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What furniture do you really need in a baby nursery?

Updated on March 6, 2013
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Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula, journalist, and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website.

Do you need lots of baby furniture?

When you discover you're pregnant for the first time it can be a bit of a surprise. Suddenly you have to think about a whole new person with needs... including nappies, clothes, highchairs, cots, bouncers, change tables, bathtubs, bibs... the list goes on.

Naturally the costs for these baby furniture items can add up to be quite expensive. Some of these items will only be useful for weeks or months so the question really is "Do I actually need it?"

This is a guide to help you decide if you really need that item, whether you should buy it new or used and the best type to get. There are also some ideas on the right hand side of items available to buy if you'd prefer to buy for a lower price online.

Do I need a Baby Bassinet

Do you need it? Not really. Your baby will likely grow out of it within 2-4 months after which it will be useless.

New or used? Don't spend a lot - used might be better if you plan to buy one, since you won't use it for long.

What should I look out for? Make sure it doesn't have any padding on the sides that could smother baby and that it's steady and not flimsy.

Standard cot mattress size is 69cm x 130cm.

Do I need a Baby Cot

Do you need it? Yes, unless you plan to co-sleep.

New or used? As long as you replace the mattress (breeding places for germs and are very wearable), it's fine to get a used timber cot. It's also a lot cheaper - most new cots can be in the hundreds.

What should I look out for? Make sure that the cot is standard size to fit a cot mattress. Also check that the slats aren't wide enough for a baby to push their head between.

A change table makes life a lot easier - since you'll probably go through thousands of nappies!
A change table makes life a lot easier - since you'll probably go through thousands of nappies!

Do I need a Baby Change Table

Do you need it? Yes. You'll find that after a few nappies changed on a bed or lower level, you'll have a very sore back. The extra height comes in handy when baby learns to roll as well - you don't have to concentrate on bending AND catching.

New or used? Either is fine.

What should I look out for? Make sure the change table mat is plastic - chances are baby will do more than a few poops on it and you need to be able to wipe them off easily! Also make sure it has a child restraint.

Do I need a Baby Bathtub

Do you need it? Depends on your situation. If you have a small bath in your house you can use that or a laundry tub. Babies love the wide space of a larger bath and by 5-6 months they'll also enjoy plenty of splashing which is when the big tiled bathroom and tub come in handy.

New or used? If you buy a used one make sure it's well cleaned. However most new, basic tubs are fairly cheap.

What should I look out for? Try to avoid anything complicated. Plugs leak, weird shaped baths might not fit your baby past a few weeks and hammocks and bumps can get dirty quickly if baby does a poop in the bath. A simple, reasonably deep solid plastic bath is fine. Even from a few weeks most babies love to just float in the water.

Do I need a Baby High Chair

Do you need it? Yes. Babies make a huge mess when they eat and highchairs at least keep the mess a bit more confined. Also it helps baby learn that a highchair means it's time to eat.

New or used? A used one as fine as long as everything is in good condition and works.

What should I look out for? Make sure the highchair has a solid base so an older baby can't push it over by swinging off it or be pushed by an older sibling. Try to get a child safe highchair with a tray and chair that can only be moved using mutiple buttons or ways that the child can't mimic. Make sure the high chair has a restraint system (5 point is best)

Do I need a Baby Pram or stroller

Do you need it? Depends. If you plan to go out a lot it's a must so baby has a place to sleep and hide from the world when it all gets a bit much. If you don't go out too much a simple front baby carrier can work till they're a bit older.

New or used? New prams are very expensive - if you can get a good used one go for it!

What should I look out for? Strollers are a lot cheaper than prams but can only be used from 6 months of age. Make sure both strollers and prams have child restraints. If you get a pram make sure it allows baby to lie down as well as sit up. A pram with pump up tyres is better as plastic tyres are harder to push and keep in a straight line.

Sit a crying baby in a bouncer while you do housework - they will often be so fascinated they'll calm down and watch.

Do I need a Baby Bouncer or swing

Do you need it? I'd say yes. You might not think you need one but they come in handy. Whether you want somewhere safe to put the baby while you cook and clean or just somewhere to sleep and play at a friend's house, they'll get plenty of use.

New or used? A cheap used one is fine.

What should I look out for? Make sure it has restraints. You don't need something that makes lots of noise and swings back and forth - as long as there's something to watch or play with babies are generally happy just sitting and watching.

If you can find one that converts into a seat, it will last longer when you're child prefers sitting instead of lying, as well.


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