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The Changing Needs of Changing Bags

It takes all sorts. Big ones, little ones. Fat ones, thin ones. Immaculate ones, tatty ones. Spotty ones, stripey ones. Plain ones, patterned ones. Cloth ones, leather ones. I’m talking changing bags.

Some, girls, are bigger than others

Skip Hop Johnathan Adler Dash Nixon

My beautiful changing bag (not me in the photo!)

My changing bag was pretty much the first item I allowed myself to buy during pregnancy. I wasn’t specifically looking for one when we were on holiday for a friend’s wedding in New York, but it was love at first sight when I saw it in a lovely baby boutique in SoHo. In the months leading up to birth, I looked at it on various occasions and wondered what one might need such a large bag for, when a smallish handbag had stood me in good stead for a number of years! I knew I’d need nappies, bottles, wipes and nappy bags, but surely they would only fill half of my lovely new bag?!

I’ve spent a summer wasted

I read a lot of articles on line and in magazines offering lists of essential changing bag must-haves. I wondered if you might actually need half the stuff they listed and was determined I was going to only take the essentials – so as not to overload my new, pretty and pristine changing bag.

How wrong I was. I think I crammed my whole world into that bag for at least the first six months of my daughter’s life, with my own handbag chock full of other ‘essentials’ too.

So here’s my checklist of changing bag essentials for the first six months of a baby’s life:

  • Nappies – I find five to be the magic number
  • Nappy bags
  • Nappy rash cream / ointment
  • Wipes (standard wipes nappy changes and Milton wipes or Tommee Tippee wipes for sterilising on the go)
  • Changing Mat
  • Bottles (if bottle-feeding)
  • Breast pads (if breast feeding)
  • Formula Milk (if bottle-feeding – cartons or measured out powder)
  • Muslins / burp cloths
  • Hand sanitiser for you
  • Hand wipes for baby
  • Bib(s)
  • Spare clothes for baby (a vest and a sleepsuit of shame are easiest rather than a whole outfit)
  • Spare dummies (if using)
  • Tissues
  • In the summer, supplement this with summer hats, sun cream and sunglasses
  • In the winter, add winter hat and gloves
  • You can include a zip-lock bag for soiled clothes, but I’ve found a nappy bag can do the job just as well
  • I also found it useful to duplicate a few handbag essentials (lipsalve etc) in my changing bag for all those times you just take your changing bag with you to the toilet / changing room and don’t have your handbag to, well,  hand

Granted, most of this reads like a list of spare parts for you and your baby rather than day to day essentials, but mark my words, the spare clothes will be welcomed when little one decides he/she is going to crap a bustle at the local Children’s Centre and it reaches their neck creases!

Six months on, the winter’s gone

And then of course, once food becomes involved at around six months, the changing bag takes on a dual purpose of changing bag and picnic hamper all in one, leading me to update my changing bag essentials for the next six months to:

  • Nappies – still around five
  • Nappy bags
  • Nappy rash ointment
  • Wipes (standard wipes nappy changes and Milton wipes or Tommee Tippee wipes for sterilising on the go)
  • Changing Mat
  • Bottles (if bottle-feeding)
  • Breast pads (if breast feeding)
  • Formula Milk (if bottle-feeding – cartons or measured out powder)
  • Muslins / burp cloths
  • Hand sanitiser for you
  • Hand wipes for baby – I like Sticky Fingers WetOnes wipes
  • Bib(s) – all over body ones and smaller ones depending on meals, messy meals and snacks
  • Spare dummies (if using)
  • Tissues
  • Spoons
  • Jars or pouches of food
  • Assorted tupperware for snacks
  • In the summer, supplement this with summer hats, sun cream and sunglasses
  • In the winter, add winter hat and gloves
  • Zip-lock bag for soiled clothes (or just use a nappy bag)
  • Again a few handbag essentials come in handy

I found that six months on, the need for a change of outfit due to a nappy incident was reduced.  However, the onset of weaning and finger food brought with it the need for either a head to toe feeding poncho for her and me, or several costume changes throughout the day. Or just having the grubby child I’d always promised myself I’d never have.

It’s such a rush just being with you

I also found a very useful alternative to overloading my lovely changing bag. Once it came to feeding our daughter when out and about I found I was lugging around not only the changing bag, but also an extra bag for food and snacks and water – sometimes two.

Skip Hop Pronto

The Skip Hop Pronto – available in a range of colours and patterns

Juggling all these various bags led me to have a bit of a rethink. I plugged for a Skip Hop Pronto Changing Mat which is not only a changing mat but also stores the wipes, nappy bags and nappies in its various pockets. There’s also space for other nappy changing essentials, like surface sterilising wipes and nappy creams. The Skip Hop Pronto clips onto your pram or pushchair (and you, when you’re carrying your increasingly wriggly baby to the changing room) and the mat zips off should you require it to. To be honest, I’m not wholly sure why you’d want this. Sales literature for the Pronto suggests that the mat zips off to form a stylish clutch bag, but I’m just not sure I’d be able to find a complementing dress for this season’s society ball!

However, the Pronto has been a lifesaver on many occasions.  Many’s the time I’ve popped it into the pram basket while I’ve just nipped to the shops – 99% sure that I wouldn’t need to make an unscheduled stop, but always cautious of that potential for the 1% curve-ball. I’ve also found it to be really useful on lazy days, to have downstairs in the house rather than having to make the journey upstairs to change nappies. As I say – a particularly lazy day!

Skip Hop Pronto

The Skip Hop Pronto folded out during changing

The Skip Hop Pronto Red

The Skip Hop Pronto Red

The changing mat itself may look a bit of a funny shape, and when you’ve got a six month old who lies nice and still during the nappy change, the side flaps do seem a bit superfluous. However, fast forward three to four months when you’ve got a wriggler, roller or crawler on your hands, and you’ll be grateful of any additional surface area that might catch any spills before they land on the changing table, floor, or you!

What did you find to be the must-have items in your changing bag? Did the contents of your bag change over time? What have I missed out that you think is fundamental?

Visit us at www.practicalbabygifts.com where our great range of Changing Bags and Changing Mats

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Why Breast Wasn’t Best for Me

It’s a decision I made fairly early on in pregnancy and one that I’ve been questioned on a significant amount since. Right from the get go, I knew I didn’t want to breastfeed my baby.

I have never questioned whether breastfeeding is the best thing for babies. I believe in all the health benefits for both mother and baby. I know it would have saved us a significant amount of money too, but I just didn’t want to breastfeed.

Having thought about it many times since having our daughter, I think there are a number of reasons which led to my decision.

She’s lost Control

Why Breast wasnt Best for me

Plenty of photos of feeding in the early days

I think the biggest factor in my decision was the lack of control. I think there is a lot of pressure put on women at the moment to be the perfect Earth Mother and some people just don’t subscribe to the philosophy. I wanted to know how much my baby had had to eat and when she might want more. Don’t get me wrong – on arrival she had an insatiable appetite like most babies, so we were constantly feeding her, but at least we knew what she’d had and when. We even kept a notebook.

When people see new mothers bottle-feeding a newborn baby, some also judge them. Many’s the time I felt the sympathetic glances of those who may have felt that by bottle-feeding I must have failed at breastfeeding and had to resort to using a bottle. Many is also the time I almost wanted to shout from the rooftops that it was my choice to bottle feed!

A Fear of Failure

The greatest myth out there about breastfeeding seems to be that everyone can do it. Having seen (or heard about a few weeks down the line) a lot of my friends struggle to establish and maintain breastfeeding for weeks after birth, I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. I had no intention of setting myself up to potentially fail that early on in motherhood when I knew there would be plenty of opportunity for that further down the line.

I also knew from the get-go that I had absolutely no intention of resembling a dairy cow and attaching myself to anything electronic or hand-powered and milking myself. All at a time when, pregnancy love-in hormones or not, I knew I was going to be overwhelmed by the task at hand of rearing my own little calf.

Getting them out in public

Whilst I am no Jordan or Dolly, I’m certainly no Kate Moss (in more ways than one) and I do believe that plays a part in those who are successful in breastfeeding and feel confident to do so in public. I for one, wouldn’t have felt confident and probably would have bought any number of the breastfeeding modesty products on the market to try and hide my insecurities (and my boobs).

Nine Looooong Months

41 weeks is a long time. I know, because with no job for 39 weeks of my pregnancy I practically counted down every second of it. Once done with labour and birth, obviously my life would just get back to normal, but with the addition of a very little person in it, and as such I also wanted my body back for me. The thought of giving part of it over to said very little person for another six to nine months (or longer if Little Britain is to be believed) frankly filled me with dread. I wanted to know that I could put my old bras back on (eventually) and get back to being me.

Many people have been shocked and almost saddened when I’ve been quite open about my decision. In the early days of pregnancy my partner tried to convince me it was a good idea, but then it wasn’t going to be him who had to do it! I remember the hushed silence of the course leader and the other couples at our ante-natal classes when the question ‘So, is everyone planning to breastfeed?’ was asked and I said that I wasn’t. Half an hour of the course then ensued on all the benefits of breastfeeding which left me a bit numb.

After All

Why Breast wasnt Best for me

The early days of a feeding frenzy

All of this is not to say I didn’t try. Very shortly after the birth of my daughter I conquered my fears and put her to my breast to see what happened. I endured everything that I didn’t want in terms of it suddenly being perfectly acceptable for foreign hands to be grabbing my boobs and pulling, pushing and squeezing them towards this expectant little mouth.  My husband also got his hand in there too. Perhaps not so foreign, but still as unwelcome at that moment. Whether she got any colostrum or not is beyond me as I may have been there in body but certainly not in mind. It was hardly the beautiful bonding experience described and experienced by many.

In the end it was my body, and not my mind, which let me down. The traumas of labour and birth (one for another time) meant my milk didn’t come in for a week anyway, by which time, our little girl with the insatiable appetite would have been a bit peckish. I have to say the lovely midwives at our hospital were extremely supportive in helping us bottle-feed and I didn’t experience any of the patronising, dismissive treatment I was led to believe would be coming our way.

Don’t get me wrong. I have so much admiration for those who do breastfeed. In all likelihood because they conquered something I didn’t even truly attempt to – my own fears. Whether our daughter has suffered any detrimental side effects of my fears and anxieties about what should apparently be the most natural thing in the world, we’ll have to wait and see. But at the moment, she seems happy, healthy, not too fat and not too thin (but quite exceptionally tall), so who knows?

Visit us at http://www.practicalbabygifts.com

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Bounty Hunters

Oh, she may be weary

There has been a lot of discussion in the news in the past day or so with Mumsnet calling for sales reps from Bounty to stop targeting vulnerable new mothers on maternity wards.  The issue is one of government policy, and this being the only area within the NHS where sales reps are allowed access to wards to effectively sell services to patients; new mothers.

The early hours with a newborn are precious

The early hours with a newborn are precious

Firstly, Mumsnet’s call is something I wholeheartedly support. Whilst I don’t think I was even with it enough to compute who this strange woman was who was coming to bring me a carrier bag full of leaflets which soon ended up in the recycling bin at home, I think it is wholly wrong to allow representatives of commercial entities access to anyone receiving care in hospital – let alone those just getting to know a new life.

You know she’s waiting, just anticipating

Like many mums-to-be, when I found out I was pregnant, I signed up to the many and varied parent and baby clubs.  Each one offered free gifts, coupons or access to special events in exchange for my personal details and weekly advisory emails telling me what vegetable my growing bump resembled each week.

Now, as a marketing professional (non-practicing) I completely understand the value of customers’ personal details. But in the c.40 week period of pregnancy and the similarly-timed period since, I don’t think I have ever experienced such misuse and mishandling of personal data.

Aside from Bounty, my other main beef was with Emma’s diary – a very similar commercial entity for whom the main promoters seem to be the community midwife at the initial booking in appointment. Again – how can those who work for the NHS be seen to promote companies?

But the soft words, they are spoke so gentle

When not out having coffee and cake, my early pregnancy was spent at home watching what some might consider to be far too many US crime drama series. That was when my viewing pleasure wasn’t being interrupted by incredibly pushy salespeople from all manner of random companies. In looking into how these companies had got my details – it was all from signing up to Emma’s Diary and missing the very small print hidden somewhere deep in their site that they will basically give your details to anyone who will pay them. That may be a great commercial model for them, but surely not something that should be endorsed by the good old NHS?

Having signed up for the Bounty Packs I have to say the collection of each one led to increased disappointment. It was like being given a party bag when leaving a child’s party, with mouldy cake in and a broken whoopee cushion. The sense of disappointment was palpable. The only good thing in any of them was the Child Benefit application form and a handy nappy bag sized pot of Sudocrem!

Also, the quality of the weekly emails from Bounty and Emma’s Diary was terrible. Those from the other companies I signed up for (supermarkets and baby formulae) were well written and mostly contained useful advice and information.  On the other hand, those from Bounty and Emma’s Diary read like a poorly put together newsletter with useless and irrelevant information – and that was in the 30% of space that wasn’t taken up with adverts.

Try a little tenderness

Maybe we’re a nation gone mad – one that wouldn’t normally give out personal details to any Tom, Dick or Harry…unless pregnant and / or there is the promise of free stuff. Maybe we should look to Finland where the government and expectant parents are much more in tune; where expectant parents are issued with a maternity box containing all manner of useful and practical items – and with no hard sell for nonsensical items within 24 hours of a traumatic birth.

What do you think? Did you sign up with Bounty? Did you think someone visiting you within hours of birth was intrusive or were you happy with Bounty’s service?

Visit us at PracticalBabyGifts.com

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Rockin’ in a Shy Way

3 x Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star, 2 x Oranges & Lemons, 1 x Baa Baa Black Sheep, 1 x Beautiful Dreamer, 1 x classical ditty from a bank advert in the ’90s…just some of the plinky-plonky lullaby tunes so far endured in trying to get our little one off to sleep in the past few months. Oh, and I forgot – a few versions of ‘Rockabye Baby’. But not on a tree top….!

The cradle will rock

lullaby-renditions-of-the-cureNope – the Rockabye Baby I refer to is soothing music at its best.  It’ll rock your baby to sleep whilst keeping you entertained with humming along to the songs you know and love – albeit, they might sound a little bit different.  What Rockabye Baby does is transform rock favourites into instrumental lullabies.  Guitars and drums are traded for Xylophones and bells.  And they’ve been a sanity saver! Whether you prefer the more classic rock titles from Queen, or the poptastic Madonna, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.  And it’s educational for babies too!

Boys Don’t Cry

Well, baby boys probably do.  But here are some of our favourites from Practical Baby Gifts.

Heaven knows I’m miserable now

Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

When I’ve mentioned Lullaby Renditions of The Smiths to friends, many have suggested it might be a bit too depressing for a baby!  But what can be more entertaining whilst getting increasibly frustrated with a non-sleeping baby, than hearing (in your head) Morrissey lament Thatcher’s Britain through the medium of harp music?!

Tonight, Tonight

If today is the greatest day you’ve ever known and tomorrow’s much too long, then the Lullaby Renditions of Smashing Pumpkins is for you.  This is a definite treat to the ears and number one on my list of practical baby gifts for a few friends…they’ll just need to actually have a baby first!  (When they’re ready of course!).

Enjoy the Silence

If you just can’t get enough of Depeche Mode, this one’s for you!  We tested (possibly) one of DM;s biggest fans recently with tasters of the Lullaby Renditions of Depeche Mode and can attest to their authenticity!  I think the score was seven out of eight!

In Bloom

Or for the friend in your life who’s In Bloom, but still prone to reliving her grunge-youth, there’s always Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana.  Whilst we can’t promise it comes packaged in a Heart Shaped Box, the CD does offer very faithful renditions of Kurt et al’s best work.

Not yet in production, but here's hoping - Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

Not yet in production, but here’s hoping – Lullaby Renditions of The Doors

The time to hesitate is through

i could go on….and I think you’ll guess from the selection of Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions CDs we’ve chosen so far, our grunge and Britpop leanings have slightly tainted our decisions!

And then there are the titles Rockabye Baby are yet to turn into Lullaby Renditions!  Whilst the vaguely ‘cool’ part of me is leaning towards the production of a Lullaby Renditions of The Doors, there’s a large part of me hankering for lullaby versions of Belinda Carlisle!

What do you think?  Aside from the artists already given the Rockabye Baby treatment – who would you like your little ones to drop off to?

If you’re looking for something a little bit different to give as a baby gift – look no further! than http://www.practicalbabygifts.com/sleep-time/soothing-music

Or view our whole range of Practical Baby Gifts at practicalbabygifts.com