There is a lovely lady at work who recently excitedly shared the news that she is pregnant. She is so thrilled the excitement is very contagious. I also have another great friend who is currently pregnant and I am hoping this blog post will help them both navigate the minefield of buying for the baby lol!! It has been 2 years since my little man was born but I still remember the dilemmas of the baby shop visits where you are not sure what to buy. Will you use it? Should you get the expensive one or the cheap one? Is it necessity or a luxury? So to help these lovely ladies out I’ll go through the items that we ended up loving and were a good investment. Also I thought this list might be useful to some of Cub & Caves readers which is why I thought I’d share it. I would love it if you all added your own recommendations or items that you wished you had never bothered with. Please share with anyone you know is pregnant and might find this useful. Obviously this is all personal preference and what might be a godsend to some parents may be useless to others. Whatever works for you or makes your life easier is best!
I’ve broken it down into the essentials and the nice to haves. Click on the images for links to stores that sell these items and give you more details on the individual items (where appropriate).
Baby Bath – We bought this excellent baby bath which you could use for newborns up to toddlers, it was really great and because of its design you didn’t have to hold the baby constantly which was a godsend for bad backs (obviously no matter how safe they look they always need to be within arm’s length of you in case they accidentally slip under the water). As your baby gets older you use the other end of the bath where your baby can sit up and is supported by the backrest. We used this till Rayyan was probably around 18 months until we need to upgrade to a bigger, deeper bath as he had just outgrown this one. The one below is the one we had, highly recommended.
A baby playmat of some description is essential. There are absolutely loads of options out there. We ended up with a few in the end, we had a small one with arches over it and hanging toys for when he was very little, then when he got bigger and started rolling and having playdates we bought an extra-large one so there was room to move and for his friends to join in. Just a bit of advice too, for your baby shower don’t be shy about asking for certain things otherwise you might end up with a bunch of stuff you might never use. So a playmat is a great idea for a present as there are different types to suit all price ranges, or you can even make one yourself! My mam made us one, as did my wonderful friend Deborah which was extra special as it has that extra personal touch and had some great reminders of our youth!!
Some options that you might like are below.
Onesies and Sleeping Bags
We bought, and were given such little wonderful outfits for newborns but to be honest for the first three months onesies are the most practical items for your baby to wear. They will need changing often and they are cosy and you get used to them for changing nappies, which is frequent at that age. We found Bonds onesies were the best. I’m not sure how popular they are in other countries but they are huge in Australia. Their wondersuits with zips are great for newborns and brilliant for older babies to sleep in too. They even have cuffs which you can use as mittens for hands and feet when they are little. They may be a little bit more expensive than your generic onesies but I promise they are worth it!
Baby sleeping bags are another essential, especially if your baby does not like to be swaddled, which Rayyan didn’t. They are a bit pricey but you will get a lot of use out of them and can rest at night knowing there are no blankets for your baby to get tangled up in etc. There are some great brands out there for sleeping bags, some have sleeves, some don’t, and they all come in different togs for the climate and season of your country. There are some which are organic too. We found these to be good; Grobag, Purebaby, Plum, Bonds and we even had a couple from Ikea.
Bassinets and high chairs
Bassinets is a hard one for me as I suppose it is essential but at the same time they do not really last long before your baby is too big for them. We bought a Winnie the Pooh Moses Basket and stand, similar to the image below, and it was totally fine. However, if I had my time again I’d probably try to buy one that attaches to the bed so they are near to you and at your height but not actually in the bed with you. I have attached one image below which I think looks great, however I cannot actually recommend it as I only used the Moses basket. I suppose this again comes down to personal preference.
From a hard one to an easy one…high chairs. I would highly recommend the cheap and cheerful Antilop model from Ikea. Most of my friends have this also and I have never heard any complaints. There are much fancier versions on the market but seriously who wants to be cleaning a great big padded armchair version, not me! The Antilop is practical, easy to clean, easy to travel with and great value for money. I would not even consider anything else to be honest.
Nappies, Bottles, Muslin cloths and Towels!
Nappies…you’ll need them…lots of them! Before the baby arrives look out for special offers on nappies and if you are going to use disposable maybe buy a few different brands and try them out. We tried most of those available covering all price ranges but ended up always coming back to Babylove. I know other people who swear by Huggies or supermarket own brands but it really is the case of trying some out and seeing which ones you prefer. I never went down the washable nappies route, I know I maybe should have for the environment’s sake, but to be honest with a newborn having one less thing to do was the choice I made. If you do go down the washable nappy route, good on you, and you should be spoilt for choice in choosing them. My friend did say the initial outlay is expensive but in the long run you make your money back.
Bottles again seem to be one that causes big debates at mothers groups with everyone swearing that their brand is best. Again I found this a bit of trial and error. I tried a few brands and always came back to Avent or Tommee Tippee. Reputation wise Dr. Brown is supposed to be the best.
Last but not least in the essential category is Towels and washcloths. Make sure you have at least two nice and soft hooded towels and plenty of washcloths, not only to wash your baby…duh…but also if you have a boy you will find these really handy when it comes to change time!
Ohh also muslin clothes are great for quick wipe ups…on you or the baby.
Nice to haves…
A baby swing for us was a massive help in settling Rayyan when he was little. A downside of baby swings is I have heard some babies just do not take them but Rayyan loved his. We had a Fisher Price Lil Lamb version and it was great, it was extremely similar to the first swing in the images below. It swung in different directions, it played music, it had a mobile, a mirror….honestly I’d highly recommend a swing of some description. There are some really cool options out there too. It’s fun to look at them as we would often think we wished they had them adult size as they looked so comfy! They also seem to be getting more hi-tech, the Rockaroo below lets you play your own music through its speakers and rocks your baby rather than swinging. I cannot recommend it as I’ve never tried it but it does look really good.
Baby Monitors and Baby Carriers
I have to admit when my friend (sorry Debbie) bought a baby monitor with breathing sensors I thought it was going a bit far, they did not have them years ago did they, and we had all survived. However I was only home with the newborn about 12 hours before I was begging my husband to go to the shops and buy one, and I have to say it was the best purchase we made; even if it was only for a bit of peace of mind. Without it I could not sleep. I was constantly checking to see if he was still breathing. With the monitor if I woke up during the night I saw the flashing blue light and knew he was still breathing. To some parents this may seem totally irrational and unnecessary but to me it was some reassurance that I needed. We still use it now, 2 years later. The one we bought was the Oricom Babysense 2. It has the breathing mats as well as just a normal monitor and camera etc. Image is above.
Baby Carriers…another debatable one…
Looking back I feel we hardly used the baby carrier we bought but saying that maybe I just cannot remember…I know when walking the dog it was great but other than that Rayyan was more of a pushchair baby. Saying that some people use them ALL of the time. We had a BabyBjorn One Air which I think was good, it felt secure and hard wearing. Most people I know either went for a sling, more hippy style or an Ergo baby carrier. A lot of my friends swear by Ergo Baby carriers, they are lightweight but long lasting.
If you are going to breast feed you probably need to be prepared before you have the baby. One thing I’d really recommend is nipple cream, I know it might seem strange to have it on the essential list but if you are going to breastfeed trust me you will probably need it. This one was my favourite Lansinoh cream and if you are still struggling givenipple shields a go too, they can really help.
I am not sure I should talk about breast pumps, I hated mine!! But saying that I hated expressing in general. I bought a cheaper Avent one but regretted it. You can rent one from the hospital which are really good. Or I’d go with a Medela one but they are quite expensive so depends if you plan on doing a lot of expressing and it’s not easy to know that before you have the baby so renting would be my recommendation.
One thing that I did find really useful was my cover up for breast feeding. It was pretty much just a big black patterned material square with a neck fastening, like a short apron I suppose! But if you are a bit prudish like me then it definitely makes you feel more covered up. Although I just came across these breast feeding scarves, below, and they look cool as well as practical.
Ad hoc thoughts…
Stroller, you will need one but I could have written a whole other blog post, which I might do, on strollers. I obsessed and researched them for months while pregnant. I ended up buying a Mountain Buggy Cosmopolitan as it basically could be changed from bassinet to normal seat, it could face towards me or away from me, it looked like a really good buggy but it was pretty bulky so as soon as Rayyan was old enough he transitioned into an umbrella stroller and he has not been back in the Cosmopolitan since. Other brands that we considered were iCandy, Buggaboos and Uppababy models. If I had my time again I would be tempted with the below Uppababy Vista as they did seem less bulky than the Mountain Buggy.
Once your baby is older (probably after 6-9 months when they are stronger and can sit up) I’d really recommend getting a Maclaren umbrella stroller, so much lighter than a full on buggy. We have this one currently and LOVE it!
Dummies – controversial as I was 100% adamant that I would never give Rayyan a dummy as my sister used to be addicted to hers so badly, but he was a baby that just had a really strong sucking reflex so in the end we gave in. Read up about it first and maybe seek your doctor’s advice if you consider it. Our doctor actually told us to give him one in the end. He is VERY attached to it now and not sure how we will get it off him. Our struggle to get him off it will probably be a future blog article!!
Toys – Sophie the Giraffe is a winner, aswell as any sort of hanging baby toy you can hang in the car or on a stroller.
I really hope you found my recommendations helpful and it would be great if readers also added their comments and recommendations below.
**Some of these links are affiliate links which means I will receive a small commission if you buy items from these websites – this is at no cost to yourself at all. I reinvest the commission straight back into the blog. These links being affiliates has in no way affected my recommendations. My recommendations are my genuine feelings about these products.**