Two of my good friends are currently pregnant. So as a responsible A-type mother, I did what all born list-makers and spreadsheet lovers do and edited my most recent version of The List and jauntily sent it off to them via email.
What is The List I can hear you asking? It’s a spreadsheet that’s been passed down for centuries (okay, maybe 5 years) of all the things you need to buy once a little person enters your life. The List differs, depending on its source.
And when you first get The List you happily head off to Baby City with it tucked under your arm and proceed to buy the biggest bunch of unnecessary rubbish the planet has ever seen. You have no idea what is useful and what is not and the fear of being without something at the most crucial time scares you into buying ALL THE THINGS.
I have no idea why, because it’s not like the shops are going anywhere. If you suddenly need a lift wedge or mosquito net, you can just hop in your car and go and buy one. You’re having a baby, not losing the ability to talk, drive or think (okay, maybe the last one for a while, but your mind will return I promise).
Anyway, while I was editing The List and writing comments such as YOU DON’T NEED THIS and BIGGEST WASTE OF MONEY, it came to me that it would be a good idea to compile a list of all the things I DIDN’T find useful. It’s all pretty subjective and I’m sure some parents may disagree with me, but here they are:
- Tiny linen complete with mini duvet, mini undersheet, mini pillow and some kind of frill. Do you think your newborn baby is going to come home from the hospital and nestle under its own tiny duvet? No, it won’t. It will be in swaddling blankets and then later in a sleepy-sac, so the only time you’ll use that duvet is once that baby is a toddler and just about to move into a proper big bed (which has its own different sized linen).
- Beautiful and minuscule tiny shoes. You know the kind? They make everyone round the baby shower table go “aaaaah” and they look so gorgeous, but they sit in the cupboard for a whole year and by the time your baby actually starts walking, they will never ever fit.
- Bowls. I saw this on the The List and was like: “Bowls! I must have 2 x new ceramic bowls for my baby’s bedroom, IMMEDIATELY”. I did not even know what they were for, but this baby business was a whole new world and who knew what liquids would be needed to be stowed in said bowls. It turns out they were for storing warm water for cleaning the newborn baby but really, your popcorn bowl will do, as will a big mug or any other kitchen utensil.
- Schlehen Elixir (and all other “new mother” tonics): This stuff is supposed to encourage breast milk production and give you energy. What rubbish. In those early days you will cling to any advice you get given, so you dutifully mix this up and believe that it will magically solve all your problems (although I was not the world’s best breastfeeder so don’t take any advice from me).
- Sleeping wedges: While I liked the one that raises the baby’s head, all others are a waste of time. You can just use rolled up blankets or towels when they are very tiny (if you want to keep them on their side). Which leads me to my next point…
- Blankets: While blankets are lovely and snuggly and very useful if you have a Winter baby, you do not need more than 2 or 3. But everyone gives you a blanket, so you land up with about 8. A good place for spare baby things is the wonderful Grace Factory, which will shortly be getting a whole batch from me.
- Woolite Sensitive to wash baby’s clothes in: With my first child I dutifully washed all her clothes beforehand so they wouldn’t harm her newborn skin. With the second, I basically tore off the labels from his new clothes and put them on, straight from the shop. Sorry Ben, but you seem fine.
What things did you find useful as a parent? And what things DIDN’T you? Would love to hear your thoughts.