With the growing amount of baby equipment and accessories on sale, it would be easy to go all out when it comes to buying for your new arrival. HILARY PEREIRA offers advice on all the essential and non-essential items you’ll need for baby’s first few months.
There’s such an array of babycare products on sale it can be hard to know which are really essential and which you could manage without. Here’s a rundown of the must-buys and optional extras to help you budget for your newborn.
A baby car seat: If you’re giving birth anywhere other than at home, you’ll need this to bring your baby home in. Even if you’re planning a home birth, you never know whether you’ll have to transfer to hospital in an emergency, so it’s worth having a seat at the ready just in case. You should buy your car seat new, as you can’t be sure whether a previously used seat has ever been involved in an impact, which could lessen its safety.
A crib, Moses basket, carrycot or cot: A crib or moses basket might only last your baby around three months, so is probably not worth buying new. The carrycot from a pram/pushchair combination will serve as a place for your newborn to sleep at first, although you might need to buy a sturdier mattress to add to it for night-time. If you have space for a cot, it might be more economical to go straight for this option. a cot that later converts to a bed is even better: although it’s more expensive it’ll save you the expense of both a cot and bed in the long run. If you borrow a cot or buy second-hand, it’s best to buy a new mattress for the sake of hygiene.
Bedding: Fitted bottom sheets are best as they won’t work loose. Choose brushed or plain cotton. You’ll also need two or three cellular (holey) blankets, as these trap warmth while letting the air circulate. Never use a pillow, duvet or hot-water bottle with a baby under a year old.
A room thermometer: Well worth buying so you can keep the temperature where your baby sleeps within the optimum range of 16°C-20°C (61°F-68°F).
Pram, pushchair or buggy: Bear in mind when buying whether or not you’ll have to negotiate public transport; how well your choice will fit into your home (through doorways, in any storage area etc.); whether it’ll need to carry shopping as well as your baby, and whether it’ll fit in your car boot.
Vests and babygros: Go for zero to three months sizes rather than newborn, unless your baby is expected to be premature: even if your full-term baby is on the small side, newborn size garments won’t last any length of time.
Cardigans: It’s best to buy two so you always have one at the ready when the other is in the wash.
A hat, coat and blanket: Whatever the season, and no matter what the weather, you might need to adjust your baby’s layers while you’re out and about. Even in summer the temperature can drop in the late afternoon or evening, and in winter you could find yourself in and out of shops, having to adjust your baby’s clothing each time
Other Possible Essentials
Baby listening device: If your baby will be spending any time in a separate room from you, a listening device is reassuring. And if anyone whose hearing isn’t what it used to be will be caring for your baby, it’s more of an essential item.
Bottles, bottlebrushes and steriliser: Unless you’re breastfeeding exclusively you’ll need bottle, bottlebrushes and a steriliser of some sort. They’re essential if you’re going to express any milk to feed to your baby later or if you’re going to mix breast and bottle. A steam or microwave steriliser is quickest to use, although coldwater systems are cheaper.
Formula milk (if you’re bottle-feeding): Baby milk manufacturers agree that breast is best, but for those mums who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, formula is an adequate alternative. Ask your midwife for advice on which milk to start your baby on.
Baby wipes: Cotton wool and water are perfectly adequate.
Top-and-tail bowl: Any two plastic bowls will serve just as well for washing your baby in the early days.
A nappy disposal system: Although they’re handy for disposing of dirty nappies they aren’t necessary.
A baby bath: A better buy would be a baby bath seat that fits inside the bath.
A baby changing station: You would probably do better to save the space.
Dummies: If you can manage without you won’t have to wean your baby off them.
A baby sling: Admittedly it’s very useful, especially if your baby prefers to stay close to you, but it’s not essential.
Cot mobile/activity centre: A newborn won’t gain any benefit in the early days. maybe you could ask for one as a present?
Cot bumper: These are thought dangerous by some experts, as the strings could unravel and strangle your baby.
Baby toiletries: All you need to keep your baby clean in the early days is warm water.