When you first find out you’re having a baby, the sheer level of stuff that you need to buy is very overwhelming! I personally found it extremely helpful to read blog posts and watch YouTube videos to get ideas of what I needed and personal recommendations for particular brands. I thought I would put together a blog post of all the items that we purchased in the anticipation of Oscar’s arrival and what we found useful and what was superfluous.
I also chatted to some of my mum friends in order to find out some of their favourites and least favourite things, I’ve included a few of those too!
Though we bought a large permanent cot for Oscar’s nursery, we already knew he wouldn’t actually be sleeping there until he was a bit older because the NHS and the Lullaby Trust advise babies should sleep in a cot in the same room as you for the first six months of their lives. The Snuz Pod was absolutely perfect as it is designed as a bedside crib, there is even a zip down side so you can easily access the baby at night. I also liked the fact that there’s breathable mesh sides and an incline feature in case your baby has reflux. The mattress is also included which is really handy!
The Moses basket has been a really useful purchase – when Oscar was teeny tiny and would sleep anywhere, we could move it into the living room with us or I could pop it on the floor of my office. They’re rather nice to look at too and we got a really cute one from Tartine et Chocolat that came with a pretty pillow and honeycomb quilt but you can buy much cheaper ones in John Lewis etc.
The Lullaby Trust recommends firmly tucked in sheets for a baby’s bed. For the Snuz Pod we bought sheets especially made by Snuz so that they fitted the mattress perfectly. For the Moses Basket we bought plain ones from John Lewis according to the dimensions. We also bought waterproof under sheets. My friends agreed that it’s best not to spend any money on fancy sheets and quilts as these can’t be used anyway – a safe cot is an empty cot.
So many people told me how great the Sleepy Head was but when I read that it couldn’t be use for unsupervised sleep, I wondered how much use I’d actually get out of it. The thought behind it is that it snuggles the baby and gives a feeling of being in the womb and therefore aids sleep. Actually I found it really handy as Oscar loved to nap in it and it’s really portable. You can buy changeable covers too, though a word of warning the cover is very hard to get back on!
Babies love to be swaddled as it recreates the security of the womb and stops a baby being woken up by his own startle reflex. Oscar loved being swaddled but it’s difficult to recreate the perfect swaddle that a midwife can do so we found these velcro swaddles very quick and easy to use. There are a few different option for swaddles, Oscar really liked the JoJo Maman ones but some of my friends recommended the Love to Dream swaddles.
As Oscar has grown we replaced the swaddles with sleeping bags, we love the White Company ones.
Make sure to check the advice from the Lullaby Trust on swaddling.
Oscar goes to bed at 7 so we bought a baby monitor so we can sit in the living room at night and keep an eye on him while he’s asleep in our room. The Motorola was perfect for us as it has a colour screen, a night vision mode and room temperature sensor. You can also download an app on your phone which Mr S uses to check on Oscar and I while he’s at work.
Dummies have advantages and disadvantages but we did find giving Oscar a dummy helped him get to sleep. We used these ones from Nuk which are orthodontic and reduce the risk of misaligned teeth. Beware if your baby gets too addicted to the dummy you’ll be up all night sticking it back in if it falls out… like I am!
White Noise Machine
Oscar still loves white noise to get him to sleep and though you can play it on your phone, I would recommend getting a white noise machine. We had a Ewan the Dream Sheep and we also have an Ollie The Owl.
Trust me, you will be paranoid that the room temperature is ok for your baby. I bought a Gro-Egg so I knew he wouldn’t overheat.
Oscar is breast-fed so all the feeding equipment we bought was to compliment this. One of the best things about breast-feeding is how little you actually need as everything is right there in your boobs… no cleaning or sterilising required!
Though I’m including this as a newborn essential, I honestly wouldn’t bother buying a breast pump before your baby is born. I didn’t pump until Oscar was about six weeks old as you’re advised to get breast-feeding well established before offering a bottle. Once I did pump occasionally it meant I could leave Oscar with Mr S over longer periods of time, or he could help with the nights – so in that sense a breast pump is necessary. I bought the Medela Pump as I heard all sorts of things about it being award-winning and so good that it’s used in hospitals. I personally didn’t get on with the Medela as it’s awkward to use, and I felt like a cow being milked! I much preferred the Elvie which has revolutionised pumping for many women as the pumps actually fit inside your bra leaving you hands free.
Again if you’re breast-feeding, you won’t need bottles unless you’re expressing. We got given lots of different bottle brands but the ones that Oscar liked were the Philips Avent so these are the ones we ended up sticking to on the occasion that he had expressed milk. We also use newborn slow flow teats as we didn’t want him getting used to the easier flow of a bottle.
We got a separate bottle brush to clean Oscar’s bottles and dummies to make sure it kept super clean.
For Mum – Breast Pads and Maternity Bras
These Lansinoh pads are great to prevent leak. These JoJo Maman Bebe are my favourite maternity bras, and these are the bras that I use for sleep. A few of my friends swear by breast feeding pillows, I used one a few times when Oscar was tiny but I never do now.
Again we bought several as it took a while to find one that worked for us. In the end we liked UV Vital Baby Steriliser for Oscar’s bottles and dummies, it sterilised everything at a touch of a button. My friends also found microwave sterilising bags really useful if you don’t need a big steriliser.
I was told you can never have too many muslins… actually we found we didn’t need absolutely loads as Oscar was just not a sick baby or messy baby. We did have a few and were given some too… my favourites are from Aden + Anais.
Hygiene and Toileteries
Of course nappy changing for a newborn is rather continual! We bought Pampers nappies (starting at size 0 for teeny little O), and we used Water Wipes (the purest baby wipes) and cotton wool to clean him up. We also have a massive stash of nappy bags to throw them away in. Babies are not environmentally friendly but it is what it is…
We have a changing table as part of our nursery furniture set, we bought a comfy pad from John Lewis to change him on.
We opted for the Vital Baby nappy bin as it doesn’t need extra refills like some nappy bins.
We got given lots of lovely baby toiletries when Oscar was born. When he was teeny tiny we just washed him with water but as he got bigger we used Weleda products which are lovely and gentle. I also like Baby Cow stuff from Cowshed.
We love soft hooded towels from White Company.
When we first had Oscar we bathed him in a table top bath but as he got bigger I started using the Angel Care bath support which can be put in the bath tub. I was told I wouldn’t need a bath thermometer but I was paranoid about freezing or scalding him so I bought a Tommy Tippee one anyway.
You can buy an all in one grooming kit like the Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature All in One kit. But actually we found the individual items we bought were better in the end. This brush worked well on Oscar’s cradle cap, I bought this electric trimmer for his nails as I was scared to cut them with scissors and we used this thermometer to keep an eye on him after vaccinations.
(In this post I’m referring to my newborn travel essentials that I use everyday, I’ll write a separate post on my favourite things for overseas travel)
The pram will most likely be the most expensive purchase that you make for your baby so choose wisely. Mr S and I did tons of research and went into multiple department stores, multiple times to try out prams but we still got it wrong. We bought a Bugaboo Fox pram as it’s known for being one of the best with strong wheel suspension, easy to move around with a robust chassis yet still light weight and good for both city and country. The package we bought contained both a newborn carrycot and a push chair seat. BUT … we now rarely use it… we bought a light weight pram for our holiday and after that, the Bugaboo just seemed so heavy and difficult to manoeuvre in shops and restaurants in London… which brings me on to the…
The BabyZen YoYo might well be my number one newborn essential. We bought it for our trip to Ibiza as it’s very lightweight and can be stored in the overhead locker of a flight and I loved it so much that when I got home I started using it all the time and left our expensive Bugaboo gathering dust. Walking around London, you’ll see so many parents with this versatile pushchair which I personally think is all you need! FYI unlike the Bugaboo the newborn attachment has to be purchased separately for the Yoyo.
Some hospitals don’t allow you to leave the without the baby in a car seat so this is a definite essential for some… but for others only if you have a car. We don’t actually have a car anymore but we use Zip Cars and Mr S’s work car sometimes… the car seat can also clip on to the pram using special adaptors. Even so, the car seat won’t be an essential for everyone. We chose a Cybex Cloud Z as it has a lie flat position for when the baby is taken out of the car meaning he can stay in it for longer. The seat rotates 180 degrees so it’s really easy to get Oscar in and out plus it’s fully adjustable for changing as he grows. We also bought a car seat base which ensures extra safety.
I was under the impression that when you had a baby, you basically had to pack the kitchen sink every time you left the house. With that in mind, I bought a massive changing bag from Chloe (you can see it in the picture above hanging on the pram), I soon discovered that you didn’t need to take a suitcase every time you left and instead I put together a small pack of nappies, wipes, nappy sacks and a change of clothes that I could take if I was just popping out. I soon left the big bag gathering dust and always took the small one.
For some of my friends a carrier or a sling was an absolute essential but Oscar didn’t really get on with it that well and preferred being in the pram. We had the BabyBjorn mini carrier which was lovely and soft and felt safe and supportive but really only used it a few times. Other friends of mine preferred soft wrap carriers. This coat for baby wearing is also very popular with my friends.
If I could give just one word of advice for buying things for your newborn it would be, don’t buy too many clothes. Firstly you’ll be given lots and lots, especially if you have a baby shower. Secondly don’t buy clothes really far ahead… for example you might buy a beautiful cashmere jumper and it may not fit your baby until summer when it’s too hot to wear it. Someone may buy you a gorgeous designer dress for your baby in size 3 – 6 months and you might put it away until she’s big enough to wear it… and then forget you have it and by the time you find it in the back of the wardrobe and it’s too small.
In my mind I thought babies needed lots of outfit changes but actually Oscar wasn’t very messy as a newborn so the packs of ten plain white onesies I’d bought ‘just in case’ just sat untouched. I was also told I’d need to buy newborn and 0-3 for when he was born… but when I knew I was having him early I bought lots of premature baby clothes and ‘tiny baby’ clothes. It was ages until he fit into 0 – 3 and in fact at 7 months old now, some of his clothes are still 0 – 3!
I probably needed:
10 x vests
1o x sleepsuits
And then a few cardigans etc for layering.
5 x pairs of socks
2 x hats (we were asked to bring a hat into the operating theatre to cover his hat after he was born, we also had to leave the hospital with one on his head).
I bought scratch mitt gloves but those just kept falling off. It was better to buy onesies that went over his hands so that he didn’t scratch himself. We bought and got given lots of bibs but again as Oscar wasn’t messy we never actually used them until he’s started on solids.
Obviously when it comes to clothes it’s unlikely you’ll only buy essentials as everything is so cute. I bought a few nicer things for when he was meeting people, but like I said people buy you really nice things so there’s definitely no need to go over board especially not before they’re born and you know how big they are.
Newborns need very few toys, they really just need lots of skin to skin and parental interaction and chatting. But we did find a few things useful.
When he was first born Oscar would just lie on his mat and look at things… what it was really helpful for was as somewhere to park him if I needed to fetch something! We actually had a few playmats to go in various rooms for making life easier.
Again for the first few months this was really just a place to park him but was he got older he enjoyed some gentle bouncing in his BabyBjorn bouncer – it’s battery free and just works with your baby’s natural movements and is suitable from birth.
The 4Moms mamaroo is a really handy bit of kit. It’s a an electronic seat that mimics natural movements, plays soothing sounds and has an overhead mobile. It’s not an essential as it’s pretty pricey but I did find it quite handy!
Buying everything for your new baby really is so overwhelming and I would highly recommend using the nursery service at John Lewis to get advice and to try things out.