Over the years I’ve watched friends and family become parents for the first time and Hubbie and I, sometimes, do get asked about ‘things you need for a baby’. Whilst we now realise that the baby books lie to you about the things that you need –we laugh at the ‘essentials’ that can be listed – we fell into the same trap as all new parents. When we were looking at our list we had bought the ubiquitous cot, pram, bouncy chair (that was so bouncy it nearly flicked Ollie out of it!) baby monitor, mobile, clothes etc. etc. etc. but there was also something called ‘muslin squares’. Hubbie and I had no idea what they were and nearly nine years ago ‘googling’ to find an answer wasn’t really an option so off to the baby shop we went. After coming back with 3 packs of the things we washed them, hung them up to dry, folded and put them in a draw still laughing about what the heck we were supposed to do with them.
Ollie arrived and bringing him home we were caught up in the whirlwind that is having a new baby. The house quickly became a mess with baby clothes, washing and 2 very tired adults but we didn’t think about the muslin squares until one day I saw another mum with one on her shoulder that was catching all the little milk burps of her little one. I instantly got one out and that was that; my love affair with the cloths had begun. Since then they have been used for absolutely everything you can think of – we used clothes pegs to hold one on Ollie’s pram to protect him from the sun, we’ve used them to mop up sick, wee, poo and even our coffees on some particularly bad days. They been used as sheets when we’ve been out and there’s been an ‘incident’ that meant the pram sheet needed changing. They’ve been folded into a triangle and gently tied round of our dribbly sons necks when they were teething and even used as a make do nappy in those total ‘oh my life what they heck are we going to do???’ moments. (This happened to us outside HMS Victory in Portsmouth when Ollie was still tiny) They’ve been used to play peekaboo to keep little ones entertained, lots of teddies have had makeshift blankets made from them and Tobes just last week had one tied round his neck as a cape and was an fabulous super Toby saving the world (and the cottage) from all the baddies.
I have about 15 still and although my boys are no longer babies they are still invaluable. Now they are piled under the white unit in the breakfast area in what should have been cottage number 1’s fire place. When the boys need to wipe their mouths they hop off the bench or chair they’re on, get ‘a muzzy’ as they call them and use them as a makeshift napkin. Occasionally Henry puts one on his head and pretends to be a ghost which, weirdly, we all still find funny and this just makes me see just how far we’ve come. I did notice the other day that they were looking a bit manky as I used them to clean up spills when things are knocked over and Hubbie has now taken to using them in the kitchen sometimes which is a always a downhill slope to being burned or stained. I scooped up a few and put them in the sink in the utility room and decided to bleach them and after a few hours the crisp whiteness that reminded me of new babies returned to the muslin squares and after a turn around the washing machine they looked as good as new.
I know one day we’ll come to the end of the muslins and I’ll have to make a decision as to whether to buy anymore. I mentioned this to Hubbie and he said ‘of course we still need them, what on earth would we do without them??’ and he’s right, they are just as fab to grab when you’ve knocked your wine over as they are to use as a cleaning cloth which is nothing related to babies…
We bought so much useless stuff when we first had Ollie and through each child have slimmed down the things that we used. We had a baby monitor for a few weeks but it didn’t work in our 16th century house as the walls were too thick so it got put back in the box and eventually given away. We’ve never had a stair gate despite having 3 boys, a cottage with very steep stairs, a 3 storey house at one time with 2 sets of stairs and the boys have rarely had any problems with stairs. We didn’t use a baby bath for no 2 and 3 but filled it with cars and toys until it too was eventually given away. We didn’t ‘baby proof’ the house nor put anything dangerous in higher cupboards apart from the bleach and the food processors stupidly sharp blade –which I’ve also given away! In fact I’m noticing a pattern with us…
We didn’t have special soft feeding spoons for weaning we just used the spoons we had in the house, we didn’t give them special plastic bowls, we just used the china bowls we have already and if one broke well, they saw what happened and they very rarely break anything now. Of every baby ‘essential’ that we’ve bought and given away I have never given away a muslin square in fact, I’d fight to the death before I was forced to part with them.
I had white ones, blue ones, patterned ones and ones with teddies on but all that gorgeous babyness has long since been 90 degree washed away. They sit wrinkled and loosely folded in the kitchen quietly until they are called on to selflessly save the day. I see, online, so many new parents asking for advice as to what to buy the baby, wanting to know what they need and I see ridiculously long lists of things that other people recommend. All you need really is something for the baby to wear, somewhere for them to sleep and some way of carrying them around. Think about how you’re going to feed them and what nappies you’ll use but above all I’d say they need 2 packs of muslins squares. If they have all that I’d say they had everything pretty much covered.