Friday, January 27, 2023

The Ridiculous Things I Bought As An Expecting Parent (And What I Actually Used)

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If you’re walking around a shop looking for baby products, sporting a burgeoning bump – or worse still, are in the safety of your own home just having a scroll through instagram, chances are you’ve been BOMBARDED with things you should buy. So what’s a waste of time? What should you actually buy? Here’s a bunch of stuff I bought that was both a ridiculous mistake – plus the stuff that was a godsend.

Looking back at my former self who was behind the laptop balancing on her belly, I wish I could talk her out of a good few purchases (and tell her to not feel guilty about getting as much goddam rest as she possibly could). While I can’t set her straight, hopefully my list of crazy things I bought miiiight be able to save someone else from having buyer’s remorse.

This is not a #gifted situation – I paid good cold hard cash to bring these products into my life, so you’re only getting my honest reviews.

Shnuggle Bath
$79.95 from The Sleep Store

I saw these cute-as-a-button baths being touted all over the gram, so I of course decided that I needed one too. I had all these dreamy visions of having a little calming ritual with my little guy, but instead, for the first month or so of his little life, I thought he absolutely hated taking a bath. The very first time we put him in he screamed bloody murder, so we resorted to giving him sponge baths every few days while I pretended I hadn’t spent $80 on a redundant piece of plastic.

Now, in hindsight I can see that it wasn’t all the bath’s fault and my little guy was just too little for this bath. While people rave about it from the get-go, he just needed a few months to get a bit bigger (and now loves it – but maybe, ironically, is now almost too big for it). He came out at just a slight little size (but with a head in the 99th percentile?!) so bathing him in a sitting down position like this was like trying to bathe and soothe a wet kitten with a bobble head. Terrifying.

BUT, plot twist, it turned out he does love a bath (he’s a Piscean after all), which I discovered when I bought….

Skip Hop Moby Smart Sling 3-Stage Tub in Grey (AKA the lifesaving whale bath)
$89.95 from The Baby Factory

Whilst pinned under a sleeping (and now disturbingly sticky) baby I found this gem of a baby bath on the web after doing proper searches rather than just believing what people on Instagram were touting. There, I found this masterpiece – it’s basically like a little tropical vacation for your baby. There’s a hammock attachment that can go in two different positions: the first is ideal for newborns, the second for slightly older infants and then you take it out entirely and just use the tub until your little one isn’t so little anymore. Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve considered trying to start a business where we just create adult sized versions of these, with a cup holder attachment for a margarita and snacks. Bliss.

The only downside is that I now own TWO baths, which combined, I have spent almost $170 on which is… obscene. Don’t be like me – if you have a baby that’s on the wee side, JUST BUY THIS ONE.

Bunnie Caddie
$159 from Your Birth Project

On my 6,309th day of throwing up while pregnant, I decided a deserved to buy something nice and that moment just happened to coincide with the day when the Your Birth Project store had re-listed a range of Bunnie Caddies on preorder purchase. At $159 I thought this was kind of a ridiculous thing to be doing with my life – but at that stage I hadn’t thrown money down the drain by buying TWO baths, mountains of nappies, onesies, pacifiers (where do they all disappear to??!?!) or weekly therapy, so I went ahead and pressed ‘buy’ anyway.

Turns out, this was a great purchase in the newborn days. It turned up the day we got home from the hospital and as I lay there stunned by my new life, my partner came in with this caddie all stocked up with the necessities, saying, ‘Hey, this thing arrived and it is really good!’ And he was 100% correct. It’s such an easy place to store nappies, wipes, creams, balms, pacifiers, clothes, snacks and whatever the heck else you need in one spot, where you can easily see it all. It’s so easy to cart around the house – or to pop in the car – and as an added bonus, it’s really good quality and is actually rather lovely to look at.

Viva La Vulva
Spray Kit, $39.95 from Your Birth Project and Peri Wash Bottle, $29.95, also from Your Birth Project

After reading The First 40 Days, which is all about the importance of healing and nourishing the mum (it’s a GREAT read!), I started looking at what I would need right after birth and everyone seemed to be raving about this brand. So I bought the Peri Bottle and the Healing Spray Kit, ready for whatever was thrown at me. The packaging is beautiful but after I had an emergency C-section I didn’t end up needing/using any of it. I guess it’s good to be prepared??

Aqua Mamma Hydration Cans
$47 (for 12 cans), Your Birth Project

I hate to think how much I spent on these drinks, but they basically saved my life for a few months during pregnancy. I remember one particular day when my partner drove me to A&E on the advice of my midwife because I hadn’t kept down a single thing – including any liquid – for three days and felt beyond terrible. The doctor on duty (not to be this person, but yes, he was a man) chuckled and said, “Welcome to being pregnant!” and said to just come back if it got any worse (what?!). That night a friend text me and told me to give these drinks a go. And thank you sweet Jesus (or sweet Rory in this case for alerting me to Aquamamma), I could actually keep this drink down. If you have horrific morning sickness, hyperemesis, or just want to stay peppy and well-hydrated during pregnancy, labour or the early days of motherhood these could be your new best friend.

Approximately 10 different summery outfits in 000
$10-40 a pop. Oi vey.

My little guy was due on March 17, so, I figured it would likely still be quite warm and that I should buy light clothes as well as some warmer ones. Yee Gods. I don’t understand how I managed to go into baby stores and speak to salespeople who agreed with this and even ENCOURAGED it. A newborn needs warm clothing!

Thankfully, my wonderful friend Virginia gave me a call a week before my due date and gave me some very non-judgy, non-preachy advice of things she wishes she knew before she had babies. When I told her I had only bought a couple of merino onesies in 0000/000 size, she dropped off a bag of warm clothing (socially distanced because I was isolating – YAY PANDEMIC BABIES). I needed all that warm clothing and more, but meanwhile he never wore a scrap of the cotton outfits I bought.

Lactation Coconut Hot Chocolate
$24 by Mammas Milk Bar

While I was in the darkest days of my anxiety I pretty much had an entire rolodex of things I would randomly spin and worry about. Breast feeding is always an easy one to lose your mind over (how much milk are they getting? Is it enough? Is it good enough quality? Am I making enough? Will I continue to make enough? ARRRRRRGHGHGH).

I was quite keen to exclusively breastfeed for as long as I could, so, I bought this powder – actually long before I gave birth – and I do think it helped my supply. Although its main power was probably just psychologically – giving me a moment to stop and drink this while it was still hot and feel like I was doing something to make sure I was looking after my milk supply.

2m iPhone Charger Cable
$12.95, Your Birth Project

Every ‘What to Pack in Your Hospital Bag’ list included one of these, and I’m so glad I bought one. Yes, there is quite a stretch from the power outlet to your hands in the hospital bed, so they definitely come in handy then, but now that I have one at home, I don’t know what I did before.

Haakaa Silicone Colostrum Collector Set
from $12.99, from Your Birth Project

In my research of what I needed to be doing in the final weeks, I figured I definitely needed to start trying to collect colostrum. Except, at 37 weeks, when I intended to start, my partner got Covid and I started doing everything I possibly could to avoid going into labour (the idea of him not being in the room for it was just too much). I read every blog that gave tips for women in their final weeks to get things moving along, and did the exact opposite. With ‘nipple stimulation’ being #1 on most lists, I decided that trying to collect colostrum was obviously out of the question.

Anyhoo, he finally got the all clear and I started trying in my final days – but, the joke was on me, because I now had zilch no matter how hard I tried. A shame, because it would have come in handy at the hospital in the end!

Still, I got plenty of use out of these containers – I began collecting it like a madwoman at the hospital and Hakaa’s unique little silicon squeezy tubes are the best I saw (so said the midwives). They also turned out to be perfect for putting a bit of breastmilk in and dropping in my little guy’s eyes when he got a blocked duct a few times.

Highly recommend. 

Organic Whole Dates, Matakana Superfoods
$22, Your Birth Project

The online course I did said to eat six dates a day for four weeks leading up to birth (apparently it makes labour shorter and easier). I forced down six of these a day (not easy when you have hyperemesis) for just over a week, before, as I mentioned earlier, I put a sharp stop to anything that might increase my chance of going into labour. Alone.

I picked them up again a few days before my due date, but they weren’t going to make much difference for me, because my little guy decided to turn himself around at the last minute and require a c-section. A total waste of time spent fighting my gag reflex.

SnuzPod4
$549 from Edwards and Co

This one is actually a proper necessity, because your baby 100% needs a place to sleep! We toyed with a Moses basket, but the one I looked at seemed to flimsy and small, so we ended up going with the SnuzPod4. Yes, everyone seemed to be raving about it on the net, and yes, it appears justifiably so.

Basically, you have it right next to your bed and it has a side that comes down, so when your little person wakes up and is hungry you can just scoop them up, or fish out their dummy easily and get it back in their mouth. Although, to be honest, maybe our bed is too high (we had the Snuzpod base on its tallest setting) because I couldn’t find a way to rotate around and scoop him out without doing a back injury.

It’s SUPER easy to move around the house though if you’re having naps in different areas of the house.

Airnest Nursing Pillow
$159, from Growbright

At some point on my ‘easily influenced by everyone on the gram’ pregnancy phase, I decided that I needed to take up someone on their 15% discount and get a nursing pillow SO THAT I WAS PREPARED. I write this in capitals because everything on the interweb seemed to be screaming at me to get prepared.

Anyhoo, I had an inkling that I may have just thrown a bunch of cash down the drain when days later I started my zoom antennal class and the midwife said, “Hands up who has a nursing pillow?” which she followed up with, “Congratulations – you’re never going to use it.”

Look, I’m sure there are people who get amazing use out of these, but I only used it (rather clumsily) for the first two days at hospital, until I finally just asked for another normal pillow.

I did use it once more – my midwife came over and checked how the latch was looking and once we were underway feeding, she looked around the room and grabbed this pillow to prop up my elbow. I’m sure any squishy pillow would have done the job, so you definitely don’t need to fork out $160 FOR A PILLOW. My former self is infuriating.

Crane Double Electric Breast Pump
$299 from The Sleep Store

I very nearly didn’t buy a pump before I gave birth because the internet seemed to be a bit split as to whether it was a necessity or not (I realise that by this point I had already bought a special pillow and hot chocolate, and a bunch of Nature Baby cotton shorts for a baby born in Autumn, so I clearly don’t understand the definition of ‘a necessity’). But in reality I needed one of these and ended up using it early on.

And this one is pretty good! I bought a faulty second’s version so it was only $99 (a serious bargain) and have since stocked up on replacement parts – like any pump, the parts wear out, but also, it’s handy to have extras because the whole cleaning/sterilizing palaver takes so long. It’s one thing I have used every single day and I have a love hate relationship with it to this day.

Mum 2 Mum DreamSwaddle
Small, White $39.99 from Farmers (currently trying to black out the $$$$ I spent on others)

Because I had never swaddled a baby before but knew it was important, I bought approximately 8,000 different swaddles to try and get it right. Apparently this isn’t uncommon though, even if you have 12 children, they all seem to like something different.

We started with the Love to Dream Swaddle Up, which seemed to go well the first week so my partner went out and bought two more of them so that we didn’t have to keep up an insane washing schedule and pray at every night feed that he wouldn’t spit up all over it. Well, he outgrew them in a split second, and then even though we thought arms up looks ‘more natural’ like the packaging said – he didn’t seem to be at all comfortable.

Then we got onto old fashioning swaddle, with one particular stretchy cloth that came as a gift (and again, we freaked out about washing it), but then our little Houdini got stronger and started breaking out of it.

Other rejects were the “Miracle” swaddle to be confusing as heck, and the “Tommy Tippee” Swaddle folded his arms over his chest in a way that made him lose his mind (and not in a good way). Finally, we started using the DreamSwaddle, which looks like a straight jacket – and basically is – but it keeps him secure and sleeping and safe. Again, we only had one, which was risky, but after the Love to Dream fiasco I was loathe to buy more, particularly as swaddling days are over in a flash.

Heatpod
$35.49 from Chemist Warehouse

Ok, so I bought this while I was pregnant because I had a frozen shoulder (I HIGHLY recommend not getting one of those, ever but DEFINITELY NOT WHEN YOU HAVE A BABY TO LOOK AFTER), but it has been super helpful, both during pregnancy and for a newborn. It’s basically like a hot water bottle that you instead plug into the wall and charge up – you then get a good 8 hours or so of warmth. This heatpod was wonderful for labour pains and then very handy in newborn days to pop in his bassinet to warm it up before transferring him over.

Finding Nemo Gym
$173.41 from The Nile

Nearly two hundred dollars seems like an insane amount to spend on a contraption like this, but honestly? This one is worth every dollar. I’ve seen a lot of very chic play gyms in beautiful muted earth tones and pastels, perfectly positioned under rays of soft light on the floor of beautifully curated nurseries, buuuuuuuuut, I can’t imagine you have to tear your little one away from playing with them. When my son first saw this gym, with an arch of Finding Nemo toys (from a Dory finger puppet and Squirt rattle, to a  Nemo teether) his little eyes lit up immediately and half an hour later I was wondering how much longer I could leave him in there and still be a good parent. AND at that point I hadn’t even introduced him to the light show – a music and light show that sits above in a canopy created by the body of Mr Ray the stingray. Thanks to this gem I am now able to eat lunch and empty the dishwasher.

Lollipop Monitor
$360 from Precious Pops

For someone with very poor hearing, it took me waaaaay too long to get a baby monitor. I spent the first few weeks using a phone app that allowed you to listen in to what was happening, but a proper baby monitor was a game changer. There are soooo many to choose from, but this is the one we went for and so far I have no regrets. It does a great quality video stream plus sound and you can watch it all through an app on your phone. I also bought a sensor, which is sold separately which also reports on the temperature, humidity and air quality of the room. It may be too much information, but I love it. 

The lollipop also has a bendy tail that means you can wrap it around different surfaces – the bassinet/crib rail, pram handle etc – making it easy to move around. It was the selling point for me, because the bassinet ended up all over the house in those early days. 

The downsides are that we broke the tail within a week or two (yay duct tape!) and, if you want to keep an eye on the video AND actually use your phone, that’s kind of impossible. I also may have a setting wrong but the microphone is seriously sensitive. Sometimes I’ll be on the couch and my partner will cough and then a second later I’ll hear it come back through the microphone in the room two closed doors away even louder than it was directly next to me.

Edwards and Co M2 stroller
$999, from Edwards and Co

This stroller is the MVP. We have used it most days – particularly in those early weeks where he seemed to get his best sleeps when being pushed along in this on walks (I, a once-in-a-blue-moon kind of exerciser cannot believe how many hours I walked for each day, right after a c-section). Full disclaimer – I was gifted this stroller, but I would 100% buy it again. The customer service was amazing – I called up to buy some extras (like a newborn baby insert, sleeping bag etc) and the person on the other end didn’t know I was writing a story/had been gifted this pram, but she was so genuinely helpful and helped me work out which extras were worth buying and a bunch that I probably wouldn’t use for our lifestyle (which I appreciated her saying!)

Baby Bjorn 
$159 from Baby Bunting

Everybody told me I would need at least one baby carrier and that they were a lifesaver. So, I was kind of surprised when I borrowed a Chekoh fabric wrap and he absolutely hated it and then didn’t have much luck with the Baby Bjorn. As he’s gotten older and able to look around more from it he’s slightly more into it – but he’s never going to fall asleep in there.  

Nuna Leaf
$365 from Baby on the Move (or pick one up on TradeMe like I did!)

The idea is your baby can lie back in this cosy little number that gently sways like a leaf in the wind. You can give it a little nudge every couple of minutes, or you can buy a little electric gadget that plugs into the wall to do it for you.

I bought this 2nd hand one in great nick – plus they threw in a toy rail and the swayer for free because it was a bit temperamental.

I’m glad I went for the cheaper option, because, while we got a bit of use out of it in the newborn phase, it certainly hasn’t been an essential. Although, i will say, it became a godsend from about 4 months, when we could set him up in it next to the dinner table and all sit down for a meal, with him happily playing next to us.

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