The top 5 baby items you actually need and those you really don’t

You’ve got a newborn on the way and the list of must-haves seems endless. From wipe-warmers to swings and bouncers — what do you really need for your little one and what can you do without?

You might have heard that newborns do little more than eat, sleep and poop and it’s true. So why do you need all this baby “stuff”?

Chances are you probably don’t. Newborns around the world survive with little other than a blanket to their name and they get along just fine. Sure, bumpers and wipe warmers are nice but they’re certainly not necessities.

While we’re not suggesting you sleep your newborn in a drawer, if you’re on a tight budget or just want to reign in some of your spending, here are the five items you must have — and five you can do without — to help you narrow down your shopping list.

Five things you really need

1

A sling

Your newborn has spent the last nine months being lovingly carried around in your snug, warm belly and they might not be too impressed at their rather rapid eviction. A sling can be a lifesaver in the early days, rocking your baby to sleep while leaving your hands free for other tasks. As with prams, slings come in all shapes and sizes so if you would like to use one for your baby, check that it has suitable neck support and is recommended for use with a newborn.

2

Nappies

Newborns and nappies go hand in hand and when you’re changing up to 12 nappies a day it makes sense to have a lot on hand. If you’re using cloth, aim to have at least 24 nappies on hand — more if you don’t want to wash them every day. If you plan on using disposables, buy a few big boxes when you’re on maternity leave so you don’t need to make any unplanned midnight trips to the supermarket. Or you can use a combination of cloth and disposables — that way if you ever run out of one you’ve got a backup on hand!

3

A car seat

If you have a car you will probably want to invest in a car seat. These come in all shapes and sizes from ones that stay fitted in your car to others which form part of a travel system that snaps out as a capsule or onto your pram. Each has its own benefits: A capsule is handy for keeping a sleeping baby asleep while a fixed car seat has a higher safety rating. Choose one you think will suit your needs and buy the best new model you can afford.

4

Muslin wraps

From cleaning up vomit and drool to wrapping a restless baby, muslin wraps are a mother’s best friend. Get at least five as they’re cool in summer and warm in winter and with some practice you’ll be able to wrap a perfect baby burrito in no time.

5

A safe sleeping bag

Whether you’re planning to co-sleep, put your baby in their own room from the first night or use a bassinet. Having a safe sleeping bag is a great way to rest easy knowing your little one is snug, warm and secure.

Five things you can do without

1

A baby bath

Newborns are little and slippery. A baby bath might seem like a good idea but really you can get by with bathing your baby in the kitchen or laundry sink. When they outgrow that they’re big enough for your family bath. You can bathe with them or better still, hop in the shower with them. Lots of babies love the white noise a shower provides while others will find it soothing to be in a tub full of warm water with their mama. Do what works for you.

2

Oodles of 0000 clothing

Babies grow quickly so don’t spend a fortune on a pile of fancy clothes in smaller sizes. You’ll be changing nappies a lot so stick to the basics — onesies, singlets and tights aplenty. Aim for five of each plus a jumper or two if it’s winter and relish the fact you’ll get to shop for your little one soon. Also, it’s a good idea to pack a few 000 sizes as well — some babies arrive on the larger (or longer) size and might not fit those 0000 suits for long.

3

Skin care products

The best thing for your newborn’s skin is water. If you bathe your baby in water once a day at most, you’ll avoid skin sensitivities that necessitate the use of other skin care products. If you really need something else, add a small splash of almond or grapeseed oil to a wet wash cloth for natural, clean and trouble-free baby skin.

4

Gadgets

Wipe warmer? Nappy disposal unit? Your baby doesn’t need those things and neither do you. Australian winters are mild so while those wipes might feel fresh they’re not going to do any harm. Bottle warmers fall into the same category — simply use lukewarm water from your tap to make your baby’s milk, checking the temperature on your wrist before you serve it. As for those nappy disposal units — they still smell and you’ll save yourself a small fortune if you recycle plastic grocery bags instead.

5

Swings and bouncers

The idea of popping your screaming newborn into a swing that instantly calms them and sends them off to sleep sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But swings and bouncers are expensive items if you’ve got the kind of baby who won’t have a bar of them. Even if you have a baby who loves the swing so much they nap there all day long, have you thought about what will happen when they outgrow the swing? What (or should we say who) is going to provide that lulling motion then? Save buying swings and bouncers until you’ve gotten to know your newborn a bit more. If by three months you think they’d really enjoy it then go for it… but don’t say we didn’t warn you.

More useful tips for pregnant mums

One trimester at a time: What to expect
How to create a birth plan
Warning signs during pregnancy

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