The best things in life are free, and money can’t buy you all the lovely stuff like hugs and giggles blah blah blah.
But there are some things money can buy and they have made my life a bit easier this last year.
Loads of people recommended this, while some – I seem to recall – referred to it as ‘the circle of neglect’. For us the Fisher Price Jumperoo was a life saver. Bear enjoyed the lights, the songs and jumping up and down on top of a few stacked Next catalogues (her feet didn’t reach the floor) and, I imagine, the independence of being upright while not being in my arms. For us, knowing she was safely contained and entertained while we went to the loo, had a shower, answered the door or made lunch at lightning speed kept us sane.
Then she started crawling and it went up in the loft. But for 6 months it was a very welcome addition to our lounge.
Mamas & Papas Baby Snug
Bear’s weaning journey began in the Mamas & Papas Baby Snug (or a Bumbo, to all intents and purposes). Her bottom was too small for the highchair* and she kept slumping down so far I could no longer see her mouth to feed her, so we went for this. She’s now in a highchair for the most part, but we still get loads of use out of the Snug when we go to other people’s houses – it’s easy to stick in the car, the tray means she can safely sit up at the table with everyone else, and it makes for a good Peter Kay-style emergency chair when they don’t have a highchair.
It’s a much better alternative to feeding her on one of our laps, too, which is akin to wrestling with an octopus and not something I would recommend.
*Contrary to popular belief, she doesn’t take after her Mother.
My Pal Scout
I spent 7 years or so in technology PR, working with some big international IT companies and getting to grips with the latest gadgets. So what better way to put my skills to good use than connecting a….errr….green toy dog to my laptop?
Bear’s Aunty and Uncle bought her the LeapFrog ‘My Pal Scout’ when she was born. His predecessor – a green frog called Tad – was our nephew’s favourite when he was little, but he’d morphed into a dog by 2013 (the frog, not our nephew). That is quite possibly the weirdest thing I have ever written.
Anyway, you can programme names, favourite colours, food and animals into its memory and select various different daytime and bedtime songs. We now leave it singing for 10 minutes when Bear goes to bed and he kindly serenades her to sleep (which – for anyone with ears – is much better than me singing a lullaby).
Scout’s only downside is his tendency to crash every now and again, resulting in either constant barking or buzzing in the corner of her cot. But as with all good pets, you’ve just got to connect him up to the computer and control-alt-delete. Et voila! A career as a vet is calling me, I just know it!
AirWrap Cot Bumper
This bad boy has been a godsend in the recent hot weather. All I really wanted Bear to sleep in was a nappy and vest, but the wooden slats in her cot meant that her arms and legs would fall through – cue end-of-the-world-type crying at all hours of the night.
After a quick trawl of t’internet I discovered this little gem – the AirWrap Cot Bumper – either a 2-sided or 4-sided (depending on your cot) bumper made of the same mesh as a traditional travel cot. It fastens using velcro and ties and is then perfectly breathable and safe, meaning she can sleep in just a vest and doesn’t have to practice her ‘how to be a drama queen’ impression when her arm falls out at 2am.
Gro-Anywhere Blackout Blind
I think I was late to the party with this one, but it’s another staple part of packing when we are staying away from home.
As soon as Bear started sleeping in her own room we worked out pretty quickly that she sleeps better if it’s really dark. And I mean dark. The kind of dark where you can’t see your hand in front of your face when you turn the light off, or the kind where you can’t see the corner of the cot and you inevitably stub your toe (it hurts, trust me).
Her room at home is fine, but when we go away it’s not always the same – and we live in fear of her waking up with the sun if the room is so light she might as well sleep in the garden. So we invested in the Gro-Anywhere Blackout Blind – it’s massive, it sticks to the window easily and it is arguably better than the roller blind in her bedroom at home. And I’ve tested it thoroughly using the toe-stub method; it really does work!