If breastfeeding works for you and your baby then Mother Nature will happily – and very economically - provide most of the equipment you need! There are just a few bits of kit you might like to consider to make nursing easier and more comfortable for both of you.
Whether you're sharing the late-night shift with your partner, enjoying a bit of 'me time' while the doting relations take over, or you're going back to work, breast pumps are very useful items of baby equipment.
Breast pumps use suction to draw milk from the breast into a container. There are two basic types: electric and manual ones. When it comes to choosing yours, the main question to ask yourself is how often you'll need it. Are you just looking for occasional time off or are you a working mother who has to store milk every day?
Electric pumps get the job done quickly and efficiently. They're more expensive than manual pumps but probably worth it if expressing milk will be part of your daily routine. Electric pumps come in single, double and portable models. The double model pumps both breasts at once so should cut the amount of time it takes by a half. Portable or mini electric breast pumps are smaller and lighter than full size models and use either mains supply or batteries.
Manual pumps are lightweight, small and inexpensive – and really all you need if you just want an occasional back-up bottle or to express milk to relieve pressure.
Whether they contain breast milk or formula milk, newborn baby bottles should always be sterilised, so an electric or microwave baby bottle steriliser is an easy alternative to boiling water in the kettle or on the hob.
Most people now realise that breastfeeding is a fact of life, but if you'd rather not breastfeed (or pump!) in public, a nursing cover or feeding scarf will provide privacy and focus for you and your baby. And of course a selection of well-fitting nursing bras are an essential to your lingerie drawer.
Whether you're expressing breast milk or making up formula milk, you're going to need bottles. There are lots of choices of both bottles and teats – including different shapes, materials, sizes and flow rates. These are all choices to make based on your baby's age and preference, so our advice is not to over-invest until you have found out what baby takes to best. And before you know it, it'll be time to move on to training cups…
Essentially it comes down to:
The ideal teat for your baby is typically defined by his or her age. Most are made from silicone these days and there are different shapes to choose from – babies often feed better with one or the other, making your choice simple. And one size does not fit all: start with a small teat size for newborns and go bigger for toddlers. Similarly, the flow rate should be based on your baby's age. Check the packaging or online description to be sure you've the right one.
There's a lot to be said for beginning bottle feeding with a starter kit. These usually contain bottles, teats, soothers, cleaning brush – everything you need to get going. Special anti-colic feeding bottles are also available. These prevent baby swallowing air whilst drinking and can often make the switch between breast and bottle easier.
Bottle warmers are a nifty accessory that help ensure you're serving milk at the perfect temperature for your baby. And a portable insulated bottle carrier will help keep your bottles at the optimal temperature anytime you and baby are out and about.
Whether they contain breast milk or formula milk, newborn baby bottles should always be sterilised, so a baby bottle steriliser or microwave steam bags are an easy alternative to boiling water in the kettle or on the hob. As an alternative, self-sterilising bottles can be made hygienic simply by heating the components in a microwave.
A bottle cleaning brush is an essential item for keeping your bottles clean and ready for use. A good bottle storage rack or bottle tree will help you dry and store bottles easily between feeds. And for babies being fed on formula milk, a milk powder dispenser is an inexpensive but extremely useful buy.
When it's time to move baby from bottles to cups, you can save yourself a lot of splishing and sploshing with a training cup or sipper. The bottle shaped cups with controlled flow ease the transition, and some designs have removable spouts so they convert into drinking cups when your child is ready. Whichever model you choose look out for easy grip handles and a non-slip base – and start by offering water for a quicker clean up!
Whether they contain breast milk or formula milk, newborn baby bottles, teats and accessories should always be sterilised to protect your baby from harmful bacteria.
There are a few options for sterilising and which one is right for you depends on how often you need a steriliser. Electric and microwave sterilisers both use steam to sterilise bottles and accessories, and will take between four and nine minutes. Cold water sterilising uses chemical tablets or fluid and takes around 30 minutes.
If you’re going to use it daily and if you have worktop space, an electric steam steriliser is a good choice. Depending on the model, these can treat up to six bottles at a time and keep them sterile for at least six hours if left in the steamer. Then a prepared bottle of boiled water for making up formula or milk can be sealed into the bottle and stored in a refrigerator.
If you don't have worktop space for an electric steam steriliser and you do have a microwave oven, a microwave steam steriliser is a good investment. Fill with bottles, add a little water then pop in your microwave.
Cold water sterilisers work by adding sterilising tablets or liquid to cold water in a special bucket or steriliser. This process usually takes about 30 minutes and can be useful if you don't have access to a microwave oven or electricity. A good standby we'd say – and perfect for holidays and people who aren't doing daily bottle feeding.
Ideal for sheer convenience or if you're travelling and know the place you are going to has a microwave, microwave steriliser bags are a pretty good option, can be reused up to 20 times and will have everything ready in just a few minutes. As an alternative, http://www.kiddicare.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchResults?storeId=10001&catalogId=10751&langId=-1&fcd=set&Ntk=primary&N=0&Ns=Price%7C1&pageView=&x=0&y=0&Ntt=self+sterilisingself-sterilising bottles can be made hygienic simply by heating the components in a microwave.
No sooner than you've got on top of the not-so-simple task of giving your baby milk, along comes the next feeding challenge: moving your little one on to solids. This messy mission is called weaning and it's when baby gets to discover and enjoy lots of the foods you do. So what do you need, besides patience and a good supply of bibs and wipes?
When it comes to serving those first delicious morsels, you'll need a supply of small soft spoons (unless you're trying baby-led weaning in which case fingers will be just fine) and hurl-proof bowls or dishes. We’ve got a great choice including some clever options like heat-sensing spoons and divided dishes that let you serve several yummy flavours at once.
When it's time to move baby on from bottles to cups, you can save yourself a lot of splishing and sploshing with a training or sippy cup. The bottle shaped cups with controlled flow ease the transition, and some designs have removable spouts so they convert into drinking cups when your child is ready. Whichever model you choose look out for easy grip handles and a non-slip base – and start by offering water for a quicker clean up!
Not all food makes it into baby's mouth, in fact not much to start with! So buy plenty of bibs. Baby bibs with a scooped design will catch most of the food that falls, and those with long sleeves offer maximum splat coverage. Mats also help keep things under control – both on the tabletop or highchair tray and on the floor at the base of baby's feeding station.
Since a few mouthfuls is often all a baby will eat, food storage containers are essential – especially if you're investing your precious time knocking up nutritious homemade goodies. A good supply of baby storage pots will let you make larger quantities and store what's not need now in the fridge or freezer. And if you're planning to freeze food, special freezer trays and click-together pots make it very convenient to freeze in single portion-size quantities.
If your kitchen is already well equipped you may not need to buy any extra kit when you get to the spoon-welding stage. But otherwise, there a few helpers on offer – from purely basic to all the bells and whistles. A baby food grinder or manual baby food processor will get first foods to the right consistency, and mini blender will let you whizz up all kinds of nutritious nosh. Baby food steamers, yogurt makers and pasta and rice cookers are also available to give parents a helping hand in the kitchen – and are great to make healthier food options easy.
In just a short time your little one will be eating about three meals a day and enjoying a similar diet to the rest of the family (with no need to add to salt or sugar). Ready-made baby foods can be a lifesaver if you're spoon-feeding and find yourself away from home and blenderless – or at home and simply whacked out. Check out our range of mostly organic baby foods suitable for ages 4 months, 7 months and 10 months.
Being mobile means meals on the move. Here’s our guide to what you’ll need:
A messenger bag contains plenty of pockets and space for all the essentials you and your little one will need on a day out or weekend away.
A thermal bag will hold pre-filled baby bottles or baby food jars and the insulated sides will help keep contents hot or cold for several hours. These come in a range of sizes including those that can be attached to a pram.
Food pots and snack storage boxes with tight-fitting lids are essential for weaning babies on the go. And don't forget to pack a training cup or beaker for drinks and that mealtime essential – the bib!
There are also a few good gadgets to look out for including snack containers which let baby help themselves to one snack at a time, a baby food dispensing spoon that holds the food within the handle, and a portable press that turns any suitable cooked or raw food into puree on the spot!
As soon as your start introducing solids and your baby can sit unsupported you’ll need somewhere for baby to eat – and fling food from! From a baby's point of view, highchairs are really exciting – putting them at eye level with grown ups, being introduced to solid foods and having the perfect vantage point to do lots of looking around. To keep baby safe all our highchairs have a crutch strap and five-point harness but remember you should never leave baby alone in a highchair.
Often popular because they look good alongside existing furniture, wooden highchairs come in all shapes and sizes – from stackable models on a square frame to those which convert from highchair to dining chair (suitable from six months right through to 14 years). Some wooden highchairs are designed to be pulled-up to a table so baby eats with you, whilst others have their own tray. The Funpod Highchair even converts to a safety stool device for your little one to get involved with food prep at the kitchen counter.
From your standard everyday highchair to the most streamlined and stylish models, there's a very wide choice within this category. Besides your budget and personal taste, it's worth considering how much room you have, washability, portability (if you need it) and adjustability. Some contemporary highchairs have recliner inserts - handy if your little one likes a snooze immediately after feeding. Detachable trays can also give most contemporary styles the option of independent use or feeding at the table or breakfast bar.
Sounds obvious, but if space in your kitchen or dining room is tight a folding highchair is the best option and will stow neatly away when not in use. There are plenty of models to choose from usually with lightweight coated metal frame, padded PVC-covered seat and easy wipe plastic tray. And don't think practicality sacrifices style – some folding baby high chairs pack a real design punch.
Whether you're holidaying, off to granny’s or simply don't have room for a freestanding highchair, a portable seat that clips directly onto your table or chairs is an easy solution. Travel highchairs that fold up are also a good option for globetrotters, and booster seats that secure with straps to most standard chairs will let baby dine in comfort almost anywhere.
Optional extras include cushions and floor mats to protect the area around the highchair from whatever you're serving. There’s also a great range of highchair toys with special suction bases to turn any highchair tray into a fascination station!