It can be so exciting when you have a baby on the way, especially when you get to the countdown to the birth and start thinking about all the things you’ll need. This is where your friends and family can be really helpful in advising you about the items that you really need, those that are a nice-to-have and those products that they wish they’d never bought in the first place!
Babies grow so quickly that before you know it they’ve grown out of clothes, Moses baskets and toys so friends and family are also a great source of ‘pre-loved’ clothes and baby items.
Here is a basic list of what you will probably need ready for when your baby arrives:
Remember that your baby will grow very quickly. So if your friends and family are going to give you clothes as presents, ask for some in sizes larger than tiny newborn… you’ll be amazed how quickly your baby will move on to the bigger sizes.
For the basics, try to assemble the following – either from hand-me-downs or new:
- Around six to eight babygrows – 100% cotton ones let their skin breathe better than synthetic fibres. Babies tend to live in these, day and night, so having a little stock of them can save on the frequency of washing (get some non-biological washing powder for washing your baby’s clothes as the enzymes in biological powder can irritate your newborn baby’s sensitive skin)
- Two cardies – again go for natural fibres, cotton or wool
- Around four vests that fasten between your baby’s legs – they can be useful by themselves on warm days or to go underneath the suits when it’s colder
- A nice soft (wool or cotton) baby shawl to wrap them up in outside or to drape over their backs during night feeds in winter
- A sun hat for summer or a soft hat for winter
- Warm outdoor clothes for cold weather: snowsuit, mittens, socks or soft bootees (snowsuits should not be worn in carseats as the harnesses can slip off)
Changing your baby’s nappies will be a big part of your life as a new parent. Here’s what you will need:
- 10-12 nappies a day. Buy enough so you don’t have to leave the house for several days if you don’t want to. A good stockpile will let you relax into breastfeeding and sleeping (hopefully) without worrying about shopping. Buy the newborn size if disposable nappies are what you’re using. If your baby is premature you will need a stock of premmie nappies before your baby grows and moves on to newborn nappies
- Cotton wool or fragrance-free sensitive baby wipes
- Nappy bags (keep them away from babies as they are a suffocation risk)
- Changing mat to have on the floor (you can keep it under a chair and slide it out when you need it. Babies soon learn to roll so it’s safer if you get used to changing them on the floor from the beginning)
It’s perfectly fine to wash your baby in the kitchen sink, as long as it’s clean and you protect her from being knocked by the taps. You can also buy a special baby bath – it doesn’t have to be fancy, just plain plastic is fine. Another option is to buy a newborn bath support and wash your baby either in the bath with it, or use it in the baby bath.
Just plain water is best for newborn babies – you don’t need to buy any products to go in the bath. You can wash your baby’s hair in plain water as well to start with. You will also need a couple of nice soft cotton towels to wrap your baby in after her bath, and pat her dry; but as long as your family towels are clean they will be fine.
Most newborn babies will bring up or posset milk. It’s great to have a pile of muslins – have at least six around to use to mop up spills and possets, and they’re good to sling over your shoulder when you burp your baby too.
One of the great things about exclusively breastfeeding your baby is that it’s free and you really don’t need much equipment.
For yourself you should get three or four nursing bras that you can unclip easily to feed. You may leak milk in the early days when you are building up your milk supply so it’s good to have spares. If you do leak milk you may need to get a packet of nursing pads. Some mums need a lot and some only need a few in the first few days.
You will need quite a bit of equipment if you will be formula feeding your baby. You need to make up a freshly sterilised bottle of milk for each feed, comprising of a bottle with a cap and attached teat.
When you buy newborn baby bottles they come with slow-flow teats, and you can buy extra teats if needs be.
To begin with you will need:
- First milk formula either as a powder or ready made
- Six to eight baby bottles and teats
- A steriliser (unless you will be cold sterilising with tablets or sterilising fluid or sterilising your bottles and teats in a pan of boiling water)
- A bottle and teat brush to get the bottles really clean
- See our article on ‘What equipment will I need to formula feed my baby?’ for more information for all the things you need to have to sterilise bottles and teats.
Expressing breast milk
Hand expressing is a really useful skill but lots of people like to use a breast pump, especially if they want to store breast milk to feed their baby when they aren’t there. You can choose one of the many brands available – for either single or both breasts. You can also choose a hand pump or an electric pump. It’s a personal choice – try asking friends who use them.
There is a big choice of sleeping spaces for babies including Moses baskets, cots that attach to the side of your bed so you can sleep next to your baby and full-sized cots. See our article on ‘What sort of cot should my baby have?’.
Once you’ve chosen your cot or Moses basket, you’ll need a brand new mattress for it (to help reduce the danger of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and several cotton sheets that fit that mattress (or are big enough to tuck under it securely), cotton sheets to tuck in your baby and cotton cellular blankets for cold nights. Buy two or three blankets so you can layer them if it is cold.
Don’t use a pillow or a duvet with your baby, and the Department of Health recommends not letting babies sleeping unsupervised in quilted sleeping bags or baby nests because of the danger of suffocation.
Prams and baby slings
It’s lovely to take your baby out and about with you. Some mums tend to spend most of the early days carrying their newborn around in a soft baby sling and some choose a pram, while lots of parents like to have both (and will use the sling around the house too). There is a big choice of both baby slings and prams. You may be able to find a sling library to have a go with different styles of slings, or ask your friends which one they found comfortable and easy to put in and take out their baby.
If you’re buying a pram, newborn babies need to go in one that can lie flat, and it’s really nice for both of you if they can face you so that you can talk to each other and share lots of eye contact when you are out and about.
You will need a rear-facing car seat suitable for a newborn, if you’re going to drive or go in friend’s cars/taxis. See our article ‘Baby car seats and safety’ for more detail.