I made it to my first NCT sale a few weeks ago. I was keen to tick it off (another item off my maternity leave bucket list) but having gone, I am certain to go again. I’ve always got a thrill out of sale shopping and finding a bargain – and crowds don’t put me off. There were a couple of parents-to-be there and I was super impressed – looking back I had no idea what I needed before being a parent, let alone be brave enough to go and pick it up in sale. It would have saved us so much money!!!! We opted for the more standard approach of parents-to-be events at Mamas and Papas and the nursery advice service at John Lewis, which was a total life saver. The guy would was helping us must have thought we were total morons.. “so, what do we need for a baby… let’s start with the basics….”
But still it got me to thinking about the money I’ve “wasted” on things we didn’t use or things that just didn’t work for us, and things I had wished we had known about before! We have always erred on the side of caution when it came to baby prep, we weren’t keen to buy a lot up front as we didn’t want to jinx anything. I blame some of our waste on panic buying and those midnight purchases on amazon when you are delirious and trying to stay awake when your feeding. Got to love a bit of amazon prime.
So what did we waste our cash on?
Muslins: we have so many packets of these but Rishi wasn’t a sicky baby and didn’t really dribble until he started teething. So I now have tonnes of them in unopened packets gathering dust and I’m not really sure what to do with them!
What to buy instead: I would buy a couple of muslins and see what kind of baby you get, they are cheap and won’t break the bank. I’d recommend getting at least one large one – they work well for wrapping babies in or popping in the bassinet. Next time round I would opt for a vibrant colourful or black, white and red one. When choosing Muslins last time I was more focussed on what looks cute and not what the baby will like the most. Sadly bright colours are what stimulates babies. I’d also get a couple of nice bibs… again you’ll get more use out of them. Personally I’m a fan of the triangular bibs, I think they look much cooler on baby outfits.
Tommee tippee steriliser machine: this was the first baby item we bought and I was proper chuffed about it (especially as it was on sale when we bought it). I never really thought whether I’d breastfeed or bottle feed – it was always going to just be about what worked for our little man. Now I love breastfeeding and plan to do it until he’s 12 months old – so we haven’t had a lot of use for the steriliser machine. And when we have expressed, we have used microwaveable bags to sterilise everything.
What would I buy instead? I’d wait to see how you feel and buy the medela steriliser bags. Compact and easy if you aren’t planning on using them a lot. We take them on holiday with us in case I do a bottle at any point. If you are bottle feeding you can invest in the steraliser machine later knowing you will get good use of it.
Baby hats and mittens: I just assumed that we would need these, but Rishi has virtually never worn them. To be fair Rishi was also born in a very hot May and so it was more like nappy only weather but also I never really factored in how hard it is to keep mittens on a baby…. or get on them on as a matter of fact.
What to buy instead: To be honest I would just buy some sleep-suits which have mittens built in already, then at least if they don’t work you have a useable item. If you want to buy a hat for novelty value – go ahead – but they were practically useless and we just had them on for a picture!
Dribble bibs: we were given lots of random bibs and again, Rishi doesn’t really dribble and when we were weaning we opted for baby led weaning, so full sleeved bibs were necessary to reduce the amount of cleaning and washing for me.
What to get instead: get a few bibs but maybe wait until you need them, and see what type you need. I opted for a mixture and some cute personalised ones – as well as the all important sleeved ones for our gorgeous messy man.
Dummies: I got dummies before I really knew how I’d feel about them and before I knew what kind of baby I’d get. But early on in breastfeeding I became paranoid about nipple confusion with dummies. So I waited a while before trying him on the dummy and he didn’t really like them… he just stuck his thumb in. Then I got worried about thumb sucking…. but he’s stopped that too. He is fascinated by other babies wearing dummies though… he just likes to take them out of other babies mouths!
What to buy instead: I’d see how you feel and how your baby is. Popping in a dummy isn’t as easy as it sounds and there are so many out there, if you go down this route, you might have to try a few brands before picking your favourite.
Nursing pillow: we got this in the early days of breastfeeding and I have to say I used it a bit, but not a lot. When you get more confident and used to breastfeeding, you end up being able to breastfeed anywhere and anyhow… on the loo, walking around, answering the door to the amazon delivery man…
What to buy instead: borrow one or buy it second hand. They aren’t that expensive but they take up room (valuable room that will disappear once you have all the baby stuff) and so if you can borrow and return, you can use it for that little bit of time you need it for.
Sling: I would definitely say get one, but don’t buy it until later down the line. I loved my sling in the early days as Rishi had colic and didn’t like to be put down but actually as he got heavier the sling I had was uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be like that – there are so many options out there … I just picked badly.
What to buy instead: You can hire, try or buy them off amazing companies like it’s a sling thing or go to a sling library. That way you can get proper consultations and advice on what’s best for your baby and you.
Pram: we tested prams a lot and in the end we went for a icandy peach. It’s a big pram, which was sold as “all terrain”. Looking back I am not sure what terrain we would have realistically taken our pram on. I have this love/hate relationship with ours. You obviously need a pram but the peach is huge and takes up all the room in the car boot. And it didn’t end there – then we needed to buy a stroller for holidays or road trips to the grandparents so that we could have space in the car for other stuff.
What to buy instead: when we asked for adviced for what travel pram to buy loads of people recommended the baby zen yo-yo. You can buy a bassinet separately to go on it but the 6months play version is around £370. Not cheap but I really wish we had just purchased this in the first place. It’s lightweight (which is a good thing for when you’ve just given birth) and it folds up small (which is great for when you’re going anywhere as you need to fit in all the other stuff aswell!). For our mega trip we bought the travel bag for the baby zen, which means you can carry it on your back and it’s protected in transit. We were really impressed with this.
Bouncers: again, definitely get one but don’t necessarily get the super stylish. I also wouldn’t shell out on one that they can use till they are two or toddler age. What you soon discover is that after 8 months they won’t ever want to sit down or use one.
What to buy instead: borrow or buy one from a mum market, NCT sale or Facebook. Bouncers are pretty simple things but they are also expensive. You can pick up good quality bouncers with lots of use in for £10 or less. As they also take up lots of room, it will be much easier to part with if you didn’t spend loads on it. We also picked up a bumbo seat from a mum market. Rishi hated it – but now he’s nearly a year he’s happy in it long enough for me to have a shower. It’s also compact and handy to offer to other babies if you have mum friends round for lunch.
Nail clippers: when you get your baby home you’ll realise you soon have to deal with the sharp nails that have come from no where. I had nail clippers but was too scared to ever use them for fear of chopping Rishis nails right off.
What to buy instead: The Thumble honestly one of the mum hacks which works and also allows me to sort his nails out without him having a meltdown.
I asked a few other mums the things that they wish they hadn’t bought… as I think it’s important to recognise that this is different for everyone as all babies are different:
A beige playmat: baby’s tend to like colour. It might not look as nice or be as aesthetically pleasing but if you buy them something colourful to stimulate them you may get more use out of it!
Top and tail bowl: I didn’t even know what one of these was but it’s apparently a thing for those days where you aren’t giving your baby a bath… such a bizarre thing! This particular mum said she never used it.
Bottles/stuff for breast feeding: wait and see how feeding goes. You don’t need to buy everything up front and you might decide to do one or the other or both.
My main advice would be to fight the urge to buy everything you need upfront. Amazon Prime means you can get everything super quick and if you desperately need something you can get it. You can then also get into the swing of things before you decide if you are going to need something or not. Accept that you may waste some money but try to reduce this as much as possible by being open to buying things second hand and ask friends for help. As you will discover anything which you use for babies is often used for a limited time so anything second hand, has always got lots of wear left in it.
What was your worst baby purchase or least used item?