Friday, September 11, 2009

Things I can't do without & things that are a total waste of money

I started this post WEEKS ago and am only now getting around to finishing it. I hope this is not going to be what my life's like from here on...I'm a big Completer-Finisher on those Belbin work profile assessments.

Anyway.....without further ado

they look soooo tiny here

Parenting is such a subjective thing - everybody has his or her way of doing things and feels that their way is the ONLY way.

I'm under no such illusions but I will say this - when I love something I will tell you about it. Like if ANYONE tells me they're battling to fall pregnant, and they live in Jhb, I tell them to go straight to my clinic. Don't even waste time with the others.

Or Pampers :)

Anyway, I was thinking about some things we're using with the babies that I love love LOVE and thought I'd share...just in case they work for you too.

sleep wedges

You can see the babies lying on them in the pic. I love these things so much that they are now my new favourite baby shower gift. I don't worry about the babies twisting and turning in their cots. I even put these on the couches or on the bed when we want to give them a break from sleeping in the cots and I can happily go off and do something else knowing they're safe.

linen savers

I first heard about linen savers when I got the "what to bring to the hospital" list. In case you're like me and you've never heard of them before now, they put them under the sheet to protect the mattress from blood and other spillages. Like the night my waters broke, I had linen savers under me in the car on the way to the hospital, and on the hospital bed while I was having contractions and gushing water (I know, gross!).

Anyway, we had to bring a pack of 20 and I still had some left after I was discharged. So I fold one in half, and then again in half, and place on top of the sleep wedge to protect the mattress and sheets from the babies' pee. I mentioned before that they pee through everything - vest, babygrow and receiving blanket. Well, if that linen saver wasn't there, I'd also be washing sheets as well as all the clothes non-stop. Now I don't - bonus!

receiving blankets

I don't think you can have enough of these. When I read the baby magazines, they said 4 per baby. We had 4 per baby before they were born and then I went out and got another 2 each and my sister gave me some more too.

Also, another tip I got from a work colleague... use a receiving blanket as a sheet in the cot especially if you have winter babies like I do. They're cheaper than proper cot sheets and the flannel keeps them warm. At Baby City you pay about R70 for a cot sheet and R70 for a 3-pack of receiving blankets. I bought a pack and use two of them as sheets and one as a blanket.


When the babies have their bottles, they spill the milk because they either suck too fast (Connor) or too lazily (Kendra).

We tried using bibs but they get soaked so quickly so their babygrows (onesies) also get wet.

So I started using facecloths. They had about 3 each for bathing and an extra 10 to 12, so I use those instead of bibs. They're super absorbent and it's easy to throw them into the laundry.

electric blanket and camp cot (pack and play - see picture above)

It's winter here in Jhb and wouldn't you know it? For the first time in a couple of years we're having a proper cold winter. We've had a few years of really mild winters which I hate because I love the cold. So the weather - good for me, not so good for babies.

When you have babies in a cold house you get obsessed with temperature. When Connor came home, we put him in his cot for one night but were scared he'd freeze to death (literally) so he moved to our bed, on the sleep wedge, of course. Then when Kendra came home we bought a camp cot (which is in our room) and put an electric blanket in there to keep them nice and toasty warm.

So they have beautiful cots in their room, totally unused, except for the nights when the night nanny looks after them.

microwave steriliser

Not the cutest or sexiest baby shower gift but certainly the most useful, together with the baby bottle brush.

How did people do it before these were invented? I know - sterilising liquid. But where did they get the time?

4 minutes and the bottles are done in my 1000-watt microwave.

washing machine and tumble dryer

Literally my lifesavers for the first two months. After their morning feed, I pop a load in and forget about it while doing bottles, etc.

Then if the weather's good, hang on the line or else toss into the tumble dryer.

A friend told me that her washing machine broke in the first year after their baby was born because she did so much laundry! Hopefully that won't be happening because I don't have the energy or the money for another one.

The day nanny started on 1 Sept and I see that she likes to wash their laundry by hand. It does make sense since there's usually not enough (now that they're using Pampers - and Kendra is on newborn Pampers too now) laundry to run a load and I'm very very cheap so hate wasting all that electricity to do a half load.


Seriously, I don't know how you guys do it without nannies. I wrote about a nanny on Facebook and there were some comments that it really is only for the very rich in the US. My mum flew to Jhb and stayed with me for 4 weeks in August - her main job was Kendra since she's experienced at the children thing (we're 3 kids).

But it's very different when you have paid help, at least for me, because I can boss to my heart's content. I'm not that bad, but I do like things done just so, which is why they call me a slave driver at work.

When the nanny's here, I get to sleep a couple of hours, do our laundry, cook, clean, go to gym and run errands, etc.

All while the babies are being taken very good care of. Which is priceless!

She is already smitten with the babies which is such a relief - K is cute but high maintenance so I don't expect other people to find her as endearing as her father and I do. I find her whispering sweet nothings to them - so sweet.

If she ever decides to leave I will cry bucketloads of tears. If I were at work, I'd tell her how great she is but I'm scared to in case she hits me up for more money. So I do a bit here and a bit there.

They are still not 100% used to the night nanny - also she's a bit more rough with them than the 3 of us are (D, me and the day nanny). To be honest, I am tolerating it because we're so sleep deprived but I am being a lot more assertive with her. "C doesn't like to sleep like that; K just needs a cuddle" etc etc

Things I would never buy if I had more children
(I'll update this list as I think of things)
  1. mittens - believe me, I tried to get them to wear them. A total waste of time and huge frustration for the babies and for me
  2. newborn socks
  3. cute newborn clothes - the babies do nothing but eat and sleep, babygrows and vests are really all you need, and beanies for winter babes. Not to mention the fact that the cute clothes are often very impractical
  4. booties
  5. newborn leggings - again, they have no patience with leggings and it's a mission to get on and off when changing nappies
  6. baby bath - I don't have one and am glad. I bath the babes in the basin and the nannies prefer to use the bath seat in the big bath.
  7. lots of fancy expensive bottles (my kids like the cheap
  8. lots of cotton wool (in the NICU they use cotton wool and warm water to clean the bums when changing nappies. D was aghast when I stopped all that the MINUTE Connor came home. He very quickly had to get used to the cold baby wipes -who has the time to gather warm water when you have a screaming baby who wants that wet nappy off NOW)
On another note, a friend told me the babies don't even use duvets or quilts but it does help to "pull the room together". So true. Half the time the quilt is folded up somewhere and I only "do the room nicely" when people are coming.

So... back to you...

what can't you do without, and what has been a total waste of time/ money?


  1. We had the "wedges" too, was great, let you sleep b/c you weren't worrying so much.

  2. Anonymous12:34 pm

    Thanks for the very helpful & useful blog! Where does one get these linen savers? Caren

  3. Hi - still loving looking at the pictures - just life has been hectic the last few weeks.

    Things I can live without - cute clothes, socks and shoes, fancy blankets, cribs, changing table, and most of the knick knack stuff like music bears and wind up hanging toys. Most toys until around 4 months and then you just need a couple of chew toys and rattles.

    Things I can't live without? Burp rags, receiving blankets, onsies, sleepers, large flannel/cotton blankets (depending on season of birth), a baby tub (I almost drowned Kendra and just feel safer with one), a swing, a sling, and a pack n play with a changing station on top.

    No two Mommies love or like all the same products, and the same is true of babies.

    I could not have survived without a swing for Kendra or Vannan - Joel hated it. I think I used it (with him usually crying) maybe a dozen times. Kendra and Vannan refused to even go near the crib - but Joel loved his cradle and pack n play. We used the play pen for toys (and a Christmas tree one year) - and rarely for the kids. Most of the toys were not liked.

    Once kids LIKE toys - 3 - 5 months old - having links to keep toys at arms reach are wonderful. I lost quite a few toys with the girls, but by linking the toys to a stroller or even to my sling, the toy never dropped to the ground - or the pacifier - or whatever I could manage to link up.

    Keep toys to a minimum - they are happier with 2 or 3 to choose from that they like than 2 or 3 dozen. And most babies like noisy, chewable, and texture.

    Anyway - that's what I do.


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