If you’re anything like me, walking into a baby mega store – virtual or otherwise – is a borderline panic-inducing exercise that could (and has, for me) end in all-out prefrontal dissociation that looks something like faking a phone call to exit the building, leaving your partner and obliging staff member to debate the merits of various carriers. Consequently, my first baby ended up with a cacophony of hard-wearing, man-friendly contraptions that looked more suited to “baby’s first off-road camping trip” than “baby takes a stroll to a local inner city café if it’s lucky enough to leave the house today.”
When a friend and seasoned parent walked into my house a few weeks shy of baby’s arrival, she took one look at the SUV-sized pram my husband had chosen complete with a wet weather shield fashioned in military grade parachute fabric and said, quite bluntly, “I hope you kept the receipt.”
Second time around, after much trial and error with the first and surveying savvy friends and RUSSH teamers who’ve traversed the parenting path, I’ve managed to distill the essentials down to a manageable ‘top 10 greatest hits’ of both functional and aesthetically agreeable must-haves for both bubs and parents-to-be that have earned their place on this list for reasons of quality, durability, sustainability, sexiness and ease. So you, and I, will never have to set foot in a baby mega store again.
Bugaboo: the unofficial gold standard pram for several good reasons, not least because they look the part and last forever, but they are truly one of the easiest vehicles to maneuver in an urban setting where pavements are narrow and parking is limited. The Dragonfly is the iconic brand’s latest release and an upgrade from the ‘Bee’ (as the name would suggest), its famously lightweight, compact, city-friendly predecessor that even my husband conceded was “the best thing I’ve ever driven.” Boasting a range of new features, the main bonus here in my opinion is that the Dragonfly can be folded in one swift tactical maneuver using – wait for it – one hand. Parents who’ve ever had a list of 25 errands, 4 bags of shopping and a babe along for the ride, I know you’re with me on this.
There is a reason every new parent popping up in your baby-centric social media algorithm has one of these accessorising their decidedly chic ensemble – they are, quite simply, the best and most beautiful. While so many carriers out there are bulky, made from heavy synthetic fabrics, kind of ugly (can I say that?), and require a degree in astrophysics to assemble on the body, the Artipoppe is comfortable, easy, and made with only organic and natural fabrics. Soft Italian velvet in lush jewel tones, silk cashmere blends, and lightweight cotton and linen mean that you and your bub can actually breathe while still looking gorgeous on two hours sleep.
Locally designed in the NSW Byron shire, Sacred Bundle makes only a small handful of things really well. One of those things is the Lottie bouncer, crafted from soft organic linen – one of the most sustainable and baby-skin friendly fabrics around – and sturdy iron framing. It’s lightweight, lovely to look at and securely ensconces your wide-awake babe while you indulge in life’s new little luxuries like showering or eating food with both hands.
For my first rodeo I had all the sleeping options available and ready to go. A cute little bedside bassinet, a full sized fancy cot, an old fashioned Moses basket – but this little lounger that I happened to buy at the last minute was my kiddo’s favourite place to be from day one. It’s light, portable, and Australian made from entirely organic materials (no nasty chemical off-gassing), and the best part about it was that I could take it out with us and bub felt at home *napping anywhere.
*Please note the Bubnest is for supervised naps only.
Feeding your baby is a deeply personal choice and a journey that looks different for everyone – sometimes it goes the way you planned and sometimes it doesn’t. For me, breastfeeding was tricky for a few reasons and so I found myself attached to a pump a fair amount of the time. Naively thinking I probably wouldn’t need it, I purchased one of those cheapish hand-held single pumps that was maddeningly slow and made a god awful droning sound for the duration of the session. This time, I’m not messing around. The Medela hands-free double pump model is a little pricier than most, but if pumping regularly is something you want to do or need to do, from all accounts it’s worth its weight in gold.
Not enough is said about the mental health risk associated with trying to swaddle your screaming, squirming baby like an origami burrito in a mile-long piece of fabric at 3am. I learnt this lesson the hard way before finally discovering the Love to Dream sleep suit, which gives bub the same sense of coziness and security as a traditional swaddle but with the ease of a single zip and offers a little more freedom of movement, more closely mimicking the womb. Game changer for those challenging nights.
A nourished mother is a nourished baby – we hear it all the time but with the insanity of modern life, as mothers we often don’t (or feel we can’t) give ourselves the nourishment we need and deserve. But postpartum depletion is on the rise and poses real risk to the mental and physical health of both mother and baby especially in that delicate “4th trimester” phase. Made for Mothers is an organic, nutrient dense food delivery service uniquely designed to combat post partum depletion and take the stress out of having to cook and prepare your own meals as a brand new mum in the post-birth recovery phase. Order in advance and stock the freezer – you will thank me.
Created by a naturopath, Mere Botanicals birth kits are a compilation of entirely natural therapeutic products designed to facilitate all varieties of birth and post birth healing. I have been recommended each of these products separately by doulas and friends alike – from red raspberry leaf tea to witch-hazel perineum spray – so to have them all in one perfectly neat package is a blessing for my tired brain.
Yu Mei does not make “baby bags” and that is precisely the point. What they make is simply the perfect unisex bag for discreetly stashing nappies, wipes, and butt cream while still maintaining some semblance of style. Made from soft, sustainable leather with a single top zip and cross-body carrying option, the Brady is the ultimate “I haven’t yet given up” not-baby-bag option for mums and dads alike.
10. Stokke Sleepi cot and Milari Mattress
One of the things that really bugged me about investing in a fancy Scandinavian designer cot was that the corresponding mattress was still made from chemical-laden synthetic fibres. The classic Stokke cot itself remains one of the best, with its simple oval design that allows for full air circulation and grows as your baby does, but if non-toxic bedding is a priority for you, you can’t go past Australian made organic Milari mattresses sized to fit some of the most popular cots, including the Stokke. Problem solved.