Okay, so I’ve recently shared our new baby wishlist for baby number two (you can see what was on our wishlist for Florence here) but I’ve since had a bunch of first time Mama’s ask me my tips and advice on what to buy and what not to buy when it comes to shopping for a little one… and so I thought I’d share them in a little post in the hope that my insight might help you too!
What to buy for a new baby
More than just a handful of clothes
So many websites and blogs tell you that you only need a handful of clothes for your little one in the early days… let me tell you something – they either have in house maids or are laundry super heroes. Whichever one it is, I had / was neither and babies get through A LOT OF WASHING. On average, as a newborn and young baby Florence would get through 3 – 4 changes of clothes a day whether that was due to an exploding nappy, bringing up her milk or me inadvertently dropping my lunch on her as I juggled rocking her to sleep and trying to make or eat something quick to eat — you may seem confused now, but just you wait! Anyway, what I am saying is, unless you are the laundry Queen the washing basket can fill up quickly and if you don’t have a good stock of baby basics in the wardrobe you could soon find yourself caught short with a naked baby!
Good quality Sleepsuits & vests in a variety of sizes
While it can be tempting to buy a bunch of multi packs of sleepsuits and vests from Primark and other similar stores because of the low price tag, I would definitely recommend investing in a fair amount of slightly more expensive but better quality ones too. Not only do they wash better and not shrink, they are often made from softer and kinder fabrics for baby’s skin. My favourite retailers for baby basics are Mothercare, the Essential One, Next , Boots Mini Club & JoJo Maman Bebe — just be aware that the sizing in these is generally a lot more generous than cheaper stores — Florence didn’t go up to 0-3m clothes from Next until she was at least 2 months old.
Weather appropriate clothing
Florence was born at the end of May and June was an incredibly hot month with temperatures soaring. I hadn’t really prepared for this and so a lot of the clothes I had bought for during the day were baby grows or dungarees etc which meant I had to make a mad dash out into town to pick up some weather appropriate clothes that would keep her cool on hot days. Things like short rompers and pretty vests were lifesavers through the summer and just not something I had even considered we might need! This time around, as baby is due in February, I am buying bits like a snowsuit, thicker baby grows and jumpers as well as winter hats and gloves.
We’re advised not to use any form of loose bedding with little ones to reduce the risk of SIDs and so sleeping bags make the perfect alternative to quilts and blankets when it comes to putting our babies down to bed. Our favourite brand by far when it comes to Sleeping bags is The Gro Company – in fact I’m not sure I will ever use any other brand of baby sleep products! They sell a range of GroBags, swaddles and ‘snugs‘ in a variety of togs which all come with advice on how to dress your little one for optimum safety according to the temperature of their room. We also use their GroEgg.
Second hand bits in good condition
While, like me, I am sure you are keen to buy brand new as much as possible for your new baby but don’t underestimate how much you can save on nearly new or second hand baby products. For Florence I bought a bundle of newborn, 0-3m & 3-6m clothes from a lovely lady on facebook for £20 and she wore almost all of the basics (ie sleepsuits & vests) as well as the cardigans and coats as they were all in such good condition. I also picked up a second hand jumperoo from a lady who was selling hers locally on eBay — it was one of our most used items onve Florence was old enough to use it and only cost us £40 as opposed to the £119 it’s currently going for brand new on Amazon.
This time around, not only will baby have a lot of Florence’s ‘hand me downs’, but I’ve bought another couple of clothes bundles and a lovely blogging friend has sold me her Perfect Prep machine. We are having to be a lot more money savvy this time around and so I am regularly checking eBay and facebook for things like clothes & toys which have barely been used but are a fraction of the price!
Stock up on Nappies
When it comes to nappies (and wipes etc) my advice would be, when you think you have enough buy some more. Similarly to clothes, new babies get through an insane amount of nappies each day and it’s handy to know you have a good stock of different sizes from a couple of different brands. We tended to stick with Pampers & Asda’s Little Angels for Florence, but you will find that your baby may not get on with one brand and want to try another. As long as you keep the receipts, you can return unopened packets to the shops and you can usually sell any left over ones from open and unwanted packets online if you need to — or indeed pass on to womens refuge shelters etc.
Products that will last
Okay, so it’s super easy to fall into the trap of buying every baby product in existence because their clever marketing campaigns tell you that you NEED them. This is where I tend to advise people to ask themselves; 1 – Do I actually need this? and 2 – How long is it going to last? There are a few things we paid extra for because not only were they more practical than cheaper versions but because friends and family had recommended them for being long lasting. Take the baby bath we chose for example — you can pick up a basic baby bath for around £10 online and they’re basically just a large container, but we opted for a Shnuggle bath instead because of the additional feature of the ‘bum bump’ which helps stop baby slipping under the water (genius, I know!) but because it’s designed to last until baby is 12 months totally eliminating the need to buy a further support for the big bath! Also, we knew that we intended to have a second child fairly soon after having Florence and so when choosing a pram we kept in mind the potential need for it to be able to carry two children. There were other aspects as well that we looked for (air filled tyres rather than plastic wheels, good suspension, leather handle, a large shopping basket because I don’t drive… the list goes on) but knowing that this pushchair would last us through at least two children was a big priority for us. After road testing a number of different models – The Baby Show is the ideal place to do this, or a large department store like John Lewis as they have lots of space – we opted for the Joolz Geo² which while we know is high priced is the best investment we ever made.
A Car seat that will grow with your child
I toyed with adding this to my last point but actually, buying a cheap, 0+ car seat is such a big regret of ours that I wanted to highlight it a little more. This was one of the areas I was just clueless on and so we just took the advice of the sales woman in the shop and went for the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix. It was basic, but it fitted to our pushchair and according to the woman we didn’t need anything more. It wasn’t until I got talking to Joie about their products and we got a bit more indepth about different safety aspects to consider when choosing a car seat that I realised just how basic our initial choice had been. Now don’t get me wrong, the Cabriofix passes all of the standard safety regulations, but having looked further into other options out there we soon decided that it was time to upgrade to something better and we opted for the Joie i-Level. You can read my full review of it here, but some of the main features that appealed to us were the fact that it converts to a flat reclining seat and has their patented Intelli-Fit foam which provides ultimate side impact protection. It is also bigger and more supportive. Once Florence turned one we had to then look again for another car seat as she was ready for the next stage. We stuck with Joie and opted for the Every Stage FX group 0/1/2/3 which offers extended rear facing as well as a whole bunch of other safety features too and will last Florence for years to come. If we’d looked into this more to start with, we could have even used this car seat from birth!
Large Muslins / Swaddle Blankets
As well as a good bundle of regular muslin cloths, I cannot recommend the large versions or swaddle blankets as they are often called. These are seriously a Mum’s equivalent to a ‘multi tool’ and are great for using as changing mats, lightweight blankets, sick catchers, snot wipers, spill moppers, breast feeding covers, photo backdrops, bibs and even emergency nappies. If there is one thing I believe every Mama should have in her changing bag it is a giant muslin! You can get them from a number of awesome independent brands and my favourites are Bumble Baby Boutique, Aden + Anais and Ziggle (formerly known as Zippy).
Bottles & Steriliser etc
Even if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s a good idea to have at least a couple of bottles and a steriliser at home just in case things don’t go to plan or you need to express and bottle feed.
Having said over and over that I didn’t like the idea of using baby carriers I am a complete baby wearing convert. I wore Florence pretty much every day up until I fell pregnant with baby number 2, whether we were heading out for the day, popping to the local shops or just staying at home so I could get stuff done. Having the use of both hands while still snuggling your baby is invaluable as a busy Mama and I thoroughly recommend investing in a baby carrier or sling. If you’re not sure which is best for you, pay a visit to your local sling library who will be able to help!
A Nod Pod blanket
I’ve championed this independent brand for many years – since way back when I ran my little baby shop and the Nod Pod is always my go to new baby gift for friends and family. If you haven’t already discovered them, the Nod Pod is basically a baby blanket with legs and it makes life SO MUCH EASIER when heading out with a baby! It’s designed so that baby can’t kick off the covers and is compatible to use in car seats, pushchairs, baby carriers etc. I’ve raved about it in my review here, so head over and take a look.
Our Poddle Pod was an absolute God Send when Florence was a baby and I used it every single day. It’s the perfect place for newborn play, ideal for a quick nappy change, a safe and warm setting for a spot of baby massage & fab for that all important tummy time.
What not to buy for a new baby
There are a few things I would say not to buy too, whether it’s because they’re super expensive or just in my opinion unsafe I’ve listed them and my reasons for not recommending them below.
Stained or shrunken clothes
It’s all very well buying second hand, but make sure everything is in tip top condition! Buying shrunken or stained clothes that just won’t get worn is a waste of money.
This may be slightly controversial, but I urge you with all of my being to stay away from products that class themselves as ‘Sleep Nests’. In my opinion, and following the advice of medical professionals, while they may help your baby sleep through, they are incredibly dangerous and go against pretty much every safe sleep guideline.
“Evidence shows that sleeping a baby on anything but a firm, flat surface, an increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). They can lead overheating or potentially obstruct a baby’s airway if they roll or their face becomes covered” – The Lullaby Trust
You’d be forgiven for calling me a hypocrite as I’ve only just mentioned my love for our Poddle Pod above, but we honestly did not use it for any kind of unsupervised sleep and definitely not overnight! Charlotte, the owner and founder, is always quick to advise that the Poddle Pod is not suitable for unsupervised sleep.
Cot Bumpers & Quilts
Similarly to Sleep Nests, these are honestly things I think should be removed from shop shelves because of the safety risks they bring to babies. They are completely unnecessary and do not promote safe sleep in the sightest. As the Lullaby Trust & NHS receommend, babies should be laid down to sleep in an empty cot with no loose bedding or padding such a bumpers etc.
Trust me, any bin will do. The nappy specific bins on the market are just a huge waste of money when all you need to do is throw your dirty nappies out with the regular rubbish!
It’s something we never invested in and oh my goodness am I glad. They can be so expensive and we did just fine changing Florence on a changing mat on the floor, bed or sofa. Instead, we just had a basket of nappy changing essentials in each main room and used that — so much easier than having to go upstairs to use the changing table every time!
While we loved our baby swing to start with, in our then tiny house it just took up too much room! They are HUGE and a real pain to move around and when space is limited just aren’t practical. This time we are getting a much smaller bouncy chair for baby which will take a third of the space and can easily be carried from room to room.
Wow, this post is WAY longer than I had planned, but I hope that you find my recommendations helpful! If there’s anything I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments below and if you’re about to have your first (or subsequent) baby, huge congratulations to you!