18 Apr

What do we *really* need?

A friend recently sent me a long shopping list of things she might need when her first baby comes along in May. I set to with a red pen; the items in capitals are the ones I added. Of course, this is just my opinion, so what would you add or delete from the list?


  • moses basket + 2 sheets
    Don’t be surprised if baby doesn’t like it much. Try and get one second hand, and probably more sheets.
  • cot water proof mattress, 3 x sheets, 2-3 x blankets
    buy second hand and just get a new mattress. Current recommendation is for baby to sleep in your room for first 6 months to reduce risk of cot death, so check a cot will fit in your room. Possibly worth looking at co-sleeper cot like the bednest – look on ebay.
  • sleeping sack
    These are SO useful. You can definitely get in a nearly new sale.
  • baby monitor
    not needed until you’re likely to leave baby sleeping in another room – won’t happen in first few weeks
  • room thermometer not really needed
  • night light not needed until much later, but a low light in the bedroom is useful for night time feeding.
  • chest of drawers for clothes or, you know, a box!


  • 6-8 x sleep suits/long sleeved suits
    or more! But you’ll be given loads.
  • 6-8 x vests – short sleeved suits as above
  • 2 x cardigans knitters will knit these for you…
  • 2 x small trousers newborns don’t wear trousers. Sleep suits are where it’s at.
  • 2 x baby socks don’t be surprised if they never stay on tiny feet
  • 2 x hats see above re: knitters. Also, it will be summer.
  • 2-3 x mittens don’t need these unless you want some scratch mitts, which are not essential. Babies like to suck on their fingers for comfort.
  • bootees Not essential.

Bathroom stuff

  • changing mat very useful. Not essential because you could use a towel but not expensive so you may as well.
  • nappies You’ll do at least 10 changes a day to start with. But dad can always go to the shops for more.
  • nappy cream you don’t usually get much nappy rash in the beginning. You may well be given samples in the hospital and that should be enough to start with.
  • nappy bag (I do not want bin for nappies in the room/bathroom) you might change your mind 😉
  • baby bath support optional. Easiest way to bath a baby is to get in the big bath with him. Dad could do this.
  • bath thermometer not essential
  • towels (2-3 enough?) you don’t need special towels if you have some nice soft ones already.
  • loads of cotton wool pads (or cotton balls – which one is better?) cotton wool pleat – the sort you tear off in big chunks, is best. I also recommend washable wipes, e.g. cheap cotton facecloths cut into quarters. Cotton wool tends to smear the poo around a bit.
  • baby wipes (for later, first use cotton wool) yes, later, especially useful when you’re out
  • baby bath oil definitely not
  • baby shampoo no
  • baby sponge yes
  • baby lotion no – don’t bother with any toiletries, babies’ skin is very absorbent so you should only use water to begin with. Also, they don’t get very dirty. Sweet almond oil is a useful moisturizer, you can get it in health shops.
  • hair brush or comb (which one is better?) you don’t need either until baby gets some hair!
  • nail clippers (and file?) I liked clippers, other people like a file. You don’t need both.

Travel system

  • car seat you’ll need this, obviously. I think the sort where the car seat converts into a pushchair is useful, and you can use these from newborn.
  • pram Just make sure you can fold it, lift it, and fit shopping into the basket underneath. A cupholder is nice to have.
  • push chair later – at least 6 months.
  • sling really really useful. You may be able to find a local slingmeet group and try a few out. I absolutely loved the sling I had but if I was doing it again I’d go for a stretchy cloth wrap sort or a ring sling rather than a baby carrier sort. Ask for these as presents. You may even find that if you have one of these then you don’t need a pushchair or a pram at all.

Feeding items

  • breast pumps (automatic, and manual as well?) wait until you know why you need it.
  • muslin square (how many 10?) more!
  • bibs (how many? 6-8 enough??) not essential unless baby is very dribbly and you’re fussy about his outfits!
  • sterilising equipment most practical and cheap sterilizer is Milton tablets and a bucket of water. I wish I had known this.
  • feeding bottles only if it makes you feel better if you’ve got an emergency back up. If you need them in hospital, they will give you them. Otherwise it’s very easy to buy them if you need them.
  • formula (just in case I can’t breast feed) see above. And remember you can get a lot of support.
  • nasal aspirator (nose sucker) I have one somewhere. It was very useful. But revolting.
  • BREASTPADS you may not need them (not everyone leaks milk) but it’s definitely worth getting some to start off with. You can get washable ones which are good if you’re going to need a lot.
  • NURSING BRAS Get fitted around 37 weeks by a trained bra fitter. Have at least two plus a stretchy sleep bra.
  • NURSING NIGHTIE Night-time feeding will be that little bit easier if you are wearing something easily accessible.
  • DVD BOX SETS, KINDLE ETC you spend a lot of time sitting around feeding. May as well have something to do.


  • maternity pads get a few packets, this is the one thing you may not want to send Dad to the shops to buy. You might also want to get some very cheap pants or some disposable knickers, that you can just throw away. Post-birth blood loss can go on for a few weeks.
  • nursing bra get fitted at about 37 weeks by a trained fitter, and it’s useful to have two bras plus a stretchy sleep bra.
  • nipple cream Not essential – only useful if you have cracked, damaged nipples; and if this happens you could call your local breastfeeding counsellor for some help. You’ll probably get samples in hospital. The Medela pure-lan cream (yellow packaging) is cheaper than Lansinoh (purple packaging)
  • baby bag (I really do not like the style of them!! Could a small, comfy back-pack do, I have one.) your back pack will be perfect, just get a cheap folding changing mat to go in it, or get the Boots Bounty free bag and take the mat out of that.
  • dummy not recommended before breastfeeding is established (usually a few weeks)

Day time & play items

  • baby bouncer / rock chair useful. Buy secondhand.
  • baby gym mat not very useful before about 3 months, you could use a blanket on the floor.
  • nursery rhymes books not essential! You could read the BBC News website, baby will be most entertained by the sound of your voice and looking at your face.
  • baby toys as above
  • thermometer (ear one) Not essential. We don’t have one but I know some people like them.

What else would we need?????

  • Non-biological laundry detergent if you don’t already have it
  • Antibacterial handgel, especially useful for nappy changes when you’re out
  • Loose/stretchy t-shirts for easy breastfeeding (don’t buy special breastfeeding tops unless you really want to)
  • A freezer full of food that’s easy to heat up
  • I still find our nappy bucket useful, it’s one of the best things we bought. Not for dirty disposables but for any dirty laundry, washable wipes, muslins etc.
  • Chocolate.
  • The Analytical Armadillo has her own take on the subject:
    20 “Essential” Baby Items That Aren’t Essential…

2 thoughts on “What do we *really* need?

  1. Great list! Happy to see I have pretty much everything I’ll need, and not much I won’t, at least at first. Just to say we are HUGE fans of coconut oil here as a multi-purpose moisturiser/nipple cream/nappy rash cream/thrush treatment – totally natural, antibacterial, antifungal and edible – you can even put it on your toast if you run out of butter! Been an enormous success with our clients, rarely have to recommend anything else.

  2. Muslin squares – these have so many uses, you’ll need at least 10, probably 20. And they come in all sorts of colurs thesae days, so you can pick ones that coordinate with your dress/shirt/sweater so that when baby is asleep and dribbling on your shoulder, the muslin square will be both absorbant and colour coordinated.

    At least one loaf of sliced bread in the freezer and a big jar of Marmite. With night feeds and sleep deprivation, you will find yourself having Marmite on toast at 3am. It’ll keep you going.

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