Expecting your first baby is an exciting time, but knowing what to buy for those first few months can be a minefield. According to research by Babyville, the average spend for new parents is £1000, but it’s all too easy to get carried away and spend more (wet-wipe warmer anyone?). To help all parents-to-be avoid the pitfalls of shopping for a new baby, we’ve put together the definitive list of things that you and your baby really need. Happy shopping!
Moses basket, mattress and stand
You’ll only use this for the first 2-3 months, depending on the size of baby, so, if you can borrow the moses basket and stand (health guidelines recommend that you buy a new mattress), all the better.
The drop-down Anna Cot at John Lewis is very well priced and good for smaller spaces. You can also buy versions that turn into beds further down the line. A good firm mattress is essential and worth spending a bit more money on.
BT and Tommee Tippee are both good brands and the models that include music and a room thermometer useful. The video ones are more expensive, but parents we know who’ve used these swear by them.
Changing table or cot top changer
The key is waist-height to save your back, but you don’t need anything fancy. A wedge baby mat on top of a chest-of-drawers works just as well and will allow you to grab nappies and clothes easily.
It’s useful to have a portable changing mat that you can keep in the sitting room or kitchen. The wedge ones are useful to stop baby rolling around.
Fitted sheets for moses basket
Get at least 4 as you will need to change these a lot. These should also fit your pram if you have a separate carrycot top for this.
Aden + Anais does fantastic light muslin swaddling blankets for summer. In our experience, a good cellular blanket works as well as anything for winter, though you can also buy specific swaddle blankets (The Gro Company does some good ones). Buy at least 3.
Useful for swaddling or tucking them in when it is cooler. 1 or 2 will do.
Lamp with low-watt or dimmable light bulb
Incredibly useful for those night feeds when you want to keep a ‘night-time’ atmosphere.
You won’t need this at first because they’ll sleep anywhere, but later on, and particularly in summer, this can be really useful to stop light seepage when it’s still ‘night-time’ (in your eyes anyway). Gro Anywhere Blackout Blinds are brilliant.
Naty is the most widely available eco brand, but good old Pampers are best for non-seepage. Size 1 fits most new bottoms, but get size 2 as well if you suspect you might be having a giant. Stock up with at least two packs – you will rake through them.
John Lewis does them in a pack of five. Very handy for top and tailing in the early days, also bath-time and general wipeage.
Baby scissors or nail clippers
Cutting your baby’s nails for the first-time can be scary, but special baby scissors or clippers make the job safer. Baby nails grow fast, so you’ll use these a lot.
We have rarely used ours.
Most people recommend an ear thermometer, but we have always found a cheap under arm one easier to use.
Or a flannel. Both work.
Buy 2-3 to wrap baby up in after his or her bath.
Baby bath soap
You won’t use soap initially as baby’s skin is too sensitive, but, later on, we advise getting one with a dispenser that means you only need one hand to get the soap out. Johnsons Top-to-Toe Baby is a good one.
Travel changing mat pack
Very useful for on-the-go nappy changing. We love the Jo Jo Maman Skip Hop Pronto Changing Bag as you can clip it to your handbag or the buggy and keep everything in one place.
Bathing a newborn for the first time is nerve-wracking enough without worrying about how to hold the slippery little thing at the same time as washing it. A bath seat such as the Angelcare Soft Baby Bath Support was, for us, an essential until baby could sit up on his/her own.
To protect against the dreaded nappy rash.
Bin for nappies (with lid)
For the sake of easy, out of the way nappy disposal, the Sangenic Tec Nappy Disposal System is brilliant, but it is an extravagance, particularly as you will have to pay for new cartridges as you go.
For on-the-go hand sterilisation, because you will get poo on your hand at some point.
If you have a microwave, get the Avent Microwave Steam Sterillser. It makes life brilliantly simple if and when you come to bottle feeding.
Bottle brush cleaner
You’ll need a separate brush just for baby bottles. Avent does a good one.
Plastic washing up bowl
Babies are so sensitive to germs at the beginning, it’s a good idea to buy a cheap plastic washing up bowl just for washing up bottles.
Dr Browns are meant to be best for wind, but best buy only one initially, then try another brand if it’s not working well. You’ll need to choose a teat flow that is correct for your baby’s age and stage: slow flow for very little ones and faster as they get older.
Incredibly useful for wiping up sick and milk. Honestly, you will churn through these things. Buy lots.
Lansinoh (pure Lanolin) is an essential to combat cracked nipples. Pack it in your hospital bag and use before and after every feed.
Don’t get measured until baby has ‘lightened/dropped’ around week 37 of pregnancy. You should be able to put an extra fist in your bra at that point because you’ll get much bigger (scary, we know!). Heidi Klum Intimates are pretty but not all that supportive for daily wear. Nursing Bra Shop has an excellent selection.
Freezer bags for breast milk storage
Medela do good freezer ones.
Buy an electric one rather than a hand version or it will take forever. The Medela Swing Electric Pump comes highly recommended by other parents and will allow you to pass over responsibility occasionally while you go out for a much needed break. You can also buy double pump versions. (Yes, you will feel like a dairy cow).
A scarf will do, but you can also buy dedicated covers, such as the Bebe au Lait Breastfeeding Cover from John Lewis.
You may not need these, but it is worth having them on hand in case of sore cracked nipples, or to help slow down a very fast flow. Choose according to the size of your nipple.
10 baby grows
Buy the all-in-one grows with covered feet and fold down cuffs to stop them scratching themselves. The more you have the less washing you’ll have to do.
Unless it is really hot, the standard outfit day and night at the beginning is a short-sleeved vest with a baby grow over the top. Get the vest with poppers under the nappy so they don’t ride up.
2 light cardigans
You will probably be given these, so don’t worry too much about these, unless it is really cold.
1 cotton hat
Baby’s shouldn’t wear hats inside, but these are good for outside in those first few years, particularly if yours is a winter baby.
Brilliant for later, but not something to worry about until you have stopped swaddling.
Get adaptors so that you can fit the car seat onto a pram chassis. Maxi-Cosi is a good make. An iso-fix base is more expensive, but will save you strapping the seat in manually witha seat belt.
The most important piece of kit you will buy. Research carefully and talk to friends about what they would/wouldn’t recommend.
Foot muff for pram
Not entirely necessary, but useful if baby is prone to kicking his or her blankets off and it’s freezing outside.
Incredibly useful for the first six months. Borrow one if you can.
Ergo is generally considered to be the most comfortable, though Baby Bjorn is also popular.
The uglier and noisier the better, these are a great place for your baby to ‘be’ while you get on with other things.
You won’t need one at the start as your pram’s carrycot will do the job.
WHERE TO SHOP
John Lewis – a brilliantly helpful and comprehensive service that let’s you shop for everything at once and have it all delivered together.
Babylist.co.uk – this has been recommended to us by other parents, but we haven’t used it personally.
Amazon.co.uk – you will most likely be able to buy things more cheaply on here, but you won’t get the same level of service and advice when choosing items.