I shared online recently about a funny conversation between my husband and I. We were watching an anglophone series (a great way for him to learn conversational expressions etc) and the characters were talking about throwing a baby shower for the expectant mother. It went on long enough when he finally interjected,
“What do they mean a baby shower? Do they invite everyone over while you spray the baby with the shower head? Does everyone watch as you give the baby a bath? Why would you do that? And how exactly are they supposed to do this when the baby isn’t even born!? “
I was having a hard time responding through my laughter. I forget sometimes that baby showers just aren’t a thing here in France and so the term is all the more confusing because there’s no French equivalent. Thankfully, I was able to reassure him that this was not a fancy guestlist created so everyone could come watch the baby get a bath (or however he imagined it could work for an unborn baby…)
In any case, I figure Oprah always had her O list, and others share their shopping guides around this time of year and while baby showers just aren’t a thing around here, I still wanted to put together some of my favourite things (even if I’ve called it a baby registry for simplicity) that I’ve been eyeing up online and in stores. This is really just for me, the things that I love and appreciate, that I deem quality and that I imagine retain their value, some with the potential to outlive one kid. I’ve thought long and hard about what I would want to introduce to our home but I don’t want that much fuss and bother either, I don’t want everything. What I want is good, useful, practical and versatile items instead of a large number of mediocre things I’m constantly having to clean up after. Also, while I love a good guide, I also love passing on items between friends and family and finding second hand where appropriate. A little less consumption is never a bad thing and the stories that get shared when passing items on is priceless.
Below I’ve listed where you can find each of these products ( I did my best to use English sites) and why I’ve chosen to include them in my list.
- Sophie la Girafe – Not only is this toy an icon but it’s been around for ages. It’s a classic French toy, in fact, we still have Jeremie’s from when he was a kid, although it could use to be replaced at this point. Still, I find it impressive to want the same toy for our kid that my husband had when he was little and given its age, I’d say it’s doing pretty well! Best of all it’s natural rubber and the inks are safe to be chewed on.
- Bugaboo Cameleon 3 – This is number one on my personal list. I’ve been eyeing these babies up for so many years I’ve lost count of when it all began. Given that we live in the country next to a giant forest, I can think of no better way to enjoy the outdoors than by stroller or carrier (see #4.) What I also find important in buying a stroller in Europe is that you want a certain measure of quality to handle the cobblestones that are everywhere and being able to pass into rougher terrain by putting the large wheels in the front makes this option so much more versatile than most. The sleep safe bassinet is a bonus which comes in the box and even better is that it just slips over the frame used for the seat so you aren’t having to stock a giant bassinet in the house once baby outgrows it. Bonus, is being able to use the bassinet when we visit friends and family, baby can sleep comfortably and completely hidden under the giant canopy.
- Stokke Handysitt – My eldest sister introduced me to this and actually it’s not available in France officially, you have to find them elsewhere but I love the idea that it’s a highchair that attaches onto the seat you already have and pushes right up to your existing table so kids eat with the rest of the family and it folds flat to take with you when you go to grandmas or when you no longer need it. Alternatively, I love the Tripp Trapp chairs, but still, the Handysitt is my first choice.
- Lillebaby Complete Original – I am actually already the proud owner of the black complete all-seasons carrier and I love that it’s one of the few carriers that goes from birth (7lbs) to 45lbs and you can wear it front, back, hip, forward facing or inward facing. Better still is that it comes with a detachable lumbar support and for someone that has struggled with back pain for many years, I’m ALL in! Now if only I’d known this “spot-on” carrier existed I might have held out for it because it’s just WAY more fun.
- Aden + Anais – You’d have to have been living under a rock if you’d not heard of these blankets. Every mother seems to swear by them and it’s no wonder, they’re soft, they’ve got stylish prints and they’re BIG you can use them to make a little shade, as a burp cloth, rolled up at the bottom of your Lillebaby for the infant carry, a blanket in the park or my favourite, the swaddle. I love this bold print. They say contrast is the first things babies can see and so this seemed like a fun way to incorporate that while also just being right up my alley.
- Ikea Sundvik Crib – Fancy cribs are probably great, but these are sturdy and budget wise and sometimes you have to pick your battles. This one is not only simple and classic but it transforms into a toddler bed when you’re ready. You can remove one side so kids can get in and out on their own (though I’ve heard some parents would prefer to keep those bars on as long as possible so they can sleep a little longer but you didn’t hear it from me.) We managed to find a similar Ikea model which will do just fine (though I wish it had been this one) from a neighbour but this would have been my first choice.
- Mahabis Classic – Mid-night feeds, the hospital, being exhausted, all those spell the need for a little added comfort if you ask me. These slippers go from indoors to outdoors and what mom doesn’t love that?
- Petit Bateau Sleeper – Before we were pregnant I warned my husband we’d be having a mariner baby. Stripes galore. This is no exception but I think it’s a good piece that’ll get a lot of use, the quality of their products are great and it’d make a great sleeper to hand off to a friend when you’re done if you can bear to part with it. Or… just have another kid so you can use it again. Double the fun!
- Nuk Nasal Aspirator – This is a practical choice. Babies get sick, mom’s panic. It’s just a fact. It’s best to be on top of the game and get something useful before the need arises so baby can breathe and mom and dad can too. (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an English site for this but the equivalent, which I haven’t found in France but have seen in Canada, is the NoseFrida)
- Baby Bjorn Bouncer Bliss – Maybe it’s just me but I don’t want a lot of things that require batteries, a bouncer being one of them. This is a really simple design that folds flat (are you seeing a theme about how things pack down after – I must be getting used to life in Europe…) so you can take it anywhere or store it when it’s not in use. I appreciate that the movement is produced by waving arms and legs of the baby so they can enjoy a little cause and effect and I’ve heard nothing but good things from other mom’s about this particular bouncer. Once the child no longer needs the harness you can flip over the cover and use it until age two if your kid so chooses.
- My Brest Friend – You might not know it but breastfeeding is a little taboo in France. Most women seem to go straight to bottles but that’s just not what I have in mind. The best thing for babies is to be fed, however that happens, period. But if I’m able, I want to breastfeed and this is in keeping with the Lillebaby. I tend to have a bad back and these have back support built in so you can focus on what you’re trying to do, feed your baby, instead of worrying about an achy back. Also, they’re said to be more ergonomic than most breastfeeding pillows helping to get a better latch and that sounds like a positive to me. We’ve got enough of a learning curve as new moms… Amen? (*Dear My Brest Friend – please make your products more widely available in France. Pretty please…*)
- Moulin Roty Albert le Mouton- I love the toys coming from this French company. They’re a little quirky which I like and this one is nice and simple. I have always had a thing for lambs so it’s no wonder that this made it on my list. I’m not much for stuffed animals but if I could pick just one, this would likely be it.
- Ikea Strandmon Wing Chair – Breastfeeding, night feeding, book reading, lullaby singing chair for mom and dad. Anytime I walk through an Ikea I sit in this chair, there’s something about the angle that I find so incredibly comfortable and so it’d be my choice for the nursery until eventually making its way into the living room. It’s simple, classic, comfortable and has a good warranty. Yes, please.
- Phillips Avent Soothie – Simple, inexpensive, inoffensive soothers. No crazy motifs or colours just simple and to the point.
- Béaba Transatdo II bath sling – I’m still undecided about the baby tubs. I kind of think they’re not necessary, though I’m told they’ll save my aching back. Still, to get started I think I’m pretty happy to go with a bath sling. It’s mesh so it’s not cold hard plastic and babies back can be in the warm water and it dries quickly without taking much space. Win/win!
- Cybex Cloud Q car seat– It’s between this and the Aton Q. Not only are they highly rated for safety including side impact protection and floor impact, this particular model also so happens to go into a lay-flat mode when it’s out of the car so it’s sleep safe for babies if you’ve attached it to a stroller. Another nice point about Cybex car seats is that they have a great extra large canopy and they’re simple to adjust for the changing size of the baby without having to rethread the harness each time.
- H&M Laundry Hamper – If mom’s gotta do a lot of laundry, then I want a basket that doesn’t catch on all my favourite clothes like the current one does. On a side note, I’m still trying to decide about cloth diapers. I really want to do it, but it’s not as widely available here but if you have any leads, send them my way. After all, I’ll already be doing loads of laundry and hopefully with a more stylish basket!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my list of my favourite things. If you have any comments about things you’ve loved or that are on your wishlist or maybe even a review of something I’ve posted on my list. Please, feel free to note it below in the comments. It takes a village!