Expecting your very first baby? Hooray! Not sure what you really need to have on hand when you’re bringing your newborn home? Come sit by us!
With a bewildering array of options, gadgets and doodads marketed at fledgling mum and dads, we’ve whipped up a demystifying cheat-sheet to help you be properly prepared – and ensure you don’t clutter up your life with stuff you simply don’t need.
1. The right car seat
If you are planning to travel by car with your new little one, a car seat is a must. You’ll need a correctly installed, rear-facing car seat, and it’s important to note that you can’t leave the hospital with your newborn unless you have one.
Sort this out well ahead of the birth (some babies arrive early!) and choose a high-quality seat purchased from a reputable retailer. They’ll be able to advise you on the correct installation too.
While you’re at it, grab a sun shield for the window to keep your tot shady and cool, and a ‘baby on board’ type of sticker can let others know there’s a child in the car.
What you don’t need: You don’t need travel caddies for the back of the seat or play trays that clip on to the car seat. Your baby is too young to use either of them right now.
2. A cot or bassinet
Babies sleep a lot in the early days so you need a snuggly spot for them to do it. A bassinet is good for the first three months or so while they’re little, particularly if you want them next to your bed.
Alternatively, skip the bassinet completely and go straight to a cot, either in your room or their own. Ensure it has a safe and firm mattress, get at least two waterproof mattress protectors, two sets of sheets and several blankets to swaddle them in (unless you’re opting for a sleeping bag, zippered type of swaddle).
What you don’t need: You don’t need a doona, pillow, soft toys or cot bumpers where your infant sleeps – they’re not safe for babies. Mobiles are nice but not essential either so that one’s entirely up to you.
3. Nappies, wipes and creams
Newborns do nothing but poop and pee all day and night, so make sure you’re fully stocked with nappies and tons of wipes, plus a change mat. If you’re doing reusable and not disposable nappies, make sure you have lots of detergent and soaking buckets on hand. You’ll also need a good nappy cream to prevent and treat nappy rash.
What you don’t need: You don’t necessarily need a special baby bath. You can always use the sink when they’re newborn, and the regular bath after that.
4. Onesies, singlets, hats
Forget about all the fancy outfits and endless hats, what you really need are singlets and onesies. Given that babies are sleeping all the time, to begin with, you want them all snug and rugged up in easy peasy style. A sun hat is a must, and if it’s a cooler season, then some cardigans and beanies will keep your baby cosy and protected from the weather.
What you don’t need: Headbands with bows on them, shoes or baby ugg boots. Sorry!
5. Breastfeeding aids or gear for bottle feeding
If you know you’ll be bottle feeding, then formula and bottles are a must. If you’re planning to breastfeed, snap up a breast pump with storage containers and bottles, breast pads and a couple of good maternity bras. It’s worth considering buying a steriliser to significantly speed up the process of bottle washing, too.
What you don’t need: Special breastfeeding chairs and cushions are popular, but there’s no reason you can’t sit in a supportive chair or sofa you already own and prop baby up with a pillow.
6. Pram and carrier/sling
Prams get parents and babies out of the house and into the fresh air, often a much-needed change of scenery for all. Carriers get everyone moving too, or can be used around the house when babies need to be held and parents have things to do. Buy a pram AND a baby carrier or baby sling.
Choose the best quality you can as prams and carriers get heaps of use. You want them to last as long as possible – and be comfortable too. Try them out in the store before you buy.
What you don’t need: You don’t need a million different accessories for your pram, like hooks and umbrellas and toys that clip to every surface. That said, a weatherproof cover is a must.
An essential item to accurately measure your baby’s temperature if they’re sick. Your pharmacist can help you choose the perfect thermometer for your little one.
What you don’t need: A room thermometer for the nursery. This is a nice luxury, but honestly, just trust yourself. You know when it’s too hot or cold.
The rest can wait
There are endless other baby items out there that you might be tempted to buy, but if you only stick to the above list (in the early days at least), you’ll be well on your way to caring for your baby without breaking the budget and cluttering up your home. You can always snap up other bits and bobs, on an as-needed basis, as your baby grows.