We have have come to the end of another baby age group and I thought I would round up my must haves we found invaluable during this period.
I have divided these up into categories and will do my best to be concise. That said I have a feeling this will be a long post so grab a cup of tea and get comfy.
• Sleeping bags – I’m a huge believer is putting kids down to sleep in sleeping bags as long as you can. I love being secure in the knowledge that Willow is warm and comfy and won’t kick her blankets off in the night. The one we used during the winter months was one I found at Cotton On and it was fantastic. She now sleeps in tthe Aden and Anais Bamboo Sleeping Bag for the summer months.
• Swaddles – Willow thrived as a swaddled baby and slept so well while we were doing it. I have a whole post on transitioning her out of the swaddle, which you can read here. I go into more detail about the swaddles we used there.
• White Noise – We moved Willow into her own room during this period and she took to it really well. However, I have learned that she needs a few things for successful sleep (I do these things when we travel as well and it really seems to help). She needs a dark or dim room, her favourite blanket and white noise. I use an old iPad with a white noise app and it works like a bomb.
• Dribble bibs – Willow was an early teether and a real drool machine. We had days where she soaked through her bibs! I loved these dribble bibs as they kept her chest dry, provided a little extra warmth in the cold months and were very cute and went with her outfits (yep, I’m that mom!).
• Teething toys – your teething baby has an overwhelming urge to chew on everything. When a particularly strong twinge strikes Willow she gets almost frantic about chewing on something (the downward pressure from chewing provide pain relief for the baby). We had a variety of what I call chew toys for her stashed around the house. You can ready about the ones I like here.
• Baby painkiller – Being an early teether it seemed that Willow woke up one morning and had teeth. I was all smug about it too. There was no drama, the process was smooth as anything. Well I can tell you Karma is a bitch and that the bottom teeth are a piece of cake. Just wait until those top teeth start cutting! Then you need the painkillers. We used Panado (on the recommendation of our doctor) which is paracetamol based. It did the trick and helped Willow get some sleep at night.
• Teejel – This stuff helped on quite a few occasions. Its a topical numbing gel that helps relieve teething pain. I mainly used it at night before bed. A small amount goes a long way and my tiny tube is still going strong.
• A good blender – We bought the Swann bullet shaped blender and it has made making baby food so easy! It is small and compact so it doesn’t take up too much counter space – this means its always out and I can just blend something up in a flash when I need to. So convenient.
• Giant silicone ice trays – I came across these randomly in a Checkers and they were R50 each. They are perfect for baby food as one cube normally does the job and if Willow is very hungry I can quickly defrost another. They are also dishwasher friendly and easy to depot thanks to the felixible silicone.
• Feeding spoons – When Willow first started solids I loved these spoons from Spuni. The were soft and shallow so she found them very easy to eat from. Now that she’s bigger and better at eating I prefer these colourful spoons from Munchkin. Still soft and easy on her teeth and gums they hold more food and Willow prefers them.
• Bibs – Mealtimes and are messy and bibs are a must. Our favourites are these from Mum2mum and these silicone ones. The Mum2mum bibs are machine washable and tumble drierable. I have washed them what feels like a millions times and they are still soft and comfy. Also they have a nice wide neck that covers the shoulders thus Willow doesn’t get as much food on her clothes. The silicone ones are great. They clean easily, are great for travel and have a scoop to catch falling food. Willow uses the scoop as a flavour saver, especially for finger foods, and you will often see her retrieving bits of strawberry or cheese from her bib.
• A crawling tunnel – I got mine from a little toy shop for R180 and have since added a Melissa and Doug one to our collection. Now that Willow is mobile I have set up an obsticle course in the lounge and she loves to crawl through the tunnels. She will voluntarily climb into them and you see it shaking wildly as she makes her way through. Babies this age as figuring out spatial awareness and the tunnels are great for teaching her this. They will also be great when she’s older for hide and seek and other games.
• Jumperoo – I think in America this is an exersaucer? I may be wrong. Ours is from Fisher Price and is fantastic. It had a wide base that makes it very stable, it makes fun sounds, it has five activity stations, a 360 degree rotating seat and mobiles – everything a baby wants. Willow loves hers and will bounce so enthusiastically in it. I think its time in out house is almost over though as she is quickly out growing it, but its been great for building strength in her legs and keeping her occupied. Please note though, that this should be used in moderation – we use it for 15 minutes or so once or maybe twice a day.
• Balls – Again a toy all kids love and that will grow with them. We have a vast collection of balls in our house from very large beach balls size to small baby fist size and everything in between. They are awesome for when the baby starts to get mobile because they roll away from them and therefore encourage babies to chase them. This is how Willow got her start in crawling.
• Bubbles – If Willow could she would make me blow bubbles for her all day long. She gets so excited when the bubble container comes out that she starts to wave her arms and shout. She will then clap and ask me to blow more for ages. She loves trying to catch them. Bubbles are also great for babblers as you can encourage them to make B and P sounds when the “Bubbles Pop!”.
• Stacking towers or building blocks – Willow is still in the destruction phase. She enjoys for me to build towers for her to knock down. She also loves to chew on the blocks and bang them together. Blocks and stacking towers are great for language development. You can talk about what colour they are, if they have numbers on them, how they are on top of, inside or underneath something. They are incredibly versatile.
• A bucket – Bear with me here. Babies this age often love to unpack things – they are in a phase of development where they learn by taking things apart. A bucket provides the perfect platform for this. We use one than is rectangular and quite shallow so Willow can reach into it. She keeps herself entertained for ages by taking things out of the bucket. I have filled it with a variety of her toys and she will often crawl over to it and start taking things out. It is great fun for a baby.
• Books – We love books in our house. I read to Willow every night and I have a pile of soft books and board books as one of her activity stations. She often crawls over to the books and will choose one and page through it. Of course it ends up being chewed on, but I love that its something she is already showing interest in.
• Lactation vitamins and Supergreens supplements – This is for the mommies. I often find that my nutrition lacks when I have a busy day with Willow – especially busy days that follow sleepless nights (these days involve lots of tea and carbs). So I am dedicated to taking my vitamins. I take Lactocare vitamins, which are a multivitamin and omega supplement combo. I also take a super green supplement as an added booster and I definitely notice a difference when I do. These include different grasses and seaweeds in a convenient pill form. All the health benefits and non of the weird taste!
• Big girl car seat and mirror – Travelling with Willow can be difficult – especially long distance trips. But it has been much easier since we moved her into a bigger car seat and got a mirror. We really should have gotten a mirror earlier, but hey. I love that I can see her and she can see me. The seat means she is now high enough now to start looking out the windows and driving around is a lot more pleasant.