The top five items you didn’t know were essentials, before you had a baby.

Which? magazine special offer - Littlest in front of washing machine with laundry.

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Last week, my tumble dryer stopped working. Four years ago, that wouldn’t have been a big deal. In fact, four years ago, I didn’t have a tumble dryer. I hung stuff from radiators. I waited for it to be sunny outside before I put a wash on. I sniffed and decided that jumper was clean, as it had no visible stains on (no visible stains!). Alas, the blissful ignorance of those days has long gone.

At the time of the fateful laundry crisis, I had a full load of the kids’ clothes, dripping wet and ready to go in. Already in the washing machine were some guest sheets and towels that were in there ready for friends staying that evening. It was a total emergency. There were no other towels clean enough for guests. The kids had nothing to wear. I couldn’t, it turns out, crank the heating up and frantically wave stuff and drape it on radiators because my son, who has autism, was not used to this and seeing clothes hanging around in the ‘wrong’ places made him scream. It was raining outside. In short, I was in trouble.

While browsing Which? and Currys simultaneously for a tumble dryer that wouldn’t give out within a year (like this one had) but that could be delivered within 48 hours, I pondered how my life has changed. Before kids, I would have thought things like tumble dryers were luxuries – things that you could easily get by without, if push came to shove. Oh, how naive I was. This got me thinking about some of the other items that you suddenly rely on, once you are parents.

ONE – Dishwasher

Washing up a few plates and forks doesn’t take much time, right? It’s a pain but it only takes a few minutes if you make sure you wash up as you along? Well, actually, when you are on the fiftieth snack request of the day and you have gone through all the Ikea plates you own, and you haven’t had time to wash yourself, let alone the breakfast things, then a dishwasher becomes your best friend. You DO NOT want that hour you have between putting the kids down and the first wake-up to be filled with washing dishes.

TWO – A fancy baby monitor

A monitor is a monitor, right? You just need to be able to hear if they have woken up. Except, the fear that something terrible has happened, that they may be trapped, have stopped breathing or been stolen by an owl – well, it’s hard to shake. It is probably a symptom of the age (our parents did without such new-fangled gadgets) but you will soon realise that you really want a monitor that sends a live video feed of your baby to the TV, checks breathing, heart rate, current sleep state, and the PH level of their saliva. In fact, you need one.

THREE – Baby wipes

I feel like there should be some dramatic, inspirational music here, kind of like when a character finds the Holy Grail in an adventure film. I cannot conceive of my life before baby wipes. If you had asked me about them a few years ago, I would have assumed they were something only babies needed, or, at most, the parents of babies. The clue was in the name. Baby wipes.

Baby wipes fix everything. They remove any stain. They remove make-up. They get crayon off the bookshelves and they clean the oven better than the fancy Flash ones do. They are indispensable. My life has been made batter by baby wipes and that is not an exaggeration.

FOUR – A car seat that rear-faces

I had no idea that children were much safer rear-facing when I had my son. He went straight into a forward-facing seat when he outgrew the carrier at 10 months, because I thought that was just what you did. A few years and some harrowing research later, we purchased a seat that rear-faces until age 4 for our daughter. Ideally, they should rear-face for even longer. Unfortunately she hates to rear-face, so she does sometimes forward-face for shorter journeys now, at the age of 2. Luckily, our seat easily switches between the two.

FIVE – The faithful tumble dryer

See above. We have since got a new condensing dryer which is a slightly better model than the old one. It dries clothes faster. This makes me happier than I would ever have thought white goods could, pre-children.

Which? magazine special offer – 1 month for just £1

If you are currently shopping for products for a new baby, or have suddenly realised that you have been existing without one of the products above, you can’t go wrong with doing a bit of research on Which?. They have hundreds baby and child related products

You can even get a free £5 gift card when you take out a £1 for 1 month trial of Which?, in association with Tots100 at the moment. The card is redeemable at, Marks & Spencer, Starbucks, Argos and John Lewis.

Once you have signed up you will be confirmed as a valid customer and your voucher will be emailed to you. Once your trial ends, membership automatically continues at £10.75 a month, but can be cancelled at any time.

How to claim your £5 eGift:

  1. Click through to the TOTS 100 Blogger Network landing page
  2. Enter your name and email address (this is only used for checking you are a valid Which? customer and sending your eGift)
  3. On the thank you page, click “Try Which?”
  4. Fill in the Which? registration form and start your £1 trial
  5. Once you have been confirmed as a valid Which? customer, you will be emailed your £5 eGift

Which? test hundreds of products every year. Their experience and expertise enables them to select the best approach to testing products and services, in a way that nobody else can. They examine things like price, running costs, efficiency and reliability and, because they are totally independent, they are always straight to the point and unbiased. They don’t just compare big items like fridges or microwaves either. In fact, baby and child items are one of their expert areas – they even have tonnes of free information such as where to buy the cheapest baby wipes.

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For a taste of what Which? can offer parents, check out their free guide on buying the right baby products here

So, if the worst happens and your tumble dryer breaks down unexpectedly, you can rest assured that Which? will send you in the direction of the best value-for-money replacements. And if you are wondering how we solved the problem of the impending guests… well, baby wipes were involved.




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