travel changing mat when out and about to make cleaning up any accidents much easier.

There are a variety on the market, prices range from £1.99 to £4.00 - they're really worth a try!

Pampers £4 for 12


Presents for a New Baby

If you're looking for a present for a New Baby, I promise you that baby's mum will be grateful if you "think outside of the box". It is likely that the new baby is going to be innundated with gifts of clothes, after all, if you go looking for a present, all those teeny-tiny baby clothes are so cute!

So... what other gifts would be gratefully recieved .... how about
Sainsburys TU
Muslin Squares .... there are loads of fun patterns out there, so you can still hit the cuteness factor and they are used every day.

Toys for the Pram or Carry Cot, there are some wonderful toys that clip onto the carry cot, these are useful to keep baby entertained whilst Mum is out and about, there are some great toys out there, including those with rattles and bells inside.

Comforter Blankets ... check the label that they are safe for Newborns, these can be placed in the cot with the baby and could become a familair favourite.

Receiving Blankets ... these are similar to Muslin Squares but are made of a soft, brushed cotton. They are useful as they can be wrapped around baby, used as a blanket and their much less bulky than traditional blankets, useful for Mum to always have in her changing bag.

Or perhaps buy some Milestone Baby Cards so that Mum can document the growth and milestone achievements of their little one.

And of course, if you do decide to buy clothes for the baby, why not consider buying a larger size, that way it spreads out the number of clothes the little one has in it's first year. Just make sure it is season appropriate for the season that you would expect the baby to be in that size clothes !


Tommee Tippee Sangenic Nappy Bin

Age - Newborn +
Price - 24.99
Category - Nappy Changes
Rating - ****

Again, as an expectant mother searching the must-have items, I came across this "nappy disposal system" (or bin as most people would call it). The Sangenic has a continuous liner which comes in a replaceable cassette, once each nappy is disposed of you twist the top to contain and wrap the nappy - thus keeping in the smells etc.

It was particularly good to begin with as you don't have to juggle with nappy sacks, however after a little while the cost of replacement cassettes add up at around 10.00 for three cassettes. Each cassette probably lasts between 5-7 days realistically.

It does a good job of keeping the smells at bay and it also looks more attractive in the nursery than a standard bin. They are available in different colours too, baby pink, baby blue and white.

Keep an eye out for deals as they are often on offer too !

Top Tip: to save on the plastic liners, when you have an only wet nappy don't rotate the top, only rotate the top to seal the container before and after each dirty nappy


Baby Tracker App

Age - Newborn +
Price - Free (with in-App purchases for full function of graphs etc)
Category - Nursing, Feeding, Weaning, Nappy Changes, Milestones, Sleeping
Rating - *****

Around day five of being home, when you are harassed and tired and the health visitor pops in to see how you're coping and to weigh the baby - and they ask how the baby is feeding, how many bottles they are having, how many dirty nappies you've had and how much sleep you (and baby) are getting - and when life has all blurred into one big nappy changing/feeding/nursing/sleeping (or not sleeping) mess - there is a certain amount of satisfaction when you can get out your app and show them exactly how long baby has fed, how many mls of bottle they've taken, their sleep pattern etc.

Being able to track all of the above provides reassurance that your baby is beginning to settle into a routine, this app has it all. You can track feed, sleeps, medication, growth - and its all presented in graphic form too.

I found this app was incredibly useful during the first 12 weeks especially but it now serves the purpose as a record keeper for those milestones and growth spurts.


Our favourite thing at .... three months

Whilst on holiday earlier this month we visited a zoo, and purchased this glove puppet in the gift shop as a memento for the day.

This has turned out to be such a hit with my little one. It's brilliant for interacting, he talks to it and there doesn't seem to be any situation - be it wind, hunger, over tiredness that this little fella can't distract from - for at least a few blessed moments !

We've named him Larry Lion, since his success we've also purchased a red panda and a sheep, but Larry still wins the popularity contest here.

Age - 12 months + (we use Larry under supervision and don't let the little one get his hands on it)
Price - £10.99
Category - Bedtime

Rating - *****


Ewan The Dream Sheep

Age - Newborn +
Price - £ 29.99
Category - Bedtime

Rating - **

As an expectant mother I spent hours trawling through reviews of various must-have newborn toys and Ewan the Dream Sheep kept popping up on my recommendations. Ewan is about 8 inches high, had a rather sinister red glow about him and plays one of four rather tinny tunes - dependent on which leg you squeeze.

The idea is that Ewan will glow and lull your baby to sleep - the reality (in my humble opinion) is that it's an utter waste of money and will drive you around the bend listening to it.

From speaking to friends, most of whom also fell into the Ewan the Dream Sheep trap, either their babies were also uninterested in Ewan - many I believe are laying dormant since the batteries ran out as we realise that in his absence your baby can sleep.