Obviously, this post won't be particularly interesting to anyone who doesn't have a baby or isn't planning on having one - if you're in that category, please feel free to skip this post - but I wanted to share some items I've found really invaluable in my 6 months of mumming.
When I first found out I was pregnant I incessantly Googled, trying to figure out '...BUT WHAT DO I ACTUALLY NEED?!'. I read a lot of posts including items that different mothers thought were essential ("YOU MUST HAVE A BABY WIPE WARMER!") and eventually I just felt like I was being sold a whole lot of stuff I didn't need and couldn't afford. I really just wanted to work out the most economical, environmentally-friendly and hassle-free way to raise my baby. Not really finding the answers to my questions, leading up to Theo being born I collected a bunch of stuff that I assumed we would need - some things I used for one week (in-bed co-sleeper) and other items have been used to death. 6 months in, there are a couple of items that have really made things a lot easier and that I'd recommend...
While I was pregnant I was certain that we would use cloth nappies (for financial and environmental reasons) and I did a lot of research into the best kinds, but I knew that Theo being born into a Tasmanian Winter meant that sunlight for drying clothes would be scarce and we couldn't really afford the cost of buying and running a drier. We settled on a hybrid type nappy called 'Gently' which is made from sports grade nylon and you buy packs of inserts to go inside which are made from bamboo and biodegrade in two months (you can even put them in your own compost). They were very appealing to me because knowing that from the time your baby is born until they are toilet trained you'll use approximately 5000 nappies and regular disposable nappies take somewhere beyond 100 years to biodegrade. Other biodegradable nappies I'd seen were prohibitively expensive. Once you buy the outer shells (about $5 each) the packs of inserts cost significantly less than disposable nappies, so win-win. They're a really good fit, very absorbent, very light and extremely hardy. They're so light, they dry in half an hour and we just rinse them if we need to and don't have to put them through the washing machine very often. If you're in Australia and you're interested in using them this website sells them cheaply and has very minimal postage costs.
Before I had Theo I thought nursing pillows were totally unnecessary, but I quickly changed my tune after nursing for a few weeks. I spent a lot of time browsing eBay and Gumtree looking for a good and affordable pillow, but postage was always prohibitive. Lo and behold, I was op-shopping one day and as soon as I walked in the door I saw the exact nursing pillow I had been looking for - for $10! I had been using a V shaped pillow but really wanted something firmer and that attached to my body, to make feeding more comfortable. This one has been great (it's brand is Easy Peasy Designs, if you're interested) and it's actually designed for twins, so you can nurse in different positions. It also means that I can have my hands free to do other things if I need to. My only issue with this design is that when Theo has fallen asleep after feeding and I want to take the pillow off, the sound of undoing the velcro wakes him up! A possible design flaw, but otherwise, an investment I would highly recommend (especially if you can get one secondhand too) - it makes nursing much more comfortable.
I saw the Arm's Reach Mini Co-sleeper online when I was first pregnant, but thought that it was out of my price range new and couldn't find any second hand in my area. I kept looking online over the past few months and ended up seeing one at a really good price in my state and jumped at it (hooray for eBay bid snipers). It is basically a cot that has one side that fastens down and you push up against your bed (it has straps that secure it in place and can be raised to fit most bed heights). It basically means that we can have Theo in close proximity but not have to share our bed with him. I can feed him or change him during the night and then just pop him straight back into his cot beside me and when he stirs during the night, I can just reach over and re-insert his dummy or rock him back to sleep. We haven't had it for very long and he will eventually grow out of it, but so far it has been an excellent investment. He is at the age where he'll start pushing himself up, but he sleeps in a Woombie (something I'd also recommend - there are lots of different brands, but they're basically a light sleeping bag with a zipper and they keep them nice and secure) so he can't push or pull himself up while he's wearing one. I would have really liked to have bought one of the larger sized Arm's Reach Co-sleepers, but due to regulations, they're not available to purchase in Australia anymore (perhaps due to the fact that they can be used for older babies, but they could possibly pull themselves up and fall out). Ps. Theo is always supervised around the cats.
Another item which has been a godsend for us has been a Jolly Jumper. Our child health nurse doesn't recommend using them (however, she said when her children were young they all used one and it was a godsend for her), but we use ours for short periods of time, completely supervised and it is literally the best part of Theo's day - he enjoys it so much and uses lots of energy. We were given ours by a friend and I highly recommend them.
The pram we use is a Stokke Xplory. Before I was even pregnant I was a bit obsessed with this pram. When I was a couple of months pregnant I hunted one down secondhand in Sydney and got my parents to bring it down for us on the plane when they visited when Theo was born. Even though I bought this pram second hand, it was my one BIG splurge and I definitely could not have bought one brand new and it took me a long time to feel like the outlay on it was justified. Ours came with a ridiculous amount of extras (a blanket, cup holder, rain cover, mosquito net, extra textiles set, two bags, a basinette, a parasol, etc) which I would never have forked out for otherwise (um, $40 for a cup holder? $100 for a blanket?). I am still really in love with this pram - it keeps Theo up really high (or can be adjusted lower), is really hardy, can be used as a high chair, manoeuvres around really well, the wheels can be clapped together to help in pulling it upstairs, faces forward and backward and of course, it's pretty cute. Probably my only issue with it is that it's definitely an urban pram and not for any terrain besides the footpath/road. C has become a bit obsessed with a really fancy pram called an Origami, but I'm committed to the Xplory. I am definitely not a pram snob and think that there are a number of much more affordable prams that would do the job just as well, but this was my one spoil. I wanted a really fun, practical, cute pram so that it would encourage me to get out of the house and go for walks and it has done just that. I will say though that if you're considering getting one, be prepared that people will always be telling you how cute and 'space age' it is but often forgetting about your cute baby inside it!
They're basically my only big recommendations. Everything else (e.g. wipes, clothes, etc) I don't really have a preference for.
Do you have any recommendations to share?