What to buy for your baby

What to buy for your baby

If you're expecting a baby and need a little help to get your shopping list in order, here’s our ultimate buying guide to all those essential (and not so essential) newborn purchases.

Essential items - The big buys

Pushchair:Unless you plan to carry your baby everywhere for the first few months, a pram or pushchair is your number one essential. There’s all manner of styles available, each with their own specific design and accessories, so it's important to do your homework and decide on a model that fits your lifestyle. Prams can be bulky and heavy so if you live on a top floor or have a small car, don't go for the biggest off-road option, stick to something a little more compact that's easy to manoeuvre. If you live in the countryside and love nothing more than a good walk on the weekend opt for a pushchair with chunky wheels and a top-notch suspension.

Car seat: The law requires you to secure your baby safely in the backseat of your car with a Group 0/0+ car seat. Infant car seats usually face backwards although there is a growing array of lie-flat models that sit sideways across the back two seats of the car. These are worth considering - especially if you have a premature or low birth-weight baby or your newborn has been diagnosed with a respiratory illness.

Cot: Your little one will sleep in this until he or she is big enough for their very own bed. Moses baskets and cribs provide a nice, cosy home for the first few months, but if your budget is tight, it's fine to skip these and go straight for a cot. You're going to need one eventually anyway. As with most baby gear, styles and designs vary greatly so opt for one that suits you and the size of the nursery. Some cots are extendable or have the handy knack of fully transforming into a bed when your little one no longer needs the protective bars of a cot. These are a practical buy as they offer a bed for all stages from birth to toddler-hood and beyond, saving you money in the process.

Essential - Day-to-day items 

Nappies are a must-have from day one! You'll need at least one pack to get started and one or two reusable nappieswith wraps if you're planning to give them a try. If you want to wait until your baby's a little older, there are plenty of ethical disposable alternatives to the bog standard variety. 

Changing mat - unless you want to risk an exploding nappy all over the carpet, a changing mat is essential - both at home and on the go. Modern options are relatively inexpensive and you can buy some great wipe-free fabric options that fold down to a minuscule size for trips out. You'll also need a set of wipes or cotton wool and water to clean your baby's bottom.

Baby vests/bodysuits/babygros - These will be your tot's staple wardrobe for the first few weeks, so it's worth stocking up. You'll need around six vests, six long sleeves bodysuits and six sleepsuits for them to wear at night (useful for the day too). Check there are poppers at the crotch for quick and easy nappy changes. If your baby is arriving in the winter, a warm winter suit with hat and booties, woolly cardigan or coat will keep them warm when you’re out and about.

Sheets and blankets: Buy a set of sheets that can be fitted to the cot. These are simple to put on and are safer for baby as they'll prevent any ends from creeping up and into the cot. Sheets often come in sets and it's best to buy in accordance with the seasons; thin cotton for summer, flannelette or terry sheets for winter. One or two blankets will suffice to keep your baby warm whether at home or on the go and many parents swear by a gro-bag - otherwise known as baby sleeping bags. These are easy-to-use and have the handy knack of keeping your baby cocooned inside for the entire night so you don't have to worry about them kicking the covers off. Gro-bags come in different tog ratings to suit the seasons so always check that you're buying the correct weight for the time of year your baby is due to arrive.

Muslin cloths: Muslins are basically squares of cloth that can be used for all manner of practical uses - protecting your clothing during a post-feeding burping session, putting under your baby's chin during feeds, mopping up dribble or as a comforter (many babies get hooked on these as they are used so often in the first few months).

Feeding equipmentBreastfeeding is hugely economical when it comes to feeding babies - in fact you'll only really need some breast pads for the first few weeks and perhaps some nipple cream or cooling pads if things get sore. Breast pumps are a godsend if you're in it for the long haul as they help you to extract milk and store it in the fridge or freezer for a later date (women with a big milk supply find them particularly useful as they can use the pump to take off any excess milk that might be causing discomfort).

If breastfeeding doesn't work out, or you make the decision to bottle feed, you'll need a selection of bottles, formula milk and a steriliser. Your baby’s feeding equipment needs to be scrupulously clean to keep germs and infection at bay so sterilisers are an absolute essential (breastfeeding mums also need to sterilise breast pump parts and any bottles they use for storing milk). There are three different types to choose from:

Electric sterilisers: Generally the most popular, these use steam to clean up to eight bottles, teats and accessories at a time. Many electric sterilisers come with additional accessories such as internal bottle slots, a bottle cleaning brush and teat holders.

Microwave sterilisers: Ideal if you only need to clean a few bottles and teats at a time, quick sterilization.

Cold-water sterilisers: Practical and at the lower end of the price range though can take longer to sterilise than other options.

Highchairs: These are not needed from birth and you won't need to consider one until your baby starts to show signs of readiness to be weaned. Highchairs range from around £50 for the most basic options to a staggering £300 for the designer-esque models.

Non essential - what can wait and why...

Sling: Many mums swear by slings, and if you decide the minute your baby is born that you want that close physical touch as much as possible, a sling is worth considering. According to pro-sling mums, they help with bonding and can help your tot to feel more confident in the big wide world once they grow old enough to sit in their own buggy. On the flip side, feeding, sleep times and all those other baby moments can ensure plenty of close contact with your little one and there is always a point (usually around four months) when all that carrying becomes a bit of a strain on the back and a buggy brings a much-needed dose of relief!

Baby monitor: If your baby is going to be sleeping in your room for the first few months, monitors really serve no purpose as you're guaranteed to hear them when they wake. However, if you're the type of parent who likes to hear every wriggle, squirm and cry, they are worth considering. If you can wait until you're ready to move them into their own room, it will give you extra time to shop around for a model with all the features you require.

Baby bath: Cute as they are, baby baths will only last your baby a few months and can be a pricey way to keep them clean when they will go into the big bath eventually anyway. Your money is far better spent on a much less expensive support seat that keeps your baby safe during bath times. Ergonomically designed to fit baby's body and with suction caps to firmly grip to the bottom of the bath, they also free up your hands to give them a wash and tend to any other children in the bath at the same time.

Hooded baby towels: It’s nice to have a specially shaped towel that wraps perfectly around your baby's body, but your own set of fluffy towels will do the job just as nicely.

Travel cot: If you travel regularly to parents or for work, a travel cot is certainly worth considering, but if it's for the odd trip throughout the year, think again. Most holiday destinations will offer travel cots free of charge and you can always.

The views expressed here are the views of experts giving advice. They do not necessarily reflect the views of Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd. If you have any concerns about your child’s health you should consult your GP or health visitor.

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