Everything a baby really needs

As a new mom (well, I suppose not that new any more – I have 6 months of experience), I am a captive audience for any one trying to sell a gadget, gizmo or contraption that promises to make my baby happier, calmer or more content. I’ve realized that most retailers prey on this and yet, when I think of how my parents had a lot less at their disposal in terms of baby paraphernalia and the fact that I’ve turned out reasonably normal and well-adjusted (I accept that the jury might still be out on this point), it seems unnecessary to spend a small fortune on raising a child. Yes, I might have spent the equivalent of the GDP of a small country on kitting out the nursery as best I could, but after watching this documentary simply entitled “Babies” , I’ve been doing a lot of thinking.

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The documentary follows the first year of 4 babies from very different parts of the world – USA, Japan, Mongolia and Namibia. There is no Hollywood voice as a narrator (sorry Morgan Freeman, you missed out on this one) – just an objective depiction of the daily lives – in fact, I think this makes it so easy to understand and draw one’s own conclusion. Could it be that less is more when it comes to babies? Are we over-doing it as new parents when it comes to buying things for our children? All they really need is love.

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Comment below and stand a chance to win a bottle of Ma Vie – a gorgeous new fragrance by Hugo Boss. Congrats to the winner of the sunglasses from my Sunglass Hut collection – Gillian Adams – looking forward to welcoming you to the sisterhood of moms soon 🙂

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37 Comments

  1. Charis Kb
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    Good old fashioned TLC is the best medicine,fixer,gluestick,best plaster,cement and sealer as a parent. Its true that love makes the world go round and as a parent its all u need. Forget all the fancy gadgets and accessories its not wrong to have beautiful things and every parent wants the best for their baby but LOVE first and all else will follow <3

  2. Mamosebo
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    Hmmm, its one of those things you don’t really think about until as in your case, one comes across such a documentary. Its also difficult because as a mother you want what’s best for your child, but now we don’t know exactly what “best” is. There are a lot of alluring “baby things” we get tempted to buy but aren’t particularly necessary. It’s a tough one. But at the end different babies from different backgrounds will have different toys and “gadgets” etc. It doesn’t in my opinion make either one’s “babyhood” better or worse, it just makes it that, different.

  3. Jillian
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I concur “All they really need is love” and attention. Also nice clean dry healthy bums. And good nutrition. 🙂

  4. Aneeqah Solomon
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I absolutely agree! I think that all babies need is in fact, love. Less IS more. These new gadgets are a waste of money because the kids get bored easily and parents then feel obliged to buy something bigger and better. It becomes a nasty cycle.
    I appreciate mothers who can both calm and entertain their kids, without the use of all these modern inventions, which claim to do a better job than mommy herself!
    Give them your time and love, all the time! 🙂

  5. Lizelle Booysen
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I do think that we spend too much on baby stuff, I have a 6 month old baby girl and I found that she doesn’t need nearly as much stuff as what I bought. Some things are none negotiable. I found that less stuff but the best quality I can afford is a better way of thinking.

  6. Taryn
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    Retailers absolutely prey on new moms… it’s good business for them 🙂 As a pregnant mom all you want is everything of the best, the ‘right’ nappy bin, bottles, dummies, nappies, nurseries…. etc etc etc – once the baby arrives and you are a little further down the parenting line you realise how insignificant the ‘stuff’ really is.

  7. chrisanta nair
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I totally agree jo ann!I’m a new mum to a 7.5 month old baby boy,and we spoil him a lot with toys and branded things but he doesn’t know about all that,he only feels our love,I told hubby aswell we buy these things but baby knows nothing n so many kids out there don’t have what he has but they still fine..all these small gadgets don’t really help them because we never had it and turned out fine,at times I think its just a money making scheme as us 1st time mums are so gugglerble!a loved baby is a happy baby

    Thanks for the blog
    Xoxo 🙂
    Chrisanta

  8. Bianca Lombard
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    As a mom of a 17 month old busy boy, we find he is less stressed and frustrated if we just give him the attention he seeks, engaging in activities with our son, playing outside, watering the garden or letting him communicate to you (in his own babble language) while having your full attention is much more of what he needs than expensive toys, playing “baby games” on the iphone or watching tv. All that running around tires him out anyway and us parents can’t help but look forward to 7pm “alone time” haha!

  9. Heather Boshoff
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    We’ve had 2 kids in reasonably short succession and have experimented with various stimuli. The winner, hands down, is always found in nature, the way it was intended to be all along, I presume. My kids are happiest on the farm, playing on the grass, catching ladybugs, picking up stones, throwing stones, chasing after the chickens, rubbing sand all over themselves or throwing each other with sand!
    I’ve been way too quick, when back in the city, to diagnose a cranky daughter as going through “teething”, but just put her outside for a while where she crawls after the leaves and she’s happy as Larry.
    That said, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t buy our children books and stimulate them in other ways too, but I do believe that a R2000 electronic play table doesn’t provide as long and as consistent entertainment as the dogs, the steps, the plants, the stones and the sand – we’ve seen it.
    That and a Mother’s love.

  10. Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I remember being a little girl of around 10, I had a few plastic dolls but not the real Barbie ones. I used to create plays, outings and events for them and had so much fun. One day my friend with a real Barbie doll came over, however her precious doll just sat on a fancy frilly bed the whole day, like a princess. I just had to stare at her beauty, the long hair and ballroom gown. And that made me realize, the power of imagination and having a zest for life. Seeking adventure and having fun as children and taking that into adulthood. If you can cultivate that in your offspring then you have achieved a lot.

  11. Cheryl Davids
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I am a 26 year mother to be, and my husband and I have already decided not to go over board. We both grew up, with parents that followed our grandma’s and advise, and today, we are well and living. Yes certain things these days is a must, our lives are busy, but I’m already walking with sunglasses in store, not to be tempted to purchase everything baby related.

    We will rather that all that money, and invest in a savings plan, for baby.

    #babyonboard #excited #secondtime lucky

  12. Ashrika Kasiparsad
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    If there is one thing i have learned when i was little, is that the love i got from my mother could not compare to anything else! Who is the first person we call when we fall or get hurt? Yes, its mum! And now i have my own daughter who i shower with love and attention! Not expensive toys and things only money can buy. When u give a child love and attention, you are giving them a door to opportunity and learning becomes easier for them! Let your childs imagination grow and never be afraid to let your own inner child come out to play at times! Its the young years of your babys life which builds an emotionally strong bond and foundation for their future! Love is eternal and life changing! It brings positivity to all who feel it!

  13. Shelly
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I agree completely! I spent too much money on my first child on things that he didn’t even use it need. I vowed that with my next child I’ll do things differently.

  14. Carmen
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    After buying a few gadgets for your baby, we’ve discovered things we use around the house everyday, seem to keep her occupied for longer than the big colourful age appropriate toys out there. And as bonus it develops her motor skills on the very things she will need to use it. Obviously need to check safety. Variety of size and shape important to keep it interesting. But if they see you use it, they would want to as well. 🙂

  15. Lee-Ann
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    Great blog post.. I am a modern mommy of a 6 year old. And reading your blogs always give me more insight and positive outcome in raising a well balanced child.

  16. CandiceK
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I definitely agree! I am a 30 year old mom of 2 daughters aged 7 & 3 (yes I started young lol)! We are not a rich family but we always tried to give our kids “the best” of everything. I now think we were actually spoiling them. Especially the older one. The younger one (who always gets all the hand-me-downs) is so much more grateful for the littlest of things. And yes, they enjoy simple things that are found in the house – they always choose playing with my kitchen utensils instead of their toys! And yesterday – we made homemade ice-blocks with mixing juice and they absolutely loved it!!
    All they need is love! Well said!

  17. Alison
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    The only thing a child NEEDS is someone to love them… but love encompasses many physical actions – to be touched, hugged, read to, fed, clothed, educated… but it is driven by one emotion…. LOVE.

  18. Claire
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    Completely agree! My son places with pots, pans, boxes of tissues, empty wrapping paper rolls, hosepipes, my old handbags. Its important for kids to develop and imagination and to play with random things in the house. As they get older, they get attached to cartoon characters and certain types of toys, but generally, kids can make a game from buckets and brooms – just as my son does.

  19. Lynn Scheepers
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    As a new first time mom to a 6month baby boy, I too have found that the best thing I could ever give my precious boy is my undivided attention & time, coupled with loads of giggles, hugs and smooches. This is way better than any toy be it expensive or not.

  20. Tanusta Jainarain
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    The most precious gift u can give a child is love and affection , that’s all they need to be happy babies

  21. Janine
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I agree 100% all our lil angels needs is love,protection,attention,dry bums,full tummies and they will be hapy babies.My son is 5months and when i do all that he is the sweetest angel.

  22. Megs Hartwig
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    Living a less-distracted life: paying attention to the toys your children actually play with.

    It’s a pertinent topic considering we’re only a few months from Christmas and it’s been on my mind constantly.

    I made a point of observing/watching my daughter at play. Since then, nothing much has changed (except for the addition and subsequent disappearance of toys). It’s pretty obvious that my daughter has a lot of toys that she doesn’t play with and whilst they may be beautiful, they don’t serve any necessary purpose; they just sit dormant in a box. It’s time for another good clear out and subsequent evaluation of the things that we are bringing in (no use decluttering if we’re just going to fill the void with something new).

    I’ve always stuck by my golden rule when it comes to gifts but this year things are a little different. Firstly, my daughter doesn’t need anything. She’s pretty sorted in the wearing department, too. Which leaves a want, a read and perhaps a few stocking fillers. I am slowly introducing her to the idea of pocket money, savings and spending. I figure if on birthdays and at Christmas I can gift her some money to boost the savings it’s going to help out when she asks for something (I am holding off for as long as possible) or any other such big ticket items. So we do have a choice in the matter; you can keep it simple.

  23. Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    I think we often overdo it, but our needs are different in different areas. I couldn’t watch the whole movie now but keen to watch it when I get home later.

  24. Jill Overberg
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    All babies need to be happy is lots of tender love and care 🙂

  25. shaheeda loofer
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    As a mom of teenagers I have found that you need to set firm rules…buying children goodies as a reward sets good goals.as long as there is good communication and respect there is nothing wrong buying your children things..gadgets and the like if you can afford it and your children don’t take you for granted.

  26. linda
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    As the mom to a 20mnth old I’ve learnt its not so much the item that brings the joy, but more the packaging that brings hours of fun! My lil one was so spoilt for his 1st birthday and everyone was dying for him to open their gift that by the time he got round to them he just wanted the paper, cello tape and packaging more than the beautiful items contained within them. Xxx

  27. Pretty
    Mon, 15 September 2014
    Reply

    My two cents worth is that as a mother or as parents rather, we give all that we have or all that we can out of simple love and that’s the one thing we all have in common….love

  28. Mariam Dramat
    Tue, 16 September 2014
    Reply

    Love the blog. Children need love,care,protection,hugs,smiles,and family time. No gadgets,Tv,xbox. Play board games,read them a story, take a walk, show them the games you use to play as a kid.One of the best gifts you can give your child is your time.

  29. Lauren Jonkers
    Tue, 16 September 2014
    Reply

    Before meeting my husband, I was a single mom to a gorgeous boy who is now 5 years old. I fulfilled the role of both mom and dad and I can truly say I feel I played the part really well. My son lacked nothing, he never wanted for anything BUT he was missing out on a dad. Husby and I started dating, waited 2 months before introducing him to OUR son and the minute they met, there was an instant connection. THEY FELL HEAD OVER HEELS INLOVE. The LOVE my husband has for Josh is AMAZING. We have another son together who is a 1.5yrs his name is Noah. Nevermind toys Nevermind the material things LOVE is all that a child needs and the BOND between a parent and a HAPPY child is UNBREAKABLE. Josh LOVES his dad. We are truly BLESSED <3

  30. Paula De Wet
    Tue, 16 September 2014
    Reply

    Firstly I’d like to Congratulate you Jo-anne on your transition from Woman to MOM. Such an amazing gift, privilege and blessing to behold. A Mom no matter the nationality, race, creed, colour or ethnic group will always be Someone’s nurturer, care giver, protector, comforter, storyteller, play pal and educator yet being a Mom is most often the least recognised role in today’s society. Coming back to your mention of the film babies, looking at their tiny faces it is easy to tell which babies have their parents undivided Love and Attention the irony is the lifestyle they are faced with. In this modern world we have been forced to succumb to the craziness and busy expectations necessary to survive that we have become detached from the simple joy of just being human a being created in Love to be Loved. Ps. From all the posts below and above it’s clear to see why a Mom is a Mom and why Moms are so SPECIAL. Appreciation and cheers to All Amazing Moms out there. I’m a mom of 3 by the way.

  31. Tue, 16 September 2014
    Reply

    As a pre-adoption mummy I have been thinking a lot about that. I really want to run out and by everything for my angel that is still finding his/her way to me. I try not to feed into the marketing hype and want to have a balance between the must have and the nice to have. I have family on both sides of the spectrum who have the absolute bare minimum for the baby {where a cot or toys is a luxury} and the other side that before that baby is born they are so excited they lose perspective and buy shoes that would kit out a nursery and the baby wont even walk before those shoes are too small

    I have even witnessed a first birthday where the cake was 5 times the price of my wedding cake and I think my wedding was a tad extravagant

    So fortunately for me, while I wait for the call I have the time to think about it before getting to caught up in the excitement, I think if you can afford to buy those things without ever having to bat an eye-lid then well and good but if you not sure how you going to pay for their university fees but the pram is more than most peoples first cars then you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. LOL

    Mommy-to-be just don’t know when

  32. Schael
    Tue, 16 September 2014
    Reply

    I travel often and feel bad when leaving our 2 and 3 yr old kids with my hubby…not bad for him as he is very hands on dad and copes better than I do at times, but for me not being around.So there is an expectation that has been created (not purposefully), that when mom goes away she brings a surprise. My sister and I were never brought up this way, so when my hubby reminded me of this it really struck a cord…..its nice to give your kids what you never had but at the end of it all….ALL THEY REALLY DO NEED IS YOUR LOVE!

  33. Yolanda Hlomela
    Tue, 16 September 2014
    Reply

    Its really true, I’ve learned the 2nd time around to spend less money and give more love, hugs and attention. Babies enjoy the simpler things best anyway and they develop faster when you spend more time together cuddling and interacting.

  34. francine
    Thu, 18 September 2014
    Reply

    KISS thats what I say. Wish I knew this almost 2 years ago to the day.My son is his happiest playing outdoors in the sandpit or running through the lush green grass.

    I think as new moms we get caught up in the hype of it all. I grew up in a sqautter camp and didnt have much of anything, but i remember my mom always being there. Make shift toys made of anything left over by the neighbours or those more well off, hand me down toys and clothes ,and upcycling was the call of the day. I was happy and didnt realise till much later that “i didnt have’ what the majority of society consider ‘neccessities’.

    The best things in life are really free. Being there matters.

  35. monique leendertz
    Fri, 19 September 2014
    Reply

    Less is definitely more! Being practical is also the most important thing to me, so if I can use a 7 day disinfectant solution for my baby bottles rather than change it every 24 hours I do. If I can buy one contraption that I can use from the birth of my baby till he is one years old then I’ll buy it. The market is completely saturated with unnecessary goodies for babies and first time parents are often coerced into buying them at baby shows/expos.

    I say the more practical the better.

  36. Stacey-Ann Brauns
    Fri, 26 September 2014
    Reply

    I think its only natural to want to buy anything and everything as a first time parent. You are so excited and you want to give your baby the best of everything. With my first baby I was like that ( lol ), but I soon realised that its so not necessary. When the second baby came along, I only got the necessities. Things were not going well financially at that time, but when I looked at my then 2year old son and 1 month old daughter, I realised that they did not care about “things”. They have parents who love them and that are doing the best the can. That’s all the “things” they needed 🙂

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