Becoming a mum again after eight years meant that a lot had changed in the baby product industry. There are definitely more stylish and even more practical products on the market, supposedly making life simpler for parents. It’s easy to get carried away and buy every “must-have” product but it’s not feasible.
These are my top 7 essential baby products. Not only did it make my daily life at home easier, but they all proved to be invaluable when we travelled locally and internationally.
This has to be by far the best investment I’ve made. The idea is so simple – a car seat converts to a stroller with a push of a button. An infant insert allows for the multi-award-winning Doona to be used from birth, and the Doona can be used until your child reaches 13kg. Basically you have free space in your car boot and one less baby product to lug around, with this brilliant 2-in-1 invention. The only gripe I have is that the handle of the Doona does not allow me to hang my shopping bags/packets like I used to with my older son’s stroller. However, the many other benefits, like not having to lift up and wake a sleeping baby when you alight from your car, definitely outweighs this small complaint of mine. The Doona can be used with or without the ISOFIX base. It was an absolute lifesaver when we travelled to Dubai when my little one was just three months old. We hired a car when we were there and it was relatively easy to move around with baby.
Since the Doona is a car seat and a stroller, there’s no additional compartments to carry anything extra, which is why I found the Doona Snap on Storage bag a must-have. Not only does it attach to the Doona easily, this zipped bag, which holds up to 3kg, also serves as my additional nappy bag when I’m on the go. At all times, I keep it in my car with my car seat cover and nifty nappy-changing mat (both were gifts from my mother-in-law which she sewed herself). If I know I’m going to be out for a short period of time, this bag is a must. I even manage to squeeze in other items when out shopping. This product is sold separately from the Doona car seat.
This stylish sleeping pod, which was created by a Swedish mum, is snug and comfy for baby, reducing the occurrence of the moro (“startle”) reflex, thus enabling them to sleep more peacefully. As a mum whose first baby barely slept for the first four months of his life, I was willing to try anything to make sure that I wouldn’t go through the same again. The Sleepyhead is available in two different sizes – the Deluxe which is for newborn up until 8 months of age and the Grand, which is from 9-36 months. The pod is multifunctional and can also be used for lounging, playing and resting. Since my son had a low birth weight, the Sleepyhead kept him comfortable, warm, and cosy in his crib in those initial months. I also used it for him when we brought him to the lounge and even on his play mat where he would play with the toys dangling overhead (Sleepyhead does sell their own toy arch separately). I made good use of it when visiting/staying overnight at my mother’s and mother-in-law’s place and it also proved to be quite handy when we went overseas. At one of the hotels, there was no available crib and the Sleepyhead worked great. Baby was comfortable as he was familiar with it and it didn’t affect his sleeping routine at all. I bought the Sleepyhead Pristine White and I also purchased a spare cover (Silver Lining Chevron) which came in handy when I washed the machine-washable cover.
With the sheer amount of nappy bags available on the market, it was a tough decision to choose one. I eventually settled for the Dani bag by Gadikat, which has a stylish look and feel and is loaded with pockets inside and out. This is extremely handy and helps with organisation. It can be carried in more than one way but I prefer the backpack option because its hands-free (such a bonus when travelling, especially on an airplane). It also comes with a change-mat and even has an insulated pocket on the side which is ideal to keep bottles warm or cold. I love the neutral colours, stripe detail and the blingy gold zips. I’ve received a lot of compliments from family and friends, with most enquiring where I bought it from. The only problem I had when trying to order mine, was that Amazon didn’t ship to South Africa. I contacted Gadikat and they promptly replied and referred me to one of their authorised retailers who did ship to SA. Sadly, that website is now defunct. The good news is that Amazon now ships Gadikat bags to SA! (My sister successfully ordered another bag from their range a few months ago via Amazon.)
The muslin swaddle, made from a combination of cotton and bamboo is breathable, ultra soft (and gets softer with each wash!) and extremely versatile. I have used it to swaddle my little one in the early months and thereafter have used it as a normal blanket, pram cover, and have even draped it on the Sleepyhead (almost like a “crib sheet”). I love that it is so thin and light and easily fits into my nappy bag. I also own another brand – Muslin Tree and it’s also lovely, although I would say the Aden + Anais one has a luxuriously softer feel to it.
If you’re bottle-feeding, this is an absolute must-have! The bottle drying rack, made by B.Box, is ideal for home use and travel. It fits up to 6 bottles and has additional flat surface space for dummies, teats, sippy cups and even parts of your breast pump machine. You can have peace of mind, knowing that your baby’s feeding utensils are kept separately and quite neatly too. When you on the go, simply fold it closed and slip into your nappy bag. It is dishwasher safe (top rack only) and BPA-free. I love the B.Box range as their products are so practical. I also own their award-winning portable nappy caddy, which can be used to store your child’s art supplies, once your child has outgrown the nappy stage.
These nappy bag organisers are so versatile, allowing you to store damp things in the larger pocket and dry things in the smaller pocket. I bought the 2-piece set from Amazon in the Gray Chevron design and I love that the large size bag is so huge! It can fit so much. The smaller bag is ideal for keeping in my Doona snap on storage bag, which as I mentioned is kept permanently packed in my car. I pack my baby’s bottle and flask (in case of leakages or spills) in the wet part of the bag and I usually pack food/formula in the dry part. These machine-washable bags are water-resistant have snap handles which can easily be strapped onto your nappy bag and even your stroller. The bags can be used for storing swim/workout gear, extra clothes for your child at school, or even soiled/damp clothes without having to worry that the rest of your bag will get messed.
What are your favourite essential baby items? Feel free to share!
PS. I purchased all of the above products (except for the Gadikat Dani bag and the Damero Wet/Dry bag) from South African online retailers.