Jasmine: So, being abit of a shopaholic, I have branched out into a sub-category of shopping that I never knew existed prior to my becoming a mum- baby products!
We have written a previous post on Dylan’s favourite toys, which focuses on presents for the baby’s entertainment and development. However, this post serves as a curation of my favourite buys to make the parents’ lives easier in those early months, so hopefully this will come in handy if you are looking for unusual but practical gifts for a baby shower or full month (instead of the usual vouchers and diapers- which I still love receiving haha). [Andrew: I still believe that vouchers are THE BEST gifts. :)]
In ascending age order e.g. from 0 months up, we have…
1. Hooded towel apron
When Dylan was a newborn, this was useful because I didn’t have to worry about holding on to the towel while trying to keep a slippery newborn above water, as I could just fasten it around my neck. Now that Dylan is older and loves to play in the water, the towel makes an effective splash guard protecting my clothes from getting wet. As the towel is laid out diagonally, it is roomier than other adult-size towels even. I also like that I can just hug him to myself and pop the hood on instead of figuring out how to wrap him up. Comes in several colours, including your usual cream, pink and blue, at Kiddy Palace.
2. Pacifier clip
Jasmine: Easily the most convenient and cheapest thing we have bought. Sometimes we are not fast enough to catch the pacifier when Dyl spits it out, which may end up on the floor and in need of a sterilisation. This clip PREVENTS that. Also useful for hooking toys and other things on him.
The paci clip also has a “sister” which is a two-sided clip that you can clip a paper napkin onto and TADAA, instant disposable bib!
Andrew: This clip is also handy for attaching other lighter things to him, like his teething toy. Sometimes Dillie ends up treating this clip as a toy and gnaws non-stop at it – we’ve had to buy a new one because the strap of the first one just became so damp with his saliva.
3. Comotomo silicone teether
Jasmine: You know how babies love eating their hands? We got this when Dyl was teething. It’s shaped like their chubby little fingers, with a different ridged texture at the tip of each. Dyl loved it when we first got it, and he would gnaw on it for up to half an hour before losing interest.
Nowadays though, I’ve since discovered how to make a FREE teether: put two ice-cubes in a plastic bag and knot it tightly. The cold helps numb some of the teething pain. Also good for abit of spill-free water play when the ice melts at the end.
4. Comotomo bottle
Jasmine: Okay, milk bottles are a really personal choice, so I wouldn’t recommend getting this unless you know the parents very well. For me, this was the perfect transition bottle allowing Dyl to switch between bottlefeeding when I was at work and breastfeeding when I was at home. Of course, quite a few other bottles which claim to support breastfeeding (here’s looking at you Medela) but the shape of the bottle is nothing like mum’s breast. The Medela one we had had a LONG (like jutting out by 2cm) teat and narrow base. No offense, but no wonder Dylan had nipple confusion when he tried the Medela teat- which was also too fast for him. I mean, which woman’s nipple looks like that?!
In contrast, this Comotomo bottle is shaped like a breast and encourages the correct type of sucking action. Because the sides are made of soft, flexible silicone rather than the usual hard plastic, you can even squeeze the sides to mimic a letdown.
Have a good laugh at how it looks- but then get one if your friend is planning to mix bottle and breastfeeds.
5. Full body bib
Jasmine: Another thing we cannot live without, especially when we are eating out. Forge those pretty but tiny cloth bibs, which are only good for catching drool, this big guy is the real deal. Not only does it have long sleeves and a crumb-catching pocket, it also is made of light nylon material and is open at the back, meaning that baby won’t get overheated by the extra layer. This has saved Dylan’s clothes from everything from bread crumbs to mashed potato to porridge.
Ikea used to sell them (pic below) but they are no longer produced it seems; we got ours from a baby mall in Shanghai and it comes out with us every time. I imagine that it wouldn’t be too difficult to fashion from an old umbrella, heh!
Andrew: Another good thing about this bib is that it is easily wiped down after a meal, which gives it an edge over cloth bibs that become soaked if your baby drips his soup or porridge over it (which happens like almost all the time). Plastic bibs are easy to wipe down, but not as compact/foldable or easy to pack as this full body bib. Furthermore, this ‘bib’ can’t be easily moved by baby – Dillie often likes to grip on his plastic duck bib and shift it away/around when it gets too uncomfortable.
Jasmine: When all else fails, put baby in a box 🙂
6. Tinylove Supermat
Jasmine: If you are planning to splurge (by which I mean over $70), this would be it. If your friend is an active outdoorsy type, this is ideal. Large enough for a baby who is just beginning to roll or crawl, and even large enough to accommodate two, we lug this Supermat with us to cell group weekly, as it forms a clean play area for Dylan while the rest of our cell members sit around him on the ground of the void deck. It washes well and the colors still look as bright as the day it first arrived, though I probably don’t wash it as often as I should, heh.
The Supermat is different from a playgym in that it has no aerial component or arches with toys, and is twice as big, probably ‘coz it was designed for older babies who had outgrown the playgym and were starting to gain mobility. It’s colorful and has plenty of built-in activities on the mat to entertain him, but the most useful thing is that it comes with a sturdy little hoop so I can hook a soft book or toy on it and change it out when he gets bored, without fear that it will fall off or get lost. The patchwork pattern has proven popular with our friends/ cousins’ older kids, even those up to 6 yrs of age! I have seen little boys use the mat as “homebase” while they play catching, and little girls play hopscotch or use it as a picnic mat while they spread their own toys all over it. Quite amazing how much creativity the kids display when playing on the mat!
The best part is that it’s not available in Singapore – so extra points for cool factor and buying a present no-one else thought of- and it retails on Amazon for cheaper than anywhere else on the web. There. That was my community service act for the day 🙂
Andrew: When Dylan was younger, he used to love the mirror and the little ‘leaf’ on the mat, which he would use as a teething toy. Now, he just crawls back and forth on it – it’s harder to get him to stay on the mat lately. We’ve brought this mat with us overseas – to Bali and Shanghai and it’s always served as a useful play area for Dylan. What’s good about this mat is that it also serves as a ‘zone of comfort’ for him, which can be useful to counter his anxiety when at a new place.