Preparing for a new arrival (or shopping for an existing baby) is a simple enough matter, right? You just head to Mothercare, Google “baby stuff” on your favourite online store, or trot up and down the Baby aisle of your local supermarket. Cot, buggy, playpen, check; bottles, breast pump, baby-friendly food , check again.
But, we’ve found, not all the things you need when you have a baby in the house are actually sold as baby products. In fact, this applies to quite a lot of things we’ve acquired (or made far greater use of) since Scarlett’s arrival. So here’s our list of things it’s useful to beg, borrow, steal or buy that you won’t find in the baby section but which go with having a baby.
1. Tesco carpet and upholstery cleaner
Because no matter how conscientiously you keep your baby in a high chair (and we don’t), or how much newspaper and plastic sheeting you spread around the floor, your baby’s dinner *will* end up all over your nice new carpet and most of the sofa. Then, for an encore, most of your own dinner will follow suit. If your baby is crawling, there will be a trail of dinner all over your horizontal surfaces from where she put her entire hand in the pasta sauce and then sped away giggling with glee before you could wipe her. If your baby is walking and climbing, all bets are off. We tried proprietary brands such as Vanish, and Tesco’s own brand actually works better so save yourself £££ and buy this one in bulk when you can. Your carpets will thank you for it.
2. Vax 1300W multifunction carpet cleaner
Depending on the age and niceness of your carpet you might not need to go the whole hog and get a proper carpet cleaner (the kind that sticks jets of soap water into your carpet and sucks it clean again), but our carpet is six months old and we like it so we did. If you’re getting any kind of new carpet, make sure it’s washable and stain-resistant; ours is ultra-guaranteed.
Darien adds, at only £80 from Amazon the Vax is a “total barg”.
3. Hand-held vacuum cleaner
Are you detecting a theme yet? When babies arrive, shit gets messy. A little handheld vacuum cleaner or “dust buster” is more conveniently portable and manoeuverable than a full-sized upright, and gets into all the nooks and crannies where bits of discarded biscuit and pulverised Organix sweetcorn rings inevitably end up.
4. More Kitchen Roll than you can ever imagine needing (then double that amount)
Kitchen roll is great. It can be used to mop up the entire glass of water/juice/beer (adjust for time of day and temperament) that your baby has just swiped off the coffee table; it can be used to wipe whatever foodstuff your baby has just covered herself in off little arms, legs and cheeks; and it makes a handy alternative if you can’t find your breast pads and have just sprung a leak. They’re almost as versatile as baby wipes, which you should definitely also buy in bulk.
If your baby is younger than 12 weeks and anything like ours, you will spend upwards of six hours a day pinned to the sofa while they either feed or sleep on you. After about 12 weeks they get a bit more mobile and self-entertaining, but you still need something to occupy you that doesn’t play Brahms’s Lullaby on repeat and flash offensive colours at you. There are various ways you can put streaming television in your eyes of course, but Netflix has been our preference this year at any time that Masterchef isn’t on.
We recommend Archer, Buffy, and Don’t Trust the B*tch in Apartment 23. We also love Bojack Horseman, but you really shouldn’t watch it if you’re already emotionally delicate (so basically, any time in the first eleven months post-partum and counting).
Yeah, you’re going to need a lot of this, and unfortunately it’s not available on Amazon Prime. But fortunately, when you run out, there’s Netflix. There is also whisky. Good luck, my friend.
What did you unexpectedly find yourself needing that isn’t available in the baby aisle? Answers on the back of a used kitchen roll, or in the comments below.