Every year we look at the baby essentials, the stuff you really will need if you're about to become new parents. And we also look at the stuff you can safely avoid. Like nappy disposal bins - to be honest a bin with a lid does the same job.
But there are the in-between items. The ones that some parents can't do without, while other parents find indispensable. The problem is, until baby arrives you just won't know whether this applies to you, or not.
These are the items that you should look at borrowing, buying second-hand, or waiting until baby is born. And here's a handy list for you to check off against your own shopping list as you prepare for that imminent arrival. This could save you quite a lot of dosh in the long term.
I fell for this one. Bought a gorgeous, rather expensive, caterpillar shaped product that fit to the side of a cot and was designed to hold nappies. I never used it. Maybe if space was an issue I would have, but as it was the cot was nowhere near the changing table anyway.
Plus, if you are using disposables, they come in bags or boxes that keep the nappies neat and tidy and are easy to dispense from. If I was using washables, perhaps I'd have been one of the parents who swear by these.
Don't just blindly buy one. Look at where it will go, what it will be used for, and now needful it might be. This is an item I would leave until after baby is born and you have an idea of how and where you will be changing the nappy. I rarely did this in the nursery, finding a large changing mat on the floor in the lounge much easier and more convenient. But other people only ever change baby on the actual changing table.
How you choose to feed your baby is a really personal choice. If you opt for breast feeding either exclusively or in combination with formula, a pump can be a handy item to have. It allows you to express extra milk so you can put it in a bottle for feeding later. Perhaps if you are going out, or to give your partner an opportunity to do a feed (and you to sleep!).
But. What if, like me, it turns out you don't have any extra milk to express? I didn't use either the manual or the electric breast pumps I bought. Or you can, but baby absolutely flat out refuses the bottle?
In hindsight, I wish I had borrowed one to try out or bought a breast pump second-hand, until I was sure I knew what we'd be doing. As it was that, ended up being £70 (for both) that I didn't need to spend.
However, if your baby does take a bottle, and you do produce lots of milk, then a breast pump is quite handy. Examine both in great depth before buying. Manual pumps are cheaper, but can be tiring. Electric pumps are much easier to use but more expensive.
Baby carrier or sling
Here's another hugely divisive subject, and it can even be divisive between you and you partner. I absolutely loved my baby carrier and it made life a lot easier. My baby loved it too. However, I know that at least half the people I know rave about carriers and slings, and the other half hate them, or found their baby hated them so much they couldn't use one.
There are carrier and sling meets held all around the country. Go to one to get a good idea of what is involved with each model, and what might work well for you.
I had no idea swaddling even existed to be honest. I either glossed over that when I was pregnant, or missed it entirely. As I didn't go down the NCT route it is possible that one just sailed right by me.
So, talking to other parents, this one depends entirely on the baby. For some parents, swaddling is the lifesaver that ended weeks of sleep deprivation. For others it was a nightmare they struggled with before finally giving up. With blankets costing anywhere from £10 to £100 this can be an expensive mistake.
Look at other members of your family - have they had any success with swaddling? Read up on it, and have a look at the NCT guidelines to see if swaddling is something that you feel you can do. It is important to make sure you wrap the swaddle correctly.
Finally you can wait to see how well your baby sleeps anyway, or perhaps keep an eye out for one of these at the NCT nearly new sales.
One item you really don't need is are top and tail bowls. A newborn is cleaned with nothing more than sterile water, and cotton wool. But you don't need to get special bowls for this. Just two different containers, in different colours or marked, so you don't mix them up.
A little more contentious though is the baby bath seat. This lets baby sit up unaided in the bath, while they are still unable to do so themselves. Obviously you're not going to leave them there, but it does allow you to have both hands free.
Do you need both hands free? With a little rinsing using cotton wool, there's not a lot to do. Baby loves to swish about in the water, and it can be a nice bonding exercise. You may get a little wet, with you arm under baby in the water, and putting baby onto a towel to dry, but it isn't a big deal.
However, if you have an achey back, or a really deep bath and don't want to get a seperate baby bath, it can be useful. Just really think about how you will bath baby, and what you might need it for.
This is something you can stock up on after the baby is born and suddenly you find that your plans don't quite work out!