People will tell you that you need an awful lot of stuff when you are pregnant, but what do you really need to buy when preparing to have a baby?
Do you really have to spend a fortune buying dozens of products to be prepared to be a parent? The answer is no, of course not!
When I was expecting my first child I absolutely loved going to Mothercare, John Lewis, JoJo Maman Bebe and anywhere else I could find baby paraphernalia.
I stocked up on stuff, but in the end I actually had too much of one thing – namely clothes – and not enough practical items.
So I thought I would share with you my advice for buying for a baby. Now that I’ve had two kids, I have a pretty good idea of what’s essential to help you out and what you shouldn’t waste your money on.
The message is you do not have to spend everything in your savings account in order to prepare for a baby.
So these are my top tips for pregnant mamas stocking up on essentials for your baby, plus I have a full checklist of what you need to buy ahead of your due date.
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Set your budget
Think about your overall budget and stick to it. Write it down on a piece of baby, and then underneath that write what you actually need. Essentials only!
High ticket items like the buggy and car seat will swallow up most of your budget, but remember to spare some cash for the smaller items such as bottles, clothes, toys and toiletries.
Don’t be blinded by brands
If you can afford to buy a Bugaboo pushchair, that’s great. I have a Cameleon3 and I do absolutely love it.
However a really good buggy does not have to cost the earth! Set a budget for every must-have item on your list and stick to it. Don’t be blinded by big brand names and celebrity endorsements.
Try things out
When it comes to buggies, car seats, Moses baskets and cots, the best thing you can do is go to look at the products you like the look of in person.
Push the buggy around, practice folding it and putting it back upright again.
Look at the size of Moses baskets, cots and cotbeds. Do you NEED a Moses basket? I would not have bought one if I knew then what I know now!
Moses baskets are cute and easy to transport from one room to the other. But they do not last very long at all! My two girls were in the Moses basket for about three months and the wicker handles had broken on it by the time by second grew out of it, so it’s now been chucked!
Of course the baby needs to be in your room for the early months, so measure out the space you have and if you can fit a cot, or cotbed, into your room then seriously consider doing so.
It will save you so much money if you go for a bed that’s going to last more than three months.
I bought cotbeds for each of my girls which convert to a toddler bed once they are old enough.
Think about how you are going to feed your baby, but don’t fully commit as you never know what will happen after you give birth. Go out to look at breast pumps and bottles for formula feeding, decide which makes and models you like the price and look of.
With bottles, think about how easy they are to wash up. Some come in loads of different parts and are a real faff to clean and put back together.
If you do want to try breastfeeding, buy a pump before giving birth. I wish I had one ready. I had to send my mum out from the hospital to buy one for me in the week after I had my first.
Baby beds decked out in all of the bedding including colourful bumpers look cute. But bumpers are actually a real suffocation hazard for little ones.
If your baby rolls over and bonks their head in the night, they will either cry for you, then go back to sleep once they’ve had a cuddle, or they will just fall asleep again on their own. They won’t badly hurt themselves.
Both of mine have frequent fidgeting episodes in the night that result in a few bangs coming from their room and both are absolutely fine! The worry about suffocation is a far more pressing matter to be concerned about.
Don’t be blinded by the cuteness
Baby clothes are extremely cute and it’s very easy to get carried away. But if you are on a budget, try to rein yourself in because the reality is that newborns are messy and may well poo and vomit through a few outfits a day.
Focus on buying comfy, soft and machine washable clothes. Layers are perfect for newborns, so if your baby is being born in winter you will need some short sleeve vests to go under their onesies or top and trousers.
Your newborn does not need shoes. I know they are hard to resist, so I leave this one up to your discretion!
Brief your friends and family
You don’t have to issue a list of demand – that probably wouldn’t go down all that well – but most people want to buy you things that are useful. Have a rolling list of what you need to get, so that when someone asks you what would be a useful gift you can tell them straight away.
Most people will want to buy you newborn clothes, because they are so cute! This is great, and of course people are free to pick out what they want. But where possible ask for 0-3 month size clothes, as babies grow out of the newborn size so quickly!
Focus on the basics
If you’re getting overwhelmed and you’re not sure what products are actually going to suit you once the baby is here, then think about the basics only.
Your baby needs clothes, a car seat to travel home from the hospital in, somewhere safe to sleep, blankets to keep warm, baby wash products including a flannel and some way of eating. Of course if you are going to try breastfeeding then you shouldn’t need to worry about the last part.
Beware of gimics
Some people swear by Ewan the Dream Sheep as a way of getting babies to nod off every night. Others say the Sleep Head Deluxe, which at more then £100 is pretty pricey, is the only thing that got their baby to sleep through the night.
What works for one parent does not work for another. By all means, if you are at your wits end with a six-month-old who isn’t sleeping at all, then try out some sleep products. But for the purposes of buying for a newborn baby, don’t bother with these type of things.
Baby products you do not need
This can be a bit of a divisive subject, but there are some products that are either nice to have if you can afford it or just a total waste of money.
A baby bath tub, because your child will grow out of it within a few weeks. Get a baby bath seat instead.
A top and tail bowl. Just use a normal bowl from your kitchen!
Expensive nursing shawls. Just use a long scarf.
Too many toys. Of course a few colourful toys are great for stimulating your baby, but a newborn is awake for very short periods. Try not to fill your toy box just yet, particularly if you are on a budget.
Boppy feeding pillow. These cushions are curved to fit around your body, but a normal pillow works just as well!
Nappy bin. These magic bins promise to magic away the stench of dirty nappies. The trouble is you have to buy refills for them to keep them working, and the cost soon adds up. Just chuck the dirty nappies into your outside bin once or twice a day.
I hope this guide has given you a firm steer on where you should focus your shopping efforts. If you have any questions at all, please let me know in the comments. If you are expecting say hello, and tell us when you are due!