My Must-Have Baby Gadgets

I’ll start by saying that if you’re expecting to read a review post right now, then you’re about to be disappointed. Because I think most baby gadgets are a complete waste of money.

I am constantly amazed by the sheer amount of crap you can buy for babies. For example, you can get a machine now that bags and stores used nappies. I mean, seriously? What’s wrong with a bin? I fail to see the wisdom of collecting a ton of shitty nappies in the corner of the room.

Don’t even get me started on cot bedding. Yeah, it’s looks cute and all, but it’s ultimately a complete waste of time for these reasons:

1. Babies can’t use duvets. Or pillows.

2. Cot bumpers are not that great an idea. They stop the airflow through the cot, and provide a handy step for adventurous babies to throw themselves head-first over the side.

3. All a baby’s going to do is puke on it.

4. The cot may become an attractive bedroom ornament (or clean laundry basket, in my case), while the baby refuses to sleep anywhere except next to you. Or on top of you.

And what the fuck is a top and tail bowl for, anyway?

A what now?

A what now?

There are long lists all over the internet of these ‘baby essentials.’ You’d be forgiven for thinking that babies need tons of equipment in the early months.

I totally fell into this trap when I was pregnant with Big Girl. I didn’t buy a massive amount of stuff, but we were given loads. And I was convinced that I would use all of it.

I was wrong.

The steriliser gathered dust on the kitchen counter. I did use the baby bath a few times, but soon changed my mind after having to lug it back upstairs to empty it. Those things are heavy!

Even the pram was largely unused, because Big Girl screamed herself purple as soon as she was strapped in.

I has learned from this by the time Squeak was born. I didn’t have a Moses basket. The baby bath was long gone, and I just swished her around in the bathroom sink. All she really had was nappies, clothes, slings and muslins (which can also be unnecessary, unless you have a baby that makes like Niagara Falls are soon as they sit up after a feed).

Anyway, moving on. There are some baby gadgets that I would totally buy. I would sell my left kidney to fund it. There’s only one problem.

They’re not real.

I think the baby kit manufacturers are missing a trick. I can think of plenty of gadgets that would revolutionise my life. Here’s a few examples.

1. The Chest-Shaped Cushion

Small babies have a finely tuned sensor to detect when they are being put down. It is infinitely more sensitive if you need to do something urgent, like go to the toilet.

Come on, you all know how hard it is to let go and pee to the tune of a squawking newborn.

I ain't movin', woman. (ignore the grotty, post-birth nightie)

I ain’t movin’, woman.
(ignore the grotty, post-birth nightie)

What could be better than a pillow in the exact shape of a woman’s body? You could lay your tiny baby across it, and go off and pee in peace. Or make a sandwich, if you’re feeling ambitious.

Ideally, it would also be body temperature, to fool them even more.

Genius!

I tried to find a similar example to link to, but everything I found was maybe a little bit…pornographic.

Mine would be classy as hell, obviously.

2. The Expand-A-Bed

My own bed? Neverrrrr!

My own bed?
Neverrrrr!

This wouldn’t have been at the top of my list when Big Girl was a baby. Even taking into account the starfishing in the middle of the bed, and the cross-pillow sleeping, three of us could still fit into the bed without too much trouble.

But now, there’s almost always a middle of the night invader, sneaking in to join us. Whether it’s nightmares, tummy aches or just the need for a cuddle, the fact is that once all of them cram in Mark and I are hanging onto the edges of the bed for dear life.Enter: The Expand-A-Bed. I haven’t exactly figured out how it’d work, but it’d be cool if all you had to do was press a button and there it was – a gigantic bed.

No more fighting for space or playing tug of war with the covers. And best of all, no elbows in the eye.

3. The Poo-Mometer

Nappy-free time is supposed to be very good for babies. I can understand that. Being enclosed in a bulky, absorbent pair of knickers all day can’t be great for skin. Nappy-free time can be very bad for parents, though.

Because it can get messy.

Squeak demonstrated this beautifully the other night. She was stomping round the living room after her bath without a stitch on, when she unexpectedly crapped on the floor. And as Mark ran towards her, arms outstretched, she trod in it.

Oopsy!

Oopsy!

Thank God for baby wipes. And carpet cleaner.

The problem is, babies are very unpredictable. They don’t know what they’re going to do next, and even if they did, they couldn’t tell you about it. What they need is some sort of warning system. Or as I like to call it, a Poo-Mometer.

All it would need to be is a small machine, which sounded a klaxon just before the baby was about to poo. No mess, no fuss.

Get working on it, inventors!

4. Orange-Away

Maybe this is just me. I doubt it, though.

The kids’ favourite foods are spaghetti bolognese and lasagne. I make them from scratch, and they’re pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.

Obviously the main problem with this is that they are very messy foods. Big Girl is a bit of a tidier eater now, but Squeak and Little Girl have a nasty habit of missing their mouths.

DSC_7698

See?

There is an easy solution. Just throw them in the bath! But wait. For some reason, that doesn’t work. However much I scrub and rinse (well, not scrub. I’m not that harsh!) they’re still left with a slightly orange tinge to their skin. Like aliens.

Why does this happen? It means that however much I clean them, they still look dirty. And that is annoying.

I actually have a batch of bolognese cooking at the moment. So I hope a solution is on its way. Like, now?

5. The Small Object Magnet

The science behind this one may be a touch questionable. Because most of the things I would like it to detect aren’t actually metal.

But I’m not going to let the small matter of physics get in my way.

I have spoken before of Squeak’s love for locating the tiniest toys and other paraphernalia, and shoving them into her cheeks like a hamster. Of course I could go around the room checking for hazards every time I put her down.

O RLY?

O RLY?

I could.

But I’m not a superhero. And I’ve also spoken about the older girls’ love for dropping small things on the floor. I’m fighting a losing battle here.

So what I really really need, is a Small Object Magnet. Imagine just being able to wave it around, and all the dangerous bitesize things in the room zooming over and sticking to it.

That would be awesome.

6. The Anti-Climb Barrier

I mentioned recently that Squeak has just learned to climb on the sofa. This is a milestone I always dread. No more stashing things out of reach at the back of the cushion. And definitely no more leaving the room.

You can guess that this is a touch inconvenient.

She quickly figured out how to safely climb down as well. But she eschews this in preference of galloping towards the edge, running at speed across the cushions, and generally doing things that make me lose my shit and throw myself across the room at her.

Heh heh.

Heh heh.

I’m hoping that the novelty will wear off soon, but I’m not holding out much hope.

I did ponder the use of sticky anti-vandal paint, but I think that would get a little messy. What would be perfect was an invisible barrier that prevented her from getting up there at all. Every time she tried, she would be deposited gently back on the carpet.

I’m sure she’d give up in the end, right?

7. The Portal Gun For Kids Who Fall Out Of Bed

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the game Portal. The story isn’t relevant, but in it you have a portal gun (or, more precisely, an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device.) With it you can shoot two portals, a blue one and an orange one. If you go through one portal, you end up coming out of the other. You use this to navigate the game world.

But I have come up with a much better use for it. This isn’t technically a baby product but hey, babies grow up!

Big Girl and Little Girl are very active sleepers. They roll around, thrash and always end up in an entirely different position to the one they started out in. This means that they fall out of bed a lot.

I have a bed??

I have a bed??

When they’re in their own beds, that is.

But anyway, it’s a pain in the ass having to get out of bed at night and run to comfort them, check for injuries and get them settled down again. Especially in winter.

I have the solution.

If I had a portal gun, I could put a blue portal right next to the bed, and an orange one in the ceiling above the bed. Then every time they fell out, they’d just land back on the bed again. I mean, it’d be a bit of a drop from the ceiling, but I think they’d roll with it.

Ah, if only…

8. The Time Suspension Device

I used to watch a programme called ‘Bernard’s Watch’ when I was a kid. It was pretty crap, but in it Bernard had a watch (surprise!) which could stop time for everyone but him.

I could get behind that shit.

There are just not enough hours in the day, and far too much to do. I want to have a tidier house, and I want more leisure time, and I want to spend more time with the kids.

DSC_7747

But I just can’t fit it all in.

But if I could stop time and do all the housework, that would be cool. If I could stop time and sit on my arse eating biscuits and reading, that would be even cooler. And then I could spend all the time I’m no longer doing grunt work having fun with the kids.

You know it makes sense.

I’d just have to make sure I didn’t forget to start time again, after I’d started loafing around.

Hmmm, maybe I wouldn’t be a responsible owner of this device.

9. The Cloning Machine

If the last one is too scientifically impossible, then I have a plan B. A Cloning Machine.

If your house ends up looking like this, you're doing it wrong!

If your house ends up looking like this, you’re doing it wrong!

Sometimes people say, “I wish I could split myself in two!” Well, what if you really could?

If I could, I would have:

a. One of me to do the housework.

b. One of me to cook.

c. One of me to do the school run.

d. One of me to do homework.

e. And, my favourite one, one of me to settle Squeak back down at night.

No more frantically stirring pots and pans while Squeak tries to break down the safety gate. No more going out in the rain. No more boring things that I don’t want to do.

I might even have one to provide free childcare, so I could go back to work without worrying.

I’m sure cloning isn’t that complex, is it?

So, in conclusion, I’m a minimalist kind of parent. But that’s not because I’m all smug and know so much what I’m doing.

No, it’s because I want a load of bizarre shit that hasn’t been invented.

Yet.

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How Squeak Got Her Name

DSC_2404This is Squeak. Well, this was Squeak. She is now a hulking beast of an eleven month old, who barrels around the house with double chins a-wobbling. Today I am going to tell you the story of how Squeak got her name.

This story is a lesson for you all. Nicknames stick.

Forever.

Squeak is the neglected third child. With the first two, Mark and I had found out the sex, picked names and shopped accordingly. Admittedly it was harder to pick a name the second time around, but with four months notice we managed to figure it out. Third time around, I fancied a change and so we decided to wait until the baby was born to find out the sex.

In retrospect, this was the first error.

Now, it appeared that we had acquired baby-naming fatigue. We spent months batting around ideas, and we never agreed on one. But you know, it’s cool, right? I’ve heard so many stories of ‘we just took one look at him/her after the birth and he/she looked just like an [insert name here.]’ So we threw in the towel and decided to just pick a name after the baby was born. After all, you’ve got six weeks to register them, what could go wrong?

Second error, right there. Take note.

This baby did not particularly fancy being born. I reached 17 days overdue before finally being induced. I was so stressed that names had gone completely out of my mind. I didn’tDSC_0272 care. I just wanted to get the scary bit out of the way and the baby in my arms.

Labour didn’t take too long once it got going, and soon I was cuddling baby girl #3. As you can see from the picture, she was pretty squashed in there. In fact, does anyone remember those Boglin puppets from a couple of decades ago? Yeah, she looked like one of those. Although of course, she was most beautiful and perfect to me.

You know how in TV programmes, babies scream at the top of their lungs the very second they’re born? It didn’t really happen like that for me. In fact, Squeak’s first sounds were… squeaks! She sounded like a little mouse. And this is where the truth comes out. The nickname was all Mark’s idea! Since we didn’t have a name yet, he thought it would be cute if she had a little nickname. Of course I agreed.

RED ALERT! Third error! RED ALERT!

So Squeak she became. And we took a whole 5 days to name her, because we still couldn’t agree. Apparently, nine months just isn’t long enough! She has a gorgeous name. Raise your hands if you know me and you remember it! <scans> Liars.

Noone calls her by her name. Which sometimes I think is a shame, because it really suits her. But I have to admit, she just is Squeak. If you shout her name, nothing happens. (Actually, nothing happens pretty frequently when I shout the right names in this house. Sigh.) But as soon as you say Squeak, she’s there. And as she gets bigger, the squeaks get louder, and shriller, and more persistent, but they are still squeaks from Squeak.

It’s Public Service Announcement time. If you give your child a nickname, don’t think that it’ll never catch on. It does. And it takes less than five days. Consider yourselves warned!