Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo 2016, Sydney

Today the kids and I ventured to the Sydney Olympic Park (yay, we had never been there before and wow, it is cool – like a whole mini town within a town but I digress, back to the Expo). I cannot imagine there being anything a parent would need that was not at this Expo today. It was pretty thorough.

This is going to be very brief as I want you to be able to get through it quickly, if you are going this weekend. I am only going to touch on the logistics, things I saw, picked up and where the kids played oh and most important – who is handing out balloons 😉

First up, logistics. If you have no clue how to get to Sydney Olympic Park their website is pretty good on directions (click here for a link directly to the Sydney Olympic Park directions page ). I just put Australia Drive, Sydney Olympic Park into my GPS and go there okay. The actual venue is Sydney Showground Exhibition Centre.

The website and your ticket, if you already have one says to park at P5 by the time I got there just before 10:30 (it only starts at 10) the parking was full as was the one just a bit further down the road. What is nice though is that there are walkways and ramps everywhere so it is very easy to navigate with a pram.

The capacity of the P5 parking is a good indicator of how busy it was today (Friday) and how busy it will be over the weekend but the space is huge and there was still space to wheel the pram around and space inside the play areas for the kids not to be overrun. There were a few places that had some serious queues and congestion – the Huggies nappy stand was the first stand we walked into after the entrance and there was a huge queue for some reason.

When you enter, make sure to pick up a wrist band for your child which you can put your phone number on should your child go wandering.

There is an excellent variety of exhibitors from Jalna yoghurt handing out samples to Tressilian handing out information brochures, NUK, Avent, Love to Dream swaddles, Priceline, various photographers and baby boutiques. There are vendors selling prams, car seats and cots and anything else you would need. If you are pregnant or a brand new mom this Expo would be great for you. The only problem is that there is SO much, it can be overwhelming and take all day. We could only be there for the morning as my children decided to stage a full-blown protest / meltdown.

Where did we stop to play – this is the ALL IMPORTANT question if you are taking the kids with you:

  1. Imagination Play Area – castle you can colour in, chalk and chalk boards, hop scotch, dress-up, play play shop and safe soft play areas. img_3370-1
  2. Nurofen has some iPads set up for the kids to colour in on. img_3373-1
  3. Gym-baroo has a circuit set up for little ones to play on. Sorry no pics, my son was too busy yelling about the yoghurt sample having ended.
  4. S-26 Has a stunning stand where the kids can play, listen to a story, colour in or pose for a photo. My littlest loved this.
  5. Golden Ridge Farm has brought some little animals including chickens, ducklings, goats and sheep. You dont have to pay for this (well we didn’t so I hope you dont have to 🙂 ). This is located outside the hall at the exit.

Next most important question – who is handing out balloons: I got balloons from two different sponsors: s-26 and 1300 Home GP.

The reason I dealt with the two sections above first is because you can’t do anything when the kids need to get some energy out so planning your day around having a kid friendly stop every couple of stands means you will be able to get more done.

Now, where did I get to stop and what did we pick up:

  1. Cetaphil gave us some great samples – hand wipes, body wash and daily lotion. We have just started using their body wash and I really like it so I am keen to try out their other products.
  2. Bubs has an impressive stand complete with two tiny tiny goats. All their organic food is on display but you dont need to buy it right away as you can get it at Coles.
  3. We bought the littlest some gorgeous hair clips and alice bands from Kaylee Rose Creations. I cannot wait to get her to wear them and neither can she! They were so pretty, I picked up some extras as birthday presents.
  4. Nanny2U is a company I had not come across so I had to stop and pick up some info and enter a competition to have a night of ‘care’.
  5. Angel Gowns are one of the companies that make gowns for little babies who pass away. Over 4000 gowns have been donated to hospitals, funeral homes and families allowing their precoius gifts to be beautifully dressed.
  6. Nurofen for the standard dosing information brochure.
  7. S-26 Here I signed up for their mum’s club because I feed my kids S-26 Gold and their play area was lovely.
  8. Swim Australia was a must to get information on swimming. living in sydney you cannot ignore how much water your child will be exposed to, either in your home, at school or when out with friends or at someone’s home.
  9. Jalna yogurt had samples upon samples of their delicious yoghurt.
  10. Aussie gave us a mini football which the kids loved.
  11. Tresillian had plenty of brochures on a number of topics and a fridge magnet with their contact details. I think they thought i was a mum in need 🙂
  12. GymbaROO and BabyROO let us sign up for a free class.
  13. NibblyBits for a teething necklace and some jewellery – I cannot speak better of these lovely ladies who helped me out with my very hungry and tired 3 year old. Not only do i love their necklaces and bangles but they are nice people which makes it all the better to support them.

Additionally I would have liked to stop at:

  1. Auskin Sheepskin – want to find out about the pram liner given we are off to the snow this year
  2. Baby Mum-Mum Rice Cakes  – my baby loves these
  3. Britain Advisory Centre – need some advice on car seats but will have to revert to my faithful email antics
  4. Children’s Panadol – they have the best teethers
  5. Huggies – my kids wear these nappies and we go through millions so who doesn’t like a freebie but I was not going to stand in the queue
  6. Love to Dream – I have heard tons about their stuff
  7. Philips AVENT – needed some more dummies (sssh, dont tell my mother)
  8. Small print Silver Keepsakes Jewellery – combines my favourite things – my kids and shiny things 🙂

Last notes:

  • Parking is $5 an hour and you can only buy hours.
  • In case your kids are going nuts, there is an ice-cream stand outside 🙂
  • There are a few cafes you can eat at in the food stalls inside or outside aren’t to your liking.
  • I did see a package babysitting area where you can leave all your parcels to pick up later but I am not sure of the specifics.
  • There are ATMs although most places seemed to take card.
  • As with any good expo, there are changing stations and feeding areas.

GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY!!!

 

Shopping for baby – the little things and some big ones 

This post is about everything I got / used with my babies. It may not work for everyone but I’m posting it in case it does help someone 

CLOTHES
You are going to need a ton of these. More so than you thought. But, don’t go too overboard on price because they wear them for such a short period. 

What I always do is write out a list of when the baby is going to be in summer, winter, spring and autumn and then wait for a sale at the places we like and then buy on mass (what a cheapie 🙂 ).

Babies when they are born are incapable of regulating their own body temp so you have to dress them up really warm to start with. So, even when they are born in summer, you still put on a vest and then a long sleeve, long leg onesie. 

There are hundreds of onesies styles though and they do not all work (I have learnt this the hard way – think poop on the sleeves and legs). You are going to have to be able to get into the onesie easily enough in the middle of the night when there is a poo nappy. What we have found works is the ones that open all the way down the middle, in the front, and to the toes because otherwise you have to turn them over or fiddle with their feet which wakes them up. If you look at Woolies SA then you will see exactly what I am talking about. Target Aus occasionally had some good ones too.

In my hospital bag alone (I stay in hospital for 4 days due to a c-section) I am going to pack between 6 to 8 outfits, most of which are going to be onesies. 

When you are buying clothes for little ones, check out the head sizes, some are really small and tight which causes huge fights. 

Also, when buying clothes, reverse them and check if the buttons or prints are going to scratch them on the inside because sometimes the stitching comes through. 

Finally, fabric wise – go 100% cotton. The best is organic but I think there you will get really good quality stuff. 

You’re also going to need little hat things to keep baby’s head warm and socks. At first you can get cute decoratives ones but eventually you are going to have to go with ones that are hard wearing and have little grips on the bottom so that he can run around like a psycho (especially if the are anything like my babies. 

Burp cloths

I think I have bought six burp cloths for the second baby, the best ones are absorbing but soft and generally towelling. 

Don’t buy expensive pretty one because they get messed up. 
Get ones that will just cover your shoulder because if they are too big you will then get baby sick all over you as you try fling it back to where you got it from when the baby is sleeping 🙂  
Bibs 

This is purely for when baby spits – they’re not as necessary at the early stages as they are in the later stages when they start solids around 5 months. 
 NAPPIES 

When we lived in South Africa we used Pampers Premium which you can’t get everywhere. Now that we are in Australia we use Huggies Ultra. 

Buy these in bulk. You will go through so many in the beginning because they poo a lot more and also because it takes some getting used to before you become a good nappy changer 🙂 

  

CHANGING BABIES IN GENERAL 

 Baby Wipes

You need millions of baby wipes (we use Pampers Premium Sensitive in South Africa and the Coles Brand in Austalia) again I would look at getting is the Huggies ones if there is a sensitive version. 
The main requirements for wipes is that they are thick and fragrance free. 

Bum Cream 

You get hundreds of different types of creams with our son we used Fissan Paste which was fantastic but with our daughter we used Bepanthen because her skin was slightly more sensitive. 

This gets used everytime you change the nappy and creates a barrier between skin and nappy and makes sure that moisture doesn’t sit between the two. Using a poor quality cream will result in bum rash. 

When we have a bad patch then we use 100% lanolin from Lanisoh. 

Changing table 

You are going to need a changing station – we use a wooden compact when at home and when we are with my parents we cover a old wooden table that is the perfect height.

Finding the right one takes a while so i would start looking now and then you can order it closer to the time. We got one in the same style as the cot as well as a toy box so that all three tied up. 
 Babies grow so quickly so you are going to want it to be deep (from head to feet) enough so that for a while baby can lie down with his feet not hanging off the edge. Ultimately baby will get to big for it but as long as you can keep him there it will make changing him a lot easier. You also want it to be wide enough so that you can have him on a changing mat and still have his nappies, creams etc on the table. 

Changing Mats
You are going to need a mat of sorts to change him on – we use a foam concave plastic covered thing (a dreadful explanation – sorry) to change baby on. We then just put a towel or a disposable changing mat over it when we dry baby after the bath or change him.

When I was pregnant (with my first babe and still working) my secretary told me that I should get disposable changing mats – best idea she ever gave me. We make sure we always a have a two-pack in the nappy bag and also a few packs at home, this way when there is an accident, which there will be, you can just throw it away. You want to try a few brands at first, you want something cheap but not horrific quality which tears if he moves. 
Nappy Dustbin 
We cannot live without our nappy bin. It is a special nappy bin which is virtually air tight. I know a lot of people don’t agree with me and that’s okay. 
The brand we use is called Angel Care, its a white and blue bin and it has been unbelievably reliable. It even came with us to Austalia. 
The monthly expense with these is that you have to get special bin bags for them but its so worth it. 

Nappy Bag

A good nappy bag is essential, especially if you want to be able to get out the house. 
It needs to be big enough to hold nappies, wipes, creams, two changes of clothing but not huge because it will break your shoulder and get in the way. 
It must be able to close on the top for when you put it in the boot or plane. 
It must have compartments to divide up things – you don’t want a dirty nappy touching the spare food you have. 

You also want to have places for milk bottles but not hundreds because that also just makes things really heavy. 

Your nappy bag should ideally have a changing mat type thing that comes with the bag so that if you need to change on a restaurant bathroom floor or in a changing room that looks disgusting you always have that to lie the baby on. 

We also went with a dark colour and one that had clips that meant it could attach to our pram. 
SLEEPING

Blankets 

There are a few different categories of blankets – I have only been able to work these categories out because i have travelled with my children so often. If you have 3 / 4 of each you should be good to go. Then whatever else people get you is a nice addition. 

  • Receiver blankets – thinish cotton blankets that you wrap the baby up in. You can use these in conjunction with blankets or by themselves in summer. We have tons of these and I always keep on in the nappy bag, you can use them to keep baby warm, block out sun, shield the baby from shop lights and when you want to breastfeed. I think I have packed 2 / 3 for the hospital alone. 
  • Cellular blankets – harder cotton with holes in it (can’t think of a better way to explain it) i think you only need three of these ever. They are great because they are warm but they let air in. 
  • Warm / fleece blankets – we also have a plethora of these because they are just so cute.  
  • Muslin clothes –  These are very light almost sheet type things. In summer baby can just sleep under this because its not warm enough to make him hot but it does give him the sense of security of being covered. It’s also perfect for shading baby on the pram, covering pillows when baby is having a nap away from home and covering yourself with feeding.  


BATHING

Baths 

There are so many different schools of thought on bathing. 

 What we did and I still stand by it is to get a small cheap plastic bath and then we would bath the babies on top of the compact in the bedroom. This is for various reasons a) there are lower risks of drowning b) the baby can be moved from the bath to the other side of the compactum to dress him immediately so that the baby doesn’t lose body temp c) you are not moving the baby from room to room so you are keeping a constant temp d) if anything happens in the bath you can sterilise it easily or throw it away 🙂  

From the cheap plastic bath we moved him into the bath on a sling bed type thing, thereafter a blow up duck and finally we have progressed to normal bathing. 

Temp gauge 

I found this completely necessary, not sure if my husband agrees because he reckons he has become completely in tune with water temp (doubtful).
We got an Avent one which was quite expensive and it worked like a charm until my husband and son broke it (it took both of them to break it and it was intentional).

It is so great, it floats and you stick it in the bath to see if the bath temp is 37 which i believe is optimal. 

Bath Products / Creams 

At first you will just use a little bit of product or none with water.  

We used and still use Elizabeth Annes aqueous cream and shampoo.

I have found no use for baby powder 🙂 I literally have no clue what to use it for. 

Whatever you buy make sure that it is fragrance free because it just irritates their skin. 
Surgical Spirits 
Remember that when baby is born he will have an umbilical cord and you will need to attend to this. I am not sure what they advise at the hospital but in South Africa we used surgical spirits with an earbud and you gently apply that generously until it falls off / out.  
Towels
Hooded towels are a waste at the early stage. They are super cute but we only started using them for the beach, swimming and then when our baby started walking. 

I think we just bought quality small towels to start with (just a bit bigger than a hand towel) and only after approx a year did we move to a bigger standard size towel. 

You are going to need between 3 – 4 because if you get poo on it you may not be able to get it off without a few washes and then if it rains you are stuck.  


SLEEPING 

Cot 
 We got a big wooden cot in anticipation of our first babe and while I love it I think we are one of the few families with such a big elaborate bed. But it was quite cheap so I was happy with it and the cost. 
We also have a camp cot which sits at home, our kids would play in this before they were up and walking and it was a safe space. This also allows us to take it with when we do stay overs elsewhere. 

You will also need a mattress and a mattress protector (to stop any wee) but make sure that both are breathable and cater for bed bugs, get a fitted one otherwise it is too much admin and they roll around and kick it off. Make sure you buy two mattress protectors so that if there is an accident in one you can take it out and replace it with the other. 
We have found that a pillow for his bed is a waste of money but what you do want is a ‘wedge’ it is made out of breathable light weight fabric and fits the width of his bed and raises his head (and when he was little, his chest) this helps with digestion and prevents necessary reflux. 
There are two schools of thought on ‘cot bumpers’ this is what goes around the inside of the cot and a) protects little heads and b) is pretty 🙂 some people say that little babies can be smothered in these and others like them because it stops head bumps. We got a cot bumper 🙂 

What we found to be helpful was ‘wedges’ they are three little piece of ‘pillow’ which go around the baby’s head and on either side of the body – this helps with sleep positioning because you don’t want your baby to lie on his tummy (cot death).  

 Sleep Sensor 

We were paranoid about our child dying, paranoid! and we heard two stories of babies being saved because they stopped breathing but their sleep monitor picked up the lack of breathing and woke up the parents. 
You get various types of these – some are audio, some are audio and movement and others (the most expensive) are audio, movement and video, We got the audio and movement one which comprises of a plastic board which sits under the mattress and monitors their breathing (the minute there is no signal because baby has stopped breathing or moved off the board then it sounds an alarm). There is also a monitor that sits in his room and the minute there is a noise in the room it allows you to hear the noise from a monitor you carry around with you.      

The brand we went with was Angel Care and we have no complaints about it. I think the warranty was 2 years and we have had no reason to use it. 

 Bottle warmer 

We only cottoned on to this idea late in the game and it was wonderful. We got a cheap one and it sits next to our bed and warms the milk through the night. We got a cheap one, the brand is Snookums and it has lasted quite a while. 

Humidifier
We only got one of these because it came in the shape of a frog and was so cute. Where we lived in South Africa it is sooo dry in the winter and cold so between having the heater on and the dry air there is no moisture in the air, as a result it came in handy but I am not sure we would have got one if we lived anywhere else. 

PLAYTIME

You don’t really need much for a baby – we just had one of those swing seats (this is actually really great to put them in when you want to go to the toilet or shower) and a mat to lie on, some people use a big cushion but we got this soft bed-like thing which he could lie on his back, it had raised sides so he wouldn’t roll over onto the tiles.
DUMMIES

You may want to get four of these (two packs of two) just in case your baby is interested in a dummy – don’t buy more because he may hate the to start with or the brand may not work for him. 

I know lots of parents are adverse to dummies but it is honestly a choice you guys make. My thinking is that when i need him to stop the dummy I will take it away from him but I can’t cut off his finger which he would probably suck if he didn’t have it. 

We use the brand Avent and have loved it. There are also three different categories of dummies in the Avent range but we use what is called the ‘Free Flow’ because it is a) orthodontic and b) has extra gaps in the plastic which limits the rash around his mouth, the other Avent types don’t have as many breathing holes.

Whichever brand you choose make sure you are consistent with the bottles and the dummies being the same brand, this avoids ‘nipple confusion’. 
BOTTLES

We use the Avent range and as I learnt from my initial freakout, there are hundreds of different types, brands and sizes of bottles. There are two sizes, we have both but initially the bigger bottles will be too big for your little one. You will need between 4 – 6 bottles at the start. 

You will also need a bottle steriliser, we bought the brand that matched the bottles (the Avent one) for home but then a cheap one for when we travelledand i’m not sure what the difference is really. 

You will also need a good bottle brush but you can get these pretty cheap. We wash our bottles with antibacterial dishwashing liquid and then rinse with boiling water and sterlize them. 


BREAST PUMP

I didn’t want to get one because they were so so expensive but I did and I’m really glad because there are times when you are so exhausted that you can’t bring yourself to fight with the baby to get him to have a full feed.    
 Do not get a manual breast pump – you will die. If you can afford it it must be electric and work on batteries and plugged into the wall so that you can use it when you’re at home and when you’re out. It is really uncomfortable to be stuck somewhere needing to express and being unable to. It is so so sore. 

 We did so much research on these and eventually bought the Medela which is a bright yellow breast pump. In hindsight if it wasn’t so expensive I would have bought the double but we went with the single pump. 

Whatever you get you have to get one that has two settings because that is how your baby is going to feed. 

With the breast pumps they try sell you all the bottles, storage devices etc but don’t waste money on it. Pump into the bottle you get with the pump and then pour it into your normal bottles. What we did to remember which milk was the oldest (time wise) we would put a masking tape sticker on it with the date and time that the milk was expressed and then stick it in the fridge. 
SICK BABIES

There is absolutely nothing worse than a sick baby!!! 
You want a good quality thermometer and I would invest in one of those that goes in the ears or on the forehead. We researched those available on the SA market and Panasonic was by far the best quality wise, i just shopped around to get the best price. This has come in handy so often and I would really recommend it. It is also what the doctors here use so it is not unfamiliar when he has to go to the doc.
 I make sure that I have certain products always on hand if there is a problem (these are my core basics):

  •  Nose Freda – this is a special device made of plastic and is a tube you use to suck out any muck in the baby’s nose. Disgusting I know but this works and doesn’t tear the little veins in their nose like the other things do. there is this thing that people buy you / recommend which looks like a balloon (my husband says it is called an aspirator) – this is so bad for your baby and does more damage than good.m 
  •  Saline Solution (pure salt water) this is what you spray up their nose before you Nose freda them. Make sure it is baby not toddler or adult because the strength of the spray differs  
  • Neurofen for babies. We have found that this pain killer works the best for miller and he likes the taste as opposed to Panado and Calpol which are the two other brands on the market. 


CLOSING NOTES

Don’t buy huge quantities of anything that you will use on the baby because it may not work or your baby may hate it. 
You don’t need to buy special washing powder and fabric softener – we use our normal stuff and we have stuck to it from day one because chopping and changing sometimes causes problems for the baby.
You may need to get a chair for feeding or relocate one of your chairs to your room or baby’s room, if your baby room has space. Make sure it gives support but is also comfortable because you will spend a lot of time in that chair 🙂  Also try getting in and out of it when you’re pregnant so that you know whether it’s easy enough to get out of when you’re holding your baby. 
It helps to have a clock in the room so that you know how long you have been feeding for and what time they’re getting up at 🙂 both my kids LOVE tricking me into thinking its morning time when it’s not.
You can buy a mobile (the thing that goes above the bed) but I wouldn’t use a mobile at first – they are too little to focus on it and it actually causes more physiological harm according to the experts.
You also need to choose a brand of disposable nappy bags – the things you use to throw away nappies in when you are out and about. choose a brand that you think smells nice because you will smell them all the time 🙂 and some smells, coupled with the smell of poo is NOT ideal.