Buying for baby
Tempted to rush out and buy every single baby-related product now you’ve fallen pregnant? Claire Muffett-Reece reveals what you should be forking out for and why
We all want the very best for our children, and that feeling starts from the moment you see those blue lines appear in both windows. The second you find out you’re expecting you immediatley adapt your lifestyle to focus on the little person growing inside of you.
The way you shop changes, too. One day you’ll find yourself in the baby clothes section of the supermarket just to have a little browse; the next you’re trying to figure out the difference between a Moses basket, cradle, cot and cot-bed – and whether it’s just easier to buy all four and be done with it.
It can be tempting to pick up every new-fangled item of baby paraphernalia in the shops. Never fear – we’re here to offer advice on what you really need to bring up baby.
FEEDING YOUR BABY
The UK government recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of your baby’s life – but don’t simply presume your boobs are all you need! For a start you’ll need to invest in plenty of bibs and muslins, small white cloths to mop up milk spit, sick and other such pleasantries. You’ll also need a breast pump to hand, as you may be away from your baby at some stage – or might simply want to give the night shift to your partner so you can enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted sleep! Manual and electric ones are available, and it all depends on your preference and budget. Make sure you invest in some sterilized breast milk bags, so you can express whenever needed and pop the milk in the freezer for later use.
Regardless if you choose to breast or bottle feed, baby bottles and teats are essential. Breastfeeding mums may wish to try their baby on a bottle using expressed milk, as you don’t want to discover your baby refuses the bottle when on a much-needed night out! And don’t forget about a sterilizer for all your bottles, lids and teats. Again, you can choose an electric steam option – or even buy one that pops in the microwave if you need something a little more transportable.
CLEANING YOUR BABY
Nappies: you’re going to need a ton of them. Disposable are the most common in the UK, however, many mums also choose reusable nappies, which have a lining you throw away before putting the rest in the washing machine. If choosing disposables, we highly recommend a nappy bin. Unless you fancy changing your black bin bag every day, this handy device can be popped in a discrete corner wherever you choose to change your baby and will keep nasty odours at bay. Team this with wipes, nappy sacks and a good-quality cream for any nappy rash that may arise, and don’t forget a changing mat or unit – the last thing you need is any leaks or accidents ruining your cream carpet!
BATHING YOUR BABY
After the first few days it’ll be time to bath your newborn, and this will become part of your wind-down routine to help get baby off to sleep.
A baby bath is best in those first few months of life, or you can also pick up a baby bath holder to support them while you get on with keeping them clean. Remember: never leave a baby or child unsupervised in the bath, no matter how quick you think you will be or how secure they appear to be.
You also need to monitor the temperature prior to popping them in the water, and these days most baby stores offer their own brand of thermometer which you can just pop in the bath. The ideal temperature for a baby’s bath should be between 37°C-38°C.
CLOTHING YOUR BABY
You really don’t need a whole host of beautifully-styled outfits for your newborn. They’ll only get them mucky, so keep it simple with some classic baby grows that never go out of style. Buy around seven baby grows, as well as a range of short- and long-sleeve vests. A few jumpers or cardigans are a great idea for when it gets chilly, and if baby’s going to be born in the cooler months, you’ll need a couple of snowsuits, too.
Hats are also vital – make sure you pack one in your maternity bag – and have lots of baby socks and scratch mittens available, to keep them warm and protect their faces from their fingernails.
GOING OUT WITH BABY
As a new parent it’s important to get out and about, socialising with other mums and dads to talk about any issues you may have while making friends in the process. For this you’ll need to transport your baby from A to B.
A rear-facing car seat is an absolute necessity, and your hospital won’t let you leave the maternity ward without seeing your newborn safely secured in one. Don’t buy second-hand – you don’t know the car seat’s history and it could have been involved in an accident. Add some blankets to keep baby warm for the hospital’s seal of approval.
Choosing a good pram or buggy can be a minefield, so just remember to choose practicality over anything else, regardless of the latest designer number your favourite celebrity’s been pushing around! Many new parents opt for a travel system, which is a pushchair compatible with your rear-facing car seat and a carrycot.
Complete your out-and-about purchases with a baby sling or carrier and a changing bag, which should be packed with sterilized bottles, toys, nappies, wipes, nappy sacks, portable changing mat and spare change of clothes, should an accident arise.
SLEEP-TIME FOR BABY
Many parents choose to have their baby in the same room as them for the first few months, with a Moses basket the perfect option as it’s small, lightweight and easily transportable.
Once your baby starts to grow, you’ll want to put them in their own cot, ideally choosing a cot bed that can be adapted to a toddler bed as they grow up. Never accept the offer of a second-hand cot mattress, no matter how new the previous owner claims it to be. Research suggests the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is greater with a used mattress – need we say more? It’s a no to pillows and bulky bedding, too, choosing a baby sleeping bag to prevent your little one wriggling under the covers.
Once your baby’s ready for bed it’s time for you to relax, but it can be hard when you’re worrying about what’s going on upstairs. For a start reassure yourself that the bedroom’s the right temperature with a room thermometer – your baby’s room should ideally be between 16-20 C (18 C is the optimum recommended temperature) – and invest in a baby monitor so you can hear if they wake.
Finally, it can be useful to invest in a small nightlight, to prevent you banging your shins on the corner of the bed when you get up to feed baby in the early hours!
New mum essentials
Don’t forget you’ll need a few new mum essentials, too!
SANITARY TOWELS – you’ll need them for a few days after baby’s born.
BREAST PADS – you’ll leak milk and these will prevent your clothes getting stained.
NIPPLE CREAM – fingers crossed you won’t need this but buy some anyway.
NURSING BRA AND MATERNITY CLOTHES – perfect for easier feeding when out and about.
SUPPORT – the most important thing! Accept offers for help, and don’t forget to ask for it if you’re ever struggling.