Take a deep breath and put your wallet away, you don't need as much as you think.
My local Woolies has started putting huge individual security locks on the more expensive tins of baby formula. Apparently, this is part of an attempt to stop raiders from swiping all our beloved stock, via the self-serve checkouts, against the store’s porous two-tin policy.
But it is also a touch of marketing genius, because top-price formula is basically guilt-trip marketing.
“Ha!” I said, to my toddler. “Don’t look at the price tag. Look at the label on the side. What’s in the can? Choose one that suits your bub.”
My kid said nothing. (He is a baby.) But if he did say something, I imagine it would be: “Sure, Dad, but didn’t you buy a bunch of overpriced crap you didn’t need before I was born? Also, I’ve shat myself, now watch me throw this jar of olives into the aisle”.
Anyway. The point is screw the marketing spin. If I had a kid for the first time again, here (apart from expensive formula) are the purchases I’d never shell out for in the first place, and a few I’d prioritise.
A flash bassinet
You — or, let’s face it, your beloved — maybe stumped up $800 for a nice one of these that was fit for a Kardashian sprog and tastefully designed, in alabaster white, by a noted Cape Cod architect. Bollocks.
We shuffled our boy into his own room, across the hallway from ours, and into his cot, at around four months.
Before then, he could basically have slept in a cardboard box on a table beside our bed, as has long been the practice in that impoverished, backwater nation of Finland. You know, home to the smartest kids in the world.
A posh baby monitor
Seriously, how big is your house? Unless you’ve got two storeys or more, and you live beside a happening rock venue, or an avalanche, just leave the doors open between your room and the baby’s.
You’re hyper-tuned to hear that little one’s wail anyway. Exception: the night vision video ones are quite good if you have mates about for a barbecue and are having a few drinks out the back.
New baby clothes. Any new baby clothes
Vinnies and/or the Salvos have truckloads of them, and you have a washing machine. The kid grows out of them while you watch, in real time, like a stop motion doco on bamboo — or, otherwise, craps all over stuff you’d rather not keep. New baby clothes are bullshit.
A sleek Scandinavian-designed high chair
Yeah, no. You needn’t spend a fortune here. It doesn’t need to fit the décor of the house. Pro-tip: you have a baby now, your house is no longer going to be fit for Harper’s Bazaar, unless banana-smeared explosions of Duplo and puke become suddenly chic.
Just go for something wipeable, with straps, that doesn’t have a removable plastic ‘easy clean’ tray.
The kid will only pull this off and throw it on the kitchen floor as his grandma happens to walk past, slipping on it and badly spraining her wrist when you were about to go for a surf.
If your baby high chair has one of those removable, dishwasher-friendly trays, like the otherwise fine Keter, bin that bit ASAP. It sucks.
Who are you, Bear Grylls? Off rambling the Mongolian steppe with a sprog? What’s with the motocross wheels? Why is your pusher the size of a Mini Countryman? You can’t even pass other strollers on a medium-width footpath.
We got a fold-up one that can go in the overhead luggage on planes — a legit godsend — and have never needed anything else. It copes with rough footpaths and cut grass in the park, and you can roll it right up to the departure gate. Shun the cult of Bugaboo.
Some people will tell you that investing in a fashionably designed, vacuum sealed, shiny enamel bin for indoor used diaper disposal is a good idea. These people are your enemies.
Buy a $5 foot-pedal bin, maybe 15 litres, from Kmart that doesn’t require its own stupid brand-built bags. Then just get the cheap, scented, 250-for-a-dollar disposal bags from the supermarket.
Do you really want a week’s worth of turds stockpiling in the kid’s room, anyway? How do you think that’s going to smell when you empty it on rubbish day? I’ll tell you: like a corpse with crap perfume spritzed on it.
Birthday and Christmas presents for the kid
Buy nothing. It’s a baby. These occasions are not for them, regardless of whose birthday it technically is.
Look, dogs are great. But if you think that looking after a new baby and a new puppy at the same time is a good idea then you’ve bought one too many Anne Geddes calendars or are a masochist.
Also your house smells like all the poops you haven’t had time to find yet.
Any new clothes (for you)
Get the cheapest multi-pack of t-shirts you can afford and ethically bear to buy. Wear them one after another. This is new fatherhood, not GQ. It’s messy.
Giant, expensive sterilisers that sit on your bench
They’re a pain to travel with, they’re ugly, and the alternative microwavable steriliser bags are fine.
The bags claim to be reusable only like 20 times. Ha! You can double that, easy, and then some. Buy the biggest ones you can, they’re all the same.
Where you should spend your hard-earned instead…
Whatever you’re conservatively planning to shell out on a breast pump, double it. We paid almost $200 for a single swing Medela pump, which slurps mum’s chest furniture up into a transparent conical tube, grunts like a boar and … is a lifesaver.
Mum’ll spend untold hours with these noisy plastic aliens hoovering away at her shirt potatoes. Go quality.
Baby gates are all similar, but make sure you buy one that you can operate one-handed, and that baby’s arthritic grandmother can open one-handed.
Ours requires two hands to open, which is proving to be a real pain in the arse.
A self-rocking crip. What can I say? I’d have given a million dollars for one of those things.
And add a rocking chair into this category too. In the early months, when Mum is breastfeeding and one or both of you may spend hours rocking the baby back to sleep, a rocking chair will save your back and your sanity — not necessarily in that order.
Bouncy IKEA versions are like $69. But you will have to put it together yourself … a skill you’ll have to master (for everything from beds to bookshelves) as a new dad, which is almost as synonymous with parenting as changing a nappy.