If you have a baby on the way but you’re not the one who’s pregnant, you can feel a little, well, useless. Prepping a baby’s nursery is something concrete you can do, and it makes this about-to-have-a-baby thing feel so much more real.
It’s important to do the research to find products that are future-proofed and flexible enough to work for the whole family. This can be hard when the market is laser-focused on mums.
“When we first started doing our product research and development, it really felt like none of the messaging was aimed at dads,” says Lucia Nash, who created the sleek Hugg bedside crib. The sweet co-sleeper converts into a cool kid-friendly desk, and currently has a four-month waiting list. Celeb fans include TV’s Angela Scanlon and Irish influencer Eimear Varian Barry.
“It’s something I really felt was missing when I was having my babies 14 years ago, and so it was really important that we had dads in the conversation when designing our products,” says Lucia.
She is now developing a range of new products, including baby wraps and swaddles, and is keen to make sure that fathers are represented in her marketing. “Dads need to be a bigger part of the messaging, because they’re very much part of the process now.”
That also involves practical considerations. Changing tables and feeding chairs need to accommodate a variety of heights and sizes, something Joanne O’Grady, founder of Gaia Baby, was keen to address. “Our rocking and feeding chair, for example, was designed to appeal to both men and women,” she says. “It was important to us that anyone could sit comfortably in it, whether they’re breastfeeding or not.”
Their changing table too was designed to provide a comfortable changing surface for adults of 6ft and more.
“A huge number of dads are interested in the styling and design of the nursery, and always have lots of questions about the engineering and how things work,” Joanne adds.
Things have changed when it comes to nursery decor too. Gone are cartoony walls and eye-sore furniture pieces in white, pink or blue, so finding pieces that fit your style shouldn’t be hard.
The other plus is that there are beautiful, high quality Irish options for furniture and baby essentials on the market, many made using organic materials and sustainable production methods. And some are future-proofed, designed to be used in different ways as your baby grows, lasting well beyond their first six months or year (unlike many of their mass-produced flatpack counterparts).
There has been a huge explosion in products in tech-enabled nursery gadgets too, many with a dizzying array of bells and whistles. Self-rocking cribs? No problem. A connected mattress that alerts you to movement? A ‘smart’ sock to track baby’s heart rate and oxygen levels? Believe it or not, all of these products do exist, but some can be more trouble than they’re worth.
“You know so little when you’re preparing for a baby, you’re a total novice,” says Virgin TV presenter Gavan Reilly, who, along with his wife Ciara, welcomed their daughter Doireann to the world almost a year ago.
Many of these high-tech gadgets, he believes, just feed new-parent paranoia. “Ciara and I discussed how deep down the tech rabbit hole we wanted to go, and it was hard to tell when you’re being over-zealous,” he says. “We know now that if we had ended up getting a mattress with a sensor, for example, we definitely would have been up fretting every night.
“Everyone knows how many anxieties there are when it’s your first time, and a lot of these products don’t really address those concerns, they just heighten the anxiety.”
However, Gavan treasures their wi-fi-connected baby monitor, which allows him to check in on Doireann when he’s abroad via an app on his phone. “Because my hours can be pretty unpredictable and occasionally involve some overseas travel, it’s great to have an app that works exactly the same way as the monitor, so I can see how she’s doing and whether she’s gone down.”
Gavan also swears by the Gro Egg, an innovative digital room thermometer that takes the guesswork out of wondering if your baby’s room is the right temperature by changing colour. “It’s great to be able to just walk into the room and see, ‘Oh, the bulb is orange, it’s 21C, maybe we should open a window’. It’s one of those high-tech products that is so good because of its low-tech simplicity.”
For Gavan, researching for and preparing the nursery was a fun process that allowed him to go beyond just offering moral support. “It was a really satisfying thing, measuring everything out and spending an afternoon building,” he recalls. “It makes it real, too, like, ‘Right, we’re doing this.’ Now all you have to do is produce the baby and bring them to adulthood and independence…”
Sunday Indo Business