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10 buys for baby! Parents waste hundreds of pounds on baby products they never use. Birmingham Mail reporter and mumto-be EMMA DEADMAN investigates what's worth buying and what's not when it comes to kitting out your bundles of joy. How to cut the cost of having a baby.

Byline: EMMA DEADMAN

WHEN I discovered I was to become a firsttime mum, words couldn't describe my elation.

All sense of rationality went out of the window when I started thinking about shopping for our bundle of joy.

The line between items that were a necessity quickly became blurred with the desire to have it all as I discovered the plethora of baby paraphernalia on the market. I convinced myself that unless I bought every "essential" gadget known to man - from air purifiers to a video link for the nursery - our baby wouldn't prosper.

And it seems I'm not the only one. A recent survey by parenting club Bounty found UK mumsbest TURN TO PAGE 20 BABY SLEEPING BAG Multi Spot Print Sleeping Bag 2.5 tog, from John Lewis (pounds 22-26) Sleeping bags are said to boost the safety of a child, helping to prevent the potential danger of a blanket slipping over the baby's head and also stops their feet getting stuck between cot bars.

CHANGING MAT Jungle Fun Changing Mat - from Babies R Us (pounds 8.99). This colourful mat is soft, padded and easy to wipe clean. The edges are slightly higher too, to stop baby from rolling to the sides. With its cute giraffe motif and neutral unisex colours, it looks great in a nursery.

BABY CHANGING BAG Babymule Changing Bag - from www.babymule.co.uk and www.

amazon.co.uk (pounds 84).

With its ability to transform from a backpack to a messenger bag, this is perfect for rambles in the countryside or days out at the shops. It's also water resistant and has plenty of space and also contains a changing pouch, mat, bottle insulator and messy bag.

TRAVEL COT Bassinet Travel Cot - Babies R Us (pounds 119.99).

Compact, easy to unlock and in a funky unisex design, this cot packs away into a handy carry case and even has a full-size bassinet (an insert that provides a shallower level) which is ideal for newborns.

ELECTRIC STEAM STERILISER KIT Avent 3-in-1 Electric Steam steriliser - Mothercare or www.amazon.co.uk (pounds 60).

Due to its adjustable size, this steriliser perfectly fits any items you would like to sterilise from dummies to full-size bottles and takes up the least amount of kitchen space.

MICROWAVE STEAM STERILISER KIT Nuby Mini Steriliser, Boots or www.nuby-uk.com (pounds 9.99). The size of this mini microwave steriliser makes it perfect for families who like to travel. It takes up to two bottles and sterilises them in just five minutes. It's also great value at less than a tenner, and takes up barely any room in the kitchen.

STAIR GATE Lindam Easy Fit Plus Safety Gate - from Babies R Us (pounds 22.99).

This gate is easy to fit - without tools. It has a "pinch and lift" onehanded opening, which is a God-send when you have a baby in your other arm.

DUMMY/PAC IFIER My Favourite Things Soother - Babies R Us (pounds 3.49).

These colourful dummies have silicone orthodontic teats and come complete in a handy re-usable case.

BABY MONITOR Avent DECT Audio SCD505 - from Mothercare and www.amazon.co.uk (pounds 54.99). This super sensitive monitor picks up even the tiniest of sounds coming from the nursery, with a whopping range of up to 330-metres.

DIGITAL EAR THERMOMETER Brother Max - 3 in 1 Digital Thermometer, Mamas & Papas (pounds 35). Gives an accurate reading in just one second. It takes the temperature from the baby's ear or forehead and even gives the room temperature.

WHICH?'S TOP TEN LEAST USEFUL 1. Fabric sling 2. Nappy stacker 3. Baby washing (top and tail) bowls 4. Nappy disposal bin 5. Bumbo seat 6. Door baby bouncer 7. Baby carrier 8. Ride-on toddler board for buggy/pushchair 9. Night light 10. Baby reins to-be waste pounds 158 million a year on baby products they never use. Bounty spokeswoman Sally Hall says: "It's hard to know what to buy for a baby if you haven't had one before. When it comes down to it, all babies need is to have their basic needs met - to eat, be kept clean and warm, and to be loved - something parents should keep in mind if they're watching their spending." And there is help out their for parents-to-be who are determined, like me, to rein in their spending.

Consumer watchdog magazine Which? polled parents to come up with a list of top-ten musthaves new parents could buy, excluding core items such as pushchairs and cots. Among the items parents found most useful were stairgates, baby monitors and changing mats. The survey also reveals the ten products parents found the least useful - from baby reins to night lights.

There's also a wealth of websites and organisations set up specifically to help parents and mums-to-be to save cash. One of those is price comparison website mumsmall.com, which has also carried out a survey revealing that the average cost of starting a family is now pounds 10,500 - a staggering pounds 3,500 more than in 2003. Gemma Campbell, the site's data analyst, said parents could save heaps of cash by shopping around to find the best deal.

And, once the baby has arrived, other top tips she recommended was to cut the cost of sterilisers, bottles and formula by breastfeeding, using cloth nappies rather than disposables and to make your own baby food from blended fruit and vegetables, instead of buying costly premade products in tins and jars.

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Little feet, big decisions: Emma Deadman tries out the latest baby items.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 21, 2011
Words:930
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