Your new baby checklist: all the baby essentials you’ll need for the first six months
Preparing for baby’s arrival? From bedside cribs to smart monitors, here’s every piece of kit you’ll need
Pregnancy is an exciting and potentially anxious time, especially when it’s hard to get out and about. Planning exactly what you need ahead of your baby’s arrival can be a daunting task, but we’ve come up with a definitive checklist with top tips from Emily Dale, one of our All Things Baby advisors (specialist Partners who offer expert and impartial advice to new and expectant parents).
If you’d like hands-on tips and direction, book in for a free virtual appointment with one of our All Things Baby Advisors. They will aid you in navigating all the information, give impartial advice, and help you devise a personalised shopping list to suit your budget and lifestyle.
A bedside crib
The NHS recommends that your baby sleeps in the same room as you for the first six months. A bedside crib like 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. ‘Bedside cribs are one of the most popular options as they attach to the side of the bed,’ says Emily. ‘This means your baby is always close to you but you have the reassurance that they are sleeping in their own safe space.’
Cot or cotbed
Babies usually grow out of their crib or Moses basket by the time they’re about six months old, at which point they can be moved into a cot or cotbed. So what’s the difference? A cotbed is slightly larger than a standard cot and has removeable sides, so it can be made into a toddler bed when your baby gets older. The NHS recommend you buy a new mattress for every baby, so even if you’re reusing a crib or cot, a fresh mattress is key.
Duvets, quilts and pillows are not recommended for babies under one year old, 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. This soft and tactile cellular blanket is made from pure GOTS certified organic cotton and makes a great gift for anyone with a newborn.
A room thermometer and night light are handy. ‘I’d also recommend Ollie the Owl, a rechargable sleeping aid with a cry sensor that will activate when a baby cries, playing soothing sounds to settle them back to sleep,’ says Emily. He has a built-in night light that can be helpful during night feeds.’ For peace of mind, a baby monitor is a necessity. The new generation of smart baby monitors – such as the Owlet Smart Sock V3 and the Bluebell Smart Monitor – even link up to an app so you can monitor information such as their heart rate and oxygen levels via your phone.
If you’re breastfeeding, nursing bras are essential, as they are specially designed for comfort and have handy clips for easy access. Around the 30 week mark is when you should take a measurement to get an accurate size (our All Things Baby staff can advise). Add breast pads to help deal with any leaks when your milk comes in. Thanks to new technology, breast pumps have become easier and more efficient than ever before – Elvie’s single electric breast pump is a silent, wearable pump so you can go about your daily tasks as you express.
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 different brands before finding the one your baby prefers. And to keep everything clean and safe, you’ll need a bottle brush and steriliser. Newer UV sterilisers use LED lights to clean everything without the need for water or tablets.
These large cotton squares are real multitaskers. At John Lewis & Partners you’ll find a selection of muslins including the stylish Albetta muslin swaddle gift set (an excellent new baby gift) so you can choose a print or colour scheme to suit your style.
Baby bath or bath support
There are two main options. First is a traditional baby bath, which is a small, plastic bath-shaped tub, which can be used anywhere in the house. The second option is the increasingly popular bath support which is designed to be used in your existing bath.
A changing station
Babies need a lot of nappy changes. The key is to set up a changing station where you have everything that you need ready to hand. Changing tables are a practical option if you have the space, but a portable changing mat, along with a basket of wipes, nappies and cream, also works very well.
Cuddle robe or towels
Nothing is cuter than a baby straight out of the bath. Choose a soft towel with a hood to keep their head warm if they have wet hair. You’ll find all the baby towels and robes you’ll need here.
You’ll need a baby hairbrush and shampoo, to get them used to hair brushing and washing from an early age. And nail clippers or scratch mitts will help stop them scratching themselves (those little nails grow fast but note, they can be very hard to trim initally).
A rear-facing infant car seat is essential for taking your baby home from hospital and you won’t be able to leave by car without one. We stock a selection of all the most dependable car seat brands from Maxi-Cosi to Cybex. Our All Things Baby advisors will be able to help you choose and fit the right one for your car. Ensure you make time to practise fitting it a few times before your baby’s arrival.
Prams and pushchairs
When it comes to choosing a pram, the key is to think about your lifestyle. A travel system is a good idea if you are in and out of the car and want something that will last until your child is a toddler. Travel systems usually consist of a base, a carrycot (for a newborn baby), and a pushchair seat (for when they can sit up). Some come with a car seat, otherwise you can choose a car seat that can be attached to your base with special adaptors - which is great for when your baby is asleep and you need to move them from the car to the house (although babies shouldn’t be left too long in a car seat). Our prams and pushchairs buying guide will help direct you. Most importantly, you’ll need to check that the pram you buy is suitable to be used from birth (and can be reclined fully). Some models are only suitable for babies over six months old. See How to buy a pushchair online for more ideas.
Baby carrier or sling
A baby carrier is ideal for parents who want to keep their baby close while they’re on the move (and they take up a lot less space than a pushchair if you’re just popping to the shops). Choose from a range of brands including Ergobaby and BabyBjörn – we’ll show you how to use them.
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 of changing bags, which include brands like Jem + Bea and Tiba + Marl, also scores highly in the fashion stakes.
You’ll be surprised how many times you have to change your baby’s clothes in a day. But don’t buy too many things, 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 perhaps three or four cardigans 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 the ones you have don't have them. And for when you’re out and about, take a pramsuit and a hat. The full range of newborn clothes gives you plenty of choice to get your arrival kitted out practically and with maximum cuteness.