I note with interest that a lot of successful bloggers seem to devote quite some time and energy to reviewing products. Now clearly my own little wafflings are far to esoteric (and under read) to merit anyone trying to promote a product contacting me with a view to canvassing my opinion on baby products.
To be fair with my background I wouldn't be too keen on reviewing much for free in any case. I have worked as a professional reviews editor in the past and have also reviewed the odd thing or two for (a pretty paltry) fee for the Made for Mums website, and as a writer by profession I only give my words away free here.
However, as the internet is awash with people eagerly advising mums on the merits of this or that bottle warmer or deluxe pushchair it got me to wondering about those products that have stood the test of time over the past six years with my boys. Those things that really have been indispensable, that proved to be worth every penny and that I was always glad I'd bought. As opposed to all the bits and bobs I was seduced or cajoling into buying, which made the trip from box to bin without ever really making much of an impact.
So here in no particular order and for no financial gain, but perhaps to be of some use to any new or prospective mummys out there, are some items we couldn't have lived without:
1. The Symphony in Motion mobile from the dubiously monikered (or is that just my dark mind) Tiny Love. This beauty gave me 15 minutes of peace and quite for the first few months of each of my baby's lives - enough to have a shower, a silent scream or just to lie on the floor to regroup - vital at that newborn stage.
2. Grobag sleeping bags. When son number one was born, my friend who lived part time in France, gifted me with a couple of baby sleeping bags, at the time an unheard of in the UK. They were fantastic ensuring my son was kept warm and cosy with no risk of suffocating himself under deadly blankets. Since then bags have become de rigeur over here, and for good reason.
3. A Whoozit. This is the toy I send to all my best friends when they sprog., After trying pretty much every toy under the sun to keep my baby amused this one came up trumps every time. I will admit the twins are not as enamoured as their singleton brothers, but they have the altogether more amusing option of playing with each other's hands/faces/feet, but I'm afraid these diverting playthings are for display purposes only, so I am unable to recommend them for purchase.
4. A Little Tikes Adjust n' Draw table. I always blench a bit at the price of any Little Tikes wodge of moulded plastic, but this table was worth every one of the many pennies it cost. It gave sterling service throughout the toddler years of son one and two, being used as a dining, play and drawing table, and once boisterous number two came along as a climbing frame and perch from which to watch the television and torment his big brother. It now languishes in the garden, thanks to our smaller house that can no longer accommodate a dedicated children's table, but I have plans for it should we ever finish the garage/playroom project.
5. The Gruffalo. To be honest I can't take credit for this as it was bought for me by the same friend who introduced me to baby sleeping bags. I sure do owe her as she also explained the merits of Calpol, without which I don't think I would have survived the last six years. This book is a gem and my boys have heard it a thousand times and been to see the stage show about three times. If you haven't read it, do.
6. Baby Björn baby carrier. Another one with a price to make you wince, but again ours has carried three babies (we bought another - on eBay where it was much cheaper, in fact free as my mum paid - for the twins). It's the most comfortable sling I could find and is a Godsend when you want to get a baby to sleep but have chores to do, or just want to walk without a pushchair, or with one of your other children in the pushchair.
7. Maclaren pushchairs. I have written about my pushchair habit before on this blog, and in fact our tally has now risen to nine in total, following an unfortunate incident involving a senior moment from grandma, the double buggy and the school run, so I feel qualified to comment on the merits of various models. I have owned many buggys from the eyewateringly expensive to the downright cheap and nasty, and every time I return to the Maclaren. It's the lightest, most reliable and least ridiculously overpriced brand on the market in my opinion.
8. Baby Björn Potty Chair. Without this throne of the potty world, so number two would probably still be in nappies at 4. It was the only potty that was remotely regal enough for his pampered botty to patronise, and it had the added benefit of an easy to flush away removable bowl, which made the whole job as palatable as pouring away poo could be.
9. Pampers. It might sound stupid, but I simply couldn't cope without these nappies. When I first got pregnant I toyed with the idea of being eco friendly and not leaving my children with the legacy of a landfill filled with their poop, but after a few explosive experiences I knew that I had to leave the nappy department to the professionals. I have exclusively used Pampers ever since and in six years of using nappies I can count the leaks after the wild newborn stage on my fingers.
10. Our TP Big Bouncer trampoline. An 8ft enclosed play area that has kept the boys amused, fit and out of the house for the whole two years since I bought it in a fit of uncharacteristic generosity. No garden should be without one.
11. Ugg boots and Birkenstocks courtesy of Costco. Comfort is next to Godliness in the life of a busy mum, so bugger the high heels as long as they slip on quick and comfy for the school and supermarket run they have pride of place in my wardrobe.
12. Little People Ramps Around Garage. Most toys are utter crap. They may entrance the children momentarily, or even for a month or two, but then invariably they end up cluttering up endless toy boxes until they make that unceremonious trip to the dump, or if they are still in good nick, the charity shop. This toy, however, proved to be the exception. It was bought for son number one for his first birthday by some childless friends of his daddy. Despite their then lack of progeny, they hit the jackpot and it's still a favourite almost six years on, we even have all the cars and people...somewhere.
No list of things I couldn't do without would be complete without mentioning the cuddlies. I can't recommend where to buy them as your babies will all adopt their own, but of everything I have bought over the child years the only ones who have become family are Barnabus, son number one's teddy from Mothercare, Rabbit and the Misses Starry Nights, son number two's constant and smelly companions. I am still waiting to see who will fill this starring role for the twins, but there is a certain gangly knitted toy who is my favourite for twin one, while twin two is very fond of his Taggie, but I'm not sure it's a done deal yet.
I am not big on memes, as I don't want to overburden other bloggers with tasks to complete when most of us have more than enough of those in our everyday lives, but if you are interested then why not have a trawl back through your baby years and see what you remember of all the gubbins you acquired. Perhaps we could come up with the ultimate list and save new mums a pretty penny or two with our wisdom. Although I know I for one was in such a baby retail frenzy I wouldn't have listened to a word!