My Top 10 Newborn Baby Product Regretsby Annabel Port
When I first had my son, I was clueless about baby products. I felt like a stranger in a strange land with a strange language of words like ISOFIX, travel system and Meh Dai. I was confused by so many things. Like the difference between a cot and a cot bed. What a baby nest is. And why we say Babygro, sleepsuit and all-in-one, when they all appear to be the same thing.
Three years later I’m now fluent in baby product lingo. But I have many regrets about those early, clueless days. Here are my top 10.
Regret 1: That I didn’t get a sling I could actually use a lot earlier.
Before my son was born a friend gave me their wrap sling. These are long thin rectangles of material that you wrap around yourself to create a pouch for the baby. Some find this a breeze. Whereas it wasn’t unheard of for me to look like an Egyptian mummy rather than an actual mummy once I’d finished wrapping. I gave up. Even though I had a baby that wanted to be held 24 hours a day. I started to feel trapped and like I’d love to do something other than hold a baby. Like get dressed, wash my face or make food.
So after around 6 weeks, I went to a sling library. The babywearing expert took one look at me and handed over a Close Caboo Carrier. This has all the stretchy comfort of a wrap sling but without the need for advanced origami-like skills. You just put it on like a t-shirt. Everything changed. I wore my son all day and got my arms and hands back. My face was so much cleaner.
Regret 2: That I didn’t consider reusable nappies.
I didn’t even think about using reusable nappies. Why would I when we have the brilliant invention of disposable nappies to make life easier? It felt like choosing an abacus over a calculator. Or a mangle over a washing machine. But now I know more and realise that reusables aren’t that much harder. And I feel bad about all those thousands of nappies we used that will be sitting in a landfill until around 2518. What if newly landed aliens stumble across that epic poo my son did at 8 weeks old after being constipated for a week? I feel very bad about that.
Regret 3: That I didn’t buy him ANY newborn clothes.
I was given so many second-hand clothes from friends and family that I just didn’t need to buy any. But I can see now that I missed out on the fun of picking very cute tiny clothes in my exact taste. I actually didn’t buy him anything until he was 9 months old – that’s how much stuff I got given. It saved me an absolute fortune. But I wish I’d picked out just one little outfit. I could’ve dressed him up as a bee or a giraffe or Dracula. This is a big regret.
Regret 4: That I didn’t know the bodysuit trick until it was too late.
Bodysuits (those vests with poppers under the crotch) have wide necks called envelope necks. This is so they can be easily pulled over babies’ weirdly large heads. But also, so they can be pulled down their body. Which is very useful if your baby does the kind of explosive poo that goes all up their back. Just roll the bodysuit down over their shoulders and body and there’s no chance that any poo goes in their hair or face. I feel like it’s the kind of information that needs to be taught at school, or broadcast on the six o’clock news once a month to make sure everybody knows it.
Regret 5: I never bothered to get a changing bag.
I had a lightweight rucksack, which I figured was pretty much the same thing. It wasn’t. I’d estimate that I spent 90% of my baby parenting rummaging around that bag. It would drive my boyfriend mad when I delved in for some urgent item and emerged what felt like several days later covered in milk that had leaked. Changing bags come with a multitude of pockets to avoid this. They also usually have bottle holders. They’re not even that expensive. I’m not sure what I was thinking of.
Regret 6: That I didn’t get a Baby Bjorn bouncer sooner.
The problem with babies is that you don’t know what they’re going to like until they get here. You can’t take them shopping pre-birth to test drive a load of baby chairs and bouncers. I’d been given a second-hand chair that vibrated and played music but my son hated it. He acted like I’d put him on something even more uncomfortable than that one made of swords in Game of Thrones. Eventually, someone recommended the Baby Bjorn bouncer and he loved it. For a maximum of 10 minutes. But that was enough for me.e
Regret 7: That I ever used a pramsuit.
The worst thing about a winter baby is not the short days or the pram walks in the freezing cold – it’s the pramsuits. Trying to squeeze my boy’s little limbs in the padded arms and legs felt like trying to put a live octopus in a tuxedo. Complete with waistcoat, bow tie and cummerbund. I’ve since seen you can get star shaped wraps that look a whole lot easier. I wish I’d got one of those. My son probably does too.
Regret 8: That I didn’t persist with the swaddle.
My son, on first wearing a swaddle, reacted as if I’d just put a straitjacket on him. Which I suppose I had. There was a lot of angry writhing. So, I took it straight off. But I can’t help wondering what would have happened if I’d persisted. He had a strong startle reflex and often woke himself up with his arms flailing around. A swaddle stops this from happening. So, I wish I hadn’t given up on the straitjacket so easily. He might have got used to it and slept a lot better. Or maybe we would’ve ended up having to go in a padded room. I guess I’ll never know.
Regret 9: Not getting a dummy sooner.
During an appointment with the health visitor, I mentioned how my son just wanted to comfort suck on me all night and how hard I found it. She said, “Um, have you thought about a dummy?” And I thought – oohhh right, yeah. That’s what they are for. What an idiot. It’s a dummy nipple. A pretend nipple. I bought one and it worked.
Regret 10: Not buying a Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine.
My son was fed on both breastmilk and formula as I had a low milk supply. The breastfeeding bit was easy but I found the formula much more of a hassle, especially at night. I developed quite an elaborate system involving flasks and formula powder dispensers and a big mug of cold water. Why didn’t I just fork out the £100 or so and make life easier? The Perfect Prep makes bottles of formula immediately to a perfect temperature. It was like I had actually chosen an abacus over a calculator. Or a mangle over a washing machine. I can only blame sleep deprivation.
I made many mistakes and there will be no second child, so this was my one chance to get it right. But it’s best to think like Shakespeare, who once wrote, “Let's not burden our remembrance with a heaviness that's gone.” Wise words. But I really should’ve got that changing bag.