What NOT to buy for your baby
Our pick of the baby gear you should not waste your money on
As a first-time parent there may seem like a million and one products you could buy for your baby and it can be hard to work out which will prove invaluable and which will end up gathering dust – or being listed on eBay quicker than you can say 'complete waste of money'.
Here's our round-up of some of the worst culprits:
1. A HUGE newborn pram
It weighs a ton, has the dimensions of a double decker bus and costs a fortune (and if you use it for all of perhaps 10 months before getting sick of it, a £500 pram works out at £50 a month)!
Before your baby arrived it seemed such a good idea – after all who wouldn't want to keep their little darling as protected and comfy as possible? Now Junior's actually here and you have to use the thing, you realise that only a sumo wrestler would be able to lift it into the car boot – that is if it fits in the car at all.
Catherine Jones already regrets buying the sizeable travel system she got for now three-month-old Freddie: "I chose quite a big pushchair as it was aesthetically pleasing, looked comfortable for my baby and was easy to fold down. However, once collapsed it is too large to fit in my car (a Ford Focus) unless I remove a wheel to make it fit in. I have also discovered that once in my boot there is no room for my supermarket shopping! It's also quite heavy especially for my mum to lift in and out of the car when she's looking after Freddie."
What to get instead: There are some fantastic lightweight, relatively compact pushchairs which have either a 'suitable from birth' seat (this means it reclines flat or almost flat) or a carrycot if you'd prefer that option. Look for a pushchair weighing under 9kg and you'll be less likely to need to swap it for a buggy later on.
2. A bottle warmer
Picture this – your baby is bawling for a feed, and for whatever reason you're giving her a bottle, but oh no, you need to warm the milk, and the little gadget that does this takes a whopping eight minutes. Now that doesn't sound so long in the cold light of day but on planet parenting, at 2am, with a baby screaming the neighbourhood down, it feels like half the night.
Another Catherine, a mother of two, says: "The bottle warmer was a total waste of money. It took too long and then the bottle ended up too hot so you'd spend ages frantically trying to cool it down while the baby screamed. For some reason we had two as well."
What to get instead: Nothing – it's safer to make up a bottle of formula when you need one.
3. A cot bumper
These go at one end of the cot - usually well away from where your baby sleeps anyway if you put them in the recommended 'feet to foot' position (see the FSID.org.uk website for more information on this and other 'safe sleeping' advice). Then once they're mobile enough for them to potentially bump into the cot bars, or get a limb stuck between them, then it's almost time to remove the bumper anyway - they shouldn't be kept in the cot once your baby is starting to sit up. A waste of money and just another item of bedding to wash too!
What to get instead: nothing.
4. Starter sets
For example, those big toiletries, feeding or bathing sets - you're unlikely to need all the products in them or might end up preferring a different combination so they're something of a false economy.
"The woman in the nursery shop persuaded me to get this set which supposedly had all the bathing and toiletries I'd need. I didn't use half of it and it definitely did not save me money." says Sarah Johnston, mother of twelve-week-old Ella.
What to buy instead: Simply choose the things you need and buy them separately so you get them in the type you want.
5. Tons of toys for a tiny baby
Newborns don't need them and will spend most of their time sleeping, feeding and gazing at you!
What to get instead: For a newborn you need very little and might well get a few toys of sorts as gifts. After a few months, your baby will start to take more of an interest in what's around them and a very small selection of toys will then be worthwhile - but even then you don't need a toy box full as they'll usually happily play with the same one or two.
6. Newborn-sized feeding bottles
Some brands produce baby feeding bottles in a smaller size designed for newborns but these quickly become too small once your baby needs more milk than you can fit in them. Their only advantage is they take up less space in your bag.
What to get instead: Normal size bottles - around 250ml or 260ml - even for a newborn. If they come with 'stage two' teats (these are faster flowing for a older babies), then buy the slow flow newborn teats separately – you won't have lost anything as you can save the faster ones for later on anyway.
7. Child-sized nursery furniture
Furniture is a big purchase and it's meant to last. Tiddly scaled-down bedroom furniture for babies will not and is completely unnecessary – and no they don't need to be able to reach a lower down clothes rail because they won't be willing or able to hang their clothing up until their old enough to reach a normal one. You can always get them a cheap step stool so they can access higher shelves if it's a problem.
Ruby Shah, now a mother of two, regrets buying nursery furniture for her first baby: "it seemed logical to get a smaller wardrobe and chest of drawers so my daughter would be able to reach the rail and shelves but by the time she was old enough to be getting her own clothes in and out, a normal wardrobe would have been fine and would have lasted longer. When she's older she isn't going to want 'babyish' nursery furniture in her room."
What to get instead: Normal-sized bedroom furniture which can last throughout their childhood and beyond.
8. Nursery curtains and wallpaper with 'baby appeal'
A similar issue to that with furniture – curtains and wallpaper are usually pretty expensive. You probably won't want to replace them just a few years down the line.
If you can't imagine the design you're considering on the wall of a six- or seven-year-old's bedroom, then steer clear!
What to get instead: Stick with a more age-neutral design for anything expensive. You can always add 'baby appeal' with removable wall stickers, pictures and other accessories (although we've never heard of a baby complaining that their nursery isn't 'cute' enough).
9. Nappy disposal systems
Special bins which wrap up those stinking nappies and store them. Most of these are a clever little way to suck you into buying the cartridge refills you'll need to keep using the bin. A few parents appreciate these, and they can be handy if you live in a flat and it's not easy to get to the refuse area but for everyone else, the cartridges are a bit of a pain and an unnecessary extra expense.
What to get instead: Scented nappy sacks are a good deal cheaper and seal away most of those noxious pongs and you can just chuck them in the outside bin a bit more often. To keep them out of sight between trips to the wheelie bin, a simple lidded nappy pail or bucket costs a few pounds and will also help contain bad odours.
10. A top and tail bowl
OK, so they're not exactly going to break the bank but these little divided bowls are in use for a matter of weeks!
What to get instead: If you will top and tail your baby (and not everyone does) you could just use two normal little plastic bowls instead. It's not exactly difficult to carry two instead of one – and then you can employ them for another purpose later on, unlike the top and tail bowl, which we can guarantee will end up sitting, neglected at the back of a cupboard for the rest of its days.
What did you regret splashing out on for your baby?
What have been your best and worst buys?