When you find out you’re going to be a parent, you immediately want to do the very best that you can for your little baby. Everything becomes about them and giving them the very best start in life, everywhere you go you start looking at parents with their babies and make mental notes about buggies, bottles, carriers, anything that you see other people using that looks like it would help the whole parenting process.
First time parents are assaulted with lists of “baby essentials” as soon as they get their positive pregnancy test, they sign up for email updates to tell them that their baby is now the size of a pomegranate seed or a blueberry. For 8 months and 2 weeks every company under the sun from nappy sellers to life insurance providers takes advantage of the newly expectant parents’ lack of experience to tell them that if they love their unborn child they’ll buy all this stuff. that shock, horror is unnecessary.
I did it myself, I bought baby magazines and cooed over buggies (my husband even cooed over the buggies), spent hours online in forums researching what we should buy. We test drove buggies and carseats, I and price compared everything. We overpurchased. I think everyone does.
So, with the benefit of hindsight, here’s the “Bumbles of Rice List of What You Really Need to Get for Your First Baby”. The rest is extra in my view, luxuries that you don’t necessarily need. I’ve said “get” as opposed to buy as you may be lucky enough to have a family member or friend who is lending you the baby bits (lucky you). If you do need to buy make sure to check out the secondhand market- there are lots of bargains to be had in charity shops and on buying and selling websites (I’ve used both Donedeal and Adverts.ie to sell baby equipment lately).
Your baby will need somewhere to sleep. This is sort of theoretical as your new baby will spend most of its time sleeping in your arms/on your chest or in your bed.
I’m not a moses basket fan as I don’t think that they last long enough (unless you’re just borrowing one). We bought a wooden cradle which lasts a lot longer, (even with my big babies up to 5-6 months) and used that in the bedroom. If you’re taking a minimalist approach your newborn can absolutely sleep in a full sized cot, just raise the base of it to save your back. Many people buy a moses basket for daytime sleeps, we just used the carrycot part of our pram downstairs.
Bedding: You’ll need about 4 fitted sheets to go on your baby’s bed (pukes and poos mean 4 are necessary) and 4 flat ones to swaddle a newborn in. Don’t buy white, they get raggy looking. Mothercare ones are lovely quality, as are Baby Elegance and Mamas and Papas. Cellular blankets are also lovely to wrap a newborn in and to use as their bedding and layer up. You usually get nice blankets as gifts so don’t buy too many of these, a couple of fleecey ones from Dunnes or Penneys will be perfect til you see if you get presents of them. (If you’re buying ones as presents for someone it’s very hard to beat the TK Maxx ones, they’ve a great variety of beautiful blankets at excellent prices)
Monitor: A baby monitor is very handy for new parents, we’ve always used a basic model with just audio and have had no problems with it, some people prefer the fancier models which have alarms or videos.
For newborns you’re either breastfeeding or bottle feeding. If you intend to breastfeed I’d recommend having the bottle paraphernalia too in case it doesn’t work out. You don’t need to buy a highchair or anything else solids related til your baby is at least four months old.
If you intend to breastfeed make sure to have breastfeeding bras (I’d say at least 4, in case baby pukes in them) and some “easy access” tops. I never really bought specially made breastfeeding clothes, I used long cami tops (to cover my tummy) when I pulled up my normal tops. Cardigans are great for hiding things too, and a strategically placed muslin. You’ll also need to have breast pads and a tube of lansinoh ointment just in case, and it’s no harm to buy nipple shields “in case” too. A breastfeeding cushion is great but you don’t need it right away, a regular pillow or body pillow can do the same job. Check out the bottlefeeding list below too.
I’ve always used Tommee Tippee bottles as they were recommended to me for breastfed babies- you’ll often find them on half price offers in chemists or Argos, I bought mine on Amazon. Shop around, the price differences are phenomenal. I don’t necessarily prefer them over other brands, it’s just what I’ve used and we’ve had no problems with them.
If you intend to bottle feed you’ll need:
Bottles: I’d get 8, you’ll leave one somewhere and there will be days that you need a break from washing them.
A Bottle brush
Small bibs: I like the cotton ones with snap fasteners, the velcro ones come off too easily and stick to things in the wash. At least 10 to start.
Steriliser: steam ones are great, make sure that the steriliser that you buy will fit the bottles that you buy.
Teats: your new bottles will come with size 0/1 teats, if you intend to breastfeed and have a healthy supply this may be too slow for your baby, I always made sure that I had variflow teats which I found suited my babies better,
Soothers: you may decide that you don’t want your baby to take a soother from the outset, I know I did and ended up bringing two home from hospital. If you intend to give a soother buy at least 4 as they’ll need to be sterilised for a newborn.
Nappies– newborns (or mine anyway) can go through 10 a day. I never bought size 1, always just size 2, but I had big babies. Shop around for the offers on these, and never be duped by a sign in the supermarket saying that it’s an offer- do the sum of price per nappy (I refuse to buy nappies that cost more than 15c per nappy ever). I honestly believe that nappy companies are out to trick us and test our mental arithmetic.
Baby wipes– everyone has their favourite brand of wipes (mine is Huggies Pure), it depends on what smell, what fragrance, what texture is a personal thing. Again you should never ever buy them full price. For the first while it’s not recommended to use baby wipes for a newborn’s bum so my top tip was to have large cotton wool pads and a sports bottle of water at the changing table, using the water to wet the cotton wool each time.
Sudocrem– a big pot and a small travel pot or tube.
Baby powder– it smells lovely, Caldesene is my favourite smell, and it’s Irish made, one container of this is plenty.
Cottonwool – I always used the cotton wool pads that you’d use to remove makeup with a sports bottle of water in the changing table for newborns.
Plastic changing mat – these cost less than a tenner and are a comfy and easily wipeable place to change baby.
Nappy bag– to keep the nappies and stuff in when you’re on the go. There are lots of pretty ones out there but practical me didn’t want one that would (a) show the dirt or (b) be so girlie that my husband wouldn’t be seen carrying it, so we went for a plain black satchel type that could be mistaken for a laptop bag when empty. (It’s never empty, it’s spilling over with nappies and changes of clothes). The alternative is not to buy one at all, and to be honest I rarely use mine any more, I’ve a fold up changing mat with compartments in it that I store in my big handbag. I do find that the nappy bag is useful for days out to leave in the car with spare changes of clothes etc, but I’m forever forgetting to restock it so there are vital things missing when we have “poonamis” on the school run.
Nappy bags – small plastic bags to put dirty nappies in. You’ll get these in any supermarket, very useful!
We bought a basic baby bath and a bath support sponge like this one, which is very handy for when you’re afraid that you’ll drop your newborn in the bath.
You don’t need sponges to begin with, cotton wool balls will do.
For “new baby smell” I like Infacare baby bath.
Hooded towels are nice to have (two, in case baby poos on one during the bath transfer process- don’t laugh, it happens!) and while they’re not essential they’re in expensive and make bathtime easier.
I bought 2 “newborn” babygros before my first baby was born, but they didn’t fit him in the Delivery Suite! I’d recommend getting a couple of up to 1 month and the bulk 0-3 months. Buy from different shops as the sizes vary a lot- I found the sizing order to be (starting with smallest) Penneys-Dunnes-Tesco-M&S-Mothercare-Next-Nameit.
Neutral colours are white/grey and cream/brown, you’ll get bored of them pretty quickly. Lemon and green are neither particularly neutral nor flattering on baby skintones! Likewise most very strong colours for newborns, wait til they’re in the 3-6 months before buying neon shades.
Newborns need to be snug, so if you are buying clothes for your newborn before he/she is born think cute babygros or all in ones rather than outfits that you will need to disturb them in to put on. There’s plenty of time for fancy outfits when they’re a few months older.
You will get TONS of clothes as presents, they will mostly be 3-6 months (It’s a fact, mostly based on seasons and on what’s in the shops).
Socks– if you buy an outfit you’ll need socks for baby. They never stay on but you’ll still need a 5 pack of white ones to start you off.
Vests/Bodysuits – 8 is a good number to start with, leaky nappies, pukes and 0-3 months
Babygros/Sleepsuits– baby will spend most of his/her time in these- get neutral to begin with, 8-10. again allowing for puke/poo and laundry delays.
Mittens – red herring, I never, ever used.
Hats – it’s good to have one or two, you don’t need twelve, my babies only wore them outside. Laoise was born during a heatwave so the only hats she wore were sunhats.
A coat/jacket: If you’re due in July a hoodie will be plenty, I always use a size bigger as it’s easier to get baby into, and zips are easier to close than buttons.
Bibs – if you don’t know the sex of your baby it’s nice to have few bibs of each colour to wear with the neutral babygros, see bib advice under feeding above.
You’ll need a buggy of some description for baby and a car seat. Buggies are a very, very personal choice, don’t just buy one because it works for someone else or because you look cool pushing it, all joking aside you need to test drive one. Check if feels comfortable for you (and your other half) to push, that it will fit in your car, that it has the right sized shopping basket, the right type of wheels for what YOU are going to use it for. Some people like to start with a travel system with integrated infant seat, others go straight away for the lie flat stroller type or a big three wheeler for the country roads. If you hope to expand your family soon you could investigate the options for single buggies that easily convert to doubles.
If you choose a travel system then it will come with an infant carseat, if not you’ll need one. We bought the separate base and found it very handy for taking in and out of the car. I am the person who had to phone her husband the first day that he went back to work to ask how to take the car seat out of the car as it was stuck on the base. PRACTICE is key!
Don’t buy any! You’ll get lots as gifts, and your newborn won’t need any for the first six weeks or so. Hold off getting a playgym too, but a bouncer/rocker chair that can be used from birth is a good investment- and a wise choice if a close friend or family member asks what they can buy you.
As long as you have the basics everything else is easy to pick up in your local supermarket or online. Don’t panic buy and good luck!
What have I forgotten? (usual disclaimers apply!)
All Images: Pixabay.com unless otherwise stated.
**Updated 3/03/2014 to include car seat and baby jacket.