By Alexandra Whiting
I’ve known dads-to-be who’ve done all the research, rating reviewing and shopping for their pending arrival. I’ve known others who’ve picked up an unzipped onesie from the laundry basket and looked at it in utter bewilderment. I’ve known a lot of dads who’ve started using a baby carrier, sleep bag or other piece of baby gear and thought it was the best damn invention of all time. “I love this bag. It’s perfect for me,” is something I overheard my own parenting partner murmur to himself one morning when he was getting ready to take our dog and toddler to the park (FYI - he was talking about the Belroy Crossbody Sling Bag). In my experience, dads can be a more skeptical shopper, but when they find something that works for their baby, they’ll back it 100 percent. Here, six dads share their MVP baby gear and a bit of parenting advice to boot.
The newborn sleep BFF
Sam, dad to Harper, 1, and a product manager.
MVP Baby Gear: "The cocoonababy bassinet saved us while overseas. It travelled with us from Melbourne, to the USA, back to Sydney and then finally back home to Melbourne. It also made transitioning from bassinet to cot seamless because of it. We'll have a dozen!"
Nailing It: "Transitioning through leaps and cycles. Oh and sleeping!"
Working On It: "Accepting that a messy baby and a messy house is OK."
Easy-as sleep bags
Lloyd, dad to Estelle, 3, and Morgan, 1, and a company director.
MVP Baby Gear: "The Love To Dream swaddle sleeping bags make for a super quick and efficient tuck in. I did enjoy mastering the “burrito wrap” early on but the sleeping bag is simplicity itself."
Nailing It: "Our kids are healthy and mostly happy, so nailing that. Everything else is a learning experience."
Working On It: "Negotiation. I seem to spend most of my day coaxing our three-nager, “eat your dinner", “brush your teeth”, “have a wee before we go out”. I still haven’t worked out an simple way of of extracting a 'sure dad' yet, one can only hope."
Most used pram
Henry, dad to Nala, 2, and a tattoo artist.
MVP Baby Gear: "The Babyzen YOYO pram. It's so easy to transport and it's not bulky, just nice and simple. We have used this to death!"
Nailing It: "At the moment I think I am nailing everything! LOL. But to be honest, I think I am lucky enough to be spending a lot of quality time at home (COVID) and I feel there is a real bond with Nala. I love her like crazy and feel that same connection from her every minute we spend together."
Working On It: "Learning to say 'no' to Nala. I’m a sucker for her, and I need to show her that there are times dad needs to be dad."
The piece of silicone that let me do feeds
Christian, dad to August, 2, and an Army Captain.
MVP Baby Gear: "I had no idea what this thing was when I first saw the Haakaa Pump, but it ended up being the thing that allowed me to feed my son. And those newborn feeds were so nice. A lot of the other stuff I was doing made him cry: bath, nappy, clothes, so I cherished our happy, relaxed feeding time when he'd be chugging away and just starring into my eyes."
Nailing It: "I don't think I'm nailing much but I'm always thinking about how emotionally and phyiscially healthy he turns out. I make sure he always has good food to eat. I'm the cook at our place and while it hurts my heart when he rejects something I've made, I'm so happy when he likes it and asks 'more, Daddy!' Which is luckily the case most of the time."
Working On It: "I need to think of, and prepare, more activities for us to do. Especially whilst in lockdown, it's hard to keep him engaged and I don't want to have to rely on screens for entertainment."
The rocker kicking nap goals
Brad, dad to Skylar, 9, Willow, 6, Leo, 4 and Koa, 2, and a firefighter.
MVP Baby Gear: "The Levo rocker was a lifesaver through those early stages. Koa loved to be rocked and it made putting him to sleep or relaxing him a whole lot easier. I put him in this, put the footy on and before kick-off he would be out like a light."
Nailing It: "Right now I would have to say I'm nailing home schooling but as my wife Jacqui would say, I'm an all rounder. I am very lucky that I work shift work, and Jac's shifts mostly get rostered around mine, so it gives me the freedom to be able to look after the kids more. It's not a perfect science so when our shifts clash we have to do a bit of juggling, but on the days when we are both at home we occupy the kids with lots of outdoor activites."
Working On It: "I think that I can always grow and get better at all aspects of parenting and being a dad. With Skylar turning 10 this year, and just constantly changing, I'm having to learn to adapt with her as she's growing up. That would be one area I need to get better in."
Costa, dad to Indie, 4 and Emmersyn, 18 months and the memo's amazing warehouse manager.
MVP Baby Gear: "The Rommer bibs were great because the stopped most of the food from going on the floor."
Nailing It: "I'm a good listener and make sure I always listen to my kids and let them express themselves. My wife and I have great communication with each other and we love spending time with the girls, but we make sure we get them to bed at a reasonable hour so we can have some time just the two of us."
Working On It: "Learning how to do different hairstyles for my girls."
Sunsafety tools on-the-go
Sean, dad to newborn, Dahlia Joy, and a restaurant manager.
MVP Baby Gear: "Dahlia is still very new, but we've been going on walks in the Noosa National Park almost every day and these All For Ella pram pegs have been great to quickly shade our bubba in her pram on our walks."
Nailing It: "I'm a great house husband. In the morning I'm sorting out breakfast and coffee while bub naps and mum showers! I'm also getting as much of the house stuff sorted before I leave for work to lighten the load. Going back to work after two weeks has been the hardest thing, but I'm lucky to work only two blocks from home."
Working On It: "I need to remember that just because she’s crying doesn’t mean she needs to feed, and learn to settle her without just handing her straight to her mum. Also, when picking out her outfits I need to remember her size. She’s not quite 000 yet!"