Last weekend, I read a feature in the weekend section of The Independent entitled The 50 Best Baby Essentials. As it happens, we currently own about five or six of them (depending on how exact the match between the product in the paper and the one we one has to be). Despite not possessing the other forty-odd ‘essentials’, we seem to be doing just fine. Drawing up a list of baby essentials is always going to be a challenge and lead to disagreements between parents as to what they do and don’t consider useful. Indeed, a survey by UK consumer magazine Which certain items crop up on the list of Parents’ 10 least useful baby products and the compilation of Parents’ 10 most useful baby products.

The greatest essential for anyone wishing to purchase all fifty of the supposed baby essentials listed in last Saturday’s Independent would be deep pockets. Based on a quick calculation, someone wanting to buy the whole lot at the prices listed would have to spend almost £2700. Now I know that babies can bring a lot of expenses with them, but I wouldn’t think that a buggy costing £610 or a £75 scooter are the sort of items that would figure on a lot of people’s lists. I have read stories about people who have gone shopping to buy a small number of baby products but finished up purchasing so many that they have ended up having to consider buying a new car in order to take them home and then had to re-mortgage their house once they got back there. I am of course exaggerating somewhat here, but I’m sure that you get the picture.

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The bargain burp cloths from eBay

Indeed, I have not been entirely immune to making a few purchases of items that were perhaps not as essential as I thought or buying more of a certain item than strictly necessary. When my wife was a couple of months away from her due date and out at choir, I remember one evening when I’d been looking for what are known as baby burp cloths or wash cloths on eBay. They were a mere £1.46 for a pack of five, so I thought I may as well get quite a few. Ten packs meant getting fifty of these apparently very handy little cloths for under £15. When my wife got back from choir, she was a bit surprised at the number and size of the cloths that I’d ordered although certainly not shocked by the overall financial outlay. Apparently, the type of cloths that she’d meant when we’d put down ‘baby cloths’ on our list were larger muslins that are about the size of a napkin rather than a small hankie. Still, I think that we must have used at least seven of the cheap little cloths by now.

I do think that I have at least partially redeemed myself through other eBay purchases such as a second hand Baby Bjorn sling in excellent condition that cost a mere £12.50 including postage (as opposed to costing about £70+ new). I also feel that I did quite well by recently winning an auction for a Bumbo chair with a bid of £20, about half of what they cost new. A Bumbo chair basically looks like a potty with a couple of bits chipped out of it and sitting your young baby in it helps to keep them happy and improve their posture (or something like that) before they’re able to sit up properly on their own. Several models also come with a detachable tray that can make it look as if your child has it’s own desk.

A Tummy Tube and a highly versatile burp cloth

A Tummy Tube and a highly versatile burp cloth

Now, by this stage you may have started to think that I’ve gone from criticizing people who buy things for their baby that sound a bit silly to effectively owning up to being such a person. And this is before I’ve mentioned that we own a tummy tub, basically a clear plastic thing that looks like a large bucket and is good for bathing your baby in an upright position. As the midwife taking our antenatal classes pointed out, these things look like big buckets but cost about £20 – about twenty times the cost of a large bucket from a hardware store. And we bought one of these things new. Well actually, my wife did (admittedly after we’d discussed getting one). In fact we’ve bought two of them, but the other one was a present for a friend who had just given birth.

As I mentioned in the little read first post on this blog about books that I read about parenting and child birth, I really enjoyed reading Madeline Thomas’s Babynomics: money saving tips for savvy parentsIt was full of tips about what you probably will need, what you may need and what you may well not need. It also helpfully went through various types of items that should and should not be bought second hand. As I am from a scenic land to the north of Hadrian’s Wall whose famous residents include the Loch Ness Monster, I’m perhaps doing little to dispel the notion that people from Scotland see a wallet as an item to be protected using a padlock, several combination locks or even a security firm with scary looking guard dogs. But if something can safely be bought second hand and is going to be of use to or fit your baby for only a few months, what’s the point of buying it new? I’d much rather save the money and spend it on some family days out or put in towards another family holiday (like our first family holiday that I talked about in last week’s blog post).

Our son's first toothbrush

Our son’s first toothbrush

I’m actually not a shopaphobic person either and indeed perhaps even find shopping for groceries and other items less of a chore than my wife. One of my highlights of last week was buying our son his first toothbrush (it definitely was new, by the way!) and as I write this post I’m really looking forward to brushing his teeth for the first time. It’s quite a cool looking toothbrush that’s been designed to look a bit like a turtle. Now why wasn’t a toothbrush listed somewhere among those ’50 Best Baby Essentials’?

What are the most useful or useless things that you purchased for your kid(s)? Should I just count to ten and take deep breaths rather than rant about articles such as ‘The 50 Best Baby Essentials’? Please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen.

I’m linking up this blog with posts by fellow parent bloggers at the Something for the Weekend? link-up on Sarah Miles’s blog ‘The Voice of Sarah Miles, so why not check out the other posts there.

I’ve also now linked this post up with the Frugal Homeschool Friday #8 blog post link-up. There are some great articles to read there as well, so please have a look at them too!