If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this wild ride they call parenting (aside from the importance of coffee, adult conversation, fresh air and naps) it’s that everyone’s experience is difference.
Some of you will get to school age with nothing but a sling and a reusable nappy whilst others will have ordered approximately 72.% of the closing down stock from Babies ‘R’ Us and will be constantly perusing Facebook Marketplace for more! More! More! I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m a sucker for a low-cost wooden toy or a charity shop toy – fuck, any toys/stickers/snacks/magazines/books that’ll buy me enough time to drink my tea and make a mold of my entire body on the sofa. But I don’t tend to spend much on toddler clothes, furniture or anything pretty that just ends up feeling like clutter.
So I thought I’d share the bits and bobs that have helped me survive (and hey, sometimes even thrive) over the past six months or so. I hope you like them too.
HEMA WOODEN TOYS.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Hema – it’s a budget Scandi shop not dissimilar to Tiger or IKEA, and they sell cracking wooden toys for kids, plus have free delivery when you spend over £20. Atti spent MONTHS (maybe 10 months to 14 months?) obsessed with one of their stacking toys (which no longer seems to be available). But it’s a great place to find an affordable but chic-looking toy for a niece or nephew if you don’t know where to start with presents, as they start from around £4. Shop here.
ADEN + ANAIS SUMMER SLEEP BAGS.
I massively regret not buying these last summer because we started using them on our trip to the Caribbean in April and have continued to use them all summer long in the UK. They’re basically super thin 1 tog sleeping bags, made of a super soft muslin material. I bought two for around a tenner each in the Aden + Anais sale but you can also find them on Amazon and in department stores.
On super hot days (when his monitor says his room is above 25 degrees) we’ve been putting him to sleep in just a nappy and one of these, and on slightly milder days (maybe 22-25 degrees) pairing it with a short sleeved vest. THEY ARE THE SHIT. Shop here.
CHILD’S FARM NAPPY CREAM.
We struggled with an eczema style nappy rash not long after we started weaning and tried pretty much every over-the-counter nappy cream out there (as well as a few different prescribed medications from the GP), and the only thing that’s even taken the edge off is this £5 super hero buy from Child’s Farm.
Since mentioning it on Instagram I’ve even had loads of messages from adults with eczema who have said that they use this nappy rash cream on their own skin – it’s that good.
I actually really rate the whole Child’s Farm range and regularly use their bath products on Atti too – they smell delicious and are great on sensitive skin. You can find it in most big supermarkets as well as Boots. Shop here.
WATER/SAND PLAY TABLE.
I bought our Fisher Price one on a whim when it was in the Aldi Special Buy event for £29.99, but am sure there’s plenty around in the summer sales or even second hand on Facebook Martketplace or eBay.
Ours came with a small selection of boats, spades and buckets and to begin with I just filled it with water for water play. But after trying sand at a friend’s house, I bought a bag of it from Sainsbury’s for a couple of quid and it has been such a huge hit. Atti especially likes it when the table’s been left outside in the rain and the sand is all gross and sloppy and he can hide his toy cars in it.
BLOOM AND BLOSSOM PILLOW SPRAY.
I’ve harped on a lot over the years about my love of pillow spray. I mean yes it sounds like something completely and utterly made up to make you spend unnecessary money – why would a certain smell help you sleep better? But it does. I mean, for me at least. It makes me relax. It makes bed feel fresh. I picked up this baby version when it was on offer at the supermarket with the idea that it would help Atti’s bed – whether that was his cot at home, or his travel cot on holiday, in an AirBnb, or on holiday – feel familiar. That maybe it’d help him fall asleep quicker and settle easier in places which were new or different. I’m about to buy my second bottle! Shop here.
BABYZEN YOYO STROLLER.
We were kindly gifted this stroller a few months ago, but it was at a time when we were trying to weigh up whether or not we could justify the price tag. It’s not the cheapest stroller on the market, but there’s a few things that stand out – it folds small enough to go in an overhead locker on a plane, it looks pretty great, it’s super lightweight and it’s incredibly well recommended. We love it so much in fact that I would consider trying the newborn insert for a second child rather than going back to a traditional travel system like before.
There are some downsides – it took me weeks (or more like months) to actually get the hang of unfolding it. Although of course took my boyfriend only a day. And I still don’t think I could ever do it one-handed whilst holding a baby. Also the steering is slightly less sturdy, so it’s hard to be a terrible mother scrolling through Instagram whilst pushing it. But aside from that, it’s cracking! Shop here.
What have been your lifesavers for the second year of parenting?