My Top 10 Mama and Baby can't-live-without products

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Little R is now over 10 months old (!) and throughout these past few months there have been a number of products that have not only made my life a little easier, but have enriched my baby's life too. Now these 10 items are what I would call non-essential products (unlike nappies, car seat, pram etc.) although if you're expecting, no doubt you'll see a few of them on those all-encompassing-twenty-pages-long-very-overwhelming lists. But if haven't got the time to wade through and cross-reference all these lists, including the ones you get from the NHS, for the items you think you may need, here are my top 10 mama and baby "I now can't-live-without" products, and my tips on ways to use them, from birth to (almost) 12 months.

1. Fisher Price Rainforest mobile


When Little R went into her own room, I was genuinely upset not just that we were no longer sleeping together, but that I also lost the soothing rainforest sounds of her Fisher Price mobile.

Being battery operated, there is no disturbingly loud cranking sound, like some of the wind-up mobiles seem to have. It also comes with a remote, which I often used when Little R was in my room. If she was stirring, but I didn't want her to see me (Yay, Mummy! Exciting!) I'd sneakily press the button to turn the rainforest sounds on and she'd happily (sometimes) drift back off. It has three settings, so the leaves spin on their own, with music, or just play music. We only used the spinning mode when she was awake and we needed to place her somewhere safe (i.e. after changing her nappy and nipping out to wash our hands), as we found it was too stimulating for her at bedtime. Now she's older, we have removed the top (as advised) and in the mornings when she wakes up, she loves nothing more than standing up and picking a tune to play herself... and to me, via the monitor!

2. Zmodo wi-fi camera
Video monitors are pricey. I was determined not to use one and was luckily gifted a regular audio monitor which, to a certain point in time, worked absolutely perfectly. However, Little R has been a nightmare at going to sleep. One of the issues we had was that her cot is behind her bedroom door, so in order to check on her, there's no 'peeping' through a crack in the door, you have to open it fully (waking her up) and sticking your head around (yay Mummy's here! Super exciting!) Often she could be moaning away in her cot just because she didn't want to go to sleep, not that there was a problem, but since we never knew for sure, 9 x out of 10, we ended up waking her up completely in order to check that her arm wasn't stuck/she wasn't wedged across the cot etc. A good friend of mine recommended the Zmodo wi-fi camera with night vision and audio. It's a much cheaper alternative to a baby monitor, it works via an app on your mobile, and you can have multiple devices linked too, so both husband and I can check on her from our own phones. The picture is incredibly clear, although I've found the audio has a little delay, and has saved my bacon on many a night where I've been able to see she's just rolling around trying to settle herself, without me barging in and waking her up again.


3. Proper maternity and nursing pj's 


I have just resigned myself to the fact that the time has come to give up my maternity pyjamas.  I bought two pairs, a nightdress and then proper pj's, both from JoJo Maman Bebe (JJMB) and identical - navy with polka dots. At the time, they seemed ridiculously expensive, but if you think it's been well over a year, they're probably the most used items I've bought throughout my pregnancy and when Baby T arrived. If you're planning to breastfeed, it's definitely worth buying ones that are also designed for easy-access nursing. I know you can just wear 'normal' button up PJ's, but faffing with those buttons, particularly at midnight, just to feed your baby, waaaaaaay isn't worth it! JJMB's clothes in general are very good quality. My PJ's are faded now, and the white lace has gone a bit blue, but that's probably because of how much I've worn, washed and tumble dried them!


4. Fisher price rainforest jumperoo

Another Fisher Price product from the same range, their Rainforest Jumperoo was an absolute godsend! Little R didn't particularly enjoy sitting in her pram (far too boring) so when she was too big for her baby chair, but needed to be entertained while I did a job, this was the answer! My particularly favourite memories are having her in it outside in our garden while I mowed the lawn, or did the weeding (we also had their playmat too!)

5. Links (and a peg!)

I bought mine from Mothercare, as my husband and I are trying to do non-gender specific parenting, and trying to find non-pink or blue products are surprisingly tricky! I have used these in so many ways including as a teether, to clip a muslin to the pram to shade baby's face, to clip toys to the pram, to keep cupboard doors from being opened, fastening a broken strap on a bag, clipping bags of food closed... to name a few! I always keep a small chain in my changing bag, some on the pram, and then some at home for her to play with too when I'm changing her nappy. The peg was a piece of advice given to me by another Mum, so I'm only passing this on. KEEP A PEG IN YOUR CHANGING BAG! You'll thank me for it. Trust me!

6. Mushy Pots
When you start off on the weaning journey, you'll be surprised by how many pots of differing sizes you may accumulate. When she went onto three proper meals a day, Mushy Mushy Pots were (and still are) by far my favourite. The tray is silicone, so the food pops out really easily, and the lid has little flaps around the edge to keep it very secure. The best bit of advice I can give you - only by one, or maybe two. Instead, simply pop them out once they're frozen and put them in labelled plastic bags in your freezer. It means you're not filling your freezer with blocks that have to be stacked flat, but also that you really will end up with a range of baby food ready to go because you're not waiting to 'use up' whatever is currently occupying the tray.


7. VonShef hand blender
If you decide to go down the puree path for weaning you will need a blender. I did purees since I have anxiety around choking. Despite trying baby-led to start with, it really wasn't conducive to a relaxed eating atmosphere for both me and Little R.

There are thousands of hand blenders on the market, some specifically designed for babies, which are usually pricey and not for the mass batch cooking like I do. I had one already, but it broke after a few weeks so I decided to push the boat out and buy a VonShef. At least five people have bought this since I have, because I love it so much! Having both the stick blender attachment and the food processer bowl and blade, means if you're doing multiple meals at one time, you're not having to keep stopping to wash up in between. It's low noise, although it has taken my little girl a while to get used to it, and I've only ever had to use it on the lowest setting to create a smooth blend. I've used it every few days for at least 6 months now and it hasn't let me down.

8. All in one plastic-backed bibs
Ok, so I'm holding my hands up, I am super fussy with my daughter's clothes. I want her things to stay as nice as possible for as long as possible and using big bibs when she's eating has, to me, been a huge contribution to keeping her clothes like new. (I know this is probably a loosing battle...) When I look at clothes bundles on eBay, more often than not, I'm disappointed because I expect them to be like most of Little R's, and they're not. Don't get my wrong, she can be messy and gross and there have been a few outfits that not even my best washing attempts have managed to save. But from the very off we used bibs like these super cute ones from John Lewis and since it's what she's always known, she accepts wearing them for every meal and snack 99.98% of the time. I can then wash her clothes at 40 degrees with no problems, keeping them nicer for much longer than if I'm constantly washing them at a higher temperature. The bibs are plastic-backed with terry-toweling to the front. I have about nine in total, some from John Lewis, some from Mothercare and a few from Asda. They all do a good job, they pretty much fit the same, but remember DO NOT put them in the tumble drier! Melty plastic mess not conducive to a happy Mama...

9. Nuna Zazz high-chair
So a high chair will be on most 'essential things for baby' lists, but there are a huge variety and huge range in price. The Nuna Zazz is one of the priciest on the market at a whopping £180. If you consider how much you will use your high chair, I believe it is definitely worth investing. And with the Zazz, it converts easily into a chair that you can adjust to the right height for your child and your dining table. Potentially you could use this say for 3 times a day x 7 days a week x 52 weeks a year x what, 3 or 4 years? That is A LOT of use. They have a great video to demonstrate it, but my favourite features are the removable tray (so you can stick it in the sink for those REALLY messy dinners!), the easy to use harness, the super comfortable foam pad seat and all over it's SUPER SLEEK look and feel which goes with my decor and makes clean-ups a cinch! But I have a secret...
Below is a snap of our Zazz in situ. Funny enough it's the same model as in the video. My sister has one for her little one, she managed to buy it second hand on eBay for an amazing £70! Bargain, right? But then I won mine for... wait for it... 10 whole English pounds. (Does a little butt wiggle dance around the table). Set up an alert on eBay and wait and watch to see if someone is selling theirs. There are plenty of bargains out there, so long as you're looking.

10. Amazon Prime
This is my pure luxury item but it has been invaluable during these past few months. I was lucky to get a discounted subscription for a year, but I would seriously consider paying up again in the future. Not only has it delivered things I simply couldn't get in the shops, it even delivers things on a Sunday (I know!), particularly beneficial when you're in those first few weeks and will try EVERY newborn baby product under the market if it helps your little one to settle, and you to rest... with next day delivery. For free. It also gave me Amazon Video, which meant whiling away those hours while feeding meant I was NEVER short of entertainment. I got to 'borrow' books on my Kindle too, another particularly useful gadget for those early months when feeding takes an age. A treat, but absolutely worth every penny.

x

P.S. I have not been paid to review any of these products. These are my opinions and what really has worked for me.

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