Since Alba was born we’ve spent an inordinate amount of time researching baby and toddler products and then trying various items to see what she likes and what we deem essential. So much of it has been trial and error; from finding what helps her sleep, to how she likes to play, what soothes her and which items are a must-have from a safety and wellbeing perspective. There have been products that are a total hit, and other things that she just hasn’t taken to at all. Although she is sleeping in our room at the moment we still have the second bedroom set up as a nursery and it’s lovely seeing her belongings in there – both things she already loves and items she will no doubt come to love as she grows older.
One of the solutions we looked at for her to use from birth was something for her to sit in, either a bouncer or a swing. This was essential for two reasons; firstly to give her something with movement she would enjoy (and hanging toys she could look at and reach for), and secondly to give us somewhere to place her whilst we did things like cook dinner or tidy up (of course always supervised and in the same room). Although many people use a Moses Basket to place the baby down during the day, Alba has always loved having something that moves and has engaging things to look at and play with.
We considered the movement that Alba likes best, and she loves to be ‘rocked’ so this Infant to Toddler Rocker* by Fisher Price was the perfect solution. So many of the baby items we’ve bought don’t exactly fit with our lounge colour scheme (the perils of having children!) but this terrazzo print is contemporary and minimalist enough to mean we don’t have to hide it in the cupboard. She absolutely loves batting at the overhead toys and making the spinning balls make a noise and will play with them and even just gaze at them quite happily, meaning I can have a well-earned cup of tea! One of my priorities is to find products that have longevity, and this adjusts into a toddler chair so she’ll be able to continue using it as she grows. It’s sturdy and well-made and the seat pad is machine washable which I’ve already learned is an incredibly useful feature for a small baby!
For several weeks I had real trouble settling Alba and she would cry for (seemingly) hours on end both during the day and when I tried to put her down at night. Several people recommended the Snuz Cloud Sleep Aid* – this cute looking cloud has four different sounds (pink noise is Alba’s favourite) as well as two different light options – I love the soft glow of the pink night lights. The great things about the Snuz Cloud is it’s so portable; I can hang it off the side of her crib or in her pram when I take her out for walks. It’s another item that fits right in in her nursery too without obviously looking like a white noise machine, and as she gets older I’m sure she’ll love the fact that it’s so soft and snuggly. White noise (or pink noise as it’s a slightly lower pitch than white noise) is great not only for lulling babies to sleep, but can also be helpful for masking other noises such as road noise outside or the sound of other siblings!
We’ve always tried to have a defined night time routine for Alba to calm her and help her differentiate between a daytime nap and bedtime. We usually pull the blinds down and make the room dark except for her night light and then we give her a bath 2-3 times a week. I love bathtime with her, it’s a great bonding opportunity and she loves splashing around in the warm water. To make sure the water is the right temperature we use a Tommee Tippee Bath Thermometer* to get it to between 36.5 and 38 celsius (though she’ll immediately tell us if it’s too cold!) We have a very basic bath but I wish I’d got this bath with a built in set of scales as I have no idea how much Alba weighs now that the usual appointments aren’t running. During bathtime we use the Child’s Farm Baby Wash to give her a good sponge down and then she goes straight in her hooded bath towel to keep her warm.
After she’s dried off she goes into her sleepsuit and sleeping bag and she currently sleeps in a Next2Me Crib next to our bed. Even though she’s still only 11 weeks old we still often read a book before bed and she really seems to enjoy it – I’ve also loved building up her book collection (I’ve gone for mostly board books at the moment as she’s already putting everything she can grab at in her mouth!)
One of the things I had no idea about when we brought Alba home is how to dress her for bed – especially as we’ve had several really warm nights recently and our bedroom tends to stay quite warm overnight. It’s an absolute must-have to use the Gro-Egg as a temperature indicator (and one of the things everyone told us we must have before we brought her home). The Egg has a temperature gauge to let you know the temperature of the room, and also has a colour changing system to let you know whether it’s too hot or too cold. (It was too light in the room when I took the picture but at night it’s very clear which colour it’s glowing). There’s also a helpful guide you can download to then use the colours to work out what your baby should be sleeping in – e.g. the correct tog sleeping bag and what they can wear underneath. Alba is mostly sleeping in a very low tog sleeping bag and either a nappy or a short-sleeved sleepsuit at the moment where it’s been so hot and it’s been really reassuring to have that information rather than worrying I’ve over or underdressed her.
Alba is currently fascinated by lights and shapes so I also set up this Chicco Next 2 Stars Nightlight* next to her crib (it actually attaches directly to the side which is really useful) and it projects glowing stars on the wall behind her, which she loves gazing up at. It also plays soothing music and the sensor detects her crying and switches back on if she cries in the night. I tend to use this one as a permanent fixture on her crib and then use the Snuz Cloud to keep downstairs or in her pram to settle her during the day.
If you’re looking to invest in a nightlight but want something more portable then I love this Chicco Baby Bear Night Projector*. It’s another item that’s really functional but also fits right in when placed in the cot and just looks like another toy. A button on the bear’s belly activates the different light effects, and it also plays a lovely relaxing melody that goes into stand-by after 20 minutes. We have several trips booked over the next few months (mostly caravan holidays, and with a small car we’ll need to pack light!) and this will be easy to throw in the bag to go in her travel cot.
These are definitely the items we use the most as part of Alba’s bedtime routine, and for settling her during the day. Personally I didn’t buy a baby monitor as I use my phone and an older phone and the Baby Monitor 3G app. Of course there is the pram, and any accessories you might need for feeding your baby, and then once you’re well stocked with muslins, blankets, sleeping bags and sleepsuits and a bath towel you’ve ticked off most of the baby and toddler essentials! I’d love to know what you consider your nursery essentials? What did your baby love as a newborn?