What You REALLY Need For A Newborn

Baby hand

Kitting out a new baby can sound so complicated - not to mention expensive. Parenting blogs and magazines are full of good advice but they're also full of gushing (paid) reviews of items which sound convincingly indispensable.

Do you really need to spend £180 on a fancy pillow? In a word: no. Almost everything in the baby shop is optional.

So how do you know what you really need to buy? You check out my list below. These are all the things I consider essential for the first few months - with a few added pointers to minimise your confusion in Mothercare.

Somewhere For Your Baby To Sleep

  • A crib, cot, moses basket or bedside crib.
  • Also: two sets of bedding. So: a sheet for the mattress plus either flat sheets and cellular blankets (which are currently recommended for all newborns) or a baby sleeping bag. The amount/tog rating you need will depend upon the season - we had a flat sheet and two cellular blankets on Matilda through the winter.
  • If you live in a larger property, you may want to get a baby monitor for once the baby is napping/sleeping away from you. We have never needed one in our single storey flat.
  • YOU DO NOT NEED: Any fancy gadgets or gizmos which claim to help babies sleep. They are optional panic buys you can get later on.
  • Large babies will outgrow small cribs/moses baskets very quickly (Matilda was out of hers by three months). Bedside cribs tend to be a bit larger, or you could opt for a full-sized cot from birth.
  • Getting up and bending over a crib/cot in the middle of the night is HARD WORK. For this reason, if nothing else, we're opting for a bedside crib this time. We intend to use a floor bed after that.
  • Foam mattresses triggered Matilda's eczema. I have since read that this is quite common so I recommend avoiding them (not a doctor).
  • Think about where your baby will nap during the day. Will they be sleeping on you, in their bedtime cot or will you need somewhere for them to sleep in your living room? Bear in mind that you might not be up to lifting a moses basket for the first few weeks. We opted for a Rocker-Napper in our living room which converted into a chair when Matilda was bigger (and a lot of Scots I know are using their Baby Box).

Some Means Of Washing Your Baby

  • For a tiny newborn, a sink or plastic basin will do. Once the baby's larger, you will need a baby bath or to take them into the full-sized bath with you.
  • A couple of face cloths or Cheeky Wipes for washing them with.
  • A couple of towels (hooded towels are optional but we found them useful).
  • Very simple baby wash (I'd go fragrance free and colourless myself).
  • Some baby lotion is a good idea, as most babies have dry skin when they're born. 
  • Oh, and some baby sized nail clippers/scissors.
  • YOU DO NOT NEED: Talcum powder - it is not good for babies' lungs. Special top and tail bowls. A bath thermometer (use your elbow).
  • Baby baths with plugs on the bottom are MUCH easier to drain than those without.
  • If you're short on space, a bath which folds up flat when not in use could be useful. We can't find one which fits in our shower cubicle (they're all about 2cm too long) otherwise we would definitely have opted for one this time around.
  • Bath stands are only a good idea if you can actually lift a bath full of warm water (frankly: unlikely).

Some Means Of Transporting Your Baby

  • A pram or buggy which is suitable from birth and/or a sling and/or structured carrier. 
  • If your baby will ever be travelling in a car, they must have a car seat (the advice is never to use a secondhand one but if, like us, you don't drive and will only need it for the journey home from hospital, go ahead and borrow one from somebody you trust).
  • Slings and carriers are great if you need your hands free to eat/shop/scroll Instagram or you regularly catch the sort of buses that have steps up to the driver (plus, most babies seem to really like them); prams and buggies are great if the weather's bad or you want to have a hot drink without fear of spilling it on your baby's head (the storage compartment underneath is also handy!). We had - and will have, this time around - a sling, a structured carrier (Steve finds the buckles reassuring) and a buggy and wouldn't want to have to choose between them.
  • If - like us - you are short on space, make sure any buggies or prams you buy will actually fit in the space available when unfolded (I guarantee you won't want to fold it away every single time you get home). 
  • If you and your partner are different heights, adjustable handles are a good idea.
  • If you find slings and carriers a bit baffling, see if there's a sling meet near you - you can try (and sometimes hire) different kinds of slings, plus learn how to use them properly. Otherwise: YouTube is your friend.
  • The important thing, regardless, is not how much you spend on your buggy or how trendy your sling looks, but what FEELS COMFORTABLE to you.


Something To Carry Nappies etc Around In

  • A bag with lots of pockets. 
  • YOU DO NOT NEED: A special changing bag, unless you'd really like one.
  • Will you and your partner be sharing a bag? If so, you both need to be happy (enough) to be seen with it. 
  • Backpacks can be more convenient than shoulder bags, particularly if you're planning to carry your baby.


  • 10-12 vests (sometimes called "bodysuits"); long or short-sleeved, depending on the time of year.
  • 10-12 sleepsuits (sometimes called "babygrows"). Unless it's the middle of summer, get the ones with feet (keeping socks on a baby is a losing battle); most of them have built-in scratch mitts, too.
  • A couple of hats (for outdoors; they don't need them indoors).
  • A few cardigans.
  • A pramsuit and/or snowsuit, depending on the time of year.
  • YOU DO NOT NEED: Shoes. 
  • You won't know for sure until the baby's here what size of clothes will fit best BUT, until they're trying to crawl, it really doesn't matter whether things hang off their hands and feet so don't be afraid to size up - you can always do a mad dash to a supermarket for something smaller.
  • "Proper" clothes are optional - they can be really cute but try to prioritise your baby's comfort (if only because uncomfortable babies will cry more).

Nappies and Whatnot

  • Plan to get through 10-12 nappies per day for the first few months, regardless of whether you choose cloth or disposables.
  • Wipes for cleaning up poo. You can use wet wipes or cloth wipes (e.g. Cheeky Wipes) depending on your personal preference. Cloth wipes or toilet roll to pat them dry when you're done.
  • A changing mat or a towel/muslin on a flat, wipeable surface. A mat which folds up small is useful for when you're visiting people/if you're short on space.
  • A trial size tub of nappy cream (there's bound to be one in your Bounty bag). You may have a baby who gets lots of nappy rash, in which case, buy more; we have only ever had to apply nappy cream twice, though.
  • YOU DO NOT NEED: A special changing unit (any flat surface will do) or a nappy bin. Nappy sacks are optional.
  • Place your changing mat/unit/whatever so that you can stand at your baby's feet, looking towards their face. This means less twisting of your (potentially tired) body; I suspect it's also nicer for the baby to be able to look straight up at you.

Brightly coloured muslins


  • Lots of muslins.
  • YOU DO NOT NEED: To buy them all yourself. They are a standard new baby gift.

Somewhere To Do Tummy Time

  • A play mat or soft blanket or similar.
  • YOU DO NOT NEED: Lots and lots of toys (all babies really need in the first few months is somebody chatting to them and pulling occasional faces). 

Some Means Of Feeding Your Baby

  • For breastfeeders (I gather): nipple cream; nipple pads; easy access clothing; eh... cabbage leaves? A breast pump and bottles are optional, depending on your personal circumstances/preference.
  • For formula feeders: 6-10 bottles plus first size teats; either a cold water or microwave steriliser (plus, if you're using a cold water steriliser, some Milton tablets); roughly one tub of powdered first milk per week (we noticed no difference between brands so opted for the stuff in recyclable packaging). You can buy bottles of premixed milk for when you're out.
  • If you're bottle feeding, this is one of the few times I recommend checking out parenting forums - the official advice will make you feel like you can never leave the house again; the common sense advice from parents who have been there will put your mind at ease (or you can message me).

And For Yourself

  • Maternity pads or nighttime sanitary towels.
  • Disposable pants (be that special paper ones or cheap ones you've bought for this purpose).
  • Cake.

Is there anything other parents would add?

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