As a pregnant mother-to-be, you probably already have a Pinterest board filled with inspiration for your baby's nursery. It’s very possibly bursting with features like bright chevron cushions for the reading nook and handmade folksy art prints for the wall.
‘Your’ board is a reminder of all the beautiful things that you want your baby to be surrounded by. But what about the items you need? The practical stuff that will make your life as a new parent easier. Practical doesn’t have to mean boring! In fact, many baby items are now beautifully designed to be up to date with the latest fashion trends.
These items aren’t cheap though. In fact, you’ll probably find your budget creeping upward as you calculate the cost of all the things on your wish list. So many baby products claim to be essentials that you can end up spending an absolute fortune before your child is even born. Travel systems and nursery furniture are arguably the most expensive purchases. But even the smaller products can really start to add up. It can be hard to keep a strict budget when faced with so many adorable outfits and cuddly toys, especially when that nesting kicks in and you want everything to be finished as soon as possible.
It can be tempting to buy the most expensive products available to give your baby the best start in life. Aside from stretching your budget, is this really what your baby needs? Truth be told, new babies don’t care how much their pram cost, or how many designer outfits they have. They aren’t bothered about whether their wardrobe matches their chest of drawers, or what brand their nappies are.
In fact, there is only one essential item that your newborn baby can’t bear to be without. And guess what? It doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars or come in a variety of designs. It’s free, doesn’t come with added extras and requires no batteries. It’s you!
Your baby loves everything about you. From the reassuring tones of your voice which she recognises from her time in the womb, to the soothing touch of your skin. The welcoming smile on your face, the warmth of your body, the familiar scent of your skin, and the rhythmic beat of your heart. These are the things that matter most to your baby. Being close to you helps your baby to feel safe, relaxed and contented. Everything else is just ‘stuff’.
No matter how much money you spend on luxury organic Egyptian cotton bedding, your baby will only want to sleep in your arms. No matter how many hundreds you spend on designer outfits, your baby will throw up on them all and end up back in pyjamas before lunch. And no matter how many expensive baby yoga classes you sign up for, your baby will sleep through them all. It’s Murphy’s Law that the more you spend, the less use you will get out of any baby products.
Most of the items marketed to expectant parents are things that separate mother and baby. Cots, prams, bouncy chairs – all of these things put distance between you and your baby. And while this may be nice sometimes (there’s nothing wrong with needing a break) and necessary others (car seats are absolutely an essential item for babies who will travel in cars), it’s not necessarily what your baby wants.
Babies want to explore the world from the safety of their mother’s (and father’s) arms, until they are old enough to explore it by themselves. Until then, your baby will want to be close to you as often as possible, and while that might be difficult at times, it won’t last forever. In your arms, your baby can look out at and experience the world around her. She can interact with the world as you do, breathing in the same smells and seeing the same sights, whilst feeling safe and secure. She can develop muscle strength, control and motor skills in your arms, learning how to shift herself into new positions to see and experience more of what is going on.
You can be the bed, transport, heat, nourishment and entertainment for your baby, and needn’t spend a penny on any of the things they sell in department stores. Of course, there will be things you want, and others you need. If your baby will be travelling in a car, you will need to have a car seat that meets regulations to ensure your baby travels safely. You will also probably want to invest in a pram or sling to help transport your baby around. A baby bouncer might come in useful when you need five minutes in the shower, but there is no need to spend a fortune on these products.
Overspending on these items could leave you wanting to ‘get the most out of them’, and feeling pressure to put your baby in them more often than you or she really want. It’s easy to get second hand baby items, ask friends and family if you can borrow unused items, or check out your local second hand shops for bargains. Car seats should never be bought second hand, however, because it’s important to know the full history of a car seat.
By all means buy the baby items you believe you want or need, but remember that the most important baby item, and the only one your baby really needs, is you.