For many people, raising children is one of life's great pleasures. On the downside, the little darlings will not only burn a large hole in your wallet, but you will find your living space invaded by all manner of clutter that you never imagined you would require. Babies need things to wear, lie on, sit on, play in, play with, ride on, bathe in, eat with, drink from, sleep in and make unannounced bowel movements in.
We don't have cupboard space to store all of these things, and in any case they're all in regular use, so you'll find yourself tiptoeing around it all as you travel between rooms. It's worth taking photos of your carpets before the baby arrives, as you may not see them again for another five years.
But what do we do when the child no longer needs the equipment? Many hang on to it, either for sentimental reasons, or on the off chance they have more children in the future. Some give it to friends and family who have children on the way, and others sell theirs through the small ads or at car boot sales, or give it to charity shops - refugee centres in particular gladly receive it, we're told.
Some of us, however, hang on to baby equipment in the hope that we might be able to reuse it for some other purpose. This Entry describes how some members of the h2g2 community have put their obsolete baby equipment to novel use.
These one-way radios are a godsend for parents who want their bedroom to themselves, but want to know if the baby, asleep in its own bedroom, wakes up crying. Once children are walking, it's not normally needed - they will simply climb out of bed and come and disturb you.
A baby monitor won't serve as a walkie talkie, but it still has a number of uses around the home. If you have an elderly relative or invalid staying with you, then it can be useful as an emergency alarm. If you take it on holiday, you can also use it to check up on your dogs in the apartment while you're dining in the restaurant.
If you're cooking tea but don't want to miss the end of Eastenders, then place the monitor next to the stove so you can hear when the pasta boils over. Chauvinistic males can also use it the other way around to ask the stove-bound wife to bring them out another beer when the football's on the telly.
If you're working in the garden, then a baby monitor will tell you when the doorbell or phone rings - place the telephone near the door to hear both. Similarly, you can be summoned by your other half when your dinner's ready.
We can never have enough receptacles to store things in, and h2g2 Researchers have found a few novel ideas:
I'm 51 and I believe my mother only threw out my baby bath 2 years ago; the plastic finally got so brittle it began to crack.
A baby bath can make a good laundry or ironing basket. It's also an excellent shape for mixing small quantities of sand and cement in.
Layette boxes, originally used for changing paraphernalia, baby toiletries etc, can be used to store sundry items in the bathroom.
Children's colourful wellies can make interesting novelty flowerpots. Nail them to an old tree stump for stability - the holes will also provide drainage.
Baby formula milk would often come in useful-sized cans - handy for storing assorted nails, screws and bolts in the garage or garden shed.
Baby clothes are best handed down to other babies, but a few of the smaller ones can be kept to dress baby dolls and teddies, when your children are old enough to play this sort of game. It also helps your child to understand how tiny they were when they were born.
Unserviceable ones could make useful rags. Terry nappies and muslin cloths are popular items to reuse, particularly as floor cloths, shelf liners and small towels to wipe dogs' paws. They also make a useful liner for cat crates when you visit the vet.
I don't know how the shaped nappy generation gets its floors clean.
If you're an avid sewer (that's someone who sews, not an underground drain), then you can make a traditional keepsake quilt by cutting out patches from worn-out baby clothing.
Soft toys tend not to have much reuse value, but it's always worth retaining a few to embarrass the children with when they grow up! Don't discard all the other toys, games and books, either: keep a few for the grandchildren to play with.
I'm currently working on converting a 'baby bouncer' into a monorailed indoor mobility device for someone with a broken leg to bounce around in their own home with.
Not all baby equipment is as suitable for advanced engineering projects. Modern day prams and buggies no longer have the large wheels which made useful go-karts in years gone by, yet there are a few devices which can be put to more inventive uses:
Booster seats are often made of styrofoam, and when removed, this can serve as a makeshift flotation device, or just something to play with in the paddling pool.
Stairgates can be useful for keeping pets confined to a particular area of the house, or for keeping them apart.
Finally, if you need to refit a stairgate, but have lost the little mounting cups which it fits into, then you might find some baby food jar tops are the perfect size - just screw them to the wall.