A few months before Kate was born I sat at my laptop pouring over blogs, listicles and Pinterest boards, browsing Amazon wish-lists and scratching my head. I was having my first baby and there was SO MUCH info out there telling expectant mothers that they need ALL the baby gear to survive motherhood. It was like navigating a confusing, and not to mention expensive, minefield of cunningly cute stuff. A year and a half later, there are a few things that stick out when I recall my own baby-gear purchasing experiences, which I have decided to share here.
1. Firstly, ask for recommendations and read reviews.
This first one is pretty obvious. There are countless brands, and hundreds of variations of the same thing, out there in the world of baby gear. Asking for recommendations from other parents you trust is a very helpful exercise. Keep in mind that, more often than not, a lot of parents will praise the brands and items which they have selected themselves, so make it a point to ask about any cons too. Exhibit A: “That product sounds great, but what’s one thing you’d change about it if you could?” Reading reviews or watching product reviews on YouTube can also be really informative. Search for unbiased reviews by people who have used the particular product (but are not being paid to endorse it).
2. Then…sift through advice according to your family’s needs/lifestyle.
This is a big one and is especially true for the ‘big items’ (strollers, carseats, cribs etc) that you’ll purchase. You can ask for all the advice and recommendations you want but the truth is that you need to take a look at your lifestyle, and see what products fit it best. For example, you might find a lightweight stroller and a baby carrier suits you better than a 3 in 1 travel system…or vice versa, and that’s fine. Remember, you don’t need ALL the stuff.
3. If possible…wait it out and borrow things where you can.
I like to think that I was a natural at this one, but it was probably due to my total naivety when I started this journey…coupled with my tendency to procrastinate. There’s no need to buy all your baby gear before baby is born. Yes, you’ll need the essentials like a carseat and a pram…but that’s pretty much it for the first few weeks, until you figure out what your baby likes and what you need. Borrowing things for the beginning is also quite handy. We were lucky to be leant a few things from friend’s of ours to try out. Sometimes we were quick to buy own our versions, other times we agreed that the product wasn’t as useful for us as it might have been for them (refer to tip #2).
4. Keep in mind that clothes are seasonal.
This one sounds silly, but it’s often overlooked. When buying clothes for your little one, match the age on the label with the season your baby will wear them in. Little cotton Christmas onesies for your December newborn might look adorable, but your baby will probably need something warmer than cotton at that time of the year. This also applies if you are gifting baby clothes to a new mother. The extreme excitement and giddiness that takes over when purchasing baby clothes is known to tamper with the season+age logic mentioned above. (Newborn tip: Most newborns do really well with just a set of comfy (weather appropriate) vests and onesies. Even better if they’re all in the same colour range as that means easier laundry cycles for mama! Oh and, keep in mind that at this stage, you’ll be changing nappies around eight times a day so if the clothes aren’t easy to get a baby in/out of, they’re probably going to cause extra, unwanted stress for the both of you.)
5. Lastly…don’t be afraid of buying second hand.
In a world where we’re all trying to be more sustainable with our purchases, going for second hand baby gear is nothing to be afraid of. You might have hesitations, wanting ‘new and pristine’ for your baby, but you’ll soon find out that a lot of baby gear is actually only used for a short amount of time…and is usually kept very clean, because well…it’s for a baby at the end of the day. Just make sure that the items aren’t damaged and you’re good to go. This is especially handy if you’re planning on purchasing multiple items (say for Nannu and Nanna’s house). We’ve bought second hand cots, floor seats and baby gyms from Facebook Marketplace all at great prices.
A lot about becoming a new parent can feel overwhelming, but the materialistic side of it really doesn’t have to be. If you decide on a budget and are realistic about what you need and what you’ll use, you can do away with a lot of unnecessary frills that, let’s face it, take up way too much space anyway.
If you haven’t yet, check out the ‘Recommended by Kate’ series I’ve been writing on here, where I talk about products that I personally found useful…but in no way assume that you will too (that’s tip #2 again).