Tales from the crib

Having a baby is an expensive business. Especially if you don't need or use the stuff you buy. Time Out's supermum speaks

In the US, parents spend up to US$500,000 on each child from birth until they leave university. And frankly, looking at the amount of stuff we’ve managed to accumulate over the past few months, this comes as no surprise. In fact, I sometimes fear we are getting pretty close to that figure already.

To date we have more clothes than Mothercare’s entire collection, three prams, two play mats, a high chair, a vibrating chair, a Bebe Pod and baby bouncer. In the words of his Nana M, ‘This baby has everything.’

My husband, Will, is at a loss as to how we have accumulated so much in such a short time. It’s a no brainer. I am just not very good at window shopping.

One minute I’m looking at something through the window and the next I’m carrying it home. I am often unaware of the in-between bit, but it usually results in my husband telling me I am out of control.

But it’s hard to resist cute clothes, DVDs that promise to make my child a genius and books that offer the most simple sleep solutions. There are so many irresistible outfits, toys, shoes – ah, the shoes.

I have to admit that now Sam is eight months old, the reality of my actions is becoming clear. Recently I packed away all the clothes that don’t fit him anymore. That added up to six plastic boxes to keep and two huge carrier bags ready to go to the next friend who becomes pregnant.

Many of the things we have bought have proved – although I hate to admit it – to be a complete and utter waste of money. Take, for example, our changing bag: great looking in the shop, lots of practical pockets, a ‘dirty’ bag, a changing mat, but utterly useless. Once it’s full, it doesn’t shut, it’s heavy and to be honest I have spent the past few months forcing myself not to buy a new one because I know the kind of verbal abuse I will get.

The other really disappointing buy was the baby sling. The first one I had was great, but Sam quickly got so heavy that I started to stoop as I walked. Terrifying images of picking him up from school in a few years’ time, me bent double due to his immense weight, ensured that it was quickly abandoned.

The second sling I bought promised to let baby sleep in a natural position and then sit comfortably on my hip when he was old enough to hold his head up. Well, I don’t know if it was just me, but seeing Sam’s frightened eyes pleading to be extracted from the thing as he lay helplessly wrapped around my middle suggested that it wasn’t working. Two more ‘vital’ accessories left to gather dust in a dark corner.

Pram toys are also a bone of contention. We have about six different toy bars with a variety of ‘things’ hanging off them. Each is slightly different from the last, but none really seem to entertain Sam in any way.

On the subject of prams, we have three of them. One was bought before Sam came along. It is massive, and my husband refers to this as the people carrier. It’s heavy and too difficult to lug in and out of the car every day, so is now firmly planted in the front room and used as a day bed (when I remember).

The ‘sports car’, our second pram, is nippy and stylish, like a car seat on wheels, and has proved to be something of a life saver. Sadly, though, Sam is now getting too long for it and his legs dangle over the edge.

The third (my husband despaired at this point and didn’t give it a name) is a fold-up, lightweight pushchair and is just perfect – except for one thing. It doesn’t keep the sun off Sam, so I had to get an umbrella to go with it. This didn’t work as he just got dazzled every time I turned a corner, so I searched the internet high and low and found a pram shade, which covers the whole pushchair. The problem is, Sam absolutely hates it so it has been buried at the bottom of a draw in the hope that it will soon be forgotten.

Toys are also taking over our house. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not begrudging my son his playtime or his toys, but it doesn’t seem to matter how many brightly coloured noisy toys I buy, all he really wants are my fingers, his weaning spoon, a tissue, a nappy and his feet, which all cost less, are portable and take up less space.

So what have I learned from this clutter that is filling our one-bedroom flat? Well, nothing, it would seem, as now the shopping festival is underway I’ve found even more stuff we don’t have room for and Sam doesn’t like.

But at least it was half price!

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