Congratulations! Now you’ve had the good news that you’re expecting a baby, the next thing you have do is start to prepare for the birth. It can seem like babies need a lot of stuff – there is an almost unending amount of things that you could buy for baby - but what do you really need?
The good news is that you don’t need to buy everything at once. It’s best to take it slowly and only buy items as you need them. This is a helpful tip if you don’t want to waste your money on unused items and is particularly useful if you are on a tight budget.
Secondly, as soon as your friends and family know that you are expecting you may very well be inundated with gifts and items from people want to clear out their attics. Accept all items graciously even if you can’t imagine that you will ever use them - you never know!
You should get all the newborn baby clothes you need before the birth. You will probably get given lots of clothes once baby is born, but initially you will need at least
Babies can grow quite fast, so don’t buy loads more than this or you could end up with lots of unworn stuff. And you really will get given lots of clothes as gifts!
Image Credit: Abacus Baby
Even if you plan to co-sleep at night you will want to be able to put baby down to sleep during the day. You will need something such as a cot, Moses basket, hammock or carry cot. Although newborn babies in Finland sleep quite happily in a cardboard box.
I started both mine off in a Moses basket with a stand similar to these (I was given mine – seriously, don’t buy a lot of stuff too early!), which was easy to carry up and downstairs, then I put the baby into a cot when they outgrew the Moses basket. You should get several months use out of it.
You will need bedding for the above, so sheets, blankets and a mattress protector is a very good idea in case of nappy leaks. I would suggest at least 3 sets of bedding.
You will need a changing bag for carrying around the mountain of gear that you will need every time you go out of the house.
You don’t need to buy a bag specifically designed for this purpose but it will need to be waterproof inside. My husband, embarrassed by my girly floral changing bag, simply used a basic nylon rucksack if he took the baby out.
A Changing Mat which is plastic covered and so is easy to wipe down after a nappy change. These can be bought quite cheaply so we had one upstairs and one downstairs.
Car seats come in different types depending on the size and weight of your child . You will need a group 0 or 0+ rearward facing car seat which is the size required for newborn babies.
It is a legal requirement in the UK, Europe, US, Australia and many other countries that you use a proper car seat every time you take your baby out in a car. Certainly, in the UK you will not be allowed to leave hospital with your child unless you show that you have a suitable car seat to take baby home in.
(I wonder what happens if you genuinely live close enough to the hospital to walk home? Or don’t drive? Or take the bus?)
The iCandy Peach Designer Collection Pushchair and Carrycot is the current trendy baby transport.
Next you will want a pushchair for when you finally make it out of the house. There are many different types, from old fashioned Silver Cross prams to pushchairs that convert from a front facing baby pushchair to a forward facing buggy to travel systems that include a car seat that fits into a buggy frame. I would recommend that you get rain cover for your pushchair too – one day you WILL be so desperate to get out of the house you won’t care that it is raining….
One of the important decisions you will need to make is whether to use washable or disposable nappies. Whichever you choose you will need to get plenty of them in newborn size. If you are using washables make sure you stock up on washing powder too!
I strongly suggest that you use cotton wool for cleaning up baby’s bottom during a nappy change. Yes, you can use baby wipes, but cotton wool and water is much more economical and if your baby’s skin is at all sensitive you won’t be able to use wipes anyway. My eldest son suffered from eczema and even sensitive baby wipes made him sore, so water and cotton wool was the only option.
Definitely get some nipple cream in case you get sore and cracked nipples from breastfeeding (ouch).
Do get some breast pads in case you tend to leak milk. Don’t buy vast amounts in advance for your first baby however, in case you turn out not be the leaky type. I breast fed for six months and still had some of my initial stash left over. Other mums get through several a day. You can buy washable ones or disposables.
If you intend to either bottle feed or breast feed and express milk for your baby, you will need baby bottles and a steriliser. I used a microwave steriliser like this one, which can be used to sterilise bottles, a breast pump and even nipple shields.
Make sure you have some newborn formula milk in the store cupboard if you are not planning to breastfeed.
It is a nice idea to get a lovely, new, soft towel especially for baby, because those ones that have been through the wash a thousand times will be like sandpaper on your baby’s delicate skin. There are lots of really cute ones available, but remember baby doesn’t mind what colour they are!
Muslin squares are an absolute lifesaver! They are brilliant for everything from protecting your shoulder from milky dribbles while winding to putting on your lap during feeding, creating an improvised bib or an impromptu cloth for cleaning up every type of mess. I bought this set of 12 from Mothercare for my first baby and we are still using them for cleaning nearly 18 years later!
A baby carrier is one of those things that you don’t know whether it will work for you until you try it. Some people love them, some people hate them. I hate carrying anything so always preferred to use the pushchair, but I know people who swore by them.
I probably used my baby monitor much longer than I should have….You will probably have the baby sleeping in the same room as you at night for at least a few weeks. However you may want to use one when baby goes down for a daytime sleep and you want to sneak off for a lie down.
What about baby baths and bath supports? You don’t need a baby bath; you can bathe a small baby in a sink or in a normal sized bath if you support it. I was lucky enough to be given a baby bath that fitted on top of the bath and it was a great relief not to have to bend over right into the bath whilst still recovering from childbirth.
My sister gave me a sort of seat that you put in the bath which supports baby while you are bathing it. I couldn’t get on with it but she had found it invaluable. Each to their own eh?
Dummies (also know as pacifiers). Some kids love them. My eldest loved his dummy as long as someone was holding the other end. As soon as you let go he completely lost interest. The other wouldn’t even put one in his mouth. Don’t over purchase until you are sure your child likes them.
If you are intending to breastfeed you might also want to try and express milk, and will probably want a breast pump. You can get everything from a cheap generic one to a crazy expensive electric pump. I bought a cheap own-brand one first time and frankly it was useless and I found the whole business of pumping quite distressing.
After that I bought an Avent manual breast pump on the recommendation of my heath visitor which was a totally different experience. Easy to use, I could pump lots of milk and baby seemed to like the Avent teats that came with the bottles better than any other type too.
There are a few things that you should never let anywhere your precious baby.
So now you know what you should and shouldn’t get for baby.
Finally, please remember that many items like clothes and toys can safely be bought second hand from charity shops. There may also be an NCT nearly new sale where you can find lots of bargains. And when you have finished with your baby gear you can use these sales to pass items in good condition to other mothers just starting out on their motherhood journey.
Related: 10 No-Fail Toys For A New Baby
Wondering what your baby will be? Try the fun and probably only 50% accurate Chinese Gender Predictor.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien started eParenting in 2004. At the time her kids were 1 and 4 and kept her nice and busy. Now they are teenagers and still keeping her pretty busy!
Here she shares things that she has learnt along the way about looking after kids.