10 best products for new parents to help you get through the toughest times of parenthood
Bring baby home to some genuinely useful accessories, that have all been given the seal of approval by parents (and mini testers)
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As well as all the unconditional love, sleep deprivation and nappy changes, being a first-time parent often brings about a sense of overwhelming confusion.
What am I doing? Is that a poo cry or a milk cry? Will life ever be the same again?
These are all frequent internal (and sometimes external) queries of the new parent – and each is hard to answer without experience or a philosophy degree.
However, some things about new parenthood are easy to diagnose.
Like exactly what you absolutely need to make it through the first few months with a new baby.
From breast pumps to bubble bath, these are the best products for new parents.
Muslin swaddle: £22.80, Aden + Anais
The muslin is without doubt one of the most multifunctional items any parent can have in their armoury. These are particularly special because of the gorgeous designs. We loved the safari themed ones but you can plump for bold stars, birds and splodges to name a few. We used ours as a play mat, for swaddling, draped over our pram as a sunshield, as a towel and, of course, during feeding to mop up milk, puke and dribble. What sets these apart is the size – they’re whopping – and they feel so soft.
Ewan the dream sheep deluxe, purple: £39.99, Sweet Dreamers
Bedtime battles leading to broken nights’ sleep and pre-dawn wake ups are all literally living nightmares for parents. Making a baby sleep – and ensuring they stay asleep – is one of the hardest challenges of parenthood (and to those of you whose baby just nods off on command, be thankful, and quiet).
Ewan the sheep serves as a sleep aid for babies who fight sleep. Not only is Ewan cute and cuddly, he also works very hard, too. We love the four different white noises he makes – vacuum cleaner, harp, rain and the sound from the womb – not to mention the pink glow light from his tummy. Over a period of a week, we found the rain sound to be particularly effective in soothing a five-month-old into slumber, but we wish that Ewan would “last” longer, rather than shutting off after 20 minutes.
Sophie la Giraffe teether gift box: £11.99, John Lewis & Partners
This rubber beauty has been an enduring popular nursery staple since 1961. Sophie encourages sensual development; touch, vision, hearing, taste and smell are all addressed by her. Made from the sap of the hevea tree, we noticed that Sophie had a soft but distinctive smell that comforts babies and invites them to chew. The rubber makes for a gentle teether and feels a little like a bottle’s teat. Our five-month-old tester was thrilled by Sophie’s inbuilt squeaker and couldn’t get enough of the squeezing! Given that she does so much, Sophie is brilliant value for money.
Organic hooded bear towel: £26.95, The Little Green Sheep
Bath time is a key step in any baby’s evening routine. Encouraging good associations with the tub will make everyone’s life a whole lot easier in the long run, and a cosy towel for your little one is an essential part of that. This 100 per cent organic micro-cotton version, with a playful bear design on the hood, is so soft that a baby’s skin is going to be nurtured and protected. We really liked how easily it absorbed water, unlike those comprised of man-made fibres, which often seem to repel liquid!
Medela swing single electric breast pump: £134.99, Medela
If you choose to breastfeed we advise getting your hands on a breast pump. Not only will using a pump help to regulate and encourage the production of breast milk, it also enables you to express, save and freeze milk. This in turn means that partners, friends or nannies can help at feeding times. Many healthcare professionals advise getting infants used to a rubber teat sooner rather than later so that weaning is less of an ordeal later down the line.
Breast pumps can be daunting at first sight. One can’t help but think of dairy cows as you get used to the pumping mechanism. However, the Medela not only looks as slick as a breast pump can, but it’s so easy to use. The instructions are clear and there is very little margin for error. We loved that this pump is powerful and yet can fit neatly into a handbag – it’s not a massive ordeal to take it anywhere with you and would be ideal for mums who are back at work but still breastfeeding.
SnoozeShade pram blackout: £19.99, SnoozeShade
Napping is kind of a big deal for babies. Making sure your baby catches some Zs when you’re out and about can be stressful, especially when there is blazing sunshine, bright lights or any other form of visual distraction. Being able to transform any pram, buggy or pushchair into a dark space quickly and easily is no mean feat. However, the snooze shade allows for this. It’s made from breathable fabric so there’s no need to worry about air circulation and it acts as a full blackout blind. It couldn’t be easier to use. We literally hooked it around the pram – kind of like putting a shower cap on.
Sleepyhead delux+ pod: £147, Sleepyhead of Sweden
A cocoon of cosiness, this is a bit of a wonder product, really in that it can be used anywhere – next to a parent in bed, on a sofa, inside a cot and even on the floor in lieu of a cot. It’s a super simple design – a loop of soft cushion on top of a slim but absorbent mattress, with straps at the bottom pulled tight for newborns and left unattached for bigger babies. The idea is that the snugness inspires sleep and we certainly found this to be true. It also took the faff out of travel cots and takes up almost no space.
It also comes with a choice of covers – banana plants, floral, geometric and the rest – which are easy to remove for washing.
Childs Farm bubble bath, organic tangerine: £4, Childs Farm
It’s hard to know how to treat your newborn’s skin when it comes to washing. Some parents prefer to have “water only” bathtimes at first but if you want to introduce soap, it’s hard to know where to start. There are so many gorgeous baby toiletries on the market but we think Childs Farm is a good staple.
The newborn range is largely fragrance-free, with the exception of the bedtime bubbles which smells of freshly peeled tangerines. We found the body wash to create a lovely lather. Our one-year-old’s skin felt soft afterwards – not pinched and dry like with regular soap. We must also admit to using it ourselves and found the bath really luxurious! Despite all of these winning qualities, including being certified organic, the price point is so low that you can manage to give your baby luxury for less.
Trixie Mrs Elephant play mat with arches: £135, Victoria Windsor
The early days of taking care of a newborn are often slow moving. Aside from being cute, eating, sleeping, pooping and crying there’s not much actual play. But what tiny babies excel at is looking.
We suggest a play mat with baby gym as an essential item for newborns as it allows them to look and reach while parents can enjoy a bit of hands’ free time. We love this mat, which is soft and squashy so it works even on an uncarpeted floor. There is not an overwhelming number of “bells and whistles” on the arches, but there are little toys integrated into the actual mat, which our two-month-old tester really got to grips with. Best of all, this mat is tasteful so it won’t jar with a stylish living room.
Konges Slojd grey blanket: £49, Beyond The Stork
A warm blanket is one of the simplest and most underestimated essentials for newborns. One which is good quality will last for years as a keepsake. We took this 100 per cent organic knitted cotton one everywhere – for warmth, for somewhere to lie small babies down, and for extra comfort at nap and bedtime. We also recommend grey as a brilliant baby colour – it looks chic while hiding a multitude of stain and grime-related sins.
The verdict: Baby products for new parents
A verdict here is like comparing apples and oranges, but we think the Aden + Anais muslins are a winner for their versatility, not to mention their prettiness. They are any new parents’ lifesaver.