The ultimate guide of what your baby really needs.
There are a number of basic things you will need for your newborn. Buying in advance is advisable as once your baby moves in, time is suddenly much harder to find. Baby clothing sizes start at 000 (smallest) 00 then 0. Many brands indicate height and weight as well. The 000 size will not last long as babies grow quickly. Buy natural fibres where possible and wash all clothing before use so it is soft on your newborn’s delicate skin. Look for machine washable, colour-fast, non-inflammable, easy fastening to save time for you.
You will need:
- 4-6 singlets
- 5 or 6 nighties (look for quick fastening for nappy changes)
- 3or 4 wool or cotton wraps
- 3 or 4 jumpsuits useful for daywear, look for turn back cuffs that unfold to become mittens/booties, zip-up fronts are useful for changing your baby in the middle of night rather than fiddling with buttons
- jumper or cardigan
- socks and booties/bonnets/hats (babies lose a lot of warmth through their heads. In summer, a floppy hat is advisable)
What sort of nappy? As parents, you will change literally thousands of nappies in the coming two years.
The options are:
- cloth nappies, either ones you launder yourself or you can use cloth nappies supplied and laundered by a nappy-wash service, or
- disposable nappies
Many parents opt for a combination of both. The nappy-wash service is a good idea if you can afford it. Better still, perhaps it could make a great gift from an adoring aunty. Nappy- wash services provide a supply of clean cloth nappies and a bin to store the used ones in. You won’t even have to rinse soiled ones.
- Cloth nappies are reusable and made of cotton but need to be soaked, rinsed, washed, folded and require pins.
- Disposable nappies are convenient, help prevent leaks but are often bleached with chemicals that may irritate your baby’s skin, tend to cause more nappy rash than cloth nappies, are a continuing expense and are environmentally unsound
Whether you intend using cloth nappies or disposables, have a large nappy soaking bucket for soiled items. Nappy liners, either disposable or reusable triangles of cloth or plastic, are useful to dispose of your baby’s bowel excretions.
- a bassinet or basket (it is useful to have a bassinet that clips off the stand so it is portable)
- a mattress, preferably new
- waterproof mattress cover
- 4 bottom sheets, preferably fitted
- 4 top sheets
- 2 blankets
- natural lambskin for baby, to use in the pram or stroller, on the floor or in the bassinet or cot
- chest of drawers
- mosquito net
- night light (one that doesn’t overheat) or dimmer switch, for checking on your newborn and late night feeds
- a nursery monitor intercom system with a portable receiver allows you to move around the house and garden while tuning into your baby’s sleep pattern
As a bassinet or basket will last only three or four months, it’s a good idea to buy good quality cot-size sheets and blankets and fold them in half. If you are particular about having matching sets of sheets, stock up as manufacturers often quickly discontinue lines.
- 4 bath towels or muslin swaddling cloths
- 4 or more face cloths or muslin face washers
- cotton wool, cotton pads, cotton buds, plenty of tissues
- essential oils of tea-tree, chammomile, lavender
- nappy changing table, preferably one with a dip in the middle to prevent your baby from rolling off easily
- baby bath
- nappy change lotion
- baby bath wash
- baby shampoo
- baby nappy talc
- baby massage oil
- first aid kit, containing thermometer, antiseptic, blunt-ended scissors, tweezers and bandages
- Between two and six bottles (if you are breastfeeding, one or two bottles can be useful to give your baby boiled water or expressed milk)
- Teats with the correct hole size for flow-rate for your baby’s age
- Bottle caps
- Bottle/teat brush
- Formula, you may need to experiment to find one that suits your baby best
- Sterilising equipment, a basic kit is useful with a large plastic container and lid
Out & About
- baby changing bag to carry nappies, spare clothes, tissues, bottle, and
- Baby carrier
- pram or pram stroller
You are legally required to have an approved restraint for your baby in the car, even for the trip home from the hospital. A capsule is a most common option and comes with a bolt to anchor it into you car. Check whether your car has the necessary hole (this is compulsory in recent cars). It is found on the ledge behind the back seat. It is possible to hire capsules from most local councils.
Also called a bouncinette, this is a little rocker with a harness that can also be used as a little seat or high chair.
For the Baby
Plan ahead as the first four months will fly. Soon you will need:
For a baby four months old or more. A cot will last up to three years. When buying, consider safety first. Check:
- the distance between slats to make sure your baby’s head can’t fit through
- is it sturdy?
- are the hinges well placed out of harms way?
- Is it a good quality mattress?
A cot bumper, the padded strip that lines the bars, is also helpful to prevent your baby bumping its head. SIDS provides information about cot safety.
This will be needed from five to six months old. These can either be a freestanding high chair or a collapsible one that attaches to the table. Consider safety and look for safety belts, stability and ease of cleaning.
Required from four to six months. Look for an approved model.
Consider safety factors including sturdiness, wood splintering, and paint surface.
Babies aren’t particularly responsive to toys in the first six months. It’s likely a collection of toys will only sit around collecting dust. Because babies love to put things straight into their mouths, be sure that any items within reach are unbreakable and have non-toxic finishes.
A suitable item for the first few months is a mobile to hang in the nursery. If your baby finds these too stimulating, avoid hanging it directly over the bassinet or cot. Music can become a useful part of the sleeping ritual. Babies love music.
A baby-friendly environment
Your baby will be little more than a bundle for the first few weeks but this will change after six to eight months. Become aware of potential hazards early.
Doors and Windows
Ventilation is important but avoid direct draughts near your baby’s sleeping area. Fans should have childproof guards or be positioned out of reach. Open windows should have insect screens, doors and windows should have childlocks, doorways and stairs should have child barriers and chocks or guards are a good idea to prevent a slamming door trapping little fingers.
Check for sharp edging, wood splintering, peeling paint. Put all unstable and breakable items out of reach.
Cupboards and Dawers
Inquisitive little fingers go everywhere. Childproof your cupboards and drawers and keep these items out of reach:
- Matches, lighters
- Glassware, ceramics
- Medications/supplements/natural medicines
- cleaning agents
- knives, forks, scissors, sharp pencils
Babies need to be kept fairly warm and at a constant temperature. Any heating appliance should be kept out of reach and do not use electric blankets for babies and small children. Kerosene heaters emit powerful fumes and should not be used.
Watch for slippery surfaces.