They are everywhere, the internet, baby magazines, baby books, even shops that sell baby products produce them. What am I talking about ? Lists, lists and more lists. A list of what you need for your personal use in hospital, a list of what your baby will need in hospital, a list of what your baby will need when you bring them home.
Undoubtedly, they are useful, especially if it is your first baby. However they can be confusing, contradict one and other and more often than not you’ll discover afterwards that you wasted quite a lot of money on products you either don’t like or will never use.
So I thought I would share with you my wastes of money, my worst purchases and of course my best buys.
Hospital Bag for mum.
Daughter number one ended up being delivered 2 weeks early by emergency cesarean section, so my hospital bag was just full of stuff I didn’t actually need.
1. The cheap throw away nighties for Labour – not needed
2. The horrible disposable knickers – not needed
3. The bag full of snacks for me and hubby – not needed and I was nil by mouth, so couldn’t use them anyway!
4. The dry shampoo – not needed, I washed my hair every day in the hospital shower.
5. The bed socks to keep my feet warm during labour – not needed.
There were also things I just didn’t have enough of and things not on the many lists.
1. Maternity pads, most lists suggest 1-2 packs, I used way more than this and had to get my hubby to bring more.
2. Vests and Sleepsuits for the baby, most lists suggest 6. Our daughter had reflux and in one day I had to change her 6 times! So again my hubby had to bring loads more from home, so I would take extra just in case.
3. Take a little plastic tub that you can fill with lukewarm water for nappy changing. Especially if you end up having a section, you will not want to wheel your baby up and down to the ward sink everytime they need changed.
4. High waisted knickers with a bit of comfort and support. Again after a section, comfort is key. You will not want to wear tiny knickers straight away. Higher knickers give your scar more protection and support.
5. Because I ended up having to have medication, I had to bottle feed. Even if you plan to breastfeed, take a few soft cotton bibs and muslin squares just in case.
6. Lip Balm and facial moisturiser and hand cream for you. Hospitals are hot and very dry, you will probably find that your lips, hands and face feel dry and uncomfortable.
7. At least 2 towels, one for your body and one for your hair. My hospital supplied towels, but there were never enough and sometimes the new laundry didn’t arrive until late morning.
I know some of these things seem obvious. However, when you haven’t been through it before and in your anxiety and excitement about the birth, it may not seem so obvious. Having an unexpected c section did have an impact on my bag, which of course may not be relevant to you. My best advice is look at the lists carefully and ask yourself why you think you need the things. For example the disposable knickers, why do you need them, you could just as easily buy some cheap cotton knickers for half the price. The dry shampoo – you really will probably want to wash your hair, just to make yourself feel better.
Ok, so now onto the baby at home things. These are my Best and worst buys. I’ll start with the worst.
1. The Jumperoo. I know thousands of people love them and rate them highly. However, for me this was £100 wasted. Our daughter was way too mobile and did not under any circumstances want to be confined. They also take up an enormous amount of floor space and are not quite as “mobile” as the description would have you believe. They don’t fit easily in and out of doorways if you want to move it to another room. Daughter number 2 also wouldn’t entertain the idea of being confined in there, so it has been used a handful of times. If I knew then what I know now, I would have kept my £100.
2. The Travel System. I spent almost £800 on a matching travel system . We live in the country, so have to drive everywhere, so I bought into the whole Isofix base and clip on seat hype. The infant carrier was far heavier than most other brands and although daughter number 2 is still in it. The weight of the carrier with a 19lb baby makes for very heavy lifting. The pram seat was barely used, eldest daughter hated it and by the time number 2 arrived we decided to get a double. In hindsight, I would have bought a separate pram and infant carrier and not worried about the whole clip together matching system. Big waste of £800. My advice is really think about where you will be with your pram and how often, don’t just get caught up in the whole excitement of being in a pram shop. Do you have to drive most places. Don’t be totally convinced by a salesperson that the clip on infant carrier is a big bonus, it really isn’t of that much benefit long term.
3. Baby Bath. Not an expensive item, but still barely used. We ended up bathing her in the big bath with a baby bath head support, it was much easier than the baby bath.
4. Matching furniture changing tower. At £170 this was a huge white elephant. I honestly could count on one hand how often I’ve used this, it sits there in the corner of the room a redundant piece of furniture. Our babies have both slept in our bedroom, so they were changed in there during the night, not in the nursery. The bulk of the rest of their changes happened downstairs. Once they begin to move it’s too difficult trying to stop them launching themselves off the stand and change them at the same time. If I’d known these things I wouldn’t have bought it.
5. Bottles and electric sterilisers. With our first daughter, because of her reflux we spent a fortune on different bottles until we found ones that she could actually drink out of. My advice don’t buy too many of one brand to begin with, until you’ve had a chance to feed your baby with them. The same for the sterliser. They all seem to be only really suitable for their own brand bottles, so if you change bottle, you could end up changing steriliser too.
6. Bottle warmer. Another white elephant for me. It takes so long to actually heat the bottle, it is much quicker to just boil the kettle when you are downstairs fetching the bottle in the first place. I discovered this very early on, when our baby was ravenous at 3 in the morning and the bottle warmer was taking forever. I didn’t use it at all with daughter number 2 and I found night feeds much quicker and much less stressful without it.
7. Bumbo baby chair and play tray. I’m on the fence with this one. Daughter number 1 did use it a bit and it was useful, but only for a few very short weeks, because she learnt how to launch herself out of it, even with the tray attached. Daughter number 2 could get out of it from the moment I put her in it, so we never used it with her. My advice, if you can get your hands on a cheap 2nd hand one or better still a freebie from Freecycle, then give it a go. I would say we probably got a maximum of a months use out of between 2 babies.
1. Angelcare monitor and sensor mat. By far our best ever baby buy. This product is worth every penny and then some. I would never have had the confidence to close my eyes and sleep without this. We love it so much that we still use it with our toddler and bought a second one for the baby. Yes, you can get cheaper monitors, but I honestly would have paid 10 times over for the Angelcare. You can read about it yourself here Angelcareuk. I will do a personal full review of the product in my next post and tell you why I rank this as the best product you’ll ever by.
2. Bedside crib. We used this for both our daughters from birth until they were at least 9 months old. They used a Moses basket downstairs during the day, but at night they went into the crib and slept like little logs. In fact both of them slept right through the night from about 6 weeks old. The bedside crib meant we could have them in with us without having to build the full big cot in our bedroom.
3. Bath swivel seat. We used this with both our girls from about 6 months old, it meant they could have lots of play time in the bath without us having to try and stop them floating away or banging their heads on the tub. Once they could sit up unaided this little chair made bathtime much more fun for them.
4. Baby sleeping bags. Both our girls were blanket pullers, they would end up with them over their heads and in a tangled mess, even from very early on. We used these for a few months and they were snug and cosy without the risk of covering their faces with the blankets.
5. Dr Browns & MAM feeding bottles. With daughter 1 and her reflux, we eventually discovered Dr Browns and they worked wonders on her ability to feed comfortably. However, it did take a lot of expense of buying other brands and then throwing them away to get there. With daughter number 2, I bought MAM anti colic bottles from the beginning, they worked brilliantly and so I then bought the complete set and some extras. MAM has the edge for me simply because they are so much less fuss than the Dr Browns. Dr Browns have pipes and valves that all need taking apart and sterilising and rebuilding before you feed. They also leak if you shake the bottle and can be messy. They do work, but are quite a bit of work. MAM are really easy to use, they are self sterilising, so you can pop one bottle into the microwave to sterilise it, if you need to. Most important of all though is they work!
6. Microwave steriliser. This was so much easier to use than the electric ones I had and fits many different brands of bottle. No hassle, easy sterilising in 6 minutes.
7. Cot Bed. After our 1st daughter outgrew her crib, we moved her into her own room and into a cot bed. She now has it converted into her toddler bed. In a few months time her baby sister will inherit it back as a cot bed with a new matress and then eventually converted into a bed for her. So we will have really had our moneys worth out of it. We also aren’t left with a redundant cot.
There are lots of other little smaller items that I found both invaluable or a waste of money, but these are my main money wasters and best buys. It is a bit of a minefield, so just try and think things through, think about when and where you’ll actually use the item. Try and not get too caught up in the hype and sales pitches and try not to “keep up with the joneses” just because a woman on your internet birth board claims to be spending £5000 doesn’t mean you have to compete. It certainly doesn’t mean that you love your baby any less. Good luck and happy shopping.