How much does one little baby actually need? Your baby shopping list might seem overwhelming, but you don’t need all the bells and whistles. Offspring has created a guide to help you work out the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.
Words BROOKE EVANS-BUTLER
Before you hit the shops it is important to do some research. Look for product reviews online and talk to other mums about what they found most useful. Going to the shops unprepared can be overwhelming (just how many additional features can a pram have?) and it can be very easy to overspend when you are surrounded cute baby clothes.
Out and about
The first trips outside of the home with a newborn can seem scary, but you don’t need to pack like you are going away on a holiday.
You must have a rear-ward facing car-restraint that meets Australian Standards sorted before you bring your baby home from hospital. Many car seats will be suitable for your child from birth up to four years old, so as well as being an important piece of safety equipment, it is something you will be using every day for years.
Your decision will be determined by:
The space you have available (if you have more than one child you might need a slimline car seat to fit all the car seats across your car’s backseat).
You might decide on a travel system with a capsule that attaches to a pram frame. Some parents love this option, as it is easier to get baby out of the car without disturbing them, however, babies do outgrow this option quickly.
TIP: It’s a good idea to add to your to-do list to get your car restraint professionally installed by a local fitter to help ensure it is correctly fitted and safe to bring your newborn home in.
There are so many options when it comes to purchasing a pram, it can seem like you are purchasing a car. Features and prices can vary considerably.
The intended use of the pram. Do you want a pram that you can exercise with (to put your baby in when you go running or for long walks) or will it mainly be used to go to the shops or short trips?
How big the pram is. It is important to check that the pram will fit in the boot of your car.
Check how easy the pram is to fold. If it is too complicated or heavy it will make it difficult for you to get the pram in and out of the car’s boot.
A big consideration is if you also have a toddler, are expecting twins or are planning on having babies close in age. Twin or double prams are available (but be sure to check the width is practical to go shopping to fit through the aisles, for example) or configurations are available with toddler skateboards at the back of the pram, for example.
Second hand gems!
Purchasing or being gifted second hand baby items are a great way to save some money - and as many baby products are used for such a short time, you might find they are in brand new condition! However, it is important to carefully check the condition of things like cots, mattresses and car seats if you are considering hand-me-down options. Ensure any product is safe and meets relevant Australian Standards.
Nice to have
A nappy bag
Some sort of bag is definitely important so you have some nappies and spare clothes on-hand, as well as bottles if bottle feeding, and toys etc. Some nappy bags revival designer handbags with stylish designs and multiple storage compartments (including in-build change mat and insulated bottle carrier) but for the budget conscious, you can also get away with any practical bag or backpack.
This is a personal choice and for some parents, a good baby carrier will supersede a pram. It is certainly useful to be able to carry your baby and keep your hands free to do the shopping, for example, and is a great option for using in the outdoors when going for a walk. A supportive baby carrier can also be handy to use at home to settle your baby.
A portable cot is definitely not on the must-have list, but can be very handy, especially if you are planning on going on holidays or to be used at a babysitter or grandparent’s home for naps or sleepovers.
Other travel products to consider: pram liner, trolley cover, rain cover/sunshade for pram, ‘Baby on Board’ car sign, car window shades.
Going to sleep
It is important to create a comfortable and most importantly safe environment for your baby to sleep in.
A cot is an expensive investment, but if you are considering using a family heirloom or second-hand find, it is important to ensure it meets current Australian safety guidelines. There are many cots to suit your needs, including cots that convert to a toddler bed at a later stage. A good quality, clean mattress that properly fits in the cot is also a necessity.
A good quality, waterproof mattress protector is essential to ensure your baby’s cot mattress stays in good condition. Purchase two or three so you have spares for when you are doing the washing.
There are many options when it comes to wraps, swaddles, sleeping bags and baby blankets. Again, ensure you have a few options, so you have spares for when you are doing the washing. Some babies love to be swaddled, while some love to be able to have their little arms out in a sleeping bag, so test out what option is going to be best suited to your baby.
Nice to have
This will only be used for the first couple of months, so it isn’t a necessity. However, a bassinet can be very handy during those first few weeks, as a bassinet is easy to move around the house.
A baby monitor
If your baby is in their own room, it can be comforting to be able to easily hear them if they wake during the night. Some monitors are quite sophisticated, with options including video monitoring. Some monitors are also available that doubles as a night light, and some monitors also monitor a baby’s movement, to provide additional peace-of-mind.
Other sleep products to consider: White noise machine, room thermometer, night light.
Your feeding essentials will differ depending on whether you choose to breast or formula-feed.
Breast pads are essential if breastfeeding to prevent embarrassing leaks. Disposable pads are available, or reusable pads can be washed and used again and again.
Bottles and teats are essential if you are formula feeding or if you want to express breastmilk. There are many styles of bottles and teats available and sometimes it can take a while to work out which ones will suit your baby, so don’t buy too much until you try them out for yourself.
When your baby starts solids, a high chair will be used regularly. High chairs range from very basic options to deluxe designs with padded seating and adjustable backs. Whatever you choose, remember that this is where your child will be eating (which often means mess!), so it is very important to ensure it can easily be cleaned.
Nice to have
This might be an essential item if you are breastfeeding (especially if you want to express some feeds) but you don’t have to buy one as they can often be hired at your local chemist.
A steriliser isn’t optional (you can always sterilise by boil bottles, teats and feeding gear in a large pot), but a steriliser can certainly be handy.
This is useful to put under the highchair to catch any food that falls from the highchair.
Other feeding products to consider: Mess Mat, bibs, suction bowls, bottle warmer, bottle drying rack.
You will be changing many nappies over the next couple of years! Here’s what to get:
Nappies and wipes
Whether you choose disposable or cloth options, you will need a good supply of nappies and wipes. However, it is advisable not to go overboard and buy too many nappies before you have bub. Firstly, babies grow very quickly so if you buy boxes and boxes of newborn disposable nappies, chances are your baby will outgrow them before you use them all. For cloth nappies, it might best to try different brands to find the best fit for your baby.
Whether for out-and-about or to use at home, a good quality and easy-to-clean change mat is a must to keep nappy changing mess contained.
Nice to have
For some parents, a change table is essential as a dedicated nappy changing space. Other parents might use a change mat on top of a dresser or might change their baby on a bed. Do whatever works for you!
Your baby might never get nappy rash, but if they do there are many nappy rash creams on the market. Some parents like to use a barrier cream as nappy rash preventative after each nappy change (talk to your pharmacist or health care professional about the best option for your baby).
Other nappy change products to consider: Wipes warmer, nappy bin, soaking bucket
TIP: Nappy changes can be tough on your hands, so get a good quality hand moisturiser to help keep your skin in good shape after all that hand washing. Hand sanitiser is also a good idea to have on-hand in your nappy bag for nappy changes on-the-go.
For peace of mind, some first aid items are a good idea to have on-hand when you bring baby home. Saline solution, baby paracetamol (ensuring it is only used according to directions) and a baby thermometer are good products to have handy in the early months.
Of cute, tiny baby clothes! It is tempting to go overboard, but your baby will not need too much. Remember, baby clothes will be one of the most popular gifts or hand-me-downs you are likely to get from family friends, so to start off with, buy what you think you will need for the early weeks.
Remember, even in the warmer months, hospitals can be quite cool due to air-conditioning, so get some long sleeved, as well as short sleeved in the Summer months. 0000 is a common size for a newborn but get a couple of 000 if you are expecting a big baby.
Get a sun hat for the warmer months or beanie for the cooler months.
Tiny socks can double up as mittens in the early days to stop a baby from scratching themselves. Buy a few pairs – one sock can easily fall off and go missing.
Nice to have
Cute little outfits, such as tiny dresses, suits or little tracksuits look adorable on a new baby, but they are not necessary. However, you might like to buy a special outfit for taking baby home from the hospital.
Brooke has written for home improvement, bridal and women’s lifestyle publications, but says Offspring enables her to combine writing with her new favourite hobby, being a mum to her boys Caleb and Jonah.