Congratulations! You’re expecting a baby. So, what now?
You’ve had that moment of sheer joy (or perhaps shock!) and found out that you’re going to be having a baby. Perhaps it’s your first child, or maybe you’re adding a sibling to your growing family. Once the surprise calms down, you may start wondering what you need to do next. Even those of us who have already had children sometimes need a helping hand. With that in mind, this guide is here to help you plan your buying choices over the next few weeks or months. You’ll need to think about what you may already have, and what you definitely need to invest in. It’s a good idea to make a list and then start thinking about spacing out your purchases.
New parents are often inundated with gifts, but if you prefer to be prepared, it’s a good idea to rely on yourself and carefully plan your purchases. Often, the most popular gifts given to newborns are cute outfits, which may look nice, but can quickly become too small. It’s wonderful when you receive practical gifts, but friends may not know what you need. You can share the ideas on this list with them, or, if you’re having a baby shower, it could help you to find items through a gift registry.
When should you start buying baby products?
It’s a good idea to space out your purchases over the course of your pregnancy. Think carefully about your budget and plan accordingly. It’s a really good idea to get into the habit of buying essential daily items such as baby wipes, nappies, breast pads, cotton wool and bin bags when you do your regular big grocery shop. You can stock up on these items well in advance of your due date, which will help you to feel more prepared, and it’ll be less of a shock to your budget than buying it all in one go.
There are a number of big-budget baby items that you’ll need to think sensibly about, but you may be able to source some of these products second hand. If you’re looking on the resale market, you should ensure that anything you buy or are given which is second hand, is still safe and hasn’t been damaged. If you plan carefully, and buy in advance, you’ll be less shocked by the cost of catching up with everything you need when your newborn arrives.
Once your baby has been born, you’ll need to budget flexibly. You can invest in products for older babies or toddlers once they’re growing, such as baby sleeping bags or furniture for their own room.
What baby products do you definitely need for when your newborn arrives?
There are some essentials that you can buy in advance which will make your life much easier when baby comes. Even with the most carefully laid plans, babies can unexpectedly arrive so we recommend having these items ready at home at least a few weeks before your due date.
A crib, cot, or Moses basket
Your baby should be sleeping in the same room as you for the first six months. You can decide how you would like this to happen; your baby could sleep in a Moses basket, a crib, or a cot. There are different benefits to these options. A Moses basket is portable and can be carried while baby sleeps soundly inside it. A crib or cot should last you for a long time and you can get lovely bedside options that allow you to sleep near your baby safely. You should ideally have a new mattress for a crib or cot, as it will need to be firm, flat, clean and waterproof. It is essential for your baby’s safety that your mattress fills the crib or cot without any gaps.
Sheets, blankets and thermometers
You’re going to need to change sheets regularly. We recommend at least 3 sheets to cover the mattress, and fitted sheets are the quickest and easiest option. You’ll need to wash them often, so expect to be doing a lot of laundry! You should have a top cover for baby too; a light blanket will provide enough coverage and warmth to help your baby sleep well. Thermometers are great for understanding why your baby might not be sleeping soundly. You can purchase room thermometers, which will tell you if it’s too cold or too hot, and personal thermometers that will let you know if your baby has a fever.
Body suits, sleep suits, socks, and scratching mitts
You’re going to be going through a lot of clothes after your baby arrives. Luckily, most kinds of baby clothes are easy to wash and dry. Look for 100% cotton, which is soft and delicate enough for your baby’s sensitive skin. Your baby will need plenty of clothes to sleep in. Babies find sleep suits and body suits very comfortable, as they offer a lot of coverage and don’t expose much of baby’s soft skin. Look for baby body or sleep suits that have popper fastenings so that you have an easier time when you need to change your baby’s diapers. It’s good to have a combination of body suits with long and short sleeves and legs, for those days when the weather is unpredictable and you want to make sure your baby is comfortable. If your baby suits don’t already have them built in, socks are essential, and you can never have too many. They’ll keep your baby warm and protect their feet. As babies can scratch themselves or you with their surprisingly sharp nails, it’s a good idea to have some scratch mitts so that they don’t hurt anyone. Depending on the time of year your baby is born, you may also need sweaters, hats, and a coat.
Products to help with feeding: breast pumps, cloths, sterilizers and bottles
If you’re planning on breastfeeding, or want to mix breast and bottle feeding, at times you’ll need a breast pump to express milk. There are manual and electric options, and some will collect the milk straight into a bottle for ease of use. Look carefully at online reviews to find a breast pump that moms say feels comfortable. Finding one that is easy to clean and compact is also a bonus, if you expect to need to express on the go. For hygiene, you’ll need plenty of cloths; they can also provide comfort to your baby if you give them one that smells like you. Muslin is recommended as an absorbent and durable fabric that dries quickly. Sterilizers are essential whether you’re bottle feeding or expressing, as you’ll need to ensure that both the bottles and nipples are sterilized. Thankfully, they’re not too expensive and many are lightweight and small enough to take with you when you travel.
Diapers: disposable or reusable
Babies go through a shocking number of diapers, whether they’re disposable or reusable; you’ll find they may need changing around 12 times a day. It’s entirely a personal choice whether you opt for disposable or reusable diapers, or a combination of both. Disposable diapers offer comfort, absorbency and convenience. Reusable diapers are environmentally friendly and very good value for your money. Your baby is happiest when comfortable and dry, so carefully research the best option for you. If you choose disposable diapers, look for those that have stretchy sides and a flexible fit. You’ll want diapers that are made from a soft, absorbent material. If you’d like to use reusable diapers, you’ll again need a soft, absorbent material, as well as a design that fits your baby. You’ll find reusable diapers which use absorbent liners, as well as waterproof materials.
A baby monitor
Baby monitors are essential for your peace of mind; they allow you to hear or see your baby when you’re in a different room. Baby monitors offer a range of functions, with some offering you live video of your baby, others offering movement sensors, and the most basic offering you an audio function. Ideally, you should look for one that lets you know when you’re not in range of the monitor, so that you don’t miss out on any important moments. Some monitors allow you to talk back through the monitor in the baby’s room, which can be very helpful for soothing and reassuring your baby.
Changing mats or tables
One of the challenges you’ll face when you inevitably have to change your baby’s diaper, is that they simply don’t stay still! There are plenty of products out there which have been designed to make changing more comfortable and safe for your baby, and easier for you. You’re definitely going to need a surface you can wipe off, as we know diaper changing can be a messy business. Some changing tables offer storage functionality which, if carefully stocked, very usefully means you’ll always have what you need with you when you use it. If you’re not keen on investing in a changing table, you can buy a padded changing mat which will take up less space and offer some portability. There are some changing mats that are inflatable which makes them a great portable option for when you’re out and about and worried about finding somewhere to change your baby.
Changing bags or nappy bags
There will come a time when you’re ready to pop the newborn bubble, and you’ll bravely venture outside with your baby. This can be made significantly easier if you’re prepared and know exactly where the things you need are. A changing or diaper bag has plenty of storage space for you to keep baby wipes, diapers, pumps and bottles. Some bags also come with wipeable, portable changing mats, which makes them even better value.
What baby products are a good idea, but optional to have?
A car seat
If you’re driving home from the hospital, you’re going to need a car seat. There are specific laws relating to car seats and their safety. You’ll need to research carefully into which car seat is best for you, and you should expect to invest a good chunk of change in buying one. Most car seats are usable from birth up to at least toddler age, which makes them better value for your money. Look for a car seat that is both comfortable and safe. You’ll need one that has secure padding and adjustable straps. Many car seats have sturdy travel handles so you can remove them easily from your car without having to unload your baby. If you plan on doing this, look for a lightweight car seat so that it’s not too difficult for you to carry. You may be able to find a second-hand car seat which could reduce cost.
A stroller or buggy
Like the car seat, this is a real investment purchase and you should carefully research before buying. Consider how often you’re likely to use one, whether you’d prefer to use a baby carrier instead, and how big it needs to be. You may need one that’s portable and easy to fold, if you use a lot of public transport or don’t have storage at home. You may live in a rural area and so want one that can handle rough surfaces. You may also want one that has a lot of space for storage so that it can carry your shopping. There are many different options, but if you want a stroller, you’ll certainly need one that can handle the weather and that offers protection for your baby in the form of hoods and padding.
Baby carriers: slings, carriers, or wraps
There are so many ways of carrying your baby, and it’s a good idea to try the hands-free method, which can help you get on with things you need to do. Hands-free baby carrying will mean investing in a baby carrier, sling, or wrap. Baby carriers are structured carriers that you can wear on your back or front. They allow your baby to sit inside the carrier in a limited range of positions, and are usually designed with great back and shoulder support. Slings are made from supportive fabric and are very adjustable. It can take a little bit of time to learn how to use them, but once mastered, can offer a wide range of carrying styles. Wraps are long, stretchy pieces of fabric that you wrap around yourself and carefully tie. Like slings, wraps offer a wide range of carrying styles. Whether you choose a baby carrier, sling, or wrap, your baby will benefit from the close contact. It’s also possible to discreetly breastfeed with most of these products.
A baby bath
These are certainly not essential, but there are many that have been very well designed. Baby baths usually have safety features such as bars or bumps to prevent baby slipping too far into the water, and surfaces that are anti-slip. Many also have comfortable headrests to help your baby feel more secure and less stressed when being bathed. You can find baby baths which are inflatable, so they can be easily deflated and transported with you if you’re going somewhere that you may need it. You can buy a baby bath support instead if you’d prefer to bathe your baby in your own tub.
Is there anything else you should look for when buying baby products?
You should absolutely check that products such as car seats and cots meet the safety standards set by law. It’s also important to think about the materials used to make the products, and whether or not they’ll be uncomfortable for a baby’s sensitive skin. You should also consider the safety of your home; there are some essential items that can help to baby-proof your home, so that as your newborn grows up, they’ll be safe and secure. These items include things like plug socket covers, corner protectors and stair gates.
Your own personal shopping code will also have an impact on this. Think whether or not it’s important to you that your items are responsibly or ethically sourced or made, and you can accordingly plan your purchases. If you’re working on a tight budget, look for your baby products at good value retailers, where they often have great offerings available. You can find a huge amount of support and advice in online and offline communities for new parents. It’s important to be flexible enough to respond to what your newborn needs, as it may mean a change in what you’d hoped to use with them.
Finally, don’t forget about yourself! You’ll be exhausted, but you’re going to be doing an amazing job. It’s important to treat yourself and give yourself what you need. Perhaps you’ll feel good if you’re wearing a cute nursing bra, or you’ll be perked up by a stylish changing bag. Maybe you’d just like someone to cook dinner for you one night! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and make sure to keep your own well-being in a healthy state.