If you're pregnant with your first baby, your head may be in a whirl with all the so-called essentials you need to obtain for your forthcoming arrival.
So as a parent of ten years vintage, let me tell you the one and only thing you need to get. I promise it will make your life easier and won't dent your wallet at all.
Ready? OK, here it is:
You need to buy less. That's it. Most of the things you think are essential aren't, and the rest will be given to you by friends of your mothers whom you've never even met. As you will discover, people love to buy for newborns.
Liat Hughes Joshi is co-author of What to Buy for Your Baby (published by White Ladder Press). These are her thoughts on how to shop smart and buy less:
Of course parents-to-be want to provide the best for their baby – it's all part of the nurturing feelings involved in preparing for your baby's arrival. Parents-to-be also get somewhat bombarded with marketing messages about all sorts of products that they allegedly need. In reality, whilst there are plenty of fantastic products out there that can make your life easier after the birth, there are very few absolute must-haves to keep your baby safe, healthy and happy.
You don't have to buy most of the nursery store's contents before your baby arrives. You can just stick with the basics (and a couple of treats if you want) and then hold off on buying other things until your baby arrives and you can work out whether you really need them or not. With the advent of online shopping you can usually order anything you do suddenly find you need quickly and easily.
You absolutely don't need to rush out and buy everything new either. NCT Nearly New sales, car boot sales, Freecycle and e-Bay are all great sources of used kit. Check that second-hand stuff complies with modern safety standards though – anything over a few years' old needs checking especially carefully. Also, both car seats and mattresses should always be bought new – car seats might have been damaged in an accident which can compromise their safety and used cot mattresses have been associated with SIDS (cot death).
Don't be shy about asking friends and family with older children whether they have baby gear they want to get rid of. Many parents are delighted to offload stuff that's just taking up space in the loft or spare room.
Shop around – you'll often find pushchairs with 'last year's' fabrics at a hefty discount to this year's. Invest in the key products that really make a difference to your life – a good pushchair or pram for example and a gorgeous changing bag (you might be carrying the same one every day for a year or so, so you might as well like it!) Last of all save money by scrimping on the items which either won't last very long or will only be used occasionally e.g. a travel cot.
What to Buy for Your Baby: Choosing the Equipment That's Right for You by Liat Hughes Joshi and Caroline Cosgrove is available here from Amazon