When we were expecting our first-born, we were, looking back, or maybe I was, a bit overly prepared. I had bought and read cover to cover three books about the topic, spoke to several other parents both new and experienced, and bought almost every conceivable item that ‘would help make life easier’.

Now that we are ‘seasoned mum and dad’, we haven’t even bought anything yet and the baby is already six months plus. This time round I am not working and have decided to use the time instead to be more involved in my children’s education (the eldest is sitting for the UPSR next year) and finish my MBA dissertation (still a bit more writing to do). I’ve only invested in two maternity outfits. When I was working I would have bought a whole new wardrobe of about 10-14 different outfits.

Looking back, the only things really necessary are probably (it also sort of depends on personal preference) a baby swing (its not actually a swing but rather sort of a cot that can swing, get the automatic one which uses electricity, worth the investment), diapers (goes without saying), baby clothes (buy neutral colours if you are planning to re-use them or are planning for more kids), and small items like baby soap and diaper cream. Baby wipes are handy when travelling, at home I prefer cotton and water. Our children’s cousins do get diaper rash so I think the barrier cream is essential, apart from good hygiene. For Malaysians of course, another good buy is a full-time maid to do the laundry, clean the house, etc.

I bought nursing bra’s but hardly used them. I prefer to nurse my children lying on the side in bed because my babies were quite heavy plus, I did have Caesarean section more than twice. When I was working I did use a breast pump and it was handy when needed. Luckily I only needed it for my first and second child, by the third I had a very flexible work arrangement that it was no longer a necessity. Breast pads too are useful to prevent leaks.

I found the stroller very useful when we were in Dublin for shopping, you can use it instead of the trolley to load groceries. It was a prized item for long distance travel, whenever going back to Malaysia, and the airlines were very helpful to place the strollers just outside the door of the plane.

The car seat is important for those who travel by car, unfortunately in Malaysia, laws regarding children restraints are pretty lax so many children travel without such but thankfully, most make it safe, though not all.