After my recent post about what you really need for a new baby, I thought it would be fun to do a post about the flip side – what you really don’t need.
We all buy things for our babies, especially the first one, that we just don’t need. These things inevitably start gathering dust in our cupboards; reminding us of the money we wasted until the day we can palm them off on unsuspecting first-time parents.
1. A top & tail bowl. This is number 1 on the list for a reason. Never have I heard something so ridiculous as when I heard of the existence of a top & tail bowl. The very idea that I would pay £5 or more for a plastic bowl with two separate sections in it when I could, y’know, just get a couple bowls from my kitchen cupboard? Psh.
2. Bottles and a steriliser. Unless you need to pump from birth for some reason, you needn’t worry about this. Having bottles in the house will not help with breastfeeding; it can be hard at first and many a mum has resorted to a bottle in the middle of the night rather than calling La Leche League or the NCT breastfeeding helpline. You don’t need bottles ‘just in case’, your baby will not starve even if for some reason you spontaneously stop lactating at 2am (not gonna happen). Similarly, a steriliser is a waste of money. If you need to sterilise medicine spoons, syringes or pacifiers you can just immerse them in a saucepan of boiling water for five minutes.
3. Formula. For the same reasons as #2, unless you know you have some kind of medical condition that means you won’t be able to breastfeed fully or at all, and you can’t get donor milk, there is no reason to buy formula ‘just in case’. It will just make it harder to keep breastfeeding in the early days when it can be difficult.
4. A breast pump. Now, I know that for some ladies this is a necessity; if they must return to work after a few weeks then it’s imperative to start building a freezer stash as soon as possible. But in my time as a breastfeeding peer supporter, I have met many pregnant women who seem to think that buying a pump is necessary, even if they are not returning to work until their baby is much older. When I ask them why they think they need to pump for their newborn, they often don’t know what to say. They just think it’s something that you have to do, thanks to lists of breastfeeding ‘essentials’ in baby store catalogues. Unless you know you must be away from your young baby for extended periods of time, there is no need to buy a pump straight away. If you encounter issues then by all means get one but there is no need to have one before your baby is born. In an emergency you can hand express effectively using the Marmet technique. Chances are, you won’t crave long periods of time away from your baby until they are much older.
5. A cot bumper. These look pretty in the cot or crib, but they serve no real purpose and have actually been shown to increase the risk of SIDS (thought to be because they reduce the air flow around the baby).
6. A pretty mobile for the cot, if you’ve chosen to use one. You know, the ones in attractive neutral colours that match the rest of the nursery set. Again, they look awfully pretty hanging over the cot but neutral shades do absolutely nothing for your baby. Little babies like contrast – initially black and white, and then bright colours after a little while. Neutral colours do not stimulate them in the slightest.
7. A bath thermometer. Just stick your elbow in it like your granny did.
8. A changing table. You will probably use it twice, no matter how multi-functional it is or how much the company promise that you will somehow still find use for it when your kid is 3. We put our desk in our oldest son’s room to use as a changing table – it was perfect. Just the right height, with four drawers to stash his nappies, wipes and other toiletries. Obviously not everyone has a spare desk lying around, but you’re bound to be able to get something for the purpose that costs a damn sight less than what the companies will have you pay for a changing table.
9. Baby bath products. Even good old Johnson & Johnson baby products are full of nasty chemicals and are absolutely unnecessary for little babies. They don’t get dirty until much later.
10. Babyproofing items. You’d be surprised how many people rush out and buy contraptions to make their kitchen cupboards secure before their baby can even lift their own head. We did… Leave it until you need it, and even then you will probably find you need less than you thought (if any).
I’d love to hear what items you bought or were given that are buried in the back of your under-the-stairs cupboards! Comment and share below