This time last year, we were eagerly anticipating the arrival of our baby. We’d sort of chosen a name, packed the hospital bag, and double-triple-checked our list of things we’d need once he was here to make sure we hadn’t forgotten anything.
Inevitably, we bought (or were bought) some things we found very useful and some which just gathered dust in a corner.
- Our carrier. We started to use it when D was 12 days old, and are continuing to use it today. Unfortunately, I have been unable to wear D for a while now (my pregnancy with him being back-to-back means my back tends to suffer a lot these days) but my husband still gets good use out of the carrier.
- Reusable nappies. Although we got off to a slow start with them (and I almost regretted my purchase altogether), we now use these exclusively and couldn’t be happier.
- Breast pump. I got a cheap, manual breast pump when D was 3 days old as I was having terrible trouble breastfeeding him. It provided the temporary relief I needed while I recovered from sore, cracked nipples and mastitis.
- Lanolin cream. As part of the above, I bought some Lansinoh lanolin cream to help heal my poor nips between feeds. It worked wonders :)
- Change bag. Stupidly, when D was born, we didn’t even consider the fact that we’d need one of these. I went into hospital woefully unprepared – I had to change D either on my bed (which I got told off for) or in his hospital bassinet (which I wasn’t told off for, but was told it wasn’t the best place. It certainly wasn’t, if for nothing else than it was pretty much impossible from a practical point of view). I couldn’t find anything anywhere – there were nappies in one bag, clothes in another, muslins… somewhere… and I had no changing mat. A bit of a problem for a newborn baby! I went through towels like nobody’s business :P So, my husband went out and bought a bag for us to use. He’d picked one that would be fairly unisex, so he wouldn’t feel weird using it. We ended up with a Bababing Daytripper Deluxe, which had more pockets and storage compartments than I thought possible in one bag. We take it everywhere now, and it’s full of everything we need to tend to D on the go.
- Activity mat. We bought a playmat for D when he was maybe a week or two old. It was a Bright Starts Roarin’ Fun one (except ours didn’t cost as much as the one there, oof!) with the crossed over bar things going over the top (great description, eh?). D didn’t really play with it much until he was older, but he would lay on it for hours just staring at the different colours and the toys hanging down. When he was older, we took the bars off and detached the toys so he could play with them properly – he still plays with them to this day :) The mat we continued to use as a playmat, but when he started to become mobile, we retired that too.
- Highchair. We got a cheap Ikea Antilop, which I was a bit hesitant about to start with (it didn’t look comfortable) but when compared to the more fancy chairs, I could see why it was popular – cleaning looked like a no-brainer with this chair. No, it isn’t collapsible or very portable. No, it isn’t very pretty, and doesn’t have a very good harness. But it is robust, easy to clean and D seems to like it :P We started to put him in it from 5 months, just letting him watch us eat. This was far more successful than sitting him on the floor or anything else we’d tried before.
- Car seat. We got a Group 0+/1 Britax First Class Plus seat which is supposed to last until around age 4. I would have liked for it to be slightly longer rear-facing than 13kg/15 months, but I preferred this option to the 9kg Group 0 ones. The only advantage that those seats had was that they were easily removed from the car, which ours isn’t, but I didn’t mind too much. We may change the seat when D gets to 13kg, we may not; we’ll see what happens. I’d need to see which of the extended rear-facing seats fit in my car (a little 3-door) first…! The only gripe I have with the seat we have is that it isn’t ISOFIX compatible. That in itself is fine for us (family cars don’t have ISOFIX fittings, so when they have D it wouldn’t have been convenient) but the problem is that the seat belt that fits the seat into place in rear-facing mode gets in the way when putting D in. In our car, the seat belt stretches a little further and allows us to move it to put D in, but in other cars it doesn’t (I think that’s the point; it’s meant to hold the seat tightly in place. Our seatbelts are just weird), and it’s a bit of a battle to get a squirming D into his seat without bumping his head on the door frame or getting him tangled in the belt. A bit of a design flaw there.
- Muslins. A must! We bought 10 of them to start with, and while we’ve lost a few here and there, they served us very well. Not really needed now, but we still have one floating about just in case :)
Things that weren’t so useful:
- Cot(s). We have a side-sleeper cot, which can also be used as a full crib if the fourth side is attached. We also have a full-size travel cot. I can count on one hand the number of times D has slept in either of these; the side-sleeper we tried hard to use at the start (both as a crib and as the side-sleeper) but were unsuccessful. It is still attached to our bed, but mainly for barrier reasons now. The travel cot we got because we thought we might use it when visiting family, and if nothing else it would make a nice changing station as it had a built-in change mat. D has slept in it twice, maybe for an hour each time. Now that he is older, I cannot actually physically put him in it – he is too big for the raised mattress, but the lowered one is a bit too low for short little me to reach in and place him there, and/or take him out again (see also: aforementioned back pain… :P ). We did use the cot as a changing station for a bit, but the changemat broke (!) and we hurriedly stopped using it. The side-sleeper was also not a great product in itself – it came with bedding, but it was really rather poor quality. Definitely a waste of money.
- Pram/pushchair. We got one of these as a present; I had no intention of getting one otherwise. The only time we’ve used it was when we went on holiday around Christmas last year – it was at the point where D was getting too heavy for me to carry and we were doing various sporty activities where other family members were looking after him. It made sense to use the pram (which we’d converted to pushchair by this stage) then. Other than that, we used it in pram mode when he was very small as a makeshift cot when he was sleepy but that’s it. It’s stayed in the shed since :P
- Musical swing. The point of this was to have somewhere for young D to sit while we ate, and/or to help him nap. This particular model played various tunes as well as swinging, but D didn’t like it one bit. We put it away until he was about 5-6 months old, and at that point we found he was happy enough to sit in it while I did some washing up or something for short amounts of time. It was very quickly retired after that point though (the highchair worked better). We did detach the musical bit and use this sometimes (it has flashy lights on it, which D likes to look at these days) but the main swing has been retired for quite a while now.
- Bath seat. We bought a bath seat/support for D to use, as we didn’t want to buy a baby bath for him – we didn’t see the point if we could just use our main bath and have him in a little seat, which was much cheaper. Only, this didn’t work for us at all – D hated baths when he was very young, and we found he only seemed to like them again when we moved him into a smaller bathing area. At first we used a large washing up bowl but he got too big for that. We then got a proper baby bath – well, sort of; my parents gave us the baby bath they used to use with me, which is a lot simpler than the baby baths you tend to see today. It fits over the main bath and is literally just a smaller version of that. D has used it since around 6 months and has enjoyed bath times ever since. He is getting too big for that now (and it cracked around the edge :( ), so we will be trying to move him to the full bath again soon. The seat did get a bit of use in the baby bath before D could sit up, but again, a handful of uses for something which wasn’t really necessary in the first place.
- Bedding. We bought 3 sets of bedding for D to use, 2 for his crib and one for his travel cot. Of course, the fact that he slept in neither means we never really had a use for these. Even if he did sleep there, we were given a grobag when he was born and found these worked much better for us.
I think that’s about it. There are some semi-useful things we got, such as bottles (they worked ok when I was recovering from all my bf problems, but after 4 weeks he refused to take them) and some of our reusable nappies (the Fuzzibunz didn’t work for us after a certain point; the newborn-size reusables never really saw much use) but all in all, if I were to start again, I don’t think I’d buy any of the ‘didn’t use’ stuff. Of course, all of this comes down to the fact that D didn’t like any of these things – another baby may have done, and they wouldn’t have been useless purchases for other parents. We’ll be hanging onto all those things, just in case ;)