Dr Tom York, NHS-registered and private GP for GPDQ, the UK’s first doctor-on-demand app and one of our wonderful experts, is back and this time he's recommending his Top 10 Essential Devices for Parents.
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Since becoming a Dad for the first time, I’ve found the need for a host of new devices and gadgets to enhance and simplify the parenting process. Here’s a selection of things which I’ve found helpful, things which I wish I’d known about earlier and things which I intend to get as my son grows older.
1. Bath Thermometer
An absolute essential piece of kit which you’ll need from day zero is a bath thermometer. It’s no surprise that babies get stinky if you don’t wash them. Whether you choose a fancy baby bath, the kitchen sink or a local lake, it helps to know the temperature of the water you’re dunking your precious new human into. Baby thermometers flash a warning if it’s too hot or too cold, giving you essential piece of mind when bathing your infant. Sadly, 2,000 children every year attend A&E with bath water scolds so I’d recommend any new parent to pick up a bath thermometer to help avoid these entirely preventable injuries.
Dr Tom recommends:Mothermed Baby Bath Thermometer , Amazon, £12.99
2. Nappy Bin
A new born baby will go through about 10 nappies a day. As they get older you might opt for reusable nappies, but we found that even the smallest of these were too big to use when our son was tiny. So, it’s likely you’ll be using disposable nappies for at least several weeks. Unless you enjoy your house smelling of poo, a special nappy bin is a must. We found the Angelcare product really useful. The nappies end up in a sealed bag which can be easy removed, tied up and disposed of, minimising the mess and unpleasant smells.
Dr Tom recommends: Angelcare Nappy Disposal System, Argos, £9.99
3. Baby Monitor
Another piece of essential equipment is the baby monitor. There are lots of different types available with varying amounts of bells and whistles. We didn’t feel that our son needed to be under constant video surveillance so chose a reliable audio monitor with good reviews. It’s served us well and allows us to hear when our baby stirs, rather than waiting until the decibel level of a full-on meltdown can be heard through the wall. This allows us to act quickly and usually results in a shorter period of comforting before he goes back to sleep.
Dr Tom recommends: BT Audio Baby Monitor 450, John Lewis, £39.99
4. Awesome Babies App
During the first few months of your new baby’s life, there’ll be periods when you have no idea what time it is, how long you’ve been asleep or when your baby had their last feed. Keeping track of all this data is really useful and can help you get into a good routine of feeding and sleeping and also let you know if your baby really hasn’t opened their bowels for three days or if your sleep deprived brain has just forgotten. There are lots of apps available, but this is the one we found to be particularly user friendly.
Recommended: Awesome Baby Tracker, iOS, Free
5. Baby Carrier
Carrying your little tyke around in one of these bad boys is so much fun! Your baby’s distance vision will improve dramatically from only being able to make out movement and shapes at birth to near-adult levels of vision at eight months. Since about three months old, our son started getting a bit bored lying on his back in the pram and wanted to see what was going on around him. We’ve used our baby carrier for dance parties in the kitchen, to hikes in the countryside to attracting adoring looks from passers-by on the streets of London. With this version you can also carry your baby on your back as they get a little older, so you have no excuse not to help out with housework whilst simultaneously keeping your little one happy.
Dr Tom recommends: BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier One, Amazon, £110
This handy device simply makes the sound of someone repeatedly saying ‘shhhhh’. Although it may get you kicked out of a library, it seems like a genius way of placating a fussy baby. We spent many hours pacing the bedroom in the middle of the night, basically doing exactly the same thing that the Shusher does. Although it may not seem like a lot of effort to make the noise yourself, it’s amazing how draining it can be when all your brain wants to do is get back to sleep. The idea is that the shushing noise mimics the noises baby is used to from inside the womb, so it makes sense that this would calm them. It’s a piece of kit which is definitely on my wish list for baby number two.
Dr Tom recommends: pNeo Baby Shusher, Amazon, £37
7. Perfect Prep
If you choose to bottle feed your baby, one gadget which will save you loads of time and effort is the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine. It quickly makes a fresh bottle of formula feed at the correct temperature, adding the right amount of water for the perfect consistency and even shoots out an initial jet of hot water to kill any bacteria lurking in the formula powder. I know parents who swear by this machine and when your darling child suddenly decides they’re hungry, anything that minimises the length of a pre-feed tantrum is a must.
Dr Tom recommends: Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine, Amazon, £59.99
8. Mamroo Swing
This gadget looks amazing! I’m wondering if I can justify buying it for my wife for her birthday, I’d probably be banished to the sofa for a few nights, but it might just be worth it! It can rock and bounce and rotate in lots of different directions whilst looking like a seat at the command centre of a spaceship. It also has a ‘car ride’ mode. As it’s usually muggins who ends up taking our child on a night time drive when all other methods of getting him to sleep have failed, spending a few nights on the sofa seems like a small price to pay!
Dr Tom recommends: mamaRoo®4, 4 Moms, £187.76
9. Backseat Car Mirror
Three days after our son was born, we embarked on a 200-mile car journey to attend a family event. My wife was getting some well-deserved sleep. I still had the ‘new parent paranoia’ compelling me to check that my child was ok every few minutes. It was very disconcerting not being able to see him and more than a few times, I might have reached back and poked him in the head just to make sure he was still responding. After that fretful trip, a wise in-law bought us this ingenious piece of kit which allows me to concentrate on driving whilst my family sleeps peacefully in the back.
Dr Tom recommends: Maxi-Cosi back seat car mirror, Mothercare, £14.99
10. Breast Feeding Pillow
Seasoned mothers may be able to breastfeed during the weekly supermarket shop or whilst changing a car tyre, but for the uninitiated, getting your baby into the correct position to effectively feed can be quite a challenge. This pillow came with us absolutely everywhere for the first three months as it works so much better than simply using a cushion or pillow. Despite no longer needing it for breast feeding, we still use it daily to support our son as he learns to sit and play on his tummy. Definitely worth a purchase.
Dr Tom recommends: Chicco Boppy Feeding Pillow, BuggyBaby.co.uk, £25
So there you have it - thank you Dr Tom! As he so rightly says, it’s very easy to go crazy and fill up your home with mountains of moulded plastic and shiny gizmos for a new baby, but aside from a pram, basket and car seat, this selection should cover most of what you’ll need for a while and help you confidently navigate the tribulations of early parenthood.