The ultimate baby checklist: newborn essentials to buy now
Getting ready to welcome a new addition? This is all you’ll need, from muslins to monitors
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the daunting idea that you need everything under the sun before the baby arrives. You’ll have lots of people giving you advice (some unsolicited) – but our advice is to take this easily digestible list and, ideally, space out your shopping over a few months to make things easier on your bank balance (and sanity).
And should you want some more help, we have virtual and in-store appointments available with our All Things Baby experts, who will run through the essentials with you.
A bedside crib
The NHS recommends that your baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first six months. A bedside crib such as SnüzPod is designed to be kept right by your bed with the side down, meaning your baby is at arm’s length – helpful for night feeds while also keeping a safe space between yourself and the baby.
Cot or cotbed
Babies usually grow out of their crib or moses basket by six months old, at which point they can be moved into a cot or cotbed. What’s the difference? A cotbed is slightly larger than a standard cot and has removable sides, so it can be made into a toddler bed eventually. If you’re reusing a crib or cot, the NHS recommend you buy a new mattress for every baby, so it’s firm and fits well with no gaps.
Duvets, quilts and pillows are not recommended for babies under 12 months, so buy a couple of blankets that can be layered up depending on how cold it is. Cellular blankets are great as they allow air to circulate – perfect for regulating a baby’s temperature. Our soft and tactile cellular blanket is made from pure GOTS (that’s Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton and makes a lovely gift for anyone with a newborn.
Sleeping bags and swaddles
Some parents like to swaddle their baby in the early months to give them the cocooned feeling from the womb – plus it's great if your baby has been scratching in their sleep. Before they can roll over, a swaddle with a blanket tucked over them will keep them cosy. If they don’t enjoy swaddles, you can always pop them in a sleeping bag. Choose the thickness depending on the season (the lower the tog, the lighter the sleeping bag).
A room thermometer, sound machine and night light are handy. For peace of mind, a baby monitor is a necessity. The new generation of smart baby monitors – such as the Owlet Smart Sock V3 – even link up to an app so you can monitor information such as heart rate and oxygen level via your phone.
An essential if you’re breastfeeding, nursing bras are specially designed for comfort and have handy clips for easy access. Take a measurement to get an accurate size after 30 weeks. Add breast pads to help deal with any leaks when your milk comes in. Breast pumps are easier and more efficient than ever – the Elvie Single Electric Breast Pump is an ultra quiet, wearable pump so you can go about your day while you express. And the Elvie Stride was created with a hospital grade motor but is also super quiet and discreet.
Bottles and accessories
If you’re bottle feeding, you’ll need a selection of bottles with slow-flow teats, but be prepared to try a few before finding the one your baby prefers. You’ll also need a bottle brush and steriliser – newer UV sterilisers such as this one by Vital Baby use LED lights to clean everything without the need for water or tablets.
These large cotton squares are real multitaskers – especially if you decide to breastfeed and want a bit of privacy.
Baby bath or bath support
There are two main options here. First is a traditional baby bath, which is a small, plastic tub that can be used anywhere. The second option is the increasingly popular bath support, which is designed to sit in an existing tub. You need one or the other – it can be hard (and even unsafe) to hold your baby every time you bathe them.
A changing station
Babies need a lot of nappy changes. The key is to set up a changing station where everything you need is to hand. A changing table is a practical option if you have space, but a portable changing mat, plus a basket of wipes, nappies and cream, also works.
You’ll need baby shampoo and hairbrush to get them used to brushing and washing from an early age. Nail clippers or scratch mitts will help stop them hurting themselves – those little nails grow quickly but can be hard to trim initially. This Tommee Tippee healthcare kit contains several essentials.
A rear-facing infant car seat is essential for taking your baby home from hospital – you can’t leave by car without one. At John Lewis we have a selection of the most dependable car seat brands including Maxi-Cosi (read our review of the Maxi-Cosi Pebble 360 Pro i-Size car seat) and Cybex. Our All Things Baby experts will be able to help you choose and fit the right one for your car. Practise fitting it on your own a few times before your baby’s arrival.
Travel systems usually consist of a base, a carrycot (for a newborn) and a pushchair seat (for when they can sit up). Some come with a car seat, but otherwise you can choose a car seat that attaches to your base with special adaptors – great for when your baby is asleep and you need to get them from car to house (although babies shouldn’t be left in a car seat for too long).
Our prams and pushchairs buying guide will help you decide. We’ve also road-tested (and highly recommend) the Bugaboo Butterfly. Most importantly, check that the pram you buy is suitable to be used from birth and can be reclined fully. Some models are only suitable from six months old.
Baby carrier or sling
A baby carrier means you can keep your baby close while on the move (say, when you’re popping to the shop). Invest in a decent one that your baby will fit in it until they’re too heavy to carry.
Home to everything from nappies and wipes to changing mats and a spare set of clothes, a changing bag will be your on-the-go best friend. Our range, which includes brands Jem + Bea and Tiba + Marl, scores highly in the style stakes.
You’ll be surprised how many times you have to change your baby’s clothes in a day. One word of warning: don’t buy too much, as newborns grow so quickly that any clothes probably won’t fit them for more than a few months. As a rule, 10 bodysuits and 10 sleepsuits should be enough.
Then add three or four knits that can be layered over the top if it’s chilly. Lots of sleepsuits have built-in socks and scratch mittens, but get a few pairs of each if some of the suits you’ve bought don’t have them.