Who’s the ‘mummy’ when it comes to putting baby products through their paces?
Is ‘baby brain’ a real phenomenon? All I can say is that my memories of being a first-time expectant mother was a total mental overload. One the one hand I was dealing with big, alien, life-changing decisions in the abstract – like picking a name from lists as long as my arm; to puzzling over the minuscule: ‘does the Velcro fasten at the back or front of a nappy?’ As a baby-novice it is all too easy to get swept along into panic buying. You only have to hold up a tiny, newborn babygro and wonder how anyone can be that small and apparently need the entire contents of your local branch of Mothercare. The truth is that the world won’t implode if you forget to pack scratch mittens in your hospital bag or you bought a first stage car seat that doesn’t fit with your pushchair to make it into a Travel System.
And while our pregnancy hormones are yo-yoing like a bungee-jumper, the best laid plans to buy only the essential items are bound to go awry. Who can resist an unbelievably adorable outfit tempting us to spend a lot more than we can really afford? Or glossy, gorgeous model mums sporting the latest model in buggy chic?
If I could roll back the clock, start all over again, I’d make some smarter choices for sure. In my day – I sound so old – but just over a decade ago the pram / pushchair choice was little broader than either grandma’s pastel frilly knickers or plain and serviceable navy blue. I don’t remember anything that was stylish, gadget-clever or really innovative and there was ‘zero’ on the market to make ‘mummies’ feel even a tiny bit ‘yummy’. I’m not ashamed to admit that during my own ‘blooming’ months I was an anxious wreck prone to a serious case of can-I-really-be-having-a-baby? denial. Enthusiastic passersby might pat my pregnant bump and ask in excited tones what was hoping for. My shrug suggested I was happy either way, “Oh, I don’t really mind. A kitten or a puppy would be nice!” (To only have to by a bed, a bowl, a few tins of food and the flea and worming treatments!) Nice!
Thankfully, the nursery outlook for new mums is much brighter today. Baby kit is more fun and funky, intelligent and intuitive in equal measure. It’s easy to talk on-line to other mums; ask advice, share stories, seek support and find the latest product reviews and, apart from working out what kind of mothers we want to be, the only downside is the sheer scale of choice of what to buy.
I’m just on the brink of a seventh year coordinating the entire product testing for the Mother & Baby annual awards, and although there’s times when I’m right in the think of it – and I swear the pain is unbearable and I’m not going to put myself through it …here I am again. I’ve seen isofix car seats become main stream, witnessed the growing demand for organic products and an explosion in the reusable nappy market; but my days of being any kind of expert on products for babies dwindled when my own kids started school. To be a ‘real’ judge of the best products in the baby market then you have to be able to do at least three things at once and all the while hold a wriggling baby on your hip.
Now in their 18th Year, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the M&B Gold Award has become – for the majority of parents – the most trusted symbol on any product which displays this emblem. Not surprising when you know that the panel of judges, who chose who wins, are multi-tasking mums and lots of sticky fingers!