While we do love having a good reason to go shopping around here, we’re going to have to break it to you: if you’ve just had a baby, there will be no other time in your life than now that you spend a whole lot of money on a whole lot of crap. Yes, there are the baby essentials you need to buy for feeding, and checklists for bathing your baby, sleeping and leaving the house with a baby – and there’s no decision as fraught as choosing the perfect pram or the right high chair. But take some advice from the wise women who have gone before you, and spent a small fortune: loads of gadgets and cute things that promise to make your life easier (or prettier) end up in landfill. And we haven’t even waded into whether or not you’ll allow plastic toys in the house or lay down a Reggio-Emilia inspired, sustainable wooden toys only rule! (No judgment here.)
Get some seriously honest shopping advice from the wise mums of HoneyKids as we chat about the stuff we could have done without – because we know that we need all the money-saving tips we can get here in Singapore!
For first-time mums, don’t bother with the whole breast pump, bottles, dummy thing straight away. Wait until your little one is born and figure out what you need. I never expressed with my first two kids and neither of them used dummies. It wasn’t until I had my third and was returning to work that any of this was useful.
GEORGINA: Also, if you can, try a few different baby carriers from friends once the baby is born before you splurge. I bought a few slings and a front-facing baby carrier and didn’t end up using any of them. My carrier of choice is now an Ergobaby, which I ended up buying second-hand after trying out my best friend’s one.
LINDENE: I agree with Georgina on the carrier! So many things are trial and error with babies that it’s best to borrow first, buy later, wherever you can.
I went overboard with the weaning accessories. I bought a contraption that was a mesh sack attached to a plastic handle that allows babies to safely suck on fruit and try new flavours. What was I thinking? Who wants to suck food through mesh? My kid knew how ridiculous it was and it went in the bin after the first attempted use. Also, your baby is not going to care about having a collection of cute plates and bowls shaped like clouds. What works best? The IKEA Smaska plates and bowls. Cupboard space comes first.
LINDENE: I tried not go too crazy with buying stuff beforehand because I’d heard so many people say “YOU DON’T NEED ALL THE STUFF!” So I didn’t have too many big regrets. The one piece of advice I tend to give is don’t buy lots of sleeping bags, swaddles, bedding etc until you’ve kind of figured out what your baby likes. Sleeping bags can be quite expensive, and come in a few different formats (sleeveless, covered hands, both combined etc) so you don’t want to spend $50 on one only to find that you’re whipping it off the baby within the first two minutes because she’s screaming about the covered hands/exposed hands/whatever it is she insists she doesn’t like. I suggest borrowing a few from friends or buying them secondhand if you can. Or if not, only buy one of each kind so you can test the waters before spending more money.
SELINA: The coffee cup attachment for your pram! Ah, those visions of pushing the pram while taking leisurely sips of soy latte. Ha. Ha. Ha. More coffee ended up splattered on the pram handle then in my mouth – and who wants to navigate a pram one-handed or stop every time you want a sip? It’s much nicer to sit down at a cafe anyway.
LINDENE: Oh yes, the coffee cup holder attachment! I concur! I totally bought into that dreamworld of sipping my soy latte while wandering the streets of Tiong Bahru. Reality: mine didn’t even hold a cup properly, it spilled every time we went over a bump (of which there are many in Tiong Bahru) and it then got knocked off the pram while travelling or in a taxi… or somewhere. Who knows.
GEORGINA: Ha! I was also a sad victim of the coffee cup attachment and was the recipient of latte-soaked white jeans!
SELINA: A top and tail bowl. Take a bowl from your kitchen and fill it with water to clean your baby’s behind. Voila! Another extra thing in your life is the nappy organiser/caddy to hang by the side of the change table. But believe me, you won’t have the time or the inclination to keep restocking your organiser. Take the nappies straight from the packet if you’re using disposables!
LINDENE: A friend told me I HAD TO HAVE one of those nappy disposal systems, but the moment I looked at it I recoiled in horror. Everyone’s different, but to me this just created extra waste. It ain’t that hard to empty the nappy bin.
SELINA: Oh don’t get me started on the nappy sacks. We’re already bombarded with plastic bags, despite our best efforts to turn them down at the checkout. If you can’t keep up by reusing them as bin liners, tuck a couple of plastic bags from your last grocery shop or delivery into your kit and use them as nappy sacks when you’re out and about. We spend so much time trying to avoid accumulating plastic bags, why would we buy more?
Can you tell I got a bit excited by every bit of baby gear I came across? I had one of those containers for your baby wipes – resist the urge to introduce more future landfill into your life (besides, they really don’t do much to prolong the existence of your wipes).
GEORGINA: Breast feeding pillows can also be a hard one – this really didn’t work for me – I ended up just using a good old-fashioned cushion from the couch. There really is so much junk that you can stock up on. I’m a big fan of the slowly, slowly approach to buying.
Oh, one more: don’t stock up on lots of baby toiletries. All babies need for their precious new skin is water, and maybe some barrier cream if they’re prone to nappy rash. Shampoo, moisturiser, bath wash etc can all come much later once they’re past the newborn stage.
SELINA: This might be controversial, but reconsider the nappy bag purchase. After splurging a ridiculous amount of money on an ‘it’ nappy bag and looking as if I was hauling around cabin-sized luggage every time I left the house, I realised all I needed was the Skip Hop Pronto Changing Station (which has the change mat and pockets for nappies, wipes, nappy rash balm and everything else) and the lightest handbag I owned (a couple of mums put me onto the old nylon Longchamp as it’s light as a feather and easy to clean). I then realised a good, lightweight backpack was what I really needed! You DON’T want to be weighed down by a bag, no matter how beautiful it is. Picture yourself carrying the baby in your Ergo in this heat and weighed down by a designer nappy bag that’s going to kill your back. Not. Worth. It.
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