I’ve recently shifted back to Australia from the UK in preparation for my first child. Figured family and friends could come in handy. So in addition to expecting Baby Number One in the frighteningly near future, I’m also reacquainting myself with a country that looks the same but feels different (or it could be me), and all the jargon, tricks, products and advice about ‘shopping for baby’.

What makes it even more fun are the exasperated eye rolls you get if you don’t know about something and the assumption that – because you’re a woman – you should. I’d be forgiven for finding a cave to hide in for the next year. Like many new Mums, I haven’t got a clue. It’s all new and daunting.

I quite like my creature comforts, so I’ve opted out of the cave solution and instead went in search of help. I found it at Baby Kingdom at Bankstown in Sydney where I learned more in one hour with their sales team than I thought I would ever know.

For a start, I have to say this store is designed with sanity in mind. Actually, that’s a fib. It’s designed with insanity in mind: particularly the confused, sleep deprived and nervous insanity of new parents who don’t have the headspace to cope with a poorly disorganised store. Here you will find a neatly organised, one-floor space that tenderly guides you to what you need for feeding, getting your baby on the move, dressing and protecting your baby from the elements, and sorting your nursery space.


Babies have to eat

We started in the feeding and care section – right near the entrance. Here we found the breast pumps, the dummies, the bottles, the formula, the sterilisers and the countless other items I’m preparing myself to term as ‘necessities’ in the coming months. You can sleepwalk in, grab, pay, go.

I’m toying with the notion of a breast pump, but don’t know if I’ll need one yet so holding out – but the advice on electric versus manual was straightforward, human and honest. Basically, I’m not going to be in the mood for manual labour and some nifty person far better at maths than I has taken the time to sort an electric option. I say that’s a winner in my book. So I took notes. At the moment the Avent Electric is looking like an option, but we’ll see. I’ll keep you posted in late April.


Getting baby around: Prams, buggies, strollers etc…

Then there was The Buggy. Or Pram. Or Stroller. Or Integrated Travel System. Or Hydrogen Fuelled Infant Rocket. Honestly, my head was spinning on the Big Buggy Dilemma. In any case, I was eased into this with an explanation on a few key factors that I found helpful as criteria for this monster purchasing decision.

There are a few options on baby carriers and slings as well. I’m eyeing up the Baby Bjorn Active myself.


A place for baby to sleep

Then it’s time for the nursery – a whole other story. But it should be said that there isn’t just the cot to consider: linen, mattress protectors, night lights – it’s all there.


Babywear and grooming

You also have accessories, baby grows, grooming and skincare to consider. So there are the lotions, bathing, clothes and of course, nappies and associated products for taking care of a key preoccupation in early life.

Oh my, and then there are the toys. Which is a whole other adventure.

For the minute, I’m enjoying the fact that I actually understand all this a little better and had it explained to me by friendly, helpful and thorough people. They didn’t stare at me aghast that I don’t have the magic microchip that allegedly equips every female with immediate encyclopedic knowledge about baby kit. They have an online checklist too.

If I wasn’t eight months up the duff, I would have invited my newfound best friends out for a glass of wine in thanks.

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Open Seas Playpen

Posted by Diana on Monday Feb 28, 2011 Under Baby playpens, Baby Toys, Baby Travel

The Chicco Open Seas Playpen was delivered during Mothers Group at my place, amongst the chaos of Mums and Babies in every corner of my house. All of us were curious to see this portable playpen. The last time Australia saw this type of “portable” playpen was nearly 10 years ago.

Initial impressions were the playpen was very attractive in appearance. As the name suggests, the Open Seas Playpen has a sea theme – complete with a dolphin, fish, crab, starfish, sea horse and turtle. The playpen is surrounded on all four sides by a strong sheer netting in a beautiful hue of blue. As baby was lowered into the playpen, there were many comments from the other Mums that she did look like she was submerging into an underwater world.

Once inside the playpen, baby looked around and explored her new aquatic environment. The big play area of one square metre was sufficient for baby to freely crawl around. She crunched the tactile starfish, played with the dolphin’s tail and pulled herself up to stand on two of the soft handles. There is a soft handle on each side of the playpen and the handles are cleverly designed to be a helpful height to assist a baby learning to stand. These handles can also be used to attach toys. Two soft toys come with the playpen, a turtle and a sea horse – these toys have proven to be a hit with Baby and her friends.

The portable playpen was easy to assemble and very similar to assembling a portacot. The frame clicked easily into place and the colourful mat featuring all the sea creatures was placed at the bottom. In fact, the mat can be removed and used as a playmat or used as a mattress if needed. The playmat is also fully washable.

Another cute feature of the Chicco Open Seas Playpen is that one of the netted sides unzips – to allow baby to get in and out. There is a small height difference between the playpen and the floor, so it’s sensible to put a mat or rug to compensate for the height difference to make it easier for baby to crawl in and out. Once Baby left the playpen, she turned around to crawl back in! After Baby had finished playing in the playpen, another baby was quick to explore the playpen.

We all agreed the Chicco Open Seas playpen would be great to take in the boot of the car when visiting Grandparents or friends that may not have a suitable play space for baby. It’s easy to assemble, bright, fun and when the babies have finished playing is compact to fold up. The playpen comes with a very practical bag with a handle to make it easy to transport.

The playpen is made by Chicco, a company which is over 60 years old and is still family operated. To find out more, visit the Chicco website www.chicco.com.au The Chicco Open Seas portable playpen can be purchased online from Baby Kingdom www.babykingdom.com.au. To purchase the product, click here – http://www.babykingdom.com.au/shopexd.asp?id=4974&section=search&cat=

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Baby Playtime

Posted by Diana on Monday Feb 14, 2011 Under Baby playpens, Baby presents, Baby Toys

I purchase lots of my baby products online. The convenience of clicking and having the products delivered to your door is fabulous with a little one.

I recently came across the Baby Kingdom website http://www.babykingdom.com.au and I’ve found it excellent for ordering baby products online.

The Baby Kingdom website offers quality baby products, organised in neat categories, with detailed product descriptions, including product dimensions and photos. I’ve found the user interface easy to navigate and best of all the products are competitively priced!

I ordered the Jolly Kidz Smart Hexagon Playpen in Natural from the Baby Kingdom website. It arrived in a couple of days in a convenient flat pack. I chose the Jolly Kidz playpen because it was simple, large, made of solid timber, represented good value for money and seemed easy to assemble.

So I unpacked the playpen and started to assemble it. The playpen comes with six timber segments to form the hexagon, twelve durable blue plastic safety corners, an Allen Key and some screws. My advice is to screw the rounded safety corners on each timber segment first and then the playpen fits neatly together with simple press buttons.

I was impressed by the proportions of the playpen. The timber frame is an ideal height for baby and the large area gave the playpen a spacious feel. The timber frame has a smooth natural toxin free finish, so Baby will be safe if she decided to test the timber with her two new teeth!

So with the playpen assembled, I scattered Baby’s favourite toys around and placed Baby in the centre of the playpen. I watched closely for her reaction. She crawled around her new playpen a few times, smiled at her toys and after a while of playing gave what appeared to be a nod of approval. It was rather a ‘nod of approval’ or a ‘very tired nod’ – after playtime in her new play space her afternoon nap was much longer than usual!

The playpen comes with six straight connectors for extension and a play mat is also available to compliment the playpen. For more information on the playpen and accessories, visit the Jolly Kidz website http://www.jollykidz.net

Here is a direct link to the product on the Baby Kingdom website. While you’re there, have a browse around the Baby Kingdom website and see some of the other great products available.

To purchase the product, click here… http://www.babykingdom.com.au/shopexd.asp?id=4332&section=10&cat=Play+Pens

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Baby is balancing and sitting

Posted by Diana on Monday Jan 10, 2011 Under Baby Toys, Baby Travel

I realised baby had mastered the art of sitting, when she managed to sit in a highchair and hold a menu at the same time!

The quest to develop the skill of sitting, started on her Mamas’n’Papas playmat. Baby maneuvered from a crawling position to a sitting position, by rolling over and propping herself up on her playmat. She was a little shaky at first, but with lots of practice and encouragement, she began to improve.

To assist baby in her pursuit to sit, we bought her a Prince Lionheart Bebepod Boost Seat. It has a soft plastic moulded seat which allows baby to sit comfortably and is easy to clean. It comes with a compatible tray, placemat and toy. The seat has a three point child safety harness and best of all is the dual strap which allows the booster to be strapped to an adult chair.

We found the Bebepod to be wonderful when we were travelling, as we could transform any adult chair into a baby high chair and could feed her wherever we stayed on our roadtrip. For more information on tips for baby’s road trips, see Baby Car Travel.

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Musical baby

Posted by Diana on Monday Jan 3, 2011 Under Baby presents, Baby Toys

My baby is finding her musical side this new year. She can clap in time to a rhythmic beat, attempts to sing along to nursery rhymes and loves to play musical instruments.

The baby piano by Imaginarium (posted by Aaron as baby’s favourite Christmas gift) is a sophisticated first instrument. The piano keys are a good size for baby and the piano has more than one octave for baby to play a cute tune.

Fisher Price makes a good range of baby instruments, including the Laugh and Learn Baby Grand Piano, Baby Xylophones, Baby Bongos and Drumkit.

You can make your own musical instruments too! An empty biscuit tin can make an excellent drum when covered with cardboard on one side. An empty milk container can be half filled with rice to become a shaker and you could attempt to make a tambourine to have your baby spellbound.

So tap into baby’s musical side and have some fun at the same time!

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Picnic with baby

Posted by Diana on Wednesday Dec 29, 2010 Under Baby Toys, Baby Travel

It is the season to be jolly! And a picnic is a great way for you and baby to catch up with family and friends.

When planning your picnic, choose a location which is picturesque, has suitable facilities and adequate shade. Bring hats and sunscreen for yourself and baby. Banana Boat makes an excellent range of sunscreen for babies, children and adults. Hats with ties can prevent babies and little ones from pulling them off.

Outdoor shade huts are a great idea, put a rug inside with toys and you’ll find it a place to congregate for all the little ones. The babies will love the interaction with the other babies. Bring your stroller to the picnic site and once they’re tired they can retreat for a nap.

Make it a gourmet feast for the adults, planning the dishes you’ll each bring. Outdoor games like bocce are fun to play too.

Finally, relax and enjoy the good company.

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What was baby’s favourite gift this Christmas?

Posted by Diana on Monday Dec 27, 2010 Under Baby presents, Baby Toys

After baby has chewed, scrunched and unwrapped all the Christmas paper from the presents – we all await the response from baby to the opened gift.

At our place, three toys stood out, once unveiled from the Christmas paper. The first stand out toy was recieved from one set of Grandparents on Christmas Eve and is called the Soothe & Glow Seahorse by Fisher Price. The tummy of the Seahorse lights up when pressed and makes soothing aquatic noises (very different to the disruptive digestive noises which my tummy tends to make after eating my filling dinner on Christmas Eve)!

The second standout toy was received on Christmas Day from Grandparents too. It is called the Light’n Learn Caterpillar and is made by Vtech UK. This caterpillar has a big smile and three large buttons marked with A, B and C. When baby taps the buttons with hands or feet – she is rewarded with a song about the alphabet, colours and shapes. This present is getting lots of smiles from baby!

The third stand out toy is from Lamaze and is called Sir Prancelot. A knight riding a horse which already has acquired a personality which baby adores – a posh speaking medieval hero who charges forward with swift gallantry.

So all in all it has been a rewarding first Christmas for baby! What was your baby’s favourite gift this Christmas?    

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Baby’s wild imagination

Posted by Diana on Thursday Dec 23, 2010 Under Baby presents, Baby Toys

Today I observed baby being entertained by a puppet show performed by her two cousins. Her school aged cousins were giving each puppet a different voice and personality, the puppets were getting up to various antics and baby was giggling in response and clapping her hands.

Baby responded so positively to the imagination displayed in the show that I reflected on the ‘playtimes’ we enjoy most together. Often the best experiences are when I’m imaginative, adding interest to the toys around her, whether it is giving a French accent to ‘Alfie’ the lama or pretending her hippo is heavy footed, she gains maximum entertainment when I am at my imaginative best.

In fact, I think I’m enhancing her imagination when I get creative during playtime. So to encourage an imaginative baby and ensure those toys opened at Christmas last longer than a day, give the toys a name and let your imagination run wild – baby’s imagination will probably run wild too!

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Dressing up the tree and baby

Posted by Diana on Wednesday Dec 22, 2010 Under Baby Books, Baby Clothes, Baby presents, Baby Toys

My baby touched tinsel for the first time and was intrigued by it. She twirled it through her fingers, giggled at it’s texture and was mesmerised by it’s sparkle.

I was adding the finishing touches to the Christmas tree, hanging decorations and lollies wrapped in foil (out of reach of baby – of course). Baby looked at the tree quizzically – probably wondering why a live pine tree was in the living room!

I placed baby’s final presents under the tree. From reading all the comments, it seems books have been a popular choice for baby presents this year. Under our tree, there are a mixture of baby presents – toys, books and dresses! One of the delights of having a baby girl is dressing her up. I’ve bought baby dresses by Country Road, Origami, Sprout and Pumpkin Patch. Her summer wardrobe is set to be more extensive than mine!

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What’s under Baby’s Christmas tree?

Posted by Diana on Thursday Dec 16, 2010 Under Baby Clothes, Baby Toys

With Christmas a week away, it’s time to fill those Christmas stockings with gifts our babies will enjoy.

Here are some ideas:

Babysuits are great for babies of all ages. With warm Christmas weather, sleeveless suits are good. Here is a quick guide to baby sizes:
00000 is for a really small newborn baby
0000 is for a newborn and may only last up to 4 weeks
000 is for a 1-3 month old baby
00 is for a 3-6 month old baby
0 is for a 6-12 month old baby
1 is for a 12 month old baby

Novelty Items
Reindeer Antlers and Santa Hats are too cute on babies at Christmas.

Babies love toys with contrasting patterns and colours, like hypnotising black and white stripes. Toys with mirrors, teething rings, that make crunchy noises or play tunes are also a hit!

My baby adores a pink elephant that plays a tune when she pulls on the teething ring made by Bright Stars. Another of her favourite toys are her range of books by Lamaze. Her soccer ball by Playgro is also a favourite.

What’s under your baby’s tree this Christmas?

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