I had my first baby in December 2020, at the beginning of the London and South East Lockdown. My partner and I were essentially alone, navigating parenthood with Facetime and the internet for support. Luckily, Dan and I had bought some gadgets that made those first few weeks more manageable. Some were recommendations from friends and family, and some were impulse buys, but whether it’s a prep machine or a thermometer, these are gadgets that absolutely saved my life!
Disclaimer: All products listed were purchased by us, or gifted by a family member. I’ve linked to the brand’s website to see the products we bought, however they are available to purchase in lots of different stores, for lower prices. It might take a little searching to find the best deals.
Gro Egg Room Thermometer
An impulse buy from an afternoon in Smyths, our Tommee Tippee Gro Egg has been so useful. As many first time parents know, setting your baby down to sleep can be terrifying. The temperature of a room is thought to be a factor in SIDS, so getting the sleep conditions right is crucial. The Gro Egg is like a little Goldilocks – it lights up with a colour to let us know whether the room is too hot, too cold, or just right.
Ollie the Owl Sleep Aid
Along with the Gro Egg, we bought a white noise toy. It actually came as part of a pack of four products: the Gro Egg, the sleep aid, a Ollie the Owl themed comforter, and a 2.5 Tog Grobag. The sleep aid has been so useful – it’s Baby’s cue that it is time to sleep, and 9 times out of 10, it sends her off within a few minutes.
There are four different settings: two rain sounds, a heartbeat, and a soft lullaby. When Baby was tiny, we used the lullaby to rock her to sleep, then switched to the rain sounds when she was tucked up in her crib. Now, we just click on the rain and leave her to settle herself to sleep. There is also a red light in the owl’s stomach, which is meant to replicate the conditions of the womb, but we don’t really use it.
We have the Ollie the Owl, but there are also a panda and bear in the same style. If Ollie or his friends aren’t quite your style, I would still recommend finding a good white noise machine.
Friends of mine recommended the MAM bottles because they are able to be sterilised in the microwave, but my sister-in-law convinced us to purchase a steriliser. I wasn’t convinced we needed one… In all honesty, I’ve never once sterilised the bottles in the microwave.
You can shell out cash for a branded steriliser, but I opted for a cheaper, unbranded one that still does the job! I think the one we bought is no longer sold, but there are lots of alternatives.
Tommee Tippee Prep Machine
Sticking with Tommee Tippee for a moment, their prep machine was an absolute game changer. Baby was having one bottle of formula a day, and we were doing it the old fashioned way – boiling a kettle, and bunging the bottle in a bowl of cold water to cool. Cooling down a bottle could take up to an hour, and we found ourselves caught out by a screaming infant more than once. When we started to transition her onto formula completely, we realised that it was hard work – surely there had to be a better option.
And there was! My friend recommended the Tommee Tippee Prep Machine way before Baby was born, and I had been sceptical. Some reviews said that mold had built up in the machine, and there were health issues, but others said if it was regularly cleaned, it wouldn’t be an issue. We took the plunge and bought one when Baby turned about 3 months, and we haven’t looked back!
Medela breast pump
I shelled out on an electric Medela pump before Baby was born, not knowing if I’d use it or not. Turns out due to a latching issue, I used it every day for three months. In the end, I had both the electric and manual pump, and found the manual pump to be much more efficient.
You must, must, must check the sizing of the funnels. I found using the Medela incredibly painful for a few weeks, and only realised towards the end of my breast feeding journey that I’d been using the wrong size.
Another life saver was the Fisher Price Infant to Toddler Rocker. At one point, it was the only way to get her to sleep in the evenings. The rocker is suitable for newborns up to the weight of 18kg. Its pattern is eye-catching without being garish, and the vibrations are really strong when on fresh batteries.
Yes, it’s quite an expensive purchase, but when you compare the longevity of this product, to the more expensive, all singing, all dancing bouncers, it’s definitely worth it.
Fisher Price toys
I couldn’t decide which toy to recommend, so I had to share both. Fisher Price are at it again with the BeatBo and the Laugh and Learn Smart Stages Puppy. Although the recordings will drive you to want to rip your own ears off, these toys have been our saviour at some of the more difficult moments.
The puppy was Baby’s first toy, and probably still is her favourite. It has six buttons with over 100 different words, songs and sounds. If you hold down the heart in the centre, the puppy plays all recorded songs – excellent for when you need to leave your baby for a moment to make a bottle, or answer the door.
The BeatBelle (the newer, pink version of the BeatBo) is also an amazing distraction for the baby! It’s more of a dance based toy, with dance style music rather than nursery rhymes. Baby is also in love with the accompanying music on YouTube. I dream the BeatBo Boogie.
By far, the prep machine is the most effective gadget that we bought. It’s made our life so much easier. I’ve only been doing it a few months, but parenting is hard work – there’s no point doing things the ‘traditional’ way when there is a wealth of new technology to help.