Monday, 4 April 2016

Baby On Its Way? The Truth About What to Buy...

Are you expecting and looking for the ultimate newborn shopping list? Then please look elsewhere- there are tons of lists online telling you what you should and should not buy before having a baby. 

The unfortunate truth is, first time parents are absolute suckers (I know, I have been there) and although you might think you need every gimmick on the market, you actually don't. Some unnecessary gadgets are easy to spot even for newbies (for example, we went to a baby expo before Noodle was born and a lady tried to sell us a very pricey bucket... I kid you not... a regular bucket... saying that it was a hi-tech baby bath that cocoons the baby in a cosy foetal position and it even doubles up as a stepping stool once baby can walk). We know you saw right through the six month baby massage subscription (mind you, a mommy massage subscription is a different ball game entirely) and the cot with the built in iPod. However, some unnecessary gadgets are more subtle- the tiny bassinet and the electric bottle warmer may seem like perfectly reasonable purchases before baby is born.

In addition, every child is so completely different that half of what you buy might be a complete waste. Trust me, tiny as a newborn is, they already have unique needs which may differ from that of your sister, neighbour or best friend's baby. Even between my pigeon pair, what worked best each time was quite different. Here are some stories of what we did right... and what we did wrong.

Before Noodle was born, the advice we were given is that since nappies are so expensive, we should start stocking up a few month's in advance, buying a pack or two each time there was a special. Here is the problem with that theory- each baby uses a different amount of nappies and grows at different rates, so you will not know in advance how much of each size to buy. In addition, many babies are sensitive or even completely allergic to certain brands. Some babies leak in some brands and not in others, depending on their stature. Some moms hate the smell of certain nappy brands or perhaps you will discover that you like modern cloth nappies better. Moral of the story- buy enough for the first few weeks (size zero and size one) and then figure out what you like from there. Bear in mind that if you give birth at a private hospital or belong to certain rewards programmes, you are likely to score some free nappy samples from them. 

Then there are prams. There are hundred on the market and they all cost an arm and a leg. The truth is, while we used the car seat/ rocker that came with it as part of a travel system, the actual stroller got used less than a dozen times (and that is probably a generous estimate) for each of my two little ones. While our one seemed ridiculously easy to open and close when the salesperson at the baby store demonstrated it, I later discovered that this was not the case while carrying a screaming baby in one arm and groceries in the other. Also, once it went in my smallish boot, there was no space for anything else. Some people swear by baby wraps or carriers as alternatives but I never quite got the hang of it. My suggestion- ask the salesperson if they can accompany you to load a demo model pram into your boot, so that you can see if it fits. Also, don't bother with a jogging pram- my crystal ball assures me that all dreams of going jogging with your baby are inevitably going to be shattered.

You probably have an idea as to whether you wish to bottle or breastfeed, but I would suggest having contingency plans for both and not investing too much into either option until baby is born and you know for sure what is going to work for both of you. You might spend thousands on an automatic double breast pump and nursing bras only to discover that you cannot breastfeed for whatever reason. Speaking of which, nursing bras are another item that you might want to delay stocking up on (enough for hospital will do) as it is very hard to predict how much your breast size will inflate once baby arrives. Conversely, you might buy tons of a certain type of bottle and all the equipment that goes with it, only to discover that your baby will not latch or that it gives your baby colic. (For Squish, we tried about five different bottle brands with the intention of using it for expressed breast milk but he would not drink from any of them. We also bought several different types of pacifiers and he would not take to any.) Once baby can drink other liquids, you may find yourself trying a few different sippy cups before finding one that your baby takes to and which does not leak everywhere.

Here is what we discovered about feeding chairs- babies are very messy eaters and so any feeding chair with non-removable fabric parts is going to be a disgusting germ haven and a nightmare to clean. By the time Squish was born, we replaced Noodle's cloth feeding chair (which was a health hazard) with one with only removable plastic parts.

Baby monitors are another interesting item which might either be a lifesaver or a very expensive mistake. I have heard a few parents saying it was a waste of time for them but I had two different experiences. We got a top of the range Angelcare monitor before Noodle was born and we used it religiously for the first six months. The breathing alarm actually went off two or three times in the early weeks- so it was a priceless investment. When Squish was born, he ended up co-sleeping with us for the first year, so the baby monitor was completely redundant. 

Try to examine things in person where possible before shopping for the best prices. We ended up buying Noodle a baby rocker online manufactured by a well known baby brand, which we returned the next day, because it did not rock.

As far as clothes go, chances are that you will find it hard to resist buying every adorable item spotted (I know I couldn't, especially the first time round... baby clothes are just so darn cute). Chances are though, that your relatives and friends feel  the same way and will spoil you with enough clothes to last for the first year. While baby shoes are irresistibly cute, they probably don't need them until they start walking, except in very cold weather. In fact, you will soon discover that babies detest shoes and that one of every cute pair will sneakily get thrown away by your bundle of joy each time  you leave the house. If only I had a penny for each time a kindhearted stranger stopped me at a shopping centre pointing out that my baby has dropped a shoe.

Another thing that you will discover is that babies hate being covered with blankets. With Noodle, we found that the zip up sleeping bags were the perfect solution for this dilemma. We stocked up on the pricey Babysense sleep bags for Squish (a favourite with Noodle), only to discover that he screamed hysterically and would not sleep until we freed him from what he perceived to be a straight jacket. Fleecy, full bodied onesies turned out to be a better solution for him.

I could go on all day with examples of how the needs and wants differ from one baby to another. Conclusion: Buy a little bit of all of the bare essentials and leave the rest until your little one is born and able to dictate his or her needs.