What Will I Need For My Baby?
What to buy for a New Baby
My first baby is due in a matter of weeks. If you had asked me 8 months ago what a baby would need, I wouldn't have a clue. So we bought the books, talked to new mums, chatted to our parents and did some babysitting. The following is a list of the top ten things my wife and I would recommend to new parents. Some of the items you don't necessarily need, but they will make your life a lot easier. There are plenty of websites out there that can also advise you on what you need for the arrival of your little one.
Would you buy second-hand for your new baby?
Advice about Buying for a New Baby
Babies are expensive. Retailers know that parents-to-be and their friends and family are prepared to spend big bucks to lavish the new arrival with the latest-top-of-the-range-must-have baby equipment. There are a few things you can do, however, to minimise the costs.
- Ask Around: The vast majority of our baby things have come from friends and colleagues who have recently had children and want to move on things they don't need anymore. Nothing like mates-rates :)
- Shop around: We went to buy a breastpump in one store, and found it £35 cheaper in a shop next door!
- Use the sales: Different stores have different calendars, but there will definitely be several 'baby events' or sales during the term of your pregnancy. Use these to your advantage and get up to 60% of the regular price.
- Go Online: You can find baby product warehouses with huge reductions from the high street. Weirdly, you can also go onto the website of a supermarket or high street store, and find the same goods for less money!
- Buy Durable, Buy Long Term: Although more expensive up front buying equipment that can be used for several stages of your child's life will save you money in the long term. A pram that coverts to a buggie is a classic example.
- Don't pay for a label: Repeat after me: "My baby doesn't care if it is wearing Prada or Nike" There is no point paying 3, 4 or even 5 times the price for clothes that your child will grow out of in a matter of weeks. Particularly in the early months, buy cheap, durable and in bulk.
- Buy used: I know - you want pristine and new for your little one, particularly if it is your first child. But why spend a premium price on clothes or furniture that were only used for a matter of months before the baby grew out of them*. We bought a second hand cot - price new: £1,000 ($1,566), we paid £70 ($110) and it looks brand new (check the pictures out below if you don't believe me!)
When buying used there are a few things to consider
- Does it meet current safety standards
- Is it in generally good condition? No sign of serious damage or a botched repair?
- Is it clean
*NB: You must always purchase a new mattress for each new child you have. These can be found at very reasonable prices. It is usually advisable to buy new for car-seats as well.
What Will I Need for Baby?
Cot and Matress
We bought our cot second hand from a colleague at work and saved a whopping £930 on the RRP! Make sure you build these carefully and follow the instructions closely. The last thing you want is for this to fall apart when your baby is sleeping. (I put the base in upside down...)
The mattress should be bought new for every child. You will also need several flat sheets and a couple of mattress protectors (rubber sheets) to protect your mattress from night-time-leakage.
Many parents like to decorate their cots with bumpers (quilted sheets that are strung around the bottom of the cot) and blankets. Although opinion is divided on the safety of these, the NHS in the UK, the Canadian Government, and the US Journal of Pediatrics have deemed bumpers unsafe as they increase the risk of suffocation. You can get 'air-flow' bumpers...but these are not aesthetically pleasing.
As a safer alternative to blankets, we have bought sleep bags. These are sleeping bags with holes for the head and arms so the bag cannot ride up and smother the baby. These can be bought in a variety of designs and togs (thicknesses) and keeps the baby secure - ideal for those who can't get the hang of swaddling!
Babies don't need pillows.
Buying Baby Clothes
This is where friends and family can go overboard. If they insist on buying you clothes, try and get an even spread across the ages (newborn, 0-3months, 3-6months, 6-9months etc.) If everyone buys you newborn, then you will wear each outfit once before baby grows too big and you need to splash out on new clothes yourself.
If you don't know the gender of your child, buying gender-neutral clothes can be a real pain...believe me! You often find that cheaper stores are more helpful here. You must show some restraint, however. It is all too easy to spend a fortune on clothes the baby will wear only a couple of time. It is better to shop in cheaper stores because then you can buy more outfits without feeling guilty.
Babies should not be bought hard-soled shoes as these can damage their feet and affect symmetrical growth.
Moses Basket with Rocking Stand
O.K. This is not strictly necessary, but placing a newborn into a cot can be a little overwhelming. Medical professionals recommend that baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first six months. Also, in the early months you are going to be woken every few hours for feeding etc. It is far easier to fit a small Moses basket and stand in your room than a full sized cot, or even a medium crib.
The rocking stand is a bit of an indulgence, but according to several mums who have tried both rocking and non-rocking varieties, a gentle rock can get a fussy baby off to sleep more easily than you picking baby up, comforting him, only to wake him up when you put him back down.
It is also pretty.
As many as you have legitimate space to store. But (again) don't buy only newborn diapers. It will annoy you (and cost you) if you pay for diapers that your baby doesn't use because it has grown out of that particular size.
Look for sales and multi-buy offers - there is always one in one supermarket or another.
A compact sterilizer, great if you don't have a microwave. This also comes with a free bottle, teat and pacifier. Can sterilize 6 bottles at once in just 5 minutes. Sterilized bottles can be stored for up to 24hours.
Baby Feeding Essentials
Breast is best. But sometimes it isn't an option for medical or personal reasons. Dad will also miss out on crucial bonding time with the baby. If you are breast feeding but want the option of Dad helping out you will need the following equipment:
- Breast pump - buy electric because your hand will get sore using the manual pumps. It also gives the sensation of 'milking' yourself...or your partner.
- Bottle sterilizer - there are loads on the market but most need a microwave to work. Electric options are available if you don't have a microwave facility. The best that we tried (and eventually bought) is opposite.
- Bottle warmers - you can warm a bottle in hot water, but there is the risk of over/under heating...particularly at 3:30am. Microwaves can also heat the milk unevenly. Bottle warmers are not strictly necessary, but will evenly warm your bottle to the perfect temperature in just five minutes.
- Bottles - there are dozens of brands, and even more types of teat. We found the anti-colic variety to hold the most promise, and they have come very highly recommended from all mums who have used them. For anyone who has sat up with a baby with colic, you know this is to be avoided at all costs.
- Freezable bags/bottles/tubs - Nice. Freezing your breast milk. But it will last longer than keeping it in the fridge, and nobody is going to pour it on their cereal by mistake.
- Muslins/burping cloths. The last thing you want is for baby to spit up on your work shirt...
- Nursing bras and tops - some people are uncomfortable with breast feeding in public, but even around the home these tops and bras make it easier and more comfortable to feed your child
Baby Changing Table
You need a table and a mat with raised sides to stop baby wriggling off. A baby should never be left on a changing table unattended, even for a few seconds. Put them back in the cot if you need to leave the room to get diapers/wipes/the phone.
We opted for a 'cot-top-changer' due to a lack of space in our nursery. This fits on top of our cot and then can be taken off and put aside when not being used. They are also the perfect height.
Make sure the changing mat is of a material that can be easily and quickly cleaned. You can also buy disposable changing pads.
Bouncy Chair and Play Mat
Again, not strictly a necessary purchase, but you will be glad you have one.
The gentle rocking motion of the bouncy chair can soothe baby whilst keeping her secure. Great for when you need 30minutes to yourself. Our version is adjustable and usable up to 20lbs (9-12months)
The play mat will help your child's neural development, hand-eye co-ordination and muscle development. After 6 months they provide a safe environment for vital 'tummy-time.' We bought a system that grows with the child and is usable from birth up to 2years. This was more expensive than some of the other products available, but has a much much longer lifespan
NB: These products should not be used as an alternative to attentive parenting. Children should only be placed in these products for a maximum of 30 minutes at a time. When using a play mat, make sure you swap baby from back to tummy (tummy-time again) and back again every 20 minutes or so to help build up muscles in the back, neck and arms.
Systems like this cut costs by giving you several products in one. This product also coverts from being a pram (for newborns) to a stroller (for older youngsters), saving you having to buy two separate products as your child grows.
Baby Travel System
The more you buy together, the more you will save. We also made sure that our pram could convert into a stroller for when the baby is bigger. All-in-one travel systems can get you everything you need to take the baby out without breaking the bank, but the stroller will probably not be the highest quality. We opted for this option as it saved us hundreds of pounds on buying everything separately
My favourite purchase has been our baby-carrier-sling system. Again, we bought a slightly more expensive version that grows with the baby: starting off slung on the chest, and moving to a backpack-like system. These keep baby close and allow it to see the world. The bouncing motion of your walk will also keep baby soothed.
There is a built in burping cloth...just in case.
Premade kits contain everything you need at a price cheaper than buying it all individually.
Baby First Aid Kit
The last thing you want to think about, but you will be glad it is there. Make sure your version includes a digital thermometer and a nasal aspirator.
Buying for Baby Quiz
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Initially I was sceptical, but when my parents told me how tricky it is to hold onto a wet, soapy, wriggling baby, I was sold. It incorporates a water-proof harnessed seat that the baby sits in whilst being bathed.
Once again (are you getting the hint?) we bought a version that grows with the baby. It was £10 more expensive, but it saves us having to buy a new product when baby outgrows the old one. Our baby bath is useful, for different purposes, up to the age of three.