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I waddled through the ‘baby care’ aisles of a department store before my son was born, clutching the store’s ‘essentials checklist’. I’d convinced myself I’d be unable to survive even the first night of parenthood without the things on their list. My tired and ungainly self hadn’t realised just how much all this equipment, from prams and highchairs to bottle sterilising apparatus, was going to cost. I can’t remember at what stage I left the shop, empty handed, but I suspect it was shortly after spotting a price tag for a pushchair (I kid you not, we bought our car for less).
Those mum and baby magazines had seen me coming and, in my hormone-riddled state.
I had, of course, been warned that equipping a nursery costs a lot of money but the sheer scale of it was overwhelming. All those mum and baby magazines had seen me coming and, in my hormone-riddled state, I thought buying ‘stuff’ was what people expecting their first child did. The urge to splurge on all the nicest clothes and a perfect nursery was powerful, but out of the question financially.
You’ve probably seen the adverts featuring impossibly well-rested women wearing neutrals (how many new mums actually wear white?) holding a blissfully contented baby in a lounge straight out of Homes & Gardens and not a stray nappy or discarded bottle in sight. The reality, is of course, somewhat different. If I’d had the money at the time, it’s likely I would have fallen prey to all that glossy marketing and joined the manicured masses in the shops.
Our son’s small bedroom had just enough space to wedge a cot into the corner next to the ineffectual night storage heater. However, with some creative thinking and some help from e-Bay, NCT Nearly New Sales, donations of clothes from family and friends, the wonders of Freecycle and the spoils of a car boot sale, we created a perfectly nice little space, with everything we needed and more. I insisted on a new car seat (for safety) and cot mattress (kind gift from Granny).
Baby baths top my list of non-essentials. Are you a weight lifter? No.
Some of the things I acquired ended up being a monumental waste of money. We very rarely used our baby changing table unit. These glorified shelving units take up a lot of space and their usefulness is limited by the fact that they’re not mobile, whereas babies and toddlers are.
Baby baths top my list of non-essentials. To lift one filled with water you’d need to be a weight lifter rather than a flustered mum with only one hand free. From a straw poll among my friends, other no-nos include top and tail bowls, electric wipe warming dispensers, disposable nappy bins, bath time lotions and potions, baby sleep positioner wedges and bottle warming gadgets.
One thing we all agreed is that muslins and babygrows are indispensable, preferably in generous quantities. This is good news because a pack of three muslin squares at Asda is just £3.50.
Clare Lawrence, nicknamed 'Coupon Clare' at college, lives mostly in Cornwall. Proud mum to Gregory, she'll stop at nothing in her quest to save cash!