Friday, April 19, 2024
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Splurge or save?

ANN/THE STAR – Amid the joyful anticipation of welcoming a new addition to the family, expectant parents are faced with a daunting task: navigating the world of baby products to determine what essentials are truly necessary and what items can be overlooked.

From cribs promising peaceful nights to innovative gadgets like white noise machines touted as parenting must-haves, the market is flooded with options, leaving new parents feeling overwhelmed by choice.

Father-of-six Mohd Izwan Hamzah, 40, said because of the novelty of welcoming their first born, would-be parents often over-plan, which was what he did 12 years ago.

“For our first child, the preparation was done way too early. We were too eager to get everything ready and organised for the new member of family. But over time, my wife and I became more adaptable to the unique requirement of each pregnancy and we learned from the experiences of previous preparations,” said the civil engineer.

For 39-year-old housewife Nur Fatimah Saiful Ahmad, who is mother to four children, the excitement of welcoming her first born was even greater. “After two years of waiting, we were just so happy to welcome our child. We wanted to buy almost everything, and at that point, everything was essential to us,” Fatimah, whose children are between five to 14 years old, said.

Meanwhile, engineer Siti Hawa Hambali said her list of baby and post-natal care items are usually very long, so she would divide the purchases into four to five months.

“Usually my earliest purchase would start in my fourth month of pregnancy,” said the mother of five, aged three to 10.



If there is one thing that these parents, who hail from different parts of Selangor agree on, is that it’s a good idea to invest in good babywearing gear.

Practised in many traditional cultures, babywearing has gained commercial success for two reasons: the proximity between the infant and the adult makes the infant feels safer and gives the parent a hands-free advantage to do other things while carrying his or her baby.

Siti Hawa even has two versions, the stretchy wrap and the soft, structured carrier. “I used the wrap for my newborns until they were four months old, and moved to the carrier until they were around 15 months old,” said Siti Hawa.

She finds it convenient, especially during doctor appointments because her babies sleep really well when they are in the wrap.

Mohd Izwan recommended a carrier that offers multiple carrying positions, padded shoulder straps, a supportive waistband and is machine-washable. “I used the baby carrier more frequently than the baby stroller,” he said.

In her list of baby essentials to splurge on, Siti Hawa also includes two items that prioritise the well-being and comfort of mothers – nursing chair and pillow.

“Through my first three deliveries, I learnt that the postnatal period is very tiring, with sleepless nights and feeding sessions, so for my fourth postnatal period, I bought a nursing chair as a solution,” she said.

Thanks to the chair’s gliding motion, she was able to rock her baby to sleep while maintaining a relaxed position.

Elaine Chew, who founded baby store 12 years ago, said generally, parents would splurge on quality, innovation and user-friendliness. “They also want something that would grow with their children to make the splurge worthwhile,” she said.


These parents unanimously name two items not worth buying – baby food processor and baby cot.

“I was so excited to introduce my baby to food that I jumped at the sight of a steam-and-blend baby food maker. It made food preparation looks so easy,” said Nur Fatimah. But it didn’t take her too long to realise that any regular blender or food processor could get the same job done without taking much time on cleaning and space for storage.

Like most first-time parents, Siti Hawa bought a baby cot but it was not used until the arrival of her fourth child.

A self-confessed practical shopper, Mohd Izwan said parents don’t need to buy baby shoes and baby-specific laundry detergent. “First of all, babies cannot walk, so they don’t need shoes. You can always use normal detergent and wash thoroughly to make sure there is no residue on the clothes that might irritate baby’s sensitive skin,” he said.


While parents’ purchases for infants centre around major issues like mobility, sleep and breastfeeding, carers, who look after babies while their parents go to work or are out running errands, require a different set of items.

Since they are expected to stay home with the infant, naturally, they need things to keep keep babies comfortable.

For carer Nur Shakira Sarifudin, 30, what’s important in her work is a steady supply of essentials – diapers, baby wipes, bibs, blanket and favourite toys. “These items are important for a baby’s comfort, to create a more relaxed atmosphere so he or she is calm while the parents are away,” she said.

Nur Shakira also brings her own set of baby-safe toys to work because they help with the young one’s sensory development. “Engaging babies in suitable activities is not just a task; it represents a fundamental aspect of my role as a carer that extends beyond just playing and caring,” she said.

“A portable playpen or a safe area to play ensures child safety while providing a secure space for supervised play during caregiving. It also allows the carer to attend to other essential tasks with the peace of mind that the child is in a safe spot.”


Some other items, however, are subjective. What works for some parents might not work on others. And these parents are on different pages when it comes to soothing devices for babies.

“A full set cradle stand with an electric motor has been invaluable for my baby’s sleep routine. The gentle rocking motion helps my baby sleep longer which allows me to be more productive during those precious nap time,” said Mohd Izwan.

However, Nur Fatimah trained all her children to sleep without the use of a swing or cradle. “It’s more practical, especially since our family travels a lot,” she added. – Zalina Mohd Som