New babies can be tough, but in these modern times gadgets and apps can be extremely useful. Here are some tools and toys that have helped us.

My beautiful little daughter is now four months old, and as my first child, I’ve had to learn a hell of a lot in a short amount of time. Luckily, there’s some equipment and a few apps that we’ve found helpful and some that really aren’t. I recommend taking a look at what we use to see if they can help you with your babies.

BTW, I’m not getting sponsored or paid for any of these.

Equipment

For Milk: Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep

When we first brought our darling daughter home, we had to wait half an hour for the kettle to cool while she cried her eyes out for some milk – 8 times a day. A friend of mine recommended this incredible machine: the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine.

Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine

It only does one thing: produce water for formula milk. When you’re using milk formula (and you probably will at some point in the day, even if your partner is breastfeeding), you need to use boiled water because it’s been sterilised.

The Perfect Prep machine dumps a shot of filtered boiling water into your baby bottle, to which you add the amount of formula you need (1 scoop per 30ml of water is the standard), then you shake the bottle, put it back under the machine’s spout and press the button for the rest of the water.

This means you end up with a bottle of formula in less than two minutes. Which for us meant 2 minutes of screaming instead of 30. Just make sure you have an extra filter on hand, they last a couple of months each but you don’t want to be caught without one.

But wait!

Sure, there are other, more expensive products our there that do a similar job. Some plug into your water mains, some hold and measure out the formula powder for you, etc etc etc. Don’t get those. You don’t need to spend that much money, and the ones that measure formula are bacteria nightmares and require frequent cleaning. This one just needs a new filter every three months and will tell you if it needs replacing, cleaning or de-scaling.

For SIDS: Owlet Sock

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. We have no real idea if or why it happens to some babies, it just does. The best thing we could find that *might* notify you in time is the Owlet Sock.

Owlet Smart Sock

It’s simply a pulse oximeter – the same they put on your finger in hospital – that you wrap around the baby’s foot. If her heart rate drops too low or goes too high, it lets out one hell of a shrill alarm. We have it on our daughter at night, just in case. It’s like insurance for your baby, except the payout is them still alive and not money.

But wait!

Do you really need this? Well, thankfully, SIDS has a pretty low rate of occurrence, but you never know. For us, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

However:

DO NOT GET THE OWLET CAMERA.

The Owlet Camera is an overpriced webcam with very, very few features and simply isn’t worth it. We got it because I thought “Hey, I can use it to check on the baby while I’m at the office.” It’s been six months since I stepped foot in the office last, and even if I was there it still wouldn’t have been worth the price.

For a baby monitor, get one that has its own screen you can carry around with you or put on your nightstand. You don’t want to keep your phone screen on all night, do you?

For Sterilising: A microwave and a steamer

Everything that goes in your baby’s mouth for the first couple of months requires sterilising before each and every use. Bottles, pacifiers, your fingers – everything.

Now sure, you can get expensive ultrasound sterilisers that (I’m sure) work amazingly well. Or you can use one that’ll also reheat last night’s lasanga.

Your microwave

Some requirements for the microwave:

  1. 800-watt option
  2. A digital timer, so you know it’s actually been on long enough to sterilise whatever is in there
  3. An internal height that’s large enough for your bottles.

Item 3 is where I screwed up.

We’re using the MAM Easy Start Anti-Colic bottles (highly, HIGHLY recommended, provided your baby likes them. Babies can like or dislike a teat shape, and you can only try them and see), and in theory, we should be able to sterilise up to six at a time.

However, our microwave is a combination microwave and grill, and the grill element means I can only put 1 bottle in at a time. When you have ten bottles to do, that’s a lot of swapping out boiling hot bottles every 3 minutes.

General steriliser

Tomme Tipper Microwave Stertilizer

The Tommee Tipper Micro-Steam Microwave Steriliser is basically a plastic plate with holes in, and a lid to put on top. Pour water onto the bottom of the plate, dump whatever pacifiers, small bottles, toys etc onto the top of the plate, pop the lid on and microwave for five minutes. Done.

For Sleep: Night Light

Moulin Roty makes some of the most adorable kid’s toys you can imagine, but their night light is also exceptionally useful. We’re lucky in that (thus far) our daughter sleeps like an angel at night (this is due to end in a few weeks with the next leap), but there have been some bad nights where she either wouldn’t go down or she’d wake up frequently.

Moulin Roty Night Light

Much like most of the things we’ve bought, this is intended to last her for years. It has several light settings, some music and white noise, and a few other options. Our typical setup is to have on the coloured lights, which project stars onto the ceiling; play the ocean waves sound on low volume; and the option where if the night light hears her stir, it reactivates – keeping her dozing through the night.

For Play: Tech Toys

Most of your baby’s toys are going to be soft and squishy. However, if you want to put them down somewhere for half an hour so you can cook in peace, we’ve found that some more… interactive things are required. Our daughter gets a lot out of these two playmats:

Skip Hop Amazing Activity Arch

We’ve tried to make sure that everything we bought was a long-term investment. We’ve paid a little more than we needed to, but we’re looking for longevity. For babies, that means it has to be durable, but also flexible in how it’s used.

Skip Hop Amazing Activity Arch

This playmat‘s headline feature is the arch. It hovers above the baby when they’re young, but can be swung down to floor level when they are able to sit up by themselves. We’re hoping for at least two years of play out of this one mat, and so far it’s been a hit. We can lay her down on it and she’ll play for a couple of hours by herself.

The best features are the mirror, because from around 3 months old babies love to look at themselves, and the fox. The fox is an odd thing. It kinda dances this slow odd rhythm which for some reason absolutely entrances her. It reacts to sound, so she learnt pretty quickly that if she cooed at it, it would dance. It’s almost become another friend to her and she talks to it several times a day. Super cute, highly recommended!

Baby Einstein keyboard

This is a recent purchase for us because we wanted our baby girl to have a little more variety in her day. We got it with a playmat, which I recommend since the baby will kick the crap out of the keyboard but the playmat anchors it to their position.

Baby Einstein Playmat with Keyboard

This is a big, colourful, five-note keyboard with some learning functionality for when she’s a little older. Right now she’s just learning that kicking with her feet makes a lot of noise, so she’s delighted.

Apps for Babies

Tracking Sleep, Food, Poop and Meds: Huckleberry

Huckleberry app

You will need to know how much your baby eats and how often they pee and poop. These things will be the first questions your doctor will ask about at each appointment. Those, and everything else featured in this app, are also just good to know.

Huckleberry is super easy to use. Open it, select what just happened, and track how much of it there was. It also has graphs and summaries if you want to keep a closer eye on your baby’s trends. Also, the nap prediction feature is amazingly accurate. I highly recommend trying it out.

Keeping Family Up To Date: FamilyAlbum

Since there’s a pandemic happening and I’m living in another country to my family, my folks haven’t even met our daughter yet! It sucks, but luckily technology can go some way to bridging the English Channel.

Family Album app

FamilyAlbum is a free photo-sharing app where we can invite anyone to view photos of our daughter. We just upload videos and photos to it, and the app displays them by date.

Everyone invited can opt in to notifications for new photos and can comment on them. It’s free and really easy for everyone. When you invite grandma, she gets a link that she simply clicks to install the app and load the album, no account for her required.

But wait!

“Can’t I just use Google Photos?”

You can, and we tried it, but this is a bit simpler for non-techy grandparents and uncles.

Having Family Help Buying Things

MyRegistry is a website and app service where you add items you need to a wishlist that you share with family and they can buy through.

There’s a Chrome extension where, once you’ve found something you like, like a high chair, you click the extension button and save it to your baby wishlist.

My Registry Chrome extension and app

Grandma and grandpa can open the list come Christmas time, see something they’d like to buy and open it from the Registry. You can select colour, size etc when you add it, so everyone knows exactly which one you need.

You can also add to the list, or buy from it, using the mobile app.

Facebook Groups about Babies

There are a bajillion Facebook groups out there. We’re in several, but the most useful is the one for parents of babies born around the same time as our daughter. This means we see from others a little of what’s coming and we have a local group of families that we can chat with about weird lumps and bumps and sleepless nights.

But wait!

Hate Facebook? I don’t blame you. But even having an account just for these groups could big a great resource for you.

21st Century Babies and Parents

Parenting is tough, but in these modern times gadgets and apps can be extremely useful. My advice is to use anything that makes life easier. Get a Roomba to save on vacuuming yourself, use a slow cooker for easy prep meals, buy a Nintendo Switch to play on the toilet – whatever you need to make looking after your little one a little easier.