As my youngest son fast approaches 2, I’ve been thinking about the many things that were invaluable while my boys were babies and the many more that have been a complete waste of money for us and I wish we’d never bothered with. Here’s my (very subjective!) list of the things we couldn’t live without and the items that just didn’t cut it for us.
A Few of My Favourite Things
Black out blind - When L was born we were living in the Middle East and spent a lot of time travelling. I bought 2 travel blackout blinds and have used them endless times. Some of the suckers are starting to fall off after so much use but I can’t fault them. I’ve used them everywhere: caravans; hotels; my inlaws. They are especially useful when trying to get the boys off to sleep in a new place or when E is refusing to nap because it’s too light outside.
Sleeping bags - My children are ridiculously wriggly and as babies there is no way they would have slept under blankets. Even now I have to turn my 5 year old the right way round in bed every night and tuck him in. Without sleeping bags I would have been up even more times in the night, putting them back under the covers. Who needs another reason for their baby to wake up??
Baby monitor - Ours isn’t fancy, it’s a basic Tomy listening baby monitor. We used it until L was 3 and then again for E when he was born. One of the buttons is broken on the top after being dropped but it still works. It was essential for L when we lived in a house with thick concrete walls and noisy air conditioning and it has always given me peace of mind that I’ll hear them if they wake.
Muslin cloths - First time round I didn’t find much use for them but E had reflux up until he was 10 months old and I got through a LOT of muslins! A friend also bought me some extra large muslins that I used for covers while breastfeeding, as sunshades and for blankets… fabulous.
Travel system - This one is a bit of a love/hate of mine. I absolutely loved being able to put the car seat onto the wheels. It made moving the boys really easy and not waking them if they were asleep. But by the time they moved into the big pushchair seat it felt heavy, cumbersome and was difficult to get in and out of the car. We quickly moved onto…
Light weight buggy - This was/still is easy to fold, takes up little space in the boot, whizzes around shops and is great for travelling.
Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You
So, here are some of the things we didn’t love quite so much:
Dungarees - Children look cute in dungarees, right? However cute they look they were dreadful for L and E! The bib part would ride up and end up in their mouths and the crotch would then be so high it was uncomfortable for them. Not for us.
Clothes with buttons on the back - Undoubtedly designed as gifts where the sight of buttons/poppers on the front would spoil the look of the outfit. Have you tried laying your baby face down to get him/her dressed. No.
Pushchair parasol - When we lived in a hot sunny country I thought a parasol would be great for keeping L shaded from the sun. Truthfully I found it completely impractical! By the time I got it properly positioned we would walk round a corner and I’d have to change it again. Frustrating beyond belief.
Breast pump - This one is definitely personal as I know many people manage to pump successfully. First time round I bought a simple handpump and actually only took it out of the box once. L was feeding every 3 hours, when exactly was I supposed to pump? Second time round I was determined that I would make time to pump so that Mr C could get up in the night and feed E sometimes. I bought an electric pump and was full of good intentions but it just never happened. Again, E was feeding every 3 hours and I couldn’t find time even though I wanted to!
Baby carrier - I know so many people who love their baby carriers. I bought one for when L was born and he hated it, he screamed every time I put him in it! Seeing such love for these carriers I convinced myself we must have bought the wrong kind so when E was born we bought a more expensive one. (I also thought keeping him upright would help with his reflux). He was happy in it ONCE and every other time he howled until I took him out. Lesson learnt.
When you have your first baby I think you often buy too much stuff and don’t use half of it. By the time I had my second I thought I was wise enough not to make the same mistakes again… It seems not! As a result I have a big box of barely used baby items in the garage that I keep meaning to put on eBay. Although that means admitting our baby days are behind us… am I quite ready for that??