What does a newborn baby need (and ACTUALLY use)? [SHOPPING LIST]

What does a baby actually need? I mean, what products are most useful? What a baby needs is love, attention, food, warmth and a happy home, but, when it comes to newborn baby shopping, plenty of social media sites, websites and publications will tell you that it NEEDS the latest gadget, gizmo and a wardrobe bigger than your own. Having worked on many parenting magazines and websites for years, I have written about plenty of baby gadgets and clothing, and, being lifestyle magazines, these were often filled with ‘wish list’ items, rather than the bare necessities.

Having now had my own baby, I thought it might be useful to let you know what, of all the MANY things we had, we actually used and will hold on to, just in case, for now. Because our baby is now a toddler, and it has taken us a good couple of years to sift through it all and get rid of the excess ‘stuff’. These are wider than those ‘bare necessities’ (I think you only need to buy 12 things – I will try to dig that article out), but things we tried, loved and recommend. I’ll write the name of the thing, then the brand – other brands are usually available, I’ll just write the ones we used personally and had success with, and provide links. Though I’d say also worth checking quality second-hand sites that you trust. The resale baby stuff market is huge and people often take good care of things and use for a short amount of time – meaning if you look after your ‘stuff’, you can also sell on…

  • Bedside cot – Snuzpod and sheets. I always loved the styling of the Snuzpod, and it proved the perfect slim design for our small flat. You can zip the side down to incorporate into your own bed, but we kept it zipped. Whichever crib you buy, buy at least three sets of sheets, because they will probably vomit/have explosive nappies in there and you will be washing two before you know it – always buy at least THREE.
  • Daytime nap pod – Sleepyhead for daytime naps instead of a Moses basket, which is the more traditional option. Pricey but great for having on the sofa next to you in the daytime. I found our baby overheated at night in it, and it scared me, so only used when I could see her. Perhaps a gift list luxury item? If you get one, buy a patterned cover, too. I’m not sure why anyone buys anything pristine white for a newborn…
  • A rucksack changing bag – Because, who wouldn’t want hands-free babycare?! Mine was the Tiba + Marl silver backpack, which is expensive, but I love it, still use it now for my work bag. Quality pays. And it made me feel nice to have one nice thing for myself, which was also for her, but, you know what I mean.
  • A car seat –  Our Britax DualFix iSize was perfect, and it will fit her for up to four years. I love the twist feature, it has 360 degree rotation, so you don’t have to struggle over the seat to get them in. We used a Maxi Cosi Pebble as the newborn travel car seat, as we sometimes used taxis and the Britax is fixed once installed via Isofix, but if you aren’t going to do that (or pass one to grandparents), it’s a bit unnecessary to have two. To be completely honest, car seats STILL confuse me, so do your research and ask someone who is an expert, like Which?
  • Baby bath – The Shnnugle bath. I just love this baby bath. It is supportive, keeps them upright, and helps them as they discover balance. It also means you aren’t wasting a large amount of water. Just brilliant design.
  • Nappy cream – I wouldn’t use anything other than Weleda nappy cream. Other creams are too watery or harsh. My daughter has always had a peach of a bottom, not one day of a nappy rash.
  • Baby wash – We didn’t wash our daughter for the first week and she has had a bath every night since. Just as a part of our routine. We use Mustela gentle cleansing wash and it is divine. It still reminds me of the newborn days.
  • Moisturiser – Again, this reminds me of baby massage, when we would cream her up with Childs Farm moisturiser after her bath, practicing baby massage, and chasing her around the bed!
  • Hooded bath towels – Two of these! They are great for drying hair fast, as well as being super cute if you get the ones with the ears on. I like Aden + Anais towels
  • Baby sleeping bags – We used sleeping bags after reading Lullaby Trust advice on having a clear cot for newborns – no blankets/cot bumpers/toys etc. Do have a read of its brilliant website advice. Grosnugs newborn x2 or 3 for newborn sleeping, and Grobags x2 or 3 for winter sleeping (thicker tog) – multiple numbers to be prepared for quick changes after nighttime vomiting incidents
  • Lightweight sleepbags – Aden + Anaïs muslin bags x2 or 3 for summer sleeping – again, multiple numbers for nighttime changes
  • Monitor – not a Motorola, they beep when lose connectivity, I’d say a BT one is better? You can get baby security cameras now that you can tap into and watch on your phone. In the end, as we have a small flat, we just did away with the monitor. But I think doing that comes with confidence, too.
  • Muslins – ohhhh muslins! You will need these for wiping, catching and comforting. Buy at least x10 regular size and x10 small size. You can buy large ones for swaddling – but I didn’t do this in the end, as my daughter hated it! I love Etta Loves muslins as I found them the best ones for washing well and staying soft. We still use just as many now she is a toddler because she sleeps with them at night and for naps – worth the investment.
  • Bibs x10 – The triangle bandana-shaped ones are ideal, and so many babies dribble uncontrollably from birth. I liked the Matalan designs, and Nuby does ones with rubber teethers on the bib end which are great for teething (which can happen from around four months). When we started weaning, the silicone bibs by Nuby were fantastic, and we still use now.
  • With both bibs and muslins, you can’t have enough. I kept a basket in the living room filled with just bibs and muslins and you constantly dip into it.
  • Teething aids – Bickiepeg teething biscuits and Anbesol (you can buy both at Boots/Tesco etc) – you’ll find your own remedy for teething, but it’s a phase. A repeated phase. And it can be so painful for them. Check ages you can use these, I think Anbesol, being an anaesthetic solution, is for over 6mths old. I found Bonjela did nothing at all, but you might find different.
  • Feeding bottles – If breastfeeding is your journey, I wish you all the best. It didn’t work past 12 weeks for us, during which we mix bottle and breastfed, but I am proud of that. After that, we moved to bottles, fully – have a read of my ‘which formula milk to use?’ article). MAM bottles come apart completely, so are easy to clean. I tried tonnes of brands to help with her colic, but I think (personally) that colic is just a phase to work through, as nothing helped. Lots of bottles leaked or were fiddly, and I thought MAM were just brilliant.
  • Infacol – I say nothing helped, Infacol seemed to, but we were so desperate to help her at that time, that I think we would have believed anything. I can’t say for certain it helped, but if it didn’t then it was a bloody good placebo.
  • Snack box – A Happy Jackson zip lunchbox, the green one, fits three milk bottles
  • A milk powder holder –  If you are using formula, you will be looking for something to hold three portions of milk powder, and take that out with you. We used the MAM pot. Boil water in three bottles to correct amount for the day, then add the powder at feeding time.
  • Tommee Tippee Perfect prep machine – so SO worth it if you end up bottle feeding, to avoid boiling water and waiting for it to cool down, Especially useful for night feeds, though it was a bit noisy… I bet the new models are even more high tech, these days.
  • A bottle brush – I think ours was from Tesco, with a big brush at one end, and a small one for the teat cleaning at the other
  • Aptamil Pro Futura milk powder – Again, highly personal, but for us, if we were going to formula feed, we would buy the most exepensive one we could afford. We tried the anti-colic ones, which did absolutely nothing. Babies seem to like the one they start off with, most, i.e. they don’t seem to like change!
  • Ready made bottles of the formula – Ok, these are not cost-effective, but so useful to have at least one or two of these in the bag for emergencies
  • Sterilising machine – worth every penny, anything to make life easier/more efficient. Ours was the Nuby steriliser. Thinking about it now makes me shudder, all those hours of sterilising and forgetting if you had sterilised, so doing it again… but I certainly wouldn’t have been without it. Though if there is a next time, I wouldn’t sterilise for a year, like we did with our daughter.
  • A baby bouncer – We used the brilliant Baby Bjorn mesh bouncer, which was easy to clean when she sicked, and kept her cool with its mesh seating
  • Newborn baby carrier – The Baby Bjorn Mini is my favourite newborn product. It is a compact carrier for 0-12 months, made of a comfy jersey and is EASY to wear and use. Unlike the older carriers which are great but complicated, and way too big for a newborn – you will lose sight of them in it and worry about them suffocating. I wore our daughter in the Mini carrier while she had colic at night, walking around the house, while I did housework and while I wrote. Fantastic.
  • Baby carrier for older babies – Ergo Baby 360 is great, and we used it on our holiday to Lisbon, or you might prefer a stretch jersey in which case, I’d say Mezaya is the best.
  • A Medela electric breast pump – for the time when I was breastfeeding. I was gifted mine, which was very kind, and would have been a very expensive investment otherwise, using it for such a short time. My sister preferred a manual pump, so…. potatoes, patatas!
  • Dummy clips – essential!!! For keeping the dummy tied to the pram. And dummies – for both of these things, we stuck to the MAM dummy brand.
  • A pram – You will likely need a pram, especially if you have had a caesarean, and they are great for piling shopping in and onto. our Cybex Mios was excellent for nipping around town – lightweight and nimble. This meant we didn’t need an umbrella fold pram, but we did use a brilliant dalmatian print My Babiie one for travelling, as it was cheaper, laid flat and was still comfy, and easier to travel with. I would have been really upset if the Mios had been damaged in transit.
  • Medicines – Basic Calpol and Nurofen when age appropriate. We always have at least two bottles in our cupboard of each. Read up about dosage and when to use.
  • Baby strappy cami vests – Our daughter wore them every day under baby grow or clothes until she was about 18 months old. Not so hot as a thicker strap or short sleeve, and I’d always rather layer than have her be too hot. My favourites were from Matalan.
  • A baby natural sponge – Because at first, you want everything to be good and natural, and ours from John Lewis was a fun, useful buy.
  • A bath book – Our daughter loved having hers read to her every night from day one. Hers was Katie the Kitten. Apparently reading the same book every night is good for early language development.
  • A nightlight – Ours was by Lindam and was useful for being able to see her in the night without waking her up. If you travel a lot, it might be worth buying another to keep in an overnight bag so you don’t forget it.
  • Pampers nappies – Other brands gave her a fabric rash around her tummy. I can’t tell you when you know when to move them into the next size. Generally we did when she wet overnight or the other NCT mums said they were moving up a size!
  • Stokke Tripp Trapp – The ideal highchair because you can buy accessories so it is used from birth, and it looks like a nice chair, not some awful baby gear. I bought a second chair for when my nephew and niece come over on Facebook Marketplace. Trekked across London on the tube with my daughter in her baby carrier to get it!
  • Stokke cot – We didn’t use this in its tiny crib form, as we had the Snuzpod, but we used it when we moved her into her own room, moved the level down when she tried to climb out, then turned it into a toddler bed with the extension kit when she turned two years old. It is a thing of beauty, exquisite design and she loves sleeping in it – so everyone is a winner
  • A white noise app for when nothing else works for getting them to sleep – worth a try! Some nights it worked, many others it didn’t. Who knows for sure? Other sleep aids, like projectors and animal things just proved to be distractions. Full disclosure… I don’t really believe in black out blinds or other sleep aids too much, because situations and babies change, and it can be easy to throw money at stuff, but, whatever does it for you.
  • Pram clip – My other best buy alongside the Baby Bjorn Mini and the Shnuggle bath! Clip this onto the pram handle then hook all your shopping bags/handbag/swimming bag etc onto it.
  • Snoozeshade – Also a work of genius. Buy this, rather than using muslins/blankets to shade the sun from baby’s face, as they can make the inside of the pram, and therefore your baby, dangerously overheat. It is also brilliant for keeping naps going longer. I used it throughout winter when she was still having pram naps as it kept distractions at bay.
  • Cellular blanket – perfect for bringing baby home in, and for using when out and about, the Mama Designs one is ideal.
  • Baby stuff organiser – Keep your nappies, cream, wipes and nappy bags in one place in the lounge for easy changes and not having to always go upstairs/down the hall.
  • A baby playgym was an utter waste of time. She laid under it for about two seconds before she started to roll and try to eat the screws
  • Also (controversial), a little baby doesn’t need expensive swimming lessons leading to being dunked underwater. Ours were £17 a time (!!) and she then had a huge stage as a toddler of being terrified of the water, which made me think, what a waste – especially as I found it stressful getting changed for the lessons and they were super short, anyway, Each to their own on that one, and I’m sure there are tonnes of benefits. We will start lessons again, now she’s more interested in, and can walk into, pools.
  • Stacking cups
  • Stacking hoops, in fact, any stacking toys, they love them
  • Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes music maker – she was obsessed by this. On long journeys, when she was ill, when she had to take Calpol… An absolute must-have
  • To be continued, if I think of anything else…

Things I wish I had had…

  • Totter and Tumble playmat – this is like the posh version of those foam jigsaw floor mats, but these ones look super nice
  • Baby playpen – all those times I couldn’t do the washing up for fear of turning my back and she had climbed the TV….
  • To be continued, as and when I think of anything else…

Read more…

Happy mum, happy baby. Happy baby, happy mum.

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