Five Baby Items I Bought That Actually Turned Out Useful


There is a lot of pres­sure to out­fit the per­fect nurs­ery when you are preg­nant. A sim­ple visit to the local store can become a major dilemma: “oh, I didn’t know this existed… do we need it?”

And of course, new inex­pe­ri­enced par­ents like us are easy to put on a guilt trip. The media, soci­ety in gen­eral and “help­ful” sales­per­sons will pres­sure you into buy­ing items that are “safe”, “tested”, “eco-friendly”, “proven to keep baby happy”, etc.

Prob­lem is, you only have so much room… and so much money.

We didn’t end up buy­ing much before Mark was born. The pres­sure to buy actu­ally put me off and I’m lucky to have great friends who lent us the basics, includ­ing a car seat and a stroller. We bought a playpen (ahem… Mark only slept in it dur­ing the first week), a few out­fits (it was hard since we didn’t know the sex of the baby!) and a cou­ple of cute toys (really, because *I* liked them).

Let’s way and see what we actu­ally needs after the baby is born” became our motto.

And you know what? We were right.

Shop­ping before the baby is born is like walk­ing in a mall with a blind­fold on. You don’t know what you will actu­ally need because every baby is dif­fer­ent, and things can change fast. For instance, I bought some “nip­ple cream” I didn’t end up using because my breasts were doing just fine and I only breast­fed for the first month. For the same rea­son, I never needed nurs­ing pads, nurs­ing bras, nurs­ing pil­lows, etc.—I’m glad I didn’t invest in these.

But there are five items we bought before Mark was born that actu­ally turned out to be very useful.

The stretchy wrap sling — I grew up in a cobblestone-paved city with a lot of steps and stairs and I clearly remem­ber my younger brother and sis­ter scream­ing on top of their lungs because they hated the bumpy trips. I also remem­ber how cum­ber­some strollers can be, espe­cially these mini-SUV mon­sters par­ents seem to favour these days. Sure, we needed a stroller (thanks to the friend that lent us hers!) but I wanted to carry the baby in a sling. I liked the idea of being able to keep a close eye on him, to keep him warm against my body, and I thought it would be a good bond­ing expe­ri­ence. Plus a sling is easy to carry: I can just throw the 5 meters of stretchy fab­ric into my purse and put it on when needed. My green Maman Kan­gourou Amerigo wrap ($65) was an invest­ment but it turned out to be a life­saver. Mark spends a lot of time in the sling, at home and out­side. It allows me to have both hands free, and he is safe and com­fort­able against me. I also credit the sling for help­ing him develop strong mus­cles: he was able to turn and lift his head pretty early. Sure, peo­ple make dumb com­ments… but I love this way of car­ry­ing him!

Mark, the Sling and I

The singing mon­key — Babies don’t care much about toys at first, they’d rather stare at their par­ents’ face (that or I have a weird face because Mark keeps on star­ing at me). I bought “Sam the singing mon­key” one day at Wal­mart, think­ing the music would sooth him. It became our rit­ual: every time I change him, I put the mon­key by his side. It was funny to see him pay­ing atten­tion to it for the first time, and to actu­ally see him try­ing to grab him. That $12 plush mon­key is a cute toy that keeps him busy and focused dur­ing our photo ses­sions too.

Mark and the Monkey

The blan­ket — I bought this white and beige blan­ket at Win­ners last sum­mer. The colour was neu­tral and I fig­ured babies can always use blan­kets. It was also super soft and cud­dly, and that sealed the deal. Turned out we used that blan­ket a lot. It’s just the right size to cover him when he is in the car seat or when we put him on the couch at home. And the neu­tral soft colours make a great back­drop for pic­tures!

Mark and the Blanket

The paci­fiersI hate paci­fiers. And I don’t even know why. I never had one as a kid (I think French frown upon them) and nei­ther did my brother and sis­ter. But one of the nurses at the hos­pi­tal gave one to Mark when he had some blood taken after he was born, so we came home with an orange paci­fier. And Mark liked it. It’s only a cou­ple of weeks after Mark was born that I remem­bered we had actu­ally bought a set of two blue paci­fiers over the sum­mer (it was on sale at Shop­pers!), so we started using these as well. I always take one with me when we go out as it can be a great way to sooth a baby (I take it out after a while, it’s not a plug!) or help him go to sleep. I’m try­ing to help Mark find his thumb or fin­gers instead (it’s harder than it seems, babies don’t have much hand-to-mouth coör­di­na­tion!) because paci­fiers always fall off, but mean­while it’s a good thing to have.

The Paci­fier

The chang­ing pad — I didn’t want to buy a chang­ing table because babies can fall off eas­ily, plus it seemed like an unnec­es­sary invest­ment. We did buy a plas­tic chang­ing pad at IKEA ($6.99) and a set of two cov­ers ($6.99), one red and one blue. “Per­fect,” we thought since we didn’t know Mark was going to be a lit­tle boy. Turned out to be really use­ful. We sim­ply put the chang­ing pad on the bed and voilà! The cov­ers are easy to wash and they do the job. No need for a fancy chang­ing table!

The Chang­ing Pad


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. The photo of him in the sling is so pre­cious! He’s adorable :) … The baby item I got the most use out of was the swing — my younger son spent hours in that thing and loved it. LOL

  2. I sec­ond the sling! I have both a ring sling and a wrap sling (like yours) and they make it so easy to go shop­ping and get things done around the house. Babies loooove being in them! Must be the warmth and the smell of mommy and the sound/feel of the heart­beat… puts my lit­tle one to sleep every time. :)

    The one thing I would put on that list if I were mak­ing it is an auto­matic swing. They’re won­der­ful for babies to nap in, or just be put down for a bit when some­thing needs to be done.

    • Yay, another sling lover! I have heard that some babies hate them but Mark like to snug­gle in it. He is get­ting heavy though! I think they like to lis­ten to our heart­beat, you are right. It reminds them of life “inside”!

  3. I liked the baby car­rier, espe­cially needed with #3 while the twins were still in their double-stroller… AND I didn’t buy a chang­ing table either, just the pad (and cover) too! :)

    Another great buy (gifts) for me were the bouncy chairs (more for the “chair” part than the “bounce” — but that might be because I had three babies to take care of so close in age — I only have two hands !) and the Jolly Jumper (when the baby is not quite mobile yet but needs to burn off the energy!).

    It’s so fun read­ing you and com­par­ing baby stories ! 😀

    • I hon­estly don’t know how you “sur­vived” with twins! Don’t get me wrong, they are super cute but you must have been exhausted! One baby is already tons of work, so two… Wow, you are super mom!

      I always appre­ci­ate your expe­ri­enced feed­back, espe­cially con­sid­er­ing our babies are rel­a­tively close in age 😉

  4. Be-still-my-beating-heart but he is so adorable!!
    And this is a great post — more than any other life stage, I think expec­tant par­ents get conned into buy­ing way too much stuff. Will be com­ing back to this post if I get pregnant :)

  5. Pingback: 4 Types of People Who will Drive You Crazy after You Had a Baby | Correr Es Mi Destino

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