What Baby Equipment do I REALLY need to buy?

The list of items you can buy for your baby is endless. Many gadgets and gizmos are on the market to ‘make your life simpler’. But you are on a budget, so what do you really need and what can you do without?

Car seat

From the minute you leave the hospital, you will need to make sure baby is safe in the car. For a guide to choosing the right car seat, please read our guide here

Somewhere to sleep

It is a personal choice whether you use a cot, cot bed, moses basket or crib. You may find a cot is too big for a newborn, yet a moses basket may only last you a couple of weeks, especially if you have a big baby. Moses baskets are easy to move, so you can use it to keep baby fairly close to you in the day and then move it into your bedroom at night. A crib/cradle is slightly larger, giving the baby more room, but cannot be moved around during the day. Ask around your friends, see what they preferred. Second-hand cots, cribs and moses baskets are easily to find on the Second-hand market, but it is recommended you buy a new mattress for whatever bed you choose. When buying second hand, ensure your chosen ‘bed’ is strong and sturdy, in good condition. Ideally, especially with cots, you should look for one that comes with the instructions.

Clothes

You will need a selection of babygro’s, vests, bibs and cardigans. If you are having a winter baby, you will also need to think about a coat or snowsuit, plus hats. It is worth remembering that people will inevitably buy you pink or blue clothing once baby is born, so do not go too mad beforehand or you will end up with so many clothes that you won’t be able to use them all.

Pram

Our guide to pushchairs will help you to decide which style to buy and again, these can be picked up for a fraction of the price second-hand

Feeding

No matter how you intend to feed, it may be worth having bottles and a steriliser on standby. Despite best intentions, you may find you have to bottle feed and do not need added stress of having to get everything after baby is born. You could borrow from a friend or find a good quality second hand steriliser and buy new bottles.  You will also need muslin cloths and bibs, as it is bound to get messy!

Nappies

What goes in, has to come out! Re-usable/washable/cloth nappies are the cheapest to use, but they are not for everyone. Some people would also say that disposable are ‘easier’ for the first couple of weeks while you settle into your new life, but again this is personal choice. The most important thing is to have a stash ready and waiting. Whilst on the subject of changing, you also need to think where you will change baby – a changing mat is cheapest, but will need to be used on the floor, or you can get a specially designed changing table. Again, these can be found at a fraction of the cost second-hand. You will also need a supply of baby wipes or cotton wool and a top & tail bowl.

 

Other bits you may want to consider: Baby Monitor, a bath or a bath support, nail clippers, blanket/shawl, Dummies, Changing Bag.

This list is designed as a useful starting point, it is a personal guide to what is essential but remember it is a personal choice that wholly depends on your lifestyle and your budget. Many items can be bought second-hand, but be sure to check all items carefully and remember the items that you should buy new (mattresses and bottle teats being the essential ones).

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Guide to buying highchairs

So you’ve bought the cot, the buggy and all the other little bits you didn’t realise you would have to buy for baby. You think you’re sorted, but baby then hits weaning stage and you are suddenly faced with endless choices of Highchairs! You would think it would be a simple choice of colour & pattern, but no, as with all things ‘Baby’, it is a bit of a minefield.

Where do you start, what things should you be looking for? Whether you are buying new or second-hand, here are a few points to take into consideration:

Is it Safe? There are many different styles of highchair, but one of the most important things to look at is how sturdy it is. A wider base will provide more stability, although obviously it will also take up more floor space. The harness, as well as going around the waist should also preferably have a strap to go between the legs and straps to go over the arms. Some harnesses may not have the leg strap, as you may find the tray of the highchair or the highchair itself has a moulded part that will go between the child’s legs to stop them slipping under the tray. If you are buying second hand, ensure the straps are intact, not worn in anyway and are clean.

Are all parts easy to clean? It may seem silly, but make sure all parts of the highchair are accessible for cleaning. Food will get absolutely everywhere! Make sure it is easy to wipe down and ensure there are not too many crevices where food will get trapped. Some trays are dishwasher safe, but if you are looking to clean it in your dishwasher, do make sure it fits in your machine!

Check the tray. A one-handed release tray makes life simpler, so ideally look for one that has this. If you are buying second-hand, make sure the release works properly, the tray slides easily, but also that baby cannot release it themselves, or get fingers trapped in them.

Is it portable? If you are happy for the highchair to stay where it is, then this is not so much of an issue. But if you intend to store it away after each meal, or move it to a corner, then you need to make sure it is easy to manoeuvre. Some highchairs come with wheels, but do make sure that these lock securely, as you do not want to be chasing it around the room at mealtimes! You also have to think if you will need to use it anywhere else – will you be taking it to Nanny’s, friends or restaurants? If so you will need a small compact one, such as a booster seat that attaches to a chair.

Wooden or Plastic, Solid or Folding? Highchairs come in all sorts of shapes, styles and materials. For some people, the look of the highchair is quite a major factor. As it tends to be an essential part of your day, most highchairs become part of the furniture. You may want to take this into consideration when you are choosing one. Although the bright, funky, bold pattern may look lovely in the shop, will you hate it when it takes up residence in your dining room or kitchen? If looks are important, you may want to consider a wooden one. However, be aware that these may not be suitable for a younger child as they tend to be designed to use at a table and may not have a tray attachment and will not have the tilting mechanism. Wooden highchairs tend not to be as padded as other ones, so do take this into consideration too. Do you need your highchair to fold up? If it is going to have a permanent place at the table, then you probably will not need a folding chair. If you do decide to go for a folding one and are buying second hand, then do make sure all the mechanisms work properly, that it fold easily, but also make sure there is no risk that it could fold whilst the child is in it.

Finally, you need to decide where you will use the highchair. If baby is to sit at the table with the rest of the family, then you need to make sure the chair will adjust to fit up to your table. You will not necessarily need one that has a tray. If you want something that grows with the child, then you may be better looking at a ‘cube’ chair. This is a stacking highchair that converts when the child is older, to become a separate chair and small table. If you are looking for one that you can use for activities other than eating (for example, play doh or painting), then you need to make sure you have a big tray that is easy to clean.

There is a lot to think about when choosing a highchair, but bear these pointers in mind and think about what you intend to use it for and how you want it to blend into your living space. There are highchairs to suit every budget and are readily available on the second hand market.

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How do you maximise your selling potential?

So you have finally decided to clear out your loft/bedrooms/cupboards/garage and have more baby clothes than you dared to imagine. Now what? Second Hand markets are gaining in popularity both for picking up bargains and also for selling on your good quality baby clothes and equipment. But how do you maximise your selling potential? How do you prepare for your sale?

Here are a few tips to make sure your stall stands out from the rest and makes people want to look at what you have to offer.

  • The first and perhaps most obvious point is to sort your clothes into girl and boy piles. You may even find that you can have a Unisex pile, which may be useful for those parents-to-be who are unaware what they are having
  • Next, sort the piles out into age groups: Newborn, 0-3, 3-6 and so one
  • It is then advisable to sort your clothes into seasons. It is surprising how many people do not look ahead to what they will need later in the year. So if your sale is in the Spring, then take your Spring and Summer clothes. If it is around September time, take your Autumn and Winter clothes.
  • Wash all your clothes in baby friendly products. If the clothes have been in your loft for some time, they may need freshening up a little, plus freshly washed clothes just have that ‘appeal’ about them and reassures the buyer that you have looked after your clothes.
  • Assuming you are allowed to have a rail with your table, the next step is to sort out any coats, outfits or higher priced items. These are best displayed on a rail, so again make sure they are clean (ironed if necessary, particularly with dresses) and have prices on them.
  • All your other items should be in boxes or baskets according to their gender and age. It is probably easiest to decide on one set price per item, this will make it easier for your buyer and for you, as otherwise you will have to price everything individually. On each basket, attach a sign with the details (ie Boys age 3-6 mths, 50p per item)
  • If you have vests, bibs, sleepsuits etc, and you want to sell them as a bundle, fold them neatly and pop them in a clear plastic bag. Attach a label to the bag stating what is in there, what gender/age it is, how many are in there and how much you are asking for them.

Follow these simple steps and make headway in clearing your cupboards. Take a look at Little Pickles website to find your closest Sale!

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Guide to buying pushchairs

The pushchair market is a bit of a minefield for first time parents. Even the more experienced can be forgiven for getting confused. From 3 wheelers, to travel systems, umbrella fold or tandem, the choice is pretty big. We have put together a guide on what each type of pushchair offers, plus a couple of pointers on what to look for when buying second hand.

3 Wheelers:

These are very good to steer and are usually lightweight. They are great if you do a lot of walking, as they offer a bit more comfort for your child. They tend to be more durable, so if you are looking to hand it down, or keep for another child, the extra expense may be worth it in the long run. They are bigger than some pushchairs, so if you are intending to put it in your car, you will need to ensure it fits into the boot. They are probably not a practical choice if you are going to be using public transport, but if you are looking to pound uneven pavements or go on country walks, then this is an ideal choice for you. You may see some described as all-terrain, these are only necessary if you will be doing a lot of off-road walking.

Travel Systems:

A travel system is a pushchair chassis into which you can clip a car seat and/or a carrycot. This is a great option if you are in and out the car a lot, as you do not need to disturb baby, you simply take the car seat out of the car and clip it directly into your chassis. The carrycot option is good, as it allows baby to lie flat, which is ideal if baby will spend a lot of time in the pushchair. Be aware that some of the pushchair seats are only suitable from 6mths onwards, so you will need to purchase the carrycot if you intend to use it from birth. Whilst the outlay for the travel systems is quite high, you will need to work out what you would spend on a separate pushchair and car seat and decide if it is a viable option for you.

Umbrella Fold/Strollers:

These tend to be the most lightweight. They are easy to fold up and very useful if you travel on public transport a lot. However, do check with manufacturer’s advice as some of these are not suitable for children under 6mths old. Depending on the model, some may not recline and even if they do, they will not recline fully. They often do not have as much padding as other styles. They are not as easy to push as some of the other pushchairs, but if you are looking for one to pop up and down quickly, these are ideal. They tend to be used for slightly older children and are ideal for toddlers. Do take note of the size of the shopping basket as they are usually quite small.

Double/Tandem Buggies:

There are a couple of options when it comes to double buggies. One type is where the seats are next to each other (Twin Buggy), another type where one baby is behind the other (Tandem Buggy), and then the ‘Phil & Teds’ variety where the main frame is a single pushchair, with a second seat/space underneath the main chair. Many people prefer the twin style for the reason that it allows the children to interact with each other and prevent arguments when they are older as to who gets to sit in the front seat! They can also be lighter than tandem pushchairs, however they can also be very difficult to get through narrow doorways, and difficult to steer on narrow pavements. You may also find the seats to be quite narrow, especially if you have a big baby, or an older toddler. A tandem pushchair is more suited to people who have a baby as well as a toddler who still need use of a pushchair. You will find one seat more upright and this is suited for toddlers. The second seat is usually padded and will fully recline. The ‘cons’ to this type of pushchair are that they are less stable than the twin pushchair and can be heavy and difficult to steer. They also tend to be bulky when folded and may not fit in some cars. The popular Phil & Teds variety is another option to consider. The main seat can be used for your toddler, whilst the space underneath can be used with their carrycot style ‘bag’, for popping the baby in. As the children get older, you can use the additional seat underneath, and this will carry quite a decent sized toddler. However, some parents do not like the fact that one child is underneath the other one, but this is a personal choice. This style of double buggy is easy to steer and not much bigger than a standard 3 wheeler.

The more expensive pushchairs do lose a lot of money, if this is something that concerns you then think about buying second hand. A £350 travel system for example, can be picked up on the second hand market for £50-£100. Here are a few pointers for buying second hand:

  • Do your research beforehand, to know which type of pushchair you want. You need to ensure it will fit in your car, that you are comfortable with how it steers, that it has the right sized shopping basket for your needs etc. If need be, go and look around the shops to see which one you like so you are confident in which one to look for second hand.
  • Ask if it comes with accessories such as a raincover and footmuff. If it doesn’t, make sure that accessories are still readily available and are cheap to buy. You may pick up what you think is a bargain pushchair, only to find that it doesn’t come with a raincover. If that model is no longer made, then you may not be able to find a cover that fits.
  • Ensure pushchairs are labelled as complying with British Standard BS 7409:1996 or BS EN 1888:2003. It is also useful if the seller can give you the original instructions for the buggy.
  • Ensure that it has a 5 point harness on it and that all the straps and fixing points are intact.
  • Check the wheels to make sure they are not wobbly, corroded or badly worn. This is particularly important for the tyres on 3 wheelers as these may be expensive to replace.
  • Check over the frame for corrosion, sharp edges or broken parts.
  • Check that there are two locking mechanisms to release before the pushchair will fold down, and make sure they both work.
  • Ensure the brakes lock on and off efficiently
  • Check the material on the seat and ensure all the seams are intact

Second hand pushchairs will save you a huge chunk of expense, but buy wisely!

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A new baby costs HOW much?!

There is much speculation about how much it costs to raise a child. Some surveys have calculated the cost through to University, some to the age of 18, whilst others concentrate on the first year alone. The latest annual report from the UK’s largest friendly society, LV= suggests that parents on average spend £9,610 a year to feed, clothe and educate each new member of the family. This includes childcare, but does not take into account loss of earnings if a parent opts to stay at home, or reduces working hours. The report also reveals that the first year alone will cost a parent around £1000. So where does this money go and what can we do to reduce it?

The second hand market is becoming big business as people who have had babies try to recoup costs, whilst those starting on their parenthood journey are budget saving and aiming to slash costs. Our Little Pickles Markets are ideal for both markets, with families being able to hire tables to sell their good quality pre-loved baby items and buyers paying a minimal £1 per adult entrance fee. There are other organisations who run similar events, so look around to see what is on in your area. These places are ideal for picking up second hand cots, moses baskets, prams, pushchairs, baby monitors – all the things you need to see you through your first year.

You could also try eBay, Freegle, Gumtree, Freecycle and Facebook selling pages to pick up second hand items, although obviously in some cases, you have not actually seen the item before you agree to buy it, and sometimes saying “no” is not as easy as it sounds when you have arranged to meet someone at their house!

There are some items that you will inevitably want to buy new and in this instance, I would suggest 1670551trying your local Poundland, or waiting for the Asda Baby Event (other supermarkets also run similar promotions). Toiletries and some basic items are available very cheaply here. Another tip would be to join all the baby clubs that major retailers have. Most supermarkets have them, as do other high street names. Many of them offer freebies as an incentive to join and can be quite useful.

If you have a Surestart Centre in your neighbourhood, then pop along to see what they have on offer. Our local one offers baby massage, toddler groups, baby groups, coffee mornings and messy play, to name just a few! Some classes are free, others will charge a nominal amount, but it can be a lot cheaper than other baby groups. They may also offer a toy library, which will give you a chance to sample toys on offer to see what is suitable for your child. Once you have seen what catches their eye, you know what to look for when buying for them.

There are other costs you will encounter, such as nappies (reusable are obviously cheaper than disposable, but that is a whole other topic!). You will also increase electricity usage as you are home more and no doubt washing a lot more than you would have previously! However it is clear to see where it is possible to make some savings that will help to offset the other costs that you cannot avoid.

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