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Save your pennies

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A colleague has been preparing for the arrival of his first child and I have listened with some amusement as he has pondered over which gadgets and gizmos to buy. Having a baby is confusing enough without the array of ‘must have’ products you are faced with. Having come out the other side of the baby-stage, here is my advice on the things you can do without…

Baby monitor – unless you live in a mansion I would question the need for a listening device to hear your new-born. Babies are very loud and the smaller the baby the louder their scream seems to be. If you are likely to be at the bottom of a 20ft garden when your little one is napping, then a portable monitor could be useful. Otherwise please be reassured that you will hear your child! As for the high tech systems that monitor heartbeat, body warmth or have cameras attached – forget it!  Unless your child has a medical condition which means you need to be extra cautious you do not need to be watching their every move or bodily function when they are asleep! Use these precious hours (or minutes) of quiet to do something useful like having a shower or talking to your partner!

Disposable nappy bin – nappies are not pleasant. If you have decided to go down the disposable route you need to get the offending article out of your house as quickly as possible. Placing it in a special bin, no matter how clean it claims to be, is just delaying the inevitable. You will need to empty the bin and take the nappies outside so why not cut out the middle man?

Moses basket – babies grow quickly and whether you decide to keep your baby in the room with you or give him/her (and you) some space in their own room, they will be graduating to a cot in a matter of weeks. Why do you think you see so many pristine Moses baskets in charity shops? Moses baskets are handy for letting your baby nap anywhere in the house but if you are investing in a travel system why not just use the fancy pram top for baby’s naps? If you are determined to have a Moses basket then beg, borrow or steal one and just buy a new mattress – you’ll save a fortune.

Weaning pots – when you set off on the messy adventure of weaning you will probably be tempted to try out lots of different recipes and you’ll be pureeing vegetables you didn’t know existed. In this age of creating less waste it makes perfect sense to cook a load of different purees at once and pop them in the freezer. What doesn’t make such good sense is buying special brightly coloured plastic tubs to store your baby’s dinners. Babies don’t eat a lot – in fact their first meals will be about the size of an ice cube, and then they’ll progress to two cubes… So invest in a cheap ice cube tray and get chopping!

Shoes – babies don’t need shoes. Those little feet are fine in socks in winter or simply bare in summer. Baby feet should be free to grow. Buying shoes for older children can so easily turn into a battle – especially when your little darling wants the latest most expensive flashing creation – and it is so expensive. My advice is to delay the stress and enjoy being shoe free for as long as possible

New born baby toys – tiny babies sleep a lot, they feed A LOT and they cry. In between they might like to look at a book or play with a cuddly toy but they don’t need a room packed with every conceivable object to stimulate the senses. It may sound twee but when baby is awake and looking for entertainment, nothing beats a cuddle and a few rounds of a classic nursery rhyme.

A professional photo in hospital – I was really surprised that this service was offered when I had my two children. Family and friends took hundreds of photos of my two in their first few days – some were better than others but all were taken by someone who knew and loved my family and they were all free! At a time when you are feeling your most vulnerable (and not looking your best) it doesn’t seem right that someone comes to capture your baby’s first moments for a price! Believe me you won’t be short of baby snaps so save your cash!

Baby thermometers – there are two kinds of baby thermometers and both are pretty pointless. One is to go in the bath to make sure the water isn’t too hot. What’s wrong with dipping your hand in to make sure you’re not plonking your baby in a scalding bath? There’s a lot to be said for parents’ instincts and believe me you will know when your baby’s bathwater is the right temperature – you don’t need a gadget to tell you! The second kind of thermometer is a medical one. Now, unless you have medical training it’s pretty hard to use a baby thermometer correctly, especially if your baby is screaming and wriggling and you are fretting because they are obviously ill. To my mind, if your baby’s temperature is that high, they will be obviously unwell and you should be seeking medical help or at the very least reaching for the Calpol. Knowing the specific temperature of your ailing tot is unlikely to help you deal with situation.

And finally one surprising thing you will need LOTS of Children’s clothes hangers – these brightly coloured pieces of plastic will be your saviour. You can never have too many hangers for little clothes. Friends, neighbours and relatives will generously buy you gorgeous, mini outfits in a range of colours and in a blink of an eye you’ll be running out of places to put them. I have bought a few expectant friends bundles of hangers; they have looked puzzled at the time but always thanked me profusely once their baby has arrived.

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