The financial shocks for first-time parents probably won’t be as bad as some of the less tangible parenting challenges that will come in later years, but it’s important to understand that baby goods marketers have gotten better than ever at getting you to buy stuff.
It’s almost impossible to avoid making unnecessary purchases these days without feeling like a hardhearted pragmatist who’s putting financial concerns ahead of parenting ones. After all, doesn’t your baby deserve a baby-wipe warmer, a steady supply of special high-priced baby laundry detergent, a bottle steriliser (if applicable), and a convolutedly high-tech nappy disposal system?
Generally, it takes baby number two to make you realise how much stuff baby number one got that he or she didn’t need and may have never used.
Then again, there are a few things you may legitimately need – or need more of – that hadn’t occurred to you before you officially became a parent. With more than a few new CHOICE parents on hand, along with some more far-ranging research, we tapped in to a rich vein of recent experience to narrow things down to the following short list:
Might just need
More than one baby car seat. If you’re a two-car family and plan on sharing day care delivery duties, be prepared for a lot of car seat shuffling – and for one parent to inadvertently drive off without handing over the seat to the parent on duty – unless you’re prepared to own more than one baby car seat. Whether you need one or two, however, the most important thing is to get the right one.
More bottles and bottle teats. Apparently, you can never have enough, and you’ll need a range of sizes of flow types.
Breast-feeding pillow. Rookie dad Michael was philosophical on the subject. “Despite our initial scepticism, this has turned out to be very useful.”
Probably won’t need
A baby bath. Our sources tell us that babies quickly outgrow them, and that the loving arms of attentive mums and dads are more than enough to make sure your baby is safe in the tub.
Every cool “educational” toy you see. With seemingly hand-hewn and irresistibly clever toys and knick-knacks from Scandinavia and other more enlightened lands having long infiltrated the local market (or at least the internet), first-time parents have to steel themselves against a steady onslaught of admittedly really cool stuff. But do you need all of it? Our sources say no, and counsel against buying lovingly crafted playthings that look impressive to you but might not impress the baby.
A bath thermometer. The jury may still be out on this one, as it might come in handy if you’re just not sure. But you’ll probably end up setting it aside and just giving the water the old elbow check before long, according to the new parents we talked to.
What unexpected costs did you encounter as a first-time parent? Was there something you bought but didn't need?