7 products I wish I’d known about BEFORE I became a new parent

Words by Adrienne (Stylish Bump)
16 April, 2019

7 products I wish I’d known about BEFORE I became a new parent

Some women like nesting. It’s a natural part of the pregnancy process. The urge to organise and re-organise everything before baby comes, both around the house in the nursery. That overwhelming desire to get your home ready before your baby arrives. It’s instinctive, it’s strong and every mother to-be has it. I had it in spades!

I nested in shops. Literally! I spent my lunch hour in the infant department of stores, wandering around looking for things I wanted. But knowing the RIGHT things to buy, that was the tricky part. And I’m sure most first-time parents feel the same. Sure there’s the big ticket items you KNOW you need: a stroller, car seat, cot...

Yet it was the smaller, everyday products as a Mama to-be I was confused about. There’s just so much to choose from! The cotton blanket or the bamboo blanket? Do I need a vapouriser, or an air filter? Video monitor or sound monitor? Onesies with zips, feet in or out, reversible, organic cotton, press studs, 100% cotton...?! Aagghhh!

It’s had to scale my list down to just seven because when you think about it, EVERY product that helps you get through the day as a parent is a winner (coffee and ABC4Kids are a given!)

But when I look back at my early parenting days, and acknowledge just HOW important these products were during that first year – every single day – I knew they had to make the list. While many products come down to personal preference, I just KNOW these will make your life that little bit easier.

Here’s the 7 products I wish I’d known about before I became a new parent:

1. Baby Wipes

Baby Wipes? But everyone knows you need baby wipes. Wipes are wipes, aren’t they?! But GOOD quality baby wipes, exactly WHICH baby wipes and just HOW important they are to your everyday life was completely news to me.

As a first-time parent preparing the nursery I just bought the baby wipes that were on special at my local supermarket. Fast forward a few weeks later and I’d gone through packets and packets of wipes, always buying whatever was on special for my baby bag and for the nursery. But after using far too many – sometimes half a packet a day, or worse, inflicting nappy rash on my precious newborn from the cheap wipes, I realised they actually weren’t all the same.

Once you discover the ‘good’ wipes you realise you’ve been wasting your money.

Cheap wipes are a false economy – they’re thinner so they rip easily, and you end up using more, and aren’t as moist so don’t work as well. Thick, large and extra moisturising, the Thankyou Baby wipes are now a staple in our nursery, the nappy bag, even the car.

Because they’re strong and thick you don’t need to use as many either. With all natural ingredients, water-based, no parabens, and no fragrances I know they’re only getting the best for their little bottoms (and faces!) And my walls. And floors. And car seats, and... everywhere!

2. Swaddle wrap

I’m a big believer in swaddling newborns and babies for sleep, and have found that they sleep more soundly and settle quicker if they’re swaddle wrapped. Swaddling really is the best way to get a baby to settle themselves for sleep, and to sleep through their sleep cycles and avoid sudden wake-ups from the ‘Moro’ reflex, or startle reflex (amongst other things like a full tummy and being warm.)

But there are so many baby wraps and swaddles now on the market, it has become really confusing to know what to buy, and what exactly you should be looking for in a wrap.

I bought no less than four different types of swaddles when I was pregnant first time ‘round. I had read all about the benefits of swaddling, so knew that it was a must-have in the nursery, but I had no idea which one to buy. I bought Velcro ones, zipped ones, muslin ones and cotton ones. I bought four-packs and spent the first few weeks of parenthood desperately trying them all in the hope that she’d stay in it, and sleep!

I eventually discovered the Double wrap cotton swaddle and never looked back. It has two inner wraps for the arms, and two outer layers to wrap your whole baby up. Cleverly, for novices like me, it had numbers on each side so I knew where to start and swaddle wrap in the right order. She never escaped that wrap and for months she was happy to be swaddled and stay that way for her whole sleep. I used it for my other two daughters too and tell everyone and anyone who is pregnant about it!

3. Nappy Balm

I wasn’t aware of the benefits of nappy balm until it came to the point where I HAD to buy it for nappy rash. I’d heard of Sudocreme, but soon realised that was more for the repair of nappy rash. By then it was too late. When I discovered the Thankyou Baby nappy balm it was a revelation and never again did I buy nappy rash cream.

Applying the nappy balm at all the frequent morning nappy changes and the all-important night-time nappy helped to create a barrier to help stop nappy rash and keep the area soft and moisturised. Thankyou Baby’s nappy balm has olive oil and beeswax and is just thick enough to protect their bottom, but not so thick it gets stuck under your fingernails. And the best bit, it’s in a squeeze tube so you can easily apply it. A nappy bag and nursery staple that I also use from time-to-time on my older girls too, to prevent any rash they may get from hasty wiping.

4. Bouncer or rocker/swing

During my first pregnancy I was given a small rocker for my Baby Shower and used it for everything: day naps, playtime, story time, I even fed my babies their first solids meals in that rocker because they were still too little for their high chair. It was such a useful baby product. By the time my second daughter came along it was too grotty, so we upgraded to a motorised swing. And let me tell you, it’s not until you already have a child that a rocker/swing REALLY comes into its own.

I would say with absolute certainty that this was THE most practical and useful product I had. Not only to keep them entertained while they were still in my sight and safely off the floor, but provided some entertainment for my older child as well. They could gently swing them, play the music or with the moving toys, pass their sibling some toys and feel as though they had some part in ‘helping’ Mummy. My baby was happy enough to sit in there for an hour or more, which is so unbelievably handy when you have other things to get on with.

Best of all, my babies could sleep in their swing wherever I was - in the lounge room or outside in the courtyard – happy, safely and comfortably. The one I bought had a slow swinging function, so it was ideal to help them drift off to sleep for day naps, just enough time to do some housework, get dinner ready or drink a cup of tea (while hot!) An investment piece, but one that really paid off.

5. Baby Carrier

This may already be on your list, but a baby carrier was a daily life-saver. Which baby carrier you choose is definitely a personal choice, whether you prefer the traditional sling carrier, a forward-facing carrier with back support or a carrier with all the bells and whistles including pockets, adjustable straps, front and rear wearing and fully supportive right up to toddlerhood, a baby carrier is a must-have.

The witching hour is one of those hush-hush times of parenthood that no-one tells you about! Well beyond the so-called hour, the witching hour is the restless afternoon to bedtime period when it seems nothing will satisfy your baby. ALL my babies went through it for hours at a time, every single day, and sometimes the only thing that would keep them happy was to be held. Almost impossible when you have errands to run, dinner to prepare or other children to care for, a baby carrier was a real life-saver during this time, allowing me to get on with the day while carrying my bub with my hands free.

I highly recommend trying before you buy when it comes to carriers, because they’re all different and vary in features, so personal choice is a huge factor when choosing the right carrier for you. After all, you’ll be the one wearing it, not the baby!

6. Milk wash

I wasn’t aware of the benefits of a milk wash for baby’s bath time until I started using one. After a ‘discussion’ with my husband about how frequently our first baby needed a bath – ‘surely she doesn’t need a bath EVERY day? She’s not even dirty!’ I started to wonder if bathing her every day was beneficial. It was great for her routine, but what if it was drying her out, or removing all the natural oils from her body?

In researching the benefits of baby baths I soon discovered that baby’s skin is five times thinner than an adults, both the outer layer and the collagen of the skin. This means that baby’s skin is much more prone to dryness, more sensitive and more susceptible to picking up germs. It also means that daily baths are not only beneficial to keep babies clean, but also to help them keep moisturised. A milk wash like Thankyou Baby milk bath wash that’s made with plant-based oils and enriching goat’s milk can help to keep them extra moisturised as well as clean. The milk bath wash is mild and gentle so can be used every day, and is soap free so won’t dry them out after the bath.

7. Portable bath

Speaking of baths, I know of many parents that haven’t worried about purchasing a portable bath before their baby came along. Not considering it an essential item, they wrongly assume they’ll be able to bathe their teenie tiny newborn in the laundry tub or the family bath. Let me tell you, this is very difficult. Sure, babies will fit in practically ANY household sink, but wet babies are extremely slippery and the last thing you want to do is drop them under water – the screams! – bang their fragile little head on the tap, or worse, drop them onto the bench or floor. It’s far too dangerous.

Bath time needs to be a relaxing and calming part of your baby’s routine in the evenings, so having a compact, portable bathtub you can put up high on a bench in the bathroom, laundry or kitchen at a height you can manage makes life much easier. It will also save water only having to fill up a small space, and allow you to make close eye contact with your baby to reassure them everything is OK. You’ll be able to easily reach for the wash cloth or baby bath wash while you’re safely holding them. Besides, portable bathtubs are very cheap and can be used to wash the dog or toddler water play in the backyard when they outgrow it!

No matter what your choices are, you need to consider your own needs and lifestyle. But these were the seven that I WISH I’d known about as a new parent - to save time, money and make parenting that little bit easier. What are the products you wish you’d known about before you became a parent?

- Words by Adrienne (Stylish Bump)

Adrienne is a mum of three girls, Ava 6, Sasha 5, Marnie 2. By profession, a PR Manager and ex-journo, but after having her three girls in quick succession and picking up lots of great tips on pregnancy, motherhood, and babies she went on to create Stylish Bump; a treasure trove of stylish content for all mums out there.