If you’re expecting a baby then I’m sure you’ll feel a little overwhelmed at some point when you start thinking about all the things you need to do, buy, read, prepare and learn! I’m expecting my third baby and I’m having moments of panic when I think about it!
It’s an absolute minefield trying to decipher what you actually need to buy for a newborn baby. There are so many products available and so many mixed reviews for everything that it can be hard to know what you genuinely need. If you’re expecting your first baby then it’s even harder because it’s so hard to imagine what life is like with a newborn.
If you have the space and the budget then it’s really tempting to go nuts and buy everything on every baby essentials list you can find online – but it often isn’t necessary at all! Most pregnant ladies go through a nesting phase where you want to get everything organised and ready and make sure you have everything you need for the first few weeks. But we’re very lucky to live in a time where online shopping and next day delivery couldn’t be easier, so I really wouldn’t stress about having every little thing. If your baby arrives and it’s 2am and you suddenly realise you need something, you can Amazon Prime it and it’ll be with you the next day.
I’d recommend writing a list of the things you absolutely must buy, a list of things that would be nice to have and a list of things you’re not sure if you’ll need so you’ll wait until the baby arrives and buy them later.
My experience of buying my newborn baby must-haves
I already have two little boys, George (4) and Joseph (2).
When George was born we were living with my parents because we were renovating our house so I tried my very best to be considerate to my mum and dad and not take over their house with baby stuff! This meant I just had the minimal stuff and didn’t go overboard with buying things.
Joseph was born just 18 months later and I didn’t really buy anything extra for him. We bought some new clothes and a double pushchair (Mountain Buggy Duet). Then we got rid of most of our baby things when Joseph outgrew them. We knew there was a chance we’d have a third baby but we didn’t have space in our house to keep everything and we had lots of friends and family who had babies at the same time so we passed it all along.
I’m now expecting my third baby and I’ll need to re-buy most things. We have the biggies like a carseat, pushchair and a cot but everything else has gone!
This list started off as my shopping list but I expanded on it with some extra details to make it my newborn baby essentials blog post!
Should you buy your baby essentials second hand or buy them new?
Now let’s start with a biggy – should you buy everything new or second hand?
Obviously for a lot of people this will come down to budget. If you simply can’t afford to buy everything new, then eBay and Facebook Marketplace will become your best friends!
Buying second hand for a newborn is fine because they’ll grow out of these items so quickly that they’ll barely be used if you buy second hand. I had so many baby clothes that had barely been worn went I sent them off to the charity shop, especially the newborn sizes and 0-6 months.
For George and Joseph I bought almost everything second hand.
I actually hadn’t intended to buy second hand but a friend had recommended buying a moses basket second hand. She’d told me her baby hadn’t liked his moses basket and never slept in it, so when she sold it on eBay it was still like new.
I looked online to find something similar and just 2 miles away someone was selling a moses basket for £10 and claimed it has only been used 2-3 times. Bargain! When I arrived at their house to collect the moses basket (which was like new) it turned out that they were also selling all their baby clothes in age 0-3. There were 5 bin bags full of clothes and they were all like new. The lady said I could have the lot for £20 so I snapped it up!
Every 3 months I’d then return to this lady and buy the next bundle of baby clothes and she’d have an equally perfect stack of clothes for £20.
After this experience, I bought a lot of things second hand and if you’re happy with second hand then I’d recommend doing the same.
It also feels much more ethical and sustainable to buy as much as possible second hand.
The only thing I regret buying second hand was the nursery furniture. Good quality nursery furniture will last your kids anything up to 10-12 years (apart from the bed) so if you buy it second hand there’s a chance it will have been very well used! This happened to me. I found what looked like a great deal online and travelled for an hour to collect it. But when I arrived it looked shabby and old – but I’d travelled for an hour to pick it up (and roped in my dad and his van to help me!) so I wasn’t going to leave empty handed! I just bargained with the woman and got it a bit cheaper. It was OK for a year but after 2 years it was falling apart. I wish I’d just bought it from new with the intention of keeping it until my boys are teenagers.
It’s also worth thinking about how many children you think you’ll have. I know it’s hard to plan ahead but if you think you might have 2 or more children then it’s worth buying things new because it’ll get a lot of use and get passed down from child to child.
UPDATE: Every mum and every baby is different
Before we go any further and I begin with my list of baby essentials, I want to point out that every mum and every baby is different. Since publishing this post I’ve had a couple of messages from fellow mums saying that there are some things on this list they agree with and other things they had the opposite experience with. The things I didn’t use were the items they couldn’t live without and the things I LOVED were the things they didn’t use.
So, sorry to throw a spanner in the works there and confuse you even more!
I didn’t keep any baby clothes (and our third is a girl) so this is what I’m planning to buy. I’ll be buying everything in newborn size because I know it’s likely I’ll have a small baby AND I’ll also buy the same again in size 0-3 months.
In Newborn size and 0-3 months
- 6-7 vests
- 6-7 sleepsuits
- 1-2 hats
- 1-2 cardigans/jackets
It doesn’t seem like a lot in terms of clothes but I know we’ll get so many gifts! I also love babies in little sleepsuits, they look so cute!
Another thing worth noting here is that we’re already a busy family so our washing machine goes on every day. When I had George (our eldest) I probably only did 2 washes a week so we needed more clothes. But with daily washes, none of us really need that many clothes!
Cleaning and changing
Large pack of newborn size nappies
It’s tempting to stock up on nappies so you feel all organised and prepared but you really don’t need to. Babies grow surprisingly quickly and I remember buying loads of Size 1 nappies and having 3-4 packs left over because my son outgrew them almost as soon as I bought them!
I’ll be buying 2-3 packs of newborn size nappies and 1-2 packs of size 1 nappies and that’ll be it. If you think you may have a bigger baby then don’t buy many newborn sized nappies. My first two sons were little and Baby #3 is set to be little too so I know we won’t be straight into Size 1 and will probably have a couple of weeks in newborn size.
If you’re not already an Amazon Prime user than I do recommend signing up. It’s a godsend knowing you can order things like nappies and wipes and they’ll arrive the following day, meaning you don’t need to stock up or worry about running out (or spend a small fortune on emergency nappies from a convenience store!) It does mean you need to buy branded nappies rather than supermarket nappies though.
I’m also planning to try reusable nappies for this baby, but I’ll give it a couple of weeks before I start using them. Those first few weeks with a newborn are tough enough so I’ll be making life as easy as possible!
Big box of wet wipes
I bulk buy nappies from Aldi. I’ve tried all the different brands and these are my faves – I even prefer them to Pampers. I buy them in a box of 12 and they’re super cheap. I get the unfragranced ones and don’t have any bother with skin sensitivity.
To be honest, we got lazy and only ever used nappy bags with stinky poo nappies. For wet nappies we just wrapped them up tightly and popped them straight in the bin.
Not everyone uses a baby bath and I see lots of lists like this where people say it’s an unnecessary extra, but I genuinely don’t know how you bath a baby without a baby bath!? You can put a support in the bath but don’t you use loads of water? And after a c-section I’m not sure I could bend over the bath for a few weeks anyway!
In the early days I’d bath our babies on the kitchen worktop so I didn’t need to bend over the bath. As they got older I’d do it on the floor of the shower and when Joseph was a couple of months old I’d place his baby bath inside the big bath so he could have his bath with George without me worrying about his big brother drowning him!
I think we had the Nuby Bath last time and I plan to get something similar with a built in seat and head rest.
You can get an insert you’d put inside your normal bath to support a baby but, depending on the size of your bath, this could lead to a lot of extra water waste. We have a D-shaped bath so it takes a lot of water even to fill it up a few inches.
A hooded towel
Not an absolute must but it’s super cute and makes getting out the bath a little easier. My boys still use the hooded baby towels they had as babies so they do get a lot of use.
No more tears shampoo
You might not use this immediately but it’s worth having some baby shampoo. We’ve always used Johnsons No More Tears or the supermarket version of it.
Soft sponge or wash cloth
Just a nice little soft sponge makes bath time a bit easier.
Fairy washing detergent
We always use Fairy laundry detergent. Anything non-bio is good but our boys both have eczema and Fairy has always been best.
Changing unit + changing mat
You could change baby on the floor but it’s much nicer and easier to have a changing table. We have the cheap one from IKEA and it served us well. I’ve been using it as a make-up table but it’s going back to a baby changer for baby #3!
You’ll also need a wipe clean, padded changing mat. You don’t need anything fancy, just a basic mat is fine. If you have a baby boy, it’s worth noting that they often pee in a big arc over their head when you change their nappy! You’ll get the hang of opening up their nappy, exposing them to the cold (which makes them wee) and then placing the nappy back down again to catch a wee, but you might end up missing some so it’s worth keeping this in mind when you’re choosing where to place your changing table!
It’s worth getting some little baskets from a budget home store like Home Bargains or Pound Stretcher to keep everything organised on the shelf below.
I don’t think either of our boys ever had nappy rash until they started eating solids and their poos got gross, but I’ll still be buying a big tub of Sudocrem just in case. Some newborns do suffer from nappy rash and it’ll get used eventually.
Travel Hack Tip: When our boys were older, they both suffered with nappy rash until we (finally!) switched to Pampers nappies and they were both fine in Pampers. They’re more than twice the price of supermarket nappies but worth it to stop sore bums.
Moses basket + spare sheets
It doesn’t need to be an all-singing, all-dancing moses basket. Just a simple basket with a stand and a hood is we needed. I bought ours second hand and it’s since gone on to serve 6 babies – Baby #3 will be the 7th baby among our friends and family to use it! It’s had a couple of new mattresses but it’s worth remembering that most babies outgrow a moses basket very quickly (my boys were both about 6-8 weeks) so they don’t get a lot of use.
Make sure you have spare sheets in case you have any nappy explosions or sicky incidents.
You might be wondering why you need a moses basket and a cot. Some people don’t but many people will place their baby in a small moses basket to begin with so they feel safer and cosier. I also liked having the baby right next to my bed to make night feeds easier, to comfort them if they woke or to gently rock the basket if they started to stir.
Lots of people have those little cots you can place next to your bed and unzip one side so the baby is basically in an extension of your bed. These do look like a good idea but I’ve always been fine with the basic moses basket.
I recommend getting a cotbed rather than just a cot so it lasts a few years. A cot bed is slightly bigger and can be converted into a little toddler bed when they get older. Yes, they look tiny in it at first but it saves you buying another new bed when they get to around 1.
But – Most people will have the baby in their bedroom for the first few months and if you don’t have space for a full sized cot bed in your bedroom then I’d get a cheap compact cot from IKEA or somewhere like that. We have a small cot from George at Asda.
Lots of blankets
Lots of thin, simple blankets will always come in handy. I actually have loads of snuggly velour ones from Primark and these have lasted amazingly well. We still use them for our older boys and any that have become stained are now used as outdoor blankets, beach blankets or for the dog so they always get a lot of use!
Another must-have for night feeds. A dim night light will help both you and baby stay quite sleepy during a feed so you can go straight back to sleep. It’ll also mean you’re not waking your partner (or your partner isn’t waking you) during every feed.
A baby monitor
OK, not an absolute necessity in the first few weeks because it’s unlikely you’ll be leaving your baby anywhere you wouldn’t hear them cry, but if you’ve got a good sleeper then you might leave them upstairs while you’re downstairs so it’s handy to have. It also helps you to relax because you don’t jump at every little noise!
Our eldest sounded a lot like Wood Pigeon when he cried as a baby and we have a garden full of Wood Pigeons so we were forever running upstairs to check if it was him!
We also have a three-story house so, for us, a baby monitor is a necessity.
Somewhere to sleep downstairs
Unless you live in a one-story house/flat then you’ll probably want to have somewhere for your baby to sleep downstairs.
With my eldest son I used to move his moses basket downstairs during the day and then take it back up at night. The basket and the little stand doesn’t weigh a lot so this worked for me at the time.
With my second son we’d moved to a three-story house so I didn’t even bother carting things up and down two flights of stairs! When I was downstairs, I’d put Joseph down to sleep in his pushchair and just wheel the pushchair into the living room or wherever I was. We have hard floors downstairs so this worked with no problem and was handy being able to rock him to sleep and move him when needs be. It also meant I could tuck him away in the corner if my older son was playing, or even put it close to the radiator so he was cosy on cold days. And now, even at age 3, Joseph LOVES his pushchair. He’ll still climb into his pushchair when he wants to have a nap so this is a habit that has worked really well for us – especially with a second child who often needs to have a sleep when we’re out and about.
I already have the Babyzen YOYO+ pushchair for Joseph so I’m planning to get the newborn insert for this and I’ll probably use this for daytime naps downstairs. The pushchair is tiny and it also folds up to be tiny so it’s fine to have it around the house.
Travel Hack Tip: If you have pets you might want to ensure your baby’s sleep space is raised off the ground. Some people have their babies sleep in low bouncers on the floor but I prefer my babies to be higher up because we have a dog. Our dog is harmless but you can never be too careful and even the cleanest dogs aren’t exactly hygienic!
Getting out and about
This is a must and they won’t let you leave the hospital without one. We have the Doona carseat pushchair which is amazing because it has flip down wheels which make it really easy to carry and get around with.
I could write a whole post about pushchairs! So many options!
If you aren’t sure what you want, I recommend just going for something popular like a Silvercross travel system. It might not have anything specialist about it but it ticks every box.
We used to have the Bugaboo Chameleon which I loved but it was sadly neglected (left outside, left in a damp shed, used like a go-kart for a 4 year old!) so that’s now gone to the tip.
We now have a Mountain Buggy Duet and the Babyzen YOYO+ and I plan to use a combination of the two.
The Mountain Buggy Duet is a double pushchair and even though the boys will be aged 3 and 4 when the baby is born, I’m planning to keep it. Sometimes it’s just easier to let one of the bigger boys sit in the pushchair and we do a lot of walking so it’s great if they want to jump in for a rest. It’s also handy having that extra seat to dump stuff on! I do have the bassinet for the Duet which can later be turned into a big shopping basket so that’ll come in handy when George and Joseph definitely won’t be sitting in the pushchair.
The Mountain Buggy Duet is a heavy one to lift into the boot of the car (so won’t be great immediately after I’ve had a c-section but I won’t be driving at first anyway) and it’s a beast even when folded, but it’s amazing and Sam and I seriously love it! It’s a double but only a little wider than the Bugaboo was and it’s a dream to push.
The Babyzen YOYO+ will be handy around the house (I explain more about that further down) and when I’m just out and about at the shops and things like that. I plan to get the newborn insert for this pushchair too. I love the Babyzen YOYO+ because it’s so small and light and nimble, but it doesn’t work for things like long dog walks along the bumpy country lanes so this is why I plan to keep both pushchairs.
I didn’t bother with lots of layers of clothes in the early days. I’d keep my babies in a vest and a sleepsuit most days and then if we went out I’d put them in a snowsuit. But by ‘snowsuit’ I don’t always mean the enormous padded ones with fur lined hoods – you can get really light ones too that are fine for spring and autumn. I found it easier to slip them into one of these than to faff with jumpers and coats and hats.
Making life easier
Lalabu Soothe Shirt (or some kind of baby wearing sling)
Some kind of baby sling is an absolute must with a subsequent child! It was actually a must for me with my first!
Newborn babies want to be held all the time – of course they do, they’ve just come out of the womb and they want to feel the warmth of your body and hear the beat of your heart. Don’t fight this instinct, just pop them in a sling!
In the newborn days I found the Lalabu Soothe Shirt to be amazing. It’s basically a top with a kangaroo style pouch in the front and you can just pop baby inside. It’s simple and fuss free and makes those first few weeks so much easier.
Some kind of seat to place the baby in when you can’t be constantly hold them in always handy.
Now I’ll hold my hands up and say I don’t have a great recommendation here. We had a cheap bouncer for the boys and they’d both sit in it for 10-15 minutes but they didn’t ever fall asleep in it. I’d really like some kind of swing that instantly sends a baby to sleep so if you have any recommendations please do let me know!
For George and Joseph, I actually found they loved sitting in their baby bath the best so I used to pop some blankets in the bath and let them sit in there!
Portable changing basket
It’s also worth having a little basket with some nappies, wipes, nappy bags, a clean outfit and a second changing mat downstairs. This just means you won’t be constantly up and down the stairs for every nappy change.
Neither of my boys took dummies but I still plan to buy a couple in the hope this baby will! I was always a bit jealous of the parents who could pop a dummy in their baby’s mouth and instantly soothe them. I tried to give them to George and Joseph and the both refused.
Ewan the Dream Sheep
This is the only gadget toy that I’ll be re-buying for Baby #3 and that’s a soft toy sheep that plays white noise. My eldest son LOVED this sheep and the white noise settled him instantly.
We had it for my second son too but he wasn’t bothered by it so it’s worth noting that it isn’t a magical gadget for all babies – but it was like magic for George so it’s worth trying again!
Our original Ewan no longer makes any sound after he went in the washing machine following a projectile vomiting session, so I’m actually quite looking forward to buying a fresh, new one!
Travel Hack Tip: If you don’t want to fork out for a white noise toy, just download an app and play white noise through your phone or through an Alexa!
I wouldn’t recommend rushing out and buying all the things you’ll need when your baby is a little older. Things like toys and books can wait and don’t need to be bought straight away. But the reason I recommend having some kind of toy storage is because you’re bound to get a lot of presents! You’ll get lots of soft toys and books as newborn gifts – which is one of the reasons I wouldn’t recommend buying them yourself because you’ll end up with so much stuff!
If you plan to breastfeed then you really don’t need to buy anything. I breastfed both my boys and didn’t have any problems so I’m hoping it’ll be the same third time so I don’t plan to buy any ‘just in case bottles and formula’ just yet. But again, I know I can buy them via Amazon Prime if I do need them (I’m not anti-bottle feeding so if I find breastfeeding difficult or I simply don’t want to with Baby #3 then I will formula feed).
If you’re planning to bottle feed then I’d recommend buying:
- 6-8 bottles with newborn teats (Buy more than you’ll need for one day so you can bulk wash and sterilise them rather than having to keep washing and sterilising throughout the day)
- A steriliser
- A perfect prep machine (A big expense but you’ll be using it for a year so it’s worth it)
- A bottle brush
- 1-2 boxes of formula (don’t buy too much in case it doesn’t agree with your baby)
- A good stash of pre-made bottles you can use in the hospital and when you’re really tired
- Microwaveable steriliser bags – handy if you’re on the go or just need to quickly sterilise one bottle
- A flask to take hot water out to prepare bottles on the go
- Little tubs for pre-measured formula for when you’re out (Tomee Tippee have a special travel set that’s worth buying)
If you plan to breastfeed and want to express then I recommend the Madella hand pump. I had this for the boys and found it to be fine. I also had the electronic pump but I didn’t like this as much as it’s so noisy and made me feel like a cow.
This time I plan to buy the Elvie breast pump which claims to be a silent, wearable pump. The thought of popping it in my bra and pumping while I make the dinner is amazing! I didn’t express much with George and Joseph because I simply couldn’t find the time to sit down and do it so this should make things easier. I’m also tempted by the Haakaa manual pump which is only £14 and I think it’s more for catching the let down from the opposite breast to the one you’re feeding with. I’ll update this post and let you know how I got on with both.
If I have one tip for expressing, it’s not to start too early. Establish your feeding routine first to make sure you have a good supply. I started really early with George (or I tried to!) and it just didn’t work for me. So I didn’t bother until about 8 weeks with Joseph and I found it much easier.
Madela nipple cream
Absolute life saver. I know the Lanosil one is popular too but I always used Madela and loved it. I actually still use it now on my lips!
3-4 nursing bras. My favourite so far has been a Bravado nursing bra and I currently have some from Primark which are actually really comfortable and pretty good at 2 for £10. I bought some cheap ones from Primark (£4 for a pack of two) and they were awful and so uncomfortable so don’t get those ones! They had a seam down the middle that digs right into your nipple so avoid anything with a seam in a weird place.
You’ll basically live in loungewear for a few weeks so you might as well get some nice things! I’ll be having a c-section so this is even more important as I’ll need comfy clothes that won’t irritate the wound.
I’m currently loving the maternity leggings from Love Leggings. I usually wear a size 10 so I have these leggings in a size 12 for the end of my pregnancy and some size 10s for now and for post-partum.
Tops suitable for breastfeeding
I didn’t buy proper breasfteeding tops but instead wore a long strappy vest (usually from Primark) with a t-shirt on top. I found this to be the easiest combo to breastfeed discreetly as the vest covers your tummy and the tshirt covers your boobs. You can also get long vests with a clip so it’s easier to pull down and breastfeed without over-stretching your top.
However you plan to feed your baby, you’ll need somewhere comfortable to sit – because you’re going to be sat here a lot! I mostly fed both the boys while sat up in bed but I also liked having a comfy chair in their bedrooms. I have the classic Poang chair from IKEA and love it. It’s cheap, comfy, has a nice bounce to it but isn’t as rocky as a rocking chair and it’s light enough that I can pick it up and move it myself.
Large water bottle
This is particularly important if you’re breastfeeding as you need a lot of extra fluid but any new mum could do with a reminder to drink more water. I like having a large, no spill water bottle I can carry around the house with me. No spill is definitely important as it often ends up lying around my bed.
This might seem like a strange one but in the early days it can be really hard to keep track of time and remember when baby was last fed. It’s a blur of sleepless nights and tiredness so I always found wearing a watch helped me keep track of things a bit! Most people use their phone to tell the time but I don’t like being constantly glued to my phone so that’s why I prefer a watch. You can also use an app to keep track of feeds but, again, I don’t like being glued to my phone and generally find my phone to be a constant distraction.
Things I didn’t use
Proper baby changing bag
I tried a couple of ‘proper changing bags’ but I usually just found them to be overpriced and fiddly. I prefer to just use a large handbag or a stylish backpack. I have a nice backpack from Joules at the moment which I’m sure I’ll be using a lot once the baby comes. It’s also worth getting a bag that other people are happy to carry too, so nothing too feminine.
This might be because I didn’t have sicky babies but, despite having loads of muslins, I didn’t use them at all. People say they use them for everything but I honestly didn’t use them at all.
Nappy bin with proper lid
This seemed like such a good idea but we found the refill bags for the Tommee Tipee nappy bin to be really expensive. It was much easier to just use nappy bags! A proper nappy bin also encourages you to leave the bin full of dirty nappies for days and I found it easier to just pop the nappies in a nappy bag, put them in a bin and empty the bin daily.
I know some people rave about a nursing pillow but I found a cushion or a normal pillow to be just as easy.
A snot sucker
I can’t say I ever needed to suck a boogie out of either of my baby’s noses!
Baby nail scissors
I’d always nibble their nails to cut them. There’s no danger of catching their skin with fiddly little scissors and scissors tend to leave their nails really sharp.
Tracking app for feeds
I tried using an app to track feeds but it turned out to be one extra thing to remember to do! It might be different with bottle-fed babies but with breastfed babies you can just feed them as much as they want to be fed so tracking it felt a bit pointless.
We had a room temperature gauge and one for bath water too but I didn’t use either. You know when a room is too hot or too cold! They say you should test bath water with your elbow.
I make sure our babygrows have built in scratch mitts but I didn’t ever use them and didn’t ever put extra scratch mitts on them. The boys didn’t really scratch themselves as babies so I didn’t ever feel a need for them.
I didn’t put shoes on the boys when they were babies as it was just one extra things to faff with! I had a couple of pairs but they just fell off all the time!
Other than baby shampoo I didn’t even use any lotions or creams. Just warm water and a soft washcloth or sponge. Like I said, both of the boys had eczema so I was always careful about what I used as most things irritated their skin.
^ We used this hair brush as a teething toy! I think we brushed George’s hair twice with it!
This is just a personal one because neither of my boys were sicky babies so we didn’t have any need for bibs until they started eating solids.
I love the idea of a discreet breastfeeding cover but I always found it to be an extra faff and too much material. It actually just made breastfeeding more difficult.
There you have it, all of my newborn baby essentials.
Is there anything on the list that you loved or hated or anything else you’re planning to buy? Please do let me know in the comments below.