I can’t believe that E is five weeks old already.
I’m loving every minute of our newly adjusted family life. I’d heard that it’s the most challenging when you move from having one child to two, and from two to three isn’t as difficult as you think it’s going to be. Thankfully I missed the jump from one to two, and this time around I’m finding that I’m much more chilled out with everything. I’m not sure if she’s a much easier baby than the boys were or if it’s because we’re being relaxed about the whole thing, but either way parenting this time around is a lot less stressful. Even with a pair of almost three year olds and a crazy, oversized puppy to look after.
What has also helped is that I’ve been there before and I know what works and what doesn’t work for us as a family. More importantly, I know what equipment is a waste of money and what is worth the investment. Here is a little round up of a few things I’ve found essential.
After pushing a heavy double buggy around for the past three years it has been an amazing experience to have a single. I can actually get the buggy through our front door (which is amazing if E is asleep and it’s raining) and get around shops. And my favourite coffee shop is no longer off-limits as I can fit in there at last! Husband and I spent months researching and trying out different travel systems in the shops, because to date all of our experience revolved around doubles. I was *almost* tempted by the trendy Bugaboos and Quinnys in bright colours, but thankfully Husband overruled me and insisted I keep a practical head on my shoulders. Not only are most of the current range of fashionable – and very very expensive – buggys heavy, but they’re tricky to fold up (having to go into two pieces) and they all seem to have very small wheels, even the ones which are billed as being ‘off-roaders’.
I hate admitting it *shivers* but he was right. Baby Joggers are fantastic (we have the double Baby Jogger City Mini already – I reviewed it on my blog last year), and the single Elite is the lesser known – and in my opinion, better – version of their singles range. It’s lightweight, easy to push, tackles rough terrain with ease, has a nifty handbrake, fantastic understorage and an adjustable handle which is great if your on the short side like me. The single City Mini version is great too (and a little cheaper) but is more suited to using in town rather than off-road as the wheels are smaller. It also has a higher handle bar that can’t be adjusted. The best thing about the Baby Jogger brand is that it’s the easiest to fold on the market – one pull and it collapses in one piece. I’ve chosen to use the separate carrycot with it for E while she is little, and this easily lifts off the adapters and can be used with the later models of the twin Baby Jogger City Mini (post 2011 models, I think) too which makes it a great double for those with a toddler and a newborn. We’ve also got the car seat adaptors so that our Maxi Cosi can be use used on the buggy, so it’s a complete travel system. I have to say I’m now happy that we’ve got the best system available on the market for the needs of our family. Baby Jogger City Elites are available online at Practical Pushchairs for £329.99.
I love this brand. I was lucky enough to be able to review the twin SnoozeShade a while ago when my boys were toddlers. I was keen to try it with E this time from birth to help her nap in the buggy so I could get out and about. I was provided with a car seat SnoozeShade to review, and it had it’s first outing just four days after E arrived. Husband and I popped out to buy some new clothes for E as it turned out all the clothes we had for her were either too small or too big, and as we drove home from the shops we decided to stop for lunch to make the most of the fact my parents were looking after the boys. Although I expected E to wake up for a feed at any moment, we decided to stop off at the pub. I kept peeping through the zip opening to see if she looked hungry but she just looked cosy and relaxed in her little car seat cocoon. Two courses later she still hadn’t stirred. Since then I’ve used it many times when I’ve popped out and want her to rest undisturbed. When the summer comes back around again I know the SnoozeShade will really come into its own because it will allow me to keep her shaded from the bright light and UV rays too. It’s such a simple solution, and it really does work! And it’s so easy to put the drawstring carry bag under the buggy or in my nappy bag so I always have it to hand. These retail at £17.99.
As I’m a Cuddledry Superblogger, I was offered the chance to review their famous apron towel. Obviously, when asked what colour I would like I chose pink, given that my house has been bathed in blue for the past three years. The towel is incredibly soft and gentle, even when it hasn’t been in the tumble dryer. And it’s huge! There is a poppered section that goes around your neck, so you don’t need to hold the towel as you lift your baby out of the bath (and with older babies it can stop them from drenching you as they splash about in the bath). As you scoop up your baby you grab the bottom of the towel and wrap it up around your baby, putting their head into the little head flap on one of the corners. Then you cuddle your baby to you to dry them and undo the poppers around your neck as you lower them to the changing mat. It’s very easy to use and saves you getting completely drenched. I just wish I’d been lucky enough to have a few of these when the boys were little. These towels are a luxury rather than an essential, but when you’re looking after babies it’s important to try to invest in things that genuinely make your life a little bit easier. They make a great gift to ask the grandparents to buy as it’s something that will last for years (something I’ve heard from a few people on Twitter). One thing to consider when choosing a colour is that your other half will end up wearing it too and mine wasn’t impressed to have to wear a pink towel! The towels retail at £29.99. If you follow Cuddledry on Twitter @cuddledry you can keep up to date with new products and hear about exclusive sale items.
I’m a big fan of The Gro Company, as I adored their GroClock back when we were having sleep issues and I love the look of their travel blackout blinds (one day I’ll treat myself to one and review it on here). When we were at The Baby Show we invested in a pack of two GroSwaddle blankets. We already had loads of blankets left over from the boys, but these were very cute and looked very easy to use so we caved in. I’m not that great at swaddling using regular blankets – the boys always managed to wriggle out from my wrap. These are so easy to use and are really lightweight meaning I don’t have to worry about E overheating. If it gets cold I can easily add a blanket over the top, but at the moment they give just the right amount of cover for her. As soon as she is swaddled up and in her cot she just lays there quietly until she drifts off, unlike when she’s in a sleeping bag as she wriggles around and thrashes her arms about. A twin pack of these blankets retails at £19.99, but if you’re lucky you might find them on offer at future Baby Show events.
I was sent these inventive reins to review earlier this year, and I loved them! Ever since then I’ve used them whenever I’ve taken my boys out for a walk. Now that I have a single buggy to push I’m finding them invaluable. T1 is a runner. I’ve tried walking without reins but the temptation always gets too much for him. He ends up running off and turning to look back at me with a cheeky grin before sprinting off and ignoring my shouts to stop. For now at least I’ve accepted that I need to have the boys attached to me. Initially when E arrived I tried wrist straps attached to the buggy but they weren’t long enough and didn’t give them any freedom. I’ve now gone back to using the Boomereins and it’s great. It’s a bit trickier using them with a buggy, but once you get the hang of it it works really well. I let them walk either side of me behind the buggy so they don’t get tangled up under the back wheels. I highly recommend this product for people with multiples, or even people with one toddler and a baby in the buggy as it means you don’t have to worry about them running off. The twin set are a bargain as they retail at £19.95 – half the price of the sets of twin halter reins which I used before, and you can even get a TAMBA discount! A single set is just £9.95 and a triplet set is £39.90.
Finally, the best investments for a newborn is a professional photoshoot. If possible, try to capture your little one within the first week or two when they’re sleepy and very tolerant of the cruel things you might do to them (silly hats, flowers in the hair, tutus, you get the idea). It’s also when they’re the most adorable and is the stage you will want to look back on and remember. We discovered a photographer in the New Forest – Jan Taylor from Essential Images Photography – while I was pregnant with twins, and she did a maternity shoot for us, a shoot when the boys were about five months and again when they were about 14 months. Although I adore all of these pictures, I still secretly regret not getting their pictures taken professionally when they were really tiny. So this time I was determined that I’d get Jan booked in to take E’s pictures early. We added a few dates to the diary as we weren’t sure what date my c section would be. It turned out that Jan came to our house to take the pictures on the date that E was due – a week after her arrival date. As the pictures were taken in our home rather than a studio we were all relaxed and it meant the boys could come and go as they wanted as they’re at an age when they hate sitting still for photos. Jan captured some stunning shots and I’m struggling to decide which to get blown up on a large canvas to put in the nursery as I have too many favourites. Jan has kindly allowed me to use some of these on my blog (see my previous post for a couple of other shots too). Although having professional pictures is an expensive luxury, it’s actually very good value when you think about the amount of work that goes into creating the images. For me, it’s an important investment because I will always look back fondly on Jan’s pictures and how tiny my babies all were before they grew up into real little people.
There are so many things to spend your money on when you have a baby. I hope the above list is useful for any of you out there shopping around at the moment.
*The SnoozeShade, CuddleDry apron towel and the Boomereins were provided to me free of charge for review purposes. I purchased everything else at the full price. All views are my own and are genuine.