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You might get one of these with your travel system. If not, you can choose between one which straps permanently in your car and one that you can lift out with baby still inside. Go to Mothercare, be bamboozled, find one which fits. If you don't have a car then you'll still need a carseat for taking taxis or legally catching lifts. It's not technically illegal to travel in a taxi without a carseat but that doesn't mean it's sensible. Don't be fooled into thinking you will be able to carry baby around in the carseat for any great distance once you arrive. Try carrying an empty carseat around for five minutes. Heavy and awkward, isn't it? And with baby in, you won't be able to wear it as a hat. You need a carseat which attaches to wheels or you need to take a buggy with you.

The BBC Freeview channel for under-fives. You probably have it already. Teletubbies, Tweenies, Bill & Ben, Bob the Builder, Postman Pat, Fireman Sam - they're all here. Switch your TV to this and then lose the remote until you have to start shopping for school uniforms.

Waterproof sheets, fitted sheets, etc
Having a small child is like carrying a slightly leaky bag of sewage around with you the whole time. (Not to put you off or anything...) When disaster strikes at three in the morning you want to be able to change the sheets as quickly and as easily as possible. You'll want at least three sets of bed linen to cope with any exciting out-break of gastric flu. Don't forget waterproof sheets for your own bed as well - it's better to be safe than sleeping in toxic waste.
Sleeping Bags
A baby lying in a cot or crib has nothing she can do to entertain herself except kick off her covers and then scream because she's cold. Thwart her by getting a set of baby sleeping bags. These are zip up quilted sacks with holes for her head and arms. They're great. You can get a baby ready for bed, put her in the bag, get her to nod off, lower her into the cot and then not wake her up while faffing with blankets.

Even once baby can crawl, you will still need to go to the toilet... or check on the cooking or quickly put on a load of laundry or take a weekend break to Dublin (kidding (mostly)). Carrying a growing child around with you everywhere is tiring, so why not plonk them down in a temporary holding cell? Also useful for keeping smaller children safe from violent, older siblings and clumsy guests. One with a gate is best because lifting a child over the side all the time will jigger your back. Can be used as a prison. Lid and hoist system optional.

Home cinema system
You're not going to get out much for awhile. Now is the time to invest in that big telly. Consider a DVD rental service or something like Sky+. Subtitles and the ability to pause and rewind are essential in dealing with crying, pestering and sudden, toxic disaster.

We were given cotton buds before Sprog1 arrived and I still don't know what that's about. You'll need body wash, no-tears shampoo, antiseptic nappy cream, a mountain of cotton-wool balls, baby wipes and some E45 moisturising cream. Don't get too much to start with of anything baby might react badly to. Don't get talcum powder - it's not good for her lungs.

Hooded towels
Wet babies get cold instantly. Wrap him up warm in one of these. You can also get hooded ponchos which are particularly useful at the swimming pool.

Baby bath
You can wash baby in a normal bath but that uses more water and reaching over the sides could be uncomfortable. Before buying a baby bath, though, think about how you're going to fill it and empty it and where you're going to store the large, wet thing when it's not in use. They're heavy to lift when full. A washing-up bowl is big enough to start with but try to avoid using the same one you use for your crockery. (You know it makes sense).

Baby chair
A little bouncy chair lifts baby out of trouble and lets him see what's going on better. This makes for a more contented child and saves you having to sit holding him all the time. Make sure the fabric can be taken off and washed, however. Discourage older children from attempting to catapult baby across the room (unless you want to draw some target rings and make a game of it...)

High chair
This is one of those occasions where paying a little extra can make your life a great deal easier. A strong five-point harness is essential. Check the tray comes all the way off for ease of cleaning and to allow a child to be put in without breaking legs. If the chair tips back you can leave the child in it when they nod off (once you've made sure they don't still have a mouth half-full of rice cake). Wheels are unusual but useful for moving the chair about and rocking a distressed/sleepy child. Adjustable height is a waste of time. Anything which isn't readily washable is taking the mick.

Comfy chair
You'll need somewhere with good arm and back support for giving baby her bottle. Keep the remotes in easy reach. Remember to switch the telly on before you sit down.

Stair gates
These are useful even in flats. You can put them in doorways and turn rooms into playpens. Ones that attach to the wall are obviously harder to fit but they are more secure and tend not to have a bar running along the floor that's great for tripping over.

Door stops, cupboard locks, video locks, etc
It will take you six months to get round to fitting the cupboard locks. You might as well stock up now.

You'll be offered second-hand versions of many of these things but take a look at them before accepting. Chances are that the items are broken, hideous, poorly designed or old and lethal. Be polite and then suddenly remember that you mother-in-law has already promised you a similar item. Some things, such as carseats and cot mattresses, you should always buy new.

Things not to Buy

Everyone else will buy plenty and baby will ignore them. For a long time baby's best toy will be you.

Multimedia PC
Educational games are usually pretty awful. They're certainly not worth buying a new computer for specially. Don't let the grandparents convince you otherwise. Wait until your kid's at school and needs to use the internet to research their homework and make dubious friends. You'll get a better deal if you wait.

Season tickets
For a while after baby arrives, getting everyone up will be an achievement. Unless you live next to the zoo, you're not going to visit very often.

Evil books
There are plenty of books out there offering the one true path to having a happy, confident, content, obedient baby. They will make you feel miserable, bad, helpless and pathetic. They are evil. Avoid.