There’s a secret the parenting industry doesn’t want you to know: many of the newborn products on the market are not necessary. And there are probably many more which would be wonderful if you only knew about them! So, as I prepare for my second child, and having learned from the first time around, I’ve drawn up a list of baby things to buy before birth – the ones you actually need and are worth investing in.
Whether you’re the most organised person in the world or the most horizontally inclined, it’s a universal truth that when it comes to preparing for your first baby you will plot, plan, and execute like never before. But until your baby arrives, it can be difficult to know if you’re buying the right items to meet their needs.
This list covers the most important products for new parents, and omits those that are really not necessary.
Essential Baby Things to Buy Before Birth
1. Travel System
This includes everything you need to get your baby from the hospital back to your home, whether you’ll be walking or driving. Of course, you could forgo the travel system and buy a separate car seat and pram; however, if you stick with interchangeable apparatus, I guarantee you won’t regret it. The convenience of being able to unclip baby’s car seat from the base in the car and slot it into the pushchair frame – without disturbing your slumbering infant? Priceless.
Top tip: Get the right model and that same chassis will also allow you to affix a carry cot (important if walking for longer than a couple of hours), and use as a pushchair in due course.
I used the Babystyle pushchair pictured above for years and absolutely loved it. It was a fantastic buy at a reasonable mid-price £400. I bought the Oyster 2 myself and reviewed it after nearly running it into the ground! I don’t think the same model is available now, and the newer version is a little more expensive:
I’ve since bought a Quinny Hubb which is also excellent, especially for when you have an older sibling. You can attach a toddler seat which is completely unique to any other pushchair and I’ve received so many comments about it. However it is a little pricier:
I cannot praise my sling enough. There are so many on the market and finding the right one can be a bit of a mission, but having read many reviews and chatted to many more women, I settled on the Baby K’tan – and was thrilled with it. One of my biggest regrets with Pixie is that I didn’t purchase this sling until she was four months old. I honestly have no idea why I waited so long because it was a total game changer!
Having a toddler this time I imagine it will come into its own to an even greater extent. Don’t dither like I did, just choose one and get it! They’re a little pricey starting from around £50, but cost per wear makes it very reasonable, and I loved the versatility of mine.
This one is my fave colour, which I was sadly unable to find for Pixie as there were very few stockists at the time!
Top tip: If you’re not sold on my recommendation, lots of baby groups hold sling libraries where a variety of styles are available for you to try out.
3. Co-Sleeping Crib
If there’s one thing I wish I’d spent the extra money on with Pixie it’s one of these ingenious cribs:
Especially if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned, and I can’t wait to try one this time around. Read my review of the Chicco Next2Me Dream.
I’ve heard that most babies don’t like moses baskets (true for me), but if you are keen to avoid co-sleeping (as I was) then this is the perfect compromise – and, so I hear, makes middle-of-the-night feeds a breeze.
4. Breast Pump
Something else I wish I’d mastered first time around. In fairness, I may not have used it very often anyway – otherwise I guess I’d have spent more time researching and investing in the right pump.
But what I can tell you is that whilst in hospital with Pixie, pumping with a decent piece of equipment saved us from failure; if you need to significantly increase your supply one of these is your absolute best bet.
I used a Medela pump in hospital and it was brilliant:
Top tip: I wish I’d known far sooner that there are different attachments available to fit varying nipple sizes – I’m convinced this was the reason I found mine so uncomfortable and ended up expressing by hand when I was really desperate!
5. Nursing Bras
You need solid bras. With clips. Do yourself a favour and buy at least a couple of decent maternity bras. My favourite is the Carriwell nursing bra which I reviewed and genuinely love (still do April 2020!).
Top tip: If you follow a shop’s measuring guide and something doesn’t feel right, make sure you persevere until it does. I highly recommend Debenhams’ fitting service. And keep in mind that your boobs are likely to go up and down quite a bit during this time too; ideally you should be re-measured after your milk has come in and settled.
I’m sorry to break it to you, but with the best will in the world, it’s almost an inevitability that if you choose to breastfeed, you will need nipple cream at some point. And maybe at lots of points.
Having experienced the pain of cracked nipples myself, and subsequently eczema of the nipples – during which I continued to feed – I can assure you that there are few things more toe-curling than a baby suckling broken skin.
Trust me – if you’re looking to save some pennies, this is not the item on which to scrimp – you’ll be so monumentally relieved to have a reliable product that cost will become irrelevant.
Top tip: This stuff will ruin your bras – be sure to use breast pads!
Some of the products in my post about breastfeeding essentials may also be beneficial to you should you choose to breastfeed.
7. Sleep Suits
There’s nothing more precious than a tiny baby in a super cute outfit. There’s also nothing more uncomfortable. Probably.
Do your baby a favour and stick with comfortable, versatile – and affordable – sleep suits; for the first few months anyway. There’s plenty of time for playing dress up later.
My fave place for cute baby sleepsuits is Next.
8. Change Bag
It’s a sad fact that when you have a baby it’s time to wave bye bye to your cherished tote for the next few years. Of course, you have the option of lugging two bags around for the foreseeable, but really who wants to do that? Your arms will be full already. Cue: mum frump. None of us understand how it happens – until we’re in the thick of it and it becomes a way of life.
A really fabulous change bag is both practical (plenty of pockets for muslins, wipes, Calpol, spare clothes, nappy sacks, Sudocrem, etc, etc) and large and pretty enough to hold your purse, phone and keys too. Mine is from Pink Lining and I love it.
Any other baby products should be considered a bonus if you have unlimited space and funds – but they’re not a necessity in my book.
What are your essential baby things to buy before birth? Is there anything I’ve missed that you couldn’t have lived without?