My Ten Essential Baby Items

We’re not planning on having another child, but if we change our minds it won’t be before 2 more years as I don’t want 2 in nappies at the same time. So I’m selling my baby things now because I don’t have room to store things we probably don’t need.  If we change our minds I will just buy the few essential things we need. At least now we know what to buy, and what not to buy!

There are lots of pages on the net that list the ‘essential baby items’ you need as new parents. On all the ones I saw they always listed many more items than you actually need, it’s almost as if these sites are sponsored by these products and just want you to buy extra stuff! Having a baby is worse than a wedding in this way, they see you coming and try and sell you all sorts of junk you do not need. I want to list here the things we think we do need, just in case we change our minds about another baby.

1. convertible car seat
This of course is a no brainer, they say they won’t let you leave the hospital without one in your car. Although no one checked our car when we left the hospital with our son! The question is, do you get a convertible or one with a detachable baby carrier? We got a convertible so it will last us for 4 years, these things are pretty expensive! The detachable baby carrier would be really nice but you can only use it for about 6 months so its very expensive, although you can hire them for a lot cheaper.

2. bassinet on wheels
I just loved my love n care bassinet (sorry for the free advertising there). I got white so it’s nice for both a baby boy or girl. It had wheels so I could move it easily around the house as I needed, you can also detach the bassinet from the stand which I rarely did as I didn’t want to wake the sleeping baby while I did it. You only use this for a few months though, until they can sit up or roll over. Our son was premmie, so we got to use ours for a few extra months than usual. It makes it so much easier to put your baby down and pick him up, if he is in a little bassinet. If I have to buy another one, I’ll just get it second hand from ebay.

3. convertible cot
Again we got white, which is good for a boy or girl, we got the 3 way kind which can not only be used as a toddler bed, but also as a little sofa. We will get years use out of this cot even if we only have the one child.

4. high chair with wheels
You don’t need a high chair until they are 6 months old, but I must remember the next one we buy has to have wheels! If we have to buy another one, it will be a good one as you use this for quite a while.  I’m always moving Thomas around in his high chair, but the one we have now is a cheap plastic one from Big W without wheels, so I have to lift it to move him around. Also this one is not easy to clean even though it said it would be, but I think all high chairs are probably hard to clean. A baby eating is a very messy affair!

5. reversible, light weight pram
I had a romantic vision of carrying my baby around in a sling all the time, so we bought 3 slings. We weren’t sure we even needed a pram and waited until after he arrived to see. But our son was premmie and too tiny for the slings as it turned out. I still remember the relief I felt the day we finally bought a pram and were able to go shopping without carrying him around. We got a wonderful reversible pram where you can choose to have your baby rear facing or front facing. We had him rear facing for most of the first 12 months, it was so nice to be able to see him sleeping happily in it while we had some time out at the shops. I practised folding it up and putting it up many, many times in the shop before we left so I was sure  I could do it. It’s not too big to be too clumsy, just big enough to do the job. The only difference I would make would be to have more room underneath for my bags, and a drink holder in the handle.

6. a wooden rocking chair
I was lucky enough to borrow an old fashioned, wooden rocking chair from a neighbour. This turned out to be a god send as it was the only thing that would help my baby to sleep for many months. Surprisingly, I found you don’t need one with padding, so you can rule out the expensive upholstered breastfeeding chairs with stools. I was rarely in the chair for very long, as my baby nodded off so quickly, it worked so well. An old, second hand one would work just fine.

7. baby bag or similar
I resisted buying one of these for a lot longer than I should have, using a simple bag crammed full of the stuff you need to carry around with you when you have a baby. I thought they were unnessecary. Reality taught me that this is a very handy thing to have, and I love the cheap one I picked up from K-Mart. It has a little change mat that folds out, but I have only used that once or twice. It has compartments that make finding things easier, so a similar bag would be fine, just a one compartment bag was not good enough. Also, it has a good handle with extra padding which is important because it can get heavy and sometimes you are carrying it, but thankfully not too often.

8. portacot and portable highchair
Thankfully these things have been borrowed, and were useful when we had to do the obligatory visiting rounds of the extended family at Christmas. The portacot is also now getting used in the office as an extra playpen. I can pop him in there if I don’t want him crawling around in the pc wires.

9. pull apart play pen
This has also been borrowed, and is useful pulled apart and set up in different places in the loungeroom to keep Mr Crawler away from the TV. Also, we use it to close off the loungeroom area when I don’t want him in the kitchen.

10. safety gates
We are just using these now as my son is big enough to crawl around and explore the whole house. These are especially important because we live in a townhouse with stairs, so we have them set up to stop him from escaping up them without us being right there.

And I’ll tell you what you don’t need, you don’t need a change table, nor expensive matching furniture. I just use a $20 plastic change mat on top of what will become Tom’s study desk. We’re keeping one sling for when we go to the markets which is a place you do not want to take a pram, despite some people insisting on it. The other two slings I’m trying to sell as we’ve never used them. You don’t need fancy baby shelves or baby drawers and you certainly don’t need to paint your nursery! How ridiculous is that, painting a room especially for a baby. Paint your walls off-white once a decade or two, save your time and money, and it goes with everything! I bought some small and cheap $2 baskets to keep his clothes in, which I can move around to his change table, laundry and some old shelves I have in his room. I also keep some toys in these baskets as I got half a dozen and they’ve been really handy.

A bouncinette was handy, but only usable for a few short months. When he flipped it over it was time to put it away. And when they can’t crawl you can just put them on the floor. I don’t think we really needed the play mats either, certainly not two, you can just use any rug or pillow. Although the a-frame was used for several months before he could crawl so maybe another one of those would be good. We were given so many clothes, it was unbelievable, we didn’t buy any clothes for months and months, and when we finally did we didn’t really need to, we just wanted to. And the same was for toys. Whenever possible I choose unisex colours, so the clothes and toys can be recycled for any baby. I think that’s much better for the environment, it increases the chance of things getting used by another baby. Maybe it will be ours!

My New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I didn’t have any resolutions, other than to survive my first year as a mum! The previous year my goal was to learn more about crochet, to try and learn how to read patterns. Well I did that, and my baby son is doing very well now too, so now its time to think of a new goal for the new year!

My goal for 2012 is to use up as much of the yarn that has accumulated around here as possible! I hope to make lots of useful items for friends and family, and perhaps try and sell some things on ebay. I really must try very hard not to buy any more yarn! I’m sure I have a lifetime’s supply here already!

My other goal is to sell a lot of other things on ebay, things that we don’t need or use and no longer have room to store. Our flat is pretty small and its made to feel smaller than it is with all the clutter. My goal for this year is to stream line my house, ready for a possible house move at the end of next year.

Of course, my other goal for the year is to be a good mum! I want to get Thomas into music lessons, and to take him swimming more. And we need to do some more socialising, too!

I think it’s useful to start the new year with a new goal, something that is achievable, and something that you will enjoy doing. A feeling of accomplishment is important as we look back over our past year, especially for people like myself who don’t work at a job. Even if you don’t achieve everything you set out to, it’s good to celebrate the gains you have made, even the smallest ones.

What are your new year’s resolutions?

How to have A Low Stress First Birthday Party

I did a little research before organising my son’s first birthday party and I must say I’m really surprised at the level of pressure out there to perform when organising this event, when personally I find that very unnecessary!

Themes? Seriously? You don’t need that. For goodness sake, talk about stressing yourself out when you don’t need to! I just strung up a couple of balloons with some recycled ribbon! Prettily printed invitations sent in the snail mail? Come on! Just email your friends, easy! Thankyou bags? Maaaybbeeee, if you really want to, but doesn’t that make it all a bit too formal? I’d rather have a relaxed affair where the mums and babies can have a good time. Well, I hope my friends had a good time at our party. We just had it at the pool area of my gated commuity, where there was plenty of space. I could have invited more people, several did say they wanted to come. But I was worried about the weather forecast which predicted rain, then we would have to all cram into my small house, which would have been ok, but not as nice. Luckily, it didn’t rain. But I do think it’s nicer to have smaller gatherings, then I can relax too, and get to chat to everybody. If I had everyone over on the same day, it would have been far too rushed and hectic, and I would have worried about neglecting some of my guests. It was far nicer, for example, to have my brother and family visit on the previous Sunday so we could hang out as a family without a bunch of people they didn’t know.

One dilemma I did have was the question of gifts. If you read my blog, you might know I’m not really keen on our tradition of gift giving. But I don’t want to be a kill joy either, nor do I want to offend my friends and family. So I did some research on this topic and discovered in some forums, that some people have quite a passionate opinion on this. I would have preferred to have said in the email ‘please, don’t bring gifts’ but in my experience, that never works and some people always bring gifts anyway, no matter what you say. I found some people find it really sad and it takes the fun out of it for them. I also read that it was polite etiquette not to mention gifts at all, that to say ‘no gifts please’ implies that people should bring gifts, which some people think is rude!

My husband was home from work on holidays, so we decided we would put some nice nibblies on for the grown ups, and I decided not to mention gifts at all. That way, if people wanted to bring gifts, it was up to them if they wanted to, and at least we put on some food as a thankyou. I do think that if people bring gifts, they shouldn’t have to bring food as well. It’s not that hard to put on a bit of food. My husband baked some pesto and sweet chilli scrolls, marinated chicken wings and rosewater biscuits which were very popular. I made up a fruit platter and some dips with crackers. To further reduce stress, I tried to open gifts as guests arrived. This way there would not be a big parade of gifts everyone has to sit and watch, which I don’t like. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite manage it as three mums arrived at the same time when we were busy, so we opened their gifts after we did the cake ritual.

The fun thing is, I now have presents to make for 5 more babies as they all turn one soon, because Thomas was the eldest in our mothers group!

Easy 1st Birthday Cake

I’d highly recommend a cake like this, not just for a 1st birthday, but for older children as well.

There are two great things about this kind of cake. First is, it’s fairly easy to make and decorate. Secondly, there is no cutting of the cake, nor plates and napkins to organise. Guests simply grab a cupcake as they wish!

My husband made the cupcakes using coloured cupcake papers in a muffin tray, and a chocolate cake recipe. Then I iced them using the icing recipe on the pure icing packet. I even got blisters on my thumbs from mixing it, that’s a dedicated mum for you! Then I used writing icing in bright colours to decorate the iced cupcakes. I highly recommend that product because it was so easy to write his name, I just needed a steady hand and sat calmly on a stool at the kitchen bench. It was easy to simply put one letter of his name on six cupcakes, making the cake nice and personal.

On a whim I decided to decorate a few with pink icing! I decided there was nothing wrong with having pink icing on my son’s cake, especially his first birthday cake, as it was us who were celebrating, and as his mum I decided I needed some pink! It has certainly been a hard year that I am glad to put behind us.I’ve been looking forward all year to seeing Thomas eat a chocolate cupcake on his first birthday. For a couple of months there I was worried he wouldn’t be able to do it. Feeding my baby and making sure he ate enough has been my main worry all year, although he’s never been technically underweight he’s always been a small baby and small eater. I was so happy when he finally devoured his cupcake for all to see, making a very big mess!

Surprisingly, or perhaps not so, the pink cupcakes went first. Most of the guests were mums, and we all like a bit of pink sometimes. They were very, very yummy!!

My Early Ebay Adventures

There’s so much I’m doing at the moment that I’d like to blog about, but time is so precious right now, it’s been a matter of choosing between the doing or writing about the doing, so the doing has been winning out!

When Thomas was still in the hospital nursery, David and I decided we needed a new mattress on our bed, as my old one was starting to feel uncomfortable. Looking back, I don’t know why we didn’t take the delivery guys offer to remove the old mattress! Why did I think I still needed the old one? We had no room for it, so for the next 10 months, it stood up on it’s side in our spare room which cast a very gloomy atmosphere over it, and it couldn’t have been doing the mattress any good leaning up against the wall like that. I couldn’t think what to do with it, as most charities say they don’t like to accept donations of mattresses, so would they come and pick one up? Like most things around our small rented 3 bedroom town house, our possessions seemed to be taking over, crowding me in. I just didn’t know what to do with all this extra stuff we had accumulated over the last 4 years. Then it finally occurred to me that I could try and sell the mattress on ebay.

I had bought a couple of things from ebay in May 2010, including a beautiful cane doll’s furniture set that has featured on my blog before. But I had never sold anything. My overwhelming feeling was that I was too afraid to sell something in case the buyer would be unhappy, I imagined them harassing me for their money back, which would make me feel terrible! This was yet another avoiding behaviour of mine, while living like a hermit for 3 years, hiding from the world. But ever since David and I decided to start a family in early 2010 I’ve been getting braver, so I’ve been changing the way I live my life, the benefit of my child being the main motivator. So I had a go, and listed the queen size mattress on ebay!

I started bidding at $0.99 thinking I really just needed someone to come and pick it up. Oh, please won’t someone come and take our old mattress away? And sure enough, bidding started that night, and by the end the auction closed at $10.50! More than I expected, that’s for sure. And the sale went just fine, the lady came and pressed the money into my hand and took the mattress away in the back of her station wagon. We were worried that she didn’t have enough room, she had 2 teenagers with her, and one had to crouch down below the mattress in the back seat! And then later that night, I had some positive feedback! I was on my way to becoming an ebay seller!

Since then I’ve sold David’s old fish tank, which sold at an amazing $52 from a starting bid of 99c, a near new blender for $16.50, a wok for $5.50 and a plastic cheese grater for $3! Its surprising when these people came to pick up their items that most were under prepared. The fish tank ended up being put on her sons lap! But I’ve also made a couple of reckless purchases which I now regret and promise to be more careful of in future! I got it into my head that I wanted to buy a doll that I had from my childhood that I had lost. I saw a picture of her on facebook, and now I knew what her name was so I could find her for sale, she was a Beauty Secrets Barbie from 1979. I saw a listing for a group of 8 dolls, most I didn’t recognise, but there she was, as well as the Ballerina Barbie from 1975, which I also had as a little girl. So I bought it, and after postage, it cost me $51.56! /gasp! But it gets worse, I also bought some doll furniture which I recognised, which included some dolls clothes, for about $55! So feeling guilty, I now need to clean it all up and sell it, to try and get my money back for making such frivolous buys! Oh, ebay how yee tempts thee!! I hope to find more time soon to blog about what I’m doing with these vintage dolls and clothes from the 1970s, and the journey I had learning to identify them!

My goal at the moment is to get rid of possessions we no longer need or use, which in this place we just don’t have the room for. I’ve now learned its far better to offload these things sooner, rather than to keep carting them around from place to place for years just in case we might need them one day. I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel that was an incredibly disorganised and cramped house. Now I dream of a streamlined, Spartan home that is easy to clean, and most importantly, easy to move when the time inevitably comes to do so.

Colourful Crochet Baby Cube

I was going to make a set of these soft baby blocks, and did this first one last year before Thomas was born. Now, I don’t think I’ll make any more quite like this.

I simply made 6 x 10cm squares of various colours in the same thick cotton I used for the drink coasters. They were fairly quick to make up, then I started joining them up into a cube with the black. I chose these colours because these were the brightest colours I had at the time, and the contrasting black is attractive to the eyes of babies. I then packed the inside with stuffing consisting of scraps of material saved from my sewing projects. I was unhappy with how the cube shape came out. If I packed it too much, it started to resemble a sphere! So I had to remove some stuffing, then the cube was a bit sloppy. So if I make any more cubes like this, they will need a firmer stuffing in the shape of a square, and the cube will have to be made to fit the stuffing. Hence why I probably won’t make any more, as I don’t have any stuffing material like that on hand, and I don’t want to buy it as I think it’s too expensive for what it is!

So here is an odd shape to throw into Tom’s toy box. Maybe in future I can make a sphere and a rectangle to match …

In other news, our little family has just got over colds that Thomas caught at a playgroup I took him to last week. That was the first time I’ve taken him to a playgroup and I won’t be taking him back. All we got out of it was the cold! This is the first time Thomas has had a runny nose and only the second time he’s been sick as the first time was a sore throat with fever. It was so awful listening to him breath through a runny nose all night! I know it’s good for his immune system to start building up resistances to these germs, but I don’t think he should spend his entire babyhood sick and uncomfortable. Getting sick only twice in 10 months is doing pretty well so far, considering how much illness is around!

Small Cream and Wine Hexagon Lap Rug

I’m not sure how useful this item I finished yesterday will turn out to be, it’s very small due to the amount of this wool I had. But it was so nice to make, I had to use it all up to make this small rug. It could be used as a baby rug, or maybe a small lap rug.

I’ve known for a while, I’d really prefer to make items using yarn that is locally grown, spun and dyed. This way, you can reduce your carbon footprint – its better for the environment if we use products sourced locally. Before I saw this yarn, any attempt to source something like that was way over priced in my opinion. But I found some assorted blends that were on special in Lincraft, which were from the Wangaratta Mill Shop. This may include synthetic fibres, so they are blended with local wool, but spun locally. I even found a local spinners site that sells drop spindles if I ever buy some raw local fibre.I’ve already made a beanie for Thomas using a sea green yarn from the same Wangaratta package.

This thick yarn has a nice, soft feel and it was a pleasure to make this small rug. But it is a bit small to be very useful, as I only had 3 balls of this type. I used a 7mm hook to make the stitches large and the rug quick to make up.

In other news, I sold my first item on ebay today, my old queen size mattress! We got a new mattress after Thomas was born, and my old mattress has been taking up room and had to go so I started bidding at .50c hoping someone would come and get it, and they did! The experience was a positive one, so I hope to sell a few other things from around the home that need to go. Who knows, maybe I can sell some crochet projects as well?!

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