All You Really Need At First
It's so easy to get carried away when it comes to having a baby and spending money. That sentence - right above, the one that I've just written? That's the biggest understatement anyone, anywhere has EVER written. You may have already read my post about becoming addicted to Google and Amazon (you may not have...don't worry, I won't judge you) but the simple fact is that when you're too fat and swollen and hormonal to do much more than shift your weight on the sofa, eat ice-cream and flick through the pages of Grazia, you will Google and you will shop.
You will read pages and pages and pages of advice and information on forums and websites that will tell you that you and your baby cannot live without the latest dribble bib that turns into a life-long nappy that cleans itself and make you a cup of tea in the morning. And, what will you do? You will shrug at the ridiculous price and buy five of them.
When they land on your doorstep, you will pile them up with all the other stuff the Mamas & Papas list told you you couldn't live without (including laughable things such as 'Newborn soft toys'...I don't know about you but my little one couldn't even find her own face let alone play with toys) and start to wonder where on earth you are going to put it all.
Here's what I know...a lot of it you will never even get out of the box. You won't be able to return it because two weeks into having a new baby the thought of finding that one receipt that you need will drive you to a miniature breakdown so, a lot of it will end up on eBay either because you never used it or you used it once and realised your little one hated it (I'm thinking specifically of a vibrating swing chair that sent the Small into violent fits of fear and loathing.) And you can spend A LOT of money on this stuff - it's not cheap. None of it.
Just like the baby books, these people are out to make money and there is no-one more vulnerable to a targeted marketing campaign than a mother expecting a baby for the first time. Let's face it - none of these people are creating these things, or writing these books, out of the goodness of their selfless hearts. If they were THAT essential to the survival and well-being of our child, they would be free, or subsidised, or cheap.
What I learned was this: all you need to survive the first few weeks of having a new baby is something for it to wear, something to wipe up/catch various emissions, something to walk it around in, something to drive it around in (if you have a car) and that's basically it. You will have more than enough time during those deep, dark, middle-of-the-night feeds to browse the right sling for you when you know that you need one; you will be able to spend hours on forums deciding on the best travel cot, the best jumperoo, the best monitor, the best highchair when you know what your baby likes and doesn't like.
But you will never, ever get the money back that you splurged in a possessed fit of fearfulness as you died under the weight of being nine months pregnant with your first baby. Put that money in a bank account for your baby and go back to reading Grazia.
1) The most expensive version of the thing you need isn't always the best.
2) Try things before you buy them - I bought two slings before I discovered our local sling library that let me try every single sling I could ever imagine until I found one I liked. (Yes, sling libraries exist...who the funk knew?)
3) Whether you hate the idea of bottle-feeding or not (whether it's formula or expressed milk) always have a bottle and a manual breast pump in the house ready if necessary because I guarantee you you'll decide you need them at 3am in the morning when NO SHOPS ARE OPEN and you'll have to drive 40 minutes to the nearest 24 hour pharmacy that has one left (my husband will vouch for this one).
4) The only clothes you'll need at first are onesies and vests. Don't bother buying real life clothes. Other than that buy size 6-9 months and 9-12 months. You'll be inundated with gifts of clothes for up to 6 months but they'll get to 5 months and you'll actually realise they have nothing left to wear that fits because by then, everyone has stopped giving you clothes.
Any and all other advice regarding this subject would be most welcome...what could you NOT LIVE WITHOUT AT FIRST?