run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Thursday 28 May 2015

The ultimate newborn shopping list

Wandering around a kiddy superstore, befuddled by buggy choices and wanting to buy something to feel a bit more prepared for the impending tiny human coming into our home, I spotted a 'plastic baby wipe container' (£9.99) - and realised just how much shops like to grab hold of your new-parent insecurity and make you hurl your cash into their pockets. Because baby wipes come in containers already. Those £120 nappy bags are handbags with a few pockets. "Specialist nappy bins" crowing about their hygiene benefits are like normal bins - with a decent lid.

And when you're a newby to this baby malarky, shops like to suck you in.

After hours of shopping and getting bogged down in comparisons on forums (take 10 parents and they'll have 19 opinions on every single car seat / bottle / nappy), I learnt a lot. 

These are the items I've found most useful in the first months. For the stuff to avoid, see 7 Things You Really Don't Need.

This here is a big old list, but you can buy loads of stuff second-hand to save cash (check out Facebook's Buy & Sell Your Baby Stuff group, NCT nearly-new sales, or the likes of eBay and Gumtree), and often family and friends will have stuff they can't wait to clear out of their loft too. 


A cot is too big so you'll want a Moses basket or crib for the first few months. We've been happy with this rocking one - the stand, helpfully, is sold separately..) and you'll soon find your hand automatically jiggling a rocking motion even when it's nowhere near the thing). But with hindsight I think a co-sleeping one like this one would have been good: you attach it to your bed for easier baby-grabs at night-time feeds and it's safer than having your babe in your bed.

Blankets: rather than the kerfuffle of grappling in the dark to firmly tuck in crib blankets etc, baby sleeping bags like Gro-bags are much easier. I'd say buy at least two for the first few months because one is always covered in sick and then in the washing machine... You can get them in different tog ratings for different times of the year - babies are supposed to sleep in rooms at around 18 degrees C - and should never be bundled in too many blankets.

A thick towel - sounds weird, but this was crucial in our baby's first few weeks: the Moses basket is huge compared to a womb, and coiling a towel round the edge makes it much cosier. Or you can buy a device that does the same. But towel is cheaper.

Some kind of night light is useful - we used a handheld soft-glow torch for night changes (putting the light on wakes the babe too much and you want him/her to go back to sleep ASAP!), but a torch on your phone or normal torch works just as well. 

Out and about: 

The phrase "travel system" sounds ridiculous but you'll soon find yourself baffled over which to go for - it involves buying a chassis, carrycot, buggy and car seat combo altogether. The different seats all attach to the same wheels, meaning you can pop a sleeping baby in the car seat straight onto the chassis for a quick shop etc. (Babies shouldn't be in their car seat for more than two hours at a time). 

I was pretty shocked to find some brands, (Bugaboo I'm looking at you), charge as much as £1000 for the whole package. Our Cosatto kit - buggy, carry cot, car seat, nappy bag, rain covers and all - came in at under £400; it's such a smooth push, and unusual looking, people are always complimenting us on it. Things to think about when buggy-picking include the ease of pushing, ease of dismantling, size of basket, weight, and if it fits in your car boot. When buying bigger items like this, I definitely recommend signing up for a Which? membership - you can always do the £1 trial and cancel it later and the site has really comprehensive reviews.

For drivers, buying a car seat base costs extra but means you don't have to fiddle around with the seatbelt or IsoFix fittings every time you take the car seat in and out. 

For travelling, you might also want a sling - we were given two, a soft Caboo which the babe falls asleep in easily, and is usable from birth, but it does make my back moan fairly quickly. We also have a more structured Baby Bjorn for older months. Test out any slings (preferably with something weighty inside!) before buying - they can be invaluable: some mums I know use them around the house and say it's the only way they can cook/work/go to the loo without their little one going loopy.

You'll also need a changing bag - there's a huge range but you just need one that you like, with a portable changing mat inside, and bottle-holder if you're formula feeding.

Meal times...

If you're planning on breastfeeding, I'd recommend buying a tube of Lansinoh just in case - it soothes any cracked nipples or pain, and some nipple shields for the same. It takes the boobs a while to get used to feeding and if the process becomes painful, these can be brilliant. 

A breast pump is probably the least sexy device ever invented - it makes me feel like a dairy cow - but it means you can give your milk to someone else for the odd feed, giving you an early night or some time out, so it's definitely worthwhile. I went for this Medella model but you can also opt for double pumps which make the process speedier.

If you do express, or are formula-feeding, you'll want some bottles: we went for the Lansinoh breast-feeding-friendly one and our little one took to it like a milk-aholic. 

You'll want a steriliser too - a microwave one or plug-in: factors to think about are kitchen-counter space, how much they fit inside, and how long they take to do the job. 

Around the home...

Whatever beautiful soft furnishings you've installed or decor you've introduced into your home, post-baby you'll drape white muslins EVERYWHERE. They're vital to mop up sick/wees/tears/milk/etc., so get loads. Don't worry about going for pricey ones - the supermarket cheapies do the job just as well.

For bathtime, we bought a cheap Ikea baby bath - but ended up using the sink at first, when the little one was tiny (and for bum-dunks after bad nappies). You can also buy a bunch of hooded baby towels, or just use your existing small ones. 

And baby-occupying devices.. it's amazing how much infrastructure a tiny person can have - and how useful (and room-swallowing) some of it is. We were lucky to be given a rocking swing chair - and found it gets the babe to sleep when nothing else will. 

A bouncer chair is great to keep him occupied whilst we're eating - as is a jungle gym activity mat. The latter gets our little one smiling more easily than any of our gurning/grinning/contorted faces ever do..

This one's a total luxury, but we received a baby sheepskin rug as a gift, and it's so soft our babe loves lying on it. It's a lovely backdrop to newborn photos too.

As for toys etc - I found (with regret!) that cuddly bears etc aren't appreciated by young babies, but one thing really does capture their attention: this black and white book. Babies are really short sighted but this is something they really gaze at.

Bum deals...

You'll spend a LOT of time at your nappy changing station, so make sure it's the right height for you. Instead of buying a changing table that could only be used for that purpose, we stuck a changing mat onto a nice chest of drawers, which will be usable for far longer.

Obviously you'll need loads of nappies - but I recommend only buying a couple of packs for starters to work out which ones you like: some friends swear by Aldi's cheap range, others only use Pampers, and one even raves about reusables. For disposables, check out comparison site to find the cheapest shop for your chosen brand.

To clean the babe's bottom, we used cotton wool and water (it doesn't need to be sterilised), but when they get older you might want nappy wipes. As for nappy cream, for healthy babies most midwives say steer clear for the first few weeks.

The babe's wardrobe

With any luck you'll get some cute outfits as prezzies  - but for starters all you need are a bunch of vests, and sleep-suits: I'd say at least 10 as nappy explosions/sick/etc means lots of daily changes. 

Apart from that, you'll want some..

Mittens - to stop the baby scratching themselves 
Hats - to keep them warm or cool outside, depending on the temperature
A thick all-in-one for a winter baby 
A really cosy blanket for carrying them out and about

Stuff for you...

Oh it's sexy, this stuff... Stock up on maternity pads, breast pads, and wet wipe toilet roll - because most new mamas find that every orifice that can leak, does, and the others are just sore. If you're breastfeeding, some PJs with a shirt top or a vest top are useful for night-time - and stock up on suitable night-time snacks like cereal bars for when you get the munchies.
If you've had stitches, a ring-shaped cushion can help with sitting down... And you might want to buy some stretch mark cream or oil to soothe any angry marked skin too. The things we do for babies..

And just in case...

A dummy - for soothing when Nothing. Else. Will. Work.
A few bibs to save outfits from sick-mageddons 
A few bottles of formula for intending breast-feeding mums, just in case of a feeding problem. You can buy 50p bottles of ready-made Aptamil, for example.


1 comment

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