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Everything you need to know for Getting Ready for Baby – What to Buy

Not too long after I announced my pregnancy, a good friend of mine forwarded a shopping list someone had sent her when she was pregnant.  It was everything you need to know for Getting Ready for Baby. It had been sent to her by someone who had children before her – and so on and so forth. Along the way the email had been edited, formatted and notes had been added. It was one of the most helpful emails I received throughout my whole pregnancy and I am going to share it with you.

The Shopping List

You will see that it looks like a list. A list of what to buy, what to buy second-hand, what to invest in new. When I added my bits, I also put a budgetary note in it so I could keep track of what I was spending. It is amazing how it all adds up.  There are certain things that you just don’t want to buy second-hand if you can help it – cot mattresses for example, car seats you need to be careful with in case they have been involved in accidents previously – but things like prams, change tables, cots, baby baths, books, toys, ride-ons – all of these can be bought for a fraction of their new cost on-line and often in really good second-hand condition too.

Change Table

To have a change-table or not to. I have heard many people say they would prefer to save the money than to buy a change table. Personally I loved mine. You will spend an extraordinary amount of time changing nappies – more than you will believe and enjoy. Unless you want to be constantly bending over your baby on the floor and getting up and down to get things, I would recommend a change-table. Not only does it make your life easier, having your child confined at your level whilst you change his nappy, with everything at your fingertips (most change-tables have shelves or pockets or drawers to store nappies, wipes, bags to put soiled nappies, creams etc.) – it will also save your back.

Storage for Baby Stuff

The other thing I will advise is to invest in decent storage. You will gain so much CXXP it is not funny. Not only will you get given a whole heap of useless stuffed animals when your child is born, you’ll buy parenting books, you’ll have books and toys coming out of your ears, nappies, creams and potions, vests, tops, jackets, jumpsuits, little shoes and socks and just STUFF everywhere. Unless you want to drive yourself mad not being able to find whatever it is you need when you need it, invest in storage. You can buy really cheap ‘box’ shelving units where you can just store things as are or put them in little baskets or colourful plastic boxes on the shelves.

It’s also worth investing in a chest of drawers for babies clothes. A wardrobe isn’t really necessary until their older. Drawers can be picked up pretty cheaply new or online as used and painted/ spruced up with fun new handles.

Baby Bed – Cot and Mattress

A cot and mattress are obviously a must-have but there is nothing wrong with buying a second-hand cot, giving it a quick sand and paint job and just buying a new mattress and fun, colourful linen. You don’t necessarily need a bassinet although it is recommended to make baby feel as ‘close’ as possible when born which is why you wrap them up well for the first few months. If you don’t want to buy a bassinet then this is also something you can buy second-hand or just buy a Moses basket – easy to carry around with you.

Portable Cots

Portable cots, although not a necessity, are pretty useful if you are moving around a lot, going on holiday or just want to keep your social life going through those early years of parent-hood. It’s nice to know that you don’t need a baby sitter every time you go out but that you can just cart your baby and her porta-cot with you and pop her up at a friends or grandparents, allowing them to sleep whilst you relax over a nice meal.

Decorating Baby’s Room

Decorating baby’s room also doesn’t need to cost a fortune. We simply got some fun and colourful baby wrapping paper with the alphabet on and got it mounted and framed as a picture in the room. You can buy fun friezes, or simply do your own stencilling if you are that way inclined. Post-cards framed or black and white cartoons are another way to decorate the room in a cost-effective fashion. Try looking at illustrations in children’s books for something that appeals, get it blown up and framed or mounted. As your child gets older you can always use their own artwork for decoration, or it can be as simple as using blackboard paint on one wall or door that can be drawn or written on at any time with colourful chalk.

Baby Bath

A baby bath isn’t a necessity – just use a washbasin if you have one or you can buy little cloth seats to put baby in the big bath, enabling you to use your hands to wash baby and lift them in and out of the bath more easily.

Baby Front Pack

Front packs and slings are important to some people but not to everyone. Personally I used a front pack. I loved it through my first baby and it really came into its own with my second child as there wasn’t much between my children in the way of time. It enabled me to push my first child in the pram whilst carrying my newborn in the front pack. It also enabled me to walk around the park or garden playing with my eldest child whilst my new baby slept contentedly in my front pack, and didn’t need to be left in a pram parked in the corner of a park.

Bouncer Chair

I would advise to invest in a decent bouncer chair. A bouncer chair is a soft-backed curved chair – ideal for babies under 6 months. You can pop them down in there and get on with your jobs whilst baby bounces contentedly away, lulled to lala land by the bouncing.

Portable Play Mat

A portable play mat is also useful. Buy one that you can fold up and pop in your nappy bag so when you are visiting friends , you are able to just whip it out and pop baby down on the floor, safe in the knowledge that no matter how dirty the floor is, your baby is safely on its own mat. Play mats can be pretty useful although not absolutely necessary. They are basically cloth mats with colourful (and sometimes musical) items hanging down so baby looks at the items and not just at the ceiling. Basically the difference between a play mat and a play gym is that the play gym has things hanging down for the child to grab, focus on, gum and explore whereas a mat is just that – a mat for you to put the baby on so they can lie and kick.

Your Face is a Toy!

Babies under the age of one don’t need toys. They are exploring the world.  Your face is fascinating to them, as is the ceiling, the rug, other visitor’s faces. You can bounce them on your knee, play peekaboo, show them their reflection in the mirror, print out or draw cards with black and white patterns – people’s faces and black and white checks/ stripes etc. are great for entertaining.. You’ll get given soft toys for them to gum or chew but a colourful bucket of pegs, a wooden spoon and a tin or saucepan, a home-made rattle made with rice in a plastic sealed jar, anything like that will be enough to entertain a young baby.

Exersaucer

Excersaucers are again, a nice-to-have, not a necessity. They enable babies to almost stand up in a safe play circle, touching items around them and not able to get into any trouble. They also enable mums to get dinner ready without having to hold baby in their arms.

Hanging Mobile

A mobile is something that goes above the bed or change-table. Basically your baby will spend most of their first 6 months on their back, looking at the ceiling. You can get pretty mobiles that hang from the ceiling or attach to the cot, some of which even play music, and ‘entertain’ baby. They are definitely a nice-to-have, and one which I made an investment in.

I bought the top-of-the-range “Symphony in motion” mobile – the only mobile that plays several Beethoven classic songs and circles around above the baby’s head for 10mins – the perfect amount of time for a mother to have a shower. Yes, you are allowed to leave your baby in their cot for 10mins by themselves while they have a shower. However, if they are awake and you are anything like me, you will feel like a bad mother for doing so. That is exactly why I bought that specific mobile. It entertained my child for enough time to make myself clean! And, I would do it again if I needed to!

Take a look at my list of essentials and nice-to-haves below and, for more advice then listen to our podcast – Top Tips on Getting Ready for Baby

Have I missed anything? Share your tips with us!

Big Items

  • Cot – look around for 2nd hand and spruce up with fresh paint.
  • Mattress – always try to buy new if you can.
  • Mobile - again, look on eBay or TradeMe for 2nd hand ones.
  • Buggie – you will use this all the time so you can be excused if you want a new one – however there are some great 2nd hand deals around.
  • Sun and rain cover for pram
  • Sheepskin – not only a great comfort for the baby in the pram but also really useful to prevent ‘spillages’ getting onto the pram material which is harder to clean. With a sheepskin you can throw it into the wash everyday if you need to.
  • Car Seat – always buy new.
  • Change table - I bought a great 2nd hand one that I could also use to store all my nappies and creams.
  • Change mat
  • Nappy Disposer – nice to have, especially if you are in an apartment/ have stairs
  • Baby bath - we didn’t bother but some people prefert them.
  • Sunshade (car window)
  • Travel cot – A definite must-have if you are social!
  • Baby sling or front pack – I loved mine and used it constantly – even more when baby no. 2 came along.

Accessories      

  • Mattress Protector
  • Sheet set
  • Blankets – Cellular
  • Blankets – Wool
  • Bunny Rugs
  • Activity Mat
  • Bouncinette
  • Baby Mozart Video – like the Symphony in Motion mobile, it allowed me that time to vacuum the house, have a phone conversation, sit down with a cuppa
  • Baby Towel
  • Face cloths
  • Cloth Nappies – great for spillages, changing baby, drying baby, putting over your shoulder if baby is a vomiter, wrapping baby
  • Dummies – I didn’t use but lots of people swear by them
  • Muslin Wrap – softer than a cloth nappy for wiping baby, washing them, wrapping them for sleeps
  • Huggies newborn nappies – the only nappies that kept all the poo in. All the others leaked.
  • Aqueous cream – useful for nappy rash, inflamed  baby skin or just general baby rashes
  • Sudacrem – good for sore bottoms
  • Nappy bags – to dispose of all those yukky  nappies
  • Baby wipes – initially with a baby you will use a muslin with tepid water but as baby grows and from the age of around 6 wks you will be able to move to the more convenient baby wipes
  • Calpol/ Pamol – for sick  babies – ask your doctor. Never give a baby medicine without checking with a doctor first
  • Cotton wool – initially for wiping up newborn bottoms but generally useful for dabbing on for one, aqueous cream

Feeding   

  • Sterilizer – I used a microwave one and found it quick, easy and very convenient. However, there are many types of sterilising equipment available. Any baby shop or pharmacy and some department stores should be able to help you
  • Bottles – starter pack (Avant)
  • Bottle & teat Brush
  • Feeding pillow – Some people don’t need anything. Others will grab any old cushion. Personally I had terrible problems breast feeding and I wouldn’t go anywhere without my cushion. As baby got older (6months) I would use it to prop him up too so it lasted me a while.
  • Nursing bras – unless you want to strip every time you  need to feed, you need to invest in some decent nursing bras. I only bought 3 and just washed them constantly. You only use them for the duration of the time you are breast-feeding –in my case both times 6 months, so I figured I could just thrash the living daylights out of them.
  • Shields – not everyone uses them but some people who have inverted nipples or just find it hard to breast-feed, rave about breast-shields. I didn’t use them but if you do, then it is not something you are meant to use long-term.
  • Expresor – you may think that you don’t want to  become a cow but, believe me, if you want to supply predominantly  breast milk to your child and you want to be able to have some semblance of a normal life and go out sometimes, then an expresor is definitely to be recommended. I bought an electric one which you could put over your breast, press a button and let the machine do the work, extracting milk from your breast into a little bottle. You can get manual ones too and I have heard people recommend them too so, it’s just down to personal preference.
  • Nursing bra pads – If you have a lot of milk them you’ll need these unless you want puddles lining your t-shirt for the world to see. I went to the movies one night when my first child was just 3 months old. During the movie a baby was featured. Unless you have had children you will not realise the significance of this. Well, suffice to say,  I suffered a ‘let-down’. I left the movie theatre sporting two wet patches on my t-shirt and trying desperately to pull my too small cardigan across my boobs to hide the splash marks.
  • Plastic bags breast milk – not just any plastic bags but specific ones which you can use to freeze any milk you may have expressed and save it for when you are going out and your husband or babysitter will need to be able to feed your baby with a bottle in your absence.
  • Cabbage and Tea Strainers – for putting over your breasts when needing to give your breasts some ‘recovery time.’

Clothing   

  • Vests/body suits – cotton
  • Vests/body suits – wool
  • Nighties -envelope neck
  • Stretch n grows
  • T-shirt
  • Trousers
  • cardy/jersey
  • Jackets
  • socks
  • booties
  • hat
  • mittens
  • bibs

Things for Mum      

  • Nappy bag – it becomes your hand-bag for the next few years so buy a decent one that you will like for a long time!
  • Vaginal icepack/soothies – don’t even go there!
**Also check out Nat’s list on ‘Tips for Having a Fab First Year with Baby’

Written by

Jacqui Lockington is a working mum. Jacqui works full-time for an advertising agency in New Zealand and juggles life at work with being mum to two young children, Jack and Sasha. Jacqui is married to John and has just published her first book with co-author, Nat - If Only They'd Told Me - due out later this year. Jacqui trained in journalism in London and worked in radio, newspapers, public relations and advertising before moving to New Zealand where she currently lives with her family. You can contact Jacqui at Jacqui@ifonlytheydtoldme.com