When preparing for their first child new parents sometimes get a bit caught up in buying all the things they are told they will need. When you want the best for your baby it's all too easy to blow out your budget before the little one even arrives. Before you spend too much money and fill your house with tonnes of baby related clutter (and there will be plenty of time for that later), it might be worthwhile to take a step back and think about how many of these “essential” items you actually need. You might be able to save a few bucks to spend on vital breastfeeding supplies (aka chocolate).
10. Blackout Curtains
The idea is that these will create a totally dark room which will make it easier for your baby to sleep during the day and keep them from waking up at at the crack of dawn. The trouble is that if your baby gets used to them then they may only be able to sleep in a totally dark room, which will make things difficult if you take them on holiday or visiting friends' houses. Alternatively, you could deliberately get your baby accustomed to sleeping in light noisy places from day one by putting them down to sleep in a bassinet or cot out in your kitchen or living room or wearing them in a sling while your normal daily life goes on around them.
9. White noise machine
A white noise machine is a device that makes a soothing noise like that of the ocean or a waterfall. It is supposed to help your baby sleep by masking sounds that might otherwise disturb them and soothing them. By all means get one if you want one, but they're not really necessary. The most soothing sound your baby could possibly hear is your voice, and why miss an opportunity to sing to the least critical audience you will ever find? As for masking sounds, see number 10.
8. Baby Monitor
Unless your house is large enough to serve as the set for the latest BBC adaptation of a Jane Austen novel you're going to hear the baby when they cry without any technological aids. For night sleeping you can put them in a cot in your bedroom, co-sleep, or just put them in the room next to yours.
7. Baby Bath
If you don't want to buy one of these you can bathe your baby in the kitchen or laundry sink or just take them in the bath or shower with you.
6. Baby Bath Products
Baby wash and shampoos purchased while pregnant could turn out to be a waste of money if your baby turns out to have allergies or eczema. You can just wash your baby with plain water.
5. Formula (just in case)
If you're planning to formula feed of course you need a stock of formula on hand, but many women who intend to breastfeed are told they should have a tin of formula in their pantry “just in case.” I had one in my pantry which expired unused, which in retrospect was a waste of money. If you have trouble breastfeeding that tin of formula could seem like a tempting shortcut rather than addressing the actual problem by getting advice from a lactation consultant. If you do really find you need the stuff you can always go out and get some later. Unless you live in a lighthouse on an island or something you can probably get to a supermarket or an all night pharmacist when you need to.
4. Fancy Outfits
I understand the desire to take photos of your baby in a little hat with puppy ears or a froufy frilly knitted jacket, but don't go crazy buying too much of this stuff. They will vomit, wee and poo on everything, sometimes within seconds of you putting them in it, and they grow out of things so quickly that if you've bought them loads of clothes they might not get a chance to wear it all before it's too small. Odds are good that your relatives and friends will want to buy stuff like this for your baby anyway so you may not need to buy much yourself.
3. Bassinet or Moses Basket
Get one of these if you think you will use it but it's not an essential. Babies outgrow a bassinet so quickly, so if you want to save some money you can skip this stage and go straight to using a cot for naps and night time sleeping. This will also save on buying bassinet sheets, which won't fit a cot. While the baby is awake you can carry them in a sling or your arms or just set them down on the floor for a wriggle.
This might sound a bit strange but bear with me. Technically not even a cot is essential. If you co-sleep with your baby you don't have to buy special bedding for them, not to mention the convenience of not having to get up during the night to feed or comfort them. There's a bit of controversy about the safety of co-sleeping versus putting the baby in a cot and/or in their own bedroom so you might want to do a little research about it before coming to a decision. It's important to follow the appropriate safety guidelines. Again, this option will save you money on special bedding for the baby, although you might want to invest in a Brolly Sheet or other waterproof cover to lay over your top sheet in case of nappy blow-outs.
1. Pram/travel system
While you will need a proper infant car seat (unless you don't have a car), you don't have to get an expensive one that converts into a pram, a rocker and an amphibious hovercraft. You might not even need a pram at all. Instead you can wear your baby in a sling or a carrier like an Ergo (pictured below). I definitely recommend this option if you're planning on doing a lot of walking or using public transport, since getting prams on and off buses and pushing them up and down hills is a huge pain. A sling also frees you to go up and down stairs instead of having to look for a lift or a ramp. One downside would be that you can't use the 'parents with prams' parking spaces.
Remember that you don't have to rush out and buy everything you think you'll need while you're pregnant. You can always get things later if they turn out to be necessary. In the meantime enjoy your new baby!