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Considering that I am a control freak when it comes to organising anything, I was pretty laidback during my pregnancy. In fact, I would go so far as to admit that I was actually really unorganised.
I don’t know whether I was in denial about the whole impending labour thing and living in a bubble of ignorant bliss, or whether I was waiting for my ‘nesting’ instinct to kick in. But either way, we just didn’t have things sorted.
My baby shower was organised for the end of November, and baby girl was due 6th January… so even then time was a little tight, but in my head I thought we had plenty. Unfortunately for us, I was wrong and baby girl decided she was going to arrive 22 days early on 15th December.
Let me tell you just how unorganised we were at this point. The nursery was painted but there were no carpets (and the heavy snow in December set us back even more). That’s okay you might think, baby sleeps in your room for a while, there’s no rush for that.
The moses basket was still in it’s wrapper, we had no bedding for it. We had no bottles, no steriliser, no formula. Our travel system was still in the box unassembled. The only reason I had a semblance of a hospital bag was because my best friend made me a hamper full of all the things I’d need for my baby shower. We didn’t have a hospital bag for the baby and literally threw it together after my waters broke. Most of the baby clothes hadn’t been washed yet and hadn’t been sorted into sizes. We were in a bit of mess to be honest.
I’ve gone off on a tangent but I basically just wanted to set the scene that we were disorganised. And as a result we didn’t have most of the things that online lists deem “essentials” for newborns. Leading up to the birth I would read these lists in despair, wondering where we would find the money for all these gizmos and gadgets and if realistically we actually needed them, so here is in my opinion, the list of newborn baby essentials, you can actually live without.
1. Tommy Tippee Perfect Prep Machine
I genuinely don’t understand the hype around this one, and maybe that is just due to the fact that I don’t have it in my life, but honestly – making bottles really isn’t difficult so I don’t really understand how a machine can make it any simpler – surely you still have to add water and formula to it? So why not directly to the bottle. I in no way wish to offend anyone in writing this list, and not judging anyone who does swear by these items… but I personally, don’t get it. If anyone wants to fill me in to the wonders of this machine then please do! As I’ve said before, I’m constantly on the look out for things that make life easier.
2. Video Monitors
I can completely understand why people have these and wouldn’t want to be without them but I think one of these would drive me crazy. I would constantly be watching it. I’m terrible for checking the baby’s breathing when she’s sleeping, even now at 8 months old. I think this would just make me even more paranoid rather than putting my mind at ease which is why I avoided it. Plus, our girly is very loud when she stirs. We would hear her before we saw anything was wrong.
They also kind of freak me out, I have visions of glancing at the monitor and seeing a night vision of the baby just sat up staring me down. Too many horror films I think haha.
3. Motion Sensors
Again, this one follows on from the above reasons why I didn’t have a video monitor. It would feed my paranoia and make me worry more. I have a few friends who have these and have had different issues with it which have caused them to freak out and run into baby’s room in a panic just to find baby is sleeping soundly. They’ve been known to run out of battery without warning, so you think it’s on when it’s not. And when baby starts moving around they can roll out of the sensor’s detection area causing it to go off and panic you that baby’s stopped breathing when in actual fact they’ve just moved to the foot of the cot.
Again, I’m not judging – I’m sure they are good models available which don’t have these flaws, but they just didn’t seem a necessity for me.
4. Bottle Warmers
Another one I don’t understand. If you are using boiled water to make a bottle, why would you need to warm it. Is this for ready made bottles of formula? For expressed breastmilk? Doesn’t a jug of hot water suffice?
5. Swaddle Blankets
I don’t think these are essential for a few reasons.
We had a couple when the baby was first born we thought they were great. That is until you have a baby with reflux who is constantly sick and constantly needs changing… then they become a hassle. It very simple to swaddle a baby with any blanket – a quick google will show you how.
Also, from a very young age (we moved her to her cot at 10 weeks) our girl hated being constricted so swaddling was a no go anyway and she would sleep like a starfish with her arms outstretched.
There is also conflicting advice on this, when we were in hospital I was shown how to swaddle her, yet when we had her swaddled when the midwife visited at home we were told they shouldn’t be swaddled and their arms needed to stay out. Pick any one of these reasons, but they became redundant for us.
6. Baby Toiletries
We had so many bottles of talcum powder, baby bath and baby shampoo given to us in hampers. And aside from using some baby bath, we haven’t touched the rest.
Baby’s literally just need to be bathed with water. Shampoo can dry their scalp out and make cradle cap worse and baby bath can dry out their skin. Lotion can also aggravate their sensitive skin and talcum powder has had a lot of bad press recently, regardless of which we wouldn’t have used it anyway.
When she was very little we would clean her bum with boiled water and cotton wool and dry it with cotton wool or a cloth.
When I took her to the doctor for a rash on her forehead I was told she had cradle cap in her eyebrows and just to scrub it off with a damp cloth and to not use shampoo.
And we took her to the doctors again a few months later for dry red patches on her body and were told to drop the lotions and baby bath. She actually has eczema, so we add prescription oil to her bath and put prescription cream on her after the bath but aside from that, she is just bathed with water.
7. Bath Thermometer
Can’t we use common sense? Do the elbow test. Stick your hand in, if it feels too hot, it is!
Baths should be lukewarm, it’s not a scientific experiment where a temperature needs to be exact. It just needs to be warm,
8. Snow Suit (For Winter Babies)
We were bought two lovely snowsuits. Baby girl didn’t get any wear out of the newborn one and wore the 0-3months one twice. As she travelled mostly in the car seat, she couldn’t wear them anyway.
She also has the misfortune of being very short (but chunky) so they were never the right length for her in the body and ended up covering her head. Layers and blankets were more than sufficient.
The biggest waste of time. She lived in babygros until she was fitting into 3-6 months (terrible reflux meant she was constantly being changed). So lots of cute outfits went to waste during the newborn phase too but particularly shoes and booties as she was always in closed toes. The odd occasion we did dress her she would always manage to get things off her feet (she still does now, god help me when she’s walking…). Realistically baby’s don’t need these until they’re walking, as long as their feet are covered, socks are more than adequate.
10. An expensive pram and Iso Fix base
I feel like this is going to be quite a controversial point, but you don’t need to spend upwards of £1000 on a pram. A few of my friends were brand snobby and insisted on a particular brand (their prerogative) and at times I felt almost embarrassed about the pram we had bought.
However in hindsight, if I could do it again, I think I’d actually buy a second hand one because at £500 I think our pram was too expensive. The only thing I wouldn’t scrimp on is a carseat – that I would buy new just for peace of mind.
But along that same vein, we were also told an Isofix base for the car seat was essential – it isn’t, in fact it just limits you as to whose car baby can travel in. We’re a two car household with grandparents and aunties often taking baby girl out and her car seat easily transfers between any and all the cars.
So there we have it, my list of ‘non-essentials’. You can check out the items I actually love here.
I feel like I have to keep popping disclaimers into this post (so much so I almost didn’t publish it) as I really don’t wish to judge or offend anyone who does use all these things. But at the end of the day, I’m writing about ways to save money and the easiest way to do that is to not spend it in the first place.
I think there’s a lot of pressure on new parents to keep up with the joneses and make sure you have this and that. But in reality you don’t need all these gadgets, so don’t financially pressure yourself into believing you do.