So there is very little you actually need when looking after a baby. Even special toys aren’t that important because they usually find bits of paper or coat hangers more entertaining to play with. (In fact H’s favourite ‘toy’ right now is Sam’s old passport!). But there are lots of things which make life easier if you have the space and the money. Below are my top 8 helpful gadgets which I find make my life easier save me a bit of valuable time:
- Tumble Dryer: We didn’t have one at the start of this year but bought one within a week of H being born. I am a massive fan of line drying when I can. It’s free, energy efficient and makes the clothes nice and fresh. But for a fair proportion of the year in Britain that’s not possible. On cold days clothes can take ages to dry on an airer so tumble drying gets clothes dry quickly, stops them going a bit stagnant and stops airers from cluttering up the house.
- Handheld vacuum cleaner: Once H started eating finger food, it inevitably started going on floor. Sometimes it’s accidental. Often it’s very deliberate. I did my best to clean up with a dust pan and brush but I’d miss bits and by the time I got the big hoover out it would be trampled everywhere. There are lots of good value small vacuum cleaners on the market. We were fortunate that my Dad had a spare Dyson DC59 Animal he gave us. But this Vax was also recommended to us if we’d had to buy ourselves.
- Video monitor: There is a risk that you can become a bit obsessed with checking a video monitor. But with some self discipline it does mean you can see whats going on so without going in to your baby’s room unnecessarily. During very unsettled times when a baby won’t stop crying they sometimes just need leaving for a bit (I’m not talking about ‘crying it out’ but just leaving them to see if they’ll calm down after a few minutes!). With a video monitor you can stay out the room but with the confidence that they aren’t trapped or something. I’ve read on some forums too that when they reach Toddlerhood it means you can check they aren’t up to no good!
- A phone with a good camera: Most of us have a point-and-click camera and these days a lot of people have a digital SLR or bridge camera. But let’s be honest, not many of us keep them right at hand to capture special baby moments, especially when that baby is trying to grab and chew any bit of tech it can see. These days a lot of phones have really good cameras for doing close shots or little videos. I upgraded my phone last November and got a Song Xperia Z3 and the camera is excellent, so much so it prompted Sam to move to a Sony Z5 when he recently upgraded. Phones aren’t cheap but if you have an upgrade coming, go to a shop and test out the cameras before making a decision!
- Digital under-arm or in-ear thermometer: Babies get temperatures but it can be really hard to tell if they are feverish or just warm. The fingers down the top test is great but in the winter we often have cold hands. Plus I don’t really know what a fever feels like enough to know when I might need to take H to see a doctor. After a Health Visitor freaking us out after H was born by saying she was too cold, we bought an under arm thermometer. Based on age it will take the temperature and then turn green, amber or red to guide whether the temperature is a concern. I think in-ear are supposed to be the most accurate but they cost a lot more.
- Digital room thermometer: A digital thermometer for your little one’s room means you know exactly what to dress them in for bed. If you can stretch to one with a screen for downstairs then that’s even better. We got a weather station as one of our wedding presents. When we had H we moved the indoor unit in to the room she slept in. When she moved to her own room it meant we had no idea of the temperature outside. So we bought an additional unit which came with 3 additional sensors to put round the house. Now we not only know what temperature her room is when we’re in there, but we can see if her room starts getting too chilly in the evening.
- Perfect Prep bottle maker: From the outside this one might seem frivolous; Indeed Sam did question it’s use when I proposed getting one. It really is a ‘nice to have’ but we have found it actually invaluable because it makes getting a bottle ready really quick and easy. You often need to get one made-up when you’re late getting in from the shops or hear stirring from a nap and this means you can make a safe bottle without not having to stand cooling it down under the tap (wasting water to boot). We also use it for H’s water.
- Microwave: Okay so many of you will be surprised that not everyone has a microwave but it’s true, not everyone does. We didn’t have one until a few years ago and my friend with a 6 month old has only just got one. With a small person though it’s really handy for re-heating food. If like me you batch cook food then you’ll use this several times a day to heat things up or to get something defrosted when you forgot to get meals out of the freezer in the morning!