- Family and Parenting
My Must Have Products For Parents
What Do I Need?
When you have kids the range of products that are on offer to you is vast and endless. You know you need a pushchair, a car seat etc. but which to choose? I currently have two kids who are now 3yrs and 1.5yrs respectively and have tried many products in that time frame. Some have been great, others less so. The purpose of this hub is to put down a few of the products that I have found invaluable in the past few years and I hope can be of use to other parents and future parents.
nb. A couple of these products have sat in stand alone hubs in the past so apologies if you have already read my thoughts but I felt they worked better as a whole.
When we found out that we were expecting our second child, one thing that quickly became apparent was that we were going to need a new pushchair. For our son we had had a Silver Cross travel system but as he would be little over a year and a half when the baby arrived, we knew we needed a solution. We did consider a "Buggy Board" that he could stand on and ride behind the buggy but several people said he would probably get tired quickly. Whilst we don't do that many longer walks with the kids, the thought of carrying him for several miles was not a great one!
Therefore, we knew we needed to get a new pushchair and started researching double buggies. Most offered see the two children placed one on top of another and neither of us were that keen on this arrangement as we felt that it meant that one child would always have their view blocked. However, there weren't that many double buggies that offered the chance to sit side by side, and also have the ability to switch between chairs and car seats which was another of our wants.
The one pushchair that did tick all of these boxes was the Bugaboo Donkey. Without a doubt it is one of the most expensive pushchairs in the market, however, having bought it and used it, I would recommend it to everyone with two young kids. We were very fortunate to get a Christmas bonus from work just prior to our daughter being born so it dd make the financials a bit earlier.
The thing that makes the donkey so good is the interchangeability of the seats and also the fact that it can be shrunk or expanded. If we are out with both kids then we can have our son in a seat on one side, and then our daughter in her pram attachment on the other. We can also place our daughters car seat on an adapter which already gives many combinations. You need to buy this separately but then you can easily fit your car seat, including the very popular Maxi Cosi Pebble that we have. However, where it really earns it stripes is the ability to then shrink the width of the pushchair to about 75% of it's original width. This leaves you with only one seat bit then you put in a shopping bag attachment in the remaining space which means if you go to the shops with just one kid, you can bring everything back with you!
Despite it's large size you can fold up the entire pushchair in to such a small space that it even fits in my wife's Ford Fiesta, another plus! It is a slightly heavier pushchair but to be honest our old Silver Cross was quite heavy as well and this Bugaboo Donkey is so maneuverable that you barely notice the weight.
Overall we have been massively impressed with our Bugaboo Donkey and it was worth (in my opinion) every single penny spent!
Ewan The Dream Sheep
When my son was little we often had difficulties getting him to sleep (which parents don't!) Then, one night, I downloaded a white noise app for my phone and immediately he was out like a light! He obviously reacted well to sound.
This was a great solution but not sustainable as what if I wanted to use my phone? By this point my wife had already heard about Ewan the Dream Sheep via a friend so we decided to buy one from Amazon and it was a great decision.
Ewan is a relatively simple toy. He is a cuddly, soft sheep that can easily be placed in the cot with your little one or be hung up via a velcro tail. Where he comes in to his own is that each of his feet contains a melody button. Pressing these kicks off 20 minutes of both sound, but also a relaxing red/pink glow from his tummy. The sounds include a womb like heart beat for very little ones, a couple of almost industrial sounding background noises and our favourite, a very gentle melody. Each night as we put him to bed we would kick off the sound and light, knowing he would usually drift off nicely. The other plus is that Ewan is so easy to use that even from a young age my son had worked out how to start the music again so could sometimes help himself back to sleep. It wasn't just limited to him being a baby though as even now at 3yrs old, he will always have Ewan sat in his bed and often at night you'll hear the melody start up!
The one thing that surprises me is that, to my knowledge, the manufacturers don't appear to have diversified yet from the standard sheep. When my daughter was born in January we immediately decided she should get a sleep toy. My son's was a bit worn and we didn't think he'd want to give it up so we looked around for a possible different animal or even a different colour and whilst there were some similar products like Prince Lionhart, our research suggested Ewan was still best so now she too has a sheep (albeit cleaner!) in her bed as well.
I really recommend Ewan the Dream Sheep if you or friends have young kids, even if they are good sleepers, as he it cute, friendly and will help soothe to sleep. He might even help you drift off!
Gro-Clock Sleep Trainer
Eventually there comes a time where your child no longer needs the bars on the side of their bed. We had always said that we would wait until our son had tried to climb out of his bed before that day came so as such we were probably a bit later than some. However, one morning there was a bump from his bedroom so the bars came off that night.
The problem you then have is how to keep them there, especially in the early hours when they have no concept of time. In the days immediately following the bars coming off, we were being woken at times like 3am as he woke up, assumed it was morning (as this was during the winter there was no easy way of telling if it was 3am or the more respectable 6am). My wife had heard of this product via a friend and at just £20, we thought there was nothing to lose.
In simple terms you are buying a clock/bedside lamp. However, what the gro-clock offers you is the ability to set a time that you are ok for your child to get up from. As they go to bed you press a button and the clock turns blue with a sleeping star picture. Then, when it is time to wake up, the clock turns yellow and with a smiling sun. It sounds so simple bu in the case of my son it really worked.
We built in to his bedtime routine to say, "Goodnight Mr Sun, See you in the Morning, Hello Mr Star!") and immediately he settled in to the routine of waiting for the yellow sun to come up. There were obviously the occasional days when he would still come through at 3am but we were simply able to ask if the sun had come up and when he replied No, send him back to bed with the knowledge that it was still night-time.
I am so please we bought this item and would recommend to all sleep-training parents. I just hope it works as well on our daughter when her bars come off.