2

My Daughter’s Love Affair

It all started when she was about three months old. I didn’t notice the change. It just crept up on me almost over night. I should have known it was coming. My daughter suddenly wanted someone other than me to help soothe her to sleep. And that somebunny was Bunny.

It started with a kiss

Desperately looking for the much promised ‘signs of tiredness’ at around three months, I noticed that she started putting soft things to her nose when she was looking a bit sleepy. To begin with, it was mostly inappropriate things, like our (very non-docile) cat’s tail, or a sock or slipper. In looking for something a little more suitable for a three month old to sniff on, I gave her a lovely little Jellycat rabbit a friend had bought us as a present when she was born. And so the love affair began.

Jellycat Bunny Rabbit

Snuggling with Bunny – where it all began!

With ears and arms that are just right for little hands to hold and snuggle ‘Bunny’ as he was creatively named has now become a part of everyday life. Oh, he’s been through the mill a bit – he’s been dropped and thrown, covered in food, and subsequently been through the wash a few times, even though his little label says ‘surface wash only’. As if!

He’s also got a friend who our daughter also shares her bedtime snuggles with. He’s called ‘Mr Bunny’ (see what we did there?) and also comes with a little comfort blanket, although she only has eyes and hands for his ears and arms!

Since the introduction of ‘Mr Bunny’ the two have been interchangeable, with each finding favour at various times. A bit like an emperor’s concubine.

Bunny’s been everywhere with us. He’s been to see her grandparents, to the seaside, to the supermarket (on more than one occasion – on some days). He’s been very kindly offered to her cousin – perhaps without realising the consequences if said cousin had taken a particular shine to him! He’s even been to the doctor’s. The lovely doctor chatted to my daughter about Bunny and pretended to listen to his chest when he was listening to hers. What an absolute star! Obviously, she looked a bit puzzled, but I had the sneaking suspicion it was more for my benefit. And I have to admit I loved it – I’m a sucker for that kind of thing!

The horror!

Jellycat Bunny

Morning Cuddles with Bunny

But obviously, Bunny’s adventures bring with them a certain amount of risk. I’m forever checking that he’s still in her pram, as I don’t want to face the bedtime when Bunny’s nowhere to be found. One of my favourite stories when I was little was Dogger by Shirley Hughes. Its beautiful illustrations belied the harsh truth that your favourite toy can go astray and life may never be the same again. That is, unless you have a nice older sister (who appears mean at the start of the book, but shows she has a heart towards the end) who retrieves Dogger from the nasty people who thought they bought him fair and square at a village fete. The horror!

With the intention of avoiding the Dogger situation at all costs, I wanted to secure Bunny to the pushchair. As useful as they are for extending hanging pram toys, it just didn’t seem right to use plastic linking rings to effectively tie Bunny to the pram. I pictured those horrid adverts about dancing bears with rings through their noses. Whilst a little far fetched, perhaps, for a soft toy bunny, I just couldn’t bring myself to attach Bunny to the pram with plastic rings round his neck.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Bunny Snuggles

Bunny Snuggles – still snuggling after all this time

So, on the quest for something a little more ‘humane’ I recently started using a Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie. The nice soft material velcroes gently around Bunny’s neck yet allows my daughter to cuddle and snuggle Bunny when we’re out and about. Even when she tried to (affectionately, I’m sure) launch Mr Bunny out of the pushchair today, she was most baffled and, I think quietly relieved, that he was still hanging on by his paws to her chariot, via the lifeline of a Toy Tie. (Albeit his comfort blanket was slightly greyed from getting trapped under the wheels whilst crossing the road! Thank God Mr Bunny’s ‘surface washable’ too – in the washing machine he goes tomorrow!).

The Toy Tie’s water and dirt resistant material makes it a practical pushchair accessory, whilst its beautiful and modern pattern means it’s something that people will no doubt notice and admire. It’s a practical pushchair accessory that looks pretty lovely too. The concept of the Toy Tie may well have slightly baffled my daughter to begin with, but it’s certainly going to be as permanent a feature on our pushchair as Bunny or his gentrified counterpart is.

Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie

Studying Mr Bunny and why he doesn’t fall off the pushchair!

How far do you go to keep your child’s favourite toy safe? Do you use anything in particular, or just wing it? We’d love to hear your views!

Visit us at Practicalbabygifts,com for nifty ideas on practical baby products.

1

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

2

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

0

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

1

The Practical Gift of Knowledge

When starting out on the epic journey of parenthood, soon-to-be mums and dads try to prepare themselves in various ways.  Advice from friends and family is complemented by reading books, blogs and magazines.  Then there’s always Dr. Google who can provide practical help, advice and reassurance  (and downright panic) at the touch of a few buttons.  Alongside this, many expectant parents still sign up for good, old fashioned antenatal classes.

Pregnant and clueless

Pregnant and clueless

But is the information provided by these methods, including antenatal classes, really focused on equipping new parents with the skills and knowledge they’ll actually need?

Knowing me, Knowing you

I’ll be honest and admit that the main reason I signed us up for antenatal classes last year was to meet other local people having babies around the same time.  Pure and simple.  That’s not to say we didn’t already have a wealth of friends who had recently had babies who were poised and ready with all kinds of advice as well as many lovely hand-me downs.

We decided against the ‘local’ NCT classes, as they were held not-so-locally on the other side of the city.  Instead we plugged for those part-subsidised by our local Children’s Centre,  run by BirthPrep. (The one positive contribution our Children’s Centre has made to our daughter, but that’s for another time.)

If you don’t know me by now

I’ll admit my expectations of the classes were heavily influenced by too many TV programmes.  I was anticipating several evenings sitting on the floor, supported by my husband, practicing breathing techniques in a room full of other couples whilst being shown how a baby doll makes its way out of a knitted cervix. However, it seems things have moved on somewhat, and instead we sat around talking frankly about the process of labour and birth – on chairs – like the adults we were truly about to become.

Antenatal classes - the practical gift of knowledge

Sitting on chairs and not a knitted cervix in sight!

We were lucky enough to be ‘dropping’ around the same time as five lovely couples.  All were similarly minded and with great senses of humour that got us through even the darkest moments of discussing labour and birth.  But there’s the rub, really.  Out of the three three hour sessions, two were focussed on labour and birth and only one on the next 365+ days of caring for a baby, primarily covering feeding and bathing.

When every book on the subject confirms that each and every labour and birth is different – what’s the point of focussing so much time on something that is so far out of anyone’s control?

Now, that’s not to say that the Midwife-led approach to the BirthPrep classes should or could have been any different.  And that’s also not to take anything away from the wonderful help, assistance, advice and general goodnature of the lovely Cathy who took our classes.  But I can’t help thinking that more practical advice about the early days with a newborn would really help new parents, not to mention the poor, helpless baby depending on two clueless adults who should at least know the basics!

This time I know it’s for real

Antenatal classes - WTF?

Antenatal classes – WTF?

On being handed our little bundle of joy, I think I was awash with about 5% instinct and 95% blind panic!  The midwives in the hospital were amazing in helping and offering advice and assistance, but I felt completely under-prepared for the task ahead of us.  Advice on how to wind a baby, what to do when you’re left alone in the hospital with your new baby for the first time, when and if to use a dummy, what to do when you first bring the baby home and tried and tested plans for coping with newborn sleep deprivation might have been useful.

However, I suppose in many ways, the course we went on, did offer us this help and advice in the long run.  Largely through meeting up regularly with the lovely ladies from our antenatal classes, we have all shared experiences, tips and advice over the ensuing months.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve cried (largely with laughter). We’ve shared baby sick, nappy changes and weaning adventures. We’ve eaten a hell of a lot of cake and drunk an obscene amount of caffeine.  We’re even planning on drinking something a bit more grown-up soon!

What do you think?  Did your antenatal classes adequately equip you for the challenges ahead ?  Where else did you get help and information from?  What was the best advice you were given?

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com

0

Why have I never had Eggy Bread before?

When trying to come up with new ideas for finger food to give my daughter recently, a friend mentioned they’d given their baby eggy bread and it had been a hit.  I thought it would be a good way to up her protein intake and be something a bit different, so I gave it a whirl.

I looked up a recipe on the internet.  I do consider myself a good cook, but sometimes the simple things elude me.  (I still can’t actually boil an egg successfully, but I can  make a three course meal for ten people!).  Whilst keeping my daughter content with some other assorted finger foods, I set to making the eggy bread.

Egg on my face

Now, I’m a big fan of scrambled egg, but struggle a bit with it on toast sometimes (don’t ask me – I think it’s the dryness of the toast next to the texture of the scrambled egg). So what could be better than egg already mixed into toast???  GENIUS!

Aside from maybe once at a Brownie pack holiday – why have I never had eggy bread before??

It got me thinking of all the other things you discover or rediscover once you have a baby.  Also – the things you want to pass onto your child from your own childhood – whether they were things you had, or just lusted after.

She’s on the phone

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone - Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone – Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone - Now and Then

The FIsher Price Chatter Phone – Now and Then

Whilst I was pregnant, I bought my daughter a Fisher Price Chatter Phone.  This is clearly a throw-back to my own childhood memories.  At seven months old, she started playing with it, although I have to say both she and I get a little bit frustrated with the health-and-safety-gone-mad changes that have been made to it.

The string holding the receiver to the phone is so short, she can’t even put it up to her ear without taking the whole handset with her!  It seems a bit ridiculous to me.  Mind you – I’m not sure she’ll ever really understand it’s a telephone, seeing as no modern phones even vaguely resemble the Chatter Phone these days!

Glo-Friends

Glo-worm from the 1980s

I don’t think my Glowey is quite this pristine!

One of the nostalgic purchases I’ve been most happy with since our daughter arrived is buying her a Glo-Worm.  I used to LOVE my Glo-worm (affectionately called Glowey) which I was given on my third birthday.  He came everywhere with us; on holiday, to playschool, to relatives’ houses. I even had a Glo-worm shaped birthday cake!

Now Glowey sits atop a (high) shelf in our daughter’s nursery, watching over her, while Glowey 2.0 takes up the mantle of being fondled and chewed and thrown all over the place.  New Glowey even plays tunes!

Playskool Sensory & Lullaby Glo-worm

Glowey 2.0

And I have to say, Glowey 2.0 has been an absolute Godsend! I don’t know why in particular, but when nothing else will settle her, Glowey comes out and sings his lullabies and shines his little round face, to settle our little one in the same way his forefather did for her mum!

Swiss Roll and Baked Beans

Bluebird A La Carte Kitchen

Wake up Daddy – breakfast’s ready!

And then there are the opportunities missed in life due to not being given the ‘right’ toy for a birthday or Christmas.  Everyone has ‘the toy that never was’.  For my sister-in-law, it was a Mr Frosty.  We had one.  It was rubbish.  I agree wholeheartedly that it was one of the most disappointing toys of the 1980s.  .

For me and my sister, it was the Bluebird A La Carte Kitchen.  As the original advert still taunts me – WE NEVER GOT THE CHANCE TO MAKE SWISS ROLL AND BAKED BEANS FOR OUR DAD!  I’m sure he’s rather glad.

Time’s a great healer

I’m not sure my sister and I will ever get over the lack of an A La Carte Kitchen.  In fact, I’m sure as soon as our children are old enough, they’ll be bought the modern day equivalent whether they want one or not. Nope – it’ll be some other toy which will be the one that got away.  It probably hasn’t even been invented yet.  Or maybe it’ll be a re-hash of a toy we had (or didn’t have) as children!

What was the one that got away from you?  Would you buy your child the toy you never had??

What other things are you rediscovering from your own childhood since having a baby?

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com

0

Gro-ing up

‘fess up
Who hasn’t looked at a baby sleeping bag and wished they could crawl into a giant adult sized one tonight?

I don’t know about you, but when I’m out and about with my baby in her various snuggly layers in her pushcair, I’m inundated with comments like ‘oooh, don’t you wish you could just snuggle up in there with her/’.  Well, yes, when it’s -3 degrees outside and I’m doing the pushing and she’s doing the sitting, there are certain times I’d happily swap!  Just imagine what the same women-of-a-certain-age would say if they saw babies all snuggled up in their sleeping bags at nighttime?

Nothing looks cuter than a baby in a sleepsuit.  Despite how pretty or cute an outfit can be, a baby in a sleepsuit is just too sweet for words.  Add to that a sleeping bag that makes them look like a giant chrysalis just waiting for metamorphosis and what could be cuter?

Bag of all trades – master of none

Having initially been put off by the cost of the original Gro Bags, I tried a number of other sleeping bags for our little one.

The Mothercare one we had was good – with useful poppers under the arms to make it smaller to begin with for a newborn – similar to the Loved So Much sleeping bag in their current range.

Ikea's Torva Sleeping Bag

The Torva Sleeping Bag from Ikea is very reasonably priced, but not always easy to get baby into.

Ikea’s Torva Sleeping bag is incredibly reasonable in terms of price.  As you would expect, the Torva is good quality and of practical design.  The only thing that was a bit tricky was the cross-over style of the top.  Getting our baby’s arms into it when half or fully asleep was sometimes a bit tricky and on many occasions woke her up.  Whilst this design may not have been great in terms of getting it onto a baby, as with all Ikea designs, it did have its practical upsides in providing a bit more upper-body warmth than the standard vest-style design.

Whilst pregnant, I bought a beautiful sleeping bag from Gap with a lovely giraffe print on.  It was definitely one of those items bought because it was pretty and not terribly practical.  Once in use, we quickly established the tiny, faffy zip was ridiculous when it came to night-time nappy changes, and to be honest, it was far more lovely to look at the sleeping bag on the clothes-airer than try and persevere with the zip!  (It was lovely though!)

We were also given a sleeping bag from M&Co for Christmas, which was a lovely, pretty design, but which felt very strange in terms of the texture of the lining.  Trying to wind our baby whilst she was wearing it, made her more than a little static!  Maybe that’s why she’s got fly-away-hair!

The original and still the best

When looking for the next size up of sleeping bag (6-18 months) I decided to splash out and buy our first Gro Bag.

Tea Party Gro Bag exclusive to Mothercare

Exclusive to Mothercare, the Tea Party Gro Bag.

I couldn’t resist the beautiful. vintage style of the Tea Party Gro Bag which is exclusive to Mothercare.  And I have to say I’ve been chuffed to bits with it!  Not only does it look beautiful.  It’s very hard-wearing.  The zip is large and robust enough to be pulled in all directions at whatever time of night, yet is tucked away style-wise out of view..The capped sleeves on this design look so cute.  There have been many times in the darkest hours of the night, when you can’t help but smile just because this Gro bag is so pretty!

I also recently happened upon a bargain Alphapinks Travel Gro Bag.  My original intention was just to use this as another standard sleeping bag, but we did recently use it for its intended purpose on a long night-time car journey.  It is very useful for both.  The two-way front zip is great when travelling so you can easily undo the travel harness while baby is still sleeping (in theory) and also great for use at home.  Similar to the Ikea sleeping bag, getting baby’s arms through the sleeves when already sleepy can be a bit tricky, but there is at least a bit more room around them – in fact, as I recently found out – there’s plenty of room to get arms and hands through with the comforters they’re grasping.

Practical Baby Gifts - Hetty Gro Bag

The beautiful Hetty Gro Bag – perfect vintage style and practical design.

Continuing the vintage theme, I also recently splashed out on a Hetty Gro Bag.  The design is beautiful and again, the Gro Bag is robust enough to be pulled every which way and will hopefully stand up to being pushed, pulled and draggefd around the cot once our little one learns to crawl and stand in it!

About a Boy

When choosing Gro Bag lines to stock on Practical Baby Gifts, I wanted to stock those that I would want for my baby girl, or to give as gifts to others.  Admittedly, I seem to have initially veered more towards designs aimed at boys.  The Little Trikes Gro Bag is particularly lovely – with a vintage style print all over and added applique trike on the front.  I think it’s the baby boy equivalent of the Hetty Gro Bag for girls, in that it has the power to make you smile in even the darkest depths of night time!

Similarly, the All Aboard Gro Bag is another favourite.  It’s perfect for anyone who loves the current nautical trend or perhaps for anyone who has used a nautical theme in their child’s nursery.  It’s the perfect complement.

Practical Baby Gifts - Fluffy Clouds Gro Suits

Fluffy Clouds Gro Suits – so cute and practical for the colder months.

Suit up!

In this seemingly eternal winter, our little one insisted on waking at stupid-o’clock due to the cold temperature in the nursery.  At 5 o’clock one morning, I capitulated and ordered some Hetty Gro Suits.  I was willing to try anything to reclaim the early hours to sleep!  The next night, she slept so much better as her arms and hands were a lot warmer.  For anyone looking for a gift for an autumn / winter baby (or their own baby – regardless of season), the twin packs of baby blue Penguin Pop Gro Suits or the neutral Fluffy Clouds Gro Suits are ideal and would definitely be greatly appreciated by any new parents.  Anything to aid sleep!

Good design means zip

But the pretty patterns on the Gro Bags are clearly not the only reason why I think they’re the original and best. It’s the little things and the very, very important things.

It’s the research and advice that’s gone into making them. It’s the endorsement from and ongoing partnership with The Lullaby Trust (formerly FSID) to promote safer sleep for babies. All these things contribute to the quality and design features of the Gro Bags.

These features include the ‘Zip Click’ feature which covers the zipper, meaning it won’t get caught on baby’s skin or sleeve.  The under-arm poppers on the smaller sizes, mean parents can be far more confident in using a Gro Bag in the early months, when the key advice is that a baby’s head shouldn’t be able to slip through the neck.  The Travel Gro Bags are well designed, with ease of use and safety front of mind at all times.  The two-way front opening zip makes getting baby in and out of a car seat or pram whilst sleeping easy and the velcro on the openings for the safety harness mean that the Travel Gro Bag can also be used for a normal night’s sleep at home too.  Two for the price of one!

Practical Baby Gifts - Little Trikes Gro Bag

Little Trikes Gro Bag – lovely print and applique make this perfect for a beautiful baby boy.

Whilst my opinions are solely based on my small amount of experience and not exhaustive market testing (maybe one day), I have been very impressed with Gro and their range of Gro Bags and Gro Suits.

Do you use baby sleeping bags?  Have you found them useful or do you prefer to use blankets and sheets instead?

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com

 

0

Our Guide to Buying Baby Gifts

The Practical Baby Gifts Guide to Buying Baby Gifts

When buying for a new parent or baby it’s easy to be overwhelmed.  We’re all guilty of choosing something that’s pretty over something that’s practical, and with so much choice out there, it’s easy to get carried away.  Here at Practical Baby Gifts, we’d like to share a few observations that may help you when trying to find the perfect baby gift for your loved ones.

Practically perfect in every way!

Practically perfect in every way!

Parents are still people too

Contrary to what some people think, ‘new mum’ didn’t have a lobotomy nine months ago and lose all her personality and style preferences.  If you’ve never seen the new mum you’re buying for wearing pink, chances are she’ll have strong views about not dressing her little darling in shades of pastel pink.  The same goes for nursery accessories.  Similarly, some new parents want to express themselves and their clothing tastes through their little ones.  With the increased availability of mini band and film t-shirts, it’s more and more likely a mini Blur t-shirt will be better received than a ‘Daddy loves me’ t-shirt.

Buying clothes is a minefield

Buying clothes for a new baby can be tricky.  If you’re buying before the baby’s born, you don’t know what size it will be.  I’ve had friends with babies ranging from 4lbs to 12lbs, meaning it can be months before even newborn sized clothes come into use, or they may never be used at all.  With clothes, at best, they’re going to get 6-12 weeks’ wear.  With so many other people likely to buy  clothes as well, the new parents will have such a range that they won’t have chance to dress the baby in half the outfits they receive – meaning that what time they don’t spend washing the clothes, they spend feeling guilty for not getting much wear out of the baby clothes.

Toys and other accessories have a longer shelf-life

Most toys, whether soft toys, hanging toys, teethers or rattles, have a far longer shelf-life than clothes.  If you buy clothes, chances are you won’t see the baby in them anyway, but you’re far more likely to see them using and enjoying a toy for six months to a year and maybe beyond.

Other useful items such as towels, muslin cloths and sleeping bags will be used time and time again, and will be remembered as far more practical gifts from new parents.

Don’t expect ‘Thank You’ cards for at least three months

In fact don’t expect ‘Thank You’ cards at all.  People show gratitude in many ways, and a heartfelt Thank You at the time of giving and receiving the gift should be enough to show you it’s appreciated.  Many new parents don’t have the time, inclination or indeed money to spend on writing Thank You cards, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love and appreciate your gift.  Personally it means far more to see a baby using a present months on, or to have the parents comment about how ‘so-and-so loves the present you bought him’ six months later, than a Thank You card I’ve long since discarded.

If the new mum is Wonder Woman and manages to arrange buying cards or ordering personalised cards, then it’s a bonus.  It’s even more of a bonus if you receive one within three or four months of the baby being born.  Before that time, she’ll have been lucky to have five minutes to herself when she’s not feeding, bathing, washing or generally recovering!

Mums need to feel special too…

I’m not saying it’s not lovely to receive lots of pretty and practical gifts for a new baby.  But equally, mums need to feel special too.  She’s just been through a hell of an ordeal.  Whether the birth was straightforward or otherwise – it was a complete bodyshock.  Take some flowers (preferably already in a vase) or just some cake and sandwiches, as chances are food for herself is the last thing on her mind!  If you want to treat Mum, consider something practical like a new changing bag or something that she’s likely to use time and time again that will make her feel special and treated.

…As do Dads!

Whether it’s taking Dad for a pint, or taking him some chocolate round for energy, don’t forget New Dad either!

What have you experienced when you’ve given a new baby gift, or received one?

Visit us as practicalbabygifts.com