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Go-Go-Gadget Mother

I was recently asked by someone representing a big name toy and baby supplies company (yes I am totally bragging!! My first PR contact!) if I would like to contribute to a booklet for new parents on the essential items all parents need in preparation for the birth of their first baby.

And this got me thinking (and of course going yes! yes! yes! where do I sign!)

What DO you need when you’re having a baby?

And my answer came as something of a surprise.

Not much. In fact I struggled to think of many ‘must haves’ at all.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like stuff as much as the next person. But if you’d asked me that question before Kai was born I’d have been able to list off REAMS of items that I was sure were an absolute necessity to raising a healthy child and, most importantly, being a good mother. In fact, I was rather obsessed with having the right stuff.

I spent a long time before getting pregnant fantasising about having a baby. I’d imagine what it would be like to have a enormous bump, spending entire mornings with pillows stuffed up my jumper, admiring myself in the mirror and going ‘Oooh’ when I bent over (and eating lots of chocolate – oh wait, I did that anyway). Of course, in hindsight, I would have had a more realistic experience had I strapped a wriggling 8lb puppy to my tummy that liked to use my ribs as a kick board and head-butt my bladder, and stuffed a water balloon down my kegs that would leak slowly and at embarrassing moments, like when I laughed and sneezed. Oh and then just to REALLY get in the right frame of mind I would have to eat enough cheese to give me raging heartburn and come down off some hard drugs to give me that whole crazed mood-swing psychotic edge. I was a delight when I was pregnant I can tell you.

Anyway. When I did get pregnant I was beyond excited. This was it! Everything I had ever dreamed of! But what I hadn’t realised was that inbetween the getting pregnant bit (which was fun!) and the having your baby bit (not so fun!) there are 40 long weeks. 40 weeks!! That’s a long time. Once I had done with the puking stage (which lasted a good half of it) when I was too busy doing anything apart from trying to sit upright without hurling, I began to get a bit bored. Well, not bored so much. Antsy. I was fed up sitting around on my rapidly expanding ass. I wanted action.

So in typical Josie fashion I bought a file and some index dividers and some pretty paper. And then proceeded to read every baby magazine/book/online guide I could get my chicken-greased fingers on (the chicken is a GREAT pregnancy story – I’ll save that one for another day). And I made notes, and cut out pictures.

I planned god damn it. I planned my giant ass off.

Because I was determined to be a good mother. And reading all these magazines I quickly learned that good parenting = getting the right baby equipment. Obviously! Because bringing a baby into the world without a ready prepared co-ordinating nursery, room thermometer and ergonomic bath support? Well, that’s nothing short of neglect.

And then, after 40 long weeks and one day, Kai arrived. Beautiful, demanding, wide-awake Kai. Who from day one had very fixed views of the world and what he wanted from it. And that was a world in which fancy gadgets had very little place.

Here are the things that were especially useless:

1. The beautifully co-ordinated nursery – he still hasn’t slept in it for any length of time. It is currently surving a far more useful purpose as a place where we shove a lot of crap storage room and place to keep the ever increasing mountain of laundry.

2. The changing bag (that matched the pushchair of course!) – it survived 9 months before being ripped apart by Kai and having various baby-led weaning food-stuffs leak all over it whilst in transit. It was also far too small once I started needing to transport said foodstuffs and toys and sippy cups and spare clothes and sun cream and my bottle of gin (joking) and everything else. My advice? Go to TK Max and get a big, cheap messenger bag or a rucksack and throw everything in there. You’ll cry less when it gets wrecked.

3. The baby swing. Bought in desperation for our power-screaming colicy baby. It was very expensive. It had four speeds AND music. Of course he just screamed all the louder when you put him in it. Only, to music with a kind of rhythmic WAAaah WAAaah. It was quickly retired to the attic.

4. The bath support. We used it, oooh, three times? Then realised it was far less fiddly to just dunk him in there.

5. The Bumbo – Kai HATED it. And at four months old worked out how to catapult himself out over the back. Attic!

6. The very firm and unmouldable (and expensive) breastfeeding support pillow. Probably self-explanatory. When I lay Kai on it it put his mouth about four inches higher than my nipples. So when my back gave in I just used a pillow. A normal household multi-functional pillow. There’s a novel idea for you. Get this – it even comes with removable covers! That don’t cost extra!

And MOST importantly:

7. The baby books. None of them were written about Kai or seemed to bare any relation to the knowing, determined child I gave birth to. And worse, not only were they useless, they made ME feel useless. Life got a lot better once I relegated them to a high shelf and the charity shop.

So the lesson from this tale? Your baby really needs nothing but you. Your arms, your patience, your love. And most of all your permission to be as unique and unpredictible as they like. Yes it’s a soppy ending but it’s true, and a lesson I have learnt every day many times over.

NOT us... but you get the point.

NOT us... but you get the point.

Next time we’re just getting a new baby sling and that’s it. Oh and a vibrating baby bouncer (that one WAS a life saver), and we’ll re-use the co-sleeper crib but OF COURSE we’ll need a new mattress. And I want an electric breast pump next time.

Actually pass me that Mothercare catalogue? Oh and them post it notes, thanks.


So over to you (cause I’m loving the comment love) - what was the most useless item that you purchased or were given for your first baby?



  1. We’re all just writing the baby manual for our own children, aren’t we!
    .-= Tim Atkinson´s last blog ..Turn your papers over… now! =-.

    • @Tim Atkinson, What do you think this blog is?! I actually think it’s a serious design flaw that you don’t get an instruction manual pop out with the placenta. Would make live SO much easier.

  2. The crib that we were given became a great place to store all of the other stuff we never used. Actually, we did try the crib but both kids woke up as soon as their heads touched the mattress. We even tried replacing the mattress to see if that was the problem. I’m sure there was other useless stuff but my brain is foggy.

    I’m glad that I found you today! Cheers!

    • @Sandi, Haha we did the same thing! Kai’s never been a crib sleeper. Tried all kinds of stuff. Putting the crib at an angle, changing the mattress, putting him to sleep on a big soft duvet (breaking all safe sleeping rules!). Nadda.

      Nice to have found you too :-) This lady has twins everyone! Twin TODDLERS! Show her your awe and appreciation… x

  3. I think the Bombo & bath support were utterley pointless for us too. He just slumped to one side in the Bumbo & slid out of the bath support. Teething rings were useless for Sam too, he much prefers some cold carrot & cucumber. For us the Baby Bjorn (thankfully bought from ebay, not new) was a bit useless too. Sam looked so uncomfortable in it & he grew out of it too quickly. I wish I’d bought an actual sling.

    Finally, all the bath stuff I bought for him, shampoo, talc, the whole Johnsons range which is so bad for his rather sensitive skin. He came out in a scaly rash & we’ve used bog standard, cheap aqueous cream since he was 2 weeks old.

    The essential item we couldn’t live without is a muslin. Sam adores them. From mopping up milk, stuffing in my bra when I’d run out of breast pads (never in public though), emergency sick cloth when on solids, we’re still using them now to play peekaboo with & Sam holds them when he sleeps. I love them.
    .-= Notsuchayummymummy´s last blog ..Really, for me? Wow. =-.

  4. USELESS items included – baby bath, any clothes that were not baby-gros, buggy board (for elder sibling), Also, the baby sling – destroyed my back, and I’m still suffering from it now. It was specially for those with dodgy backs too, I wore it for one hour with the NEW born (ie weighed 7lbs10) and not only did i have a new baby but a slipped disc too. Special maternity tops. Anything with batteries that makes a noise. I’m still trying to implement that one now with little success.

    VITAL items included: muslins, only white clothes for the baby – so much easier to all wash together on a hot wash to get rid of poo stains, buggy that was right for us (ie fitted in the car, through the front door AND could cope with dog walks across roughish terrain, changing table that was a decent height so didn’t damage back further (see above) and had lots of space to store stuff under, breast pads, lots and lots of cake.

    I could keep going for ages. Remembering those first days suddenly is making me broody. I must stop! Now!
    .-= Brit in Bosnia´s last blog ..New recipes and fussy eaters =-.

    • @Brit in Bosnia, Oh no! Your poor back! There are some crappy carriers’s on the market though. I found the simple fabric ones where ten millions times better then the special orthopedic carriers. Kai’s now 27lb and my bog standard Mei-Tai is still comfy!

      I like the cake – that’s definitely on my ‘must have’ list too x

  5. There were too many useless things to name. In Africa, they survive with a chitenge (wrap) to hold them on mum’s back. Somehow, these babies still survive!! (I know many don’t, but that isn’t due to lack of things … except lack of food and clean water, of course, but I’m assuming you’ve always provided that!)

    Btw, I’ve tagged you over at mine…

    • @Catharine, Big fan of the wrap sling! Used a traditional one like that all through Kai’s first months and it was the most comfy one I’ve owned – just goes to show it’s often the simplest things… Thanks for the tag x

  6. A changing table. Without a doubt. Much much easier just to use a changing mat on the floor when they’re little. I don’t even use a changing mat anymore!

  7. So so true!
    Can absolutely relate to the nursery-come-laundry room, and the bath support – though my little dude does actually love his bumbo.

    And I agree about the muslins too- where would we be without thise?!
    .-= leslieanne´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: It’s exhausting being this cute. =-.

    • @leslieanne, I think Bumbo’s are ace actually – it was just my fussy Houdini that didn’t like it! I’m hoping that baby #2 might be less of a fidget and get some use out it! x

  8. I was soooo not going to go crazy with stuff the second time round. Hmmmm.

    Most pointless buy (both times) was the moses basket. Used oh 3 or 4 times….gah!

    Big E hated his Bumbo, Little E loves hers.

    Best things I ever bought were:

    BabyBjorn Babysitter 123 chair. Lasts longer than regular bouncers as can take more weight. We are now using it for Little E.

    Ikea highchair, you know, the really plain white one, costs about £10. Utter bargain and still going strong. They do them in red and blue now too.

    Kari-Me wrap sling. Love it! So versitile.

    I need therapy……
    .-= Insomniac Mummy´s last blog ..The Draw of the Elixir =-.

    • @Insomniac Mummy, LOVE the Ikea highchair (naturally – it’s IKEA!!!) We bought two for both Grandparent’s houses and it’s better than the big fancy one we’ve got at home!

      Big fan of the wrap-sling too – my fave!

  9. great post! I hardly used any of the nice dresses given to us, I mean, baby with legs up all the time and lying on its back with dress on???? Who thought that up? For us, the electric swing was a life saver for our colicky baby (and the vibrating bouncer didn’t work) – we got it second hand and resold it so it didn’t cost us much -and I did use the bath support a lot.
    I could have done without a pram (baby screamed, ditto) and instead a better babycarrier. Sling hurt my back, the cheap carrier too but it was ok.
    Muslins are great, but I didn’t need them a lot as baby didn’t posset much.
    Next time around I will invest in a cosleepler crib for our bedroom, and a good sling. Oh yeah, and a good electric breast pump.

    And as luck will have it, baby will be happy to sleep in own room and sit in the pram and will get enough milk all the time.

    .-= cartside´s last blog ..Cracks, hindsight and voluntary exile =-.

  10. Things you need: Wine. Vodka. Champagne (for the really good days). Gin (for the really bad ones). Chocolate.

    Oh, you mean things the BABY needs?

    I was far too busy focusing on my own needs …!

    But anyway. I agree. Far too much pointless crap is purchased. (See, for us, the muslins never came out of their packet – but then we were fortunate to have a non-vomiting baby. Alas, non-vomiting but also non-sleeping. Still, can’t win ‘em all.)

    My two baby essentials:
    The Amby hammock (how we survived for so long without it I’ll never know)
    My Babyhawk sling

    Oh, and my tits. Anything else, we really could have lived without. Well, apart from my initial list … :o)
    .-= Kathryn´s last blog ..Black hairy tongues =-.

  11. The sling, actually. Never took to it. I felt uncomfortable and too hot all the time, and I was worried my babies would be too hot or suffocate. I suppose we’re all different.

    My essentials: a good pram, and the new baby bath we got for our second. It’s about bucket-size, and even a newborn baby can sit up in it. She LOVED that. (It’s Dutch and called the Tummy Tub. It’s the most amazing thing ever.
    .-= Mwa´s last blog ..The ultimate diet tip =-.

    • @Mwa, I’ve seen those Tummy Tubs! I thought they looked freaky! Are they really that good? Maybe I’ll give it go next time… (or just buy a bucket!) x

  12. good stuff – totally agree – most stuff completely useless – (but tempting all the same – I guess that’s why we buy it….sigh.

    If I may add some more to the list?

  13. Totally agree. By the time baby number 3 came along, he was lucky if I even bothered to put him in clothes!! Only joking, but so much ‘stuff’ that you ‘must’ have is a load of rubbish! A cot, changing table, clothes, nappies, baby wipes and a pram. I think that would be it for at least the first six months!

    • @Andrea, Yep – we’ll be lucky if number 2 even gets new nappies! Hoping Kai’s cloth ones have another baby’s worth of wear in them yet! (poor thing!)

  14. I spent hours decorating that nursery. Very therapeutic for me tho xx

    • @Ben, And you did a beautiful job… Don’t despair though! Looks like he’ll finally be sleeping in it soon! xxxx

  15. Oh, yeah, the swing. Ours had 6 speeds, and a timer, and music, and toys, and a mobile. And both of my kids hated it. Totally.

    The most useless thing ever, though, was with the 2nd child who happened to be a boy. I bought this product called the ‘pee pee tee pee’. It’s this little cone that’s meant to be placed over his boy bits to catch any errant pee while changing a diaper. Only they’re way too small. WAY too small. And easily grabbable. If you have a problem with getting sprayed in the eye (which, as it turns out, I didn’t) I think that a washcloth would work better and cost much less.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..What Will Other People Think? =-.

    • @Amber, Haha LOVING the pee pee tee pee! What genius thought that one up? I DID get squirted in the eye once or twice though. And, memorably, Kai once wee’d in his own eye which was quite a feat… xx

  16. A baby bath that our daughter hated. She screamed when we put her in it.
    We didn’t buy a lot of things. I wish we had had better carrier to begin with. We ended up buying some as she got older but I wish we had spent the money on that to begin with.
    .-= Brie´s last blog ..Rant =-.

  17. I’m almost too ashamed to admit that we bought a glider chair and footstool. What a complete waste of money. It was useless for sitting in when I was pregnant as it doesn’t keep you upright. It was impossible to breastfeed in, particularly in combination with a breastfeeding pillow. Oh, and babies can easily get their fingers caught in the rocker bit. It is now an expensive clothes horse in our bedroom. They should be banned!
    And relax!
    Excellent post. You really don’t need much. A strong pair of arms, nappies, babygros and muslins!
    .-= SandyCalico´s last blog ..It’s A…. Baby! =-.

    • @SandyCalico, Another glider chair here too! (should have mentioned that one!) I agree – designed to make breastfeeding impossible. On the plus side though I’m finally getting some use out of mine though – it’s Kai’s ‘horse’! xx

  18. eric (myautisticson on Twitter)

    Got me thinking, Josie, why do you keep these items in your attic, provided they are useless? ;-)

  19. The crib. Piran was 60cm and 10lb 2oz when born so was immediately too big for it so out it went and in came his cotbed to our room straight away, where he happily sleeps each night. Crib now used to store clean washing / toys / other bits and pieces!
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Competitions =-.


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