Mums-To-Be Waste £158 Million Each Year

16 June 2011


Bounty recently conducted a survey of British mothers that shows that the average new mother wastes around £200 on items that they never use.

While I don’t believe this comes as a huge surprise to anyone, I must admit I felt a little bit of justification for our minimalist approach to infancy. It wasn’t always easy to not buy the cute, sweet or perceived-to-be-essential goodies we saw during those nine long months of preparation, and sometimes I felt positively guilty. But we had decided not to spend the average £4k new parents spend on their first child, in an attempt to prolong the time till I had to go back to work.

According to the survey, “ The majority of mums (86%) started to stock up on baby products long before they even had the child - but 43% say they totally over-bought on what they needed. The average new mother admitted to spending nearly £700 in total on baby products and 14% of women got into trouble with their partner for over-spending on things they didn’t strictly need for the baby.”

Something I found quite interesting in the survey was that British mums considered a cot, highchair, nursery furniture and Moses basket essentials. It doesn’t say what non-British mums considered to be essentials, but considering nurseries are a predominantly Western custom, I guess non British mothers save a lot on expensive cupboards and dressers.

Tamsin wrote a feature a while ago with her list of 8 Things Your Newborn Does Not Need, and it sparked a fair bit of conversation, as everyone had different ideas of what was right or wrong. And I think this list from Bounty will do the same. Which really just goes to show that every parent, every baby and every mother and child team are different.

Here’s Bounty’s list of 20 least useful baby buys:

  1. Air purifier – agreed, for a healthy baby.
  2. Video monitor – agreed. We had one. It was boring to watch.
  3. Baby DVD – not even sure what that is.
  4. Room humidifier – agreed.
  5. Designer pram / pushchair – totally agree. I don’t think you should even buy a pushchair till your baby is six months old!
  6. Changing bin – we found ours useful for keeping dirty cloth nappies for the day, but not essential.
  7. Room thermometer – agreed.
  8. Feeding pillow – I found this useful for the first few weeks, till I was comfortable nursing.
  9. Sound and movement monitor – agreed, at least on the movement thing.
  10. Baby bath stand – agreed. The bath worked just  fine for us.
  11. Top and tail bowl – ditto.
  12. Baby shoes – although they are sooooo cute.
  13. Bath thermometer – agreed.
  14. Round rubber baby chair – what? Do they mean a Bumbo? Loved ours, instead of having a highchair.
  15. Car seat cover – again, what?
  16. Brand name nappies – I loathe one particular brand for making my newborn’s bum bleed.
  17. Bath seat – again, the bath worked fine with just a bit of water in it. She loved kicking her way up and down it too.
  18. Baby swing – depends what you mean. We went through a few!
  19. Baby walker – agreed.
  20. Soft cuddly toys – agreed. They’ve never been played with.

While many of the items on this list might be useful or might make life a little easier, they are certainly not essentials.

I had an email on Freecycle recently from a woman saying “I’m six months pregnant and desperately need a nappy stacker.” I had to giggle at the ‘desperately’.  I hope she gets one of the new guides Bounty are putting together to show mums to be what the real essentials are and I hope this guide will help mums save a little if it helps them spend a little more time with their babies too.

What do you think of Bounty's list? Did any of those items make it on to your essentials list?

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TOPICS:   News and Recalls


  • debadwolff
    didn't buy a single item on that bounty list. and i wish friends and family would stop with the cuddly toys - after 3 bags full which are in the loft we still keep getting! clothes are the most important - and no premies or newborn. For my last two children my newbies didn't even fit in newborn!
  • Andy
    Ha, fantastic article Luschka van Onselen. I've been telling Mrs W (who I am convinced is responsible for wasting 5% of this total alone) that we should be a tad more careful. Second 'un on its way and really, for the length of time you use some of the stuff (and you still have the old stuff in mint condition)that a new baby requires it just aint worth it. The list? Bit bonkers in places for me. Here's my version:- Air purifier – waste of money - open the windows Video monitor - gawd, dont be so paranoid. Sound is enough. Baby DVD – not even sure what that is (me neither) Room humidifier – maybe, depends on the house/location Designer pram / pushchair - Designer? Seriously? Get out of here. No need. Basic but comfortable is all that's needed (with a good basket underneath) Changing bin - Is that 'baby selling none essential yet overpriced speak' for a 'dirty clothing basket'? If it's the latter get the 2nd option. Much cheaper. Room thermometer - Agreed - essential Feeding pillow - Abstain - I don't have breasts Sound and movement monitor - as I said already; sound essential but movement just makes you paranoid. You're like 'oooh I aint heard her move for 15 mins so something must be wrong' or you're up and down constantly with every movement. Just go for sound. Baby bath stand - A what? Top and tail bowl - A what (again)? Baby shoes - Yeah, for the christening maybe but come on, they dont do that much walking at 3 months. Bath thermometer - I'm old skool elbow but yeah I think these are fairly useful. Round rubber baby chair - Seriously? A WHAT? Car seat cover - As above Brand name nappies - Kiss my ****. Really, brand name? If they are on offer then yeah go for it. But essential? No Bath seat - Another invention created to brainwash parents. Go on, I dare you....bath your kid without one of these. I betcha any amount she'll not drown if you keep hold of her. Baby swing – Essential? No! Fun? Yes! Baby walker - I'm going for essentila here. Fab product and gives Mum n Dad a break for 2 minutes without anything being destroyed (hopefully). Soft cuddly toys - Great for decoration but really, is any baby bothered about these? My lad likes his Sonic the Hedgehog but apart from that I fear we wasted a few hundred quid. Oh and at risk of sounding obvious. Essential is Mum and Dad giving lots of love, contact and attention. Forget any expense. If you can manage that then you are 95% there.
  • Lynley O.
    A breast feeding pillow - mine was absolutely brilliant and I loved it. Had it from about 7 months preggers when it was great for sleeping. Once baby was born I still slept with it. Great for feeding baby lying down, and also when sitting up I used it quite often as an elbow rest if was feeding on a sofa. Later it propped baby up while he was getting ready to sit up it worked as a buffer around him when he would suddenly flop to one side. Eventually I passed it on to a friend who found it just as useful. As far as I know it is either still doing the rounds or has finally worn out! Top and tail bowls are necessary for baby. You put the boiled/cooled water in one for washing face, and in the other for washing bottom - just water and cotton wool for the first few months. However, I used two plastic containers for this. I don't think you need to buy something specific. Another one that was necessary was the car seat cover. I got one of those before baby was born, a nice thick rubber one from Halfords. Really saved on the seat cover as the baby car seat (part of the pram or travel system) turned out to be really quite tough on covers the few times we used it without the rubber mat. Now son is five years old, the car is the same, but you can't tell when the car seat is out that there was one in there in the first place. Actually the cover on the seat is less worn on that side than the other probably because of it! A baby bath seat is good if you're going for that instead of a baby bath. It just means you've got both hands free. And also if baby is really enjoying having a splash around you can have fun with him or her instead of feeling like your arm is going to drop off and your back is going to crack in half.
  • Emma K.
    Video monitor - actually wish I'd got one of these. I work on the computer for a good few hours after baby has gone to sleep, this would have saved quite a bit of going up and down the stairs. Round rubber baby chair - if they mean a bumbo, yes it's not essential, but I used ours 4 times a day for about 6 months so it was a great help here. Baby walker - she used this for ages and it was just perfect to sey baby in to for 15 minutes while i was cooking dinner. Kept her entertained and happy. Yes, all the above things are not necessary - but I found them useful.
  • Luschka O.
    Lol Debadwolff. That made me laugh! We have two baskets full of soft toys, not counting the ones in the 'castle'. We've not bought a single one of them. They've also never been played with! As for the clothes, when I was pregnant a friend gave me some clothes for 18 - 24 months and I thought it was a silly gift as it was massive - i put it in the cupboard and forgot about it. Finding it recently was fantastic though - brand new clothes that actually FIT. As compared to the mass of newborn stuff that generally only got worn for the 'thank you' photos! Totally agree with you.
  • Luschka O.
    Your comment had me grinning, Andy! I agree re the shoes - we were given a pair of Sketchers that cost more than I normally spend on shoes for myself. They're currently in the memory box, having been worn twice since they're so hard to put on! TOTALLY agree re the movement sensor, unless you have an unwell baby, but then it's medical equipment, almost and fair enough! And yes - essential is mum and dad, something to eat and keep them warm. Totally agree there. I guess the reality is that there are no essentials, other than what nature provides (my gran's first bed was the bottom drawer of the dresser!) Everything else is nice to have, useful, or 'makes things easier', but totally not essential.
  • Luschka O.
    Our breastfeeding pillow is still knocking about somewhere. It was a godsend when I was pregnant and for side feeding, as you say. We never had top and tail bowls, or a baby bath seat. We just put a few cm of water in the bath and laid Kyra on her back in it. It was fab and by 2 months old she'd splash her way up and down the bath. She loved it. The car seat cover? Ohhhhhh, so that's what that is. Not a car SEAT cover, a CAR seat cover - for the built in seat. That makes sense. Never seen or heard of it before though!
  • Luschka O.
    Yip! I guess that's what the new Bounty guide is about - showing you what's useful and fits in your budget. Actually keen to see the guide. Might make interesting reading!
  • debadwolff
    Just gotta add that there is no harm in borrowing from good friends. why waste a fortune on something when a friend has outgrown it? We are always swapping clothes and with neighbours (it helps that I have 4 kids, next door neighbour has 6, 2 doors down has 8. The other neighbour has 2. There is a pattern I agree :) Anyway, borrowing clothes and furniture is great. Also swapping toys for a little while is also an idea. And none of us have ever bothered with a moses basket!
  • Lynley O.
    Ha ha if you want to get rid of the cuddly toys do it NOW. At about the age of 3 or 4 son started either playing with his or keeping them as bedmates for bedtime. He now actively asks for them. For his sixth birthday he insisted on a Pink Panther Soft Toy. They're just so bulky really and take up so much more space than other toys.

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